“On my signal, unleash hell” were the words of some Australian actor or other in a film about Roman times. I don’t’ recall giving any signal, but hell certainly was unleashed.
The roar of gunfire erupted behind us. One, two, three four. Quick succession. Instinctively we all crouched and turned back to where the noise was coming from. Behind the rusted shell of a once-burned out car, Adam’s head bobbed in and out of view as he wrestled with something. Jenny wasn’t in sight at all and my view of what was going on was obscured by the darned ex-vehicle.
I signalled for the other three to stay low and watch for anything the noise might attract. I confirmed they understood by looking each of them in the eye, waiting for a curt nod from each before moving over to Adam. The time taken for this was excruciating, but important that everybody knew their role and didn’t just run off doing their own thing.
We live on fear and adrenaline these days. Anybody complacent or blasé soon becomes fodder. Seeing Adam struggling behind that burnt out shell, and not knowing what was going on, other than the kids deemed it worthy of firing off shots, dumped a bucket of ice cold water down my spine. Terror is a mistress we all live with, and while one of her hands wrapped its clawed fingers around my heart and squeezed, I saw the other screwing up Adam’s features as he faced whatever was going on behind that car.
I remained low and scooted around the body of the vehicle. The first thing I saw was the blood pooling on the ground. Adam was kicking at something and Jenny’s form was lying on the ground near whatever Adam was kicking at. I grabbed Adam’s hand and pulled him to me so I could see what was going on. Jenny lay on the ground with blood pouring from her left leg, as an emaciated and partially burnt creature half hung from the door of the car and was pawing at her bloodied leg in an attempt to grab it and drag her in. Jenny appeared to be unconscious, or dead. Her crumpled, tiny form lying in a pool of her own blood. The undead creature desperately trying to grab her but just falling short because it was held back by the door frame. It wouldn’t be long before it slid forward and would no longer be able to get to her.
I grabbed Jenny’s arm and dragged her back, then spun and buried by machete into the cranium of the monster. A quiet whistle got the attention of the others, and with a hand signal they rallied on me. A groan came from somewhere near one of the buildings, then another one from a different direction. It was time to beat a hasty retreat.
I picked up Jenny, careful not to do any more damage to her leg. Whatever had happened, I didn’t have time to assess the damage, we needed to get out of there pronto as the gun shots that had advertised our location had brought out quite a number of the snotties now. At least I could tell she was alive from the shallow breath panting on my ear as I lifted her up.
The team double timed it back towards the train, all the while sticking in a tight group with cover both in front and behind from any unwanted visitors. All I could think was what a stupid idea it was to bring the kids along. There had never been any reason not to in the past, and any encounters had never resulted in this kind of disaster. I needed to talk to Adam to find out what happened, but we needed to get to safety first.
Upon approaching the train I could hear it was already running. One of those left behind had had the forethought to start the train when they had heard the shots. There was a gasp from a couple of the girls on the train when they saw the state of Jenny, but we bundled everybody onboard and I got the train on the move to try and put some distance between us and the gathering walkers.
I just had to pray that the blood on Jenny’s leg was not from a bite.