Andrew and I burst out through our doors, the fence panel flying to the road as I jumped, but freezing in my stride, I stared back at the creature I’d seen from the house, its matted dark hair swinging wild with the long run of its stride. A gunshot exploded from the other side of the Rover and I turned, grabbed the rifle and dropped to my knee. Scared to take the time, but still I pushed my eye to the sight, lined up the iron and pulled the trigger, hitting the target again and again. Andrew’s shots filled the spaces between mine. Too soon the creature dropped to its haunches, leaping to the air and out of view. I shouldered the rifle and still the abomination was gone. I rose, running to the back of the Land Rover, my eyes cast along the line of Cords who I knew would catch up too soon.
By the rear doors I followed the trail of the thick blood splattered in wide marks across the tarmac. A shot went off from around the side before I could look up, before I could round the corner. All I could see was the plume spraying through the air, the body rolling to Andrew’s side as I rounded, the back of its head an open mess with the white of sharp bone poking through flesh. Blood covered Andrew’s arm. He’d been hit, bitten, his face contorted in pain. Had it not been for the chaos at my side, the screams of panic in the back of the Land Rover, I would have rushed to his aid.
Ripping the door open, Ellie’s face ran with red tears as she was pushed towards me. I caught her before she fell to the floor, her face, clothes, everywhere I looked, spayed with blood. A handgun skittered after, stopping just before it dropped. I took a left handed hold and pushed my right into the darkness of the passenger compartment. Grabbing what I first felt, my hand came back with the scruff of the old guy’s collar. I had him out to the road with no complaint, pausing only as I saw the hole in the front of his face. A shot went off, but not from inside, it was Andrew and I turned. The Cords were going down with each round, but still there were around twenty left, making their steady progress towards us.
My hand went in a second time and found the arm of McCole’s camouflage fatigues. Pulling as hard as I could, I soon realised I’d left behind what was missing from his head. I dragged his body to the floor, blood trailing after, the veins sticking out from what I could see of his skin.
He’d turned as I drove and someone had taken action.
Screams continued to issue from inside and so did the rounds from Andrew, until I heard the soft click of the empty chamber, a subtle noise mixed with the screaming chaos. My reach into the darkness found another, but what I had was so light, panic raced up my spine when I thought I’d found just a part of someone, then my face lit up as I found it was Tish, her weight suddenly heavy as Jack clung on. I pulled them both out and Ellie took control of the pair, helping to get their feet to the road, herding them around the side, careful to move their view from the gruesome bloodied bodies at my feet.
With my fourth reach I had to turn back, letting go of the cloth I’d taken in my hand, the moans of the walking dead creatures were so close. A hand grabbed at my coat, but I could do nothing but walk away, had to raise the gun and let fury burst from its muzzle. With each round I took a step forward, issuing a terrifying, angry scream without my command and despite the water in my eyes rounding out my vision, each shot hit square in their heads. As the gun clicked telling me it was all over, I put the last three down, emptying the bullets from the rifle.
I went to turn back, but had to take a breath, forcing myself to twist. As I did, I saw the old woman bent down by Andrew, her hand ripping his shirt from his arm, the gun lain down at her side. To the right, Ellie had the two kids facing in towards her, her arms wrapped tight around their backs. No one else had emerged from the Land Rover and still there was Zoe, Connor and, I could barely bring myself to think her name, Cassie unaccounted. My knees and feet slipped on the vehicle’s slick floor, my eyes still not adjusted to the dark, but soon locked with Connor’s, following his hands held tight around Zoe’s throat, her eyes blinking faster than I thought possible. Moments later they stopped altogether and she slumped forward. I switched back to Connor’s, following them again as this time they took me across the compartment.
Relief filled me with joy as I swivelled around, but it wasn’t long before the world fell out from under me. Cassie stared back, a forced smile on her lips, her hand clamped tight on her arm, blood seeping between her pale fingers.
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Reading out of sequence? Why? Here’s Chapter One