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©2011 The Media Desk

      The legend has it that in the early 1970s a bus with a group of local people on board was heading for the airport just after a really bad snowstorm. The driver lost control on a curve and the bus plunged into a massive snow bank, killing all aboard. Now every time there is one of those storms that the TV weather people call "one for the record books" you have to be ready for.....

The Night of the Attack of the Snow Zombies

      Charles and Carol had moved to town from a big city, they thought that small town life and the country air would be good for their children. They wanted them to have hometown values and a real sense of community, not something manufactured by a consulting firm hired by city hall.
      They moved into a small house that they were planning to rent while they had their dream home built on a wooded lot near a small lake. Charles went to work for the county, Carol worked part time at the town's only grocery store, and their kids loved their new school. It seemed idyllic as fall grew old and the Holidays approached.
      But then in January, one of those Yukon Express storms got tangled up with a tropical flow from the Gulf of Mexico and parked itself over the area for several days.
      As the snow piled up the newcomers noticed everybody in the town grew edgy and the grocery store sold out of something besides milk and eggs. Pork brains being one of those items.

      One of duties Charles had with the county was to drive one of the snowplows. It was something he'd done in the city, and now instead of negotiating narrow streets and around parked cars, he was trying to miss mailboxes and the occasional stop sign.
      The second day of the storm had everybody getting even edgier.
      "You had your 'Z-briefing' didn't you, Chuck?" The highway supervisor asked Charles one time.
      "Oh, yeah," he answered with a thumbs up and headed out on his route.

      If Charles had been paying closer attention, he would have noticed that as the snow continued, the other drivers didn't continue to add to the piles of snow along the road. If anything, they went out of their way to spread the additional snow out, even going to the trouble of pushing it into fields or into the creek to assure that the mounds of plowed snow stayed less than about four feet high. Charles, thinking it was just something of a local tradition, only partially complied with it.
      Charles also thought the 'Z-briefing' was about emergency weather procedures. He'd seen the card across the bottom of the Civil Defense siren. There was a code for the different alert signals the system could send out through the array of sirens on various poles and towers throughout the county. They included the usual tornado warning, the fire call, the relic from the cold war for the Bomb, and something called 'Z-alert', which Charles thought was the monthly test. 'Z' wasn't the test tone. It was a special alert only used there.

      Carol signed out of the grocery store and picked the kids up from school. It had been snowing hard enough for long enough that even the rural school district that had many busses with automatic tire chains on them, conceded that the conditions were just going to get worse and called off classes for the day at noon. She drove home slowly and carefully and parked under the carport
      When Charles finished his second extra long shift of the week he came home exhausted from eye-strain and the long constant fight with the steering wheel while the huge yellow truck pushed its burden along the roads and highways of the county.
      "Everybody at school said that tonight will be the night!" Their daughter kept saying.
      "The night for what Rebecca?" Carol asked her.
      "The night they'll come out! We have to make some cocoa and have it ready."
      "Who comes out?" Charles turned to Peter, Rebecca's younger brother.
      "The people from the old bus, the snow zombies."
      Charles looked at Rebecca, "they told me that story at work, it's just a local legend that they tell each other about bad weather like this," she said.
      "I heard them talking about that in the lunch room. But some cocoa does sound good. Can you make some while I take a shower?"
      "Sure, honey."

      The two way radio in the supervisor's truck crackled. "I've broken one wind drift on fifteen, but Patty at the Tote-a-Poke said she saw a mound over on six," a plow driver said.
      "One of ours?" The supervisor asked.
      "She thought so, maybe that new guy, you know, Chuck, forgot. But it's gonna keep blowing like this so it won't matter. It's gonna drift up big enough for'em."
      "Yeah, but I'd rather we didn't help them out. OK, make another pass and go on in. I'll check it out."
      "Ten Roger, Dave, I'm turning onto Old Mine Road right now."
      "Did Patty have the coffee on?"
      "Yessir. Fresh and hot." Then the driver added something else, "And she's putting on a pot of cocoa too."
      "I'll stop by and get some. Get in before it gets dark."
      "On my way."

      Dave drove down route six and saw several large mounds of snow from the plow, but there were also a lot of natural drifts as well, both were a bad sign. The supervisor turned off the spotlight he had been using to look for drifts.
      "Uh oh," Dave said to himself. Then he keyed the microphone, "It's confirmed, they're coming. I'm on six near the truck and farm store." Then he gunned his engine and headed for the Tote-a-Poke convenience store.
      "Dave, Rick from the Sheriff's office just called, he said that one of their Deputies saw signs of them over on the Dixie Highway. They're going to sound it soon."
      Dave shook his head, "I'm going to stop by the T-P, then I'll be in. This might be a bad one."
      "So we're clear to shut in?"
      "Yeah. Pass the word."
      As Dave's pickup truck rounded the bend it left behind several large piles of snow, all glowing slightly with a somewhat unnatural blue light.
      Just then a low piercing wail broke from the county-wide siren system. It changed in pitch a couple of times, then ended with a sharp 'yelp'. In a moment the sequence repeated.

      Dave stopped by the convenience store and then turned toward Charles's house. He wanted to make sure that the newcomers to the area knew what to do, and that Charles didn't blame himself for it. And he needed to do it before it was completely dark, he wanted to be in his own 'Z-proof' house before nightfall.
      "Dave! I didn't expect to see you tonight," Charles shook the man's hand, "Carol, this is my boss, Dave."
      "Ma'am," Dave said, "I just wanted to make sure that you guys were ready for tonight."
      "We've been though snowstorms before, but thank you."
      "This isn't a normal snowstorm, they're gonna come out."
      Charles and Carol exchanged looks, "You don't mean what everybody has been talking about? Snow Zombies? That can't be real," Carol said.
      "I'm sorry ma'am, it is real. And it only happens when it's a really heavy snow with high drifts and big piles of plowed snow. They come out of the snow."
      "That's why they said to string out the plow trails instead of making tall piles," Charles said.
      "Yeah. But in a storm like this, with natural drifts, it doesn't make a lot of difference."
      "This house isn't one that's Z-proof, so I was wondering if you and your family wanted to come over to my place tonight."
      "'Z-proof. Zombie proof."
      The couple exchanged looks once again. "Do you think it's really necessary?"
      "Yeah. I've seen them, I've dealt with them. They can be nasty. And you don't want them getting to you, or the kids."
      "What happens if they get in?"
      "You become one of them."

      Carol and the kids rode with Dave in his big pickup truck, Charles followed in his own. They had packed quickly for what they hoped would be nothing more than fun night sitting in front of Dave's fireplace listening as he told them the stories of snowstorms past and the Snow Zombies.
      It was getting dark quickly. Dave's driving became more determined as the blazing lights of the truck split the night into two distinct areas, one of huge brightly lit snowflakes swirling in front of them and a dimly lit endless white swirl just beyond.
      "He's right behind us," Dave said as they turned toward the house.
      "This is a big truck," Peter said, "I like it."
      "So do I buddy," Dave answered him.
      Carol had been staring into the night, "I thought I saw something."
      "Probably," Dave said, "some say they've seen things moving before the others come out."
      "When do they come out?"
      "Usually about an hour after it's totally dark."
      "That's when they said we should sing that song," Rebecca said excitedly.
      "You remember that," Dave nodded in the mirror to the kids in the back seat. "But save it until we really need it. OK?"
      "OK!" The kids grinned.

      Charles was following the taillights of Dave's truck and was amazed that at times, the snow between them would sometimes obscure everything in front of him for a few seconds at a time. But he had an idea of where they were going, and they arrived without incident or accident. Dave indicated that Charles should park in a narrow clearing just to one side of the circular driveway in front of the house.
      "Come on, let's get in," Dave said.
      They all grabbed their bags and hurried into the house where Dave introduced them to his wife Lisa and their daughter, and Lisa's sister, Shelly, who lived in a mobile home and came over on 'snow days' for exactly the same reason.
      Once everybody was settled in front of the fireplace in the large family room Carol asked Dave what made his house Zombie Proof while the one they were renting wasn't.
      "Well, this one doesn't have any windows or doors that are less than seven feet from the ground that aren't secure."
      "How are they secure?" Charles asked.
      "The doors are steel with two deadbolts each," he pointed to the back door next the laundry room and the two small windows on either side of it, "the windows are that bullet proof stuff, and those are the only ones on this level."
      "And the walls are concrete block up to there," Lisa indicated where the blocks ended a row above the door.
      "I guess that'd be Zombie proof," Charles said as Dave locked both of the deadbolts.
      "So far it has been. We've been here ten years and they've never gotten in."
      "Twelve years," Lisa corrected him.
      "Like I said. Twelve years," Dave nodded.

      The kids sat in front of the fire and played a game that involved a lot of shouting and the swapping of cards and tokens back and forth.
      "The legend you heard about the bus is true. It was a group of older people and some others from the town that were on their way to Florida, but they never made it. The state police found the wrecked bus the next morning, buried in snow," Dave said softly. "I was in grade school then. Everybody in town either knew or was related to somebody on that bus. We talked about it for months."
      Lisa nodded, "We still talk about it. It's like the only benchmark the town has. Everything else is either before the crash or after the crash."
      Shelly laughed, "I'm from after the crash."
      But there was no laughing when Dave's phone rang. He pulled it from his shirt pocket and answered it, then he listened for a moment. "OK, I've got Chuck here with me, we're on our way."
      "What's up?"
      "That was the Sheriff's office. They've got a car stuck in a ditch on Forest Ridge."
      "A police car got stuck?" One of the women asked.
      "Yeah, and the towing company said it would be a couple of hours before they can get a truck out there. So, we're it."
      "Let's go," Charles answered.
      Dave got up, but then he paused, "We'll need to take some of the stuff with us."
      "I've got a chain in my truck," Charles said.
      "No, not that, I've got one of them too. I mean the pork and stuff."
      Carol understood, "the pork brains, and cocoa."
      "And hot sauce," Lisa added, "I'll get the open bottle for you."
      "Hot sauce?" Charles asked as he grabbed his coat and stocking cap.
      "I'll tell you the story on the way," Dave said putting on his heavy coat.

      The storm hadn't let up at all, and now it was well after dark.
      Dave stopped and pointed at a snowdrift off to one side of the road, "See, if it isn't Zombies, explain that."
      The snowdrift was taller than the windows of the four wheel drive pickup, and it was glowing a bright blue from inside. Every once in awhile, the pile of snow would shake like something was moving around inside it.
      "I don't know, but I still don't believe in Zombies."
      "Good," Dave answered as he put the truck back into gear and peered through the falling snow ahead of them for where their road was, "some people panic and can't function out here like this." He slowed down and turned onto Forest Ridge Road. "Do you see the police car?"
      "Not yet."
      Dave drove slowly down the middle of the snow-covered road, not wanting to take a chance on ending up in one of the ditches on either side.
      "There it is," Charles pointed at something in the gloom.
      The deputy in the police cruiser activated its light bar to help them find him.
      "I see him," Dave said and slowed even more. "OK, let's get him out of there, then get us out of here."
      "I agree with that."
      The two men first checked that the trapped deputy was all right, then they hooked the chain to one of the car's push bars and then to the tow hitch of the truck. Charles directed as Dave dropped the truck into its lowest four-wheel drive gear and gently tugged the trapped patrol car out of the ditch and back onto the solid road.
      "Thanks," the deputy said gratefully, "I was on my way in, and it just slid off the road, I was afraid I was done for." He was looking around nervously, "Did you see any on your way here?"
      "No, but they're probably out. We saw a snow bank moving."
      "Oh, hell. OK. Can I follow you back to the highway?"
      "Sure, we'll go out here to Parkland and then cut over instead of trying to turn around. Where are you going from there?"
      "I'm heading back to the station, to hell with this tonight."
      "Good idea."
      Dave drove even slower now, but even just barely moving, it was hard to tell where the road was and the ditches weren't. Finally they turned back onto the highway and the deputy turned and headed for the police station.
      "This is getting bad, you can't tell this road was ever plowed, even if we stayed out we'd never be able to keep up with it," Dave said.
      "The drifting is going to be bad on the east-west roads."
      "Yeah." He drove down the road toward the house. "Look!" He said suddenly.
      "What in the ... " Charles' voice failed him as they watched an elderly man wearing a suit jacket and tie stand up out of a large pile of the glowing snow. The man shook himself for a moment, then he worked his legs loose and lurched out. In a moment, what appeared to be a woman did likewise.
      "Time to go," Dave said as the man made a grasping motion toward the truck.
      As they turned into the driveway Charles had to ask, "was that an actual Zombie?"
      "Just like those," Dave said staring at something in front of them.
      "Oh, crap." Charles said as he made out several human-like shapes being highlighted by the truck's headlights.
      Dave hit the truck's air horn three times in quick succession. Two of the people in front of them stopped and turned and looked at the truck with totally blank and unresponsive faces.
      "Remember how I said we bait them with pork brains and hot sauce?"
      "And the hot cocoa."
      "Yeah. That's how we're going to get to the house. Get it ready and when I say now, throw it all out the window," he took out his cell phone and called his wife to have her be at the back door ready to let them in.

      Carol, Lisa and the others heard the truck and looked out the front window.
      "It's a Zombie! That's another Zombie! Real Zombies!" Carol shouted as she saw the figures moving through the snow.
      "Yeah, they are," Lisa answered calmly still holding her phone.
      "What should we do?"
      "What we do every time they come."
      "No, we get some pork brains and hot cocoa ready for them in case they get in," Shelly said. "I'll get it, you watch the guys."

      Charles opened the bag with the raw brains in it, then he opened the bottle of hot sauce and dumped it on the meat as Dave had told him to. Then he opened the thermos of hot cocoa.
      Dave drove carefully through the deep snow in the circle drive until he was close to the group of people, without being too close, then he nodded to Charles, "OK, good, do it."
      Charles rolled down the window and leaned part way out of the truck, he got a good look at the closest person and could tell that there was something really not right about them. The woman he was looking at lurched toward him with stiff legs through the almost knee deep snow. "Hey, You! You want this? Come and get it!" He tossed the open bag of brains and sauce into the snow, then he dropped a paper cup of hot chocolate next to it. The Zombie woman and the others moved a little faster their way. "Go man go!" Charles shouted to Dave.
      There was snow and ice spraying from under all four tires as the truck roared backward then Dave cranked the wheel and partially drove into the back yard. "OK, let's make a run for it."
      The men scrambled through the snow as best they could and made it to the back door, Lisa and Carol had it open for them as they reached it. The men were covered with snow, but they were safe as Lisa pushed the steel door shut and Carol turned both locks.

      "They have to be Zombies, otherwise they'd be freezing to death out there," Carol said as she described their watching them out the front windows when they heard the truck's horn.
      Charles nodded, "They didn't even look cold, and I got a good look at the one woman. She was just wearing a dress like she would be buried in."
      "She was," Dave said. "They've identified several of them, and from what I've heard, they're all still in their graves, or urns because some were cremated."
      "But they're out running around in the snow," Charles said pointing at the back door.
      "Yeah, then there's that."
      "What else can you do to keep them away?" Carol asked.
      "We've heard that they're afraid of jellyfish."
      Carol and Charles exchanged long looks.

      Several miles away the deputy they had rescued parked his car next to the police station and checked both ways with his spotlight before he got out. Then he hustled into the station and the duty officer slammed the door behind him.
      "You're the last one in. Everybody else went home." The other officer said as he locked them in, and everything else out.
      "How long until sunrise?"
      The officer that had slammed the door peaked out through the thick glass, "almost eleven hours," he said.
      "It's going to be a long night."
      "Yeah. I put a pizza in, hungry?"
      Out in the snow, a man in a light jacket with a bus company emblem on it nodded. As he moved his head the snow that had accumulated on the brim of his chauffeur's hat fell to the ground. Then he walked somewhat stiff legged through the deepening snow toward the downtown.

      It was a long cold night.
      All through the town the people heard the Snow Zombies moaning and shuffling around outside, but there were no incidents of them taking anybody unlucky enough to be either outside or in a vulnerable building. This time.
      As the darkness gave way to the first glimpses of morning, you could see the shuffling undead making their way back to large glowing piles of snow around the area.
      Finally the sirens gave the all clear and the people ventured out to check on damage.

      Dave and Charles stopped shoveling and running the snow blower long enough to laugh at the all clear. Then, once the wailing noise stopped, they went back to work.
      Inside the house they heard the emergency radio make the announcement.
      Lisa gestured with the coffee pot as the others listened and ate the breakfast she'd prepared for them, "Those are really nice units the office sent home with him, they announce tornado warnings, fire calls, and Zombie alerts!"
      Carol nodded, "we'll get one."
      "I'll have Dave check with central supply, maybe the county has a spare."

      Before the crews went out there was a brief meeting in the county garage.
      "It's still blowing," Dave said to his road crews, "knock down the ones you can, just make sure you don't get stuck. I don't want to have to go back out like we did last night."
      "So did Chuck really have his first close encounter?"
      Charles glanced over at the other driver and nodded, "Yeah, it was something. I didn't believe it until then. There's no way that was anything but a... I have to say it, it was a Zombie."
      "A Snow Zombie. There's a difference," the other driver said holding up a finger to make the point.
      "Oh? What's the difference between a regular Zombie and a Snow Zombie?"
      "Snow Zombies are the new and improved, cold weather version," Dave said. "And we're the only place that has them."
      "Lucky us." Somebody muttered.
      Another driver couldn't resist the chance to make it into a joke, "How do you know that he's a modern Zombie?" Dave shook his head and didn't say anything. Finally the driver gave them the punch line: "...he's wearing polyester."
      Dave let it hang in the air for a few seconds, "And with that, let's hit the roads."

      The school was closed that day so the kids stayed at Dave's house where Shelly volunteered to babysit and entertain them all day.
      Carol and Lisa drove into town to see if Carol had to work at the grocery store today, but the building was locked up tight and there was no sign of anybody around. Carol called the main number and it rang until the old recording that talked about their hours came on.
      "I guess I'll try again later," Carol said as she hung up.
      They drove out to the Tote-a-Poke and spent a few minutes just walking around the store while they talked about getting something for the kids and Shelly.
      At the front counter the talk was about whether tonight's 'activity' would be worse than last night's.
      Carol shook her head, "Zombie this, Zombie that, Zombie the other thing, I've got Zombie Fatigue."
      Patty stopped bagging their purchases for a moment, then nodded, "That's a good way to put it. And I think I've got it."
      "I know I do," Lisa added.
      On their way back to the house they saw where a large note had been taped to the front window of the grocery store. Carol got out and read the note, then got back in the car. "It says they will re-open for business at nine tomorrow morning. Weather permitting."
      "OK, good."
      Lisa drove slowly and carefully back out to the house, then parked not far from where her car had been.
      Carol couldn't resist looking at the tracks made the night before by their unwanted visitors. "One of them wasn't even wearing shoes, look." She pointed at one set of tracks where their toes were clearly visible in the undisturbed snow.
      "Yeah, like we said, there's nothing else they could be. If anybody else had been out here barefoot for that long, they would have lost their toes."
      Carol shook her head at the tracks, then they went into the house to make lunch for the kids.

      Charles divided his time between plowing the roads and carefully knocking down drifts and some of the higher piles left by citizens and private plow drivers at the end of lanes and along the edges of parking lots. But with the wind still blowing and another round of snow flurries just starting, there wasn't much anybody could do to prevent another night of shuffling terror.
      Charles pulled into the garage's parking lot to refuel his truck and take a break when one of the other drivers asked him what he thought of their unique circumstances.
      "I was wondering why one of those supernatural investigation shows don't come out here and do a special about it."
      The other driver laughed, "oh, they did, a couple of them. One bunch was out here one summer and spent two nights standing around filming groundhogs in the fields and skunks running across the roads. Then they went away and said it was a terrific local legend."
      "In the summer."
      "Yeah. Just after the Fourth of July, about five or six years ago."
      "How about the other one, did they come in the winter?"
      "They tried. They got snowed in on their way here. By the time they could get here in their fancy tour bus, it was all over."
      Charles nodded and keyed in the truck's number and mileage into the fuel pump.

      As the day went on the flurries turned into a meaningful fresh snowfall, that, coupled with the still gusty wind meant that even with everything they had working the roads, conditions were deteriorating and there was nothing they could do about it.
      About four O'clock Dave called his plow drivers and told them to begin to head in. With the low hanging clouds in the area it was going to get dark quickly and he didn't want to risk another plow versus Zombie incident.
      The accident had happened shortly after Dave had been hired as the maintenance mechanic who spent all summer keeping the county's lawn mowers and paving equipment running then worked all winter on the plow trucks. The supervisor at the time believed in keeping his road crews out all day and all night to keep the main roads as clear as possible. Overtime costs, driver fatigue, and even roaming Zombies be damned.
      There had been accidents where exhausted drivers had run off the road, and even collided with each other. But the one that brought the practice to a halt, and ended the supervisor's career, was when a sleepy driver ran his plow into a pack of Snow Zombies who were shuffling along the Veteran's Parkway.
      They found the truck the next morning. The blade of the snowplow was stained and had unusual remnants of its encounter on it. But the giveaway evidence was in what was left of the cab.
      The doors of the truck were bent and smashed with the windows broken out. Inside there was no doubt that the driver had fought hard and long, but had lost. Badly. The driver was never seen again.
      Never seen again as a human, that is.
      Officially, he had been 'lost in the storm after the accident' and was presumed to have 'died of exposure'.
      After that, during heavy snows, the entire county closed from dusk to dawn.
      Another supervisor was promoted, then, when he retired a couple of years ago, Dave got the job.
      The one thing that was made very clear to him by the county executive committee during the interview process was that unless something was a dire emergency, no county employees were to be out after dark during snow emergencies.
      Dave's answer got him the job, "Yes, ma'am. And if somebody has to go out, I'll go myself, that way I'll know what's going on."

      "It's going to be a bad one," Dave said as he and Charles got into the pickup. "The second night is always the worst."
      "How many nights will they come out?"
      "I've never even heard of more than three. And usually the third night isn't as bad as the first night."
      Dave backed out of his parking place and turned onto the road for home before he answered, "the only reason I can think of is that whatever energy, or magic, or whatever it is that brings them out runs out after the third day."
      "Will they come back out again this winter?"
      "Not usually. If we get another big snow later on they might come out one night, but that's really rare."
      "Good," Charles said looking out at the deepening shadows as the sirens once again sounded the Z-alert.

      Shelly wanted to prove how good of a cook she was so she had spent most of the afternoon putting together a meal of comfort food while Dave and Charles carried in enough wood for the fireplace to last the night.
      During dinner the TV weather crew talked about how the storm was intensifying as it moved out of the area, but it was moving out.
      Before long, they could hear the wind whistling in the chimney. Then when they looked outside, they could see several dark shapes moving against the snow.
      "How many are there?" Charles asked.
      "Looks like three or four," Lisa answered.
      "No, I mean all together."
      Dave turned away from the window. "There were supposed to have been forty two people on the bus. There's been several others taken since then, but nobody knows for sure. Sometimes it seems like there's hundreds of them, other times, there might only be a dozen hanging around downtown not bothering anybody."

      They were just discussing putting another log on the fire and turning in for the night when there was a loud crashing sound of splintering wood and breaking glass accompanied by the shaking of the entire house. A second later they felt the icy wind blowing through from one of the rooms down the hall. Dave and Charles rushed up the stairs to see what had happened.
      "We'll have to move fast to get that away from the house before they find it and use it to get in," Dave said as he tried to push the limb back out of the window.
      Charles helped, but it wouldn't budge. "Let's go," he said.
      The men dressed in their coats and gloves as quickly as they could.
      "They're moving toward it!" Carol shouted from the front window.
      "We can slow them down," Lisa said, "kids, come on, help me."
      "What can the kids do?" Charles asked Dave as they pulled on their heavy hats and tightened their boots.
      "Oh, yeah. That song. OK, whatever, ready?"
      "Yeah, let's go." Dave turned toward the hall as Charles unlocked the door, "buy us as much time as you can!"
      "All right, we're on it!" Shelly shouted back.
      Upstairs, Lisa had opened one of the front windows, "You know that song they taught you in school, the one for special occasions? Sing it as loud as you can."
      "OK!" Peter grinned.

      Outside, the shuffling figures stopped and listened to the song, then they seemed to moan and mutter to the tune, once in awhile, one of them would almost say something akin to the words of the song.

      Around the corner, Charles and Dave fought to move the large limb that had fallen out of one of the trees and landed against the side of the house.
      "OK, I've got to ask. 'Basketball Jones'? Why on earth would that stupid song stop Zombies?"
      Dave laughed in spite of the weather, the limb, and the nearby danger, "They said that song was playing on an eight track tape when the bus crashed. It was the last song they heard. If you play it or sing it to them, they stop moving, and sometimes even stop and sing along."
      "That was the last song they heard? God have mercy on them," Charles said as almost a prayer as they pushed and pulled to move the limb.
      Dave kept looking toward the front corner of the house, "But sometimes, it quits working, so we need to hurry. See if you can break that one back," he pointed at a small branch that was jammed against the window frame.

      The three kids sang and sang, the women joined in whenever it seemed like the Snow Zombies were starting to shamble toward the men again.

      As they cleared the limb from the window Charles saw one lone man standing off to one side, just watching all the chaos. The man didn't move to attack the house, nor did he try to help defend the people, he was just standing and watching.
      Dave didn't see their audience, "There. There's some boards and plastic in the utility room, I think we can cover it from inside now."
      On the way back to the back door Charles glanced over and saw the man was still there. He paused and called over to him, "All you all right?"
      Dave looked over to see who Charles had yelled at, he could see the man, but he couldn't tell who, or what, the figure was.
      To their surprise, when the figure stepped into the light, it was a Snow Zombie, but it didn't look or act like the others.
      "You. Did. Good. With tree." The figure said to them very slowly.
      "You're, one of them, why didn't you...." Dave said but didn't finish the statement.
      "No. Not one. I wasn't. Going. To Florida."
      That's when Dave recognized the man's snow covered outfit, "He was the driver."
      The figure nodded as slowly as he spoke. And as he did so, the men could see the imprint of a steering wheel across his face and forehead under his driver's cap.
      "Please." The figure said in his stop action speech. "Do. You have. Brains."
      "You want a pork brain sandwich?" Dave asked him remembering a Zombie story he'd heard.
      "With some hot sauce. Right?" Charles asked.
      The man's face showed the barest trace of a smile. "Then. I Leave."
      "No problem buddy. We'll be right back," Charles said and they hurried inside.
      Dave shut the back door behind them, "Did that just happen?"
      "Yeah," Charles said, "and I think we'd better make him his sandwich."
      "No argument there," Dave said.
      In a couple of minutes, Dave held the door and Charles went out and laid the sandwich in front of the driver. Then he ran back to the house.

      After the broken window was covered with the spare boards and plastic enough to keep the wind and snow out, everybody relaxed.
      Charles took the cup of hot tea from his wife gratefully, but then he had to mention the highlight of the evening, "This is small town values? The kids singing Cheech and Chong songs to Zombies in the middle of a blizzard?"
      "That wasn't what I had in mind," Carol answered. "But at least it worked, and it kept them away from you."
      "Yeah, thanks for that."

      During the night, the wind let up, and the snow stopped, and by morning, even the overly dramatic TV weather guy had to admit that the storm had moved off to the east.
      It took a lot of strong coffee, but the guys got up and got the snow blower running and dug the driveway out, then they left for the garage.
      About an hour later, Lisa drove Carol to the store. Later Lisa went in and bought some more supplies for another day of having three kids and extra house guests since there was a chance that 'their friends' might come back that night as well.

      At lunchtime Dave told his staff that they had some damage to repair on his house, so he and Charles were going to cut out an hour early so they could stop by the lumber yard and get something more substantial to cover the window than old shelving and a painter's tarp. To Dave's amazement, the lumber yard had a whole new window that would fit in the existing sash, and it was on sale as well.
      It was long cold couple of hours of work, but they got the new window in, and the offending limb pulled even further away from the house.
      As a reward for their efforts, Carol and Lisa fixed them a meal fit for a king.
      It was just after dark when Dave got a call. He stopped eating and answered it, then listened for a minute. "That's the best news I've heard in a long time. Thanks."
      Everybody was looking at him, so he took his time passing on the good news.
      "Well?" Lisa said with an edge to her voice.
      "There's no sign of them for tonight. The Sheriff's office is going to check again in about an hour, and if it's still OK, they're going to sound the All Clear," he smiled and picked up his glass in a toast. "It looks like it's over."
      "Hear, hear," The others answered.

      Out near the airport, one lone figure was walking slowly along the road. He stopped and looked around, then he took off his cap and shook the snow off of it, then he put it back on. After another long look around, he seemed to sigh, then he walked into a large snow bank and vanished.

[NOTE: No Zombies were harmed, or fed uncooked pork, in the writing of this story.
    All characters, places, events, and businesses/organizations are FICTIONAL. NO inference to REAL anything is to be made. No similarities to ACTUAL anything is intended. This Piece Is FICTION, enjoy it as such.
Thank You the Author. ]

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