This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, language, and/or violence.
The phone falls numbly from my fingers.
Despite my inner attempt to rally, all hope crumples up inside me. I slump over, wrapping my arms around my stomach.
This shit is real. CDC quarantines and checkpoints. Bio threats. Port closures.
My son is out there, trapped. And I have no way to get to him.
Frederico picks up my phone, silently thumbing through the headlines. He lets me cry, administering more pats to my back. I sense him looking up and down the frontage road.
“This isn’t over, Kate,” he says. “Not by a long shot.”
“What are you talking about?” I raise bitter eyes. “In case you didn’t notice, my car is completely fucked. Even if I did have a car, there’s the CDC quarantine and the fact that zombies swarm cars. Carter is barricaded in his dorm room with no one to help him. We’re stuck here.”
Frederico gives my back a final pat and pulls me upright. Looking me in the eye, he says, “Lace up, Kate. We’re hoofing it.”
I blink stupidly at him. “What?”
“Your car is totaled,” he says. “With all the shit that’s going down, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. You want to find your son? Then we run.”
“You want to run? All the way to Arcata?”
He shrugs. “We scope out the situation as we go. If the roads look safe, we find a car to rent or buy.
Or steal one, whatever. We can ditch it before we hit the CDC quarantine or if there are too many zombies. In the end, we’ll need to be on foot to get into Arcata.”
“But . . .” I work a quick calculation in my head. “That’s at least two hundred miles.”
Frederico takes my phone and pulls up a GPS app. After a moment, he says, “It’s exactly two hundred and one point three miles from this very spot to Humboldt University.”
“Two hundred and one miles?” I say, incredulous. “Neither of us has ever run that far before.”
“How many miles did you log last week?”
“One hundred thirty-six,” I reply instantly. I keep a running log and track my mileage and elevation work.
“I did one hundred and nine.”
I think about this. For the average, non-crazy person, running two hundred or more miles would be impossible. At an ambitious walk, they may cover fifteen miles a day. Maybe twenty, if they’re in great shape. But Frederico and I have both made a hobby of running ultra races. Insane long distances are our specialty.
My eyes dry. Something akin to hope blooms in my chest. If we only stop once or twice for catnaps—ultramarathons are run with little to no sleep—we can make good time. If we can find a car to use for a while, we can make really good time.
“Do you think we can make it in two days?”
Frederico, sensing my budding optimism, considers this. “Maybe, if we can knock out some distance in a car,” he says at last. “If we make the majority of the trip on foot, three days is a safer estimate.”
“But we’ll be on the road,” I say. “Road running is always faster than trail running, and we’ve both done one-hundred-mile trail runs in under twenty-four hours.”
“I haven’t done a sub-twenty-four in over five years, trail or road,” he replies. “The farther we go, the harder it will be to hold a decent pace. There’s no guarantee we’ll even be able to stay on the road. If things get hairy, we may be bushwhacking.”
“Seventy-two hours.” I nod, letting this new reality sink in. I might not be cut out for zombie killing, but I am a long-distance runner. “Okay.”
I pick up the phone and send one last message.
Sit tight, sweetie. Frederico and I are coming to get you. Be there as soon as we can.
Five seconds later, my phone rings. Carter’s smiling face pops up on the screen, an odd juxtaposition to everything that’s going on.
“Put that thing on silent,” Frederico says.
I obey, then hit the speaker button. “I thought you said you couldn’t talk on the phone,” I say anxiously.
“You can’t come here,” Carter hisses. His words are barely above a whisper. “Cars are zombie magnets. I don’t know how far south the outbreak has spread, but I’ve seen at least three cars get swarmed today.”
“No problem,” Frederico replies. “Your mom’s car is totaled, and we’re out in the middle of the vineyards without a taxi in sight. We’re running to you.”
“You guys are crazy,” Carter hisses. “You can’t run here!”
“Your mom and I are indeed crazy, and we’re coming to get you, kiddo. Deal with it.”
Kate and Frederico have the odds against them ~ but they are well prepared for survival in an apocalyptic nightmare. They have survival instincts from their ultra running lifestyles that many other people would not have. The most important thing about this book that has me rating it so highly is that, even though it was not something I would likely have selected to read, I wanted to finish the book. I had to know what was going to happen. If you enjoy horror books or The Walking Dead, then you will enjoy this book.