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 (47 page)

A mob of birds swooped from
the sky, descending on a group of people struggling with a few
Keepers who had run down the hill. The birds pecked and clawed. The
people screamed and gurgled in their own blood. Two angry
chimpanzees climbed into another exhibit, descending on a family of
four who had been rushing up the hill. The chimpanzees grabbed the
husband and pulled his arms backward until Angie heard a sharp
“pop.” The man screamed. His wife screamed as a chimpanzee picked
up a rock and hurled it at her head. The rock crushed her skull,
sending her bloody and twitching into the dirt. Angie didn't want
to see what happened to the kids. She ran, willing herself not to
watch.

 

* * *

 

Park ran across an exhibit, desperate to get
to Lori. He'd seen what happened. He knew she was probably already
dead. He didn't care. He had to get to her.

Darts flew around him, thudding into other people as
they rushed up the hill. He heard animals screeching and growling.
He ignored it all. He kept his eyes on where he'd seen Lori
fall.

In an exhibit next to him, a young man
screamed as snakes crawled up his legs, biting as they went. In
another, an older woman shrieked as a group of spider monkeys dug
and clawed at her eyes. Blood and pulp ran down her cheeks.

A baboon rushed at Park from out of the
rain. It beat at the ground and grunted in fury.

“Best get out of my way,
monkey,” said Park, stomping at it through the rain.

The baboon kept charging. Park ducked aside
at the last moment, watching it pass him. He unshouldered his rifle
and fired. The dart thudded into the baboon's back. It spun,
howling in rage. It charged at Park. Park fired again. A second
dart thudded into the baboon's stomach. It crumpled, clutching its
torso and slowing.

Park snorted at it and turned back toward
the top of the hill. He ran on, ignoring the screams and the flying
darts.

 

* * *

 

“Watch out!” screamed
Maylee as a fat woman with one eye torn and bloody staggered toward
Dalton. Maylee rushed over, slamming the bat into the woman's
mouth. The woman's jaw shattered and she fell back, gurgling on her
own teeth and bone. Maylee screamed and slammed her bat across the
woman's temple. The woman's head collapsed inward and she
fell.

Maylee spun on the group of corpses. The
group had closed around her and Dalton. Most were attacking the
screaming Keepers to either side. Maylee kept her back close to
Dalton, watching for any that came too close. She'd already taken
out six or seven. She wondered how long she could keep it up.

A loud honking roar blared out through the
rain and over the chaos. It took Maylee a second to recognize
it.

“Oh shit,” she said,
grabbing Dalton and pulling him out of the path as an elephant
burst through the mob of corpses, running for the Keepers who were
shooting down the hill. It snorted and blew through its trunk.
Corpses broke and splattered underneath its pounding
feet.

The elephant raced by. Maylee stopped as a
corpse drew near. It was a young man with a green T-shirt stained
dark with blood. His eyes oozed with pus and his tongue was swollen
and black. He hissed and reached for Maylee. Maylee swung her bat
upward, cracking him under the chin and sending his head snapping
back. She heard his neck break as she brought the bat up and back
down, slamming into his skull. His head split and he fell.

Maylee turned, looking and pulling Dalton
close to her. The elephant trampled corpses as it struggled to get
to the Keepers. The Keepers turned to look and screamed, several
losing their balance and toppling down the hill.

“Maylee!” came Mom's voice
from farther down the hill.

“Mom!” yelled both Maylee
and Dalton in near unison. Maylee pulled Dalton behind the elephant
and down the hill, avoiding the corpses and frantic Keepers as best
she could.

 

* * *

 

Angie climbed into another exhibit, running
as soon as she hit the ground. She'd heard Maylee and Dalton. She'd
called out to them and they had responded. People screamed around
her. She heard corpses groan from the top of the hill. Animals
screeched and growled. Rain fell, so hard it was almost blinding.
She raced through it.

She stopped when a man stepped into view.
Angie's first thought was that it was a corpse. Then she saw the
Keeper uniform. Then she recognized the wearer.

“Bitch,” said Lee, stomping
toward her through the rain. “You ruined everything! We had a place
of safety and order here!” He stopped several feet from her and
slipped the rifle from his shoulder.

Angie unslung her rifle
from her shoulder. “Back off, Lee. We don't have time.”

“It's the end of the world,
bitch,” said Lee, pointing the rifle at her. “All we have now is
time.”

Angie whipped her rifle up and they both
fired. Both rifles clicked, empty.

“Fuck,” said Lee, tossing
the rifle aside and rushing at her.

Angie brought her rifle up longways,
attempting to block. Lee wrapped his arms around her waist and
drove her down into the dirt. She kicked and punched at him. He
slapped her across the face.

“Fucking bitch,” he
grunted, leaning in close and closing his hands around her throat.
“Fucking chaos-bringing bitch.” He squeezed and Angie kicked at the
dirt.

Angie heard noise to her right. She looked
and saw a lion racing at them from the side. It roared and snarled.
Lee didn’t see it.

Lee leaned in closer,
whispering into her ear. “Die, you lousy bitch! Just die already!”
he said. Angie wheezed and coughed.

She brought her knee up under Lee and pushed
him upward. The lion drew close and roared. Lee let go, noticing
the lion and screaming. The lion leapt over Angie, catching Lee in
its mouth and carrying him off of her.

Angie clambered to her feet. Lee screamed
and the lion ripped hunks of him free. It clawed and roared. Angie
knew she had seconds before it turned on her. She rubbed her throat
and ran.

 

* * *

 

Park climbed over the last fence and reached
the top of the hill. He looked around, squinting in the pounding
rain. Then he saw it, and the sight ripped into his chest. Lori lay
crumpled and limp in the rain. He ran, almost tripping over the
many rocks and bushes, to where she lay.

He knelt by her, whispering
to himself. “No no no come on fuck no.” He looked down at her,
cursing himself for having missed the years between.

She coughed, a fine mist of
blood spraying into the rain. She looked up at him.
“Dad?”

“Lori,” he said, lifting
her shoulders and cradling her. “Oh god Lori I'm so
sorry.”

“Don't be sorry, Dad,” she
said, coughing. Her voice was weak and her eyes unfocused. “It's
okay.”

“No, Lori, no it's not. You
have to know how sorry I am.”

“I do, Dad, I do. And it's
okay. I ...”

Then she was gone.

She slumped, her eyes empty. Park stared at
her for a moment, not believing. He bit his lip and clutched her
tightly.

“I'm so sorry,” he
whispered, his throat hoarse, knowing she was gone.

He sat there quietly. The darts had stopped
flying. Corpses groaned and people screamed. Animals growled. Park
barely heard it.

Then he heard Gregory.

“Everyone,” he was saying, standing atop one of the
highest ledges and waving his arms. Park saw a mass of corpses
below Gregory, reaching and groaning. “Please be calm. We at Ashton
Memorial will restore order.” He still held the gun that shot Lori.
Several corpses lay near him, bullet holes in their heads. Park
knew it was the same gun that had also killed Jennifer.

Park slowly lowered Lori's body and stood.
He stomped toward Gregory. He slipped his rifle off his shoulder.
He considered firing it, then shook his head. He noticed a ladder
leading up the wall on one side of the ledge. He opened the chamber
and pulled out a dart. He tossed the rifle aside.

Gregory noticed Park
approaching up the side of the ledge. “Stay back!” he said,
pointing the gun at Park.

“Better use it quick, son,”
said Park, climbing onto the ledge.

Gregory fired. The gun
clicked, empty. Gregory dropped the gun and raised his hands.
“Listen, things have gotten out of hand here.”

Park said nothing. He stepped up to Gregory
and grabbed him by the back of the head. He shoved the tip of the
dart into his throat. Gregory jerked in shock. Blood shot out
across Park's hand. Park dragged the dart across Gregory's throat,
ripping it open. Gregory gasped and flailed, clutching at his
throat. Blood squirted past his fingers, thick and dark.

Park dropped the dart and let go of
Gregory's head. He put his bloody palm on Gregory's forehead and
pushed him backward. Gregory fell into the mob of corpses below.
The corpses groaned and bit into him. Gregory tried to scream but
only managed a wet gurgle as the corpses pulled him apart. They dug
their fingers into the hole Park had made in Gregory’s neck. They
dug their hands into his torso. He bucked and wheezed as they
pulled out organs and shoved them into their mouths. The corpses
chewed and moaned.

Park watched for a second, rain pounding
down around him. Then he turned and walked back toward Lori's
body.

 

* * *

 

Angie reached the top of the hill. She
looked around in the rain. Screams and groans came from all around.
Animals growled and shrieked.

“Maylee! Dalton!” she
yelled.

“Mom!” came Maylee's
voice.

Angie looked and saw Maylee and Dalton
running toward her. Angie ran to meet them. She clutched them both
as tightly as she could.

“I'm sorry, Mom!” said
Maylee. “We found out they were moving Lori and we couldn't reach
you! I wanted to save her.”

“Are you both okay?” said
Angie, looking them both over.

They nodded back at her.

Angie sighed, feeling a mix of relief and
guilt. Guilt because she knew Park was somewhere with Lori. And
Lori was most likely...

“You did good, Maylee,”
Angie said. Maylee looked shocked, then nodded. “We gotta get out
of here.”

Angie turned and pulled them through the
rain, away from the chaos and the screaming. A corpse stumbled out
in front of her. It was a small-framed man with tiny round glasses
and exposed bloody ribs. He growled and hissed.

“I got this, Mom,” said
Maylee. She ran up and whacked the corpse across the skull. The
corpse fell and Maylee slammed down again, breaking the corpse's
head open. Maylee looked back at Angie and smiled through the rain.
“See. A lot can be whacked in the head.”

Angie shook her head.
“Fine, but you both have to be more careful.”

Then Dalton was screaming. Angie turned in
time to see a large man, with a torn business suit and a large
blood-stain across his torso, grab Dalton's arm. He pulled Dalton's
arm to his mouth and bit down. Dalton screamed and blood shot out
across the man's face and suit.

“No!” shrieked Angie,
turning cold as Dalton jerked away from the man, his torn arm
bleeding into the rain.

“Dalton!” yelled Maylee,
running at the man. The man was backing away, jerking and twitching
as he chewed. Dalton fell, clutching at his arm. Angie fell with
him, dropping to her knees to cradle him.

Maylee slammed her bat into the man's skull.
The man convulsed, vomiting a thick white fluid. Maylee slammed
again and the man fell, still, to the ground. Maylee shrieked and
kept pounding. Her bat clanged against the pavement as she slammed
downward.

Angie barely heard it. She barely saw it.
She kept her eyes on Dalton. He looked scared and confused,
clutching his arm and looking at her. Angie gripped him tight and
rocked him.

“Oh god no. No no no
no.”

 

* * *

 

Angie knelt on the stone floor, next to
Dalton. They'd carried him to a nearby faux-cave that was part of a
leopard exhibit. Rain pounded down outside. Maylee crouched by the
door, her bat on her knees. She stared outside. The screams, growls
and groans had faded.

Dalton was sweating and staring at the
ceiling. Angie mopped his head with a rag she'd torn from her
shirt. The wound on his arm oozed through the makeshift bandage
she'd made from part of her pants. She wondered how long he had.
Hours? Days?

Maylee crawled over to
where she and Dalton sat. Maylee looked heartbroken. “How are you
doing?” she said.

“Okay,” said Dalton,
looking at her and smiling weakly. He looked scared.

Footsteps arrived outside. Angie turned to
look. Park knelt down. He had Lori's body over his shoulder. She
was bound and gagged.

“Park,” said Angie,
quietly. “I...”

“Save it,” said Park,
adjusting Lori's body on his shoulder. “I've got my kid and I'm
going.”

“Park, she's...”

“I know that, dammit. I
also know she's going to come back and I'm going to have to kill
her again.”

Angie was quiet, staring at him.

He stared back. “I'm done,
Angela,” he said. “I've seen both my kids killed and I dug a man's
throat out with my own hands. I'm done. I'm taking my kid and I'm
leaving. I'll put her down again, then I'll end myself. Like I
should have done days ago. Thanks for the waste of
time.”

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