We continue through suburbs, past barns and offices and street signs. On every block I leave my tag. Eventually it reduces to:
In some places only my address will fit. After about four tags I realize that this could be a huge misunderstanding, and I may one day have to pay for all this damage. I make all the tags smaller after that.
It has occurred to me that in this circumstance leaving my location in plain sight might not be the best idea. But I don’t believe in zombies. I don’t see dead bodies lining the streets. I don’t see destroyed buildings or fires or anything that would indicate I may be in danger. All I see is a dog, several in fact, just as confused as I am. And the silence is starting to frighten me more than the possibility of danger.
My favorite park in town lies on the hill above us. It’s decorated with cherry trees and swing sets that have appropriately grown and rusted since my childhood. Approaching a picnic table I move to sit until I smell it.
Something that reminds me of a gas station. Like the aftertaste of exhaust on the back of my throat. A sickly smoky aroma. The picnic table is just below the top of the hill and climbing upward I can suddenly see light peeking from a brilliant glare. Below the hill lies a deep valley lined from ridge to ridge with vehicles of all kinds parked bumper to bumper.
The windshields reflect the afternoon’s setting sun and almost blind me. Cleaver starts barking like a lunatic, but thankfully he’s too smart to run down the hill. Several semi trucks lie in the basin, surrounded by civilian vehicles, police cars, expensive cars. All the doors are shut, no damage to any of them is apparent from my current vantage. No bodies, no movement. I stand very still and as the minutes pass my knees begin to shake violently. My mind is racing for answers, and I suddenly and illogically assume that these cars were parked as a warning. My mind screams at my feet to move but they are frozen.
Decorations and heirlooms hanging from rearview mirrors sway in the wind where windows are open. Against the hill some of the tires are perched in absurd angles. I realize that the grassy hill does not show the devastation of footsteps that this kind of congregation should have caused. And suddenly the sight is lost to me. My feet are flying down the hill towards Main Street, cans of spray paint clinking to the ground behind me as they jump out of my pack. If I had control of my mind I would be screaming. As it is, I simply run twelve blocks to the coffee shop and slam into the walk in pantry, locking myself in from the inside.