Dixons Don't Cry
I was sitting on the couch with Dad, and my uncle was in the recliner. We were watching Oliver Wilde: Survivor Extraordinaire on the TV. Dad was drinking a beer, as was my uncle, and I had a Coke. It had been a year since my graduation and I was living at home, doing odd jobs around the town for anybody who would hire a nineteen year old. No boyfriends or any close friends- only a Dixon could love a Dixon, after all. Plus, I didn’t really think of any of that mushy stuff, I’d seen enough odd women in my home and in my bathroom to be grossed out by the idea of relationships at all (thanks Dad).
In the middle of Oliver demonstrating how to make a fire in the wild (“Like ya even need tha’ bullshi’ stuff, tha’ pussy!” Dad yelled), the TV made that annoying Emergency Broadcast noise. I groaned, knowing it could go on for a few minutes. But, as I looked at the screen and the TV spoke, I spit out the drink I was taking.
“Tessa! Wha’ tha fuck, suga! All ova’ ma-” My dad complained, and I smack his leg and shushed him, earning a glare.
“-infected with the virus fully are aggressive and will attempt to attack. Do not try to reason with the infected or converse with them. If attacked and bitten and/or scratched, seek medical attention quickly. Signs to identify infected are: bloodshot eyes, decaying features, grey skin, fever, sickly looking, inability to make coherent speech, and unhindered aggression, among others. Please gather your loved ones and head to Atlanta where the government and military are setting up a safe zone for all non-infected. Remember, do not try to engage with the infected, or risk infection. God bless you, your families, and God bless America.” The message stopped for a few seconds and just beeped, until it started up again. “Good evening. This is an Emergency Broadcast, this is not a drill. A virus has spread, causing those infected to attack others mercilessly. Those infected with the virus are-“
We all sat in silence for a minute, the message fully repeating itself once more. I looked towards my dad in fear and watched his mouth just hang open. I looked to my uncle as he slowly looked towards me. “Uncle Daryl, wha’ are we gonna-“ I was cut off by my two family members shooting up and started shouting to each other.
“Daryl- go get tha weapons-“ My dad started.
“-an’ you go geh’ truck and bike ready-“ My uncle continued.
“Fuckin', wha’s happenin’?!” I asked, fear filling me.
Uncle Daryl ran off to the hallway to get our weapons from out rooms, and my dad grabbed my shoulders and looked me in the eyes. “You go get your clothes and pu’ them in ya’ hikin’ pack, same with mine. Then go get tha’ coola’ and duffle, and get tha’ food and drinks and water—like we’re goin’ campin’, alright suga’?”
I nodded, knowing that question time would be later. I ran off to my room first and grabbed my hiking backpack and started throwing a few tank tops and shirts, a change of jeans, underwear and bras, socks, and a jacket for when it was colder. I quickly changed into a pair of jeans from my sweatpants (and threw those in my bag too), and slipped one of my flannel vests over my back sweater. I ran to the bathroom and grabbed my toothbrush and my dad’s, his deodorant and mine, and—not knowing how long we’d be gone for—a box of tampons to be safe. I didn’t bother with soap, but I threw in hair ties and random medicine from the cabinet. I checked in the cabinet under the sink and saw my small sewing kit and threw that in too.
I ran into my dad’s bedroom as my uncle was rushing out, carrying a bag of my dad’s knives and guns. I went into my dad’s room and grabbed his pack that sat in the corner, filling it with his shirt and jeans and boxers and socks. Looking around trying to spot anything, and seeing nothing else, I ran out of the rooms, down the hallway, throwing the bags near the kitchen as I went through the living room to get to the garage. I grabbed the cooler and I went to our water bottles that we kept on the ground next to the freezer, and dumped all twenty that were left in. In the freezer, I grabbed the two large bags of ice and dumped them in, knowing we could drink the water from the ice when it melted if need-be.
I wheeled the cooler back inside with the duffle in my hand, and opened up all of our cabinets. Canned food galore! That’s what you get when nobody in the house could cook. I shoved all of the cans into the duffle that would fit, most of them being canned beans or some random ass vegetable. I think there were a few canned fruits of mine. I checked lower cabinets and found my granola bars and fruit snacks, and shoved them in the bag too before zipping it up.
That was all we could take in the bags. There was nothing left on the shelves, and Uncle Daryl came back from outside with the truck. “Come on, Tess, let’s get this shit in tha’ car,” he said as he grabbed the duffle-bag, which was much heavier because it held a bunch of cans and boxes.
I picked up the cooler with a slight grunt at the weight. I was muscular, but I was still small, so it was a bit of weight. I quickly followed behind my uncle to the truck, shoving the cooler into the back of the cab on the floorboards next to the dufflebag. Uncle Daryl was messing with the weapons bag in the front, and I knew what was in it: two handguns, a rifle, knives, and ammo. We would probably stop at Uncle Daryl’s place down a ways to get his things. His crossbow would come in handy. Daddy came around the side of the house to the front on his motorcycle.
I threw my arms up in disbelief at his smirk. “Daddy, wha’ tha’ hell are ya doin’?”
“I ain’t leavin’ my bike, sugah! This was my firs’ baby!” He patted it affectionately.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head, turning back to my Uncle Daryl and asking,” Are you gonna run and get ya things, Uncle Daryl?”
Uncle Daryl nodded, his eyes glancing to Daddy. “Merle, let’s go,” he said. Dad nodded, and revved his bike. I shook my head once more—possibly the end of the world and he still treats that stupid bike like his kid, even though he has a real one.
I hopped in the passenger while Uncle Daryl ran quickly to the driver’s seat. We took off and went to his house, and the same routine we had went through here: Uncle Daryl on weapons and me on food; this time, Daddy played look-out to make sure nobody stole our stuff or something now that everything was going to shit. We grabbed our tent and sleeping bags from Uncle Daryl’s closet. As we got back into the truck, you could hear screams in the distance.
About twenty minutes later, we were heading south to Atlanta like the TV had said, Daddy riding behind us on the bike. I was tapping my fingers along to the Johnny Cash CD that we had popped into the truck. We were getting into the towns now, but there wasn’t much going on. People were running around, but there wasn’t anything that big happening. It was a small town though, and this proved to be less dangerous. After we filled up the tanks and drove for another hour and a half, we hit major traffic going into Atlanta.
It seemed that every goddamn car was headed to the same place. “Fuck!” Uncle Daryl exclaimed, slamming his hand on the dashboard.
“Where’re we gonna go, Uncle Daryl? Is it gonna be safe?” I asked, noticing people getting out of their cars and trying to see ahead of traffic. All roads to Atlanta were backed up.
He didn’t answer for a minute, but then told me honestly,” Don’ know Tess. But me and Merle will keep ya safe, ya know tha’.”
“I know that, Uncle Daryl. I can’t help bu’ be scared though. People attackin’ people, don’ even know whadda hell is goin’ on!”
A loud scream cut him off. Both of our heads snapped to about ten cars in front of us, where a woman who had gotten out of her car was being attacked by something- someone.
“Oh my God! Is he- is he eating her?!” I screamed in horror. More of those things were coming into the crowded street, and Uncle Daryl honked his horn twice and looked in his rearview mirror. I turned to look and see Daddy already pulling out and driving off. But he was on a motorcycle, he could fit in the gaps.
“Uncle Daryl, how-“
“Hold on tight, Tess, we gotta get outta here,” he said, turning the steering wheel tightly before slamming on the gas.
I wish I would have held onto something; the car jerked and the tires screeched, and I screamed as he turned the truck away from traffic. “Uncle Daryl! This is illegal!” I shouted, but he ignored me, and I had a feeling that nothing was going to be illegal soon.
Uncle Daryl smacked into other cars and shoved them out of our way with the pick-up, driving the opposite way of traffic. I covered my eyes as we went head on towards other cars, swerving in and out of them, hearing horns blaring and screams as those things ate people. We drove for fifteen minutes, before he slammed on the breaks and I lurched forward, my seat belt holding me in place. I opened my eyes to see Dad talking with a man through the window of the truck. Dad was nodding and motioned to us, and I was trying to see who he was talking to. A Cherokee and another car was behind this guy, and the guy honked and began to drive off, the Cherokee following. Dad looked to us and motioned to follow.
We did, and I slammed my palm into my forehead, shaking my head. “Dear Lord, what is Daddy gettin’ us into?”
It was a rhetorical question, but Uncle Daryl grunted and told me,” Probably somethin’ he thinks’ll protect us. Dixons look out for their kin.”
As if I didn’t know that.