fist on the driver’s-side window. As the glass cracked, the driver unexpectedly swung open his door, which knocked the frenzied man off the truck and onto his back on the street. When he started to get back up, the delivery driver stuck his hand out of the cab. He was holding a semiautomatic pistol. Firing once, he put a bullet through the man’s left eye. He abruptly slammed the door and, grinding gears, pulled out into oncoming traffic. The delivery truck was immediately hit by a taxi, which slammed into the truck’s body. The cabbie opened his door and ran to the truck, yelling and gesturing in anger. As the trucker opened his door to step down, now yelling too, the other woman and the bloody man ran up and tackled the arm-waving cab driver. Gawking as they ripped at the cabbie with teeth and nails, the deliveryman jumped back into his truck and swiftly pulled away. He sideswiped a BMW and another taxi before disappearing from view.
Nicole turned the screen back to herself. “See, Jack? It’s crazy here,” she sobbed.
“Call the police,” demanded Jack.
“The cops are running all over, Jack. Don’t you get it? What you just saw is happening all over.”
Jack went silent, his mind reeling. “What are you going to do?” he finally asked.
“There are seven of us here, all trying to get back to Jersey. They’ve decided to try to get downtown to the ferry to Jersey City. I’m going with them. When I get across the river, I’ll call you. It should only take a couple of hours. I…I love you, Jack.”
He smiled. “I love you too, babe.”
Nicole hung up, and he put his phone away. His two best friends, who had watched the whole exchange, put their hands on his shoulders.
“She’ll get out, Jack,” Sean said reassuringly. They sat in silence, taking comfort in one another’s company.
Mike started the car, and they headed for home. Even though it was now evening, the main roads that connected to the highways were becoming snarled with traffic. Mike mentioned that everyone was probably headed for their mountain or shore houses, where, at this time of year, it probably would be less populated. But as they passed cars and saw people on the side roads packing up, they noticed that a number of people who looked quite sick were leaving too.
Jack turned to Sean and said, “Well, I guess that guy in Flannigan’s wasn’t alone in his thinking. It looks like they’re getting out of Dodge before the sheriff comes a-calling.” The irony in his statement wasn’t lost on anyone.
“The only way they can know who’s probably infected,” Sean commented, “is from the addresses in the hospital records. They’ll correlate the inpatient files with the additional address forms and go house to house to collect people. I imagine everyone out there came to the same conclusion and is secreting their sick spouses or kids away.”
“Once every one of them starts changing, they’ll spread the virus somewhere else. Or worse, they’ll die in their cars then come back to life and attack their families, who’ll be trapped,” added Mike.
As they drove the back roads to get home, Sean turned to Mike and said, “I’m sorry, Mike. I think you had the right idea before.” He looked at Jack then continued, “Why don’t we stop at the 7-Eleven on Elm Street and pick up as much water and food as we can?”
Everyone nodded in agreement. Mike altered his destination to accommodate their decision, and they arrived at the convenience store afew minutes later. The three men piled out and, taking a basket each, went about collecting their booty.
When they were finished shopping, they stuffed the SUV full of supplies. As Mike closed the hatch, Sean said, “I figured this would be faster than trying to tackle a supermarket right now. It would probably be jam-packed.”
They arrived home and unloaded everything from the car, then put their food and water away. In the middle of this, Jack glanced into one of the bags and
Luanne Rice, Joseph Monninger