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 (42 page)

“Don't speak for me,” said
someone behind Angie. “I'll take as much as I want.”

Park frowned next to her.
“Think you're making a mistake thinking you can control these
people?”

Angie lowered the
communicator. “I'm not controlling anyone. We're just trying to get
food. Then we're going to get your daughter.”

“You think crazy-ass will
just give her up?”

“When he sees how many of
us there are, he'll have to.”

“You mean when he sees the
army you're raising,” said Park.

“I'm not raising an army,”
said Angie.

“Like to know what else the
fuck to call it.”

Down below, the Zoo Bites was quiet. No sign that
anyone inside heard her. No sign there was anyone inside.

Angie raised the
communicator to her lips and clicked it on. “We're coming down now.
Please be ready for us with food. Thank you.”

She lowered the
communicator and stuck it back into her pocket. She looked over at
Park, then back down at the Zoo Bites. “What do you
think?”

Park shrugged. “Don't think we can keep your army
waiting much longer.”

“Quit calling them that.”
She turned to the others. They all clutched tools and shovels. They
all looked desperate and hungry. “Okay, everyone. We're going down.
If they start shooting, don't panic. Everyone retreat back up here
as quickly as you can. Got it?”

They nodded. Angie nodded, both to them and
to herself, and started down the hill. Park followed her. Then the
rest of the group.

Rain pattered down around them as they trudged down
the hill. Everything was silent. No groans. No growls. No sounds
from inside the Zoo Bites. It occurred to her that there were no
people outside, either. When she'd been here before with Dalton,
there were people milling around outside. Waiting to be fed. Where
were they?

They reached the doors and Angie held up a
hand to stop. Everyone did. She hadn't planned on this. She'd
assumed by this point a group of zookeepers would come out. She
assumed they would argue. She assumed they would eventually bring
food. She hadn't planned on opening the doors herself.

She peered through the glass. Plastic tables
and chairs sat empty. Gray light came from large windows and a
skylight in the ceiling. No movement.

“The hell?” she said.
“Where is everybody?”

She heard the people behind her getting
restless. She pulled back from the glass. She adjusted the rifle on
her shoulder. She looked to Park. He nodded, his rifle ready.

“Okay,” she said. “Everyone
be careful. We're going to check it out.”

She pulled on the door and it opened easily.
Slowly, carefully, Angie stepped inside. Park followed. Angie
stepped farther inside, hearing the others file in behind her.

“Hello?” she
said.

Nothing.

Then she heard it. Sounds from the kitchen,
low and insistent. Something like muttering. Or maybe moaning.

And chewing. It was faint, but Angie had no
doubt. She heard chewing.

“Fuck,” she said, low and
sighing.

Park cocked the rifle next
to her. “Too bad they're where the food is.”

Angie nodded. She turned to
the others. She spoke low, not wanting to alert the creatures in
the other room. “Everyone be quiet and go slow. If we surprise
them, we should be able to overpower them easily.”

She slung the rifle off her shoulder and
crept forward. Park and the others followed. The sounds of chewing
grew louder as they approached the kitchen. Teeth tore and jaws
gnashed.

Angie reached the doorway to the kitchen and
paused. She looked back to make sure everyone was ready. Park and
others nodded. Angie nodded back and rounded the corner.

A group of people sat on the floor. In the dim light
from an overhead bulb, Angie saw a mass of bloody meat between
them. They greedily shoved the meat into their mouths, pulled off
hunks and chewed.

“Go!” said Angie, leveling
her rifle at the nearest one. Park stepped in and aimed. The others
came around the corner, weapons ready.

The people on the floor looked up, blinking.
The one nearest to Angie dropped his meat. His eyes grew wide. He
understood what was happening.

“Wait!” she yelled. Park
lowered his rifle, frowning.

“Don't shoot! Don't shoot!”
said one of the people on the floor. He dropped the raw meat he was
chewing and stood. “We aren't dead!”

Angie frowned, looking around. She saw wax
paper and masking tape, stained red with blood, wadded on the floor
next to the pile of meat. She realized.

She put her hand to her mouth.

Park snorted, slinging his rifle back over
his shoulder.

“I know it’s disgusting,”
said the man standing. The others also dropped their meat and
stood. “But it's all that's left. They took everything else. They
smashed the stoves and ovens. Nothing works. It’s all
gone.”

“Who took everything else?”
said Angie.

“The Keepers,” said a young
red-headed woman. She stood, wiping blood from her mouth. “I saw
it.”

The people behind Angie grew restless. She
heard them shifting position and muttering. They realized there was
no food here.

The young red-headed woman stepped over to Angie.
“The Keepers came out of the Bites a few hours ago. They offered
food to everyone who would join them. They killed everyone who
refused.”

“Except you,” said Park.
Angie heard mutters of distrust from the people behind
her.

The young woman nodded. “I
hid. I saw it happen. About half an hour after that, they brought
out wheelbarrows full of food. Cans, boxes, everything. They left.
I was too scared to follow.”

Angie sighed and rubbed her
temples. “Any idea where they were going?”

The young red-headed woman
shook her head. “No.”

“Where's the food?” yelled
someone in the crowd behind Angie.

“Unless you all would like
some frozen raw meat,” said Park, “there isn't any.”

Angry mutters spread through the crowd.

“Everyone stay calm,” said
Angie. “The Keepers have probably gone to where Gregory is. They
took all the nonperishables. They probably intend to regroup at the
backup station with him. There's no kitchen there, so they couldn't
take the meat.”

“How the fuck does that
help us now?” yelled someone else in the crowd. Others muttered
their agreement.

“This is a minor setback,”
said Angie, ignoring the angry muttering that followed. “We know
where they're going. It's where we were going after this anyway.
We're just making one trip now instead of two. If we can just wait
a little longer...”

The crowd grew angrier. They yelled back at
Angie, too many voices to pick out any one statement.

The light flickered in the kitchen. Everyone
stopped, staring at the bulb overhead.

“How long until the power
goes off completely?” said Park.

“Who knows,” said Angie.
“I'm sure the only reason it’s stayed on this long is that the
stations are automated.”

She looked back at the
crowd. They had calmed, but not much. She cleared her throat.
“Everyone listen to me. We have to stick together here. We have
to...”

Loud groans came from outside.

“Shit,” said Park, turning
toward the big room. The people crowding the doorway backed up.
Angie pushed past Park and them, into the big room to look
outside.

A large mob of corpses were stumbling toward
the doors.

“All the yelling must have
caught their attention,” said Park, readying his rifle.

“Are there any other doors
out of here?” yelled Angie.

“Yes!” said someone behind
her. “There's a service door that leads out from the
kitchen!”

“Everyone move!” yelled
Angie, pushing back past the crowd of people. She saw fear on their
faces. She wondered how many of them had fought corpses before. She
guessed not many. She understood why so many of them focused their
aggression on the Keepers. The Keepers were alive. People knew how
to handle living people. These things were something new and
awful.

Angie looked side to side for a few seconds.
She found a metal door at the back wall of the kitchen. She moved
toward it. Park and the crowd followed behind her. The others, the
ones who'd been eating the raw meat, joined the larger group.

Angie reached the door and grabbed the large
metal handle. She tugged and the door swung open.

Outside, in the rain, stood two zebras. They
were pacing angrily, huffing and snorting at nothing.

Then they saw Angie.

“Hey guys,” she said,
backing back into the kitchen. “Any chance on us getting
past?”

The zebras snorted and rushed at the
doorway. Angie slammed the door and held it shut as the zebras
rammed into it. The force of the impact shook the door and Angie's
frame.

“Yeah,” she said, as Park
stepped up to help her. “That's what I thought.”

Angie and Park pushed
against the door as it shuddered a second time. “We gotta lock this
thing,” she said, grunting with effort. She heard the closest
members of the group rush up behind her. She heard a flurry of
activity.

“Here!” said someone,
handing Angie a large, long padlock.

The door shuddered a third time as Angie
scanned the handle, looking for where the padlock could conceivably
go. She found a round hole in the handle and slid the padlock
through it. She clicked it into place and stepped back. Park
stepped back too. The door shuddered and held.

The groans became louder. Angie ran back to
the big room. The corpses were close to the front doors. Angie ran
to the doors and locked them. The corpses groaned as they reached
the glass and pawed at it.

Park stepped up next to
her, peering out at the corpses. “What do you think? Let them in
and beat the hell out of them?”

Angie considered it,
frowning at the corpses and back at the armed group she'd
assembled. “I don't know. We would have the corpses in a
bottleneck, but I'm afraid of trapping these people in here with
them. If something goes wrong, there's no way out.”

“What have you done?”
yelled someone in the crowd. “You've trapped us all in
here!”

Angie ignored them, scanning the room for
something she could use. She found a velvet rope threaded through
several pedestals standing in the corner. Angie recognized it as
the rope the restaurant would set up to organize long lines. She
looked up at the large skylight in the center of the room. Gray sky
showed behind the rain-pelted glass.

She looked back at the
doors. Corpses were piling up against it, slapping on the glass.
The glass was already cracked. She looked at Park, then pointed at
a large table in the middle of the room. “Okay, Park, you and some
others move that table under the skylight.”

She ran over to unthread the rope from the
pedestals. She heard Park and a few others moving the table.

When the rope was free she ran back to the
table. She looked quickly up and down, gauging the distance from
the table to the skylight. Rain pounded down. The corpses outside
beat on the doors. Cracks spread along the glass.

Angie climbed onto the table. Park nodded to
himself and did the same.

“You get where I'm going
with this?” said Angie, dropping the rope on the table and
unshouldering her rifle.

“Believe I do,” said
Park.

Angie turned her rifle around so that the
butt faced upward. She rammed it against the skylight. The glass
cracked. Rain began to seep through. Park rammed it and the cracks
spread. Angie grunted and rammed upward a third time, slamming the
butt of her rifle into the skylight.

It shattered, spilling glass to the table
and onto the floor below. People jumped out of the way. Rain poured
through the opening, slamming down onto the table and soaking Angie
and Park in seconds.

Angie did her best to ignore the rain. She
reshouldered her rifle and stooped down to grab the rope.

“I got this,” said Park,
slinging his rifle over his shoulder. He hopped up from the table,
catching the edge of the skylight. He hung there for a moment,
rocking to build momentum, then pulled himself up and outside, onto
the roof.

Angie straightened, holding the rope. Park
got down on his knees, leaning back into the room. Rain poured
down, pounding onto the table. The corpses clawed at the doors.
Cracks spread, growing loud enough to be heard over the rain.

Park reached down, toward
Angie. “Here.”

Angie handed him one end of
the rope. Park stood, pulling the rope up with him. Angie tied a
quick loop in the other end. “Everybody, up and out!” she
yelled.

People started rushing toward the table. One
by one, they climbed on and grabbed hold of the loop in the rope.
Park pulled them up, then tossed the loop end of the rope back onto
the table. Several people slipped in the rain soaking the table.
Angie kept her eyes on the doors. The cracks spread as the corpses
banged on them. She took her rifle from her shoulder and waited,
ready if time ran out. Several people gathered behind her,
brandishing their shovels and tools.

After another minute of scrambling and climbing,
just a handful were left down in the Bites. A corpse outside
slammed its dead fist on the door. The glass gave, a chunk of it
falling to the floor. The corpse started pawing at the hole,
oblivious to how the edges ripped at its skin.

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