I went over to shut the door on the back of the trailer, just in case there were more zombies back there. And even if there weren’t, I wanted to contain the smell. I couldn’t get it myself, so Daniels came over and helped me jam the lock back in place.
The crackle of static suddenly came from the cab of the truck. This was followed by a voice saying, “Can anyone here this? Over.”
Boden raced down the trailer to the cab, to the CB radio where the voice was coming from. Something sounded familiar about the voice, but I couldn’t place it until I heard it come again a moment later.
“Is there anyone out there? Over.”
I’d know that voice anywhere. It was Lazlo Durante.
“This is Sergeant Boden, over,” Boden was saying into the radio.
I climbed up onto the cab and hung down through the open door. Inside the cab was a bloody mess. The zombies had apparently climbed in to eat the driver, and parts of his body were lying all around.
Boden had one foot on the dashboard and one on the passenger seat, pinning himself up, with the mic in his hand.
“Give that to me,” I said, reaching out for it.
“What are you doing?” He pulled it out of my reach.
“Just give it me.” I almost fell into the truck, nearly knocking him down in the process.
“Remy!” Boden growled.
When I still persisted, he finally handed it over to me. Probably just because he didn’t want to fall down into the blood and rotting flesh at the bottom of the truck.
While we’d been fighting over the mic, I could hear the voice crackling through, introducing himself as Lazlo and asking where we were.
“Lazlo?” I asked, sounding out of breath from running to get the mic and wrestling with Boden. “Lazlo?”
There was nothing. Not even static. And my heart dropped.
“Lazlo?” I asked again, sounding panicked.
“You have to let go of the button when you’re done talking so you can hear him,” Boden said dryly.
“Oh. Right.” I let go, and instantly, I heard Lazlo’s response.
“Remy?” Lazlo asked. “Is that you? Over.”
“Yes!” Relieved tears wanted to fill my eyes but I swallowed them back. “Are you okay?” I let go of the button, then clicked it again and said, “Over.”
“Yeah, I’m okay,” Lazlo said. “How did you get out? Are you okay? Over.”
“Yeah, I’m good. It’s too long of a story, but I’m fine,” I said. “Where are you? Over.”
“I don’t know,” Lazlo said. “We’re going to Canada, but I don’t know where we are now. Over.”
“Who’s with you?” I asked. “Is everyone in your party okay? Over.”
“There’s about eight of us, and we’re all okay,” Lazlo said. “We found an abandoned militia base and got a couple guns and this CB radio, so that’s good. Over.”
“How’s Harlow?” I asked. “Over.” There was a long silence, so I asked again. “Laz? How’s Harlow? Over.”
“She didn’t make it,” Lazlo responded finally. “Over.”
I let my arm hang down for a second and swore under my breath.
“Remy? Did you hear me?” Lazlo asked.
“Yeah, I heard you,” I said. “Where can we meet you? Over.”
Boden put his hand over the mic and shook his head. “We shouldn’t meet them, Remy. We split off into smaller groups for a reason. That’d be almost twenty of us. That’s harder to guard and feed, and zombies are more likely to find us.”
“Well …” I wanted to protest, but Lazlo interrupted me.
“I’m sorry, Remy,” Lazlo said. “We can’t wait for you. I want to, but it’s too dangerous. But maybe we can meet in Canada. Over.”
In the background, I could hear someone talking over him, saying that Lazlo shouldn’t be wasting the CB battery making a date with his girlfriend.
I swallowed hard, knowing then that we’d probably never meet again. He had to keep moving, and so did I. Canada was an awfully big place, and the odds of us running into each other were pretty slim.
“Sure,” I said, trying not to let him hear the doubt in my voice. “That sounds good, Lazlo.”
“It’s a plan then,” Lazlo said. “Over.”
“Is there anything we should know about?” I asked. “Are there any places we should avoid? Over.”
“Avoid the cities,” Lazlo said. “They’re really bad. And just… avoid zombies, I guess. Be careful. Over.”
“That militia base you found, did they have any guns?” I asked.
“Not a lot,” Lazlo said. “And we took what they had. Sorry. Over.”
“No, don’t be. You did what you should’ve done.” I held the mic away from my face for a minute and shook my head. “Listen, Lazlo, I should get going.”
“Will you have the CB with you?” Lazlo asked.
“No, I won’t. I won’t be able to radio anymore,” I said. I closed my eyes. This would probably be the last time I ever talked to him. “Take care of yourself, okay, Lazlo?”
“I will,” Lazlo said. “And you do the same. You have a date you have to go to in Canada, remember?”
“I won’t forget it.” I took a deep breath. “Bye, Lazlo. Over.”
“Bye, Remy.” There was a long pause. “Over.”
I handed the radio back to Boden, in case he could think of somebody he wanted to radio. Then I pulled myself all the way up onto the cab and stood up. I jumped from the cab to the trailer. When I was out in the middle, I sat down, dangling my legs over the edge.
From here, I had a view of everything, and the ground was flat and grassy, with no zombies in sight. Teddy was standing by the cab, and he looked like he’d been listening to me talking to Lazlo. Bishop was below me, setting up lunch. Max was playing with Stella, or at least trying to. She giggled some, but she still seemed freaked out.
Daniels and Nolita were at the end of the trailer, sitting on the tires and talking. Their voices were hushed, and they leaned into each other. I don’t know what they were saying, but Nolita’s hand was on Daniels’ thigh.
Ripley was quite a bit away from us, lying in the grass. She’d been following us, but she kept her distance. Her affection yesterday wasn’t her usual behavior. She usually preferred to have space between her and humans.