The Diapered and the Dead Ch. 6
Despite the relentless roar of Max’s soaring as he slumbered away from the passenger’s seat, the underlying fear of being eaten alive by the walking dead outside the stalled camper and the simple uncomfortable-ness that came from sharing a bed with two diapered girls whose every toss and turn was amplified with an annoying crinkle Fran had somehow managed to fall into a deep sleep that first night in the RV. Her exhaustion played a large part in the flawless slumber. She slept long and hard sandwiched in between Lily and Sophia while the boys retired to the front seats.
She dreamt she was at the Waterfall. She hadn’t been there in a long time. Its waters washed over her with protective warmth that seemed to shield her from the terrors that plagued her in the waking world. She felt safe in the cool pool of her dreams.
Slowly the water changed. The shower ran red and thick mixed with the entrails and faces of Fran’s friends and family. Still she let it wash over her. The water meant safety and that’s all that mattered to her. Suddenly something felt wrong. The water grew warm around her as the liquid shield grew to encase her in a large bubble. She was cut off from the flow then, caught short and suffocating.
Fran awoke with a start. Gasping for breath as she sat up pressing her legs together to stifle the flow of urine leaking out of her. The bottom front of her shirt tail was damp and a wet spot the size of a sliver dollar stained the sheets beneath her. Sophia and Lily were sound asleep on either side of her both even more wet but protected in part by their choice in attire.
The world seemed all together grey as the light of the early morning flooded through the RV’s blinds. Fran had a brief moment panic about her small accident but resolved the group had much more pressing matters at hand than what she’d done. If anything she could probably blame it on one of the others anyway.
Never the less she rose to clean herself up before any of the others awoke. That’s when she saw Ron, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and crouched in front of the camper’s middle entrance. He raised a lone finger up to his lips signaling her to be quiet.
Fran froze in her tracks. A shadow fell over the window filling its blinds with the outline of a Zombie was it shuffled by. Soon there was more than one, and as they made their way passed the RV Fran caught a glimpse of their true nature through the window.
Her heart sank when she recognized the familiar figures of Ally Coleridge and Timmy Gordon. Two of her classmates had not been so lucky in their escapes from the bus. There were among their passing hoard as well and Fran felt tears well up in her eyes as they walked by outside.
All she could do not to cry out in terror was hold her gaze on Ron. The boy was collected and ready to pounce if anything that would put them in danger. His own acknowledgment of Fran was reassuring. They sat in silence across from each other until the threat passed along its way.
A few tense moments passed until finally the others stirred awake. Neither Lily or Sophia caught on to Fran’s accident merely taking the small wet spot for a sign they both needed to get out of the soaking baby diapers they’d spent the night in.
As the girls got cleaned up Ron laid out their plan with Max, for the most part the other’s seemed content to go along with whatever Ron said and after everything Fran had woken up to she found herself falling in line with his suggestions as well.
“We can’t stay here,” said Ron “It’s not safe, at least not for much longer.”
“But someone has got to find us sooner or later; there have got to be others who’ve made it like we have.” Stated Max “What about the rest of our classmates?”
Ron shot a knowing look toward Fran then.
“The sooner we get out of here the better” said Sophia emerging from the tiny shower space within the RV. She was back in a diaper and sans pants, the plastic garment hung tight to her crouch as it poked out from underneath the long ribbed tank-top she’d opted to wear for the day.
“I agree with Ron,” said Fran before Sophia derailed their train of thought with her attire. “But let’s take our time with things, maybe there are others who’ve survived everything. If we stay here we stand a better chance of finding them.”
“True” said Ron “There are more of us here now, we can spend some time gathering up more supplies, there has got be at least one of those vehicles we can get running again.”
“Maybe we can look for a spare key somewhere” suggested Lily chiming in. She too was back in a clean baby diaper, though given the bashfulness of her nature Lily had done her best to hide the garment under a pair of tan cargo shorts. It gave her torso a very square like look, outlining the diaper’s thick bulge as the top of it poked out her waist. It was probably the most form fitting article of clothing Fran had ever seen Lily wear.
“Maybe if we’re lucky” said Ron then. “Max, you and I can figure something out, Fran and Sophia you two should scout out more supplies we may have missed yesterday, keep an eye out for anything that might be handy out on the road. Lily….it’s probably best if you stay here and keep watch from the roof. We can trade off after a little while.”
“That sounds good to me” said Lily “I don’t mind playing look-out”
“I trust you Ron, though I still think we should give it a little more time before move out” said Max.
“Ultimately it depends on what we find today,” Ron replied.
“Can we spend at least one more night here?” asked Sophia.
“I’ll think about it,” answered Ron.
After a bit of debate Fran had managed to convince Sophia to wear a pair of jean shorts over her diaper. Barely longer than a pair of daisy dukes, they did about the same for Sophia’s diapered figure as Lily’s cargo shorts had done for hers. The pair of them set out in search of anything that might be helpful for the trip ahead finding a few items here and there but nothing substantial enough to merit any excitement.
As the sun bore down on them and the day wore on the girls made their way further from the RV but made sure to keep it sight at all times. After some time searching they split up to cover more cars. Digging through the backseat of an old Honda civic yielding only a couple of magazines and some hand sanitizer put Fran in a right foul mood, when Sophia approached carrying an unopened package of Huggies Size 7 Fran lost her cool.
“Seriously?” she said then “What has gotten in to you Sophia?” she asked.
“What?” shrugged her friend, “Lily wears them.”
“She has a medical condition,” stated Fran “You know… the one everybody used to tease her about back at school.”
“I…I…” Sophia struggled to find an answer as her breath grew heavy.
“Lily can’t help it. You can,” Fran cut in “if we have to live like this you shouldn’t be wasting resources for her.”
“They make me feel safe,” replied Sophia not caring to hide her emotions. “I don’t know why but they do…and I keep wetting myself…and so do you.”
“No I don’t.” said Fran “Not like you do.”
“Yeah right…why can’t you just leave me alone? Does it even matter what any of us where anyway?” asked Sophia then as tears welled up her eyes. “You’ve been pissing yourself just like I have, the whole worlds gone to –”
“Shut up,” said Fran cutting her off. “Let’s just get this stuff back to the RV.”
Their walk back was a quiet one. They reconvened with the group and Fran resolved to stay behind as the boys continued in their relentless search for a set of moving wheels. At some point they had managed to find an old radio and while it didn’t work well, it gave Fran something to focus on as the others went about their searches.
Her heart nearly skipped a beat when she’s managed to pick up the voice of an emergency broadcast recording. She brought it up to the others as soon as she could and all five of them grew intently serine as they listened to the announcement over and over again.
“This is a message from the emergency alert system. The Evacuation Order has been terminated. Those still within the vicinity of the quarantine areas are advised to avoid contact with any of the infected at all costs. Stay indoors at night and off the roadways at all times.”
The Message played over and over again along with slight variations advising the populace to’ await further instructions and help from officials.
“Fat lot of good that does us.” Said Max after the silence got to be too much for him. “What the hell are we suppose to do now?”
For a moment it seemed as If even Ron didn’t have an answer then finally he spoke. “We need to get out of here.” He stated calm and collected. “We need to find a vehicle and get somewhere safe. No one is going to rescue us here.”
“We don’t know that.” Said Lily
“Yes we do,” replied Fran “We can maybe spend another night here but not much longer, sooner or later what caused all this is going to circle back and I don’t want to be here when it happens.”
They debated for a while after that. Max resolved to crack open a bottle of liqueur he’d found among the supplies in an attempt to throw all caution and hope to the wind. Lily retreated into a private corner to change, with Sophia following suit soon after as Ron stormed out on his owned to determined to find some mode of transport for them.
Fran decided to go with him. It was well after lunch time by then.
They walked for a long time with Ron leaving Fran to trail behind him. She could tell he was mad but knew it wasn’t going to do any good. If they couldn’t find a working vehicle they would have to come up with another plan. They could set out on foot maybe, or spend a little more time in the RV though at their current rate that was proving volatile all it’s own.
They were well clear of the RV when Ron was finally level headed enough to search again. It wasn’t simply a matter of finding a working car. It was a matter of finding a car they could get free of the other abandoned vehicles, had a enough gas to get them where they needed to go, and was big enough for them all to fit inside, even if it meant a less than comfortable seating arrangement.
As the sky turned orange with the setting sun, Fran realized their search had taken nearly twice as long as the other one and had proved even less fruitful. They were further away from the RV now then any of them had been before and in the distance sprawled out before them Fran could see where the traffic jam ended and the road opened up into miles of empty highway as far as the eye could see.
“Fuuuuucccckkkkk,” said Ron once again coming up short on his search for a spare key. He looked beaten and distraught as though on the verge of giving up all hope. “It’ll be dark soon, we should get back to the RV.”
“Yeah… does kind of make you wonder who else is out there…What the others from class are doing right now.”
“Hopefully having better luck then we are. It’s a shame no one else has shown up.” Said Ron hanging his head low, Fran could not recall ever seeing in him so down on himself before.
They both turned their backs on the open road then. The RV was barely more than an outline in the fading sunlight but Fran could see it well enough to feel safe. After all she was made of sterner stuff than Sophia.
They heard a noise then, an echoing hum in the distance behind them. Fran’s eyes grew wide as it grew louder in the seconds that followed. Renewed of vigor Ron hushed her not intending to be rude but excited by what the sound meant.
It appeared just as they turned around to spy the open roadway one more time… A jeep! wildly flying down the road at a break-neck speed, had there been any traffic the driver would no doubt of been a mad man but with the empty road before it, the vehicle just barreled down the center lane like a bat out of hell.
Yet, any hope of rescue faded when the fast-paced vehicle spun off the road into a ditch not far from where the traffic ended. Both Ron and Fran were racing toward it on their own accord by then and her heart sank when she saw the jeep crash.
By the time they got to the site the driver was well clear of the crash. He was middle aged and harried possibly even wounded from the collision. When the man saw them approach he lit up with delight.
“Survivors!” he exclaimed before gasping in pain and holding his side. He was wounded pretty badly considering the jeep looked in fairly good condition. “I don’t believe it”
“Are you hurt?” asked Ron
“Can you help us?” asked Fran.
“Shit, shit, shit shit,” said the Man “How the hell did you kids get out here?” he asked taking in the site of them.
Fran let Ron to do the explaining as the man took a seat before them. He was in bad shape, through Fran was able to make out what appeared to be some sort of organizational uniform underneath a layer of dirt.
“You mean you don’t know what’s happened?” asked Man
“I’m afraid not” said Ron
“You’re at Ground Zero of a three county wide quarantine. Sounds like you managed to miss out on all the chaos though…”
“Zombies?” asked Fran
“You could call them that at stage 1 I suppose.” Answered the man “The disease re-animates a host corpse and transformers it over time, sunlight is turning those things into mighty nasty devils it would seem.”
“How do you know all this?” asked Ron coming to the Man’s aid.
“I was working security detail at one of the mobile treatment centers, the incident here finally boiled over there. It fell early this morning.”
"What the hell are you talking about? "Asked Ron.
“A semi was hauling a load of infected out of the city just as the evacuation order went wide. Stupidest damn plan I ever heard, had a wreck somewhere around here. The outbreak got loose and it was all downhill from there. Sounds like you all just barely missed it.”
“We’re from Eagle Ridge,” said Fran then “Has it been…infected?”
“Eagle Ridge…I’m pretty sure that’s outside the quarantine, but to get there…” The man was caught short overcome by a fit of coughs that did not sound well. “You’d have a better chance of making it out of hell…I’m sorry.”
The man didn’t say much after that and both Fran and Ron exchanged looks.
“You’ve been bitten haven’t you?” asked Ron then.
The man took a deep breath and got back to his feet. “Yep,” he said as if coming to terms with it for the first time. “When the center fell we all went down with it, I came out here to make my peace….say goodbye.”
“I’m sorry,” said Ron then.
“Me to,” said the man. With great pain he unfastened the belt around his waist and Fran saw the small handgun he’d been wearing the whole time. “You’re going to need this,” he said handing it over to Ron.
For a brief moment their eyes met as Ron took the piece from the wounded man. “Thank you” he said bowing his head.
“Sound will draw those things down on you faster than anything else so be careful. If I was you I’d get back to your hiding spot tonight and get as far away from here as possible when the sun comes up. Soon enough all that craziness is gonna circle back-” again a fit of coughing took over before he could finish his words.
" What are you going to do?" asked Fran.
“Make my peace” answered the Man looking over to her, and it was then that she saw the madness in his eyes.
He threw her the keys to the jeep and turned away from them.
“Where should we go?” asked Ron to the man’s back.
“Someplace safe” was all he said for a moment, then “There’s this brand new shopping center that was getting ready to open soon, two exits south of here. Jeep’s got enough gas to get you there if you can get through this mess, might be a good place to wait this thing out till the government gets their act together.”
“Thanks,” was all Ron said then as both of them watched the dying man go.
“Good Luck” was all he said in reply “May God help us all.”
Fran had a hundred questions for the man, but she oddly found herself at a loss for words. She could see Ron trying to puzzle it all out in his own way as well, as the man walked further down the road away from them in silence.
They heard the sounds of the RV before they saw them. It was just after dark then and the laughter, music and lights spilled out into the shadows of the highway. Upon their arrival they we’re greeted to the site of Sophia treating a rather drunken Max to a diapered lap dance. It was goofy, and even Lily seemed to be in on the joke.
In a way the scene was oddly refreshing considering all that had happened. Here they were a group of young people as unsure of what the future would be bringing them as they’d ever been before. Even Ron seemed content by the little celebration; as if he knew just this once it might be worthwhile to live in the moment.
“We leave at first light” he said dangling the keys to the newly acquired jeep.