The first signs were crudely hand-lettered and tacked to trees: “See Zombie Falls” with an arrow pointing the way. Curious but cautious, the Parkers ignored them. They had had almost no contact with other survivors after the zombies had overrun the cities.
Then one day Bobby Parker ventured near an old highway and saw that someone had repainted part of a sign for Paradise Falls rechristening it as Zombie Falls. The sign now read, “Visit Beautiful Zombie Falls.” Bobby checked the distance. If he got an early start he could make it in a day. If he was lucky. If he was willing to leave his family behind just to satisfy his curiosity.
They argued about it for days. His parents, of course, were dead set against it. They were safe in their little hideaway. They had a secluded shelter, a small garden, and a forest full of nuts, berries, and small game. They could survive indefinitely as long as the zombies didn’t find them. But Bobby needed to do more than survive. So one day he woke up early and just left.
About midday he met up with a half-dozen other travelers. It was awkward for Bobby, talking to new people for the first time in years. They had seen the signs for Zombie Falls too. Some of them had met a man who said survivors had retaken and renamed the town of Paradise Falls. They had found a way, he said, to keep the zombie population in check. Come join us, he had said.
It was nearing dusk when they reached the small town now called Zombie Falls. Bobby was astounded to see people in the streets, more people than he had seen in one place since the horrible attacks had started. The newcomers were welcomed and directed into an old storefront with iron gates covering its display windows. Several chairs were set up facing the windows, but most of the crowd just stood and watched the gathering darkness.
Suddenly a generator roared to life and the street was illuminated by floodlights exposing the presence of several zombies. They trudged into a building directly across the street. Minutes later the first of their bodies came crashing to the sidewalk. Someone was throwing zombies off the roof. They made a delightfully squishy splatter. Everyone cheered.
This went on for a good hour or more until all the zombies in sight had been dispatched. Then the crowd filed outside and everyone pitched in to clear the wretched debris. The body parts were scraped up into wheel barrows and then dumped into the river where they bobbed and swirled in the lazy current. Out of sight, out of mind, out of town.
Bobby slept that night in an old dry goods store amid a group of strangers, but he felt safer than he could ever remember. The next day everyone was assigned jobs to continue reclaiming the town and rebuilding its infrastructure. Bobby pitched in willingly, but his mind was on the one tall building in town. The one the zombies had been thrown from.
Bobby walked all the way around it. He peered into the open spaces where the doors and windows had all been broken out. Then he went inside and up the stairs to the roof. An old man was inspecting some sort of cable next to a cage. A large hole in the roof opened onto the stairs Bobby had just ascended. Bobby knew the old guy had seen him, but neither spoke. He watched for a moment in silence. Finally, the old guy waved Bobby over.
“Give me a hand with this cable,” he said holding one end of the thick wire out to Bobby.
Bobby took it.
“Now slip it between the bars in the top here,” he stepped inside the cage and pointed.
Bobby reached to where he pointed the best he could.
“No,” the old guy said, “that’s not right. Come ’round here and grab hold when I feed it in to you.”
Bobby stepped inside the cage while the old guy climbed on top and lowered the cable to him. Bobby grabbed on and waited for instructions.
“I suppose you’ll do,” the old guy said.
“I’m trying my best,” Bobby replied.
“We don’t need you to help with the cables.” The old guy laughed and closed the cage door, locking Bobby inside. “We need you for bait.”
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