They were clinging to the caging on the outside of the truck as he whipped the vehicle from side to side. They would swing out and slam back against the metal, but their cold fingers would not release.
“Use the chainsaw!” he shouted over the smooth hum of the engine.
Phil lifted the filthy blade of the saw and jerked the cord repeatedly. The chainsaw’s engine barked but refused to turn.
“What are you waiting on, Phil? They’re all over us.”
“Something’s wrong. It’s fouled somehow.”
“It was working fine earlier.”
“If you think I’m lying, come try it yourself.”
The truck ran up on the embankment and then bounded back on the road, kicking dust into the air.
The driver said, “I’m swinging by the station. You go in and see if you can fix it. I’m circling around for you in five minutes. Five minutes, Phil! No more.”
“What are you saying? You want me to just jump out of −”
“Get ready!” the driver shouted.
Phil brought the saw to the front seat and kicked open the passenger door. Pale hands clawed at the opening from the running board and the roof. Phil slapped them away. The gas station approached quickly on the side.
"He’s not slowing down," Phil thought.
Phil closed his eyes and then leapt into space. The cord of the saw hung on the door frame. Phil was whipped around in the air. His feet caught the ground, and he tried to run. The chainsaw coughed once but did not turn over.
"Thank goodness," Phil thought, as he fell and was dragged along the parking lot.
The handle came loose, and the cord wound back into the chamber. Phil rolled to a stop as the truck sped away in a billow of dust. Phil was looking up at a man holding a baseball bat.
The man said, “Hey, Phil, what can I do for you?”
Phil held up the chainsaw without speaking.
The man asked, “You need it fueled up?”
“No,” Phil coughed. “It’s fueled, Buck. Something else is wrong.”
Buck crossed his arms over his coveralls. “What kind of fuel did you use?”
Phil answered as Buck pulled him up. “Just what was in our storage tanks.”
Buck led him toward the station behind the concrete barricades. “That’s probably E15, fifteen percent ethanol by volume. That’s fine for car engines built after 2000, but it poses real problems for generators, lawn mowers, most marine engines, snow mobiles, most motorcycles, ATV’s … and chainsaws.”
“We’ve been using the same stuff since the world ended.” Phil looked at the saw in his hands. “Why would we start having trouble now?”
“It could be a couple things.” Buck rubbed at his chin. “The stuff will separate, and you could have moisture in your tanks or in the saw. Moisture is terrible for carburetors. You probably have rust and pits.”
“From bad gas?”
“It would still run on bad gas,” Buck said. There was a noise beside the station. He raised his bat and watched as he continued. “You got marginal fuel … eventually, it’s not even fuel anymore. You got to watch your fuels, Phil.”
“What?” Phil shouted. “There should be a warning label or something.”
Buck cleared his throat. “There are labels, but when you’re busy working, keeping up your yard, or fighting zombies, you can miss the fine print.”
Phil stood in the doorway staring out at the road. “Can you fix it? I’m in a bit of a hurry here, Buck.”
Buck shook his head as he looked away from the noise he thought he heard. “Sorry, Phil. I can get you a case of STIHL motomix to help prevent this in the future.”
“Do you have something I can buy in a hurry? I got a little less than five minutes.”
“Come take a look.”
Phil looked down the rack of garden tools. The weed eaters and edgers probably wouldn’t do the job. He grabbed up a hedge shear.
“Buck, does this run on regular fuel?”
“I’m way ahead of you,” Buck said as he set several cans on the counter.
Phil picked one up and read the label.
Buck explained. “This is SEF94.”
“Yeah, I can read. Will it do the job? I need this saw running now.”
Buck cleared his throat as he rolled his bat on the counter. “It will. It is an ethanol free fuel designed specifically for small engines.”
“How are we going to get more of this stuff?” Phil asked.
Buck shrugged. “Start with the zombies on your truck, and let’s take back the Earth from these monsters.”
The sound of the truck engine rose in the distance.
Back outside, Phil stood with the hedge shear ready. He closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. The sharp teeth whirred into life. He sighed and raised it in the air as the truck came into view again. The passenger door was still open and flapping as the truck swerved from side to side. There were more of them on the truck than when he had jumped out.
Buck called from the station door with his bat over his shoulder. “Remember, the right fuel for the right tool.”
“You got it!” Phil shouted over the roar of the saw and the grind of the approaching truck tires on the gritty road.
This is a guest post by Jay Wilburn. Jay is a public school teacher who lives in beautiful Conway, South Carolina with his wife and two sons. He has an unhealthy obsession with zombies that has now been translated into publication. He has published a number of pieces of speculative fiction, including his first novel, Loose Ends. Follow him on Twitter @AmongTheZombies.
Thanks Jay for bringing your genre to the ethanol discussion!
Obviously Zombies are not real, and the situation above isn't really going to happen. The fact remains that we are living in days where the presence of ethanol in our fuels is causing numerous problems with small engines that are not designed to operate on E15 fuel. Howard Brothers is the largest dealer of STIHL products in the world. We are the largest Exmark dealer in the southeast. We are one of the largest dealers of Echo Outdoor Power and Honda Outdoor Power Equipment in Georgia. We are a full service dealer, which means that we don't just sell the product, we back it with the largest parts inventory departments in the region. We strongly believe that we employ the best technicians who are expertly trained by the brands we sell.
All this being said, Howard Brothers has been leading the charge regarding education about ethanol and the potential for fuel related damage to small engines in the Atlanta and North Georgia market. Almost daily, we see equipment being dropped off for repair of damage that was caused by marginal gas. As stated above, bad gas is one thing, but marginal fuel isn't even gas anymore. Because of the ingredients now in our fuels, it is up to the consumer to closely monitor what he or she uses. You must completely overhaul your thinking of fuel storage. You must create a fuel hygiene plan.
It starts with knowing. Understand the problem and take the proper steps to increase the health and life of the small engines that operate your lawn mower, string trimmer, edger, chainsaw, generator and more.