Authors: Richard Murray,Richard Murray
I pulled the blade free of Mike’s skull and crossed to the leader who lay bleeding and battered on the floor. Mike sat beside him breathing heavily, the rage seemed to have left him.
“Kill him and let’s go.” I said to Pat who stared at me in shock.
“We can’t kill him!”
“Why not? He was about to kill us.” I replied.
Pat just sat and shook his head from side to side. “It wouldn’t be right. He’s alive. We can’t kill someone who isn’t a zombie.”
“You might not be able to but I certainly can and will.” I said, proving my point by chopping down with the hatchet against the young leader’s neck. He made a few strange gurgling sounds and frothy blood spilled from his mouth as he died.
“What the hell!” Pat shouted.
“If we let him live he would come after us and the girls. Do you really want scum like this to get hold of Rachel or Ellie? What about Maggie?” I told him as I allowed a little anger to enter my voice.
Pat sat brow furrowed as he thought about what I had said. Finally he nodded slowly. “I thought you were taking care of Mike” he said as he climbed to his feet.
I shrugged. “Figured I had a little more time before he rose. Glad I was wrong.” I said with a low laugh. “He saved our asses.”
I picked up the bat and handed it to Pat before I retrieved the leader’s knife. “Take the bat, you could use a weapon. We better get back to the others. You want to drive?” I asked.
We climbed into the van and I sat in the passenger seat perfectly content to let Pat do the driving so long as I could tell him where to drive. After a brief discussion we decided to leave the village after taking a look at the supermarket. We were in no state to raid it just yet but it would be useful to get a lay of the land first.
The drive was silent which suited me fine. Pat was lost in thought and concentrating on traversing the narrow streets. I was happily thinking about the people I had just killed. It was a different feeling when you hunted someone, trapped them and killed them at your leisure but I could get used to this new type of pleasure I felt at killing in the open.
“Shit” said Pat as he brought the van to a stop. The street had been steadily rising as the village rose up against the side of a small hill. On the other side the road led down to the supermarket. From our vantage we could see the large brick single story building sat at the end of the road which led into a car park that stretched along the front of the store. On the western side of the building I could see the loading bays with a large security fence enclosing a small compound. A separate road led from the gates along the floor of the valley. The area before the supermarket was teeming with the undead.
“There. Look there.” I said and pointed at the enclosed compound. The car we had seen driven away by the youth from earlier was parked inside the fence. It seemed we had found the looters base. “Head back the way we came before they notice us.” I instructed.
Pat rapidly got the van turned around and we sped through the village. We now knew why the village had so few zombies. The supermarket was lost to us and we wouldn’t be able to get anything from it. We needed to rethink our plans.
It was getting late by the time we pulled up at the dirt track that lead to the farmhouse. With rain once again falling in a light drizzle that threatened to get worse, we decided to leave the supplies in the van. We picked out a couple of books to entertain Maggie and trudged on up to the house.
We were greeted enthusiastically by the five girls, all sat at the table in the kitchen. The joy quickly turned to tears for Rachel and Ellie as Pat informed them quietly that Mike had been killed. Rachel was in tears and being comforted by Claire and Ellie as Pat went to sit in the living room to dwell on things alone.
I handed the books to Maggie and was rewarded with a large smile. Lily moved around to stand beside me. “What happened out there?” she asked with a touch of suspicion.
Quietly I explained everything we had found at the petrol station and the shop before explaining that whilst Pat and I were in the mobile library Mike had been investigating the pub alone. I told her with all the sincerity that I could muster, that I had gone to find Mike and found him just as the zombies broke through the door. Pat had returned to the kitchen and confirmed what I had said.
Lily’s gaze softened. Eager to move on I told her what had happened with the group of youths. She was understandably concerned by the implications. When Pat told her how I had killed the leader of the group I froze, my eyes locked to hers. All of a sudden my mouth was dry and my heart was beating faster.
Lily gave Pat a hug and then leaned in close to me. “It’s ok. You were protecting all of us.” She whispered as she put her arms around me and enfolded me in a hug. A wave of relief washed over me. She didn’t consider her rules broken. I tentatively returned the hug before pulling back.
“We do have one rather large problem.” I said to the group. I explained what we had seen at the supermarket, making sure that they all grasped the fact that there were likely more looters out there who weren’t afraid of killing us for whatever we had.
As darkness fell beyond the farmhouse Rachel went to her bed to weep softly in privacy. Pat and Ellie sat together on the couch talking quietly and Claire was readying her daughter for bed. Maggie ran over and threw her arms around my neck and left a kiss on my cheek. “Thank you for the books” she said in her quiet voice.
Lily and Claire both laughed at the blush that filled my cheeks. It was not as unpleasant a feeling as I had previously imagined to actually be cared for. It was a strange feeling for me, but I actively wanted to protect these people. Lily handed me a cup of hot tea and we sat in companionable silence as the light faded and evening drew in. For a little while I was content and at peace sat quietly with a friend.
The quiet of the evening was broken by the sound of glass as it shattered and the screams of pain from Ellie in the living room. I jumped to my feet and dashed across the kitchen, Lily close behind. Ellie rolled on the floor of the living room wreathed in fire. Pat had a blanket in hand as he tried to cover her and douse the flames.
Beyond the smashed window four dark shadows stood in the night shrouded yard. One held another bottle in one hand and a lighter in another. He ran around the side of the house. More breaking glass and an explosion of light and heat from the kitchen as another flaming missile flew inside.
“Get upstairs quick!” I shouted as I ran to retrieve my hatchet from the kitchen. The table in the centre of the room was ablaze. Shadows danced across the walls and ceiling, the light from the fire removed any chance of seeing beyond the kitchen door. I edged carefully around the table and managed to grasp my weapon.
Pat was carrying Ellie’s shrouded form up the stairs. Lily followed coughing from the smoke that was rapidly filling the room. I caught up with them at the top of the stairs. “Gather the others” I shouted to be heard above the panicked calls from the others. I pointed at a window at the end of the hall. “Get them to there. It opens above the stable.”
“What about the bastards out there.”
“I will deal with them, you get everyone to safety.” I said, my voice was cold and firm. A darkness was spreading within me. These people were mine. This place was mine and someone had dared to attack it, the peace I had been feeling earlier fled before my cold rage. I turned to the window with a smile. I would meet them in the dark with a weapon in hand. I would be in my element.
The window opened outwards and looked out over the stables. I stepped onto the ledge and leaped down the four feet to the roof and then down to the muddy yard. I landed with a squelch of mud as a dark shape came around the corner.
When he saw me he raised a cricket bat and ran at me screaming. I jerked to the side as he swung the bat down and struck out with the hatchet. The back of his skull caved in with a satisfying crunch and he fell limply to the ground.
I picked up his bat and stalked to across the yard. I poked my head around the corner. The other three stood clustered together laughing. I counted weapons. A metal bar, a knife and one had managed to find a sword. It looked like a katana, likely some replica looted from some
A deep breath and then I stepped around the corner. The knife wielder saw me and called out to his companions as he loped towards me, metal bar wielder just behind. I flung the cricket bat low towards the knife wielder, it bounced off his shin and he fell to the mud with a curse.
Metal bar wielder sprang over his friend and I advanced to meet him. He swung the metal bar towards my head. I ducked stepping beneath his swing and hacked his leg viciously. Blood flew from the wound and he screeched a high pitched wail. As he fell I slashed the hatchet blade across his throat.
A chop to the side of the head took care of the knife wielder as he struggled to rise from the mud and I was left facing a young man holding a sword. Blood covered my hatchet and arm. I stood and felt it slowly run down across my fingers to drip against the floor. The sword man stared at me with wide eyes. I grinned and sprang forward.
My foot slipped in the mud and I was suddenly falling backwards to land in the yard. The swordsman lifted the sword above his head in both hand ready to slash down. In desperation I threw the hatchet towards him. A sickening crunch was followed by a yelp of pain and spurt of blood as his nose broke. He staggered back one hand clutched to his face.
I scuttled backwards to regain my feet before leaping once more at him. My arms encircled his waste and we fell together in a heap. The sword fell from his hand as he hit the ground. We rolled through the mud trading blows. Eventually I gained the upper hand as he slipped, feet scrabbling in the mud for purchase. I lay across his back and pushed his face down into the ground. I held him as he struggled to breath, pressing down with all my weight and strength. His struggles became more frantic before finally he was still.
Lily led the others around the building and stopped as they saw the carnage I had wrought. I looked up to see Pat cradling Ellie, still wrapped in a blanket. Claire holding tight to Maggie with her face pressed away from me. Rachel stood wide eyed staring about as Lily slowly approached me.
She crouched beside me and tentatively reached out a hand, slowly she placed it on my shoulder as if afraid I would bite. “Ryan.” She said quietly, voice soft and calming. “Let go of him Ryan. It’s ok.”
I blinked, confused before I realised that I still had my arms locked around the man beneath me.
“It’s ok. Come on, let go.” Lily continued speaking softly as she took my arms, pulling gently.
I released my grip with a groan. Heedless of the mud and gore Lily embrace me gently. “Come on. We need to go.” She whispered voice gentle and comforting to my ears.
Slowly I pushed myself to my feet and looked around. The farmhouse was burning, flames licked from the ground floor windows and a thick black smoke boiled into the sky.
“It’s that guy from the village” Pat called across the yard. He pointed at the knife wielder with one foot. I nodded suddenly tired and not trusting myself to speak as the emotions surged within. I had killed them all, I wanted to leap and shout with exultation. I wanted to curl up into a ball and sleep away the bone weary ache I was left with as the adrenaline fled my body. I wanted to weep for reasons I could not hope to put into words.
Lily picked my hatchet up from the mud and passed it to me. “Let’s go.” She said taking my arm and leading the way across the yard and onto the muddy path. Our companions followed along, silent and tense. We reached the van which sat where we had left it. The silver car we had seen in the village earlier was parked behind it.
Lily climbed into the driver’s seat, Claire sat beside her with Maggie cradled in her lap. Rachel helped Pat lift Ellie gently into the back and they sat together holding onto her as she whimpered in pain. I climbed into the back and closed the door behind me. I sat beside the back door as far from the others as possible.
I saw Maggie peering over her mother’s shoulder at me, when she saw me looking back she quickly buried her head in Claire’s shoulder scared. A little girl, all innocence and joy hid her face from me in fear. I slowly lowered my head into my arms and closed my eyes.