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 (20 page)

Maylee frowned but nodded.
“Fine.”

Angie nodded back.
“Good.”

They all opened their doors and climbed from
the car. Cold rain pelted Angie's head. She looked toward the front
entrance. Cars clogged the whole way. It would be a long, winding
walk.

She looked at Park, who took the rifle from
his shoulder and nodded.

“Okay,” said Angie. “Let's
go.”

They slowly started working their way
through the cars. They squeezed between bumpers and worked their
way around hoods and trunks. Dalton was still limping, Maylee
helping him along. Angie made sure they all stayed together. The
light patter of rain on metal was the only sound.

They reached a spot they couldn't get past.
Three cars had crashed into each other, crushed together so close
there was no opening they could get through.

“Here,” said Park, stepping
up onto the hood of one of the cars. He looked around, then took a
step. The car bounced under his weight.

Groaning came from the front seat.

Park spun to face the windshield. Angie
moved to block the car from the kids. Inside she saw a man crushed
against the steering wheel. His ribcage was exposed, bone crunched
around the plastic and steel. He tried to pull free, straining to
reach Park. His ribs caught on the steering wheel, red glop falling
from his chest with each tug.

“Shit,” said Park, stepping
back. The hood crunched under his boots. The metal creaked and
groaned loudly.

Moans came from all around. Angie whipped
her head from side to side, looking for the source. A chill gripped
her as she realized the source was the cars surrounding them. She
cursed herself for being so stupid. There'd been a panic in the
parking lot. People rushing to get out. People crashing into each
other. People dying. Dying and...

Maylee screamed. Angie whipped around to see
a corpse reaching from a car and clutching Maylee's hair. Maylee
twisted away and smacked the hand aside with her bat. A second
corpse reached from another car, almost snagging Dalton.

“Look out!” yelled Angie
just as a hand closed on the back of her shirt. It yanked her
backward, toward the nearest car.

“Mom!” yelled Maylee,
running forward.

Angie twisted her head around. A woman,
forehead split and embedded with glass, leaned from the car and
gnashed her teeth as she pulled Angie closer. Angie pulled back but
the awkward angle kept her from getting any traction.

Maylee's bat slammed downward, narrowly
missing Angie's head. The bat slammed into the corpse's arm. Angie
heard bone snap and the corpse let go. Angie fell forward against
the car Park stood on.

“Up here!” Park yelled,
kneeling down to reach for Angie.

Angie straightened and
stepped back. She grabbed Maylee and Dalton and pushed them toward
Park. “On the car! Hurry!”

Maylee and Dalton climbed onto the hood of
the car. Park helped them up. Once they were up, Angie followed.
She stood and pulled her kids close. Corpses groaned and reached
from all around, bloody arms and heads protruding from windows.

“Fuck,” she said, looking
around. “What now?”

“We go car to car,” said
Park. “Don't see what else we can do.” He stepped across the hood
and hopped to the nearest trunk. It buckled under his weight. A
corpse in the back window groaned and reached for him, but was
unable to break free of the window.

“See your point,” said
Angie. She motioned Maylee and Dalton to follow. “Go.
Hurry.”

Maylee nodded. She hopped to the next car
and helped Dalton limp across. Park backed up and climbed on the
roof of the car to make room. The corpse reached upward for him. He
kicked the hand away, cursing. Maylee and Dalton backed up for
Angie to follow. Angie did, jumping to the trunk and wincing as the
car bounced under their weight.

“Okay,” she said. “Good job
guys. Let's keep it up until we're clear. And be
careful!”

They climbed across, and jumped to the next
car, keeping clear of the reaching corpse. They slowly climbed
across the next car, watching the old man inside as he bit and
clawed at the windshield, at them. The rain increased, slamming
down cold and hard on the cars. Groans and the sound of rain on
metal filled Angie's ears.

Park climbed across the hood of the car and
jumped to the hood of a nearby truck. He ran up onto the roof and
turned to look back. He motioned for them to follow.

Maylee stepped up to the edge of the hood,
helping Dalton along with her. Dalton waved her away and made the
jump himself. He let out a little cry when he landed and Park
caught him.

“Dalton!” yelled
Angie.

“I'm fine, Mom!” yelled
Dalton, wincing and bouncing on his good foot.

“You need to let your
sister help you, bubba,” said Park, stepping back to make room for
Maylee.

“Yeah,” said Maylee,
stepping forward. She jumped and landed on the hood of the truck.
Her sneakers gave off a squeaking noise as they slipped out from
under her. She stumbled and began to fall off the truck.

“Maylee!” yelled Angie,
jumping across and catching her arm. Maylee jerked to a stop,
straining Angie's back. Angie almost slipped herself. Park grabbed
her shoulder and pulled them both up.

Angie hugged Maylee and looked over the
side. A corpse was leaning out of a nearby window. It looked back
at her with yellowed eyes and hissed. Maylee would have fallen
straight into that thing.

“Goddammit, Maylee, be
careful,” Angie whispered, hugging her.

“I will Mom, I will,” said
Maylee, pushing away. She gripped the bat and drew herself up but
Angie could see fear in her eyes.

“Just a few more,” said
Park.

Angie turned to follow
Park's gaze across the remainder of the lot. She wasn't so sure
she'd call it “a few,” but they were over halfway to the end. The
rain was coming even harder now, cold and pelting. Angie felt her
shoes slowly slide along the metal of the hood. “We've gotta keep
moving. Soon we won't be able to keep our feet at all.”

The next few cars went without incident.
They jumped from hood to trunk, car top to car top. Corpses groaned
and reached but they were able to stay clear.

“Just one more,” said Angie
as they caught their footing on the back of an old truck. Park
nodded and they slowly climbed over the top of the truck to the
rain-slick hood. Angie struggled to keep her footing.

Park steadied himself and jumped to the hood
of the next car. It crumpled as he landed. The car had a broken and
bloody windshield, with red-stained cracks running along its
surface. Behind it, Angie could see rotting hands working their way
along the inside. Reaching for them, slow but relentless.

Park looked at the hands for a moment, as
though making sure the corpse behind them was safely trapped in the
car. After several seconds he turned to Angie and nodded.

“Okay, guys,” said Angie.
“Go.”

Maylee jumped. Angie winced at the sound of
Maylee's shoes squeaking on the hood of the car. Maylee kept her
footing and reached back for Dalton. Dalton took Maylee's hand and
hopped across. He let out a little cry when he landed on his bad
foot. He limped a few times and settled, holding onto Maylee's
arm.

Angie turned to look back at the lot. The
cars were all motionless in the pelting rain. Moans told her
corpses were inside them, struggling and biting. But the corpses
were all safely stuck. She turned back. The last bit of light
slipped from the sky. She could barely make out the outline of the
car in the wet gloom.

Just one
more
, she told herself. Then
jumped.

She landed and for one panicked moment she
felt her feet slip beneath her. Park caught her arm and she slid to
a stop, inches from the edge of the hood. The corpse behind the
broken windshield pounded on the glass.

Angie let out her breath
slowly, her chest pounding. “Shit.”

“Yeah,” said Park. “No
shit, shit.”

“Good thing we're almost
done,” she said. “Much more of this and...”

With a cry, Dalton slipped and fell off the
car. Angie heard him slam into the pavement, yelling as he landed
on his bad foot.

“Dalton!” Angie yelled. Not
thinking, she ran and leapt off the car, into the
darkness.

She dropped down between the hood of the car
and the door of a nearby truck. It was too dark to see. Rain
pounded on her head. She heard Dalton whimper and mutter.

“Dalton!” she yelled,
feeling around in the dark. Her hands fell on pavement, on
metal.

“Mom!” came Dalton's voice.
His hand closed around hers.

“Dalton!” Angie pulled
Dalton toward her, clutching farther and farther up his arm until
she had all of him. She hugged him tight. “Oh shit,
Dalton.”

“Mom!” came Maylee's voice
from above.

“Everything okay?” came
Park's.

“You okay, baby?” said
Angie, not wanting to let Dalton go.

“Fine Mom, fine,” said
Dalton. Angie expected him to pull away. He didn't.

“Everything's okay!” Angie
yelled up to the others.

Glass shattered above them, raining down on
their heads. Angie remembered seeing the outline of the truck's
side window, just before she dropped down on the ground. There'd
been a shape behind it, pounding on it.

“Dalton,” Mom started. Then
a bloody arm, shards of glass jutting from it, reached down and
grabbed Dalton's hair.

Dalton screamed. Mom reached to the arm and
wrenched it away. A cold cheek brushed against hers as the corpse
in the truck leaned out and bit at her neck. She twisted away,
pushing Dalton back.

“Mom!” yelled Dalton as his
form vanished in the dark.

“Just stay back!” she
yelled, holding on to Dalton with one hand and pushing the corpse
back with the other. The corpse strained and Angie strained back.
Angie pushed as hard as she could, but the corpse had a better
angle and gravity on its side. She couldn't see the corpse's
features, but it sounded like a hoarse old man. It hissed and bit,
drawing closer to her every second.

“Mom!” came Maylee's voice
from the car hood. Something struck the corpse's head, knocking it
off course. Angie looked up, blinking in the rain. She could make
out the outline of Maylee, kneeling on the hood of the car. She was
jabbing downward with the bat. She could see Park too, moving in
position to jump down.

“I got this!” yelled
Maylee. She jabbed down again. This time she connected full on.
Angie heard the corpse's skull crack. It went limp in her grasp.
Angie shoved it upward and spat at it. She pulled Dalton back to
her. She heard the car hood creak as Park prepared to
jump.

“We're fine!” she yelled
upward. She grabbed Maylee's bat. “Just pull!”

Park moved to grab Maylee around the waist.
Together they heaved and pulled Angie and Dalton upward. Angie
braced her feet against the car and pulled Dalton up after her. A
few more heaves and they were all back on the hood, panting and
crouching in the rain.

“I told you I had it,” said
Maylee, looking back at Park.

“Well fuck me, I guess you
did,” said Park. Angie could see him smirking in the
dark.

“Everyone okay?” said
Angie.

They all nodded. Angie
watched their heads bob in the dark. She nodded back. “Come on.
Let's get down while we still can.”

 

* * *

 

Ella drew her jacket tight around herself
and walked, head down, against the rain. It was cold. The sun had
gone down and while the power was still on in the zoo, no one had
bothered to turn on most of the outside lights. It was dark and
Ella was scared, but she had to find Lori. If only she had the
slightest idea where to look.

Stepdad had hit Lori. She and Lori were the same
age. If Stepdad could hit Lori, he could hit Ella. Could Ella fight
him back? She could try, but he was stronger than she was. Just
what did she intend to do when she found him? She pushed these
ideas down and kept walking, focusing on the sound of the rain and
her own breathing. She would go building to building, like Caleb
had planned. She would find the building where Gregory was hiding
Lori. Then, something.

Something.

A hiss came from her left, startling her so
much she almost tripped. She stopped and looked.

An emu was bobbing its long neck up and down
at her, behind the fence that separated him from the walkway. Ella
recognized the emu. It was Ray. Ray was a nice emu.

Ray hissed at her, then let out a loud
screech. Ella had never heard him make a noise like that.

Ella took a step toward the
fence. The rain pelted down around her. “Ray?” she said.

Ray screeched and snapped his beak at her.
Ella screamed, jumping back. Ray craned his neck around, looking at
her with wide, hateful eyes. She'd never seen Ray's eyes like that.
Ray's eyes hated her.

What on earth was going on?

She backed farther away from the cage,
staring at Ray. He jabbed at her, darting his head outward with
such force his lower body slammed against the fence. The fence
shook. Ray did it again, harder, screeching at her. It was dark,
but Ella thought she saw blood seeping down Ray's front.

“You're hurting yourself,
Ray,” said Ella, feeling like she might cry.

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