[note: Yes, I changed my mind on the chapter name. At least, I pushed it off till next week. It’s my story, and I can do that. If this is your first time hearing about Oasis, you’d do well to go back and start with Chapter 1.]
Max’s body flopped around as the garden cart bounced along the old pavement.
I just kept on running. If he didn’t have a concussion before, this’ll certainly do the trick.
The cart hit a particularly hard bump as we entered the parking lot.
Max groaned again.
I was relieved to see that there weren’t any deads waiting between me and the warehouse. I ran for the stairs leading to the door we had exited and slowed the cart so it wouldn’t slam into the wall. I looked back to see how much time I had.
Fifty, maybe sixty deads clogged the road, all making their grim march directly for me.
I scanned for the closest group and guessed I had a maximum of one minute to get inside.
I stopped the cart, ran up the stairs and pounded three times on the door.
Almost before the third knock, the door flew open.
I didn’t bother to stand around and find out who opened the door. I just jumped back down the stairs and called back over my shoulder.
“Max is hurt! Get some help! Go!”
I placed myself between Max and the parking lot. I looked around frantically for some kind of a weapon. I shoud’ve held onto the gun.
The dead marched on.
I spun back to the door.
Shouts came from inside the warehouse and four men burst from the door. One was Paul. The other three looked to be late teens or early twenties. They stampeded down the stairs and reached in to lift Max out of the cart.
I took a position at the back of the cart. “No! His arm’s broken. Pick up the whole cart. One, two, three, lift.”
The cart was much heavier than I expected it to be.
I spared a nervous glance over my shoulder as we juggled our awkward load up the stairs.
Three deads lead the loose hoard, and were only about twenty feet away and closing.
One of the younger guys holding the front slipped. The corner dropped and slammed into the stair. The propane tank smacked into Max’s shoulder.
The rest of us braced and kept Max and the cart from spilling down the stairs back into the parking lot.
The youth’s eyes went wide and he scrambled to his feet.
The deads pressed on, and were almost to the stairs.
We muscled the cart to the landing at the top.
Now if we can just get it inside.
The cart was barely skinny enough to fit through the open door, and the four of us fought to get it lined up just right.
Too many drivers.
And then the deads arrived.
Two of the three hit the bottom of the stairs.
Paul let out a yelp.
I looked down.
The third had reached up through the railings on the landing and grabbed him by the back of his shoe.
He thrashed his leg.
The dead man held on with an unnaturally strong grip.
I stomped a heal down on the dead’s wrist as hard as I could.
The shoe came off.
The crew finally got the cart finally lined up. Everybody fell flew through the door.
I looked back.
The two at the bottom had flopped forward onto the stairs and were crawling up.
And then the door was shut and locked.
It was a thick metal door. Probably just about bulletproof.
I only hoped it would hold.
“Dad?” A teenage boy rushed up to Max.
It’s not break time yet.
I rushed to the cart.
The whole family was gathering around. The faces all bore expressions of fear.
I took command. “Somebody grab a mattress. The five of you help me gently put him on the ground.”
Five or six of the family gathered around and we reached in to grab Max.
The two bangs on the door echoed.
Everyone fell silent.
We all wondered the same thing. Will the door hold?
A different kind of bang rang out. It sounded like another gun.
Everyone jumped a little.
I snapped back to my work.
“Come one folks, let’s get him onto the floor.”
We got him out and set him on the cement.
“Now somebody go get me a first aid kit. I need gauze and alcohol and an ace bandage and a couple of long straight hard things to re-splint this arm. Go!”
I put three fingers on his jugular and felt a weak, rapid pulse. I put my ear to his mouth and my hand on his chest.
His breathing was irregular and shallow.
I pried open his eyelids.
They were dilated. He was in shock.
“And someone go get a blanket.”
A good chunk of his hair was caked in blood, but at least it wasn’t openly bleeding.
His arm was still bleeding a little, and somewhere in all the jostling, the bone in his arm had slipped back out of place.
At least it’s not back through the skin.
I worked off the makeshift splint.
What’s taking so long?
“Somebody come hold his other hand while I set his bone.”
The boy who had called out “Dad” and run up earlier stepped forward and knelt down. He looked like he might be eighteen. He was crying.
I stood up and reached down for the broken arm.
Some motion down the aisle caught my attention.
It was Carl, coming at me at a dead run.
Now isn’t the time, you idiot. Can’t you see I’m busy?
He noticed my glance and pointed a finger.
“You! Stop! What happened?”
He slowed as he entered the circle of onlookers and gasped for air. “Just what the… hell do you think you’re doing?”
I considered explaining everything. It would take a while to tell the whole story. Plus, he was never really going to trust me or believe anything I said anyway.
So I flipped him the bird. “I’m doing my job.”
He balled up a fist and came at me.
Rage flashed inside me. I took two steps toward him.
He had taken me at my weakest before. I doubt he ever considered that I might be in a better state to resist his abuse this time. He probably thought I was a pushover.
I had already caught my breath from the run. I was fast. I was focused. I was angry.
Carl was about to be surprised.
Keep reading as the calamity of Corbin crashing with Carl occurs in “Chapter 29: Life Just Isn’t Fair” And remember: If your friends don’t know about Oasis yet, then you’re not being a very good friend.