Sorry for the coarse way in which I informed you of Mike's death--it's been a long week. I guess you didn't know him anyway so it probably doesn't matter. As you can imagine, we've become a little callous about death here--after the first 100 million or so, deaths start to lose meaning. It's been a while, though. We lost Kevin in the Sam's Club a month or two ago, but he had just joined us--nobody really knew him. Mike...Well, we all liked Mike. Mike deserves better.
I remember the day he joined us. It was still early in the outbreak; we were really just getting started. Most of the people who joined us were friends and relatives of the core group (Heidi, Shawn, Matt and I) and everyone was coming with their family photos and heirlooms and whatever survival gear they thought they'd need. Everybody brought bottled water, it seemed (thankfully). Nobody knew Mike or knew how he found us. He just showed up at our door carrying nothing but a box of doughnuts. I'm terrible with names, so for the first month, I just called him "Doughnuts." He never seemed to mind.
So here's how it happened. We had toyed with the idea of making up some grand story about how he sacrificed himself to save us in some great zombie battle royale, but it doesn't seem right to make his memory a lie--besides, it seems like nobody really gets a hero's death during the zombie apocalypse. The truth is, we made it all the way to Hoffman Estates almost without incident. We had to clear a few cars and we saw some zombies along the way (some followed us, but we out-distanced them), but we made pretty good time and we were actually at the intersection of 59 and Higgins not long after nightfall on our second night (we mainly traveled at night--I still think the zombies mainly hunt by sight). That intersection is where it all went bad.
We were in two vehicles--three of us in the Blazer and two of us in the pickup. We've agreed not to say who was where, other than that Mike was driving the pickup. There's this little strip mall at the intersection (a Target, a Caribou Coffee, etc.). Well, we turn onto Higgins to head toward Cabelas and about 100 zombies come pouring out of the mall. Mike panics, hits the gas and flips the truck. His passenger made it out, but Mike was pinned with 100 zombies coming at him. I guess a hero would have made a stand and tried to kill those zombies and save Mike's life. There are a lot of dead heroes out there. We took off. You could argue that the person in the truck could have done more to try to save him, but the bottom line is that any one of the four of us would have done the same thing. You don't live this long by worrying about the people you have to leave behind. Matt fired a few shots to try to blow up the gas tank (pretty near impossible, I've heard, unless the tank is empty) and then he fired toward the driver's side to spare Mike from what comes next. Judging by what we heard as we drove away, I don't think he was successful.
The mission was a success--we're loaded on ammo and supplies now--but the cost was high. I don't think any of us who were on that trip are going to be able forget what we saw and heard that night. We did learn something, too. The zombies are starting to cluster--that's why we don't see so many of them anymore. They find a building with somebody in it and literally hundreds of them gather around. We suspected that was happening, but now we know for sure. I guess we did well to dispose of our watcher last month before his friends arrived. This makes me think maybe there were some other survivors in that strip mall where the 100 zombies came from. Maybe our distraction helped them to escape, assuming they wanted to escape. I guess now we know how to find survivors--look for concentrations of zombies.