Marshall swung his bat at the first zombie, smashing its skull, spraying brains and gore on the crowd behind it.
“What’s our plan here?” Victor asked with a grunt as he buried the hatchet in one’s skull.
“I was thinking we’d kill these zombies,” replied Marshall.
“Thanks, smart ass.”
Fighting back to back like this Victor couldn’t use his normal side-step-and-cleave method. Marshall had the strength and height to smash through their arms and still destroy their skulls, but Victor didn’t have the right angle. It wasn’t too hard to get inside their range, but every time he stepped past their arms, there was a chance they’d get a hand on him.
“What the fuck are they doing?” asked Marshall.
Victor took a seconds pause from concentrating on his strategy to look up. He and Marshall were at the back of the train. The zombies had formed a semi-circle around them, almost pinning them to the train. The circle went from the side of the train car, all the way around the yard to the other side of the train car.
The dead weren’t moving, they weren’t advancing at all. Victor killed one and Marshall two, now the edge of the semi-circle was about ten feet from them. The zombies stood shoulder to shoulder, forming a solid mass. Vic searched the yard for the super that had to be controlling them, but found nothing. He couldn’t see one that was less decomposed. He couldn’t see one making any decisions. They were all just standing there, arms down at their side. We couldn’t go anywhere, but they weren’t attacking.
“Are they holding us?” He asked.
“Lets make for the truck.”
The two brothers moved as one, back to back towards the truck. No matter how much you train or drill, no one could touch their level of communication. They had a lifetime of figuring each other out. The circle around them moved, each zombie keeping roughly ten feet away from them. They allowed them to move.
“What do you think this is about?” Marshall asked as they climbed into the truck.
“I don’t know. Do you think we should kill them? I hate to leave zombies standing.”
“Lets just get out of here and come back with Leo and John.”
“I’m worried that there’s a lieutenant out there somewhere that’s going to wreck our train.”
“Hmm,” Marshall said, thinking. “Maybe you’re right. What’s the plan then?”
“Let me think. What’s in the box left on the back of the truck?” Vic asked.
“Mostly hand tools. A hand saw, hammer, nails, screws, nothing I would consider really useful.”
“Any chance there’s a second hatchet?”
“I think there’s a machete in the bottom. Its old and rusty though.”
“That’ll be fine, I just need it to help me keep their hands off me. I’m not as tall as you, its hard for me to get a clean head shot with their arms up in my way.”
Marshall chuckled, and reached back to unlatch the small window in the back window that led to the bed of the pickup. Victor reached through the glass and opened up the lid of the rusty job box. He couldn’t reach much, so he squirmed out the window and stood up in the back of the truck.
When he stood up, the zombies closed their circle a little bit. Not much, just a half a shuffling, stumbling step forward, but it was enough to worry me. “Marshall, they just closed the circle by about a foot.”
“Hurry up then!”
“Lets get the truck out of here. Do you think we can take a few out with the truck?” Victor asked, having finally found the machete.
“Hold on, lets find out!”
Marshall started the truck. Victor sat down in the bed with his back to the cab, wedging himself as tightly as he could. The big job box was on his right. It stood a couple of feet taller than the sides of of the truck bed. He felt reasonably safe, except the only thing he had to hold on to was the rope holding the big tool box in place.
Marshall jammed the gas pedal, spinning the wheels in the gravel. The zombies immediately behind the truck were pelted with rocks and debris. The truck lurched forward when the tires found purchase on a railroad tie, and the brothers were off like a shot, the big diesel motor propelling the nearly empty truck up to speed in a short distance before they plowed the first zombies under the truck, their corpses ground to a bloody pulp between the truck and the railroad ties.
When they were clear of the group that had hemmed them in, Marshall slowed the truck, and bounced across the tracks until we were clear of the rails. He parked the truck on the blacktop, and they got out as the zombies approached. The two men waded in to the rush of zombies, hacking and slashing. The machete and hatchet combo was very effective. Victor was keeping pace with Marshall for the first three zombies, then Marshall cheated by picking up a ten foot length of train track. He swung the thousand-pound length of track like a club so hard it whooshed through the air. Marshall was crushing the skulls of four or five undead at a time.
All in all it took the brothers a little more than ten minutes to clear the dead from the rail yard, Victor counted forty-six corpses. Marshall hadn’t even broken a sweat; Victor though, was drenched. ‘I should really learn not to try to compete with him,‘ thought Victor. His strength was one on one, no one could take supers down as well as Victor. Marshall’s talent was traumatic brain injury on a grand scale.
The pair paused for a few minutes to catch their breath, then dragged the corpses over to a pile. Within an hour they were headed home; with a small stop at the house they saw on the way in. Tomorrow they would be back to start the trip south.
A skinny blonde woman ran as fast as she could across the street. She lept off the curb, crossed the blacktop, without even a glance left, right, then left again. Her dirty, stringy hair blowing back behind her as she ran towards a car that had long ago crashed into the side of the building in the next block. The straps of her backpack were almost as tight as they could go, and the chest strap was fastened above her breasts to hold it solidly against her.
When the woman was passed the demolished red car, she ducked down, and checked the gun in her hand once more. She pressed the magazine release button, and looked at the bullet on top. She could see that there was only one left. She put the magazine back in the gun and pulled the slide back, inserting the bullet into the firing chamber.
“Maya! Run!” She half yelled, half whispered. A little black haired girl came running out from between two cars. She was about three and a half feet tall, with long curly hair and a beautiful round face. She ran to the blonde woman’s side, and crouched down. Without a word she wiggled herself into the space between the wrecked Honda Civic and the wall.
“Ok, we’re going one more block,” the blonde woman said. “We can rest here for a minute, but we need to keep moving, Ok?”
“Ok, Mommy,” said the small girl.
They sat there for a minute, catching their breath leaned up against the wall of the skyscraper. The blonde nodded to her daughter and took off running. She ran to the edge of the gigantic building, and rested her back against the light orange granite blocks. She peeked quickly around the corner, at first just looking for a sign of movement. On a second peek, she studied a little harder, her eyes searching for anything that looked vaguely human. A third peek satisfied her that there weren’t any infected out in the open.
The woman looked at the little girl and motioned to her. Maya ran like the wind, she was fast for such a small child. She ran with coordination, a well practiced gait that comes when someone has spent a lot of time running. She leaned tight against the wall, squeezing behind her mother’s leg. She was skinny, although not as skinny as her mother.
The woman ducked around the corner, squatted down and put one hand on the concrete sidewalk, presenting the smallest possible target.
“Maya, remember this is the street where the man was shooting at us. We have to stay small. We’re going to run together this time, first to the car, then we’re going to run down into the parking garage. We’ll be safe for a little while there. As long as no one has followed us, I can put this gas in the truck and we can go look for some food. Are you hungry?”
“Yes, Mommy, I’m very hungry,” whispered the little girl.
“Ok, lets go!”
The two ran for the garage at top speed, the little girl was fast, but not nearly as fast as the mother could run. The woman loped easily alongside the little girl, their footsteps making almost no noise on the hard sidewalk. The turned right into the garage, and ran down the ramp of the underground parking garage.
At the bottom of the ramp they slid behind a round concrete pillar. The woman knelt down again, pulling the little girl close to her.
“You did so good! I’m so proud of you,” the woman whispered
The little girl beamed. “We’re safe from the bad people here?”
“Almost baby. We have a little bit more work to do today, then we can go back to our room where its safe.”
“I don’t like it up there, can’t we use the elelator?”
“Elevator, with a v. And, no, there still isn’t any electricity.”
“Oh, bother. So many steps.”
“I know, Mymy. But the bad people have to climb them to get to us, and we can move faster than they can. All those steps keep us safe,” the woman said, repeating the line she had used several times each day for the last four months.
“Its getting harder and harder to find food for us here, and we’re running out of water. We have to go farther every day here, and we only have a couple of hours a day to get gas for the truck and find food and water while baby holly is asleep. I can’t carry her out here, and she doesn’t know how important it is to stay quiet.”
“What if the bad people come while baby holly is asleep?” asked the little girl.
“We can’t let that happen, Mymy. That’s why we have to run so much and be so quiet.”
They moved quickly and quietly to a black suburban. The huge sport utility vehicle had a few scrapes down the side, but it had been good to them. They’d parked here on the night of the outbreak, looking for someplace safe to stop for a few hours rest on their trip from Atlanta, Georgia to the farm in Virginia. All they really wanted to do was get a couple of hours of sleep and get back out on the road. In hindsight, they should have pushed on, to get through the city of Charlotte, NC. Neither she nor her husband had expected the entire city to become infected overnight. They fell asleep in the truck down there in the parking garage. When they woke up the next morning, her husband had gone outside to check the road. He never came back.
The woman poured the gas out of the one gallon can into the truck and put the key in the ignition. She started the truck and let it idle for a few minutes to keep the battery charged. Once a week she’d started it for exactly four minutes. For the last week she’d been struggling to find 1 gallon of gas every day. Siphoning gas out of cars was more work than she expected. In the movies people just stuck a hose down in the tank, sucked on it, and gas came out. Most of the time all she got was mouthful after mouthful of horrible gasoline flavored fumes. She knew some of the cars had to have fuel. There must be some sort of device to keep people from stealing gas. She’d only had luck with older pickup trucks.
Two weeks after she gave up hope that her husband would come back, she’d started coming up with this plan. It took her a week to find the gas can and hose. It took her another three days to find a suitable truck to siphon the fuel from. Finally she’d managed to carry half a tank full of gas to her truck. That was enough to get her about 125 miles. She was still twice that distance from her destination, but she knew they had to go before she could find that much gasoline, one gallon at a time.
At first they lived on food from the refrigerators in the break rooms on every floor of the 62 story building they now called home. When that ran out or went bad, they’d switched to chips, candy bars, and sodas from the vending machines. After nearly a week of that she’d gone out in search of more wholesome food. Across from the building there was a small burrito shop where she’d found some canned beans and rice. When that was gone, she’d been going farther and farther every day. One day she’d found the backpack, which made life much easier than trying to put number ten cans in her purse and run with them.
Lately, every restaurant she came across had been looted or everything had spoiled. This far into the city, there weren’t any animals, and very few plants, not that she would know how to prepare them or which plants were safe to eat.
They’d gotten their fuel for the day, but they had a long way to go to find some food. Yesterday all she’d had to eat was a bag of M&M’s. That day’s scavenging had only produced a small can of tomatoes, and a cup of applesauce. The best part of yesterday had been finding the gun. Even though it only had one bullet, and she’d spent nearly three hours figuring out how it worked, she felt safer with it.
The two of them headed back up the ramp, out into the cool fall air in search of food for the day. Renee checked her watch, the baby would sleep for another hour or so. Tomorrow they were leaving this hellish place, one way or another.
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