Read Ashton Memorial Online

Authors: Robert R. Best,Laura Best,Deedee Davies,Kody Boye

Tags: #Undead, #robert r best, #Horror, #zoo, #corpses, #ashton memorial, #Zombies, #Lang:en, #Memorial

Ashton Memorial (2 page)

“Shouldn't have put off
having the brake pads replaced,” Angie muttered.

“Mom!” said Maylee,
pointing to their right. Angie looked. The broken-neck corpse was
pushing itself off the van. Its head hung limply and its broken
back twisted impossibly.

Angie pulled the shifter to drive and sped
toward the hospital.

The hospital was almost completely in
flames. Black smoke obscured most of the front. Park's truck sat to
the right, still immobile. Park sat in the front seat, visibly
frustrated as he tried again and again to start it. Five corpses
were closing in.

Angie turned the wheel hard to the right,
aiming for the two closest corpses. They heard the car coming, and
turned to stare with empty eyes. One, a young man with no arms or
tongue, hissed at them. Angie gunned the engine harder and knocked
both corpses aside. They flew in either direction, limbs coming
loose and scattering. Angie slammed down on the brakes, stopping
just short of Park's truck.

Park looked up from the ignition, frowning.
He turned his head and saw the car, then Angie. He snorted and
tried the engine again.

Angie rolled down her
window and leaned out. “Hurry up, jackass!”

Park looked over at her,
shaking his head. “I got this.”

“You ain't got shit!” said
Angie. “Get in the car or I'm leaving you here!”

He glared at her. “I need
the truck to get to my girls!”

The remaining three corpses were getting
closer. One reached out to grab the tailgate of the truck. Black
smoke crept up from behind Angie's car, the acrid smell stinging
her nose. She could feel the heat from the fire behind her.

“For fuck's sake,” yelled
Angie. “We'll get you another truck!”

Park tried the engine one
last time. “Fuck!” he bellowed, striking the steering wheel. He
looked back at Angie. “You better.”

Park pushed his door open and climbed from
the truck. Angie leaned over in her seat to unlock the passenger
door. When she straightened back up, Park was struggling with a
corpse.

“Great,” she said. She
undid her seat belt and let it retract. “You both stay here or it's
your ass!”

“Mom, no!” said Dalton as
she opened her door.

“Just stay here!” Angie
yelled in a tone she knew scared both of them whenever she used it.
She hated to use it. She climbed outside and shut the door. Smoke
stung her eyes and heat assaulted her. Corpses were nearby. She
could hear them groaning.

She rushed over to Park. He was struggling
with a bald man in boxer shorts. Thick dark blood flowed down his
leg, from a large gash on one thigh. The man's eyes were white and
his rotten teeth snapped together, inches from Park's face.

“Fucker,” Park grunted as
Angie arrived and grabbed the bald man's arm. His skin was slimy.
She pulled as hard as she could, managing to put a few inches
between him and Park.

“You should have told me
your truck wouldn't start!” she yelled at Park, straining as she
pulled at the bald man.

“It fucking started
before!” Park yelled back, pushing at the man's face and struggling
to avoid getting his hand bitten.

Angie mustered up her
strength for one more pull. She tugged so hard she felt her back
twinge. The bald man pulled back another inch. The smoke grew
thicker around them. Groans and the sound of flames came from all
sides. “Before you crashed it into the wall?”

“Pretty much,” Park said,
bringing up his free hand and punching the bald man across the
cheek. The bald man let go and fell to one side.

Angie looked around, coughing in the smoke.
Dark shapes swayed and groaned.

Park leaned back into the truck.

“What are you doing?”
yelled Angie, between coughs.

Park slung a hunting rifle over his
shoulder.

“I thought you ran out of
bullets,” Angie said.

“I did. In there.” He
straightened back up, jingling his hand. “But there were three
loose in the truck. Plus, this.” He held up a long hunting knife,
then stuck it in his pocket. He looked around at the smoke and
moving shapes.

“Gotta admit,” said Park.
“Your car's looking better right now.”

“Yeah, well,” Angie said,
moving toward her driver’s side door, “It needs an oil change and
there's trash in the back seat, but it'll do.”

She opened her door and
climbed in. Park sat next to her and they both shut their doors.
Angie glanced in the rear-view mirror, making sure the kids were
okay. They were. She pulled the shifter to reverse. “Everyone hold
on.”

She gunned the engine, hurling the car
backward into thick smoke. Shadows moaned around them. One appeared
in the back window. The car shuddered with impact and the shadow
fell out of sight. They bounced in their seats.

“Where the fuck are we,
even?” asked Park, looking back.

“No idea,” said Angie. “So
here's hoping.” She wrenched the steering wheel to the left. The
car banked toward where she knew the hospital to be. She prayed
they were not close to the wall.

Maylee was staring out the
back window. “Mom!” she yelled as a large dark figure emerged from
the smoke. Angie slammed on the brakes. The rear of the car slammed
into the figure and the shape flew backward, smacking against
something. Angie heard glass shatter. One of the windows in the
front wall of the hospital. The shape moaned and toppled forward,
out of sight.

Angie sighed and pulled the shifter to
drive.

“Seat belts, Mom,” said
Maylee.

Dalton groaned.

Angie looked at Park. She
grabbed her belt and pulled it into place. “You heard her. Seat
belts.”

Park stared at Angie, then
looked back to Maylee. He turned back to face front, reaching for
his seat belt. “Well fuck me. Seat belts.”

He clicked it into place and Angie slammed
down on the gas. The tires squealed and the car shot forward. For a
few tense seconds, they sped blindly through thick smoke. Shapes
appeared and vanished around them, reaching and grasping at
nothing.

Then the smoke separated
and they broke out into morning light. Parked cars sped by, closer
than Angie had realized.
A few more
inches
, she thought,
and we would have crashed
.

“Yeah!” said Dalton,
looking back at the receding smoke and ruined hospital. “Go
Mom!”

Angie frowned. “Maylee,
what happened to the car you used to get here?”

Maylee paused for a little too long, looking
out the side window.

“Maylee?”

“We crashed,” said Maylee
flatly.

“My god,” said Angie. “You
could have died. You could have killed your brother. You're
fourteen!”

“Almost
fifteen.”

“I swear Maylee, if the
world wasn't coming to an end...”

She saw Park look over at her and she let
the sentence trail off. She'd been partly joking. The world wasn't
really coming to an end.

Was it?

Angie brought the car to a halt as they
reached the end of the lot. The street was empty.

“Where are we even going?”
asked Maylee from the back seat, still sounding sullen.

“Ashton,” said
Park.

“I love Ashton!” said
Dalton, leaning toward the front. “Can we go to the
mall?”

“Mr. Welch is going to
Ashton,” said Angie, casting a sideways glance at Park. “We're
going home.”

“What?” said Maylee, also
leaning forward. “Mom, home's wrecked.”

“We'll fix it up, we can
get it back in shape,” Angie started.

“Mom, no,” said Maylee. “I
mean
wrecked
. And
it's full of those things.”

“We'll get them out,” she
repeated, staring to her right, up the road that eventually led to
her driveway. “It's our home and we're going to save
it.”

“Mom...”

“Maylee, please!” Angie
snapped. She glared at Maylee in the rear-view mirror, but barely
saw her. What she saw were corpses stumbling around her home. The
home she had sought out, the home she paid the rent on, the home
she raised her kids in. All without
him.
The thought made her chest
hurt. “I'm your mother and I'm in control! We're going to save our
house!”

She blinked, surprised at the moisture in
her eyes, and saw Maylee clearly again. Maylee stared but eased
back in her seat, silent.

Angie looked at Park. “Once
we're there, you can take the car if you want. Or maybe Maylee can
steal you one.”

Park shrugged and nodded. Angie nodded back
and turned onto the road.

 

* * *

 

They saw the smoke before Angie even turned
down her street. Long tendrils, drifting up into the sky, seemed to
come from the entire neighborhood.

“Fuck,” Park said from the
passenger seat, staring out the window.

“Kids,” Angie said as she
turned down the street, “was the house on fire when you left
it?”

“No,” said
Dalton.

“You can tell me, I won't
be mad.”

“No, Mom,” said
Maylee.

Angie's stomach clenched as they came to the
first house. It was in flames. Who had lived there? Angie tried to
remember. An old couple, she thought. She hoped they hadn't been
home when it went up.

The next house burned too. The person who
lived there was new to the street. Angie wondered where he was as
the car crept by. The four of them stared at the flames.

The next house burned. And the next. And the
next.

“Fuck,” Park repeated under
his breath. “What the fuck is going on?”

“Oh god,” said Angie,
stopping the car in the middle of the street. It didn't matter.
They were the only moving vehicle in sight.

Her house was next up.

And it burned.

“Oh no,” said Dalton from
the back seat.

Angie pushed the shifter to
park and undid her seat belt. “How did this happen?”

Park pointed out the
windshield. “Look.”

Angie looked. Farther up the street, the
houses were still intact. Corpses stumbled from place to place.
Among the corpses, living people ran in and out of houses. The
people held televisions, computers, anything that looked valuable.
The people did their best to avoid corpses as they loaded the
valuables into cars and trucks.

“Were any of these people
our neighbors?” said Maylee.

“No,” said Dalton. “I don't
recognize any of them.”

“Are you shitting me?” said
Angie, tears starting. “Looters? One fucking night of this and we
have looters?”

Park snorted. “So much for
the friendly small-town bullshit.”

Angie slammed the heel of
her palm on the steering wheel. “Our things are in there! The kids'
things!”

Park nodded silently.

Angie opened the door.

Park grabbed her arm.
“Where are you going?”

Angie wrenched her arm
away. “I have to see how bad it is.”

“You can see how fucking
bad it is from here!”

“Mom!” said Maylee,
pointing up the street.

Angie turned to look. A chubby man with
glasses wandered side to side up the street. He carried a gas can
in one hand and was laughing.

Angie looked at her burning
house, then at the man. “Son of a bitch.” She slammed the door and
stomped up the street. She heard car doors opening behind her but
kept her eyes on the chubby, laughing man.

“Hey!” she yelled as she
stomped. The chubby man kept stumbling and laughing.

“I'm talking to you,
fucker!” Angie shouted, drawing near. The man paid her no mind. He
laughed and staggered. The gas can sloshed from side to side. Angie
saw a lighter in his other hand.

She reached the man and grabbed his
shoulder. He spun and Angie drew back. The man's eyes were wild and
staring.

He screamed.

Angie stepped back, unsure.
“What the hell is your problem? That's my house back there, you son
of a bitch!”

The man blinked at her,
then smiled. “You're human!”

“Of course I'm human! Now
why the fuck!”

The man cast wild eyes up
and down the street. “I thought you were one of the demons! They
ate my family!
Ate
them! I was lucky to escape. And I discovered the secret! Do
you know the secret?”

The man stepped toward her. Angie stepped
back. Smoke from the burning houses crept in around her.

“Fire!” the man said. “The
Lord is a roaring lion and a consuming fire! Fire purifies! Fire is
the only way to destroy the demons!” He shook the gas can at
her.

Angie stepped back again.
The man frowned. “You don't understand? Fire will save you. Fire is
GOD!”

Angie heard movement behind her. She
whirled, terrified it was a corpse. It was Park, rifle in hand.
Maylee and Dalton were coming up behind him.

“Why didn't you keep them
in the car?” she yelled at Park.

“They aren't my kids!”
yelled Park, slinging the rifle over his shoulder. “You need to get
your ass back in the car so we can get out of here!”

Other books

The Dom With the Perfect Brats by Leia Shaw, Sorcha Black, Cari Silverwood
The Kingdom of Bones by Stephen Gallagher
Baiting the Boss by Coleen Kwan
Redemption by Alla Kar
The Other Ida by Amy Mason
The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost