Zombie road book 1 convo.., p.1
Zombie Road (Book 1): Convoy of Carnage, page 1
Convoy of Carnage
A Two-Fisted Trucker Tale
DAVID A. SIMPSON
Convoy of Carnage
is a work of fiction by
David A. Simpson
All characters contained herein are fictional and all similarities to actual persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental.
No portion of this text may be copied or duplicated without author or publisher written permission, except for use in professional reviews.
Copyright © 2017 David A. Simpson
All rights reserved.
To my dearest partner in life: The nitpicky, OCD, grammar-Nazi, Robin.
“If you would, have a seat here, Sir.” The man indicated a comfortable chair pulled up to a simple plank table “we can get the microphone set up for you.”
He sat heavily and looked around his living room, at all the people gathered and watching him, most of them with various instruments to aid in the recording process.
“What do want me to say?” he asked, a little uncomfortable with everyone standing around, more than he was used to seeing high in the mountains. Especially in his own home.
“You were a hard man to find. We have talked to everyone else we’ve been able to contact about the early years.” The smiling man said. “This isn’t really an interview, we just want you to tell us what you remember. Just tell us a story like you were talking to friends. Tell us what you can and with the trove of video we found from one of the survivors, we hope we can assemble an accurate picture of the times.”
“You understand, it’s kind of hard to separate the legend from fact after all these years, right?” He asked, “I can’t tell the difference in what was real and what I remember as real sometimes.”
“Yes, Sir. It has been a long time, but we’re pretty sure we have all of the facts correct. We just want to add the human side of the story where ever we can. We want to get a feel for the people who were there, how they felt and why they did some of the things they did.”
“Is this going to be a movie or something?” the old man asked.
“We don’t have that kind of technology, not to do it properly. We hope to lay out the definitive history of the Fall in a book, perhaps two or three if we have gathered enough of the human element to tie all the dry statistics together. We hope to write a compelling story, not another history book.”
The old man smiled. “Well, some of the things I remember, nobody will believe anyway. It’s all true, but some of it may not have happened.”
He took a sip of water and started talking.
The Three Flags Truck Stop
Gunny came through the glass doors of the garage and into the long corridor that would lead him to the dining area of the Three Flags Truck Stop. He had just brought his old Peterbilt into the bay for an oil change and was now looking forward to the morning’s first cup of coffee and whatever the breakfast special from the kitchen happened to be. He glanced to his right when the gym doors opened, and a heavily built man came out, a towel draped around his neck, wiping the sweat from his great bald head.
“Hey Tiny,” he said in greeting. “You eat yet? I’m headed for chow.”
Tiny, ironically named because of his bulk, flashed a smile that seemed to glow out of his ebony face. “Hey, Gunny,” he rumbled. “Yeah, headed there myself. Something wrong with your Pete?”
“Nah. Just a service. Tommy put one of the mechanics on it. You and Scratch still running veggies out of the valley?”
They walked down the long corridor, catching up on each other’s lives since they had last crossed paths a few months prior. They ambled by the various shops and stores of the old Truck Stop, most still closed at this early hour. The barbershop, the laundromat, the Cutting Edge knife shop, the CB shop, the freight brokers’ offices, and Doc’s Place among the many that catered to the Professional Drivers. Old Cobb gave these little shops low rental rates because of the smell of 90 weight gear oil, and the sound of impact wrenches was more prevalent near the workshop.
The Three Flags Truck stop had been around almost as long as the highway it was named after. Route 395, at one time a main north-south road, ran from San Diego all the way up to the Canadian border. Hence, the three flags designation of the three countries it joined together.
The truck stop had been established in the 50s by Old Cobb’s dad, a World War 2 vet who went on to drive trucks after the Big One and saw the need for a good place for truckers to refuel both themselves and their rigs. The land was cheap up north of Reno, it was nothing but scrub, and no one else wanted it. So, using the benefits of his G.I. Bill, he bought nearly 200 acres along Route 395 and business was good.
He expanded rapidly during the boom years of the 50s and 60s, buying up used army Quonset huts for his buildings and simply putting in long banks of government surplus windows on one side to let in natural light so they wouldn’t feel so claustrophobic. He used a small airplane hangar as his main building and had a wing off one side for his mechanic shop and a wing off of the other side for his wife’s diner.
His wife ran the kitchen, Cobb ran the workshop and he hired other vets, many of them damaged from the war, to help him run his business. When the new freeways came in, business slowed. They managed to hang on, but there were some lean times for a number of years. When Cobb Jr. took over when he retired from the Marines, he brought the old truck stop into the modern times. He convinced some of the local artisans and vintners to sell their wares to draw in tourists.
With some internet advertising and savvy marketing as the oldest Truck Stop in Nevada, it became THE place to stop and see a little roadside Americana. There was a huge junkyard out behind the shop where wrecked and worn-out trucks sat dating all the way back to the 40s and 50s from their towing and recovery service.
He even had a half dozen of those trucks with the big sleepers moved up to a little area where he cleaned and polished them so they looked like new. He ran some electricity for heat and air conditioning then rented them out on Airbnb for $40.00 a night. Old Cobb laughed all the way to the bank. It was a family business and the pride they took in it showed in a lot of small ways.
As Gunny and Tiny made their way through the Quonset hut they saw Cobb coming out of the shower area, pushing a mop and bucket. “Cobb, when you gonna put in some moving sidewalks like they got in Vegas in this place?” Tiny grumbled. “It’s gotta be a mile from the gym to the diner.”
Old Man Cobb squinted at him through his one good eye. With a grizzled voice that was partly from Lucky Strikes and partly from a piece of shrapnel to the throat he had picked up in the Khe Sanh Valley, he spat out, “Looks like you could use the exercise, Squib. But you Navy boys ain’t used to that.”
“Morning Cobb” Gunny said, grinning at the age-old rivalry of the Services.
“Gunny.” Cobb nodded. “You need to hit that gym too. You’re getting as flabby as him.”
“I’m just going after some breakfast, maybe next time,” he said, knowing full well he wasn’t planning on lifting lumps of metal anytime soon.
“He gets plenty of exercise Navy Style.” Tiny grinned. “We called ‘em 12-ounce curls.” as he mimicked drinking a cold beer.
“Yeah. I can see. Looks like you had plenty of burritos to go with those brews.” He added, poking at Tiny’s not so tiny stomach. “Speaking of food, Martha’s been making up some blueberry pies and pancakes last couple of days, got a crate of fresh ones that “fell off the truck.” Make
“Thought you said I was fat,” Tiny said. “And now you want me to eat pie?”
“Well don’t eat none, then” Cobb rasped out, “I’ll just tell her you think her cookin’ ain’t no good.”
Tiny threw his hands up, aghast. “Don’t you dare, Cobb! You tell her that, she won’t feed me for a month!”
Cobb laughed quietly and shooed them on, “Go on, get out of here. Can’t you see a man’s trying to work,” he said and turned back to his mopping. “And walk on the edge near the window, it’ll be dry by now,” he barked out.
They continued, taking a left into the main hut that was massive enough to have an old airplane suspended from the ceiling with a rounded height of more than 30 feet. It housed the touristy attractions and the video arcade along with the souvenir shops and main C-store that sold everything you would expect in a well-stocked convenience store and tourist trap.
There was a pretty good selection of trucker related items too. Electronics and load straps and log books along with the audio books, DVD multi-packs and rattlesnake eggs.
As they passed the arcade, they looked in and saw an intense young man wielding a plastic shotgun, blasting away at never ending hordes of Zombies. They looked at each other and smiled.
Gunny opened the door and they both shambled towards him, arms outstretched, moaning in their best zombie wails and groans. “BRAINS!”
He spun like lighting, twisting at the waist, feet never moving, orange plastic shotgun to his shoulder, “Boom! Boom! Dead, you fleshbags!” he yelled out, targeting each one of them, then turned back to his game but it was too late. The screen was counting down, demanding more money if he wanted to continue.
“Aww, piss!” he said in aggravation. “I was on the last level before the Boss Fight.”
“C’mon Scratch” Gunny said. “We just saved you from yet another slow, painful death. Besides, Martha’s got blueberry pancakes.”
“No thanks to you two ass wipes.” He grumbled. “You’re buying.
This damn game cost two bucks to play. Cobb’s getting rich off me.”
“Where you running today?” Tiny asked, changing the subject.
Scratch put the plastic gun back into its holster and turned, grabbing his jacket off the unused Pac Man machine with the metal claw from his prosthetic left arm. “Supposed to take this load of winter squash down into Sacramento but dispatch has me in a holding pattern here. They want to verify with the warehouse before they send me in.”
“Verify what?” Tiny asked. “Either they ordered them or they didn’t. What’s so hard about that?”
Scratch stopped at the glass door Gunny was holding open and looked at them. “Haven’t you heard what’s been going on?” he asked?
They looked at each other, then back at him. Tiny shrugged. “No. I don’t watch the news. Is it that Mecca thing?”
“That Mecca Thing” Scratch snorted. “That happens every year.”
Gunny said, “I’ve been on a Louis L ’Amour binge this week. Got a bunch of audio books from the library when I was home.”
“Geez,” Scratch said and shook his head. “You two hermits ever get out of your trucks and talk to people?”
“I don’t like people.” Tiny quietly rumbled. “I don’t even like you. You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.”
They were walking through the tourist areas, making their way to the doors of the diner, Scratch’s metal arm fully exposed in his short sleeve shirt, jacket slung over his shoulder.
A young college aged couple with their carefully matched second-hand store clothes and scarves looked at them in indignation. They were browsing the authentic Navajo jewelry and heard what Tiny said. They saw the young man's missing arm and shot daggers at the big man for being so insensitive.
Tiny didn’t notice, Gunny didn’t care and Scratch was used to it, people taking umbrage on his behalf since he “was a cripple.” But they were all former servicemen. Navy, Marines, Army…it didn’t matter. If you weren’t continually insulting each other, it meant you didn’t care. He was like most people with a disability, just wanted to be treated like one of the guys.
“C’mon. It’ll be all over the news in the diner. Man, something is making people go crazy. There have been riots in nearly every city. Hell, it’s worldwide according to Alex. How long since you turned on your radio?”
Gunny was starting to get an uneasy feeling in his gut. He thought, wracking his brain when WAS the last time he had watched the news? He’d left the house a little over a week ago, had talked to his wife Lacy a few times and got on to his teenager about homework and chores once.
He really hadn’t had the radio or CB on except for traffic checks since he picked this load up in Maine. More than a week. He’d been burning through the days listening to tales of the old West and Gunslingers and Indian raiding parties. Warriors of yesteryear. He got like that sometimes, “one of his moods” as Lacy would say. Just wanting to shut the world out and live in his own bubble. The news was always the same anyway. Always depressing.
A cop shot someone and there were protests in the streets.
Some terrorists blew something up.
Some politician was doing shady stuff.
Stocks were up.
Stocks were down.
Some celebrity was getting married or divorced.
The war in the Middle East never ended.
North Korea was saying they were going to Nuke somebody.
It seemed that the only thing that changed was the names of the people involved. But riots in every city? The last news he had watched back home that all the talking heads were excited about was the big announcement by the Salaam meat packing factories.
It was a Muslim owned company and they were going to start selling pork products to the world during this year’s Hajj. This was to show the world that “Muslims were a peaceful people and were in opposition to the terrorists.”
But in reality, Gunny figured it was just a way to get their Halaal products on the store shelves without any backlash from people who didn’t want to see them at the local grocery. They were going to release all these pork products when most of the Muslim population in the world went to Mecca for their pilgrimage. Probably so some high Imam would calm the masses and tell them Allah said it was okay.
Kind of like Jesus did in the New Testament when He told the Israelites it was all right to eat pork.
Gunny figured it was just a marketing move. It didn’t matter what your religion was for a multinational corporation. In the end, it came down to making money. It was all about the bottom line. But if it brought Islam into the 21st century, he was okay with it. Maybe it would help stop ISIS. Give them one less reason to chop your head off.
He didn’t hate all of the Muslims like some of the vets did. Even though he’d killed his fair share of them, he’d met a lot of good folks over there. But were people so pissed off about it, they were protesting in the streets? He doubted it. It wasn’t that big of a deal.
That was capitalism. Maybe it would bring the price of bacon down. He knew Scratch wasn’t prone to hysterics even though they had only known each other for a few years. He’d lost his arm in Afghanistan when a couple of AK rounds had done too much damage to repair.
That story came out late one night at the poker table behind the mechanic's shop, the one the tourists didn’t go to or even know about. As old soldiers tend to do when they were together and the whiskey flowed, the talk turned to war stories and battle scars. Scratch said they had been under heavy fire after multiple IEDs had trapped his convoy.
Even with his arm half blown off, the bone shattered to fragments, he was still able to man the .50 while the medic put on a tourniquet. That was one cool customer, Gunny had thought as he lost another forty bucks. But if his tales were coming from Alex Jones, then maybe they could be dismissed. Everybody knew Alex tended to add a lot of hyperbole to the facts, right? I mean, he was famous for all his conspiracy theories.
As they headed to the diner, Scratch filled them in on what little he had heard. “People are acting weird, man. It all started a few days ago. It’s like somebody spiked the water with bath salts or Flakka or Spice or something. People are like, eating peoples’ faces. It’s mostly in the big cities, but I read on the net that it’s all over the place.”
“Ahh,” Tiny said dismissively. “It’s gotta be just hype, just another internet thing.”
They passed the Missing Man table that was cordoned off with velvet ropes that Cobb had probably stolen from a bank somewhere and they all fell quiet for a few paces. All three paying a silent tribute in their own way to the empty chair.
The small round table draped in a white linen cloth had been there ever since Gunny had discovered this out of the way truck stop. When he first saw it, he knew he was at a good place. The chair at the table was empty, symbolizing all the soldiers who would never be coming home again.
The red rose in the vase was always fresh, never plastic. The lemon slice and the salt on the plate, representing bitterness and tears of the family, were changed twice a day by Martha herself.
There were a couple of Honor Boxes hanging on the wall. Cobb’s Dad’s, Cobb’s, and his son Tommy’s. The flags in them were tightly folded into triangles, the medals proudly displayed.
If you knew how to read them, one look and you could tell the type of man you were dealing with. Old Cobb put on a crotchety and cantankerous attitude, a crusty old bastard who only cared about making money but when you looked at his medals, the silver star, his purple hearts, his drill instructor’s ribbon, it told a different story. A story of heroism and bravery; of sacrifice for his fellow Marines.
by David A. Simpson have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes