Will and Kelsey were doing a good job on point. They redirected us several times as we tried to head north towards Imperial Highway. One time we changed direction real quick because Kelsey saw a large sign in the window of an office building that said “Alive Inside!”
Approaching the office building it became apparent that the people were not able to hold out. The area was fairly thick with zeds, but they weren’t swarming as if living people were near. The main doors of the building had been smashed open with a car. My best guess is that the sign was put up on the first day of the outbreak and someone caught outside was desperate to get into a safe place. He must have been a real bright on in his little Corolla because he probably killed everyone inside when he broke down the doors.
We didn’t stay long; it wasn’t healthy to stay in any one place too long. A small horde would form any time we delayed. We had hordes form when we were just rolling down the road in most cases, and had to zigzag to keep our fans from building up to a large crowd.
One of those zigzags turned out to be a fortunate thing. There was an upside-down triangle in the window, made out of cans!
We had avoided a wreck at Bastanchury Avenue and headed down a side street o make our way north again when we passed right by the house. Someone had stacked cans of stew, I’m assuming empty, into the window of the master bedroom of their two story house. All the first floor windows if the house had been broken out but those windows also had iron bars installed. That was a bit unusual for this neighborhood, since bars were rare in well-off neighborhoods like this.
Mark and Kevin started their main work of smashing the living dead. While Will and I drove the hummers onto the front yard of the house.
Miguel Ortiz opened his front door to see the military vehicles on his lawn. He would have been irritated by the rudeness of damaging his yard except for the fact that the grass was two feet high and dead from the summer heat. He was grateful somebody had shown up to rescue them.
They had heard the radio calls to head south to the city of Orange, but they didn’t think they could make it all that distance. He knew something about going out into a hostile world and not surviving the trip. His family was one of the few wealthy families in Chiapas, Mexico when the uprisings started many years ago. His father was kidnapped on his way to work and only his body was returned. Nothing was ever safe after that, as proven by his brother’s family being killed for having connections to the governor’s office. Miguel moved his family after that.
The neighbors here didn’t like him very much. They sued him to get the bars off the windows, but he won. It seems the judge agreed that the HOA had not properly structured that portion of their rules and that the rules themselves had not been developed in accordance with California law. He kept to bars and then ran for a seat on the HOA board.
Miguel was happy they were here, but he always managed to be distrustful of new people regardless of the circumstances under which they met. He knew he was taking a chance with his family, going with these people he didn’t know. They were almost out of food, water and options. They would go anyway.
I yelled from the hummer, “How many people?”
“Three!” he said with a thick Mexican accent.
“Get ready, and bring only what you can carry!”
Miguel had his family ready for this ever since the zombies had attacked. Though he had a large store of food and water kept in the house, something that his parents had done all through his childhood to protect their family, he insisted his wife Olga and son Max had to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice. This was that moment.
I was surprised by how fast they were ready. It was under sixty seconds and they were all lined up by the front door, the heavy iron bars keeping them safe from the occasional zed that made it onto the front lawn.
Using the hatches, Kelsey and Doc provided cover fire and a clear lane. I yelled, “Go!” and they ran out of the house to the hummers, each one carrying a large nylon bag over their shoulder. Miguel and Olga each carried an additional bag. They were obviously heavy.
We got them into the hummers, stowed the bags in the back, and buttoned up the vehicles. Nobody was hurt except for a dozen zeds on the lawn and dozens more in the street. Mark took the lead this time till we got through the wall of zeds forming down the street. He plowed through them pretty hard and a moment later we were safe.
We continued on north at a slow pace, quickly abandoning the idea of Imperial highway when we saw it first hand. The road wasn’t packed with cars and there weren’t too many wrecks till we got to the 57 overpass near the Brea Mall. The 57 was as bad as every other highway we had been to, only worse. Too many people had seen zombie movies where the survivors hold out in the shopping mall. It looked like all of Orange County had filled the streets to get here. Thousands of cars were in the area and it seemed they all had become the abode of one or more zombies. We couldn’t get close enough to see the freeway, but it was sure to be packed as well. The way was blocked and we headed back south, looking for a route westward.
This became our pattern through the day. We would try a new route, find it blocked after a short period of time, and then look for a new route. It wasn’t till four in the afternoon when we happened upon more survivors.
We had finally made the crossing over the 57 into Fullerton. While going through Fullerton’s main industrial area we came across a smaller concrete and steel pop-up building surrounded by a sea of zeds. The sign in front said, “Gold Star Pet Foods” and had an upside down triangle spray painted over it.
Over a hundred zeds were pressing against the little steel doors on this side of the building until they heard our engines. They clumsily turned around and headed straight for us. I had Mark take the lead and begin his smashing. While that was going on I called back to Evelyn at Samaritan Station. I asked her to relay a message in the clear for the people in Gold Star Pet Foods to be ready to come out the east doors when they hear us yell for them.
Mark and Kevin again went wild, crushing everything they could over the next hour. Once the zeds had been backed well away from the building, we rolled up to the door, doc reached out the passenger door, and pounded on it with the butt of his rifle. “Get out here now!” he yelled. The door opened and out ran seven of the filthiest people I had ever seen.
Four young men, two girls, and one child, I think it was a girl; all stepped out into the parking lot with terrified looks on their faces. Only one of them had set foot outside the building in the last four and a half months, and that was only this morning to paint the triangle. The sight that greeted them was a sea of gore in the parking lot and people with guns telling them to run through it into some military vehicles. I’m sure it was a huge shock for them.
“Move it! Two in here, the rest in the other humvee!” I yelled in as an authoritarian voice as I could. They moved and piled in. None brought anything with them except the dirty rags they were wearing.
Once they were inside, we locked up and hit the road. I wanted to get back and have the vehicles safely stored well before dark.
The drive back was the smelliest ride I have ever been on. These people have had no access to water for cleaning and had the nastiest diet while hiding out. They’ve been eating a combination of cat and dog food. It was nutritious enough but their body odor was particularly nasty from it.
Vince and Erik were students at Cal State Fullerton before the end of the world. They gathered some friends and bolted, hoping to head into the hills and find a place to wait it out after the school fell to the zombies. They had picked up Trini on their way out. She was a four your old girl that had already been orphaned by that time. They really didn’t have a leader, but Vince was the more outspoken and member of the group. The others in Wills humvee with Trini were Stan, Art, Shelly, and Lupe.