Roxanne Ryder On The Road

Interstate to the Interzone

The rear view mirror of the red Cadillac Eldorado was alight with scintillating blue and red strobe lights. In the driver's seat of the convertible, the motorist sat unfazed. Clad in a black leather jacket, tight jeans, a white shirt, and wide rimmed sunglasses, the driver put the pedal to the metal. Acceleration forced her back into the upholstered seat. Her motor oil-stained red kerchief was tied around her brown hair and fluttered in the wind. Feeling the same forces as a rocket plane's pilot, Roxanne Ryder grinned as the Arizona Highway Patrol vanished into the dust cloud now occupying her rear view mirror.

Looking straight ahead of her, Roxy saw her world was about to end. More specifically, the bridge over the gorge was out, washed away by flooding. With only the ramps left, Roxanne knew exactly what to do. She pressed down her accelerator as far as it would go, burning rubber as fast as her finely-tuned engine could turn gas into speed.

"Danger: Mundo Loco Canyon Bridge Out!" the sign in front of her warned.

"See ya later, squares!" she shouted over the roar of the engine. "This is one flip-top you're not stopping!"

The Cadillac smashed through the flimsy wooden sign like a runaway freight train. Sending splinters of wood behind her, Roxy activated her secret weapon with a button under the steering wheel. A blast of nitrous oxide kicked in, rocketing her car off the broken edge of the bridge and over the canyon below. In her rear view mirror, the police cars swerved to slow down. One narrowly missing going over the edge. Roxy never bothered to look down, since it always made the jump seem longer than it actually was.

An instant later, Roxanne heard the reassuring "clunk" of making contact with solid road again. She drove her customized ride hard, and looked in her rear view mirror. The police stood on the far side of the bridge, waving their fists and undoubtedly unleashing a torrent of profanity. She headed around a mountain bend, the bridge and irate police vanishing behind it. Now, safely in another state, Roxy slowed the car down to the legal speed limit, and pulled off road into a half-concealed crevice in some nearby rocks. Roxanne fished around in the glove compartment, fumbling around with her spare switchblade and revolver, and pulled out a tool kit. She stepped out of the car, unscrewed the vehicle's licenses plate, and replaced it with another one. Keeping a low profile had its advantages, but sometimes, Roxy enjoyed seeing how much the police wanted to give her that speeding ticket.

Having fulfilled her adrenaline high, Roxanne stepped back into her car and pulled out a guidebook from under the seat. She flipped the top of the convertible up, and skimmed through the book of maps on her current location. A map of the Arizona-New Mexico border indicated she was currently near a landmark of note, Mundo Loco Canyon.

Intrigued by the name, Roxy looked it up in the "Landmarks" section of the book. Reading silently to herself, one line interested her: "Some visitors have reported strange hallucinations when resting near the canyon." Intrigued, Roxanne looked at her watch. She still had some time to kill, and chances are, she wasn't going to be bothered where she parked her car. She was parked somewhere between rock faces of a cliff, and the road was easy enough to read. And if she was bothered by a cop, she had enough speed to leave them in the dust. Roxanne turned the engine off, locked the doors, and lifted up her feet on the steering wheel. It was time to take a nap. It took a few minutes, but Roxy was soon drifting into her own world of sleep.

Roxy was awakened by a strange sound. It was a rhythmic, periodic scratching. Catapulting herself to awareness, she looked outside the window for the source of the sound. She scanned the windshield, and saw nothing by the rock face in front of the car. She looked on either side of the car, and saw nothing but dirt and rocks. She looked in the backseat and rear view mirror, and saw nothing but the other cliff face. She looked up, thinking perhaps pebbles could be falling from above. But when it happened again, she discarded that idea. The sound was like small amounts of fabric being ripped at once. There was someone or something doing it. For a moment, she considered the fact it might be a small creature.

Probably it's some desert rat or something, she mused to herself.

Roxanne was about to open the door of the car to check when she decided to do one last check. She leaned forward looking for something the front of the car. Leaning forward, she looked up and saw what the source of the noises was. It was to a human what a mangy, rabid mutt was to the family pet. The deformed, rotting skeletal parody of a human head appeared upside down in front of her. The nose was absent, long rotted away, and sharp teeth filled the mouth. She could see its hands terminated in claws, each protruding from what was once a fingernail.

Roxy would have screamed helplessly if she was another woman of the era. She had a Plan A she liked to use. Instead, she drew her switchblade and began to stab upwards into the convertible's roof lining, trying to get it off. She heard hissing and growing as she slashed, and her blade came back with blood on it. Looking up, she could see its claws cutting through the top, trying to get to her. The knife was only irritating it more.

Instead of continuing to stab it, Roxy pulled out Plan B. She fired the Smith and Wesson Model 19 revolver at the creature, the Magnum rounds exploding into its chest and causing pieces of decaying flesh to fly out the back. The gunshots finally killed the creature, causing its lifeless body to tumble down onto the ground. Instead of getting out to investigate it, Roxy went onto Plan C. She turned the engine on and floored it. Looking in her rear view mirror, she could see more of the creatures were climb down from the cliff sides. She hit the gas, and darted out back onto the road. The creatures continued pursuing her, so she hit her nitrous oxide boost.

The g-force pinned Roxanne to her seat like a bug in a specimen collection. Some of the feral creatures jumped out in front of the car, splattering themselves against the grill and the hood. Gobs of gore and blood splattered all over the windshield like hailstones, and the wipers couldn't handle all of it. Cursing to herself, Roxanne tried reloading her revolver while steering with her knees. Everywhere she turned, there was a deluge of the dead. Roxy swerved back onto the road, her massive car and its momentum smashing any creature caught in front of it.

The creatures came from all sides, however, and Roxanne kept having to fire her revolver at the tattered canopy to keep the creatures from clawing their way in. She could barely see out the front, since so much blood covered the windshield. She still could see out of a small clear spot, not a lot, but enough to navigate the car.

It was when she rounded a bend that she encountered even bigger problems. Black smoke belched from around the bend, and she lost control of her car. Gritting her teeth and banking hard to the left, she manage to avoid entirely spinning out of control. The zombies to the side were smashed by the spinning car, and blood splattered all over the side windows. Her windshield and side windows were now completely splattered with blood. She was still likely off to the side of the road, with zombies closing in on an angles. Roxy loaded her revolver with magnum rounds, readied her switchblade, and prepared to take the zombies on up close and personal. The clawing at the top of her car was growing more intense, as the creatures knew there was dinner inside the metal container. Roxy felt like a sardine in a tin preparing to be eaten.

Unlike a sardine, however, she was going to fight until she could no longer. Or more preferably, she'd fight until she saw how to get moving again. Looking up, she saw the creatures darken the holes in the canopy. The small beams of sunlight no longer showed, and the creatures began moving in for a meal. She stabbed upwards with one hand on the switchblade, and shot upwards with her revolver. She kept firing and stabbing until one of the creatures fell right into the seat beside her. The slavering monstrosity slashed at her with its claws, cutting through her black leather jacket and drawing blood down her arm. She leveled the revolver at it, blasting its head apart. Another creature came down, this one on top of the first. She fired her revolver, but only an empty click was heard. The creature bit down on her exposed arm, causing her to shout in agony. Her other hand delivered a switchblade strike into the zombie's eye socket, killing it with a lucky blow.

It was when she pulled her knife free that she heard it. There was a mechanical sound, as if there was another vehicle on the road. Chances are, she realized, it was something big. The sound reminded her of somewhere between a truck and tractor. There was a secondary mechanical sound she could not quite place. It was a high pitched whirring, as if a metal cat was placed in a washing machine. The zombies, for whatever reason, had stopped their attack. The massive engine moved nearby her position, she hoped, and began to idle. The secondary sound grew fainter, and the grunts and cries of the zombies became screams and hisses of pain.

The sounds continued for a long minute, until the cries of the zombies died out completely. Suddenly, Roxy heard a knocking sound from the driver's side window completely covered in blood. "Hello?" a male voice with a Southern drawl asked. "Anybody in dere?"

"Yeah," she replied, opening the door.

She looked out and saw her savior standing on the edge of the road. The man had tanned skin, a hawkish face, thick aviator sunglasses, a khaki shirt, jeans, and a cowboy hat. He wore a vest with a strange badge, a feathered snake. The words "Republic of Aztlan Interzone Patrol" were visible on his badge. His name, "Sheriff Cletus Benway," was emblazoned on his shirt sleeves. Behind him was presumably his vehicle, which was belching black smoke into the air. It resembled a cross between a pickup truck and a combine harvester, with a set of blood-stained whirring blades on the front. Bits of mangled zombie bodies were visible within the rotating blades, like food scraps between the teeth of someone who didn't floss.

"Well now!" he exclaimed. "Pardon my Frankish, little lady, but dayam! Yah must be one crazy factualist bitch to be out here!"

"Yeah, I'm out here in Nowheresville," Roxy replied. "Now where am I, really?"

"Interzone between Aztlan and Empire of Nippon, ma'am," the sheriff replied. His voice suddenly changed. "Now, why are yah out here? Evadin' sacrifice without a permit? We get too many o' those fools coming through here, thinkin' the zombies ar' less painful than the high priest."

She tried to recall where she was. "I was rolling out of Arizona, and then came through Mundo Loco Canyon."

"I see," the policeman asked. "Where yah from if yah don't mind me askin'?"

"Small town near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania," she replied. "Worked in pop's garage there. Ain't going back there again."

"Yah must be a lil' disoriented, ma'am," Cletus said, adjusting his glasses. "I reckon I ain't never heard of those places, and I've patrolled out here for some twenty years since the last big border war."

He produced a pair of handcuffs. "I'm afraid I'm gonna have to take yah down for questioning, missy," Cletus brandished them in front of her. "Now, step out of yer car, please."

Suddenly, Roxy pointed with her finger behind the Sheriff. "Zombie!" she said.

"Now, missy," the policeman lowered his shades. "I've been around long enough tah-"

It was then the zombie pounced onto Benway from behind, sinking its teeth into his throat. Roxy panicked, and hit the gas pedal. Burning rubber, the car rocketed forwards, back towards the road. As she moved forwards, the combine harvester's front blades nicked the side of the door. The sound was like nails on a chalkboard amplified a hundredfold and repeated ten times more a second. Nonetheless, Roxanne continued on. Looking out of the opened side door, she could see more zombies heading her way. One of them pounced at the car, jumping over the hood, and smashing through her windshield. Fragments of the windshield cut her in across her body, creating new scars across her body. More zombies jumped towards her, and one managed to claw its way up the hood. She tried stabbing it with her switchblade, but the zombie didn't even flinch. It grabbed her exposed throat with its claws, and began to squeeze. Despite her struggling, she felt the air finally leave her body. Deprived of life-giving oxygen, she finally went black.

Roxy awoke back in her car with a gasp. Looking around, she saw she was exactly where she had parked her car. Looking at the time, only a few minutes had passed since she had parked there. Halfway disbelieving what was going on, she looked up at the roof above her. There were a few minor scratches, strangely enough. Looking out the window to her left, she saw a few strange dents in the front of the car. Roxy shrugged, and drove back onto the road. Driving down the road, Roxy kept an eye out for zombies. Thankfully, the road was deserted, except for her bright red Cadillac. Whatever had happened to her car could easily get fixed at the next garage she came to. Undaunted by whatever she had seen, Roxanne Ryder headed out of Mundo Loco Canyon, and devoured the Interstate in front of it like a zombie eating flesh.