peeling skin, I now felt overwhelming compassion for their plight, along with a heart-piercing sense of moral outrage that someone had done this to them, to us, to the whole world. I could no longer hide behind my rationalizations. It cut me to the core when I looked at the hungry zombie, seeing only the agonizing pain behind his mindless eyes.
“They don't look the same anymore,” Moto said thoughtfully, reading the look on my face like I was an open book. “Do they?”
“No, man,” I wholeheartedly agreed, trying to fight back an unexpected wave of tears.
I turned to look at Moto as he drove.
“Do you really think we can pull this off?” I asked. “Do you think it's possible to end all of this, and make things like they were before?”
“I'm not sure things will ever be like they were before. But yeah, I believe if enough people decide to pitch in and work together, we can put an end to the worst plague the human race has ever seen. It's part of the human spirit, the will to survive, to adapt and change and go on. It's how we came to be at the top of the food chain in the first place, if you'll pardon the bad pun.”
“Har har,” I laughed sarcastically. He smiled.
I stared at him for a moment without saying a word.
“Something on your mind?” he quizzed me.
“I've asked you before about how you were turned,” I said, turning away and staring out the window. “And all you ever say is that you don't want to talk about it, or that it's not the right time. You're always too busy to get into it.”
“Guess I'm out of excuses now, huh?” Moto chuckled.
I turned back and glared at him.
“Why don't you want to talk about it? Why won't you tell me what happened?”
“It was stupid,” he said, looking embarrassed. “That's why. I made a dumb mistake and I nearly paid the ultimate price for it.”
“So tell me about,” I pushed. “I think I have a right to know...as your brother.”
“We were doing supply runs,” Moto sighed, looking deflated. “I had three guys with me in the Humvee. We were going store to store in a strip mall, knocking down walls and scavenging for useful supplies.”
“You mean like medicine or bullets?”
“Yeah,” he said quickly, “or water or canned goods. You know, anything that might come in handy. We were just off the freeway in Camarillo.”
“And you got attacked by zombies?” I asked.
“Not exactly,” he stopped me. “At least not at first anyway. We'd been going door to door for a little less than an hour, finding very little, to be honest. The day was kinda hot. The guys were goofing around. They'd peeled down to essentials at that point, just shirts and pants. They put down their weapons. We found a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label in the dry cleaner’s office, and began passing it around. I didn't want to come off as a hard boss, so I just let it slide. We thought we were out there all alone.”
“So what happened?”
“I went out behind the buildings,” Moto’s eyes darted back and forth as he spoke. “There were dirt fields back there, overgrown with weeds. I had to relieve myself, and wanted to do it in private. I started going and I looked up at the warm sun and the next thing I knew something bit my calf just above the boot. I looked down in shock to see a scraggly-looking man gnawing into my leg. He had no eyelids and he just stared up at me, snarling the whole time. I can still see him when I close my eyes at night.”
“Was he a crawler?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Moto said. “You could call him that. His pants were empty below the knees, as if someone had chewed off his calves and now he wanted revenge. He was one of the migrant farm workers who used to pick the vegetables. He'd crawled right out of the weeds and taken a chunk out of me, all because I closed my eyes for a minute. I was so angry, I couldn't see straight. I beat him with the butt of my gun until I cracked his skull and he stopped squirming.”
Raymond E. Feist, Janny Wurts