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 (44 page)

“It's cold,” he
said.

“I know,” said Maylee. “But
now that the power's out it would have gotten pretty cold in the
office, too.”

“It's wet, too.”

“We have to save Lori,
Dalton. Mom doesn't know where she's going to be.” Maylee pulled a
crumpled map from her pocket and smoothed it out. She tried to read
it despite the dim light and the rain pounding down. She didn't
have much luck. The rifle began slipping from her shoulder. She
sighed and lowered the map, moving to readjust the
strap.

A loud groan came from behind them. Maylee
spun to see a large man, with huge dark gouges in his face and
arms, stumbling toward them. He moaned, gurgling in the rain.

Maylee dropped her bat and
stuffed the map back into her pocket. She unslung the rifle from
her shoulder. The corpse stumbled closer. She fumbled with the
rifle, then sighed. “I hate this stupid thing!”

She flung the rifle away. It clattered to
the pavement, sending drops of water flying. She picked up her bat
and ran at the corpse.

The man groaned at her, opening his mouth
for the approaching meal. Maylee screamed at him, slamming the bat
across his jaw. His head whipped to one side, teeth and bone
shooting from his mouth. Maylee brought the bat up and slammed
downward. She heard his neck pop and felt his skull give way. Black
gunk spilled from his mouth and he fell over backward. He was
still.

“That's better,” she said,
panting down at the corpse.

Gurgling came from behind her. Cold arms
closed on her shoulders.

“Shit!” yelled Maylee,
struggling to turn and face her attacker. A woman had her, tangled
black hair partially obscuring the oozing sores on her face. The
woman hissed and leaned in to bite. Maylee couldn't get free or
bring up her bat. She screamed.

A “crack” rang out behind
her. The woman jerked. Her rotting arms slipped off of Maylee and
the woman fell to the pavement. Maylee turned and looked. A dart
was embedded in the back of the woman's head. Dalton stood a few
feet away, holding the rifle.

“Not too shabby, huh?” he
said, grinning.

“Well shit,” said Maylee.
She dug around in her pockets and found the box of darts Mom had
given her. She handed them to Dalton. “Here. Just don't get too
close trying to aim.”

Dalton stuck the box in his pocket. He slung
the rifle over his shoulder and looked around with purpose. Maylee
smirked to herself and pulled the crumpled map from her pocket. She
smoothed it out and squinted at it. She looked at their
surroundings, then back at the map. Finally she nodded to herself
and put the map back into her pocket.

“Through here,” she said,
heading for a large structure to their right and making sure Dalton
followed.

“I know that place!” said
Dalton. “That's the sea lion show!”

“Yep,” said Maylee. “I
figure as long as we stay away from the pool, we'll be okay. I
don't think sea lions move very fast out of the water.”

“You sure about
that?”

“Nope. So I hope they just
aren't there at all.”

They were. Maylee heard them bleating and
splashing furiously as soon as she entered the large amphitheater.
There were five sea lions in the large pool covering one side of
the building. They thrashed in the water, infuriated at the sight
of Maylee. Maylee held up her arms for Dalton to stop. He did.
Maylee watched the sea lions for a moment, making sure they had no
way to easily get out of the pool. When she was satisfied, she
nodded and stepped farther in.

The sea lions bleated and thrashed louder
than before but stayed in their pool. Their cries echoed around the
empty amphitheater, bouncing off the concrete walls and the metal
bleachers that lined the other side of the building. Maylee and
Dalton walked as far away from the pool as they could, almost
tripping over the first row of bleachers in the process. The sea
lions bleated and slapped against the thick, high glass wall
surrounding the pool. She wondered if one could leap up and over
the wall. Then she saw the high platform sticking out over the pool
and remembered. A trainer would stand on the platform and hold out
treats. The sea lion would leap up and snatch the treats from the
trainer's hand. The board was well above the walls of the pool. She
tried not to think about that and focused on walking forward.

Groans came from the far
side of the building. “Shit,” hissed Maylee, stopping. Dalton
stopped behind her. A group of corpses stumbled in through the exit
at the other end of the amphitheater.

Dalton raised his rifle at
the group. Maylee shook her head and pushed the barrel down.
“There's too many for that and besides, we can go
around.”

“How the heck do we go
around?” said Dalton. The sea lions bleated and splashed next to
them.

“We go up,” said Maylee.
She turned and climbed onto the first rung of bleachers. She turned
and motioned for Dalton to follow. The corpses stumbled farther
into the building.

“Oh yeah,” said Dalton. He
followed.

Maylee and Dalton climbed farther up into
the bleachers and the corpses drew closer. They reached the edge of
the bleachers and began climbing. They were much slower and
clumsier.

Maylee stopped midway up
the bleachers and turned. Dalton stopped next to her. “Now what?”
he said.

“Now we wait,” she said,
watching the corpses struggle up the bleachers. “When they're all
good and stuck on the bleachers, we go that way.” She pointed to
her right and down, indicating a path across the bleachers and down
to the now clear exit.

“Hmm,” said Dalton. The
corpses below groaned and the sea lions bleated. “Pretty
smart.”

“Don't have to tell
me.”

Growling came from behind. Maylee's back
grew tight. She turned, slowly.

Two spotted hyenas were crouching on the row
just above them. A third was coming up from the side. They growled
and let out a laughing noise that sent chills through Maylee.

“Maylee,” said Dalton,
sounding very nervous.

“I see them, Dalton,” said
Maylee, reaching out and grabbing his arm. The corpses below them
groaned, climbing closer. The sea lions bleated and
splashed.

One of the hyenas leapt, flying straight at
Dalton. Maylee pulled him aside. The hyena crashed into the
approaching group of corpses. It thrashed around, trying to regain
its footing.

“Run!” yelled Maylee.
Pulling Dalton with her, she ran across the bleachers, heading for
the far wall. She heard the two remaining hyenas pounding along on
the metal behind her. They were about halfway to the wall when she
realized they weren't going to make it. Even if they could make it
to the wall, they'd still have to climb back down the bleachers.
And the hyenas would be on them.

She stopped and spun, putting Dalton behind
her. The closest hyena was only a few feet away. It lunged, leaping
at Maylee. Maylee whacked it midair with her bat. The hyena fell,
rolling down the bleachers as it bounced from row to row.

Maylee corrected from her follow-through,
straightening and waiting for the last hyena. It crouched low and
growled. Maylee backed up a step. Dalton backed up with her. The
hyena jumped down to the same row as Maylee and Dalton. It crept
forward, growling and giggling.

Maylee heard Dalton behind
her, fumbling with the rifle. “Not now, Dalton. Jump down to the
next row.”

“What?” said Dalton.
“Why?”

“Just do it!”

Dalton did. The hyena let out a high-pitched
bark and leapt at Maylee. Maylee jumped up to the next highest row
and the hyena passed underneath her. She swung her bat down,
smashing the hyena in the face. The hyena, knocked off course,
crashed into the bleachers. It rolled down, banging off the seats
as it went. Dalton leapt aside and watched it fall.

Maylee watched it fall for a moment, then
looked to her left. Several of the corpses were already to their
level. They stumbled along the bleachers, coming toward them.

“Come on!” said Maylee. She
ran down the bleachers, grabbing Dalton as she went. They ran as
fast as they dared down the rows of seats, leaving the groans of
the corpses behind them.

They ran so fast that Maylee had to put up
her palms when they reached the bottom. Momentum carried her into
the glass wall surrounding the pool. She caught herself, panting at
the water behind the glass.

A sea lion jerked into view, bleating and
thrashing at Maylee. Maylee jerked back, startled.

“Come on,” she said. “We
gotta go.”

They ran out through the exit.

The exit led into another exhibit. Maylee
recognized it immediately. It was a hallway running by a huge glass
tank. The tank was full of water. Normally a hippopotamus swam
inside of it. It had been a wonderful sight when she was young, the
huge hippo gracefully swimming in the water or climbing out onto
the faux-rocks at the far side of the tank. At the moment she saw
nothing in the tank. The water was dark and dirty.

“Come on,” she repeated.
“We just gotta get past this and then get outside.”

She stopped when she almost
slipped on the floor. She frowned, looking down. Water coated the
floor. She looked around. “Where's the water coming
from?”

Her eyes fell back on the tank. She saw
cracks splintering its surface. Water seeped out.

“What's...” Dalton started
to say. Then they both saw it. A large shape emerging from the dark
water, rushing toward them. The hippo was in there after all. Its
head was bloody and torn. It did not seem to care. It raced toward
the glass.

“Get back!” yelled Maylee.
She jumped backward, almost knocking over Dalton in the
process.

The hippo hit the tank and the glass
exploded outward. A huge wave of water engulfed the hallway. For
several moments all Maylee knew was water and the feeling she was
drowning. Then the water was gone and she was left sputtering in
the hallway and looking for Dalton.

She found him, crouching
and coughing farther down the hallway, back toward the
amphitheater. She ran to him. “You okay?”

He nodded, standing. He stopped, looking
behind Maylee with wide eyes.

Maylee turned. The hippo was straightening
itself up the hallway. It thrashed around furiously. Maylee knew
what would happen as soon as it saw them.

“Run!” she yelled, grabbing
Dalton's hand and pulling him back toward the amphitheater. She
heard the hippo behind them bellow and come after them.

They reached the amphitheater and Maylee
looked around desperately. She heard the hippo behind them, coming
fast. To her right she saw a large raised stage. It was where the
trainers stood during the shows.

“There!” she yelled,
pulling Dalton up onto the stage. The hippo raced past, missing
Maylee by inches. She stumbled onto the stage, letting go of Dalton
and turning to watch the hippo. She wanted to grab Dalton and run
back to the exit. But the hippo corrected itself surprisingly fast.
It would be back on them soon.

Maylee looked around. Her eyes landed on the
ladder leading up to the platform that extended out over the sea
lion tank. The sea lions bleated and splashed. The corpses on the
bleachers groaned and stumbled. The hippo thrashed its head around,
looking for Maylee and Dalton.

“Climb!” Maylee yelled. She
grabbed Dalton and practically pulled him up and onto the ladder
herself. Dalton took hold of the ladder and started climbing. The
hippo saw them and rushed at the stage, snorting and
huffing.

Maylee climbed up after Dalton. The hippo
smashed onto the stage and rushed the ladder. It hit with such
force that Maylee nearly slipped off. It bellowed up at her in rage
as she regained her grip and pulled herself up onto the
platform.

Dalton was kneeling at the top, rifle aimed
down at the hippo.

“Dalton,” said Maylee,
panting. “What are you...”

Dalton fired. The dart thudded into the
hippo. It thrashed around in anger before looking up at Dalton and
bellowing.

“I'm getting him!” said
Dalton, grinning and preparing to fire again. The hippo slammed
into the ladder a second time, sending a shudder up to the
platform. Dalton fired. The dart hit the hippo in the
torso.

Maylee heard bleating and splashing coming
from behind her. She turned to face the tank. She swallowed. It
hadn't looked this high from the audience. Down below, the sea
lions swam around furiously. One leapt straight up, startling
Maylee so much she took a step back. It missed the platform and
fell, bleating in fury, back into the water.

Behind her, Dalton fired a
third time. “Got him!” he said. “He's slowing down!”

“Good,” said Maylee, not
taking her eyes off the sea lions. She heard the hippo roar and
slam the ladder again. The force of the shock was less this time.
“Hurry.”

“Why?” said
Dalton.

“Because,” and she stopped
as another sea lion leapt out of the pool. She could tell by its
arc it would make it. She didn't know how much damage one could do
up close, but she knew it could surely knock her and Dalton off the
platform.

“Shit,” she said to
herself, backing up as the sea lion shot up into the air. She
readied herself, waiting until it was a few feet away. Then she
swung her bat so hard she almost fell off the platform. She
connected with the side of the sea lion. The sea lion bleated in
anger and fell, spinning, back into the pool.

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