Tonight, me and Rich are going zombie hunting. I am giddy as fuck, sitting on the passenger seat of the pickup truck, the rifle lying across my knees, the fingers of my left hand clutched around the barrel. This is the first time he lets me go with him; normally, I stay home and watch videos when he’s out scrounging for food and gas.
I babble on and on about how cool it is that I can finally come along, and partly I do it because I’m nervous, but I also really like the tone of my voice now, as it’s now deeper than before, more like a man. Rich calls me Hilo now, because my voice sometimes switches back to how I used to sound like, but that’s okay I guess, I like the name more than what he calls me normally, which is Dick. But he’s not being mean or anything then, you see, it’s just that my real name is Richard, and his is Richard too. So when he comes home with money or ammo or something, he starts to shoot shit, like soon he will have enough money to get us both out of here, and then we will lie on the beach in Hawaii, and then he says “And then I will be really rich, but you’ll still be a little dick!” Get it? It’s like our nicknames. And then sometimes I’m like “No, I’m rich and you’re a dick!”, but only when he’s in a good mood.
We drive an hour or so from our house, and it’s fucking dark and I can hardly see anything not directly in front of us, but Rich goes slower now and turns the lights out. He opens the door and slips out, towards a even darker shape on the horizon, probably a house or a mobile home. I know how this goes, cause he told me like every night for the last ten days or so: He goes out with his pistol, sneaks into the houses with the zombies and shoots them. I wait in the car, and keep the engine running. The last part is super easy, because you really don’t have to do much. The waiting is hard, though, I guess. I’m not afraid of the zombies, because I got the rifle, and Rich says I’m a pretty good shot. And I am not afraid that the zombies get him, because he’s like so awesome and invulnerable, cause he’s super fast and super strong, and one time, they waited for him cause they smelled him or something, and there were like ten zombies there, and one grabbed him from behind, but he just ripped that zombies’ arms off and impaled two others with the protruding bones, and then he did something like a flip and drew his pistol and shot the remaining zombies straight in the head. That’s where you shoot em, he told me.
I see him coming back, and I move over again to the passenger seat. He throws the bag on the back of the truck, gets in and hands me his knife, which is all bloody, and tells me to clean it while he drives on. I told you he is cool, and totally fearless; fighting zombies with a knife is hard, cause you have to get really close. He doesn’t talk much, and even less when he’s out hunting, cause he’s tense and concentrated, and I try to be quiet too, to not disturb him, and I smile and shine his knife up. I wonder what he found, but I won’t ask now, and after all, there is more coming. I’m hoping for more videos, because I’ve seen all of them like a hundred times, but he once told me that there were no more. But he can’t know everything , right? Maybe there are some secret videos.
We stop again, and this time it’s near a parking lot, and there are lots of other cars, some really big ones. He goes out again, with the canister, and he moves towards a truck which reminds me of the one in the new Dawn, which the old lady was driving. I like the new Dawn more than the old Dawn, but Rich says that the old Dawn is better. I don’t like to disagree, so I say that I like that one actually more too, but the new Dawn was made with real zombies, and that fascinates me, because I’ve never seen one up close, because Rich protects me. That’s why I can’t leave the house without him, and even then only at night, because they can’t see that good then. He goes out during the day too, for food, gas and ammo, but that’s okay, cause I have the videos, and I figured out how the video machine works. You just have to put the videos in there, but you have to mind which way, and then you press triangle on the remote. And when the movie’s done, you press square and then the two triangles on the left side until the machine stops making noise. When I figured that out, I watched all the movies we had, Dawn and Dawn and Day and Night and House and 28 Days and 28 Weeks and Wreck, because I wanted to be prepared. Most of the guys in the movies are dumb, and get eaten. But I’m not dumb. And Rich’s not either.
I hear a shot, and I see Rich running, and he’s running a little lopsided because the canister is probably full with gas, and I could hardly lift that with both hands, let alone run with it, but Rich’s strong, and that he runs means that there are more zombies coming, more than we can spare ammo for, so I open his door and move over to my side extra quick, so as to not be in his way or anything, and he jumps into the car, canister still in hand, and just drives off, and I get knocked back because of the speed, and I hit my head real hard on the back of the cab, and I’m seeing stars and it hurts really bad, but I can’t cry, because then Rich will think I’m still a little boy and he won’t allow me to go zombie hunting with him again.
He’s breathing fast, and I’m asking what happened, and at first he doesn’t answer, but then he says that he was getting gas when this really big zombie grabbed his feet, because it was laying under the truck, waiting, but then he kicked it’s head off with his other foot, and shot another zombie, but there were many more, and he probably could have handled them, but he wanted to make sure that I would be safe, and that was why he came running. I feel a little ashamed, because he could’ve killed way more without me, but he says it’s okay, and then it is.
Rich keeps driving, and he still seems a little bothered, so I try to cheer him up and ask him about Hawaii. He always starts smiling when he talks about Hawaii, and it works this time too. Once we got enough gas, food and money, he says, we drive all the way down to the coast, and then we will build a raft and sail to Hawaii. On Hawaii, he says, there is always sunshine and white beaches and the ocean and beautiful girls and coconut drinks and no zombies at all. And I smile when he talks, but only because I know he wants me too, because honestly I don’t really know what half of these things are or why he wants them so much. I once fell asleep during the old Dawn and when I woke up, there was another movie behind it, and there were no zombies , and the stuff that happened made me feel uncomfortable, and when Rich came home he thrashed me hard, so I always kept awake after that and made sure to press the square button when the film ended. Also, I once asked him why there were no zombies in Hawaii when there were zombies in House and the end of the new Dawn, but he said that were just movies. Which I didn’t understand.
Rich goes slower again, and then he turn the headlights off und turns the truck so we’re facing were we came from. I wonder if we go home now, when he says “Hey Hilo, you ready to kill your first zombie?”, just like that. And I’m getting giddy again, and nervous, and I just nod my head, and he says “We passed one just a minute ago, on my side. I’m gonna go slow and you shoot him from the truck, alright? Can you handle that?”. And I nod again and grin, because we practised this and I’m really good at shooting, and I want to make up for the problem I caused at the parking lot, and so he turns the headlights back on and we go slowly. I wind down my window, and now I see him, he’s wearing a parka and a backpack and has long hair, and I lean a little out of the cab, so as to push the butt firmly and straight against my shoulder, and Rich stops the car. I am aiming for the head, as Rich has taught me, but suddenly the zombie comes toward us in a kind of jog, and I get shaky when he enters the area where our headlights are shining, because he just looks wrong, not like the movie zombies, and Rich yells “Shoot” and I pull the trigger, but I hit him in the throat or something, because I got nervous, and he screams, and now I am totally losing my cool, and I fire four more shots into his body until he stops screaming. I am frightened, and ashamed, and Rich slaps me hard on the neck and swerves the car and drives again over the body, so as to pop the head I presume, because I am quite sure I didn’t hit it once, and I know why he’s angry, because I lost my cool and I wasted rifle bullets and I am apparently still a fucking crybaby, because I notice tears running down my face, but I wipe ’em away fast, so that Rich does not see them, and I am quite sure those are more tears of frustration, but still. He asks me why I hesitated, and I don’t feel like answering but I know that I have to, or else he’s gonna be really pissed off, and so I say that he didn’t look like a zombie to me, that the zombies in the movies looked different, and I know what he’s going to answer, namely that those were just actors with green color on their face, and zombies are real people who are just dead. We drive a while in silence, but then he seemed to have calmed down and says that surely I couldn’t spot a zombie like he could, but then I still had a lot to learn. And I agreed and said I will try to learn fast, but really I was only glad that he wasn’t angry anymore.
We drive on, and somehow I think that, regardless of all the trouble I caused, Rich is glad to once not be on his own out, and he even grins at some of the stuff I am saying, and we’re drinking beer and throwing the cans out of the window, and he tells me that I did alright on my first night out, and I feel warm inside. But then I hear a siren, and a cop car passes us by, and I get really excited because I remember the black cop from the new Dawn and I am so glad that apparently we aren’t the only living people around here, but Rich gets totally quiet and drives faster than normal, and when I ask him why we don’t try to follow the cop car, to talk to the cop, he just says that the zombies got smarter, that they learned to drive cars, but that sounds totally dumb to me, because everyone knows that zombies are totally dumb, and I think he meant it as a joke, but he really isn’t smiling.
And then we come by another cop car, and that one actually turns and follows us, and I don’t understand why Rich is so sure those aren’t human cops, but he can spot zombies better than I can, and so I do what he tells me and fire the rifle at the chasing cop car, but I don’t think I hit anything, but then they start shooting, and now I know that they must be human, that all of this is a misunderstanding, and I turn to Rich to tell him that, but then the truck violently swerves off the road, and down the hill, and I think how cool he is to try such a risky move to escape, because it’s really dark and we’re going really fast, but he’s kind of slumped over the wheel, and I wonder how he can drive without looking, but then we hit something and I don’t know what happens then.