"Sure thing Ms. Connie. I got this!"
|Photo by Cbaile19 / CC0|
Rodney didn't care. Some groundskeepers bitched about the weight and noise of the leaf blower. It was a challenge walking all over the apartment complex, up every stairway, and down every breezeway. It was a good workout, but he liked running the leaf blower. It was fun. He was in his mid-twenties and still in great shape. It wasn't too hot out yet. He liked pushing all the leaves, pine needles, and little trash around and he loved to obliterate bugs, spiders, and spider webs. It was cool. He would just put on his yellow safety vest, grab his headphones, crank up the tunes, fire up the blower, and groove through his week. If the old lady in the 200 building didn't like the racket, she could call the office. Nobody would mess with him. Nobody would say anything.
Now, it was Thursday. It was Funk day! Rodney had been through hip-hop day, R&B day, Beyoncé day, and he was moving quickly towards his favorite day: Friday.
"You dropped a BOMB on me baby," he crooned to an imaginary audience that wouldn't have heard him over the free revving blower.
As he worked the second floor breezeway over to get the spider webs and dead moths out of the way, Rodney didn't care who heard him or his blower. With just two buildings to go, Rodney headed towards the back staircase.
Unfortunately, some people were on the stairway so the groundskeeper just took his finger off the trigger and let the blower idle. He was used to standing aside for random folks carrying groceries. But, these folks seemed to be talking a long time. Rodney edged over and took a glance down the back stairs.
A pale man with an angry face caked with thick black blood glared up at him. The man was crawling slowly up the steps and there was a whole mob of similarly bloody nasty looking people right behind the first man. Some were crawling. Some had twisted and gnarly limbs. Others had bloody flaps of skin just hanging off of their faces or arms. Rodney exhaled and removed his headphones.
"It's o.k. I'll just use the other stairs," he said turning and running towards the front of the building.
He got to the head of the stairs only to meet more of the vile, animated, dead who were just reaching the top steps. He hit the trigger of the leaf blower and gave the first of the dead a 220 mile-per-hour industrial strength blast of air. The dead man didn't shrink, shy away, or stop. He slowed down, but just kept coming with a wind-distorted face that revealed a mouth full of blood stained teeth and bloodshot eyes that were as black as the night.
Rodney wasn't going down without a fight. He jabbed the first three of the dead about the head, face and throat with the hard plastic air tube to break up their advance. But, then he felt something tug on his backpack. The backstairs zombies were grabbing him from behind.
"Oh hell no," Rodney yelled. "I'm done for today."
He released the straps of the backpack-mounted blower, ditched the extra weight, and started spinning. Rodney hadn't spun that much since he had played running back for McEachern High back in the day. He had scored a touchdown then and he was running for his life now. Between all the lumbering dead people, Rodney saw daylight. He shot through a gap between in the dead, ran for the railing of the breezeway and catapulted over the handrail.
He landed on the concrete sidewalk below. He felt something pop in his ankle on impact and he skidded forward skinning his knees and palms. But, he didn't care. He ran as best he could. He knew he was hurt, but the adrenaline was flowing. The groundskeeper limped and ran all the way back to the maintenance shed and jumped into his old Nissan pickup truck.
He put the key in the ignition and fired it up. He looked at his bleeding hands and pointed skyward to give the glory to the almighty. Then he noticed bloody marks on his forearm.
"Damn," Rodney said. "They bit me."