Heidi went out first followed by Hunter then Marla. I waited by the window to make sure they were stable while Tony, Kelly and Cal lined up by the door getting ready to make the run. Marla secured her pack and reloaded her gun, then turned to me and smiled, nothing needing to be said about being safe or seeing one another soon. Neither of us wanted to make promises we couldn’t keep. I nodded and watched Marla wrap a protective arm around Hunter as they edged further away from the window toward the trellis. I stood for another couple of heartbeats watching as two mutilated zombies crawled across the backyard. The monsters just kept coming.
“Come on.” Tony hissed.
They had allowed me a few extra moments to say goodbye but we were all aware that time played against everyone being able to escape and keep safe. I shook off the fear for Marla, Hunter and Heidi and tried not think about my growing attachment to them. The stress of the impending apocalypse probably worked to heighten my need to have someone to motivate me through this landscape of fear and looming death but I needed to focus on the task at hand, remove myself from the human element and try to get through the next part of this horror show.
We lined up at the door; Tony in the lead followed by Kelly, Cal and myself taking up the rear. Tony had his shotgun, Kelly had a small pistol and Cal carried one not much bigger than Kelly’s in his left hand and white knuckle gripped, of all things, a machete in the other. I felt both over and under armed compared to them but either way, I didn’t feel good about what was about to happen in 3, 2, 1…. We burst out of the room expecting an onslaught of zombies to be there. With our fear fueled adrenaline and the need to conquer our enemy, we came out facing an empty hallway, weapons aiming at pictures of the family missing from this home.
“Maybe they can’t get through the windows.”
Cal spoke in a normal tone of voice and it was enough to draw attention to us. I should have shot him then. I heard the zombies moan, growl and crash through the living room as they honed in on where the sound had come from. Those words were enough to draw them in and gave us very little time to react. Cal tried to back up past me and get to the room we had just left but I stood firm, not letting him move and pushed him forward. He resisted and I didn’t know if he was going to turn and strike back. He didn’t and we both went rigid as Tony’s shotgun exploded with 2 ear shattering blasts. We had lost hope of moving forward silently and were on the verge of being trapped in the house. My plan was failing. If we had to backtrack and go out the window, we would likely be swarmed by the zombies that had possibly been drawn by Marla, Heidi and Hunter. Going forward was not a better prospect but the only one we really had.
I pushed Cal aside and went forward, grabbing his machete as I passed and quickly tried to gauge how fucked we were and how far Kelly and Tony had made it while I tried to force Cal into the fight. Red stained the beige walls and the pieces of brain and blood spray clung to family portraits lining the stairway to the main floor. My ears were ringing and everything I heard was muted like I was underwater. Moans, gunshots and screams were trying to break through the deafening barrier created by the shotgun blasts. The screams finally pierced through the muddle as my ears popped and the ringing subsided.
I shook my head as the noise flooded my ears and tried to adjust to the influx of sound but was caught almost off guard when a hand grabbed my necked. I swung the machete, taking off the arm just below the elbow. I had a moment of panic as I hoped that it wasn’t one of my companions before sharp nails started clawing at my calf. Fortunately it was not able to penetrate the cloth of my pants. I brought the machete down into the shoulder of what remained of a teenage girl. As she writhed under the blade, I couldn’t help but look at state of her: blonde hair turned red and pink from blood, her lower body, simply gone. I caught her eyes and recognized that blood streaked gaze from the splattered photos on the wall. Yanking the blade, trying to ignore the sucking sounds of flesh caving in on itself surrounded by blood, I brought the lethal steel down on her head, quieting her moans and putting her to rest.
It took seconds to kill her and as I pulled my eyes from the split skull, trails of brain and blood spilling forth, I saw the dead heading my way from all directions. Tony and Kelly fought them off, gunshots sounding sporadically as I battled the zombies using the machete instead of a gun in the close quarters of the living room. Spurts of screams near the stairs away from the madness started to sound, getting louder and louder. I killed a man with his nose hanging in shreds and missing an eye and made it to the stairs to find two zombies, each in various states of extreme dismemberment – missing an arm here, a leg there, chunks of one back gone – crawling up the stairs toward the shrieks of Cal; the idiot. He gripped his gun but didn’t aim or pull the trigger to stop their horrific advance.
I turned away, deciding to let him suffer the same torture these people had endured but stopped as Kelly called out to Cal and rushed past me, knocking me hard into the wall head first as she ran to him. I sagged, dizzy from the blow and could only blurrily watch as Kelly damned herself for that sorry excuse for a human being. She shot one of the zombies in the head, the one missing the arm, and went to Cal who quickly moved behind her, using her small body to shield himself from the attacking monster. The fool then grabbed her arm effectively keeping her from being able to aim and shoot the other monster.
I saw it coming but I couldn’t stop it. I tried to move, to finally use my gun and help her but a zombie came at me and I couldn’t focus, still dizzy from hitting the wall. Cal did nothing to help Kelly, just cowered behind her crying and pulling at her arms keeping her off-balance so she couldn’t kill the zombie. The monster finally made it’s slug like crawl to Kelly and grabbed her leg, taking a chunk out of her ankle, tearing at the flesh until her foot separated from her leg. Cal screamed louder as Kelly’s voice erupted in pain and horror. He let her go and amid the screams of hysteria finally started pulling the trigger, not aiming just shooting in the direction of the zombie. Somehow he managed to hit in the head but the dumb shit also shot Kelly twice, once in the abdomen and another in the thigh where blood flowed like water from a tap. She quickly went from pale to grey as I watched her dying, the zombie’s teeth still wrapped around the ragged stump at the bottom of her leg.
I screamed and forced my head to clear from the dizziness. I got my equilibrium back and squeezed my hand around the handle of the machete in anger and frustration and hacked at the zombie for no other reason than to release my rage. I looked up the stairs and saw Cal curled up at the top landing, just around the corner, crying and trying to hide. I shot Kelly in the head to spare her any further agony, looked once more at Cal and walked back toward the living room. I didn’t care what happened to him and hoped that he would succumb to his own cowardice. All I wanted now was to make sure Tony was still alive and whole, so that at least we could make it out and get to Marla, Hunter and Heidi.
© 2015, Denise Pasutti