After his third car, Herman finally embraced his nickname. Kids back in elementary school had called him “Herman Crab” because his skin burned like a boiled lobster at recess. It didn’t matter to those kids that hermit crabs weren’t bright red. They hadn’t gotten to that unit yet. Now, years after they’d all be done with school, most of those people were probably dead.
What defined a hermit crab was its soft exterior and inability to make its own defense against predators. Herman presumed, if hermit crabs were also fending off the zombie apocalypse, then they were in constant search for shells under undead seafood. Herman certainly needed them, though his shells came with four tires.
The first night that Detroit was waylaid by the undead, Herman had been in a fight with Clarice in the front seat of his Smart Car. She was the love of his life, but he was a disappointing meal ticket to her. She hated that little car, and said so in her last words, before slamming the door and walking up the street. He watched after her, uncertain of what to say until a zombie dragged her into an alley. Then he knew what to say: a lot of swear words.
The undead fondled his windshield. One seemed to try to make out with his driver’s side window. They were many and terrifying, but they were also inept and unable to make a fist. At dawn they were still smooshing up against his windows. At dawn, he finally lost the terror of the apocalypse and drove away. He felt awkward, not having been eaten. It seemed rude, at least until his Smart Car got stuck in a mire of human remains.
That was when the Herman Crab came to life. He climbed out through a rear window, hopping into an abandoned Jeep. That had much less trouble running over corpses. Two miles later, he shed the Jeep for a Chevy Silverado that turned zombie into speed bumps.
As the apocalypse wore on, Herman came to realize leg room was more important than company. Groups of survivors shot at you, or held conferences on whether you were trustworthy, or screamed about infections. Cars didn’t do that. Cars sat there, abandoned on the highway, waiting for a patient man to siphon their gas, or to move enough out of the way so that he could drive off in the biggest one.