The first drops of rain were light and came from a mostly cloudless sky. The cool water was a welcome relief to the dryness that had seeped into my skin over the past couple of days of trekking through the woods. I wanted it to wash away the blood of the people who had died around me and those who had come back to life, and I had to kill since this whole situation began. The rain fell harder. I wiped the wetness from my face and my hand came away covered with muddy grime. Looking at it and feeling the cold moisture brought me back to what I was about to do for Marla, Hunter and Langley.
God, what the hell was I doing? I was preparing to likely sacrifice myself for 3 people I barely knew, one of which I didn’t particularly like. And to what end? Well, probably mine and possibly theirs. Too late to back down now. I pushed the thoughts of doubt and self-preservation away, pulled my gun and made sure it was fully loaded and then pulled another one from my bag. I wasn’t going two-handed into battle like a gun fighter but I wanted a second gun loaded and ready at hand. I could see at least 20 zombies and I was my back-up with this plan. But if the world was going to hell, and it certainly seemed that way from my perspective, I might as well go out trying to save Marla and Hunter. Talk about a hero complex.
Marla made it to Langley and Hunter and the 3 of them stood still looking around, looking for me. Stepping to the treeline I waved and gave them the thumbs up. An odd gesture but the only way I could think of to let them know I was ok to stay behind. Despite the distance, I could see the look of confusion on Marla’s face and saw it turn to grim understanding. She took one step toward me then stopped as Hunter grabbed her hand. She knew she couldn’t come back and that she couldn’t help. Marla nodded and turned. Langley gave a weak salute and moved to the fallen fence.
I wiped the rain from my face again and looked away from my companions to the left at a crowd of Shamblers. They barely moved, so unlike what I had seen before however, I wasn’t going to let myself be fooled into thinking that they would be easy to contain once I started shooting. I heard a loud squeak and looked back to Marla and the others. Langley had put Hunter down on the fence and Marla was right behind him. I couldn’t watch and wait to see if they were going to make it, I had to focus on the zombies that no longer moved slowly. Half a dozen of the creatures had started toward the noise of the fence as it was stepped on, metal scratching on metal. Others were still moving in their aimless shamble but I knew it wouldn’t be long before they perked up at the noise.
I hit one in the neck, the gunshot reverberating through the open field. Every one of the zombie’s heads shot up and those dozens of dead eyes looked toward me. I had to concentrate and make every bullet count, knowing that screwing up the first shot was going to start a flood of the creatures towards me but it would give Marla, Hunter and Langley the chance to get over the fence. My plan was working. I just had to take down as many as I could until they were clear and somehow get the hell away from the zombies before they tore me shreds.
I fired again and took out the one I had hit in the neck as it moved toward me. Three others were picking up the pace and heading my way. I couldn’t focus and my next 2 shots were off, hitting one in the chest, then the shoulder and finally the head. Panic was setting in and I was being sloppy. Two more shots took out the next one and I finally got my head together taking down a couple more with two bullets. I took a second to see where my companions were and saw that Marla and Hunter were just hitting the ground on the other side but Langley’s left leg had caught on the barbed wire. A trio of the Shamblers were being drawn to him as he tried to free his leg, noisily moving the fence up and down.
I couldn’t do anything for him and I hate myself for this but I was hoping Marla would just go with Hunter and not try to shoot the zombies heading their way. Snarling pulled me back to my own danger as a zombie barreled toward me. I easily hit it between the eyes because it had gotten so close. More were coming as my plan to pull the creatures from the others worked. They kept coming, getting closer as I continued to shoot, not hitting every one in the head and wasting bullets with each miss. I started aiming for the zombies legs to slow them and decided the best thing to do was move back into the woods. I got maybe two feet then I stopped when Langley started screaming.
I looked, I had to. He was on his knees pulling frantically at the pant leg, the screaming was from frustration at being trapped but all it was doing was drawing more Shamblers his way. Marla and Hunter were nowhere in sight. I kept shooting at the zombies to the left even as they started to divide into groups of rampaging death between following my gunshots and Langley’s cries. It didn’t matter which they went, there were too many of them and they seemed to keep coming from all directions. I shot again and again wiping rain from my face annoyed that it was interfering with my vision but grateful that it was slowing the zombies down as they slid and fell on the wet grass.
I took a breath and refocused on shooting. I hadn’t properly prepared and now I had to scramble to grab more clips from my bag. I fired the last couple bullets and brought another of the Shamblers down slipping on the grass, head in pieces. I had to move quickly but it seemed that everything was working against me. The quicker I tried to open my bag and grab the ammo, the harder the task became. The zipper caught on the fabric of the bag and I couldn’t get it open. I felt like Langley caught on the fence. Fucked.
Pulling and pulling on the metal zipper, cutting my fingers to no avail, I could almost feel the zombies approach as I continued to struggle. A bullet whizzed past my head and I looked up in time to see the top of a zombie’s head explode 5 feet from me. I didn’t know if I should be concerned about how close the zombie had been or where the shot had come from. I looked to Langley and saw that he was still stuck but had stopped trying to get free and started shooting; his focus on the Shamblers that were making their way toward him. I scanned the area and saw no sign of Marla. Maybe she was hidden in the trees, maybe she had found a safe place where she could still help us.
I was wrong. More shots came from the surrounding forest and I became frantic trying to pinpoint where it was coming from and who was shooting. The zombies starting falling and I finally had time to get my bag open and reload. I finished putting in a fresh clip, stood up and turned back to the field just in time to see it erupt in flames.
© 2014, Denise Pasutti