My foot was out the door before I stopped and reconsidered. There was a cabinet of guns and ammo in the living room and with things going far worse than I’d anticipated, loading up on artillery might be a good idea; not to mention that I still didn’t have any concrete answers about what all this was about. I went back to the living room, not looking at Keenan and strapped the rifle over my shoulder, grabbed a handgun and put it in the back of pants and picked up the shotgun. There were more weapons in the cabinet but I didn’t have anything to put the bigger guns in and I wasn’t planning on coming back for another round once I walked out the front door. Next I needed bullets. I went to the kitchen and found a plastic shopping bag that I could use to cart out the ammo.
Three gunshots sounded close to the door leading from the kitchen to the backyard. I dropped to a crouch behind the counter to hide as I heard shouting getting louder and then getting quieter, then louder again, and decided to haul ass back to the living room, get the ammo and get out. Still in a crouch, I awkwardly made my way to the gun cabinet and filled up the grocery bag as quick as I could. I finished and stopped to listen for more shouts or shots but heard nothing. I jumped up and booted it toward the front door, stopping to peak around the corner to try to see if Scott or Langley were out in the open.
There was no one in sight. I took a breath to build my confidence before making a run for the truck and getting back on road and away from these crazy fucks shooting guns in the dark. The only thing was that I didn’t know if I could abandon Scott with Langley out for his blood. Ok, Scott wasn’t helpless, he just killed Keenan but for whatever reason I felt protective of him, like he was a little brother or something, and I didn’t like or trust Langley. Another shot sounded and I knew I had to leave. I didn’t know where they were, didn’t know if Scott was even alive and I was suspecting that any Shamblers in the area would be drawn out by the noise.
I was tossing the shopping bag and guns into the truck cab when Scott stumbled from the woods. My first instinct was to run to help him and I did start moving that way but stopped as he fell to his knees and remained kneeling on the ground. I couldn’t see him very well in the dim light of the rising sun but from what I could see, the kid was hurt and there was blood everywhere. I went back to the truck, hesitated to turn on the headlights which would be a beacon in the dimness, then did it anyway. I had to see if I could do anything for the kid. I had already failed Holly and I didn’t want to fail Scott if I could help it.
The lights hit Scott right in the face. It looked he was wearing a mask of blood, the left side of his head looked strange as parts of it protruded unnaturally up like he had a gruesome wing on the side of his skull. The gears in my brain clicked with realization and pieced together that he had been shot in the head and the part sticking out was part of the skull. I didn’t know what to do and just stood there looking at him. The kid’s eyes kept fluttering open then closing and fluttering up again. If I could get him to a hospital, maybe they would be able to save him. That was a big maybe though and I didn’t know where the nearest hospital was or how long the kid had to live. I felt paralyzed by indecision and helplessness. I couldn’t just leave him to slowly die alone in the middle of nowhere or be devoured by zombies.
I didn’t think about what I was doing, just ran for him ignoring all the instincts to save myself. I reached Scott and saw that his injuries were much worse than my initial impressions. The wound on his head was from a bullet and the cause of much of the blood covering his upper body but the blood on the lower part of his chest and down his stomach came from a chunk of missing flesh on his right side and there were similar wounds on his upper thighs. These injuries weren’t from Langley – Shamblers. I backed away slowly. There was no hope for the kid now even if I could get him to a hospital. The virus or infection or whatever was surely pumping through his veins and it was only a matter of time before he turned.
My ass hit the truck and I stopped backing away from Scott. It was just like with Holly. I had pulled someone into this hell and now they were doomed. My bullet hit Scott between the eyes and I screamed in frustration, grief and anger. My voice caught as the woods erupted behind the kid’s body and Langley appeared doing an awkward trot, his injured leg slowing his progress. Other than the leg that Scott had shot, Langley didn’t look injured but he certainly did look terrified.
I didn’t wait for him to get closer. I made my retreat to the driver’s seat and started the engine while Langley yelled, telling me to wait for him. I didn’t hesitate and put the truck into reverse, slamming my foot down on the gas pedal. There was no fucking way that I was going to wait for him, not after he killed Holly, brought me to this psycho sheriff and killed Scott. Regardless of the bite wounds, the bullet to the head was the end of the kid.
A gunshot shattered the back window of the truck and another lodged in the dashboard narrowly missing the steering wheel as Langley tried to either stop or kill me. He didn’t achieve either. I got about 10 feet away before turning around, putting the truck in drive and gunning the engine. I hit every rut and divot at full speed, smashing my head off the roof and the window of the door but I didn’t slow down. It wasn’t until I reached the highway and stopped that I turned to look back. There was no sign of Langley. My best guess was that he had taken refuge in Keenan’s house and would be weathering a storm of zombies very soon.
I didn’t feel bad, didn’t feel anything about leaving him behind. The man had it coming, whatever his fate would be. As I drove, continuing to try to get away from the base, Holly’s cabin, the town and now Langley, I decided that perhaps safety in numbers was a misnomer. I had weapons enough for myself, food and water enough for myself. Now all I had to do was get across the border and hope that the monsters, alive and dead, stayed behind.
© 2014, Denise Pasutti