Kris only heard the tail-end of a conversation as she was coming up the stairs. “Markus, I know you think you can do this. But I swear to God, you’ll be more of a pain in the ass than an asset. You can hardly walk for pete’s sake.”
“Alicia, come on. I can do this.”
“Bull shit. You’re sitting this one out and that’s the last I’m going to say about it.”
“Jesus Christ, Alicia. I’m–”
“Markus, stop being a prick and just listen to me for once in your life!”
As Kris peered around the corner, the brother and sister were standing across from each other. Even though Markus now stood a foot and a half taller than Alicia, she did not back down. Having been a US Marshall, she was used to making herself appear to be the largest person in the room. Although it was almost comical to watch the big man versus the petite woman, there was no doubt who would win this argument. The two of them continued to yell at each other. Alicia’s hand gestures were getting increasingly more and more dramatic and Kris knew she had to interject.
“She’s right, Markus,” Kris said from the doorway. “I know you think you can help but for fuck’s sake, please listen to her. We don’t have time for this. You’re staying, even if I have to hold you here.”
“Hold me?” He said, walking over to her. “Have you seen me?”
“Yeah, I have,” she replied, placing a hand on his upper arm, “But I can still lock your stubborn ass down.”
Markus started to laugh but before he got the chance, Alicia disappeared and then reappeared behind her brother. She placed her hand on Markus as well and in a swirl of chilly darkness, Alicia transported the three of them out of the house and to the opposite side of the farm. She was only there long enough to drop Kris and Markus off before disappearing again.
Alicia had dropped them off one of the spring houses on the property. She had chosen the one that was farther away from the house and the battle. The stones had all been hand-laid by Riley’s grandfather decades ago and even so, the small building was in excellent condition. Of the three spring houses on the property, this one was the least used. There was no furniture inside the single-room, save a couple of sections of an old tree trunk that were roughly the right height for sitting on. The spring bubbled up through the stone floor, creating a small pond right in the middle, before flowing out a channel built into the middle of the floor. The air inside the small building was almost chilly and Kris wrapped her arms around her body and sat down on one of the small retaining walls.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Markus said throwing his head back. He sighed heavily and began limping over to the doorway of the little house. “I’m going to fight.”
“No, you’re not,” Kris said. She tilted her head to the side and threw her dome across the floor and over to the door. She pulled it taut across the opening, making sure to seal the edges. He tried to take another step, and ran into the dome.
Markus drew his fist back and slammed it into the shield. Kris felt her brain vibrate with the force of the blow. He pounded on the shield over and over, lighting Kris’s brain on fire. She wasn’t about to let him win, no matter how strong he was.
She sealed the dome to the floor, and whispered as softly as she could, “Keep on goin’, big man. I’ll be here all day.” She trailed off and watched Markus closely. He was hell bent on getting out. He hated not being next to his sister, especially now that an attack was imminent. Knowing the land as well as he did would have been a huge asset and Markus refused to believe that he would have been nothing but a help to his sister. And now that she had gotten her way without a fair fight, he was angry.
Markus continued to beat on the inside of the shield for a full thirty seconds while Kris’s message bounced around, reverberating and gaining volume. She had separated the dome for only a moment to create a second barrier around her own ears; she knew how loud it would get.
The strength of the sound continued to grow and as it did, Markus’s speed dramatically slowed down. The large man shook his head, trying to ignore the pressure building inside his ears. Before long, he brought his hands up to cover his ears and he was grimacing in pain. Markus slowly sank to his knees, resigning himself to his fate. “Stop,” he muttered. He took a breath and then yelled, “Kris, stop!”
As the words exploded from his mouth, Kris collapsed the dome. In a second, she snuffed out all of the sound that was reverberating inside the small house. Moments later, the soft sounds of the woods and the gentle trickle of the spring filtered back into the air. Kris’s eyes never left Markus but she continued to maintain a look of neutral indifference. The man stayed on his knees and sighed again. Glancing over his shoulder, he met Kris’s gaze.
“You weren’t kidding,” he said simply.
Kris shook her head. “No, I wasn’t.”
“Alicia was telling me about what happened in Atlanta. Is that what…” his voice trailed off. Markus didn’t need to finish his thought – Kris already knew what he was going to say.
“Something like that, yeah.”
“Fuck me,” he muttered with a look of slight bewilderment on his face. He pushed himself up off of the floor and as he stood, a grimace of pain flickered across his face. “Man, just trying to get the hell outta here wiped me out. Maybe Alicia was right.” He looked over to Kris and smiled weakly. “But don’t tell her I said that.”
Kris laughed and said, “We’ll keep it between you and me.” She patted the stones next to her and said, “Come on. Sit next to me. Alicia would kill both our asses if something else happened to you.”
“You have no idea,” he replied with a laugh.
Martin and Neil took off on the two tractors heading towards the oncoming horde of zombies. When the they were about twenty feet away, Martin slowed dramatically and turned left. At the same time, Neil sped up, pushing his tractor to its maximum speed. The wire caught the outer edge of the zombies at waist height, and dragged them inward. Neil arced around the walking dead, and then rocketed down through the middle, closing the loop. He slowed down to match Martin’s speed as the two tractors dragged a hundred zombies towards one of the pits Joey had dug.
“It’s not gonna hold ‘em all,” yelled Martin over the sound of the two tractors.
“It’ll hold em’,” yelled Neil. “It has to. We can gather up the stragglers later.”
The two men dragged their haul of zombies into a pit where they separated the tractors and raked them in with the line. Martin circled around and reset beside Neil, and the two of them started over.
“This time you take the outside. You’re gonna have to gun the hell outta that tractor to keep up.”
“I know how this works, Neil,” said Martin. “Joey! Watch your ass; there’s a few stragglers.”
Joey hefted a spear over his head, and charged one of the few zombies that managed to avoid being dragged into the pit.
“I got ‘em Mart,” he yelled.
The two tractors rocketed off, repeating the same maneuver and dragged the rest of the horde into the pit. When they were done, the two men parked their tractors and walked over towards where Joey was spearing zombies.
“It’s like fishin’ in a barrel, Neil,” Joey exclaimed with a broad smile on his face.
Neil patted Joey gently on his shoulder and then said. “It was too easy.” He looked to Martin now. “Did that feel right to you? There’s gotta be somethin’ else going on here,” said Neil as he speared a zombie through the top of the skull. Something off to his left caught his attention. It was pitch black now and a small sliver of moon barely lit the landscape. On the ridge, silhouetted against the thin moonlight, were two lumps that shouldn’t be there.
“Joey, there’s two on the ridge watching us,” Neil said after several minutes of watching them. “They’re not doing anything, they’re just laying there. One of ‘em just moved his head, otherwise I mighta missed ‘em.” The older man pushed the brim of his baseball hat up off of his forehead, deep in thought. “Whaddya think they’re up to?”
“Looks like they’re fixin’ to start somethin. No way to know.” The younger man shrugged. “Weren’t no other zombies anywhere ‘round when I was scoutin’. We got em all, Neil.” Joey pointed behind the older man. “Watch behind ya. One comin’ up.”
Neil spun. With a grunt, he speared the zombie through the face, then put his foot on its chest to pull the spear out. He couldn’t shake the feeling that this was way too easy. Were the two smart ones sizing them up?
Alicia spoke from behind Neil. “Is it just the two of them?”
Neil jumped in surprise. “Holy shit.. err… crap, Alicia. When did you get back?” Neil asked quietly. “Sorry ‘bout my language. And yea, just two of ‘em.”
He heard her chuckle softly, but she didn’t reappear. “No problem Neil. You guys handle these. You’re doing an awesome job,” she put her hand on Neil’s shoulder. It was like a ghost was touching him. “I’ll go take care of the two supers.”
Neil heard Alicia’s holster click, and then her heard her work the slide, chambering a round.
“Alicia, I gotta tell ya. This whole “invisible” thing is weird,” said Neil spearing another zombie in the hole.
“Sorry, Neil. I don’t want them to know I’m coming. You three be safe,” she said. She lifted her hand from his shoulder and left the three men.
Alicia ran up the hill as fast as she could, cloaked in her invisibility. She knew nothing could see her. ‘Other than Kris,’ she thought to herself. Kris was such a mystery to her but on the other hand, she’d never known someone so well. Their minds had been merged not once, but twice. Kris’s mind was elegant, if slightly disorganized. She was the most beautiful person Alicia had ever known. Ever since she was 16, Alicia had openly acknowledged that she was attracted to women but there was something about Kris that was different. It was more than just a physical attraction; she adored what she saw in her heart. But then again, the way she bit her bottom lip was so… ‘Snap out of it Gander. Focus on the job,’ she thought to herself.
The lone woman reached the top of the ridge, where she paused for a second. Two zombies were laying prone, watching the three men by the pit work. She raised her gun and drew a bead on the first one. She let out a slow breath as she squeezed the trigger. Between the time she started to exhale and the time she squeezed the trigger, both zombies were on her with their hands at her throat.
“Shit,” croaked Alicia. The blonde to her right was her first target. She kicked him in the leg, then squirmed sideways and dropped to the ground. She helicoptered her legs, spinning on her back so fast her legs were a blur, in an attempt to sweep their legs out from under them. Both zombies leapt high into the air, dodging her kicks. They landed squarely on their feet as Alicia threw her legs upward and flipped herself onto her toes. She extended her arm, and pointed at the dark haired one. “You’re done.”
Alicia sized them both up. They had some skill, but she’d been top of her class in hand to hand combat, and her Krav Maga was better than the academy instructors. They were faster than she was, but she’d fought faster. The way she saw it, she just had to wait and bait them a little.
The woman decided to play with them a little bit. She grinned and asked, “You just gonna stand there?”
In perfect unison, the two of them split and circled around her. They came from both sides at once. The two men moved so fast that they were a blur. She dropped to her knees and brought her fists upwards, catching both zombies in the groin. ‘Stupid,’ she thought to herself. ‘They have no use for those.’
The two zombies brought their knees together, smashing Alicia’s head between them. The force of the blow made the woman see stars. Out of reflex, she wrapped her arms around their legs, and somersaulted backwards. As she moved, she twisted their legs and brought the two of them to the ground with her. She released one, rolled over sideways and scrunched her body up, breaking the leg she had in her hands. “That’ll slow you down,” she said, bringing her heal up to smash it into his face. As she did, she drew the KA-BAR knife from the small of her back. As she knew he would, the second zombie caught her heel. The moment she felt that pressure on her foot, she lunged forward and drove the knife into its nose.
The zombie with the broken leg screamed “No!” as she did, but it was too late. The blade penetrated the soft bones of the first zombie’s face, into the brain. The blonde zombie fell, dead, and Alicia jumped to her feet. She’d twisted the dark haired zombie’s leg up pretty well; he was a little slower getting to his feet. She wasted no time and drove her knife into his shoulder, severing the ligament that controlled the arm.
Alicia stepped back to catch her breath, knowing he was using the time to repair his leg and shoulder, but she needed a second to get her head. He was enraged, and had to be worried about how this fight was going to end. In less time than Alicia expected, he lunged forward, driving a huge fist into her nose. At the same time, he simultaneously kicked the inside of her thigh with the leg that had just been broken. He wasted no time, spinning and driving his foot solidly into her chest, knocking the wind out of her.
Alicia rolled over backwards and got to her feet, slightly dazed. The zombie closed the distance, launching another punch towards her already broken nose. Through the blood in her eye, she managed to bring her knife upward at the last second, driving the knife point-up through his arm at the base of his elbow. The knife-thrust stopped most of the energy of the punch, but he still connected with her nose, causing a fresh geyser of blood.
The zombie pulled his arm back, splitting it wide open. When the blade hit his wrist, Alicia twisted the blade, dislocating all the tiny bones in his wrist. “Heal that, fucker,” she said as she reached around grabbing his shredded arm. She stuck her fingers inside the slice she’d just created, wrapped them around his radius bone and yanked it fully out of his arm. Without missing a beat, she used drove his arm bone into his eye socket and left him wobbling on his feet, dead again. It was a full second before the corpse hit the ground.