“No,” I shouted as Ryan reached for the gun, with no pause in his reaction as it thud to the grass. His hand froze, hovering just above its black and our eyes caught, breaking off as the sound of movement came from in front, the sound too loud, too busy for what we’d seen. Alarm lit our faces at the crowd of bodies ambling around the corner, none of which had been there only a moment before. With my breath already caught, it felt as if a vacuum pulled my lungs from my chest as I saw Toni, her chest rended wide, ribs pulled clean of their flesh with a blanket of thick, clotted blood covering her face.
I looked to the Toni pulling her intestines behind her, snatched a look straight back to her double with the white of her ribs bared. I knew only one could be Toni, despite what my eyes were screaming, knew even when I saw her for the third time, her clothes a perfect match, at least what remained, at least what I thought the colours would be underneath the blood and dirt.
I saw her head on every other body, saw her smile on mouths hanging slack. I looked between each, stared at the face of a solider, the face of a man dressed in military fatigues, a rifle hanging loose around his front. He wasn’t her, I was sure, but I couldn’t look elsewhere, couldn’t let my imagination take over. I would have calmed, should have calmed, should have taken a deep breath and centred myself, but Ryan had taken my pause to reach for the gun and he’d raised up and pointed it out to the crowd. Blinking, his motion slow, all I could do was observe, could watch, seek his line of sight, follow where he pointed. Straight at Toni.
“No,” I screamed, regretting the volume as the world came back in focus. I grabbed both hands around his upper arm and yanked. The gun went off and I screamed again. “No,” I could move, but didn’t grab the gun. With a twitch I saw the shot must have missed, each still stood as I pulled him hard. Letting go with one hand fixed tight, he followed as I dragged him behind.
A second from the low fence I put my faith in him and let go, jumping as high as I could, pulling my legs around the side, barely stumbling as I landed. I kept running, racing through the garden, chasing down the house, eyes fixed on the bright green back door, only looking back as I pushed the handle down and it held under my weight.
He’d followed. Relief lit my face, raising my cheeks when I saw he wasn’t aiming the gun towards me, wasn’t carrying a thin smile as he forced me to do his bidding. Relief raised the corners of my mouth until my focus fell at his back, fell to the creature falling over the short fence, the resemblance still there as they floundered to their feet the other side, our side, already making their slow but dogged journey in our direction as I watched.
His hand grabbed at mine, pushing the gun into my grip, his other at my back drawing me away from their route, pushing me in front, down the side of the house and the second short fence. I was numb to the climb, to the cautious raise of my leg as I stepped over the chain-link while Ryan held it low. I didn’t look on to where I’d landed, to the other side while Ryan climbed, my eyes fixed on my thigh exposed by the long rip up the side of my skirt rising to the waistband, trying to think back to when it happened, knowing Toni would be cross. If she’d lived long enough.
“Jess,” Ryan said, grabbing me by the shoulders, shaking. I looked up and saw the concern in his face. He shook again and I seemed to watch, despite not realising I’d been anything but wide awake. My eyes fell over his shoulder, the resemblance still there in too many places. I nodded, pulling in a breath, sounds crisp again, despite not realising they’d become anything but. I turned, grabbing his wrist despite him running parallel to my side not needing encouragement. My eyes ran across the view, jumping every few steps to launch over the bloodied mess of bodies littering the once sleepy village street.
I’d seen the Tee junction. I’d seen the steeple of the church, couldn’t quite see the white of the van but knew I shouldn’t be able to from here. I’d seen the street thick with Zombies, but hadn’t connected there being nowhere to go. It was the pull of Ryan’s wrist guiding me away from the junction, the road littered with the smoking remains of Land Rovers and trucks and black sticky piles with steam still rising nearby.
We’d turned around, had no choice, found no alternative, all but one house on each side of the once quiet street had their doors open and movement ambled toward each opening from inside. We had nowhere to go but back the way we’d came and we ran until we saw the creatures which had followed climbing up from the grass as they pulled up from their fall our side of the second short chain link fence.
I looked to the sky for a miracle. I looked to the blood soaked ground at my feet as we pulled up. I looked to Ryan and his wide eyes twitching to every point in view. I didn’t know how many bullets remained, but I had enough to make sure we both could make the choice not to be eaten alive.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.