Tag Archives: canada

Hockey (unfinished)

Chev felt like a truck ran over his chest and then shat on it, so he had little fight in him when Dakota and his buddies decided to take him out to play hockey.

“I’m American. We don’t even play hockey.”

“It’s okay,” said Dakota. “You’ll be on my team. I’ll show you the ropes.”

One of Dakota’s friends was a hawk-faced bastard named Dean. “You going to drag that Yank around, Dakota? I feel sorry for ya.”

Chev ground his teeth together. “How does it feel to be America’s hat? Thanks for keeping us warm.”

“Oh?” Dean had a shit-eating grin plastered to his face. He looked to his guys and they started smiling too. “I was under the impression that America was Canada’s bitch, eh? We’re bigger and on top.”

Their muffled mitten hands slapped together in celebration. Chev always thought that America was a bigger country than Canada, but he hated this guy either way.

Dakota nudged him in the ribs. “Just a little pre-game banter. No worries.”

Chev coughed from deep in his chest. He was exhausted.

“I haven’t skated since I was fourteen years old.”

Dakota smiled and shrugged. “Should be exciting, then!”

After some deliberation, Chev decided not to strangle Dakota. He was too tired, anyway.

* * *

The hockey game went splickety-splack. Stuff happened.

* * *

Chev passed out when they got home but woke up to the sound of drumbeats. Bump. Bump. Bump. It was monotone but consistent, like a heartbeat. He felt drawn to the rhythm just on the other side of his walls. He opened the door and a flood of light washed over his eyes. It felt like some tiny man was punching the back of his eyeballs. The drumming had stopped. Chev rubbed his eyes, blinked out the light, and saw Dakota and his buddies in a drum circle, getting high as kites to the point where they couldn’t even play right.

“You fucking hippies,” Chev grumbled. He pushed Dean out of the way. “Hand me the drums.” They stared at him. “All of them. Now, please!”

He patted one drum, tightened it up, patted another and loosened it. This went on for a good fifteen minutes. The Canadians simply watched this strange, strung-out American tooling around.

Then Chev paused, took a deep breath, and began hammering at the drums. He could feel his muscles protesting. They weren’t used to exertion, especially after getting owned out in the bitter cold in a game of hockey. Chev was in no condition to do anything much, but the music quickened with his heartbeat and he felt a rush of energy like he hadn’t felt since he was first getting high. The drums made a semi-circle around him and he beat on them all in a rapid progression. He started to breath heavily and leapt out of his sitting position. His hands came down like thunderclaps. His deep inhalations caught in his chest and he suddenly began coughing so hard he was heaving on the floor. Everyone came to help him, though the crowding only made him more nauseous.

Dakota tucked him back into bed. He had no dreams that night, but if he did, they would have been about music.

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Filed under Novel, Session XIX

Jumper

Dakota had been telling Chev for years to come out and find him if he needed help or a place to stay. Of course, the only catch was he couldn’t use anymore. So, it came as a shock when he heard a raspy, shivering voice over the phone.

“I need a place to stay.”

Dakota paused. “Chev?”

“Yeah. Who’d you think it was?”

“I’m sorry. You just sound… are you all right?”

At the end of a trail of coughs, Chev says that he’s not.

“I just tried to hang myself with a shoelace. It snapped”

Dakota wanted to laugh and cry all at once. He sounded so embarrassed. Chev was always impulsive but at least he wasn’t dead yet and for that, Dakota was thankful. The girls, and Seamus too, had all given up on Chev after what he’d done to Dizzie. Dakota kind of hoped he could salvage the old Chev.

“I’ll have a plane ticket ready for you if you want it.”

The line was quiet and Dakota thought the call had been dropped. “Hello? Chev?” He heard a sniff, like the person on the other line had been crying.

“Can I leave tonight?”

“Sure. I mean, but don’t you need to pack or something?”

“I don’t have anything. My dad kicked me out months ago.”

“Where have you been living?” Dakota asked, though he kind of guessed at the answer but it still surprised him when Chev spoke.

“Nowhere. A shelter.”

Dakota weighed his next words. “Do you have a way of getting to the airport?”

“I’m in walking distance.”

“How long?”

“Two hours, maybe three?”

Dakota sighed. “I’ll see what I can do. Can you call me when you get there?”

“Yeah. Don’t have a charger for this phone, though. It’s, uh, not mine.”

“Turn it off while you’re walking, then,” Dakota said, but he remembered something. “Chev! Promise me  you’ll go through with this. You’re going to go straight to the airport, right?”

“…yeah.”

* * *

After their talk, Dakota had called everyone he knew. It would take a lot more than just one friend to take care of and keep an eye on Chev.

Dakota shifted from one foot to the other. Chev finally came out of the airport and he looked like Hell. He was dangerously thin and painful to look at. He’d always had some weight on him but now it wasn’t even the same Chev. Dakota was worried that the Chev he knew had been peeled away.

“How was your flight?”

“Landing was a bitch. Security practically buttfucked me.”

“But at least you’re here.”

“Yeah. Fuckin’ cold, though.”

Dakota handed Chev a coat.

“What’s this?” Chev asked, eyeing the garment suspiciously.

“Just a jumper.”

“A what?”

“A sweater. You know, to keep warm.”

Chev took it without saying anything. He put it over his shoulders. It was too big but he kept it there.

“I’m tired,” he said.

Dakota wanted to laugh. Or cry.

“Let’s get you home.”

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Filed under Novel, Session XIX

Hindsight (revision)

I don’t know why we thought it would be safe up here.

We fled to Canada around the same time that Celine Dion and Tom Cruise were both said to have flown up here. The celebrities mixed with T.V. programs and word-of-mouth all encouraged people to start heading north. Pretty soon, the Canadian government had to close off their borders. We heard they shot anyone who tried to come across, but that didn’t stop people from coming in after the folk had it in their heads that Canada was the place to be. Zombies started cropping up everywhere after that, even the animals. In hindsight, I suppose we should have tried to drive someplace else, but it’s hard to fill up a tank of gas when you ain’t got no money.

Yeah, not just us. A lot of folk who came up didn’t have a penny to their name. And even if they did, there’s not a lot of housing to go around. Some folk tried to build their own houses, buying materials from the city and cutting up the forests. BC residents have had a huge escalation in break-ins, robberies, and murders. A lot of people have died just for some squatters to have some food and shelter. Of course, the military has been cracking down on this, too, but there’s only enough of them to protect the richer burbs. For our own protection, I suggested to Sarah that we live in the truck. She agreed.

We came up in my ’04 Silverado. Bought her brand new. Now, she’s all dented up from stray deer and moose attacks. So far we’ve been lucky with ’em, but you never want a run-in with a moose. Run into one going to fast and your car’s totaled. Unless you’re driving a tank, it’s done. And if you’re stranded out in the wilderness with no car, well, you’re a dead man.

One day, driving down the rode, I saw one just standing there, its ribs all exposed and its face torn away. You see something like that, it’s hard to believe at first. Your reaction times slow a bit. I swerved out of the way, lost traction and almost hit a tree. After that, it was hard to get back on the road, what with the snow and ice. Lucky for us, the moose was so eaten up, one leg barely had any muscle holding it together. It was pretty much limping at us but fast enough. When you start looking at the skeleton of a creature, all the parts underneath that make an animal tick, then it starts looking less like a living being and more like a monster: eyes filmed, teeth rotten, ribs scraping at the passenger window. We almost didn’t make it that day. I know my wife still has nightmares about it most days, though she won’t admit it to me.

Sarah keeps me sane. She keeps the night watch because she says she has better eyes ‘n me. She says she likes to go to sleep watching the sun rise, which I’mm sure is a relief, but I think she’s simply too afraid to sleep at night. I can’t blame her. I have trouble sleeping sometimes, too, knowing that those creatures are out there. But if I wake up dead, I wake up dead. Man’s gotta sleep. And I trust her to keep me safe, wake me up if anything goes south.

It’s weird we didn’t think about the animals. It’s Hollywood, I guess. We always think of zombies as being people, you know? Then again, who thought zombies would be walking around at all! At least people would never stand the cold, but all the deer and wildlife out here have coats that just shed the snow like it was nothing. I hear people farther up north have to deal zombie polar bears. I don’t envy them, though they’re becoming more frequent down here. Depending on the amount of decay, those sonsabitches can rush you up to 40 clicks. And I’ve only heard rumors about the mosquitoes in the Bayou. They say on the T.V. that it’s just one big dead zone down there. I guess it could be worse, but it definitely could have been better.

Sometimes I think to myself that we’re being hunted here, that everyone sitting still is just waiting to die. At least we got this truck, though it doesn’t do us much good with no gas. If only we’d been smarter with our money a bit… ah, what’s the use of worryin’ about the past? You know what they say. Hindsight’s a bitch.

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Filed under FEATHERTON II, Flash Fiction

Hindsight

We thought it was safe up here. People said it would be safe.

When the outbreak occurred, there was a migratory boom moving up north. The Canadian border guard brought in the military and even they had to give up after a while. In hindsight, I guess they should have just started shooting to kill. But you know what they say about hindsight.

A lot of folk who came up didn’t have a penny to their name. And even if they did, there’s not a lot of housing to go around. Some folk tried to build their own houses, buying materials from the city and cutting up the forests. BC residents have had a huge escalation in break-ins, robberies, and murders. A lot of people have died just for some squatters to have some food and shelter. Of course, the military has been cracking down on this, but there’s only enough of them to protect the richer burbs. Overcrowded is a huge understatement. It’s like trying to squish a third of the Americas into a few tiny encampments.

I came up in my ’04 Silverado. She’s reliable. Only got a few dents in it from stray deer and moose attacks. You never want a run-in with a moose. Drive too slow and they’ll catch up with you. Drive too fast and you might hit one and total your vehicle. Moose ain’t pushovers. You get your vehicle stranded out here, you’re a dead man. One day, driving down the rode, I saw one just standing there, its ribs all exposed and its face torn away. You see something like that, it’s hard to believe. Your reaction times slow a bit. Almost hit it. Scared the crap outta my wife. She chewed me out good for that one. But come on! It’s a dead damn moose walking around!

My wife keeps me sane. She keeps the night watch because she says she has better eyes ‘n me. I know she likes to go to sleep watching the sun rise each morning. The real reason is simply that she’s too afraid to sleep at night. I can’t blame her. I have trouble sleeping sometimes, too, knowing that those creatures are out there.

It’s weird we didn’t think about it. It’s Hollywood, I guess. We always think of zombies as being people, you know? And people zombies’d never last out in this cold. But all the deer and wildlife out here have coats that just shed the snow like it was nothing. People farther up north have to deal zombie polar bears. I don’t envy them. Depending on the amount of decay, those sonsabitches can rush you up to 40 clicks. And I’ve only heard rumors about the mosquitoes in the Bayou. They say that’s just one big dead zone. I guess it could be worse, but it definitely could have been better. Ah, but you know what they say. Hindsight’s a bitch.

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Filed under FEATHERTON SESSION, Flash Fiction