Authors: Richard Murray,Richard Murray
“I doubt you are willing to leave him, so we will just have to do the best we can.” I sighed. “Let’s go.”
I set off walking towards the gate. Lily followed behind moments later helping Brian slowly limp across the car park. This was not going to be pleasant.
Beyond the library car park was chaos. The streets where once the people of the town would walk as they browsed the local shops and sipped expensive coffee concoctions from any of the homogenous corporate stores that could be found in any town, were now almost empty. The shops stood closed and dark waiting for life to return.
Fresh splashes of blood covered the pavements. Broken glass and abandoned cars strewn across the streets. Zombies wandered around, sometimes alone and more often in groups as they hunted for their next meal. In the distance thick black smoke rose high into the early morning sky.
We moved slowly, keeping low and hiding behind abandoned vehicles. Lily would try the door handles as we passed hoping to find one unlocked. She stopped trying them after one opened to reveal a zombie strapped firmly into the front seat. No evidence of what had killed him but he appeared unable to release himself. Lily quickly closed the door lest his moans drew the attention of the others.
As we made our way along the almost empty streets I wondered where everyone was. This was not a small town and whilst the majority of people lived beyond the centre, I was at a loss as to why so few zombies wandered around. An answer came a short while later as a car sped past. The occupants white faced with fear, the car loaded with all they held dear. As the car passed the nearby zombies all turned to follow, seeming not to care that they could not catch it.
The zombies then were moving ever outwards as they followed their prey. The centre of our town would remain almost deserted in parts, whilst the outskirts would be filling with a rising number hungry to feast on the people trapped in the houses there.
Lily caught hold of my arm and pointed down a side street to our left. I saw immediately what had caught her attention. A large silver people carrier was surrounded by zombies, all clawing at the windows as they pushed against one another to get within. I could think of only one reason why they wanted in.
I shook my head at Lily, “we can’t help them. That’s far too many zombies for us to deal with.” I told her in a firm whisper.
“He’s right. Nothing we can do lass.” Brian agreed, for once being useful though a glance at his pale face told me that it was most likely due to fear.
Lily frowned shaking her head. She seemed to genuinely want to help the unknown people despite the obvious disadvantage we would face.
“Lily listen. We cannot do anything without risking ourselves. There’s just too many of them.” I said.
She put her hands to her face, shoulders slumped. Defeated. That was the moment we heard the high pitched cry of a small child, muffled from within the car. Lily’s head snapped up, gaze locked to mine. Determination filled her eyes. “We have to help them,” She said, tone firm and brooking no argument.
My hands moved slowly massage my temples to fend off the headache that was definitely on its way. Refusal would be the simplest and safest option. I could say no and walk away. The alternative would be to risk my life to rescue some people which
would be something I definitely did not do without good reason.
Another cry came from the car causing a new surge of activity from the zombies trying to claw their way in. Any minute now one of them would figure out how to smash the glass and the people inside would be dead. My problem would be solved. Lily continued to stare.
“There’s a child in there Ryan” she hissed, her arms crossed before her. She wouldn’t back down. Truth be told I liked children and whilst I couldn’t grasp why the opinion of this woman meant something to me, it did. So I guessed I was about to do something stupid.
“Fine!” I snapped back as I took stock of our situation. Brian would be useless so I discounted him. I had a knife, Lily and after a quick count; eight zombies surrounding a car. The street was empty and lined at either side by various shops. Raised brick planters stood at intervals filled with dirt and a variety of flowers. No weapons and no place to hide. Just wonderful.
Lily looked at me expectantly. I outlined a rough plan then stood and drew my knife. I took a deep breath then moved forward blade held ready in a reverse grip, tip pointed downward and sharp edge forward. I was as ready as I ever would be.
Slowly I crept towards the zombies, body kept as low as possible to avoid notice from the undead. The smell once more assaulted my senses. If I tried to breathe through my nose I wanted to gag. If I tried to breathe through my mouth I could taste the foulness on the air. I settled for taking shallow breaths and resolved to get a cloth to wrap around my face.
When I reached three paces of the car I was still unnoticed. I risked a glance back to see Lily and Brian getting into position. My intention was to strike quickly to kill a couple before leading the rest away. Another deep breath then I stood and moved one step forward as I swung my blade, aimed directly at the temple of the zombie before me.
My strike was true. The blade jarred my arm as it broke through the bone. The zombie fell to the side pulling my knife from my grasp. A new wail rose from the undead as my presence became known.
I reached out to pull my knife from the skull only to find it stuck fast. With no time to spare I let it go and ran, away from the car and in the opposite direction of Lily. The zombies faced with an easier meal to hand, followed as I had hoped. They came quickly, several actually managing to run. I cursed. That was not expected. I tried to increase my speed as I ran down the street, breath already starting to come in gasps, sweat breaking out. If I survived I resolved to definitely do more cardio.
At the end of the street was an intersection. The moans of the dead as they followed were already way too close for my liking. I cursed as I saw the street to the right filled with a number of zombies. The left had some but nowhere near as many. It irked that I was being forced by circumstances beyond my control to travel down paths not my choosing. I kept running.
An ache began to form in my left side warning me of the beginnings of a stitch. I ran past several zombies who gave chase as soon as they noticed me. I was fortunate they had all the reasoning ability of a corpse. If just one of them had decided to try and cut me off I would have been done for.
Ahead of me a large group of zombies stumbled and lurched onto the road I was running down. I was surrounded. I hoped it was happenstance and not some malevolent deity playing with me by having them surround me just as I had doubted their ability to do so. The zombies ahead, perhaps alerted by the moans of those behind me began to move in my direction.
The buildings around me contained smaller independent shops. These had smaller windows to display their wares and standard wooden doors with glass panelling rather than the automatic all glass doors of the larger chains. My options were limited as I dashed to the nearest door and tried to open it.
Despite a frantic attempt at both pushing and pulling, the first door was locked and refused to open. I moved as rapidly as I could to the second. My hand pressed to my side as I tried to relieve the pressure of my stitch. My lungs burned and my breath was laboured. I deeply regretted ever agreeing to help. The next door I tried was in a recessed entryway, it opened and I fell through slamming the door behind me and turning the small lock.
I lay on the hard linoleum covered floor as I waited for my breathing to return to a more measured rate. A loud thump caused the door shake as the first zombie hit it, followed by a number of smaller thumps as its compatriots joined it. Their moans carried easily through the door. I watched as they pressed against the glass, the recess allowed only a couple to push against the door and the weight of the zombies behind ensured they couldn’t raise their arms to hammer on the glass.
It was time to have a look around my safe haven. I hoped it would have a back door, if it didn’t I could be in for a long and lonely wait for the zombies to break through.
The building I had found myself in was small. It was a single room with a small desk on which a cash register sat and a door lead to a back room. Numerous racks of clothing lined the walls and sat on the shop floor. So a clothes shop then. I had found refuge in a clothes shop. Whilst it would be pleasant to grab a change of clothing if time permitted, I did lament the fact that it was not a sports shop, a hunting store or any number of food retailers. All of which would provide things further along my list of needs than a change of clothes.
The zombies had spread out along the front of the building and were pressed up against the windows. Various disgusting fluids smeared the windows with each new creature that pushed up against the front of the building. I desperately needed a new weapon.
The clothing racks on the shop floor were cheap and shoddy material. I had no faith that the various parts would hold up to a serious attempt at a bludgeoning. Along the wall was a much more pleasing item. It was an eighteen inch chrome square tube in a general “L” shape. It had seven chrome balls welded to one edge to allow for coat hangers to rest against and it was mounted on the wall with a small yet sturdy diamond shaped piece of metal at one end. Thin enough to cut through flesh if swung with enough force but not so thin it would immediately buckle at the first blow.
I stripped my new weapon of coat hangers as I dumped the clothes unceremoniously on the floor. It was attached to the wall by two small screws directly into the plaster. It took only a small amount of force to wrench it free of the wall. Happily armed with a weapon I went to check the back room. If I were lucky it would have an out of this place.
My luck ran true to form. The back room held just a few boxes of clothing and some stairs leading to the second floor. The sound of glass breaking and renewed moans decided my next course of action. I pulled over a stack of boxes in front of the entranceway in hopes of delaying my gruesome pursuers and cautiously proceeded up the stairs.
The stairwell was narrow and dark, it changed course abruptly half way along its length. I was forced to tentatively peer around the corner before continuing to the top and a closed door. This door bore no lock and it was possible that the room beyond held the living quarters of the shop owner. I pressed my ear to the door and knocked.
Some muffled sounds were all I heard, perhaps an indication of an occupant; but no proof to say whether living or dead. I braced myself as best I could. Weapon raised above me ready to strike down, I opened the door.
Inside were the living quarters as suspected and devoid of life, living or dead. Before me was a simple living room with an open kitchen and two closed doors. The living room held a large sofa and an easy chair, both facing an old large TV. A mirror and a clock hung on the wall. It was a simple and plain room, somewhere to pass the time and not somewhere to live. The moans of the undead were becoming louder and sounded as though they came from the bottom of the stairs.
Once again the sofa formed the beginnings of a barricade. I slammed shut the door and manoeuvred the sofa up against it. I then picked up the chair and put that on top, followed by the heavy TV. It wasn’t ideal but it would hold them off, I hoped.
I cast my eyes over the tiny kitchen area. It held very little in the way of useable items but in one of the drawers, I found several kitchen knives. Large flat blades with sharp edges, I placed two firmly beneath the door to the stairwell to act as doorstops. Just in time as the first zombie reached the door and attempted to break through.
The door now secure, I rooted through the kitchen looking for food. The fridge held some cheese and bread, along with lettuce and a few small tomatoes. I didn’t bother making a sandwich. I just ate it all as quickly as I could after I made sure that I had scrubbed my hands free of the zombie juices first at the sink. A bottle of milk finished off my meal after a brief sniff to tell if it was safe.
A thump from behind one of the closed doors reminded me that I needed to clear the back rooms. I picked up my weapon and approached the first door which swung inwards to reveal an empty bathroom that consisted of a sink, toilet and shower. No place for a zombie to hide. I moved to the next.
As my hand touched the door handle a thump came once more from within. My mouth was suddenly dry and my pulse started to race. I took a firm grip on the handle, turned it and threw open the door.
The bedroom was taken up almost entirely by a large bed crammed against the far wall. On the opposite side of the room were a chest of drawers and wardrobe. On the bed a naked man lay spread-eagled amongst the sheets. Blood pooled on the bed and speckled the walls, furniture and even the ceiling. A fully clothed and very much dead woman knelt on the bed beside him. Her long blonde hair reddened at the ends as she bent over the ravaged flesh of his stomach, feeding. Blood and gore covered her face and chest. Her arms were caked a glistening crimson to her elbows.
With the door open the smell rushed out and I retched, the sound alerted the zombie to my presence. Her gaze caught mine and we stared at each other for what seemed to be an eternity. She opened wide her mouth and shrieked as she scrambled across the bed to reach me.
My arm dropped, weapon striking her with all the force I could muster. She collapsed to the floor as I struck her twice more to ensure that she would not rise again. My chest heaved and my hand ached from gripping so tightly to the metal of my weapon that was now bedecked with her blood, skin and hair. She had been fresh enough that I bore more than a little of her blood. If my barricade held then it would be time for a shower. First though I had to do one more thing. I walked slowly alongside the bed until I was within reach of the naked man’s head. I struck once, twice then once again at his temple before dropping my weapon.