You asked for it; you got it! Here is the Epilogue from Wake the Dead, hot off the presses...*Warning* Contains spoilers and strong language!
“Park it over there,” Nick said from the back of the van as Alex gazed through the windshield and eased the vehicle to a stop. The parking lot was littered with corpses and they would soon enough need to move those bodies—especially before they started to reek in this heat, Alex understood, wincing at the familiar and awful smell that would begin to permeate the air.
This was their third trip back to the hardware store today. It was starting to get cooler and the sun dipped slightly in the sky, leaning westward. Bryan, Nick, Liz and Selina all took turns removing supplies from the back of the van as Alex removed the tools from the front seat.
He watched as Shadow burst right past him as soon as he opened the front door and watched after the wolf as it went about marking its territory and generally sniffing around.
He remembered Jerry and his family suddenly and hoped that they had gotten home safely.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Nick said as he took the bag of tools from Alex.
“Just thinking about Jerry and his family, you know…Just hope that they’re okay.” Alex found himself staring at the scene around him, taking in the odd fact that the zombies had simply fallen over dead without warning, Nick following his line of sight. “Kind of weird that they all just keeled over, eh?”
“Weird, sure. But we don’t know the first thing about these things,” he said, slapping Alex on the back. “Hopefully, they starved to death.”
“That makes the most sense,” called the sweet and soothing voice of Selina. Alex peered over Nick’s shoulder to the see the beautiful vision standing with a 2x4 propped over her shoulder.
“I guess,” Alex said. “But shouldn’t we be piling up these bodies and burnin’ ‘em? Or something?”
“You know the plan, Alex,” called another voice. Bryan stared at him with hands on hips. The man was clearly exhausted from the exercise today, sweat pouring profusely down his forehead and his unbuttoned shirt was soaked with sweat. Oddly enough, he had a cigarette hanging from his lips, which seemed to Alex as counterproductive with regards to the workout. But, what the hell, he thought, it was a strange new world and he couldn’t blame folks for doing what they had to in order to get by…even for just one minute.
I sure do, Alex admitted, climbing back into the van. This new world had its share of challenges. Alex chuckled to himself at the absurdity of that understatement.
Suddenly Liz was at the side of the door, which startled him. Once Alex regained his composure, he stared back at her again.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to…never mind. Nick wants that fence up first, and then we’ll worry about the bodies, right?”
“I know, and I’ve made my arguments against, so…whatever. We’ll do it his way.”
“You know the stench is gonna be just as bad if we burn them than as if we let them sit out here for another day, right? Probably worse?”
“Can’t wait,” Alex said a bit too sharply as he started the engine and pulled the van away from the staging area.
“That was a dick move,” he mumbled as he drove the van away. The vehicle came to a rest under a tree he had visited a few times this day, and kicked the same zombie corpse that sat against the tree’s base as he had each and every time before.
It was dressed in medieval garb, soiled and stained, and had a name tag on the front, which seemed totally out of place on the zombie corpse.
The name-tag read: Fred.
“Screw you, Fred,” Alex said, running a hand through his black locks, trying in vain to wipe the moisture away. It had become a running joke for the day to ‘kick Fred’ as they passed it simply to get out some frustration. He smiled and shook his head at their juvenile behavior and picked up his pace down the hill to join the others. Alex wanted to get things done in a hurry.
The others were assembling the framework for the repairs, Kelly joining them and assisting them to get it done both quickly and accurately. Between him and Kelly, they had drawn up a plan mid-day and it took about twenty minutes.
And now they were executing that plan. Alex watched Shadow, as he hammered in a nail, the wolf growling uncharacteristically and biting at the legs of one of the zombies.
And then it twitched.
“What the f—?” he mumbled and stopped mid-curse.
Gotta be the heat messin’ with me, he reflected, as he finished assembling his part of the frame. He stopped his toiling for a few long minutes, sipped water from his canteen and then felt the soft and reassuring touch of what he had come to know as Selina’s on his shoulders, rubbing them gently. He immediately relaxed under her touch.
He could not believe the calming effect that this wonderful woman had on him. It was intoxicating to say the least.
“You okay,” she asked him, slapping his rear-end playfully.
“I guess. Think I’m seein’ things, though.”
“Why don’t you take a break, Alex? Seriously. You need it.” He was about to argue when she planted a kiss on him, stopping his protests before they escaped his lips. She kept that kiss there for a good long while, further soothing him.
“Fine then. I’ll go clean my gun,” he said, playfully pushing her away. “It’s in the van. I’ll be back in a bit.”
“Yeah,go! Get outta here,” Nick called playfully in the distance, taking a long swig of water. “You stayed your hour.”
Alex thought again of how lucky he was to have found Selina in this apocalyptic setting into which they had been unceremoniously cast. He smirked as he recalled that when they first met, he had no intentions of becoming intimate with her at all, and as a matter of fact, he remembered that for a brief instant, he thought long and hard about leaving her up there on that rooftop. Funny how things change, he supposed, as he reached for the door handle.
Suddenly, his heart skipped a beat and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He swallowed hard and he felt sick to his stomach as he slowly cast his gaze down to the base of the tree.
Fred was gone.
Alex found himself running down the hill as fast as his tired legs could carry him.
“What’s wrong!?” Selina called, racing up to meet him. “Are you all right?!” Alex slammed into her and almost knocked her over, catching her and holding her at arm’s length just as he caught sight of the others standing in a semi-circle around him.
“What, man?!” Nick said, striding up to stand right next to Alex.
“It’s Fred. He’s not there anymore!”
“What the hell are you talking about, man?” asked Bryan incredulously, lighting another cigarette and taking a long drag.
‘I mean, the dead zombie that was sitting there under the goddamn tree isn’t there anymore. That’s what I mean!”
Nick and the others ran past him and Selina pulled him in closer, hugging him tightly. “It’s gonna be okay, Alex,” she whispered to him in an unconvincing tone.
The others ran back down the hill again quickly, Nick barking orders and the group responding in kind.
“Pull the van inside the gate, man. I don’t know what the hell is going on here, but it ain’t good.”
“Right. I’m on it.” Alex called Shadow to him and Alex saw Nick speaking with Alexis and Hannah, who showed up with sandwiches for the group, and all Alex heard was the tail end of their conversation before they all turned and made their way back to the castle gates.
As Alex got shadow into the van and drove off around the corner to the front gates, Nick’s words kept repeating in his head: “Seems like the dead ain’t dead after all.”