Paul's Rolling Pizza
This is a short story I wrote maybe three or four years ago as a way to challenge to write more dialogue. It’s also got a lot of onomatopoeia in it, which is both fun to write and say out loud. I haven’t proof-read it at all, so just watch out. Anyways, enjoy!
The clouds had darkened while Paul spied on a camp a quarter mile in front of him.
“I shouldn’t have kept working.”.
He thought while climbing down from his tree, his arms weak and timid to be used. Paul died many months back in his food truck, “Paul’s Rolling Pizza’s”. He didn’t have any family or friends to lose after the infestation broke out, so instead, he gathered as much of his stuff as he could and drove around, giving free food to any survivors he could find. People urged him to stay with them inside the refugee camps, but he insisted on finding more survivors beyond the walls.
He hadn’t searched Parker yet, so Paul made sure he had enough gas, then drove down there in his reinforced truck. He passed by a small barricaded house, parked and knocked on the door. A frail woman peeked her eye between planks, then warily let him in. Paul had brought 3 boxes of pizzas for them; Hawaiian and two Cheese’s. He apologized for not giving more, he was short on dough and hoped to find more people to feed around Parker.
When Paul got back in his truck, he locked his doors and heard the engine’s feeble roar as it started up. A moment later, he heard a second roar. Realising what may be, he slammed his brakes, sending everything in his truck crashing towards his windshield; pizza boxes, napkins, containers of gas, and a zombie.
Paul’s last thought alive was how he could’ve forgotten to close the door after he stepped out. It didn’t take long for the zombie to bite off a chunk of Paul’s neck, infecting him and carrying him across to the other side.
When he woke up, Paul surged with fear of the zombie in front of him, kicking him repeatedly until the zombie’s body stopped moving. Crazed and confused, he loped out through the broken windshield and fell on the cement floor. Examining his hands, they were tinted green with bits of skin peeling off.
Still to this day, Paul regrets still working instead of taking refuge in one of the barricaded camps. He would still be alive now, instead of a zombie. Not mindless though – that part is particular about Paul. Although he died and arose like every other infected being, he didn’t lose his mind. Day by day, he walked with the crowd of zombies, walking straight amongst his moaning friends. Day by day, they’d walk right from the center of Parker into the armed camp in Franktown (a feat that would take the limping lot around a month to cover the distance). Paul would turn around and walk back to Parker alone before he got close enough to get shot.
After climbing down from the tree, he jogged and joined back up with the crowd of around fifteen zombies, walking forward during the dusk.
“Hey Ronald, how you doin’?”
“Lisa, keeping it together?”
“Bob! Do you mind if I piggy back ride you for a while?”
His left hand bearing the weight of his head, Paul rode atop Bob to save himself some energy. A deep sigh came from Paul, staring ahead at the camp closing in. He learned to like this crowd of zombies this time, Bob was fat enough for him to sit on lumps around his waist, and Lisa was the first pretty zombie he’d seen in a while.
“I’m gonna miss you guys.”
Hopping off of Bob, Paul sat down and watched his friends drudge forward. A few minutes later, gunshots went off, and he betted against himself who would be the last one to get shot. “Come on, Ronald! You’re small, hide behind Bob! My feet depend on this!”
A whistling bullet took Ronald down while others still stood. An equally short zombie nicknamed Fred was the last that fell.
“Blast! The long road it is, I guess.”
Paul got up and already dreaded taking the path through the trees back to Parker, a much longer path that proved more painful to the feet than the cement road.
While cursing kicking rocks under his breath, hoping each next rock wouldn’t break one of his toes, he heard a familiar roar.
The same feeble roar that caused his demise. Sprinting through the trees to get a look at Parker Road, he caught glimpses of a truck headed towards the camp. “Paul’s Rolling Pizza”, barely still legible across the truck’s side. It rolled to a stop in front of the gates, then after a few distant shouts, went around the wall instead of through the gate. Curious, Paul ran as fast as he could to get a view of where his truck was headed.
Behind the camp, a small fenced area was home to many cars. “They keep their cars outside the camp?” thought Paul, amazed at his discovery. He couldn’t figure out why they’d keep such a valuable item outside their safe walls, but he was already figuring out a way to get in.
Once the sun fell and the last human inside the open-air garage left, Paul made his way down towards the wooden gate, careful not to make noise. Avoiding lights, he climbed over the tall fence and fell back down on an unexpected cement floor. Still careful, Paul made his way between cars, avoiding the searching spotlight atop the wall that sometimes would shine where all the cars were.
Paul had a hard time seeing in the dark, instead, he slowly opened each door handle he could find, waiting for the familiar ‘click-clack’ his truck’s handle would make.
After a dozen cars, he heard a door slam near him. Paul ducked down and sat still, listening for any movement towards him. He’d be killed in an instant if a human found him.
Paul sat frigid, afraid for his undead life.
Accepting his second death, Paul saw both his lives flashing before him.
Swoosh? Paul opened his eyes and saw a faint light glowing behind the car in front of him. It turned around the corner, stared directly in Paul’s eyes, and froze. They both stared at each other for some time, before the floating figure covered in an ethereal blanket slowly walked backwards, then picked up a wrench from the ground and threw it on the car next to it.
Their gazes fixed, Paul squinted and whispered,
“Are you a ghost?”
The figure’s face became paler than it already was and it’s jaw dropped. A swooning response came from it,
“You can.. See me?”
“Are you who’s been making such a ruckus?”
The ghost closed his mouth and struck a peering eye on Paul.
“You’re new to this camp, aren’t you?”
“Well actually, I’m not from this camp.”
Paul stood and slowly walked towards the ghost until he came into his light. Paul laughed as the ghost’s jaw dropped again.
“You’re a zombie that talks!” exclaimed the ghost.
“And you’re a ghost who’s been scared by a zombie twice!”
“Not scared, just surprised.” The ghost crossed his arms and repeated himself every time Paul made fun of him for being a scared ghost.
“Bah!” shouted the ghost, tired of Paul’s laughing. He flew behind Paul, pointed towards the camp’s wall and explained, “I used to live in there. I’d ride shotgun with every human that drove out or in the camp. Driving a car is what I miss most from being alive.” The ghost sighed and his light dropped to a faint whisper of a glow, “I rode with every car that I could, as quietly as I could! But after a while, they started growing suspicious of the strange noises they’d hear on their rides. Mechanicians figured out the cars weren’t making the noises, so they started thinking their cars were haunted. Sometimes, I’d accidentally ‘Woo!’ with excitement from being in a car.
It happened enough times that everyone believed the cars were all haunted. So, they built this enclosement outside the walls and made it their garage. I’m happy with that, except nobody comes out for night rides anymore, which means I lose a lot of sleep during the day if I want to be in a car with them.”
Paul scratched his chin, surprised about meeting a ghost, and that they needed sleep. “Maybe you can help me then, I’m looking for a truck that came in here just a few hours ago.”
“Oh?” said the ghost, his light glowing lighter than Paul had seen before.
“Yes, it’s green and had a broken windshield when I left it.”
The ghost laughed quietly. “I can’t see colours, and there’s too many broken windshields here to count. You’ll have to be a bit more specific.”
“It has ‘Paul’s Rolling Pizza’s’ written across both sides. Does that help”
The ghost dug his mouth into his palm, eyebrows meeting.
“Hmm.. I don’t recall seeing a truck like that.. But I think I know where it could be.”
Together, they floated and limped through the impressive amount of cars towards a gathering of especially broken cars. The ghost used his light on every truck, failing to find Paul’s truck for the longest while. Until,
“Aha! My zombie fellow, get over here!”
Paul let go of one of the handlebars he was clutched to, and jogged as silently as he could towards the ghost’s light. He stopped in front of the rusty and overgrown text “Paul’s Rolling Pizza” across his truck’s side. Excitedly, Paul reached for the door handle and was satisfied with the familiar ‘click-clack’. “That’s the one!” He jumped in and sat on the driver’s seat, holding the steering wheel and looking ahead of him, reliving what it felt like to be alive.
The ghost floated around the car and unto the passenger seat. Hitting the tips of his fingers together he asked, “Well.. now that I’ve found your truck, if it’s not too much to ask.. Could we-”
The sound of an engine roaring interrupted the ghost’s feebly speech. “We’re going and never coming back, my glowing friend! You won’t have to wait to get a ride anymore!”
The ghost’s light grew so bright, Paul started getting scared someone would see, so he accelerated forward as fast as he could and crashed through the wooden fence in front of him. Together, they drove fast away after getting back on Parker road, hoping not to get hit by the shots behind them. The ghost clapped his hands with joy, “I can’t believe this is happening! I’ve been haunting that garage for so long now! Where are we going?”
Paul shrugged and responded, “We could go on top of this big hill I used to go to when I was a child, you can see the whole city from it. Does that sound good?”
Paul didn’t get an immediate answer, but instead felt the ghost’s stare on his neck. He looked over, confused, and asked him if he was alright.
“Yes.. I’m fine. The hill sounds good..”
A dozen miles and doors slamming behind them, they made their way on foot and by air up the hill. When they arrived at the top, the ghost asked Paul, “So.. what do you like to do if you’re not eating anyone?”
“Oh you know, walk with my fellow zombies, climb some trees, climb fat zombies and the like.”
“No, I mean before all of this.”
“Well, I rode that truck for a living. I’d go around the city and sell pizza to people, it was a pretty good business, actually.”
The ghost’s stare hadn’t stopped since during the car ride.
“What did you do?” asked Paul.
“Something similar.. Although I loved to go hiking whenever I wasn’t working..”
“So did I! My first climb was the Boulder in Castle Rock.”
“That was mine too..” The ghost’s light dimmed, “Say, did you have your first kiss with Amelie in 9th grade? Was your first broken bone your leg when you fell off the roof that one summer night? Did you first cry of happiness when Dad and Mom finally took you to go adopt a puppy, which you named Thunder and grew up with until he died?”
Paul got up slowly and stared into the ghost’s eyes. After a moment, and a hint of what might be, he whispered “How do you know all of this?”
The ghost smiled and said, “You never got my name. I’m Paul.”
They passed the rest of the night talking, about what zombie-Paul did after death and how ghost-Paul flew directly towards the city after floating out. They continued talking, both expecting the answers they’d give to each other, but asking questions anyways.
Afterwards, Paul and Paul rode across the land, taking turns riding fat zombies, finding new cars to ride in, and flying into houses with pizza to give to survivors all the while. They kept themselves company in the apocalyptic world, by himself.
- Adam V. Dufour