...Because there's nothing short sighted and foolish about embarking on 2 major projects at the same time...right?
“I’m wondering what kind of a death wish you must have by bothering me, let alone at this hour.”
When Martin’s father died while on assignment during the war in the Middle East, no one in Jerry’s family cared. The cries of “My father was a great man!” and “There are no more proud figures in my family” from Martin fell on deaf ears. Then, in his biggest gesture of entitlement to date, Martin announced that he would take up in his fathers stead. The second he received his journalism degree, Martin was offered his father’s position at the Times.
Despite the legacy he was riding his success on, the rest of the family did not consider him as seemingly evil as his father, so they still included him. That changed when Jerry’s mother discovered a lump in her chest and raced to the hospital where breast cancer was revealed. Jerry grew suspicious when Martin came to “support his Aunt during this rough time” and when he discovered that Martin had plans to write a story about this similar to the grandfather story, he confronted him and tossed him down a staircase.
Jerry spent the next few months in prison, and served every day with a smile. Martin strayed far from the family after that. He would show up to the occasional Thanksgiving dinner but few rarely talked to him.
“I’m gonna count to three, and if you’re not gone by then…” Jerry said as he made for the closet where he kept a baseball bat.
“Do you really think I’d come to you unless there was tons of money at stake?”
“Fuck you and your money.”
“I’m talking millions.”
“And I’m telling you to leave.”
“I can tell by this dump you don’t care much for money, but just imagine how it would benefit your mother once her cancer gets bad.”
“Get OUT!” Jerry screamed as he pulled the bat out pointed the bat at the door.
“Just relax.” Martin said as he pulled out a folded piece of paper. On it was scratchy writing, but Jerry could recognize a very big number with a lot of zeros at the end of it. “Its a reward for anyone who can prove what is happening right now isn’t just a rumor.” Jerry eyed Martin for a moment. “What rumor?” he asked.
“Its unconfirmed, obviously,” Martin started “But word is that a nowhere little town about five hours north of here has gone completely off the map. Gone. Complete communications breakdown. Rumor says a bunch of nasty storms ran through and knocked out power, but I don’t buy it. If that happened you’d hear about a state of emergency or something. Nothing. Then word of something weird surfaced. It sounded so crazy that I dismissed it, but when multiple sources started talking about the same thing, I dug deeper.”
“What are you talking about?” Jerry asked.
“Zombies.” Martin said with a spark in his eye and a face of stone cold seriousness. The two men endured silence for a moment before Jerry spoke. “I’m expecting a punch line or something at this point,” he said while Martin retained a poker face.
“So fine,” Jerry said “You need proof. Why does this involve me? Its not like you ever needed help before being a douche bag.” Martin sighed. “The second I started digging into the situation, the government was on top of me. I must have triggered a red flag or something,” Martin said while playing with the folded paper in his hand. “I wouldn’t be able to leave the city without being tailed so actually going to the town itself is out of the question. But you…You’re clean, as far as the government cares. I made sure of it.”
“Not interested,” Jerry said as he gestured with his bat for Martin to leave. “A reward has been offered. Ten million dollars to anyone who can actually confirm the zombie town rumor. And that’s just the lowest offer I’ve come across,” Martin said as Jerry lowered the bat. “I also know you have a friend who used to go to college there. Don’t you think he’s concerned?”
Jerry knew he’d be a fool not to go for the money. Hell, the money is what drove Martin to his doorstep. “Tell me one thing, and be honest,” Jerry said “Is it all about the money? Or do you at least care a little bit about the actual people in that town?” Martin didn’t answer, which spoke volumes to Jerry about how little Martin cared about the human face of this zombie threat, not that Jerry was entirely ready to believe the zombie part.
"And what if it turns out to be nothing?" he asked as Martin smiled. "If you end up wasting your time, I'll pay all expenses myself," he said, never losing the smile "I'll even give you a portion of your cut in advance." Martin was serious, he never talked lightly about spending his own money so recklessly.
“Fine,” Jerry said to Martin’s joy “But I’ll only do it if Ted wants in. Now get out.”
“You just wish you could pull that kind of shit off,” Jack responded as he exited the car.
“I wouldn’t need to since I don’t fuck around with my cell phone while driving.”
“Maybe you can ignore texts, but I refuse. You have no right to bitch anyway since I still made the turn.”
“Whatever. What was the damn emergency anyway?”
“Phones home. You want a breakfast sandwich or something?”
“Smokes,” Jack announced and started pumping gas.
Ted went in for a breakfast sandwich and came out with two packs of cigarettes. He entered the truck again but Jack didn’t drive off. “We’re already late,” Ted said, but Jack didn’t make any attempt to drive. “What are you waiting for?” Ted demanded as he lit a cigarette. “Jerry lives couple blocks away,” Jack said “He said he’d meet us here.” Ted rolled down the window. “Must be important,” he said “If he's actually up before noon.”
They waited a few more minutes before Jerry came running up to the truck. “Thanks,” he said as he climbed into the back. “We’re late for work as it is,” Jack said as he started the truck and drove off “This better be as important as you said it was.”
“It is,” Jerry said “And you shouldn’t go to work today. In fact you’ll never need to go to work ever again.”
“Whatever. Hope you brought bus fare,” Jack said, rather uninterestedly “Cuz I’m not dropping you off at home.”
“Go fuck yourself,” Jerry said as he turned his attention to Ted “Hey Ted, when was the last time you heard from anyone in Cazenovia?”
“Not really sure,” Ted said “Been a little too wrapped up lately to notice.”
“I bet it's been a week since you heard from anyone.”
“What's it to you?”
“Because no one else had heard from that place since it inexplicably went off the grid last week.”
“And you think…?”
“My cousin Martin is willing to pay us to go check it out, and bring back evidence of what the cause of the blackout.”
“Because Martins proved to be a reliable person in the past,” Ted said sarcastically.
"Didn't you go to jail last time you two spoke?" Jack chimed in.
“He paid me $2,000 cash," Jerry continued "He didn’t go himself because the government is apparently up his ass.”
The three sat in silence a moment. They all knew about Martin, and they all knew he was as close to being Jewish as they come. If he paid that much money up front, there was a definite pay day on the horizon. And if he approached Jerry to do it, then it's really must’ve been something he couldn’t do on his own.
“How much money is on the line, exactly?” Jack asked.
“Millions,” Jerry said “I spent all night going over the figures with Martin. Fucker refused to leave unless we ironed out the logistics. There is a serious pay day pending if we can provide the proof.”
“And what proof would we need?” Ted asked.
“Uh…This is the tough part, so take me in all seriousness," Jerry said “The apparent cause of all that is…zombies.”
“Seriously?” Jack asked. Ted stayed quiet.
“It doesn’t matter,” Jerry said “I got the cash from him anyway. We might as well check it out and if it turns out to be zombies, we’ll have a massive opportunity. All we need to do is kill the zombie and bring the corpse back as proof. Martin wants the rights to break the story, and we’ll go down as the first ever zombie hunters or some shit.”
“I think you need to cut down on the weed.” Jack said.
"I was going to invite you along," Jerry said "But with that attitude, maybe not."
"Whatever, why don't we just take the money and run?"
"This is my cousin we're talking about. He might make some bull shit story up about how I robbed him."
"He might be doing that right now, just to fuck with you."
“Might as well try,” Ted said “I feel like visiting some friends anyway.
“You ain’t getting any of this money unless you help, Jack,” Jerry said.
“Fine. But only for the money,” Jack said.
“Excellent. Now turn off here, we need to pick up Marko.”