The Diapered and the Dead Ch. 5
Out of all the other members of Ms. Smith’s twelfth grade honors biology class Ron had to marvel at the fact that he and Lily had somehow made it through the night. It was noon now as Ron sat in the driver’s seat of their abandoned RV fiddling with the radio to no avail once more. Lily was slumbering peacefully in the back of the RV, having finally found enough peace of mind with the presence of daylight and noted absence of shadowy figures lurking outside the Camper.
Truth be told neither one of them had slept much last night. Everything that had happened had left each of them in state of shock uniquely their own. Ron spent of most of the dark hours staring at the ceiling wide awake running drills and scenarios in his mind. He must of thought of at least a hundred different ways the events of yesterday could have played out, yet none of it mattered now. He could only imagine what Lily was going through.
She’d gotten up once during the night. Her sudden movement had startled him then as she rose from the bed turning the towel around her waist into a makeshift cloth diaper before returning to sleep. Ron knew about her condition. Everyone did, yet he had to credit her ingenuity as she secured the thick cloth between her legs in almost total darkness.
It took him by surprise when she curled up next to him after that. He’d never had much luck with the girls at his school. He still had this awkward way about him that even four years in ROTC had yet to purge him of. When a bit of sleep finally did come to Ron in the early hours of the morning he found Lily pressed tightly against him thankfully still dry.
When he awoke much to his relief he found her in the same state. Her makeshift diaper showed no signs of wetness unlike the trashed undergarment the girl had taken off once they’d settled in last night. He knew she was dehydrated after their ordeal and while he had found a small water bottle in the RV he knew they would both need more.
Now, as Lily stirred awake before him Ron noticed how pretty she looked with her hair tossed about and her glasses off. She had a natural cuteness about her that had once been the talk of his fellow male classmates back during their sophomore year. As she tossed aside the thin blanket that they that had covered up with during the night, revealing the puffy towel she’d made into a diaper around her waist, Ron remembered the hardships the girl had faced over the past two years and just felt sorry for her.
“I’m going to go look around,” said Ron as Lily yawned. “You should be safe enough now that the sun’s out, just don’t leave by yourself.” He added.
Lily acknowledged his words then fell back onto the bed without saying much of anything at all. Ron left her alone to set out into the fresh air outside the Winnebago.
The sun reflected across the empty windshields in the sea of abandoned vehicles as Ron scanned the horizon of any sign of movement, hostile or otherwise. Almost right away Ron spotted a Water delivery truck not even a quarter-mile from the RV and he knew someone was looking out for him somewhere. It appeared the Zombie’s had made their way onward through the night and somehow forgotten all about him and Lily hunkered down in their midst.
He cautiously made his way to the truck, casing the other cars along the way for what they might hold. It seemed the semi-crash and the presence of the Walking Dead had forced the entire highway to flee and if that had been the case then Ron’s class must have just missed all the excitement when the bus driver made that turn a few miles back.
He struck gold finding all that water. It would be enough to last them months if they did it right, and certainly they’d find help long before then. Ron made two trips back to the RV hauling the large water cooler built containers before Lily finally woke up. Apparently she wasn’t as dry as Ron had thought, so he let her clean up while making another round for supplies.
This time he ventured a little farther down the road making a mental supply list of the things they needed. Aside from water they would need food, flashlights any kind of first-kit would come in handy and really the more the merrier in that regard, clothing, perhaps a working radio or cell phone of some kind. Ron had been on more than enough camping trips over the years to know what they would need and how to get by. With the camper the whole ordeal was quickly turning into a walk in the park.
He found snacks, clothing, a few flashlights and more than enough first-aid kits as he rifled through the unlocked vehicles at his disposal. Every car, truck and SUV was like treasure chest waiting to be pilfered, he felt no remorse for what he was doing, it was a matter of survival, or at least that’s what he kept telling himself. He kept going over the list in his mind again and again unable to shake the nagging feeling that he was forgetting something.
It hit him right in the face as he dug his way through the contents of a late model hatchback not far from the original turn off they’d taken yesterday. Diapers, Lily’s condition required them and he was fairly certain she’d run out. A half opened pack of Pampers stared at him from the back seat of the hatch back along with all the necessaries required for taking care of a small child. Powder, wipes etc. etc. he was pretty sure Lily would be a little too big for actual baby diapers but he gathered them up none the less.
As he closed the hatch-back door he was momentary caught off guard by the looming figure of a taller person coming up behind him. He nearly jumped out his skin then. Unaware of his surroundings as all the jitters over yesterday came shooting back to him. He felt his heart explode in his chest as the bulking figure leaned up against the side of the Hatch Back gasping for air.
“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes” said Maxwell Barnhart then as he slid his behind down on the bumper of the vehicle for a seat.
“Max!” exclaimed Ron in disbelief. “You’re alive!”
“Hell yeah I am” replied Max “No thanks to out classmates mind you, tell me how did you make it out of all that crazyness yesterday?”
Relieved to have found another survivor from his class, Ron detailed the events of his flight and his night with Lily. Thought Max would not have lasted a semester in the ROTC he and Ron had some history together. The Boy’s had been long time friends over the years growing up. Ron was ever the awkward nice kid and loyal pal, and Max, the fat lazy son of a Hockey Coach and a Baker.
“So you and Lily Hamilton huh?” asked Max then helping himself to a few of Ron’s supplies. “You find anybody else?”
“Afraid not” answered Ron.
“You guys eh—?” asked Max taking a bite out of a stick of beef jerky.
“Dude! Come on, seriously?” stated Ron in a tone that sounded as though he’d taken offense at Max’s remark. “With everything that happened yesterday, you’d ask that?”
“I’m only giving you shit.” Said Max “I mean its Lily Hamilton, you’d probably—”
“Dude, seriously, cut it out.”
“I’m only messing with you dude,” Max rose from his seat to help Ron with his haul. He was able to help carry most of what Ron already pinched from the other cars, including the pack of Diapers and changing supplies.
“Where did you get off to anyway?” asked Ron as they made their way up the street. “After everything went down yesterday.”
“Shit man,” began Ron. “I thought I was a goner for sure, when everyone shot off in different directions I was the last one to leave the Bus, I tried to follow Melody and her group but couldn’t catch up”
“Still after all these years?” Ron jested, he’d known about Max’s crush on Melody since the second grade. If Max was going to make fun of Lily Ron wasn’t going to let him off so easy.
“Yeah, I didn’t see her with Jeff so I figured if we’re going to die might as well… fat lot of good it did though, I got lost along the way, I spent last night in a ditch man. It was not fun.”
“You get any sleep?” asked Ron.
“Barely, those damn Creepers man,” answered Max “I kept hearing 'em shuffling down the road. They can’t see worth beans, but there were so many.”
“You saw more of them?”
“Hell yeah I did, though when morning came they seemed to pass right on through. Haven’t seen one since. You got any idea what the hell is going on?”
“Not a clue man, I’ve been trying to find a radio or phone, but so far I got nothing. It’s freaky as shit.”
“You can say that again.”
Not long after that the boys made it back to the RV. Overall they’d made out pretty good on supplies and food. With Max at his side Ron was able to stop off for another jug of water, and was in generally feeling pretty good about things. Max showing up, meant others hopefully would as well. It was now just a matter of waiting it all out.
“Keep an eye on things out here for a minute,” said Ron as he and Max unloaded their newfound supplies as the rear of the camper. “I’d better go check on Lily and tell you found us. Don’t want to scare her or anything.”
“Sure thing Ron, just let me know when I can come in.” replied Max handing him over the other items.
Unsure of how Lily would react to his findings and to the arrival of Max, Ron made his way into the RV with baited breath. For a moment he thought she’d gone until he found back at the bed clean but wrapped in another blanket with the lone pull-up speared out in front of her. It looked like she’d been crying.
“Hey I’m back,” Said Ron breaking her trance with his greeting.
“Oh,” said Lily looking up at him “Hey… Find anything else we can use?”
“Yeah, How are you feeling?” he asked.
“I’m fine.” answered Lily taking a deep breath and shrugging her shoulders. “I’m just still a little freaked out. I tried messing around with the radio but couldn’t find anything.”
“I know, but sooner or later someone will come with help. Max is outside, he made it all this way on his own.”
“Really?” asked Lily with a bust of excitement, however her mood quickly to a manic paranoia as she realized the state she was in.
“Umm I umm…found these,” Ron said holding out the opened back of baby diapers for her. “I don’t know if you can use them or not but…”
“Thanks” said Lily blushing. “These might actually work if we’re just going to hang around here. I can save this one for when we have to move again.” She added examining the open package daring not to meet Ron’s eyes.
“I found us some clothes to,” said Ron changing the subject. “There was this Lexus a few cars back with two suitcases, I guess whoever owned it was planning a trip of some kind.”
"Thanks,’ Lily said again as she got up from the bed and put her pull-up out of sight. “You saved my life last night. Thank you” she met his eyes then.
“It was nothing really, we happened to cross paths was all. I’ll be outside with Max. Let us know when your dressed and while have some food.”
“Good idea” said Lily pulling out one of the baby diapers from the pack. Ron left her alone as the color in his own cheeks started to rise.
When Lily joined the boys a short while later, she was wearing a loose t-shirt and a pair of gray shorts. The baby diapers fit her well enough but the shorts helped keep them place as the tops of the plastic backed garment poked out from her waist line offering up the slightest glimpse of the cartoonish band around its top.
Ron made a note of her carefulness around Max as they meet for the first time since the attack. Max had a reputation for being something of a harmless goofball around school on account of his large size, yet after everything that had happened Ron couldn’t fault the girl for her caution.
They settled in to have a late lunch that largely consisted of Cheez-it’s, granola bars and beef jerky. Lily seemed more at ease then, laughing for the first time ever when Max made an a joke about forgetting to do some of his homework. The three of them together seemed to be a good fit, each one an outcast in their own way.
Slowly the sun began to sink low in the horizon in the hours that followed. Max and Ron worked at the radio as Lily resigned to reading a map while there was still enough daylight left. For a brief moment it appeared Max found something as the faintest hint of a human voice came over the air only to disappear in a flicker of static. Even Lily got excited then and with renewed vigor all three of them sat at the driver’s column eagerly twisting the dials on the old radio. When at last they resolved to take a break Ron could see Lily uncomfortably upset.
“You okay?” asked Ron taking her aside.
“Yeah, I just got a little excited when you guys did” answered the girl nervously biting her lip.
“We’ll try again a little later, I’d keep it on all night but I don’t want to run the battery low. If we find the keys—” This time it was Lily who cut him off, making the slightest of motions to her lap and a again biting her lip as she met his gaze.
“Oh,” said Ron then. “Max, let’s head outside for a bit before it gets much darker” he stated to his friend still at the radio.
“But I don’t—” Max begin only to be forced short as Ron ushered back outside.
The pair of them made small talk and hatched escape plans in case things got hairy in the middle of the night. They’d sleep in shifts, not that it would do much good but Ron figured Lily might sleep a little better knowing they we’re at least trying to do something.
“What I wouldn’t give for a sign that somebody knew what the hell was going on,” said Max then as Ron leaned up against RV peering out into the sunset. “Why haven’t we seen one helicopter, or airplane? At this point I’d settle for a message in a bottle.”
As Max drove his point home Ron continued to stare out across the cars and into the field Lily and he had passed through last night. Suddenly in the fading light he noticed some movement from almost the exact spot they’d emerged from little more than 24 hours ago.
“What if those things are part of some government cover up…” blabbered Max as Ron shot up from his post beside him “Maybe we’re apart of some sick experiment or game show…” continued Max but Ron was no longer listening.
He saw the girls appear over the ridge almost at once. They were dirty and worn and barely able stand let alone move another step before passing out. Ron was on them like a hawk, leaving Max to weave through the cars like a rat in maze. As he got closer he recognized them. Fran Hayworth and Sophia Camp two more members of Ms. Smith’s honors biology class.
When he called their names they looked up at him panicked and shocked. Both girls broke down in tears as he approached but he managed to claim them down.
“It’s alright.” He began, as held out his arm to support Sophia. “We’re up in the RV just a head”
“How many?” asked Fran dryly.
“There were just three of us. Lily Hamilton, Max Barnheart and myself, is anyone else with you?”
“No.” answered Fran as Max caught up to them. “We’ve been on our own since yesterday. We found a house this morning but heard Gun short’s nearby, so we started heading back this way but ran into more of those things.”
“You did?” asked Max coming to the aid of Fran as best he could.
Sophia began to sob uncontrollably leaving Fran to continue her tale.
“A few hours ago we made it back to the bus, to see if it was safe. It wasn’t. Ms. Smith… and the Bus Driver…they’d been turned.” Fran stopped at that as Lily opened the door to the RV for them. Max looked to Ron but said nothing.
Both girls were all too thankful to be out of the fields as Lily helped them clean up and calm down. Ron and Max remained outside and on edge, each taking up a guard post as the girls settled in. A short while later all five of the seniors were back in the RV as the last of the light faded away outside.
Sophia and Fran seemed better after a little food and some shelter. Both we’re still visibility shaken as they re-told the story of their flight from the bus and what they’d endured over the past day. Ron was hopeful as he listened to their account. Today had brought Max, Sophia and Fran to their stationary mobile home, perhaps others would show up soon as well. Then again, he found the news of their encounter back at the bus all too unnerving.
“Are those yours?” asked Sophia suddenly. Her question was directed at Lily as she nodded her head toward the pack of Pampers under the back window.
Lily didn’t say anything in response and for a brief moment a long and awkward silence filled the camper. Ron opened his mouth as if to speak, but quickly found himself at a loss for words.
“Would it be okay if I wore one?” Sophia asked only making the situation even more tense as both Fran and Max looked at her puzzled.
“What?” She asked meeting everyone’s gaze as she took a deep breath to settle herself. “I…I’ve just been really scared, okay?”
None of the four high school seniors present doubted her for a second.