Flames exploded in the field quickly followed by another eruption near the fence at the opposite end of where Langley was trapped. I saw a bottle fly through the air, its tip blazing and watched as it shattered into fiery pieces in the field to the left. The rain continued to fall, sizzling where the explosions were but it did little to dampen the flames. Whatever was in the Molotov cocktail, it burned furiously. Bullets continued to whiz through the air and Shamblers fell here and there while others were drawn to the sound and smell of the blaze and were engulfed in its fury. Zombies stumbled and fell to the ground, orange dancing across their scorched flesh, clothes blackened and shredded. The rain hit them and steam rose into the sky.
Panic and confusion overwhelmed my mind took in the sight and smell of burning bodies, the sound of sizzling flesh and the continued popping of gunfire. I tried to look past the smoke at Langley but couldn’t see anything through the increasing smoke. The haze was disorienting and I couldn’t tell where the zombies were or where the bullets were coming from and going. I didn’t know what had happened to Langley or Marla and Hunter. The zombies continued in their own confused movement, lost in the smoke and erratically following the sounds of mayhem. The arrival of more guns and the firebombs to distract the Shamblers should have been a good thing but I was losing my composure as chaos was unleashed all around me.
The smoke-filled air was making my eyes water and creeping down my throat forcing me to cough, both maladies infinitely increasing the danger of the situation. My senses were dulled and I had no idea where the threats were and I didn’t have luxury of caring. I had to get moving but there was no clear path, no visibility. Straight was death by bullet or Shambler, as was left and right. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I was going to have to turn back and do it before the smoke drifted any further into the woods behind me and cut-off visibility there as well.
I gave the field one last look, desperate for any sign of human life but all I could see was smoke, flame and disfigured bodies falling and burning in the field. No Langley, no Marla, no sign of whoever was helping me. I reluctantly turned away and headed back into the woods using trees as cover from the continued gunfire, certain that the shooter would not be able to see through the smoke and know what he was shooting. Rain had barely penetrated the woods, the branches and leaves were a canopy against the wetness but the ground was still wet and slippery forcing me to watch my footing. Moving from tree to tree, I got about 10 feet into the forest before stopping in shock as I looked up into two faces covered by black bandanas.
Nothing of their faces were visible except for two pairs of red rimmed eyes, one set brown, the other a dull blue. They wore dark clothes and hoodies concealing their heads and I guessed they were both male from the hard set of their eyes and physiques even though the clothes were bulky. Brown eyes flicked from my gaze and fixed on something behind me. His arms rose up and the shotgun he held poised at my head looked terribly large so close to my face. I didn’t really think he was going to shoot me but I still stood shocked and unmoving just staring at the gun. Blue eyes grabbed my arm and pulled me to the left. The shotgun exploded seconds after, leaving my ears ringing and my head spinning with confusion and fear. A second blast erupted, the sound duller as my ears felt closed from the first one. Stunned by the shots I didn’t know what to do. I slowly came back to reality as I vaguely felt myself being dragged back the way I had come.
The field still burned but it didn’t seem to be spreading or getting out of control. Zombies smoldered on the ground and the smoke billowed all around me, stinging my eyes again. I couldn’t see clearly and wiping the tears away did little good. I stumbled through the haze, nearly blind and guided by a strong impatient hand with no idea where we were going or what these 2 saviours had in mind for me. They could have been military or civilian, fallen soldiers like me or people caught up in the zombie horror show and doing what they had learned from movies and books. I didn’t care. I let them pull me through the blazing field, through a gate that I hadn’t seen before when looking at the fence and into a minivan surrounded by the bodies of dead Shamblers. I was at their mercy and at that moment, I couldn’t have been more grateful. Again, relief in this new world would be short-lived.