CHAPTER SIX

Ferelith was barely still alive but she was a fighter and she had no intention of giving up now. Ash carried her into the villager proper with Mckey at his heels, Kahlua and Toby both let out a sharp bark. Mckey grinned and hurried over to a pile of branches and leaves that had hidden the van they had arrived in just a few days before. They freed the van and placed Ferelith in the front seat, Ash lifted her leg and tied another piece of material tighter around the wound. He had a nasty feeling it would be hit and miss but they couldn't do much more.

"Hey, I found this! Any good do you think?" Ash turned and took a box from Mckey, he peered inside and raised his eyebrows as six bottles of vodka tinkled up at him.

"Where did you find this?"

"Behind the church, there's dozens of boxes back there and they all have alcohol in them." Ash pushed the box into the back of the van before taking a bottle to Ferelith, she gulped down two mouthfuls before the heat erupted and she was coughing and spluttering. Ash took the moment to tip the rest of the bottle over her wound, Ferelith screamed and passed out to lie limp in the front seat. Ash turned to Mckey but his mouth dropped open and his eyes grew wide, Mckey turned and her hands flew to her mouth. Jethro was coming towards them, he was covered in blood and breathing hard. The dogs whined as he grew closer.

"We can go now" he said simply. He opened the back door to the van and jumped inside just as the first rays of the dawn came sneaking over the top of the hills. Kahlua and Toby jumped inside and Mckey followed after a moment of hesitation but before they could slam the doors and speed away, the doors to the church slammed opened and a figure appeared.

"Jesus fuck a duck what the Hell is that?" breathed Mckey. Jethro was crouched in the shadows of the van, he wanted to reach out and pull Mckey inside but the sun was getting stronger. The man in the doorway was dressed in a green robe, the helmet he wore on his head had huge curving horns and Mckey was suddenly aware that she had seen this somewhere before.

"We've just walked into a Marvel comic" muttered Ash. Mckey relaxed as she put the image in the right place before pushing it aside for something else.

"That's Alan Woods" cried Jethro. He jumped forward only to scramble back with a nasty burn on his forearm.

"My sisters were supposed to live but you ruined it! They were chosen!" he screamed.

"I was Chosen once. It's not all it's cracked up to be" said Mckey. She heard Jethro's throaty laughter from the shadows in the van. Alan Woods didn't seem to hear her.

"They were meant to help me! We were going to rebuild this village somewhere else and you got them killed!" Ash stalked around the van and screamed at the green almost goblin looking man infront of him.

"You got them killed you fucking twat! If you're the great leader here then why didn't you stop The Hunt? You could have taken them and left at any time." Woods looked confused, he tilted his head to one side and frowned.

"I'm not The Great One. He is" he said. Mckey pushed Ash backwards as Woods eyes turned white, his mouth opened and his head lolled backwards.

"Why does this shit keep happening to us?" whispered Ash. Mckey shrugged as a snake slipped between the man's lips and onto the ground, it grew until it was probably seventy feet long and as wide as a tree trunk.

"I'm the Leader here and you have just killed my congregation" said the snake. The voice was low and harsh like footsteps across dried leaves.

"I'm sure you'll find another one. The must be lots of End Villages these days." Jethro's voice floated out from the back of the van, followed by a low and throaty chuckle that was almost a growl. The snake actually smiled before swallowing Alan Woods whole and slithering into the underbrush. There was a beat of silence.

"Wow, that was something of an anti-climax" said Mckey.

"The dude just got eaten by a giant, talking snake that lived inside him" said Ash. Mckey shrugged and climbed into the back of the van.

"Yeah, but after zombies and aliens and vampires talking snakes just seem a bit mundane." She slammed the door shut and curled up Jethro's arms, he kissed her face and neck and anything else he could reach before settling down with one hand placed, protectively, over her stomach. Ash started the engine as they moved away.

Ferelith opened her eyes as they were leaving End Village. Ash smiled at her but turned back to the road when she gasped and pointed through the windscreen. Siting on the side of the road was a massive snake, it smiled and waved as they passed.

"Did I dream that?" asked Ferelith.

"Um . . . Yeah?" said Ash. He pushed the accelerator and the van sped past the snake. Mckey's voice seeped through the boards from the back of the van.

"No more small towns and no more small villages, okay?" she called. Ferelith and Ash smiled at each other.

"Deal" they called back.

THE END