(Was gonna do one more Gil entry today, but I've decided instead to mix it up with something different for my last day of blog-related storytelling.)
"No gunshot. He didn't do it."
Those were the last six words Sam wanted to hear. As if they didn't have enough shit to deal with already. Now, instead of re-securing every window and door inside the house he had to take care of Burke. Instead of boiling a few gallons of water so everyone would have safe drinking water, he had to deal with that cowardly son of a bitch. Instead of taking a goddamn minute to look himself in the mirror and maybe shave the gnarly beard that was forming on his chin, he had to go into the basement and shoot a man who was no longer a man right between the eyes.
Sam took the necessary precautions - safety goggles and a surgical mask (blood splatter from killing others had been a concern after some of it flew into Kelly's mouth recently - she's still under close watch for signs of infection), as well as his Louisville slugger and his trusty Smith & Wesson. He put Wesley in charge of lookout while he was away. He told him he wouldn't be long - mostly because he didn't want Wesley in charge of lookout any longer than necessary. Wesley seemed like a nice enough guy, but Sam certainly didn't trust him with his life. Hell, he probably wouldn't have even trusted him to handle his stocks, or whatever the fuck he did before.
The plan was to get in and out of there as quickly as possible. He should still be chained to the radiator, where they last left him. There should be a Baretta on the ground, still fully loaded. A lantern, and a sheet paper with whatever the bastard's dying words were. Probably some cockamamie bullshit about his regrets, what he wanted to remembered for. Sam was so pissed off right now that he was tempted to add to the bottom of whatever he wrote "PS: He couldn't pull the trigger." But that'd probably be a new low, even for a son-of-a-bitch like him. Not that it mattered either way. Who was ever going to read the damn thing?
He came to the basement door and pressed his ears up against it. Silence. He knocked on the door. Nothing. This meant one of three things - he was dead but not yet turned, he was turned but not one of the loud ones, or lastly, he was somehow still alive and too ashamed to answer him. Sam prayed for anything but that. He didn't want to have another conversation with Burke. Another argument about what the most humane way to deal with his situation was. If he had had his way, this would all have been over and done with 24 hours ago. But the votes did not swing that way. No, he had to be given a choice. Hell of a lot of good that did.
He opened the door slowly. Still quiet. He called out into the darkness: "Burke?" Finally, from deep down below, off in the distance, he heard a familiar moan. He had turned. Sam breathed a sigh of relief - no more talking. Now it was just a matter of finishing the job. He turned on his flashlight and made his way carefully down the stairs. He reached the bottom and shined the light on him - first on his arm, which was still handcuffed to the radiator, then his face, which was staring directly at him, mouth agape and dead, glazed-over eyes staring up at the ceiling.
As Sam started to make his way towards him, the zombie lurched forth, realizing its purpose for the first time. It met resistance at its left wrist and began to sloppily angle itself forward as best it could. Sam briefly studied the monster, wondering both if there was any trace of Burke left in the husk of the body that once contained him, and if there was anything left to learn from the zombies that they didn't already know. Maybe they could poke and prod this one for a while, see if there was any other weaknesses they had, or how long they could last without feeding. They could break its teeth out, or tape its mouth closed and prevent it from ever being a threat.
He quickly realized none of this was practical, so he pulled out his gun, aimed and fired a carefully placed shot right into Burke's brain. The zombie fell back and hung awkwardly over the radiator, twitching slightly.
Sam turned to leave but realized he forgot about Burke's note. He turned his flashlight to the floor and found the note neatly tucked inside one of Burke's shoes, which must have made sense to him at some point. Curiosity getting the better of him, he unfolded the note and was surprised to see that it was mostly blank, save for the following words, which were bolded and inked over many many times:
"Wish I were as strong as you, Sam. I'm sorry."
"Yeah, I'm sorry too, Burke," Sam said, as he folded up the note and headed back up the stairs.
(Fun week! Back to blogging tomorrow)