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The Shivers — Salt Lake City

I probably didn’t need the last shot of whiskey.

But who cares?

I just scorched the Earth and vanquished my enemies. The town lay in ruins and I sat atop the bodies of slain foes. I was victorious, satiated, and thirsty—the kind of thirst that can only be satisfied with strong drink and exotic women.

My friends Walt, Ernest, and Lyndon were passing a bottle between them as I jumped on the top of the overturned semi. It took a second or two to get my footing but eventually I clamored to the top and look south down Main Street. The bookends of what once was the Boston Building were asymmetrical as the northern building was nothing more than a smoldering pile of bricks and electrical fires. I could hear the yells of people demanding help in the deathlike pit, but Walt said let them go—they’ll all be dead soon enough.

I still had my humanity and wanted to help, but when Walt Disney tells you to “shut the fuck up and drink the whiskey,” you drink the whiskey.

He spit bourbon into the stream of fire and blood that ran down Main Street’s gutter and said it was far from a small, small world but a world made of death and destruction. Walt was the first to identify the infected souls that ran roughshod through Salt Lake City and he was fearless in killing any poor sap that happened to carry the “Shiver.” That’s what he called the devils with blackness for eyes, mouths contorted into howls, and bodies that consumed any living flesh they could get their cold, feverish hands on.

At first I was terrified. And why shouldn’t I be? All I ever knew was hitting a baseball—just some dumb SOB from Payette, Idaho that was pretty good at playing first base. The fans called me “The Killer” or “Hammerin’ Harmon” but I just wanted to curl up with my Bible and hug my kids. I wasn’t going to be so lucky when the Shiver got into my teammates. It was hard at first taking a baseball bat and slugging some really good guys to death, but as Walt and Lyndon said, “You kill ‘em before them kill you.”

It turned out to be some pretty good advice.

Lyndon somehow made it out of Washington DC to get with me, Walt and Ernest. He drove out in his presidential limousine that he filled with grenades, rocket launchers, and machine guns. He was so darn looped when he made it into the Wasatch Valley that I swear Walt and I thought we were going to have an old-timey Mexican standoff against him. Fortunately, Ernest interrupted us before all Hell broke loose by throwing ninja stars into the infected people before they attacked us from behind.

It’s one of those things that it is hard not to laugh at. Who would think in a million years the guy you wrote True at First Light knew how to throw ninja stars?

Anyway, Walt started to get into a real foul mood now that all of the infected Shivers were piled almost 100 feet high, dosed in gasoline, and burning a foul black smoke. He wanted more action and the 12-year concubine he “acquired” in Cedar City decided to throw herself in to the bonfire instead of spending another night in Walt Disney’s bed. I thought the relationship wasn’t exactly consensual from her screams, but Lyndon told me to let him do his evil—he heard rumors of Walt doing a lot worst things while writing Snow White.

He kept saying that if he can’t get his “rocks off” with “some young muff,” he sure as anything was going to head West and start killing Shivers until he can’t swing a machete anymore.

The world sure changed a bunch since meeting up with these fellows. I never thought I have a chance to butcher zombie-like people with sharpened teeth, poisonous cobra-like spit, bifurcated tails and the ability to run like Ricky Henderson in my life, but ever since Rock Hudson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr killed that 45-foot fire breathing lizard monster that destroyed most of Abilene, Kansas, I didn’t know what to think. There were rumors on the radio that New York City was overrun with half-man/half-bat people who drank blood and listened to jazz music. I heard from Wayne Newton that Miami was overrun with walking dolphin-like people who could kill you with a high pitch squeal and Atlanta was burning to the ground from an H-bomb developed by some fellow named Truman Capote.

Sure seemed like the world was going to Hell in a hand basket.

Walt told me to stop being such a “slack jawed butt pirate” and told me to find a car while he and Lyndon find them a couple of companion girls for the drive to Reno. I shot a look to Ernest and he shrugged back, and we both headed east of 300 South looking for a decent sized sedan that wasn’t covered in blood.

“You got to hand it to old Disney,” Ernest started as he drew his crossbow and shot down a Shiver piloting an ultralight. “Somebody should really put some saltpeter in his cereal. I’ve never seen a man with such sexual ferocity. Charles Bronson told me Walt would go through three to four boys or girls a night if he started to hit the bottle hard.”

“I heard stories, Hem, but I don’t like telling tales,” I said. “I figure he knows what he’s doing. Besides, I know he pays a lot in taxes and makes nice cartoons and such”

“Oh, I couldn’t care less. I was only making conversation,” Ernest said as he jimmied open a 2017 Cadillac T-series with the option leather bucket seats and plutonium charger rig. “I sure do miss Chuck. He was a pretty good friend—kinda like you.”

A drunk driver killed Charles Bronson after the first wave of Shiver attacks. A 17-year old kid drove through a stop light killing him instantly. She is currently in jail awaiting trial in Missoula, Montana.

We slid into the car and sped off looking for Lyndon and Walt. We drove around the ashes of Salt Lake City for almost a half hour until we found them outside of a boutique ice cream shop where the two were eating a haphazardly constructed banana split.

“The only thing better than eating a banana split is having some chick lick my banana,” Walt said with a roar of laughter as he chain-smoked. Lyndon just stared at the stolen car.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here. I couldn’t carry Utah in 1964, and I sure as shit ain’t gonna carry it today,” Lyndon said spiting his cigar on the ground. “Besides, this town got too weird.”

We loaded into the Cadillac and Ernest started piloting towards I-80 and whatever adventure lead ahead. I sat in the front seat of the car sipping my beer and looking at my smartphone waiting for Lee Marvin to call. I doubt he would, but I didn’t give up hope.

My buddy Lee would know what to do.

It took the heart of lion to break into the big leagues. Fortunately for me, I had a lot of help along the way. Throwing bails of hay up and over trucks gave me a pretty good physique and I always had really good eye-hand coordination. It’s the kind of skills that makes for a good ballplayer. I got called up first by the Washington Senators, but really made a name for myself with the Twins. I always like Minnesota. I feel bad for all of those people killed by that moose with lasers for eyes and horns that shot out lightning bolts. Probably a pretty horrible way to die by a moose with lasers for eyes but I had to end my career with the Kansas City Royals, so I figure they had it coming.

Oh shoot, I didn’t mean that—moose have antlers not horns. I don’t want anybody thinking I’m making this story up. I definitely got to make sure I get my facts right.

Anyway, Ernest drove like a madman through the desert as the fellows in the back got into something called a speedball. They kept yelling at Hem to keep the wheel steady as Lyndon tied off Walt and shot him in the arm with something. I don’t know what it was, but it put Walt right to sleep. Thank goodness, I was tired of him yelling for more girls to do naughty things with. I watched through the rearview mirror Lyndon take the same needle and shoot himself up in the behind. Throwing the syringe to the floor, he passed out on top of Walt.

“Finally, some peace and quiet,” Ernest said as he put a mixed tape of Danzig, Operation Ivy, and Minor Threat into the sound system. “Let try and let them sleep and get to Reno before they wake up and jaw our ears off.”

And with that, we sped like a rocket into the setting sun. Behind us was total destruction, in front the world of the unknown. After taking a deep pull from the tequila bottle, I handed it to Hem who drank deep while swerving around burning cars and smoldering wreckage on the highway. We shared an electronic cigarette filled with Turkish tobacco and Persian hashish, and talked about the good days before people transformed into mindless psychopathic animals and tried to kill us with their bare hands. I missed my family, but I kind of like the new family that I had in that Cadillac.

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About Ben Raskin

Born in El Cajon, raised in Las Vegas, educated in Reno and living in Salt Lake City. I bartend, write, box and live in Sugarhouse UT.

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