They couldn’t wait any longer. Tamara started the car and drove off. “We still need that gas…” she said.
“Yeah,” said Caleb, but he was too busy looking in his mirror as the Wrecks closed on the kid in the trench coat and mask. Tamara turned the car in a wide circle, hopping the kerb on the other side of the road. The kid didn’t run, didn’t move. The Wrecks changed direction. But they were so close to the kid that they could reach out and tag him. Still, they followed the car.
“They’re following the movement,” said Caleb. The revelation exploded like a wave breaking over him. Frankenbogart clearly knew something, somehow. And he was the most stupid, brave, audacious bastard Caleb had ever seen to test the theory with no safety net. When the Wrecks were facing the other way, Frankenbogart suddenly broke into a run. Caleb saw that he had a large mineral water bottle in one hand.
While the guy on foot ran for the pumps, the two in the car overshot their turning point and Tamara had to do a careful three-point-turn to face the filling station again. The three Wrecks had closed about halfway. Their arms grasped and their swollen eyes glared.
“This is fucked,” Tam said quietly. Caleb looked at her and saw something strange in her eyes. Suddenly she spurred the Honda forward.
“What are you doing?” Caleb screeched, like the irritating mother-in-law from a movie, before the car ploughed into all three zombies.
The sound was like logs falling on a tin roof. They bounced in three directions and Tamara angled the Honda straight towards the pumps without looking back. Caleb hung on to his seat. He came to the conclusion, a little late, that this was exactly the thing to do. Who cared about steering around them, about ducking and weaving? We have a car, so use it. He was proud of her. At the same time, his breath was caught in his throat just like when he’d been on rollercoasters.
They pulled up at the pumps and Caleb jumped out. He was still catching up but had the wherewithal to catch up fast. The Wrecks were sprawled on the ground sixty feet away. They were moving but not standing yet. They looked like worms just uncovered by a shovel.
“Well, that kinda takes the pressure off,” said Frankenbogart, and pulled back the mask. Caleb saw a kid in his late teens with blond highlights. Rich kid. Surprise, surprise. He was filling his five-litre water bottle with gasoline. Caleb opened the tank on the Honda and started filling it. There was an absurd moment of normality while they both just stood there, waiting, to the sound of gas pumps humming.
“What’s with that?” said Caleb, nodding towards the mask.
“Their eyesight is shit,” the kid said. “They mostly see movement. Flat colours help. The eye picks up bright colours easier. I just wear the mask because it hides my features. In case they see my eyes move. Whatever. I don’t know if that works.”
“Next time I see you, I might be able to tell you,” said Caleb. The kid glanced up at the bandage on his head for a split second, then realised his bottle was full. He conscientiously hung up the pump. He twisted the top back on the bottle. He checked the status of the Wrecks one more time, then he put his mask on and ran. He did all this without looking at Caleb or speaking again. Caleb felt a whisper of disappointment. He had shattered the bond by naming himself as a Wreck-in-training. This kid had some kind of code. He disappeared behind the gas station. Caleb would never know any more.
Back in the car, he was about to tell Tamara all he had learned when she said “Look,” with a tone of disgust. Caleb looked out her window and saw the three Wrecks she had run over. Two of them were mobile, and they were crouching over something. It was the third Wreck, and they were eating it.
He wasn’t sure how Tam felt about this. “It’s nothing to do with you,” he said. She didn’t answer. “Fuck it, we’re gassed up. Let’s move. Come on, honey.” Lying on the ground near them were some corpses, torn apart and mostly gone. It seemed this was a regular thing. Caleb didn’t care what they had once been. He was learning a lot.