Read Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1) Online

Authors: Jay Brenham

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Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1) (8 page)

BOOK: Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1)
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Remembering how Taylor had stopped the other officer from charging into the emergency room, Matt paused before rounding the corner.

“Taylor, it’s us. We’re coming around,” he called. “Don’t shoot.”

There was a shout of agreement and Matt stuck his head around the corner. Taylor and Steve were holding back the horde in a large bus loop used for dropping kids off at school.

Taylor was reloading again while Steve covered him.

“Give me the keys and I’ll start the car,” Matt yelled at Taylor’s back.

Taylor turned long enough to toss the keys in Matt’s general direction and Matt snatched them out of the air.

The patrol car was fifty yards behind them and the three of them sprinted towards it, not bothering to move stealthily. There were infected nearby but the sound of gunfire had drawn their attention to Taylor and Steve.

Matt unlocked the back so Eric, Jenna and the baby could pile into the backseat. Taylor and Steve were still holding the infected horde at bay when Matt drove to them. A halo of dead bodies littered the ground around Steve and Taylor, but a wave of infected still threatened and their gunfire was only attracting more. Matt could see them at the far end of the street that ran in front of the elementary school: distant figures moving rapidly in their direction.

Steve had just turned toward the sound of the car when an infected woman collided with his side. She was wearing a black crop top that exposed her pregnant belly, a picture of a clown fetus was painted on the skin of her stomach in black and white. The woman’s face was also painted: white except for a series of black stitches that extended from either side of her mouth in a demonic smile.

At the same moment a hulking infected man grabbed Steve from behind.

Not having a clean shot, Taylor let go of his AR-15, allowing its sling to hold it as he pulled out his baton. He snapped the baton open and struck the huge infected man at the base of the neck. On a regular human being this might have been a disabling strike, but the infected man just turned and pulled Taylor to the ground. On the far side of the bus loop, a group of infected were running in their direction.

Taylor hit the ground beneath the hulking infected man, his head and fist striking the pavement hard. At the same moment, the pregnant Juggalette took a large bite out of Steve’s tricep.

Steve had the woman by the hair, trying to keep her from biting him again. With his other hand he pulled his handgun from its holster and pointed it at the Juggalette’s throat. There was a loud report and a red spray misted out of the back of her neck. Steve pushed her limp body to the side and it fell against the concrete.

Two more infected had almost reached Taylor and Steve, but Matt angled the patrol car at them, hitting them with the push bumper and driving over them.

Taylor could do little against the hulking infected. All the hulking infected man had to do was hold him until other infected arrived. His baton wasn’t much good at such close range and his AR-15 was too large to get between them. He pushed one of the man’s hands to one side, pinning it between the pavement and his own back. The infected man swung at him with his other hand and Taylor shifted to the side, grabbing the man’s wrist and clamping it tightly in his armpit.

The infected man lunged toward him, snarling. Taylor got his hand up just in time, bracing it against the man’s throat to keep from being bitten. A rope of bloody drool fell from the man’s mouth and stuck to the chest of Taylor’’s uniform.

With his free hand, Taylor scrabbled at his duty belt. Finally finding what he was looking for, he pulled his punch dagger and jammed the blade into the man’s throat, punching him repeatedly until the man went still. Blood washed over Taylor’s hands, arms, and chest like a waterfall.

Matt jumped from the car to help pull the hulking infected man off of Taylor. In front of them, Steve was back on his feet, barely holding off the mob of infected with a volley of gunfire. Steve glanced back at Taylor.

“We’ve got it, Steve. Just cover us,” Taylor said, as he and Matt struggled with the heavy body on top of him. Steve turned and started dumping rounds down range as Matt shifted the body to one side.

Taylor rushed to the passenger side door of the patrol car and opened it, using it to steady his gun as he began shooting at the infected. At the sound of Taylor’s rifle, Steve turned and ran toward the car, diving into the back passenger seat beside Eric. Only when Steve was inside did Taylor take a seat.

The tires squealed as Matt turned the wheel away from the infected horde and drove toward the parking lot exit. Taylor was covered in red. It looked like someone took a two liter bottle of tomato juice and dumped it on him. Matt hazarded a glance in the back seat, where Steve looked fine except for the piece of flesh missing from his tricep. The wound wasn’t life-threatening but it was deep enough that the upper layers of skin and fat were missing.

The baby was screaming in Jenna’s arms and behind Eric’s makeup his face was bright red; Matt could see his glowing neck and the tips of his ears in the rearview mirror. Matt was thankful he was driving. Focusing on the road kept his mind off how bad their situation really was.

The real concern was Steve. He had one hand clamped over the wound, trying to stem the bleeding. The infection had taken hold of the people in the hospital in under an hour. Matt knew they couldn’t just abandon Steve—not when he was in his right mind, anyway. Not to mention Taylor would never go for that; he wouldn’t throw away a two decade friendship for people he’d just met. Matt wouldn’t do it if their roles were reversed, and he doubted Taylor felt any differently.

On the other hand, it was only a matter of time before Steve began to exhibit symptoms and right now he was in the back seat with an infant.
Something
had to be done.

Matt glanced back at Eric, who still looked like he was about to burst a blood vessel. What if Eric had been bitten earlier and they hadn’t noticed, Matt wondered. He dismissed it just as quickly. Eric had been with them for two hours; that was more than enough time to exhibit signs—

“She was
mine
,” Eric said quietly, interrupting Matt’s train of thought. ““The child was mine.”

Steve was still busy tending his wound. “What’d you say?” he asked without looking up.

There was a small space just below Steve’s left armpit that was bare of body armor. That’s where Eric plunged his knife. The blade slid smoothly between two rib bones and, just as smoothly, it slid out. Then Eric brought the knife up to Steve’s throat and thrust the tip of the blade through his wind pipe repeatedly. Steve made a gurgling noise, but the look on his face was more surprised than anything else. Jenna screamed and after a second the baby joined her.

Eric was screaming too. “My girlfriend! My child. She was mine. She was going to have my child.” He said it over and over.

Matt stood on the brakes, bringing the car to a screeching halt. Jenna jumped out of the car and Taylor opened the passenger door before the car was fully stopped and Jenna jumped out of the car. Taylor grabbed Eric out of the backseat from behind. He threw Eric to the ground, stomping on Eric’s arm as it landed against the curb. There was a crack of breaking bone and the knife fell out of Eric’s hand. Taylor picked up the still bloody weapon from the ground and looked down at Eric, who was still screaming, though now it was a scream of pain as well as anger.

Taylor was silent for a long moment, then he stabbed Eric in the heart. His movements were explosive, like a jackhammer breaking up concrete. Matt lost count of how many times the knife plunged. Four? Maybe five? But at the end of it, Eric was dead.

Steve’s death took longer. He still sat in the car, trying to breath out of one collapsed lung and what was left of his throat. Jenna stood next to the open door, her mouth wide open with disbelief.

Taylor gently pulled Steve from the car and propped him against a tree. Wet gasps came from the hole in Steve’s throat as he tried to speak.

“Don’t say anything. Just try to breath,” Taylor said, squatting next to him.

It was the wrong thing to say, Matt thought. Steve would never breathe right again, anyone could see that. Even if Steve had access to immediate medical attention he wouldn’t live. His injuries were too severe.

“You know I’ll be there for your wife and kids. I’m going to get to the farmhouse in North Carolina and I’ll make sure they get through this. You know, that right?” Taylor’s voice broke on the last word. Steve did his best to nod. “We’ve always been honest with each other, Steve. Remember when I was diagnosed with cancer? I never told anyone but you how bad those odds were. Not even my wife. I’m gonna be honest with you. You were already bitten. It was a matter of time before you turned into one of those things. You’re either going to die painfully in a few minutes or a group of infected is gonna come along and tear you apart. But I can change that. I can take away the pain quickly and I’ll never tell your family what happened. They’ll never be burdened with the way you died. Just that you died a hero, trying to save me. Do you want that?”

Steve put his hand on his friends shoulder and squeezed.

“Alright, I love you buddy,” Taylor said softly. “You’ve been like a brother to me.”

Steve closed his eyes and everyone but Taylor turned away. The loud report of the AR-15 reverberated in Matt’s head and the baby started screaming. On cue, more infected began running at them from the surrounding streets.

Taylor grabbed the three magazines from the ammunition bag that was still slung around Steve’s torso. The three of them flung themselves into the car and Matt drove on, swerving as infected ran at the vehicle.

At least they hadn’t come across any huge groups of infected, he thought, like the ones they’d encountered outside of the elementary school. He was thankful for that, he told himself, trying to keep his mind off what had just happened. The single infected were pretty easy to dodge with the car.

They’d ended up close to Virginia Beach’s oceanfront. It was bedlam. Screams echoed from houses as infected groups broke down the doors, shattered the windows, and ravaged the people inside.

Matt parked the car in a church parking lot and shut off the lights.

“We’ve gotta get somewhere safe,” Taylor said. “We won’t last much longer like this.” His voice was hushed, but there was no other outside indication that he’d just shot his best friend. It was as if he refused to allow himself the luxury of emotion until they were safe.

Then again, they’d all been through a lot and none of them were showing it. Perhaps they were all desensitized.

“Where can we go?” Jenna asked from the backseat. “If the highways are anything like the local streets…”

“We need a place that we can defend,” Taylor said thoughtfully. “Some place with a fence. And we don’t want a lot of windows.”

“I can’t think of any place like that,” Jenna said, looking down at the sleeping baby.

Matt grinned suddenly.

“I know a place,” he said. Matt started the car and headed south.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TEN

 

 

Matt remembered the key code to the front gate of the mansion from earlier that day. There were no lights on at the house, which he took to be a good sign.

“It looks like a mini Versailles,” Jenna murmured as Matt pulled the car onto the laid brick driveway. The gate slid closed behind them.

Matt had hoped not to see this house again, but what had started off his day so poorly might be his saving grace. Using the key boxes to get into houses for personal use was illegal and unethical, but at this point Matt didn’t care. He’d killed people with a hammer and Taylor had shot his best friend in the middle of the street—two things which were also against the law—but he’d rather be judged by twelve than be carried by six.

Instead of stopping in front of the house, Matt drove onto the grass and headed toward the dock. There she sat: the 28-foot channel cutter. They got out of the car carefully, letting the doors click softly shut. Taylor shouldered his gun and Matt raised his hammer, ready to fight, but there were no infected in sight.

Fear hung in the air. After the price they’d paid in blood, it seemed like they’d arrived at the dock just a little too easily. Nothing had happened on the drive there. It was as if, once Matt thought of this location, the prevailing winds of luck had turned in their direction. They’d hit open road with no infected to impede their journey. Still, Matt couldn’t shake the feeling that the other shoe was about to drop. The boat was clear of infected. As far as Matt could tell the whole
area
was clear of infected.

Taylor boarded the boat first, his rifle held at the high ready position, followed by Matt and then Jenna with the baby. The boat rocked gently as they boarded, the lines flexing as it moved away from the pier. The door to the boat’s cabin was held shut with a cheap combination lock.

Matt glanced around warily. Sound carried over water, everyone knew that. “Keep an eye out, Taylor,” he said in a whisper. “I’m gonna try to break this lock.”

Instead of hitting the lock and making noise he stuck the end of the framing hammer under the loop of the lock and pushed down, trying to force it open. It didn’t budge.

BOOK: Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1)
8.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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