About a hundred yards into the fallow field I could see the abandoned water tower in all of it’s pale blue and rusty glory. Not a biter in sight… save for about fifteen to twenty on the ground. They were all layed out in a bizarre pattern that reminded me of some morbid crop circle with a clear patch directly in the middle.
I walked slowly for the first time in a while because I was wary of sleepers, which in my opinion are the worst type. Sleepers suck because they look like they’ve been put down already. They just lay there or sit there until something grabs their attention so it’s easy to get bit if you’re complacent. You’re walking past and then BOOM, their munchin’ on your ballbag.
Approaching the mess, I was able to see the true carnage of the scene and let me tell you, it was -nasty-. I counted twenty three in all. Nine of them had no heads… seriously, NO HEAD at all. The rest looked like they got ran over by a thresher or some other piece of farm equipment. Most had their limbs lying in close proximity… arms, legs, whatever and in some instances they were sliced cleanly in half and then deliberately split right down the middle of their foreheads with bits of brain and gore leaking out. I retched once again as the smell wafted over me. I hate maggots, man. I have a strong stomach but damn.
I broke into a jog and reached the ladder which, luckily, started about seven or eight feet from the ground so I was confident I’d be the only one at the top.
After the long climb, I took a second to catch my breath and survey the three hundred and sixty degree view. The semi-rural community looked strangely peaceful save for the odd plume of black smoke here and there. I found an old service hatch and yanked it open only to be met with a ham sized fist to the dome-piece. I wasn’t just knocked out… I was knocked THE FUCK OUT!
When I came to, I was inside the tower’s hold. It was like a bum’s studio apartment, heh. Winking slightly I could see that there were candles to light the interior, some bedding, a little camping stove, and shit like that… it looked sort of… comfortable, all things considered.
Sitting on the opposite side of the “room” was what could only be described as a white guy’s worst nightmare. I played like I was still out cold so I could assess the situation a bit. This hulking beast of a man looked like an NFL linebacker… bald head, massive and muscular, and dressed in jeans and a sleeveless tee that threatened to burst at the seams… and -dirty-.
“What the fuck is we gon’ do wit’ him, man?”, he said to somone out of my line of sight.
What I heard next dropped my jaw, which ached like a bitch, by the way… still does, actually. With a strong southern accent, the voice replied, “Boy, you are about as dumb as you are black.”
Now, anyone who would say some shit like that to the guy I was looking at was one of two things… either he was suicidal or he was a Bad Mother Fucker. And it got worse…
“Once a dumb nigger, always a dumb nigger.”, he said with a slight sigh.
I sat up slowly and adjusted my eyes the rest of the way just in time to hear the black dude say, “Fuck you, cracka ass cracka… once a racist shit-head, always a racist shit-head.”
It was about then that I made eye contact with the unseen voice for the first time. He was a pale, skinny farmer lookin’ guy with a lip full of dip and THE most stereotypical overalls with no shirt underneath. I honestly thought this dude was about to die.
The black guy turned his attention to me and less than politely inquired, “Da fuck is you lookin’ at?”
Naturally, I stammered as I asked them both, “Not gonna kill me are ya?”
Hillbilly spoke up and said, “Well that just depends, city boy. If you can pull your weight, you live… if not…”, he shot a glance over at big black; “Then I suppose this spook here is gonna finish turnin’ your nugget into sour mash.”
Black dude turned to hillbilly and was like, “Mutha fucka, if you call me that one mo’ ‘gain I’ma bust YO’ shit first… THEN, I’ma bust HIS shit and be done with the both of yo’ white-bread asses.”
It was becoming clear that there was more to these two, and their bickering, than I had first assumed.
“That there’s Cutty.”, hillbilly said motioning to his large partner and spitting that nasty-ass dip juice into an old Deer Park bottle. “He kills things. To be fair, it’s the only thing I’ve ever seen a jig like him do better than us white-folks, ‘cept for sports a’course.”
Cutty returned his motion, adding in a flip of the bird, and said, “And this backwoods, cousin-fucker is called Junior… and that muh’ fucka is -surgical- with that huntin’ rifle he keeps slung across his back.”
They went on to explain in almost comical fashion how they ran into each other the week before and had made their way to the tower and set up shop. They also told me that they had a plan to snag one of those monster-ass dumptruck/snow-plows from the state depot about a mile to the west and keep moving towards their ultimate goal… a rescue station some 40 miles further out. Heading the same direction as me… nice.
Once their plan was conveyed, they both looked at me and crossed their arms almost simultaneously as Junior said, “So that brings us to you, city-boy…”
Cutty picked up where Junior left off and asked, “Mm-hm. Who are -you- and what do you do?”
I said simply, “I’m Dext… and I’m a runner.”