Diaz - The Gas Station

He was finally able to get a hold of that putrid smell. Diaz squatted against a vent on the roof of the gas station. The smell reminded him of wet dog and spoiled milk. He wasn’t sure if he was actually that hungry or he just got used to the smell, but he was finally able to eat some peanuts that he snatched, along with a soda, from the convenience store below.

Sitting up on the roof he was in thought about what to do next. How should Diaz Altez handle this situation? He tried to think about what his Grandfather would do, but that didn’t help. With a long exasperated sigh he remembered when he ducked into the abandoned gas station he had picked up keys that were on the counter. The keys had a keyless-entry remote on them. Diaz might get lucky.

He walked around the edge of the roof clicking the remote. He was not very hopeful. He remembered what his grandfather had always said, “hope is for the hollow, skill is for those lacking talent, faith is for the nonbelievers, and luck…luck is for the fallen.” Just off to the side, almost hidden by an eighteen-wheeler, a small amber light flickered. It was a compact, forest green pickup truck. Diaz smirked a bit and slid his thumbs down the outside of his jacket as if to straighten it.

He had a plan. Now all he had to do was wait out the creatures that wandered around the deserted gas station waiting to tear him apart. Those flesh eating assholes, he thought to himself, they’re jus’ waitin’ to grip their rotten hollow jaws into my abdomen. Those sick fucks. I saw what they do. I just have to wait ‘em out.

Diaz reached into his back pocket and pulled out a decadently decorated silver sliver of a cigarette holder. It was embroidered with engraved designs tagging its ownership to that of someone who had some cash, but did not enjoy showing it off, unless, of course, they had to. Diaz pushed the button on the side and the case swung open showcasing the latent white strips of tobacco. He grabbed one, let it hang off his lips and reached into his front pocket and pulled out a book of matches.

Upon lighting his cigarette without once taking his eyes off the purplish-red horizon, he slowly sat on the roof against the dull, metal box that used to work as a vent. One leg perched up for balance; the other sprawled out along the ground. Tilting his head up to gaze at the fading sky, he let his mind wonder about his current situation some more. Since he began running this was his first chance to relax enough to rest his eyes.

Diaz was a man in his late twenties, dressed in tattered dress clothes, all except the shoes on his feet. They were an expensive brand of decent looking athletic shoes; they clashed with his outfit. His clothes were torn and mostly soaked in blood. He looked like he had been through a lot. His tie was wrapped around his right leg, just above his knee drenched in dark, seeping blood from the wound beneath it. His pinstriped pants had tears in it. His black button-down shirt, still without wrinkles, lay un-tucked and unbuttoned revealing a ribbed, black tank-top underneath. However, Diaz’s jacket looked as if it just got picked up from the dry cleaner.

He sat there listening to the wind flow across the ambient streets below him, ignoring the moaning from the monsters. Diaz even rotated his head to let his short, but not too short hair, flow messily with the wind. He took another drag from his cigarette and bulked up the muscle at the corner of his jaw, outlining his stubble. His dark eyes were still focused on the horizon. His metal, loop earrings were swaying in the wind, reflecting the few street lights that just flickered on.

Diaz cleared his throat but not for the apparent reason of talking, more for the fact that he had realized he might be staying the night nestled up on this rooftop. He yawned and scratched his head letting his thick hair lay wherever it landed. His right leg began to ache. He had started to lightly massage it when screaming was draped through the wind.

He jumped to his feet to see a group of people making their way down the intersecting street. They were being chased by these evil entities and were running right toward the group that Diaz had led to the gas station. They were to be ambushed at the intersection. Diaz knew this was his chance to make it to that pickup truck behind the semi.

Diaz jumped up, straightened his jacket, and watched the situation closely, as if he were a referee at a professional sporting event. With analyzing accuracy, he balanced the time that the monsters began to notice their creeping victims against the risk of him being noticed as well. He picked the perfect moment to begin his adrenaline fueled climb down the side of the building and making his way to the trucks.

When Diaz reached the truck he peered one more time at the unsuspecting party catering their way toward definitive doom and pierced his lips together. He paused for a brief moment before entering the truck and inserting the keys in the ignition. Diaz then paused again. It just hit him like electricity racing throughout his body, from his fingertips to the very core of his body. His heart sank. He knew what he noticed, a few women. and a child, a little girl. Diaz slammed his fist into the steering wheel. ‘Shit!’

Diaz left the green, well-kept pickup and proceeded to the semi-trailer truck. It was a tanker, with flammable written all over it. Diaz knew what this thing could do. He smiled as the door to the cab was unlatched. He pulled himself into the truck and placed himself in the driver’s seat. The spring-loaded seat built for comfort quickly adjusted to his weight. He was not as lucky as convenience would allow for there were no keys in sight. He would have to jump it.

Adam - Ben's House (pt.4)

Shaken awake. My somewhat still unconscious mind rippling with hope that previous events is fault of its own. Reality begs to differ. I am still in an ambulance. This one is different. It is moving at high speed. I’m actually in a bed this time. The cab is in front me this time but I can’t see much through the corridor to the front. There are no children. Instead, there are a couple large canvas bags taking up most of the floor space. I have an IV. I should be at the hospital. Confused. Where am I? Who’s driving? I want this nightmare to just end.

My mind is beginning to come to terms with my demise. I feel a small part of me almost willing it. I haven’t made it to the hospital. I can feel my body being drained from fighting. I am weak. It takes everything but a conscious effort to even take a breath.

‘Ah. Adam, you awake back there?’ Her raspy voice is more matter of fact then the last person’s. From her tone she sounds more calm, more controlled.

‘...yeah.’ I struggle to speak. I feel weaker than before. ‘I’m here.’ However, I have no sharp pain accompanying every syllable. ‘Are we almost to the hospital?’

‘We’re not going to the hospital.’

‘But, I got shot. I need medical attention.’

‘I understand. You’re stable.’


‘Yes, your wounds have been treated. I’ve begun an IV drip to replenish your fluids. You’re going to have a choice to make.’

I let those words sink in for a few moments. The lady sounded older than the last. More assured. I wondered if it was possible to trust someone from the sound of their voice. I trusted this one. Why am I in a different ambulance? How did she know my name? If we are not heading to the hospital, where were we going? Why so fast? Did Anna get my voicemail? Are Ben and the guys alright? What decision was I going to have to make?

‘Why wouldn’t you take me to the hospital?’

‘That’s where I got you.’


‘Yeah, you were unconscious in the back of another ambulance with blood seeping through your bandages. I almost left you, but would have felt bad. Never one for leaving a man behind.’

‘That’s where I was supposed to be. That’s what you do with a gunshot victim, you take them to the hospital.’

‘The hospital is collapsing.’

‘What do you mean? What in the hell is goin’ on?’ Panic. ‘Are you even a paramedic? How’d you know my name? What decision am I goin’ to have to make?’  

‘Okay, now. Slow down. None of this is going to be easy to comprehend. Especially with all that you have going on.’

My heart takes a few deep pumps in my chest. My wounds tremble with deep pain. ‘Am I going to die?’

‘To be honest, Adam... I don’t know.’ I sense a tough sincerity in her voice. ‘I did my best Adam, I have seen people in worse conditions pull through in tough situations but…’ Her voice trails off. I feel the ambulance slow down. ‘What the hell?’ Her rhetoric aside is draped with an eerie curiosity.

‘What? What is going on?’ My own curiosity is encased with fear and confusion. I look through the small part of the windshield that I am able and all I see is orange light glowing brighter by each moment.

‘Don’t worry about it, hold on.’ The vehicle is ramping up as the engine starts to howl. A dull thud comes from the front of the ambulance followed by a series of lighter ones raking against the floor. ‘I have never seen anything like this. They don’t even flinch.’ Still speaking to herself, she sounds awestruck.

‘Hey, I’m really in need of some answers!’ I am trying to cut through my discomfort with assertiveness.

‘Yeah. You are right. Adam--’ How does she know my name? ‘--you need to trust me here. You were left at the hospital in the back of an ambulance. I’m guessing whoever tried to patch you up thought you were helpless without an ER.’


‘Look Adam, I don’t really know what is happening right now but the entire city is out of sorts. I was called into work due to emergency conditions. Before I reported to shift, it all got out of hand. They were telling us to reroute patients to Westover. Something about an outbreak. I had just pulled into HMC when I got the call. The ambulance I found you in was in the parking lot. That’s as far as I got. If I didn’t spot you in the back, you would still be there, probably dead.’

I could tell that she was trying to piece together the fragments of her own reality. I felt as I was losing my own. Maybe I was dreaming? Maybe I was in the hospital, lying unconscious under the supervision of the medical staff. Or even, maybe none of this took place and I was having an outlandish vision wrapped in deep sleep, safe in my bed. I should wake any moment. Previous dreams where I realize I am asleep, I always wake up. That’s it, any moment. I chuckle in relief but the all-too-real pain jolts me to accept that this is authentic.

‘Whoever patched you up before did a sloppy job. I fixed it up and got you something for the pain.’

‘Doesn’t feel like it.’

‘Well, honey, you’ve been shot. The pain is going to be there for a while.’

‘How long will it take?’

‘Without surgery? Could be a couple weeks before you start feeling yourself. You got lucky as far as where the bullets went in. Your shoulder may not make a full recovery but, if you can find a safe place and fight off infection, I think you’ll be alright. You seem tough.’ The ambulance slowed to a roll, took a turn, and came to an easy stop. ‘So, Adam, it’s time for you to make a decision. I am leaving town. It doesn’t seem safe here. You are more than welcome to come with me. My Uncle has a cabin in the mountains about an hour and a half South. I’ll look after your wounds and we are good there until things settle down here.’

Anna. ‘I have to call Anna.’ Where is my phone? Is it in the other ambulance? Check my pockets. Nothing. My wallet is gone, too. That’s how she must know my name.

‘Well, cell service has been down for a few hours. Not much on the radio, either. Just a few looped recordings telling everyone to stay in their houses and not to leave under any circumstance.’

‘What is happening? Where is my phone? Or my wallet? I don’t even know who you are or if I can trust you.’ I must be feeling better this is the first time I have felt anger since Anna and I last spoke.

‘My name is Alice. My friends call me Al. I was a field medic and now I am a Paramedic. I did save your life, I think that qualifies me for trust but I understand if you are still uneasy. The world is turned upside down right now for you and me both. I have your wallet and don’t know where your cell is.’ She turned around and leaned her head into the corridor of the ambulance. I hardly make out her face. Her hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail. The dim light from outside lit up her silhouette enough to reveal her aged skin and from what I could see, she looked calm and pleasant. ‘Adam, before I lost service, I got a text from another medic, a friend; Westover is down, too.’

Al’s head dropped, facing the floor. ‘He said that people were eating each other.’ Her voice quivering in disbelief. ‘I’ve seen some terrible things, Adam. Some really, really bad things.’ Still not able to see her in explicit detail but I know she shifted her gaze to look me dead in the eye. ‘I don’t know if I can do this. I have to go. I have to get out. I’m not going back into the city but, if you don’t want to come with me, I take you somewhere safe close by.’

That was the decision I had to make.