The year was 1968, LBJ was president and the world was in turmoil. War raged in Southeast Asia, civil unrest raged in the streets of America and the entire planet seemed to be holding its breath. When the one-two punch came, the world went down for the count and the dead rose from their graves. I was three years back from Vietnam, but all I cared about was drinking, hanging with my bros and riding my scooter.
My name is John Brown, but my bros call me Cave Man. I grew up in the biker culture with my dad being one of the founding members of the Road Dogs, a local bike club here in Harlem Springs Arizona that started in the early fifties. My pops bought me my first bike, a Triumph Bonneville 650, when I was sixteen, but I scrimped, saved, and a year later, I bought an old Pan Head. When I turned eighteen, I prospected into the club and I haven’t looked back since. Oh, I took a short detour to Vietnam in 1965 to do my patriotic bit, but when I came home, old Bud Hodgkin offered me my job back at the Glen Co station and I fell back into the life style, riding with the club and hanging with my bros.
I had just finished putting a new set of tires on Mr. Peterson’s Dodge and was sitting in the office eating my lunch when the newscast came on the radio.
“We interrupt this broadcast for a special news bulletin. We are getting reports from a small town in Iowa. As strange as it may seem, they are saying that the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the population. They have a lust for human flesh. Several people are dead, but after they pass, they rise up and join the ranks of the undead. There are reports of survivors hiding in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. There are reports of similar incidents occurring across the county. One unconfirmed report states that a Venus probe falling back into Earth’s atmosphere may have brought back some type of contamination from outer space. The authorities caution not to panic. They are stressing that the population stay in their homes. The military and police are on high alert and will respond to any zombie outbreak.”
“Zombies. Yeah right.” A chill shot through me when I remembered the graveyard across the street. The front window to the office shattered showering me with minute pieces of broken glass. Looking up, I stared into the cold dead eyes of a walking corpse. Reaching into the bottom desk drawer where I kept my Smith and Wesson 357 Magnum, with my heart beating the shit out of my ribcage, I almost dropped a load in my pants when I realized the gun wasn’t there. “Damn. I left my piece in my locker in the back,” I said jumping to my feet.
Looking past the flesh-eating zombie trying to come through the window, I saw them coming out of the graveyard in droves. Their wild feral growls echoed down the street and they dispersed heading toward different parts of the city. A large group crossed the road and milled about in the station’s parking lot. I stepped into the mechanic’s bay only to find, it filled with slow moving zombies. They moved toward me with their arms raised looking like shit warmed over. Several had maggots crawling underneath their skin and the smell was almost enough to gag a skunk. They had my way blocked both to the roll up door to the outside and to the back room at the rear of the station where my locker was.
Slamming my fist into the face of the nearest zombie, I charged through the undead crowd to a workbench, and grabbed a tire iron. Pulling a knife, I slashed with the knife and swung the tire iron fighting my way toward the back room. Stabbing one zombie in the eye with my knife, I pulled the eye out of its socket on the tip of my blade, and droved the tire iron into the skull of another. Blood splattered over my clothes and I let out a few curses fighting my way toward the back of the station.
I hand just reached the door to the back room when one of the bastards bit me on my right arm. Searing hot pain shot through my arm making me feel like it was on fire. I let out a scream, droved my blade though the undead thing’s face and watched it fall to the ground. Fumbling with my keys, I dropped them to the ground and let out another curse. After scooping up my keys, I unlocked the door, ran into the back room feeling the sharp nails of a zombie on my back, slammed the door and then locked it.
With shaky hands, I unlocked my locker, grabbed my 357, tucked it into the waistband of my jeans and then grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniels I kept sitting on the top shelf. Taking a pull on the whiskey bottle, I let out a sputter and then poured half the bottle onto the zombie bite.
“Damn that hurts!” I yelled. Looking down at my arm, I noticed that the zombie had bitten me where my tattoo of a skeletal biker on a chopper was on my arm. The bite took a chunk of meat from my arm taking away the biker’s skull. Blood flowed from my arm and pooled up on the floor. Taking off my outer shirt, I wrapped it around my bloody arm binding it up as best I could. “Oh God! Oh shit! I’m fucked!” I yelled. Then the thought hit me, I’m trapped in here, but then I remembered the back window. Stacking up some boxes of auto parts, I climbed onto them, busted out the back window and looked out into the alleyway. The alley looked clear, so I climbed out the window, jumped to the ground and ran to the front of the station.
Zombies filled the area around the gas pumps, but they were slow movers and I make it to the Pan Head before they noticed me. Jumping up into the air, I came down on the kick-starter, but the bike wouldn’t start.
“Son of a bitch!” I yelled. I gave the kicker another try, the old Harley rumbled to life, I put it in gear and goosed the throttle heading straight through the pack of hungry flesh eaters. Pulling my 357, I popped a cap through the brainpans of two of them; pistol whipped another and ran over another one before I broke free. Rolling down Main Street, I dodged groups of the undead trying to feed on the town’s population. I noticed a woman sprawled on the ground, an ugly looking zombie in a tattered black suit knelt over her body pulling intestines from her belly. Blood and gore covered the street and her dying screams echoed off the surrounding buildings.
Another zombie, this one a little girl, shuffled down the street snacking on a freshly severed human arm. When I passed the town’s roller ring, I saw a mob of teenagers come running out side. Several of them had zombie bites and they were trying to escape a mop of decaying flesh eaters lumbering along behind them. Noticing a blonde headed young girl in a cheerleader’s uniform from the neighborhood, I hit the brakes and pulled over to the sidewalk smoking my tires.
“Johnny! Help me!” she screamed.
“Hurry up! Climb on!” The girl sprinted across the road, jumped onto the back, threw her arms around me and I gunned the throttle leaving a patch of rubber on the road.
“Oh God! It’s terrible! Those things are killing everyone!” she screamed.
My arm felt like liquid fire, the skin around the bite was starting to decay and I felt as if I had hot coals in my belly. Swerving past a gaggle of the undead, we roared down Main Street, turned on Birch and took a quick turn onto Honeysuckle Court. Sliding to a stop in front of my small run down two-bedroom home, I killed the motor and set the bike on the side stand.
“Check on your folks. If you need me yell,” I said climbing off the bike. She darted across the street, ran across her front lawn and went inside her family home. My portly next store neighbor backed a 1958 Chevy station wagon out of his driveway and slammed on his brakes giving me a wild terrified look.
“Those things! They attacked my wife and kids. We were sitting down to dinner, but I was in the bathroom. There was nothing I could do.”
“You might have tried fighting the sons of bitches. Don’t you have a gun in the house or maybe a baseball bat?”
“Norman! Please help! They’re killing us!” his wife screamed from the house. She let out a blood-curdling scream, but then the screaming stopped.
“It’s too late. Once they bite you, you’re a goner. I’m leaving town.”
You spineless bastard, I thought and then ran into my own house. Inside, I poured some Jack Daniels on my wound and then drank the rest of the bottle. Grabbing my jacket, another bottle of Jack and three boxes of ammo, I ran back outside. Sliding to a stop, I bent over and threw up about a half a quart of blood. I noticed small pieces of flesh mixed in with the blood, and the stench was enough to make me throw up again.
Cynthia, the girl from across the street, ran over and took my arm.
“Are you OK?”
“I’m just dandy.” Opening another bottle of Jack, I took a pull from the bottle letting the numbing whiskey sooth my stomach. “How are things at your house?”
“I don’t know for sure. There was blood everywhere. I think my parents turned into one of those things.”
“Let’s go,” I said.
“Where will we go?”
“We’ll head to the clubhouse. Sonny must have put the word out. We’ll probably head to the cabin or fort up at the clubhouse. We’ve got enough guns and ammo there to fight off an army of these suckers, plus there’s food and water.”
She stopped putting her hands on her pretty little hips.
“You’ve been bitten. You’ll turn into one of those things.”
“Yeah, but I’m OK for now. Here,” I said handing her my K-Bar knife. “If I get squirrely, stab me in the eye. Shove it in hard enough to penetrate the brain.” A roar came from the house next store and five of the walking dead lumbered onto the front lawn. Bits and pieces of decayed flesh fell from their skin, maggots crawled out of their eyes, but the smell; the smell was the enough to make a buzzard puke. “Let’s go! Run!” I yelled sprinting to the bike. Diving into the saddle, I jumped into the air and came down on the kick-starter. The Pan Head came to life on the third kick, Cynthia climbed onto the back and I goosed the throttle roaring down the street.
I turned onto Main Street, headed west weaving through a pack of bloody flesh eating zombies. Noticing a female zombie on the sidewalk, bent over and ripping the guts out of a small child, I pulled my 357 and put a round through what was left of her brain. At the end of the street, I turned left onto a two-lane highway and increased speed, but so far, the zombies hadn’t made it out to the highway. Five miles outside of town, I pulled into the gravel parking lot of the High Noon Saloon. The High Noon, the unofficial clubhouse of the Road Dogs motorcycle club, was a rustic looking bar owned by our club president.
Scores of motorcycles and other vehicles filled the parking lot. People carried supplies back and forth from the vehicles to the clubhouse. Cynthia and I climbed off the bike and headed toward the bar; my stomach felt sick, my legs seemed disjoined and I felt light headed. Noticing my discomfort, Cynthia put her arm around me and helped me into the bar. Several of my bros stood in the bar wearing their club vest along with what was left their families and a few friends of the club. All eyes turned to me, tracking my movements across the bar to the backroom where we held church.
Our club president, James Taylor, or Sonny as we called him, stood at the bar drinking a rum and coke talking to our VP, Big Dog. Stumbling up to the bar, I showed Sonny my arm.
“I got bit.”
He let out a low whistle.
“That sucks Cave Man. We’ve got three others in the same shape.”
“You know they’ll turn into one of those things. We can’t take the chance. We’ve got to leave them here or take them out,” Big Dog said.
“They’re our brothers. We can’t just shoot them down,” Sonny replied.
Laying the pistol down on the bar, I spread my arms apart and put my head down.
“Do me if you have to Bro. I’d rather have one of my brothers put one through my brain pan than turn into one of those things.”
“Put your gun away. If it comes to that, we’ll do what we have too,” Sonny said.
Tucking my gun into the waistband of my pants, I looked at the prospect behind the bar.
“Give me a Jack and Coke.” The prospect fetched my drink and I glanced at Sonny. “Are we heading out to your cabin?”
“It’s about the safes place, I’d say.”
“I have a suggestion. I’m dead already. You said the zombies bit three other guys. Let us ride in front. If we run into any of that undead trash, we’ll deal with them while you get everyone else to safety.”
“That sounds like a plan, Bro.”
“So when do we leave?”
“As soon as we get packed. It’s starting to get dark now. We’ll have to camp in the woods tonight, but I think we need to leave before those things find us.” As if on cue, I heard someone scream and a snarl came from out front.
“They found us!” someone yelled and then I heard the sound of automatic weapons fire. Sonny turned and ran to the storeroom with me shuffling along behind him. He tossed me an AR-15, I hobbled toward the front of the bar, busted out the front window and we gazed out at the flesh-eating zombies in the parking lot. Shoulder to shoulder, Sonny and I opened up on the undead fiends with automatic wepons. The zombies banged into each other and fell to the ground under our deadly fire.
When the last one fell, Sonny looked at me.
“Let’s get packed.”
After packing what gear I had onto the bike, I headed to the bathroom to take a piss and pissed out what looked like syrupy blood. The stench made me puke. Coagulated blood, chunks of red meat that stunk of decay and stomach bile gushed out of me. Glancing in the mirror, terror shot through me when I realized that I didn’t look much better than those we’d been shooting in the parking lot. My skin had turned pale, legions formed on my face and small pieces of skin were starting to flake off. The virus was starting to take control and I already felt like one of the undead. A hunger consumed me; when I stepped out of the bathroom, I saw Cynthia and a powerful carving hit me. Visions of me ripping her throat out with my teeth filled my brain. She came up me and I could see by the look in her face that I scared her.
“We’re about ready to leave. You ride in one of the cars,” I said.
“I’d rather ride with you.”
“It’s not safe. Me and the other guys that the zombies bit are going to lead the caravan and deal with the zombies. What ever happens, stick with the club. They’ll keep you safe.”
Lumbering along to the front door, Cynthia held onto me trying to keep me from falling. I felt like cold shit on a hot bun, but I figured that once I made it to my bike, I’d be all right. We pulled out heading west on the highway, with us four dead men leading the caravan. Blood dripped from the corner of my mouth, cold chills racked my body, my vision faded and my arms felt numb, but I kept my fist in the throttle and rolled down the highway.
Ten miles outside of town, we pulled up to a country store at a crossroads. Undead flesh eaters milled about in the parking lot and blocked the road. I saw a female zombie ripping the throat out of a poor elderly woman lying on the ground near the gas pumps. The zombie wore no shirt and her putrid decaying flesh sagged down. Us four zombie bikers, gunned our throttles, plowed into the hoard blocking the road and tried to clear a path.
We hit the brakes coming to a stop and had a rumble with the undead. Pulling my 357, I sat on my bike with my pistol in one hand and my knife in the other. All four of us sat on our scooters slashing and shooting while the rest of the convoy escaped. Every time one of the undead things got too close, I would kick him away with my boots and either stab or shoot him. The sound of their wild growling along with the gunshots and a few shouted curse words echoed down the highway.
“Let’s go!” I yelled, once the convoy made it clear of the undead mob on the highway. Doing a burn out, I rolled over a zombie wearing a tattered cowboy hat and gunned the throttle. Sweat dripped out of my pours running like a river down my side, chills racked my body, and I felt feverish, but I managed to keep the bike under control. Spitting out a mouthful of blood and a chunk of my stomach lining, I pulled a bottle of Jack from the pocket of my club vest. Chugalugging the potent brew, I wondered how long I had until death came knocking and turned me into one of those things. Weaving back and forth, I looked into my rearview mirror and almost fell out of the saddle. I looked like a three-day-old corpse on a motorcycle.
My cheeks had turned hollow, lost all their color and I noticed pieces of dead flesh flaking off. Glancing down at my arm, I saw open sores exposing bone, and the stench was enough to make a maggot shit. I thought about my brothers up ahead in the convoy and wondered What if I turn? I don’t want to hurt one of my bros. Glancing over at my four dead brothers riding along with me, I was shocked to see that they looked worse than me. They looked like exactly what they were: dead men on motor scooters, but they just didn’t know it yet. I remembered that verse in the Bible about the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
The sun had barely gone down when my brother Chops, a short stocky guy with pork chop sideburns, started loosing control of his bike. His head dropped to his chest and then popped up violently. A wild crazy look crossed his face, foam came from his mouth and he let out a tortured growl. His bike went sideways and then high sided launching him onto the pavement. I swerved to the right, the two other remaining zombie bikers swerved left, a pack of motorcycles swarmed around him and the first four-wheeled vehicle in the convoy rolled over him. The bike slid to the edge of the road, Chops jumped up and lumbered off into the forest dragging his broken undead body along with him.
After the convoy passed, I whirled the Pan Head around and rode back to where Chops disappeared into the forest. Parking along side of the road, I pulled my 357 and peered out into the woods. I could hear him growling, but then he turned coming from the forest and approached me with his arms out stretched. He had a hungry feral look in his eyes that I sympathized with, because the lust for human flesh filled my innermost being as well. Visions of torn throats and butchered bodies filled my brain. Chops let out a hungry cry, struggling up an embankment with his arms stretched out ready to bite and tare with his teeth.
“I’m sorry Bro. I can’t leave you like this,” I said and then shot him in the forehead with my 357. The sound of the gunshot echoed through the trees, and his body tumbled down the embankment, dead for good this time. Leaning over, I puked up blood mixed with bits of meat and then spun the bike around and headed down the highway. Pulling my bottle of Jack from my coat pocket, I downed half the bottle in one shot. The bike weaved back and forth, but I didn’t know if it was because of my weakened condition, or the fact that I was drunk on Old Number 7.
We rolled on through the night passing through a pine forest with out seeing anymore of the undead and I could barely stay awake. My head throbbed, my arms felt numb, my vision turned fuzzy, my belly felt as if it were on fire, and to top if off, I ran out of Old Number 7. Around midnight, Sonny flashed his lights, the convoy pulled off the road and into a small clearing. The drivers of the four-wheeled vehicles formed a circle with their headlights facing inward and the bros pulled their bikes into the center of the circle. It reminded me of the pioneer days when they circles the wagons.
I parked my bike, put down the kickstand and fell to the ground. Struggling to my feet, I puked up blood trying to ignore a hunger that burned inside me. Images of me ripping the flesh off my brothers flashed through my brain. Feeling my stomach churn, I ran into the forest, pulled down my pants and let go with a gush that was more blood than shit. Ignoring the stench, I pulled up my pants and stumbled back into the clearing. The other two zombie bikers looked in no better shape than me. Sonny sauntered up to us.
“Hey Bro. You look like shit.”
“I feel like shit. I feel like ten pounds of dog shit in a five pound bag.”
“We should reach the cabin before noon tomorrow. Do you think you could hold on that long?”
“You saw what happened to Chops. We don’t have much time left.”
“Is there anything I can do for you Bro? I hate seeing you like this.”
“Tie us up to one of these trees,” I said motioning to the other zombie bikers. “If we die during the night, we won’t be able to hurt anyone.”
“We’ll do that. I’m sorry Bro. I wish there was more we could do.”
“Get me another bottle of Old Number 7, and Sonny. If I turn into one of those things, put me down like a rabid dog,” I said seeing the reflection of tears in Sonny’s eyes.
“You know I will Bro. I won’t leave you like that.”
After they tied us to three stout trees outside the camp, I poured some Jack Daniels onto my zombie bites, flinched from the sting and let out a curse. My brother, leaning against the tree next to me noticed my 357 tucked into the waistband of my jeans.
“Hey Bro. If I die during the night and turn into one of those zombies, splatter my brains with that hog leg.”
“Sure thing, Old School. I’ll set the piece between us. If I turn, you to do the same.”
“Don’t forget about me, Cave Man. I don’t feel so good, Bro. I don’t think I got much time left,” a brother sitting next to Old School said.
“Sure thing, Teddy Bear. I’ll do the right thing,” I replied.
A few minutes later, Cynthia knelt down next to me with the pale moon light reflecting off her pretty face.
“Oh Johnny. I’m so sorry for what happened. Thank you for taking me with you.” I gazed at the tender flesh of her neck, the soft curve of her breast and felt the hunger.
“Cynthia, you need to back away. The virus is changing me. Believe me Baby, when I say this, I’m not being a dirty old man. I feel like eating you up. I mean it in the most literal sense. I feel a hunger that I can’t satisfy.”
“You could never hurt me,” she whispered.
“C. When we get to the cabin, you’ll be safe. After a while, things will calm down. When things are normal, find yourself a nice young dude and settle down. Live your life and maybe some time, toss back a beer for the old Cave Man.”
She leaned forward, ignoring the stench of my decaying flesh and kissed me.
“I love you Johnny. I know I’m too young for you, but I don’t care. I love you anyway,” she whispered. Taking a pull from the bottle of Old Number 7, I ignored the hunger, and watched her run back to camp.
It seemed like I had just dropped off when a wild snarl and people yelling woke my from a vicious nightmare involving the ripping and tearing of flesh. To my right Teddy Bear struggled against the ropes binding him to the tree. He snapped with his teeth, clawed with his hands trying to get at Old School and me. Frothy foam and blood dripped from his mouth. Sometime during the night, his body gave up the fight and he joined the ranks of the undead. Old School leaned away from him trying to keep from getting bit.
“Shoot him! Man Shoot him!” Old School yelled.
Grabbing the 357, I leaned across Old School’s lap and stuck the barrel against the side of Teddy Bear’s head.
“I’m sorry, Bro,” I said and then pulled the trigger splattering what was left of Teddy Bear’s brain onto the forest floor. Sonny and several other bros came running up, Sonny knelt down next to me and I saw tears in his eyes.
“He’s in a better place, now Bro. You need to get some brothers and burry him,” I said.
“We’ll take care of it Brother. You two just hold on,” Sonny said and then leaned forward, ignoring the stench, and gave us both a quick hug. Old School and I sat tied to the tree and watched them drag Teddy Bear’s remains away for burial.
“I don’t want to go out like that,” Old School said after the excitement was over.
“I don’t either, Bro. I’d rather go out like a biker, on the road. We’ve got to hang in until we reach the cabin. Then you and me ‘ill head out on our own. We’ll let the road take us.” We sat passing the bottle of Number 7 back and forth for about a half hour and then drifted into a pitiful tortured sleep. The sound of doors slamming woke me a few hours later from another violent nightmare. Chills racked my body, my head felt hot, clammy sweat rolled down the side of my face, my vision was fuzzy and my stomach lurched. Warm fingers of sunlight stabbed across the land and the smell of cooking food drifted on the wind.
Sonny brought Old School and me a plate loaded down with scrambled eggs, bacon and fried potatoes.
“I don’t know if I can eat that Bro,” I said.
“You need to keep your strength up,” Sonny said.
“Why. You know we ain’t getting any better.”
“I know, Bro. We’ll pull out of here in an hour or so. We should make it to the cabin by noon. I’m hoping you guys will make it that far at least.”
“We’ll try, Bro, but promise me. If we turn into one of those things, put us down quick.”
“You know, I will,” Sonny said.
I ate my breakfast and promptly threw up. A stinky mixture of, blood, stomach bile, and undigested eggs shot out of me and covered the forest floor. Old school only took a couple of bits of his food, but he didn’t have any better luck keeping it down than I did. We broke camp at eight AM that morning and I noticed our bros giving us sideways glances while keeping their hands close to the handguns riding on their hips. Old School and I lumbered over to our motorcycles, stumbling along on legs that didn’t want to move right. The hunger burned inside of us like a raging inferno and Old School noticed one of our old ladies climbing into a station wagon.
“You know, she’s got a nice ass, but right now I’d rather rip off her arms and gnaw on her bones,” Old School said.
“I know. It’s the disease. When Cynthia came over to talk with me last night it was all I could do to keep from ripping her throat out. We’ve got to hang in until we reach the cabin.”
We climbed onto our motorcycles, barely able to stand up and rumbled down the highway. I glanced in my rear view, my eyes widened and my jaw dropped. My face looked skeletal, my flesh had turned purple, puss oozed from legions on my cheek and I noticed a maggot crawl out of one of the sores. Pieces of decaying flesh flaked off my face exposing my skull. God. No wonder my bros were looking at me weird. Old School and I weaved back and forth trying to maintain control. Four hours later, we pulled off the highway onto the dirt road leading to the cabin. Before turning off the highway, I noticed a large oak tree setting next to the road a hundred yards west of the turn off.
The road headed through the trees, passing through a dense forest and then snaked its way up hill. Topping out the hill, the road descended into a small punch bowel shaped valley. The cabin set in the center of the valley in the middle of a grassy meadow. An old barn and a couple of outbuildings set off the left. Behind the cabin, a stream meandered across the valley.
The convoy pulled up to the cabin and everyone began to unload equipment. Sonny assigned work details and stationed people with guns at various points acting as security. Old School and I lumbered over to the barn trying to get away from the bright sunlight.
“Did you see that oak tree down the road from the turn off?” I asked Old School.
“Yeah,” he said and then bent over throwing up blood.
“If we hit that tree at about a hundred miles an hour with out a helmet, it should splatter our heads like a couple of ripe Honey Due melons.”
“That should do it. We’d best get it done while we still have time.”
Sonny ambled into the barn.
“How are you guys feeling?”
“Like shit warmed over. We’re gonna pull out of here. Our plan is to let the road take us and die like bikers should. We don’t want to turn into one of those zombie sons of bitches.”
Sonny had tears in his eyes and when he spoke, there was a catch in his voice.
“Ok. I’ll gather the crew. We’ll send you off.”
Fifteen minutes later, the sound of Harleys rumbled through the forest and we headed back to the highway. Cynthia came running out when we were about to leave and insisted on coming with us. She jumped onto the back of my bike and wrapped her arms around me. The Road Dogs lined up on the road, Old School and I parked our bikes in front of the pack facing west and then climbed off our scooters to say good-bye. Cynthia clung to my arm with tears running down her face. Even though we smelled like five-day-old, road kill and our skin oozed puss, our brothers grabbed us each up in bear hugs and we did some back slapping.
“I wish there was something we could do Bro,” Sonny said wiping tears from his eyes.
“If this doesn’t work, put us down before we become one of those things, and sometime hold a party for Old School and me.”
“You can count on it Bro,” Sonny said handing me a bottle of Old Number 7.
I downed half the bottle, handed it to Old School and he gulped down the rest.
Cynthia hugged me and then kissed me on my decaying cheek.
“I love you Johnny,” she whispered. “Thank you for taking me with you.”
“Come on girl. Forget about old Cave Man. Find yourself a good decent young man. You’ll be all right. Stop your crying.”
“I could never forget you, Johnny,” she whispered and stepped back. Sonny put his arm around her trying to comfort the girl. I looked at Old School and nodded my head.
“Let’s ride,” I said and then stumbled to my Harley. Old School staggered to his bike and we climbed into the saddle. Behind us, our brothers fired up their scooters and revved their motors giving us a send off. Jumping up into the air, I came down on the kick-starter firing up the old Pan Head and Old School fired up his old Knuckle Head. He pulled his bike up next to mine and stopped. “Let’s do this,” I said glancing down the road. I engaged the transmission, released the clutch and cranked the throttle. The back tire spun, I shot down the road and kept my fist in the throttle. Glancing in my rear view, I saw Old School on my tail. The needle on the speedometer climbed up to fifty while I shifted through the gears and once I hit fifth gear, I cranked the throttle wide open. The needle shot up to one hundred and ten miles an hour and I swerved to the side of the road heading straight for the oak tree. In my rear view, I saw Old School still on my tail. Things happened in a matter of milliseconds. I slammed into the tree with a violent jolt, the impact launched me over the handle bars, Old School plowed into the back of my bike and I caught a flash of his body catapulting over me. My head hit the tree and then the world went white.
Old School and I stood up and stepped out onto the side of the road.
“I guess it didn’t work. I guess we turned into one of them zombies anyway,” I said.
“I don’t think so, Bro, look,” Old School said turning around and pointing to the shoulder of the road. I saw our mangled bodies among the wreckage of our scooters. Both of our heads looked like smashed watermelons. Glancing up the road, I saw our club brothers roll our way.
“I don’t think they can see us,” I said. “What are we? Ghost?”
“I don’t feel like no ghost, and we don’t look like ghost either. Look at your arm where you got bit,” Old School said. I held up my arm and my eyes widened with joy. My skin looked healthy like if I’d just stepped from the shower and I felt great.
The pack rumbled down to the crash site and Sonny climbed off his scooter.
“Little Mike. Get a pick up. We’ll take them back and burry them behind the cabin. Have one of the guys bring another truck and pick up their scooters,” Sonny said.
“What do we do now?” Old School asked. We stood watching our brothers police up our bodies and load up our mangled motorcycles.
“I don’t know, but it’s a shame we had to wreck our scooters like that. I hope they can fix ‘em.”
“I know what you mean, Bro. I hate to see a good scoot go down.”
The sound of loud pipes reverberated off the surrounding forest, but the members of the Road Dogs loading up the motorcycles and the bodies seemed not to notice.
“Hey Cave Man. Check this out. Someone’s coming,” Old School said.
I glanced up the road and saw five motorcycles heading our way, but they were like no other motorcycles that I had ever seen. They seemed to radiate light, their colors looked more vivid than anything I’d ever saw and their chrome seemed brighter than the sun. They rumbled up next to us and came to a stop.
“I know these guys,” I said to Old School. “There’s Hondo. He died on I 40 three years ago. There’s Little Danny Boy. He bought it in Vietnam. That’s Hector and Iron Man; they bought the farm that time when that outlaw club jumped us. That other guy’s Thumper. He crashed into a car last year.”
Little Danny Boy, a wiry little guy with a scraggly goatee swaggered over, caught me up in a big bear hug.
“What are you guys doing here?” I asked.
“We’re here to take you home. Check out your new scoots.”
I looked into the road and my bottom jaw dropped. There set two of the most beautiful looking motorcycles I’d ever saw. They weren’t their before. I knew right away which one was mine. It looked like my dream bike, only ten times better than I could ever imagine. The colors looked more radiant than anything I had ever seen and the chrome; I could hardly look at the chrome, it was so bright.
“What’s this?” I asked, still not believing.
“Those are your spirit bikes.”
Noticing a shimmering light down the road where the road climbed a steep hill, I saw what looked like an emerald city that reminded me of Cibola, the legendary city of gold that the Spanish Conquistadors came searching for back in the day.
“What that place up there?”
“That’s Biker heaven. That’s were we’re going,” Little Danny Boy said.
“It’s not all angels and harps, is it?”
“Hell no, Bro. I said we’re going to biker heaven. It’s a constant party where the brew flows freely and the women are loose.”
“Will I still get to ride my scooter?”
“Hell yeah man. You haven’t ridden until you’ve ridden one of these things. What’s cool is that you don’t have to put gas in ‘em and they don’t leek oil. And talk about time. We can ride for eternity if we want to.”
I shook my head in disbelief.
“You know, Danny Boy I’ve lived a wild life. I always thought I’d go to the other place.”
Old School stepped up next to us listening to our conversation with a big grin on his face.
Little Danny Boy smiled.
“Do you remember back in the Nam when you risked your life to save me?”
“Yeah, but you still died.”
“I died, but you saved five other guys and got yourself shot.”
“I was just doing my duty, trying to save my bros.”
“How about that time you tried to save Hector and Iron Man from that outlaw club? You stood over them fighting like a wild man until help arrived.”
“Yeah, but again, they still died.”
“But you tried Man. That’s what counts. You were willing to lay down your life for your bros. What about that young girl Cynthia? If you hadn’t of stopped to help her, she’d be one of them undead things right now. You stayed with the club and saw our brothers to safety, even though the disease made you want to rip their throats out.”
“Yeah, but anyone of those guys would have done the same.”
“Maybe. The good book says that greater love has no man than he lays down his life for his friends. You were willing to do that on numerous occasions in your lifetime. You’re famous in biker heaven. We’re gonna throw you a welcome party like you’ve never seen. Get on your scoot, Bro. We’re heading home.”
“What about booze? Can we drink up there?”
“Hell yeah! You can drink all you want and you don’t get a hang over in the morning,” Little Danny Boy said and then tossed me a bottle of Jack.
I cracked open the bottle, took a swallow and enjoyed the feel of liquid fire running down into my belly. It taste better than anything I’d ever drank. I handed Old School the bottle; he took a long pull and then grinned.
“Let’s go home, Bro,” I said. Old School just nodded, seeming too excited to talk. We swaggered out into the road and climbed onto our new scooters. Little Danny Boy took up his position in front as Road Captain, the pack formed up behind him then Old School and I fell in at the rear. Goosing the throttle, I headed down the highway and put my face in the wind.