A Good Soldier: To the Slaughter (Ch.25)

zombie

“So who is going to be the sacrificial lamb?”  My tone was far too light for the situation.

“You’ve got that military look; don’t you have any special training or something that would be helpful?”  The guy that followed Hunter up the stairs spoke up for the first time and I instantly didn’t like him.

“There’s no special training to deal with zombies.  Look man, I’m not any more or less qualified to be out there playing chicken with those monsters than anyone else here.”

“Cal.  My name is Cal Lyndhurst and I still vote for you to go out there.”

He had this vibe about him that screamed arrogant prick.  I wasn’t really surprised that he nominated me to go outside and die to save his ass.  Pointing out that I had an air of military (the outfit was probably a good clue despite its worn appearance) was the first step to keeping himself from facing danger.  I only hoped the others didn’t latch on to his idea and agree.  I wasn’t sure I wanted a firefight in close quarters.  I would likely lose or end up outside surrounded by the Shamblers anyway.

I’m not a superhero but I had managed to make it this far unscathed and not infected.  I was an asset to the group with my ability and sort of knowledge of the origins of what was happening (I wasn’t about to share that piece of information though) and going out to distract the Shamblers would be a waste of the strengths I could bring to the group.  I told this to Cal and the others, knowing that it sounded like a cop-out and not giving a damn.  Hunter was watching silently, giving me a look of innocent pleading to stay with him which reinforced my stance on not going out.

“Besides, I’m responsible for Hunter, the boy, and I’m not going to leave him and his Mother with a group of untrustworthy people who are not afraid to hit or threaten me.”

I could tell Cal was going to protest part or all of my statement and it looked like Kelly wanted to join in but any further discussion was halted by the sound of feet running down the hall toward us.  We didn’t draw a weapons right away, a flaw perhaps, and it was a good thing as Marla flew through the door with Heidi behind her slamming the door and breathless.  Marla went to Hunter and hugged him; her face was wet however, her eyes were dry as she whispered words of comfort only a Mother can give.  Heidi finally caught her breath and told us that the padlocked doors were torn apart and the zombies had flooded the cellar.  They had done their best to block off the door leading to the kitchen but the creatures were swarming the house.

“But how come they haven’t made it in yet?  They busted through the wooden cellar doors, glass shouldn’t be much of an obstacle.”  Cal was right, we were missing something.

The pounding continued on the side of the house and up the walls but there was no sound of breaking glass and no zombies had reached us.

“The windows are boarded up and some of the doors looked barred with furniture.  Whoever was here wasn’t planning on leaving.”  Marla held Hunter’s hand as she answered the question.

“So where are they then?”  Kelly’s voice was soft, a near whisper as she asked the obvious.

“As long as they aren’t zombies and in here trying to attack us, I don’t care.”  Tony sounded frantic and impatient and I was feeling the same way.  “We just need to worry about how we are going to get out here.  We need a plan fast.”

Marla walked to the window, Hunter in tow, and lifted it the rest of way up.  Tony or one of the others must have opened it a bit to shoot at the zombies or at least that was my best guess to explain the shots from before.  Heidi fell on the bed, her body visibly shaking surely from more than just the run up the stairs.

“There seems to be fewer coming from the woods.”  Marla watched the backyard intently.

“What are you thinking?”  I could see her trying to think of a plan as I spoke directly to her and ignored the others.

“This roof outside the window isn’t totally flat but it’s good enough so that we can try to get down into the back yard.  If there’s an easy way down we might have a shot.”  She lacked the confidence to make the suggestion sound good.

“And right into the grips of those dead things.”  Tony spoke up putting a damper on Marla’s idea.  “We don’t know how many are down there or if there is even a way to get down without breaking something.”

Tony slammed his hand frustratingly against at the wall at the same time that the sharp smash of glass breaking downstairs rang out.  The exclamation of they’re in, we need to go came at once from too many voices.

“Move.”  I dropped my pack and gently nudged Marla away from the window, then crawled out on the overhang.

“What are you doing, you can’t just leave us.”  Cal was panicked as he accused me of abandoning them.

“I’m going to check to see if there is a safeish way down. Unless you want to?”

Cal turned away without answering and I focused on my task.  I had a plan but wanted to get a look at the way down before sharing it.  The overhang wasn’t steep or slippery, fairly flat like Marla said but that didn’t relieve the anxiety I felt about dangling several feet above the ground and a throng of the undead.  Of all the ways I thought my life would end, zombie horde was not one of them.  Marla had been right that the number of Shamblers coming from the woods had become a trickle.  Slowly, carefully I leaned forward, my left hand keeping a death grip on the window sill and tried to see how bad the house was surrounded.  I could only see a handful of Shamblers pushing out from the house which was good I suppose in that the crowd hadn’t expanded to the point where they were a mob.  I did however, have little doubt that the doors, windows and walls of the house were covered in at least one layer of zombies.

I released the window sill and crawled along the roof for a couple of feet until I found a way down and I hoped the Shamblers couldn’t climb up.  Could they climb I briefly wondered before mentally slapping myself for detracting from the point.  Time was not on my side and this musing about the nature of the beasts would have to wait until we were safe, if that ever happened.  I shimmied closer to the edge sticking my foot in the gutter for leverage and looked closer at the trellis that I had spied.  Vines of ivy wormed through lattice holes but it didn’t appear that they would impede our footing.  From what I could see, some of the holes were well-worn down; a teenager using this as her escape route was my guess.  The trellis ended at the top of the porch leaving about a 5 foot drop to the ground and we would be able use the porch railing as an extra foot hold.  It would work if I get the rest of my plan to come together and sell it to the others.

Crawling back through the window, I was slammed with the same question from 3 different people: is there a way down.  Marla looked at me and quietly asked if we were screwed.  She was the only one who had sense enough to keep her voice low, not that it would matter if the others didn’t take a hint from her on the amount of noise they were making and probably attracting the zombies upstairs.  My mind was racing as I blocked out the expectant and impatient looks.  I didn’t think my plan was going to work because we had waited too long but I had to put it out there especially since no one else was making a move.

“Everyone listen and keep your voices down.  There is a trellis down the side of the house above the porch just to the right of the window.  It’s about a 5  foot drop from the porch railing to the ground.  It’s not too bad however, I can’t tell how many zombies are on the porch.”  I took a breath and held up my hand to stop the questions that were about to erupt.  “If we split up, get the stronger people to forge down the stairs they can act as a distraction so the others can make their way down the trellis to the ground and head for the van and pick the rest of us up.  It might fail but I can’t see any other way for at least some of us, hopefully all of us, to get out of here before it’s too late for everyone.”

Silence greeted my plan as more glass broke and moans mixed with banging floated up the stairs.  Nodding started around the group and I felt a minor relief that they were agreeing.

“So let’s decide who is going where and let’s do it quickly, we’re losing time and any advantage we may have.”

Marla volunteered to go down the stairs and I put that down immediately.  She had to go with Hunter and that was down the trellis, not through a house filling with Shamblers.  She agreed easily enough.  I told them that I would go down the stairs and that Tony, Cal and Kelly were going to come with me.  Regardless of my first impressions of Cal and Kelly, they both looked capable of handling themselves as we waded into the weeds.  Marla had to go with Hunter and Heidi would be good cover for them along with Logan.  To my surprise almost everyone agreed and not to my surprise, Cal didn’t want to take the dangerous path.

“We don’t have time to debate.  Tony, Cal and Kelly are coming with me.  Heidi and Logan are going with Marla and Hunter.  Get your shit and let’s get ready.  They’ll be upstairs any minute.”

“Let’s gear up and haul ass then.”  Heidi said.

The vote of encouragement from Heidi made me feel better.  I just hoped I wasn’t leading her and the others to death or worse.

quill

© 2014, Denise Pasutti

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