The living room was a madhouse of bodies and gore and Tony was on the other side of it pinned against the door, blocking our way out. I couldn’t tell which zombies were still in attack mode as they seemed to have taken to feeding on their own fallen dead. It was gruesome and curious at the same time. I hadn’t seen this type of behaviour before from the zombies – going after the dead not the living. If nothing else, it served to distract them from us and I hoped it lasted long enough for me to get to Tony, kill the attacking zombie and get out the door. I sucked in stale, coppery air and scouted a way through the corpses, scanning for the best escape route. I set a path even if my brain didn’t agree and prepared to move forward, gripping the machete with both hands, opting for the quieter weapon to keep attention off me.
Tony saw what I was doing as he struggled against a zombie snapping at his throat and continued trying to push it away and not shoot it. I noticed him slouching to one side and realized with dread that it wasn’t from the weight of the creature. His left leg bent oddly at the knee and I knew he had been injured to a point that was going to make it difficult to make a smooth escape. I now had to get to Tony, kill the zombie and pretty much carry him to the van. No pressure or anything.
Stepping carefully among the creatures, I moved forward while trying not to look at the teenage girl I had killed. I knew she had been a monster but it didn’t make me feel better about splitting her head open like a ripe watermelon. The worst part about killing her was that now the other zombies were eating her brains, including her Mother and little brother. Their gore covered faces barely recognizable but I knew who they were from the same pictures in the stairway that the girl had been in.
The state of my mind came into question as I passed the gruesome family reunion. I was more annoyed with the obstruction they caused than by the violence and gore of the scene. I didn’t have time to ruminate on whether I was insane or just losing my humanity but I was going to briefly consider it. In all honesty, I think I had lost my humanity back in that village when I killed the angel haired child and didn’t shatter from the horrendous act. The blood and guts surrounding me now, the disfigured people eating and tearing away at parts of other people, none of it really fazed me. Would I be this cold and aloof if the zombies hadn’t become a reality and rampaging all around? I believe I would I have been, only I would have had the restraint of the military to keep me in check while sanctioning and encouraging my lack of conscience. I didn’t know whether I was losing my humanity or adapting to this world as I watched a Mother lap up the remains of her child. I had to be accountable for the people I killed andcouldn’t hide behind the military now. And if I thought about any of that too hard, I would go mad and lose my shit in this room filled with movie monsters come to life.
I thought about Marla and Hunter as I worried about my state of mind. They had become the beacon keeping me sane and pushing me forward. Maybe my humanity wasn’t totally lost yet or perhaps I was merely clinging to them to give me purpose, not save myself. Either way, it was working to move me to Tony and get the hell out of this place; questions about my humanity were irrelevant.
I pulled away from the family and moved quicker passed more zombies, bringing the machete down as I went, putting them out of this misery. Tony was losing the battle but I was able to ease the zombie’s attack by clumsily hacking at its neck to get the mouth away from Tony, before slamming the blade into its head and turning it off like a lamp. The calm distraction of the zombies was beginning to fade as they lost interest in eating one another and started to zone in on me and Tony. I pulled him up trying to ignore the squirt of blood from his knee as I roughly moved him about.
The fresh blood piqued the monsters primal senses and they crawled toward us with something like renewed vigour. I gave Tony the machete and fumbled with the door locks. The only good thing was that Tony had managed to move aside a coffee table that had blocked the door before he had been attacked. The dead bolt flipped easily but the chain lock was not so quick or simple to navigate while holding a 200 plus pound man with one arm and the sound of the hungry dead getting closer.
“Where’s Kelly and Cal?” Tony’s voice was weak and breathless as he asked after his friends.
“Kelly’s dead. I don’t know where Cal is.”
I wanted to add that I didn’t care, that he had gotten Kelly killed with his cowardice but I needed him not thinking of me as the bad guy and to push forward. Tony sagged in my arms for a moment, then regained his sense of self-preservation and pushed himself up as straight as he could to relieve the strain on me while I opened the door. It took some maneuvering but I managed to do it and move Tony out of the way so we could get out. Dull sun struck my eyes, clouding my vision. I did my best to navigate, seeing black spots and zombies through blurry eyes but unable to determine which was which. The door slammed shut behind me as Tony shouted directions, his eyes not impaired apparently.
“Louis, go right, quick.”
It was fortunate that Tony could be my eyes as I adjusted to the outside and even luckier, that the black sun spots faded quickly and I was able to see where I was going and what was coming for us. And that was the scary part – seeing the ravenous, disfigured faces of the dead heading for us from all directions. I froze trying to figure out where to go. The answer came to me as the van appeared around the side of the house, stopped and whipped around to back up toward us. The van looked somewhat out of control as it came tail first, and fast, toward the porch. Three things happened simultaneously: Cal fell to the ground a couple of feet to the left, the van slammed into the porch steps a couple of feet in front of us and the zombies in the house started to crack the wooden front door in their attempt to get to out.
My senses were overwhelmed with the noise and light and my brain tried to process it all at once, making it difficult to understand what exactly was happening and where I should be going. Cal popped up, climbed over the railing and throw Tony’s other arm around his shoulder taking on most of the man’s weight. Surprised by his sudden helpfulness, I stood frozen amidst the chaos until Tony shouted again to get moving and he and Cal pulled me toward the van. The hatch was open and Marla screamed for us to get in as she leaned over the back seats; the very back ones down leaving more room for us to get in.
Snapping out of it, I moved forward giving in to Cal’s momentum and pulled Tony forward. I did my best to ignore the zombies struggling to get through the splintered door that was becoming speckled with pieces of sliced flesh, oozing blood and discoloured fluid that was God knows what. We didn’t have time to be delicate and tossed Tony forward, his screams of pain swallowed by Marla’s shouts of urgency and the increasing cries of hunger, pain and frustration from the zombies. Cal jumped in after, pulling Tony further in and I leaped in next, feeling the cold wet fingers of a zombie graze the back of my neck as I got away just in time.
Heidi floored it and I looked through the open hatch at the monsters as they scrambled to right themselves and re-align to the sound of the van. The zombies from the house stumbled out of the cracked and ruined door, frenzied and colliding with the other monsters on the porch. The confusion subsided within minutes and a majority of the creatures started clamouring after the van. Marla held my left arm tight as Heidi slowed down long enough for me to close the hatch, then we continued bumping down the road away from one danger and more than likely right into a new one.
© 2015, Denise Pasutti