[Author’s Note: I’ve been waiting for two years or so to finally write this and the next couple of chapters. I hope you enjoy it. If you’ve never read Oasis before, you’d better start with Chapter 1.]
Fire & Rain
The cart shook and rattled as it splashed across the parking lot. The heavy coat weighed heavier and heavier with each step. My socks and shoes were drenched.
On top of everything else, I knew my plan didn’t have much of a chance.
I pulled up to the tank.
I remembered Max Cooper almost killing himself by shooting a much smaller propane tank. Max hadn’t known that a propane tank will not just burst into flames when you shoot it. The thing had taken off like a missile, broken his arm, and knocked him cold. He would have died there in the street if I hadn’t been there to back him up.
I don’t have backup.
The rain kept falling and the small puddles were working their way into a complete layer of water.
The ground wasn’t dry next to the propane tank, but at least the one side was being sheltered from the direct rainfall.
I hardly even expected this to work, but I didn’t have much of a choice. Something had to be done.
The closest deads were out of my line of sight now, but I knew that each moment brought them closer.
I heaved the second bag of charcoal from the cart and wedged it next to the hot dog shaped tank. I used the ax to open the bag and expose some of the charcoal. I emptied most of two canisters of lighter fluid onto the wet bag and briquettes. I stacked the remaining couple of cans on top of the bag, just to be sure. Before lighting the bag, I took a look around to see what my exit strategy should be.
The inside of the first trailer was engulfed in fire. The inside of the grocery store was an inferno. Thick black smoke poured from every possible exit.
Too few of the deads were noticing, though. Only twenty, maybe thirty of them were shuffling away from the hospital. A couple of them headed straight for me.
My insides twisted up with the decision of where to go once I started the fire.
Should I go back to the city streets, find another safe house? The desert? Head for the hospital?
I was sick of feeling alone, but there was an entire horde of zombies between me and people I knew. But who was to say I could even find another safe place to sleep if I went back to the city? Certainly no one would let me in at this point. And I had had no gear or supplies for the desert.
The hospital it is.
I yanked off my glove and pulled out the lighter. I could only pray this would work.
The rain beat down.
I flipped down the visor to my fire helmet, crouched down, and touched the flame to the bag.
A fireball leaped out at me.
I dropped the lighter and fell backwards.
The lighter fluid burned hot.
I raised up on my elbow and stared at the dancing flame.
Will the wet bag of briquettes keep going?
For the moment, it seemed to be enough.
I breathed a sigh of relief. One step down. I pulled myself up, gathered my glove and ax, and held them in my left arm. With my right I dug out the forty caliber Glock that Samson had given me.
I turned to see how much time I had.
About ten feet away shuffled a dead woman in what was left of her pajamas. Her long hair and clothes were soaked and clung to her once beautiful body.
My heart dropped. Where did she come from?
I had been too wrapped up in the fires. It had almost cost me my life.
She took another awkward step toward me.
I spun my right hand around and raised the gun.
She stared blankly ahead.
I reminded myself she was now just a sack of muscles and bone controlled by a horrible virus.
I pulled the trigger twice.
The gun sounded like thunder.
I tried to avoid looking at the mess.
The damn rain just kept beating down.
I ran several feet past the corpse and turned.
Hopefully this’ll be far enough.
The little fire still burned, but it wasn’t looking very strong.
I raised the gun and tried to will my hand to stop shaking. I pulled the trigger.
A clear ping noise echoed back at me, followed by a hissing.
I fired again.
The flames leaped up four feet into the air for a moment.
Must have hit a lighter fluid.
I squeezed the trigger again.
Maybe it was a combination of the damage I had already done and the temporarily increased flame, maybe it was just a really lucky shot. I couldn’t tell.
All I know is that it worked.
The tank ripped apart. A giant fireball exploded outward and up. It made an angry sound that shook the ground harder than any of the thunderings made by the storm. Shrapnel tore through and tore apart the two trailers.
The explosive shock threw me back onto my butt.
Flying debris slammed into the first trailer and ripped it wide open. The fire inside jumped at the increased oxygen flow and flames shot into the sky.
My heart raced. I rolled to my knees and scrambled to my feet.
Thousands of blank stares were now pointed in my direction.
A short lived wave of gratitude washed over me. It worked. I shoved the pistol back in my pocket.
The feeling of gratitude was kicked out by the new reality of my situation.
I had to get through an entire city’s worth of zombies if I were to survive.
The entire mass of deads shambled my way.
Only one thing to do now. I forced myself to take a deep breath and pulled on my right glove. Go down swinging.
I didn’t want to run the risk of getting the ax stuck in the skull of one of them again, so I held near the head with my right, and near the end of the handle with my left.
No wild swinging, Corbin. Just use it to keep them back.
I wasn’t in any hurry to meet with the crowd ahead, so I walked as slowly as I could manage. Besides, maybe they’ll either spread out so I can get through or bunch up so I get around.
Despite the warm clothing, I shivered from head to toe.
Several days earlier, I had stood on a bench and watched as one of the deads was shot or pushed from a window in the hospital. That was the day Oasis had died.
Now I found myself standing on that same bench looking for some kind of sign that Samson and the other survivors from the hotel were going to make it.
The horde of deads was not far away.
Out in the distance I saw the evidence I craved.
Two men carrying large ladders ran up to the now-free side of the hospital. They slammed the ladders against the building and lined them up with windows on the second floor.
As soon as the ladders were in place, a crowd rushed out of the drug store across the street and started to climb.
I did it.
I felt a new strength enter my arms and legs. I had done it. They were going to make it.
One last test.
I raised the ax above my head and yelled.
The rain drowned out the sound of my shout, but one of the survivors spotted me and waved back.
I hopped off the bench and headed for what I thought might be the thinnest section of zombies.
With each step I moved faster and faster. Before I made any contact, I was running.
I aimed my charge for the space between two infected teenagers.
I bowled them right over.
The lethal crowd swallowed me up. Hands grabbed at me, teeth chomped at me, and bodies crashed against me.
I swung the ax left and right, opening up small spaces where I could step.
Something heavy collided with my helmet.
I yelled and pushed harder.
Through the heavy firefighter’s coat I felt a pinch in my left bicep.
I yanked my arm free from the infected mouth.
Something tore the ax from my grasp.
I swung at a zombie with a heavy fist.
A beefy dead woman wrapped her mangled arms around me.
I kicked back at her knee.
It gave with a crunch and her weight fell back.
I brought my elbows down hard.
It was enough to break her grip and she fell away.
I pushed hard against the crowd.
The crowd pushed back.
Two deads got a hold of my right arm.
I twisted and pulled it free.
My strength was fading fast. I couldn’t keep this up much longer. I had to get through.
A grisly dead man leaped and bit at my face.
His mouth met with the face guard.
Mud, blood, and spit smeared across my visor.
I punched a pair of grabbing arms down.
A heavy hand crashed into my left shoulder.
I lost my footing and fell to my knee.
Another crash on the helmet.
I pushed up with all I had.
I couldn’t stand.
This was it.
I would either be crushed by the horde or infected and left to die in the parking lot of the hospital where I had saved a hundred lives.
My thoughts drifted to the gun in the cargo pocket of my pants.
Several more hits to the helmet and my shoulders.
Another round of thunder crashed through the rain.
I am going to die.
Holy crap! Is this the end for Corbin? Keep reading to find out.
Thanks again for reading. And once again, tell everyone you know about Oasis. Post a link in your favorite forum, send a mass email, put a notice on your myspace page, become a fan of the Oasis facebook page, or just plain get creative.