October 7

Night Class (Part 3)

 

[…continued from October 6 entry…]

 

At the perimeter of the headlight glow, two fists stretched open as dead fingers tested movement. They strangled empty air, imagining the width of Rutland’s throat.

“I’m a professor. I work here.” Rutland projected a teacher’s authority, hoping the hilltop official would come to his aid. Hoping against hope that some residue of classroom hierarchy could deter the reanimated corpse of a former student.

“We know who you are, Mr. Rutland.” Vocal cords rustled as foul air expelled from dead lungs. Tennis shoes shifted into starting position, toes aligned with the edge of the crosswalk as another corpse scrambled into a menacing posture. “You’re part of the problem.”

Rutland turned toward the headlights. These were slow-moving corpses, he hoped, and he’d have time to seek sanctuary in his car, start the engine then drive away or, if he had to, drive through this unnatural assembly.

Another quick flicker of the streetlamps revealed bodies sitting up along the expanse of wet lawn. As Rutland hurried to his car in the dark that followed, heavy footsteps plashed through the mud then scuffed off the curb and onto the road. The quick steps came close behind, and carried a loose slosh that sounded like the full fat stomach of some hideous mythical beast.

Rutland fumbled with the handle, pulled the car door toward him. Before he could squeeze inside the vehicle, the footsteps scurried closer, the slosh lurched and heaved, and the beast vomited a warm chunky liquid over him. It fell over Rutland’s hair, rolled sticky down the open collar of his dress shirt and clumped onto his back. A red pint sloshed over his pleather driver’s seat; dark lumps splashed over the car’s hood and crimson syrup poured over the door and window.

He rushed inside the car, ignoring the foul squish at his seat as he slammed the door and jammed the key into the ignition. A fresh smear arced across his front windshield: blood and bits of gore, inexplicably missing from the scene of the massacre, now expelled from some second gruesome cauldron.

Rutland started the engine, then flipped the switch for the windshield wipers. Some of the gore slid aside, partly revealing a crowd of bloody figures standing in the road. They swayed and shambled, blocking his path ahead.

A thump sounded against his rear window, follow by the mouse-squeak slide of a hand down glass. More thumps: on the door next to him, on the passenger side window, hollow against the trunk and hood. Black-clad gore-streaked figures surrounded the car; they pressed red handprints on the glass.

Rutland slammed the heel of his palm against the steering wheel, sending out sharp blasts from the horn. In the moments between blasts, he screamed at the confining shapes. “I can’t see!” His voice boomed in the car’s interior, but he wasn’t sure how far it would carry outside. “Go away! I can’t see! I’ll run you down!”

More thumps from every direction. One of the figures pressed down on the trunk, bouncing the car in place.

Rutland shifted into Drive. He pressed a final, lengthy blast on the horn, then inched forward.

 

[…continued tomorrow…]