Unknown252

~~~

The third floor barricade at the stairwell landing came down with a crash as the dead stormed the landing with incredible ferocity and speed.

“Shoot the damn bastards down!” Rusty shouted from behind the last barrier as the yellow-eyed monsters began splitting up into three groups as the ones toward the rear pushed the others forward into the hall and into the open rooms.

All five rifles exploded down the hall as rotted brains splattered the walls, knocking the first row of savages back into the next row. But the dead continued forward, climbing over corpses and howling at their prey behind the barricade.

They managed to get off five volleys before the dead crashed up against the barrier and tried to claw their way through.

“Use your handguns at this range!” Rusty shouted. “Keep them off the barricade or we’re done!”

Tommy and Brian shot at the monsters with their handguns, preparing to use their rifles as clubs to knock them off the barricade.

One of the two adults that had stayed downstairs with Rusty got too close as a dead tattooed bald man reached over the top of the barricade and grabbed him by the hair. It was over in seconds as the bald zombie reached around his neck and pulled him up and back over the barrier. Five zombies descended upon the man and tore him to pieces.

Brian swung his rifle toward a teenage girl wearing a bloody high school football jersey. Her long blond hair was wet and sticky with thick blood as she scaled the barrier with surprising speed. The woman’s jaw collapsed inward on her face as the butt of Brian’s rifle connected, just managing to knock her back off the barrier. The image would stain Brian’s thoughts forever since the girl looked no older than him.

Tommy and Rusty were moving along the barrier, firing rounds into the faces of the dead as they popped up over the barrier.

The last adult was reloading his rifle when a young boy, no older than his child hiding on the roof, jumped down on their side of the barricade and charged the man. The man aimed his rifle at the bloody child but couldn’t pull the trigger. He turned to avoid the child-thing but struck a wall as the little monster leaped up on his back and ripped the back of the man’s neck out with its teeth.

Rusty quickly reacted and placed his handgun against the child-thing’s temple and fired, sending what was left of its rotted brains splattering up against the wall. Rusty wanted to vomit but he had to finish the job. He walked over to the man and placed a bullet in the back of his head. “Rest in peace, brother,” he said, and turned back toward the barricade.

Now they were three and the dead continued to attack the barricade.

“I don’t see any more coming up the stairs!” Tommy yelled. But the hallway was still full of the dead… more than they could hold back.

“I’m out!” Brian yelled as he dropped his handgun and shoved the barrel of his rifle through the eye of another zombie scaling the barrier.

Tommy went back to firing his rifle from three feet away until it clicked. “Me too!”

Rusty reached behind his back and pulled out a long hunting knife. “Your knives, boys! Just like I taught you! Don’t let them grab at you from the front. Keep them off-balance and to the side. As soon as they jump the barrier, stab them behind the ear!”

The remaining dead in the hallway we’re scaling the barrier now.

They all had their knives out as Rusty fired what was left of his handgun magazine into the falling zombies.

Dear, God, please… please help us stop them from reaching the roof, Rusty prayed. Grant us your mercy this day and help us keep them from reaching the children!

“Alright then,” Rusty shouted at the beasts. “You want us! You think you can come in our home and kill our loved ones!”

The dead were oblivious to the talking fresh meat.

“Boys, this is it! Make them pay for every fucking inch and let them know that this is our town! Our family!”

They armed themselves with fire from the forge of knowing that the last of who they were—family, friends, community, humanity—were huddled in the dark up on a defenseless rooftop. This was unacceptable.

Rusty, Tommy and Brian charged the first of the monsters that fell off the barricade and on to their side with a savageness that almost rivaled the yellow-eyed demons.

~~~

“They’ve breached the barrier,” Frank called back. He was standing just to the side of the hole that led back into the second apartment. “Remember the plan, two at a time, you snipe the first one, I’ll get the second from behind, and you shoot the fucker coming in behind him. Keep that fucking pattern or it’s going to get tight in here.”

Greg was lying prone in the hole that led into the fourth apartment. He held the hunting rifle steady, aiming across at the entrance hole into the second room. “I should just shoot you, let ‘em nibble on you a bit, and the taste should make ‘em all turn around and go home.”

Frank smiled and asked, “You talk to your God with that mouth?”

The dead had quickly found the hole into the second room. They could hear them pushing aside the furniture that Frank and Greg had pushed toward the center of the room to slow their progress.

Frank nodded to Greg.

Greg wiped his brow and nodded back. “Dear, Jesus, let my aim be true,” he whispered.

“Amen, to that,” Frank said, leaning up against the wall with a handgun in each hand. His hunting knife was at the ready, tucked into the front of his belt.

A low growl was their only warning before two small and naked zombies shot through the opening with surprising speed.

Greg had just enough time to shoot the first one in the head while the second one crawled over it and to the right.

“Fuck!” Frank cursed as he aimed his gun toward the small one while Greg was already firing at two more that were crawling through the hole. “Too fast!”

Another dodged right and bolted toward Frank just as he managed to put four holes into the smaller zombie, his last shot going straight through its temple as it collapsed two feet in front of Greg’s position, blocking his field of fire.

Frank slammed the handgun into the approaching creature’s face and emptied half his magazine into it.

“I’ve got no shot at the hole, Frank!” Greg called, trying to cover him as four more creatures charged toward Frank. He shot two of them on the move, shattering their skulls with the powerful rifle.

Frank kicked a frenzied woman in the stomach while firing his other gun over her shoulder into the left eye of a taller zombie wearing coveralls.

The dead were pouring through the gap now, quickly becoming unmanageable.

Greg fired at anything he could get his sights on, trying to keep Frank out of the corner. “Frank! You need to get over here!”

Frank was now firing at point-blank range, his size giving him his only advantage as he was able to see over their heads and prepare fast enough for the next attack. There were now ten in the room as more continued to enter the gap. Frank was screaming like a madman as he emptied both magazines and pushed his way back toward the center of the room.

Greg found his rhythm and made accurate head shots, allowing Frank a brief respite to make it to his position.

“Move!” Frank yelled as he bolted for the hole into the fourth room.

Greg backed in, stood up, and managed to reload his rifle just as Frank crawled through the hole, barely avoiding the sickly looking pale limbs that trailed after him.

As soon as Frank was clear, Greg aimed toward the hole and fired until his magazine was empty as the hole was temporarily blocked up by the bodies of the dead.

Frank had one magazine left as he quickly reloaded one of the handguns, tossing the other toward the hole. “Mother fuckers!” he shouted.

The dead were pushing through the bodies. Nothing could dissuade them. They would not tire. They would not stop… ever.

Greg reloaded his rifle with his last magazine. “That’s it,” he said.

Frank was breathing hard. “These fuckers are on crack!” he said.

Greg started firing toward the hole again as the dead began to poke their heads through. “Should we make for the last apartment while we can?”

“I’m starting to understand how Custard felt,” Frank said, staring at the couch that hid the final hole in the wall. He retrieved his knife and led Greg back toward the couch. Together they pushed it toward the previous hole to buy them a few seconds and crawled through the wall into the fifth and final apartment.

They could already hear the sofa being pushed aside as the dead invaded the fourth apartment with blood-chilling screams.

~~~

Gina and Marcus were less prepared when the dead stormed the first apartment on their side of the hall. They tried to use the existing furniture in the room as cover, hoping to take them down as they entered, but the dead rushed over and around the apartment debris, stumbling forward while Gina and Marcus opened fire standing near the opening in the wall. They managed to take down five but the other dead maniacs simply rushed over top of the fallen using their bullet-filled brethren as shielding to push through the furniture. They had just enough time to slip through the hole into the second apartment.

Marcus used up the last of his handgun rounds firing into the hole, allowing Gina time to reload the shotgun. He dropped his gun, pulled out his machete and a long knife and began dodging the swinging arms of the dead while landing critical blows with his melee weapons.

Gina was caught off guard by the sheer ferocity and accuracy in which Marcus moved in and cut, sliced, and kicked at the dead as they crawled out of the hole and invaded the room. He was covered with the dark blood of the monsters as he hacked away, refusing to give up ground as he descended on the beasts like a beast himself.

“Marcus! Move out of the way!” Gina shouted as she fired the shotgun into the side of a tall man with half its face burnt off. The man came for Marcus from behind and almost had its black and rotting teeth planted in his shoulder. Instead the beast split in half at the torso, its upper body toppling sideways while guts rained down on the back of Marcus’s shirt.

Marcus had just decapitated a crazed teenage girl and kicked its headless corpse back into three others causing them to fall down, before realizing what Gina had done. “Get out of here!” he shouted toward her. “I’m fast but these things are faster!”

She spun toward three zombies that were lurking along the wall, trying to get behind her and fired the rest of her rounds. Their heads exploded up against the wall. She had just enough time to turn the other direction and swing the empty shotgun in the face of another zombie, knocking it to the ground. Two more were coming straight at her with arms outstretched.

Suddenly four limbs fell to the ground as Marcus came in low between them, swinging the machete lightning fast. He sprung up from beneath them, stabbing one under the chin and into its brain while pulling it into the other, causing the second zombie to lose its balance.

The dead continued to pour in through the apartment hole with incredible speed and spilt off into different directions.

Gina drew her handgun, having just enough time to point and shoot as a large zombie reached for her throat. She blew its face clean off but was knocked over by the large creature’s momentum as it fell on top of her, pinning her legs to the ground.

“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” she shouted as Gina used one arm to support herself on the floor while firing one-handed at point-blank-range into the heads of three more zombies that crawled toward her face. She continued firing, spinning around to her left and right as she tried to get out from under the heavy zombie.

A tall woman with long red hair, wearing the ripped remains of transparent black lingerie charged at her from across the apartment, weaving through the dead until Gina almost missed seeing her. The woman, with ghastly pale skin highlighting her bulging veins, came at her with fierce yellow eyes and long fingernails extended like claws. Gina aimed her gun toward the woman’s filthy chest that was covered with dried up blood and dirt, almost failing to notice the tattoo of a dragon, wings fully extended, perched just above the once desirable woman’s breasts as if guarding its seductive treasure.

Fire and Ice! she thought with a chill as her dead reflection opened its mouth revealing bloody teeth.

“No…” Gina whispered.

The red-headed monster was knocked down by another zombie. It fell to the floor but never lost sight of Gina as it slithered toward her face, pulling the remains of the lingerie down past its waist, dangling its rotting dead flesh toward her, its blood-matted hair sticking to its shoulders, its whorish make-up smeared and mixed with ancient tears and new blood.

Not that one! her mind shouted. Let anything else bite me except that fucking one!

“Die, you fucking bitch!” Gina shouted, reestablishing her aim.

Gina pulled the trigger with an insane smile on her face.

Click

The gun was empty.

~~~

Death. We see her coming… the dreadful storm that overtakes us. We refuse to look into her eyes until there is nowhere left to run, for fear of losing all that suddenly becomes irrelevant. The storm comes and the house of time is immediately destroyed. The camouflage of life that we invent to hide her is as temporal as our denial. We act as if our destined appointment with the Lady of the Dark can be postponed by forgetfulness, like an illusion of immortality that can only exist if we continue to erase the future—while drowning in the sea of only now, only now… there is only now…

…Rusty was spent; his old body could no longer keep up with his will to fight, forged by years of hardship and experience long before the apocalypse. Tommy and Brian had fought like caged animals and stood their ground in front of the old man as all three were finally forced back toward the end of the hallway.

The remainder of the dead had just destroyed the barricade. Twenty tireless monsters began their final charge toward the end of the hall to finish off their prey.

Rusty focused on the two boys who were covered with the blood of their enemies… and he was proud. They had grown into men in the last few minutes, fighting with all they had to keep their family safe. But now, it was over. Twenty to three. They had no chance of surviving the next few seconds.

Tommy and Brian gave each other a farewell nod and prepared to face the end.

“You fought well, boys,” Rusty said weakly. “Damn… we made a go of it, didn’t we?”

The old man laughed fondly making Tommy and Brian smile.

The dead closed in for the kill…

…Will she find us worthy? Will she pause, impressed by our resolve to meet her in the open, naked and unafraid, eyes forward, chin up—fear slain and lying before our feet like yesterday’s carcass? It is her intent… it has always been her intent… to bring the best out of us, to make us fitting suitors before the sting of her blade has hit home, forever stopping the perishing heart that beats within. Will we be adequate representation of what it means to truly be alive? Will the living and the dead, at last, stand as equals before the end? We strive forward now with eyes finally open, the mystery of what lies beyond, waiting patiently to meet us just beyond the last breath…

Frank and Greg expended all their rounds and continued to swing knives and anything else they could grab to push back the yellow-eyed demons and hold the final apartment.

Just when it looked like Greg could no longer find the strength to resist, he thought of Ashley, he thought of his great God, and by a grace beyond his own ability, he continued to fight back although the end was inevitable.

Frank had turned into a street brawler; the last man standing on the losing side of a fierce and lethal rumble. His knife struck at dead flesh like a viper while he bloodied the knuckles on his punching hand again… and again. He screamed into the faces of the dead with an anger equivalent to a tempest, while the monsters howled in frustration at his inability to let them feast upon his bones…

…These misunderstood creatures are simply symbolic instruments of Death’s limitless control over the living. They are a repulsive anomaly of ceaseless flesh and bone, void of self-awareness on this side of the crossing. They are neither pitied nor hated. They are the chosen means to an end; as efficient as the weapon of pestilence. Death is not bound by the limits of the living. Death withholds her true agenda and we only see her hand manifested through these infected ones. We fight back but they will outlast frail flesh because Death is persistent. Should I let her die? Of course not. She is not ready… she has not reached a fraction of her true potential. But Death will make that final call in the next few moments. I will fight for her until Death has decided otherwise…

…Marcus moved quickly and drove his knife into the back of the red-haired monster’s head. It fell limp a foot from Gina’s location.

He managed to push the large zombie off her before turning to face more of the relentless beasts.

By then it was all over.

The room fell quiet as the remaining yellow-eyed monsters stopped, looked up toward the ceiling, and then suddenly collapsed as if broken.

“What the fuck?” Gina said as she got to her feet.

She looked down at the beasts. They appeared… asleep.

Marcus sat down near Gina, feeling the full effects of his exhaustion. He was equally stunned and sighed heavily.

She looked at Marcus and asked in disbelief, “Did we… win?”

“No,” he quickly responded. He returned to his thoughts…

…The Lady of the Dark has made a surprising move. She has opted to spare our lives… tonight, at least. We have been tested and found wanting. Unfortunately, it would appear that we are not yet worthy enough to die.

~~~

Next Episode (22-12):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/chapter-22-12-almost-dead/

Previous Episode (22-10):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/chapter-22-10-almost-dead/

~~~

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________________________________________________
“Chapter 22-11: Almost Dead” Copyright © 2014 Scott Scherr. From the Novel “Don’t Feed The Dark” Copyright © 2014 Scott Scherr.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission by the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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