Chapter 2: Reality 'Shows'
We all congregated at the top of the steps and looked at each other. Buddy was still grinning, while Ashley looked sick. With nothing but a quick glance and a nod, we all agreed that Sammy and her gun should go into the Visitor Center first. She glowered at us.
"Hey," I protested, "you chose this line of work." If looks could have killed, Sammy would have saved me a lot of trouble right then.
We followed her through the doors and the stench made me want to puke. It even wiped the smile of Buddy's face. He quickly backed out of the door, muttering something about his grandfather and an angry bull. The trail of red liquid was smeared across the white, speckled tile flooring, as if someone had been dragged through it. The liquid was pooled underneath the dead body of an African American man with a shock of greying hair. The body was defiantly ripe, considering the repulsive smell was rolling off it in thick waves. The body was crumpled in a heap on the ground, the arms and legs splayed out, its flesh hanging loosely from the limbs. It appeared to be wearing a uniform- a thick gun belt was fastened around the body, a gun still in the holster. Its dark brown trousers, with a yellow strip down the leg, was ripped and torn, revealing what looked a lot like bite marks. The dusty brown shirt was nothing more than ribbons, the flesh underneath looked as if a pack of wild dogs had tried to strip it from the bones.
Frank walked up beside it. He had produced a hankie from a pocket and he held it up to his nose.
"Jesus…" he murmured, his voice muffled.
While everyone's attention was on the body, I took the time to check out the rest of the dark building. The front desk was cluttered with papers and folders, but there was no telling how long it has been vacant. There wasn't even a date on any of the memos. I was guessing that the building hadn't been vacant that long though. There was no sign of dust or any sign of decay. The building actually looked pretty new. Maybe that's why the roads had been in such disrepair- all the towns money must have gone on building this place. Despite the newness of the building, I was a bit too afraid to check out the rest of the building, as the hallways seemed to give off an eerie feeling of their own. I could only see halfway down the corridor behind the front desk before the lights started to flicker from then on, but I was pretty sure I could see another body slumped against the wall at the bottom of the hall.
Ashley backed out the front door and took off down the steps. Sammy grabbed my shoulder and pulled me out of the building.
"What the hell?" I cried.
Sammy ignored me and started checking around once more with her gun still in her hand. I shielded my eyes from the sun while they adjusted, checking up and down the intersection. It was all vacant, aside from a few more visible decaying bodies sprawled out in the streets. How the hell had we missed them coming in? Maybe I was just distracted by the ruined cars, but it seemed as if the bodies had just turned up out of nowhere. Damn. This reality show had some real quick workers.
"What the hell is this place?" Sammy asked in awe as a light breeze swept across the street and cooled my skin. I wrinkled my nose. I got the smell of the bodies on the street. They smelled authentic, to my limited knowledge.
We had three streets to choose from now. There was the road we came down, of course, but I couldn't see anything of interest that way except dense forest. If we decided to take the left road, it would lead us up towards a neighborhood filled with identical white houses with manicured lawns and wrap around porches. The road to the right led out passed large cornfields lined with an old wooden fence and occasional tall oak trees.
Ashley appeared from around the edge of the building, using leaf to wipe her mouth. Buddy stood in the middle of the intersection, spinning in circles and surveying the area. His forehead was furrowed in frustration.
Frank chose that moment to walk out of the building, holding up his handcuffed arm, and asked "Say, do you think you could take these off now?"
Sammy didn't hesitate, and she removed his cuffs, reattaching them to her belt, scowling all the while. I half expected Frank to take off running, but instead he just rubbed his wrist and stared at us. He gave us a cocky grin.
"I say we find a local, maybe try in those houses?" I suggested. The others followed my gaze to the neat rows of identical houses, eyeing them carefully before agreeing.
"Alight, but nobody do anything stupid," Sammy mumbled.
We started off up the road, everybody on the lookout for a possible threat or help. The sunlight continued to beat down upon us as we began climbing up the small hill. We all began to sweat quickly. It was so hot; I removed my vest, tie and even rolled up my sleeves. Ashley eyed the bottom of a tattoo that poked out from underneath my upturned sleeve. 'Later,' I mouthed at her.
Buddy walked up to the front of the group, "What do you think happened to that guy?"
"Who knows, and who cares?" Frank replied. Buddy and he shared a laugh. I could see they were going to become friends. What did I tell you? Aussies and Rednecks- proof of Gods sense of humor, if a somewhat cruel one right now.
"Have some respected," Ashley piped in quietly.
Sammy cut in, "I care what happened, what if there's a serial killer running around?"
"Judging by the smell, he left a while ago," Frank muttered under his breath. Sammy didn't hear, but Ashley gave him a rather fearsome death glare.
A car parked on the left side of the road caught everybody's attention. The windows were smashed in, and the glass was stained with the same thick red liquid we had seen on the road and in the visitor center. I knew what it was. "It's only blood," I told myself. But I still shivered at the sight, looking to see everyone's reaction. Buddy and Frank exchanged nervous glances, Sammy stared it down, and Ashley kept her head turned away.
"I gonna shoot his ass!" Sammy held up her gun. "Hear that? I'll shoot your ass!" she shouted. She turned around backpedalled.
I shook my head, "I wouldn't tempt them…"
Of course she didn't listen; she just glared at nothing in particular. I shook my head. New York cops. Ashley had started to walk again, but stopped and pointed up the road, "There! Hey!"
We followed her finger to a figure standing in the middle of the road. It was hard to tell who it was, for their back was turned and they weren't moving. From what we could make out of them, they were hunched over, their legs splayed apart and their arms held out in front of them slightly. 'Ha, a gargoyle,' was my first thought.
I cupped my hands around my mouth, "Hey! Help us!" My voice rang out louder than I thought in the open space. The figure turned his head slowly, painfully, to face us. He was breathing quick shallow breaths, as if breathing properly was a challenge. We all froze in unison, eyes glued on him. Slowly, he turned and began to limp towards us with outstretched hands. Sammy raised her pistol and took aim.
"Freeze!" she shouted. The figure ignored the order, and instead began gaining speed as he descended down the hill. "Freeze or I shoot!"
The man's breathing became deeper, and he hissed and growled violently, blood dripping from his open mouth. His clothing was tattered and his flesh was a dark-greyish green color. Around his eyes were dark circles, his forehead was wrinkly, and his hair was a straggly white. Without another warning, Sammy fired. Ashley screamed and I jumped back as the gun flashed and the man's shoulder jerked backwards. He kept coming though, and Sammy fired again. This time the shot went into a knee and the man stumbled to the ground. He got up, looked at the knee, and then continued coming, dragging the leg. Sammy fired a third time. This time, the bullet went into his head, and he toppled backward on the ground as the bullet shell clattered onto the pavement.
Sammy kept her gun trained on him, breathing heavily. I kept my eyes on the victim, but slowly and gently lowered Sammy's hand until the gun was pointing towards the ground. Cautiously, we all circled around the body, about six feet away. He was filthy, with dirty skin and grim covering him from head to toe. He had no shoes on, and his toenails were broken and yellow. His eyes were glassy and yellow. Living in the city for a few years, I can say this was no homeless man. Even in his decaying state, I could tell he had been well fed in life. The tattered clothes looked as if they had once been an expensive three piece suit.
Our investigation was interrupted by another low growl. We all jumped away from the body, but quickly realized it had not come from him. I turned around to see that there were about two dozen more people just like him, currently charging our way.
"Run!" Sammy cried, firing her pistol into the group. I didn't think a second longer, and took off up the hill. Ashley was first up the hill, confused once she reached the top. Sammy sprinted past her and crossed the front lawn of a large white house. She kicked the front door in and motioned for us to duck inside.
I followed right behind Buddy and Frank into the house, slamming the door behind me. It was a typical place, with a staircase in the middle of the entrance hall, a living room to the right with couches and furniture, dining room to the left with a big oak table, and a kitchen past the staircase. The walls inside were painted the same color white as the outside, with hardwood flooring in the hallway, dining room, and kitchen.
Frank immediately took hold of a large china cabinet and started pulling it for the front door. "Give me hand!"
Buddy jumped onto the other side and offered his assistance. Ashley shoved past me into the kitchen as Sammy tripped while bolting up a staircase.
"Block the windows!" Buddy ordered. I checked into the living room, searching for a piece of furniture I could use. A tall, antique grandfather clock was the best I could find. I heaved it up, finding it was heavier than I expected, and slid it to the closest window. Just as I finished, Sammy screamed from the upstairs followed by two gunshots. I ran over just in time to watch as a body fell over the staircase railing and crashed to the floor below. Sammy stood peering over the railing, catching my eyes for a moment.
I turned to return into the living room, coming face to face with another one of the monsters. It was on the outside of a window in the front, bashing its face off the window and sending shards of glass across the floor. I had no time to react, as Buddy ran in with a golf club and smacked it square in the temple. The club stuck in, popping back out with a loud suction noise. Where the hell had he gotten it?
"Here! More in the garage!" Frank called, tossing me a baseball bat. I caught it just as more glass shattered in the kitchen. Ashley came running out, a large meat cleaver in one hand.
Sammy shouted at us from above, "Come on!"
The rest of us took up the staircase two steps at a time. She led us down the beige hallway to the farthest room on the left. Entering it, we found ourselves in a large master bed room, with a king sized bed taking up the far end, and a dresser sitting against the front. Two more doors inside led to what looked like a bathroom and a walk in closest.
"Goddamn!" Buddy yelled. Jenny bolted into the room, slamming the door closed and locking it. I stood breathing heavily, no doubting that this was any reality television show. If it was, one of their extras just got decapitated by Buddy…
Sammy pressed her back against the door, "Everybody here? What the hell are they?"
Buddy answered for us, "Zombies! I always knew they'd come!" OK, maybe Rednecks are stranger than Aussies.
I searched around the room for another useful weapon. I figured my baseball bat would be good, but I preferred something with a slashing or stabbing characteristic. I found nothing dangerous enough to help fend off the horde.
"They're in! Downstairs!" Frank said, poking his head out a window and looking down at the front lawn.
A bump on the door jerked Sammy forward, knocking her hat off. Buddy and I helped to brace the door, and I sat down and used my legs to push my shoulders against the lower portion. The antagonists outside the door continued ramming into it, their growls and snarls becoming more and more intense.
I was shocked to see Ashley run out of the closet and into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. Sammy mumbled something too quiet to her over the horde. What was there to do now besides wait until they broke in?
Frank hopped up onto the windowsill and turned back to us, "If we jump, we can run for it! They're all inside now!"
Sammy exchanged glances with Buddy and me. "Let's go!"
Frank leaped down, outside the house and disappearing over the edge. Just as he left, the door slammed open, sending Sammy, Buddy, and I onto the ground. I quickly flipped myself around, backpedaling away as they poured in. Sammy had her pistol drawn; firing shots until the slide stayed back and her ammo was dry. She quickly reached for another clip and slid it rapidly into place. Part of me wished I had grabbed the gun and ammo on the body in the Visitor Centre.
I scrambled to my feet, grabbing her left arm and yanking her up to the window. She slipped her feet out first, sliding off onto the roof of the porch and then into a row of hedges below. I turned back to the room, seeing Buddy swinging his club wildly, twisting their heads with each hit.
"Go! Get out of here!" Buddy roared.
I was about to jump, then I remembered that Ashley was in the bathroom. I ran over to it and began pounding it until she ripped it open, the meat clever raised. Her eyes were red from crying, and she was shaking like a she was having a seizure. I took her free hand and heaved her over the window. She slipped out the same way Sammy had, and I followed, taking one last look at Buddy.
I slipped on the porch roof and dropped off the edge, the sun was blinding in the sky and it colored the clouds yellow. It was beautiful for a moment, until my free-fall ended with a crash into the bushes. I looked up across the street, disappointed to see that there were still more zombies coming. Something crashed behind me, and I expected the worst, until it heaved me up. Buddy, grinning like a madman.
The other zombies were closing in, when suddenly a car came speeding down the street with its horn blaring. It screeched to a halt, and the passenger door flung open.
"Come on! Get in!" Frank called from the driver's seat. We all piled in like group of runaways
We were a mass of arms and legs swinging around and shoving as Frank hit the accelerator. Ashley, Sammy, and I crawled into the back seat, leaving Buddy to ride shotgun. We sped down the street we came up, past the Visitors Centre.
Once we got situated Sammy said, "So you were stealing that car before?"
"That's right mate," Frank grinned.
For a moment we were all relieved. I guess it was a lucky group to be with in this situation. I looked around the car, seeing what everybody offered. Frank obviously had some knowledge of mechanics, which would prove vital as it already has. Buddy on the other hand seems as dumb as a rock, but he's as strong as a mule. He too already proved his usefulness. The way he swung that golf stick was impressive.
Sammy, well I suppose she's something of a leader. She also has a gun, so that is a pretty big advantage. What about me though? I haven't done too much; I guess I'll have to prove my importance later. Ashley was the only one I had absolutely no account of helpfulness. She hid in the bathroom and closet while we struggled to keep alive.
Sammy turned on Ashley, "You left us huh? Ran in the bathroom and locked the door?"
It was awkward, because I was sitting in the middle of them. I just leaned back and stared at the ceiling of the car, pretending I wasn't listening. It was over fast anyway, because Ashley just looked around at all of us and gave no answer. She began getting teary.
"Yeah, don't do that again…" Buddy muttered.
Frank slammed on the breaks, causing Sammy and Ashley to smack their faces off the front seats.
"What the hell?" I asked, looking at the blood dripping out of Ashley's nose.
At first, I thought it was an attempt to punish her, but after looking out the window I realized I was way off. Another large group of zombies were piled up in the middle of the road. They were all facing us, but none of them moved. Instead they just stared menacingly, shrieking and barring their teeth. I looked at Frank in confusing as the engine revved.
"Go big or go home…" Buddy said.
Sammy and I strapped on our seat-belts and gripped the seat tight, "Oh damn, were screwed!"
Ashley looked a little confused until Frank grabbed the gear shift and slammed it forward.
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 3 coming soon!
Please take the time to Review/Comment/Subscribe/PM or Email me with questions or ideas!
If you like this, feel free to check out my other stories, or take a look at my co-author account "Epic Legkicker", for more great reads!
Big thanks to "freddyburn" for fixing this mess up! Check out his stories! Now!