“Jimmy, who dat?” came a voice from behind, and the man jumped so hard he hit his head on the car ceiling. He cursed and withdrew, putting the butt of his gun to the back of his head like it was an ice pack.
“Nobody, Sherry. It ain’t nobody.”
The woman approached. She had short cut light purple hair, but the rest of her body was defined more by the forces containing it. Flesh filled her expansive T-shirt, excess poking out of the sleeves, and it drooped over the edges of the scooter she rode. A sleek greyhound padded by her side. She came right up to the car and looked in. Julia and Stacy didn’t move. “Why you stickin’ yer head in two little nobodys’ car, Jimmy?”
Jimmy’s eyes narrowed and his face turned into a scowl. “They don’t smell right.”
“Now what the hell does that mean, Jimmy? They got dogs! Look! Save yer zeal fer the real zombies!”
“Sherry – “
“Get outta here, Jimmy! There’s food everywhere! Eat somethin’ fer chrissakes!”
Jimmy made a disgusted noise and disappeared into the crowd. Sherry looked back at the pair. “I’m sorry about Jimmy. He’s actually a really good… Well, he’s not the worst… He’s my husband and I love him.”
“That’s ok.” Julia mumbled, and Stacy forced a smile.
Sherry sighed. “He just won’t eat anything. Times have been tough lately and he’s a stress faster, it turns out. I’m a stress eater.” Her face stretched into a corny grin, “dunno if you woulda guessed. I was hopin’ takin’ him to this party he’d get somethin’ to eat. Anyway, lemme see if I can clear some space fer ya to park. You with the tappers? I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”
“We are” said Julia, just at the same time as Stacy said, “We’re not.”
“We’re not,” Julia admitted.
Sherry raised an eyebrow. “Right. You here to visit the park?”
“Yes.” Stacy and Julia nodded.
“Well, this park ain’t safe, as it turns out.” Sherry leaned in. “Fulla the z-word, if ya know what I mean.”
Julia smacked Stacy in the arm. “Oh!” Stacy blurted.
“Oh dear!” Julia agreed, taking over the conversation. “They’re all over the trail?”
Sherry shook her head. “No, they’re past the trail. Go on down the mountain and turn a right, then you’ll see the barn they built.”
“Really, a barn?” Julia widened her eyes in fake surprise.
“Yeah, they’re way smarter than any z-word oughta be. Word is they’re worse than flesh-eatin’ monsters. They’re Democrats.”
Stacy hoped her face wasn’t turning red from the effort of keeping a serious expression.
Sherry leaned in further until her own head was sticking in the window nearly as far as Jimmy’s had. She brought her voice down to a conspiratorial whisper. “Just between you and me, I don’ think Jesus wants us to go around shootin’ people even if they is Democrats. Too much video games, people think everything gotta be solved with shootin’. No conversatin’”
Julia nodded, “I agree.” Stacy didn’t breathe.
Sherry took her head back out of the window as if Julia had said nothing. “But it ain’t my decision. I just want Jimmy to get some food in him is all. Lemme clear you a path outta here.”
She turned and drew in a breath, but Julia interrupted her, “Wait! We have to go up there!”
Sherry squinted. “Go to another park, girl.”
“It has to be this park.”
Stacy’s throat was dry as Julia barreled forward, cranking up her own natural accent. “‘cuz my daddy’s there.”
Stacy put a hand on Julia’s knee, encouraging her to shut up. Sherry frowned. “Yer Daddy’s on the trail?”
“No, he’s dead.”
“Is he a… a… you-know-what?”
“He ain’t a zombie or a Democrat. He’s as human conservative as they come.” Julia puffed her chest out with pride, and Sherry nodded and put her hand to her chest. “My daddy died when I was eight years old.”
Julia shook her head in sympathy. “We just visited Daddy’s grave, and I wanted to go to his favorite park.”
“Why don’t you come back tomorrow?”
“I cain’t ‘cuz I’m gonna die tomorrow. Doctor says I got no time left to live. Shoulda died an hour ago. Might die in five minutes.”
“You poor thing. I was wonderin’ about how pale you was and all those bandages.”
“Yeah, well, I’m gonna go see Daddy soon.”
“Alright, then. Be quick about it.”
Stacy and Julia glanced at each other, and Julia forced a grin. “Two shakes.”
Sherry turned towards the mountain and pointed at the muscular man with the assault rifle and another wiry man with a beer belly. “Clancy, Jem! Move this table somewhere that makes any goddamn sense!”
She turned to the crowd. “All a y’all! Make way! This girl needs ta go to the mountain. She’s gonna die any second, so she won’t be long! Give her a parking spot!”
In a second, the table was up and placed to the side. The throng parted and made a path to a handicap parking space. Stacy eased her car forward and pulled the parking break. She weighed what to do with Blas. She didn’t like leaving him in the car with all these gun-toting maniacs around, but the zombies were no alternative.
She put her hand on his head. “Stay quiet. I’ll be back for you.”
All eyes were on them as Stacy opened the trunk and took out Julia’s wheelchair, then helped her climb into it. Acting ill on top of actually being ill, Julia made it even harder than the first time. Shortly, she was pushing the chair through the throng towards the mountain’s handicap access.
“Godspeed, girls!” shouted Sherry. “Be quick!”
She checked a watch buried deep in her wrist. “You’ve got an hour and six minutes ‘till the shootin’ starts!”
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