Mike drove the barrel of his gun into the zombies head, and only barely got it lined up to do it before he found himself on the ground, the zombie biting at him as he went down, missing by scant inches. Mike pulled the trigger and the zombies head exploded in a spray of black. Almost like a fog in the air that seemed to hang there, Mike thought, as he made it back to his feet. He ran at another zombie climbing over the hood of a truck near him. He realized then that the fog had stayed with him. In his eyes, he knew, and he hoped that Bear was right, that it could not infect him that way. He squeezed the trigger briefly and the zombie climbing over the truck flew back from the hood.
He stiffened his knees to slow his momentum and the coming collision with the fender of the truck. He managed to catch himself without losing his balance and sprawling over the hood of the truck. He got himself turned and Chloe began to scream: Even as he began to turn he knew the zombie's from the woods were gone. That had been a distraction. He began to think then that they had thought out their attack. Later he was positive.
Chloe's rifle came up and she fired almost as soon as Mike had found her with his eyes. Mike's head spun trying to track what she was watching. He saw it all in a short burst. Less than a second.
Two zombies scrambled over the hood of one of their own trucks. Alice was between them. Already bitten. They gnashed their teeth and bit as they tried to drag her off. She clawed and fought. Mike's own gun started up but another spoke from behind him. All three blew apart in front of him and then the silence fell hard for a few seconds. The stench of expired gunpowder hung in the air. A blue-gray haze heavy in the air. The daylight was hanging on by a thread.
Alice's body slid off the hood of the truck and slumped to the ground. The next gunshot came as a surprise. Mike spun around to find George collapsing to the ground. One hand held to his stomach. Blood streaming over his fingers as he toppled over. Brad, Alice's brother turned to Bear and his rifle started to come up.
Ronnie yelled Bear's Name. The words came from Ronnie's mouth at nearly the same time that his rifle bucked in his hands. Mike watched it all happen in slow motion. He had simply reacted. Bear finished turning and watched as Brad flew back and slammed into the fender of a nearby car. His eyes moved from Brad to Ronnie whose rifle was still clutched tightly in his hands. Barrel smoking. He had called out Bear's name and then fired. Chloe rushed over to George but he was clearly gone. Debbie came from a crouch near the fender of a truck and stumbled to her feet. Her eyes were wide and shocked. The others stood slowly and looked around.
The dead were gone. Run off into the shadows of the lot, faded back into the trees. Chloe began to stand from where she had crouched by George. She had not made it fully to her feet when his leg twitched and he started to move, his hand reaching out to grab at her. Three rifles spoke quickly and his head blew apart splattering Chloe as she tried to spring back, too late. She collapsed onto the ground and began to sob. Debbie came over, pulled her into her arms and began to cry softly with her. Mike spun and kicked the fender of a truck with one heavy boot, crushing it inward.
“Easy, baby,” Bear said in his bass rumble. “Easy.” He turned from Mike, walked to Chloe and pulled her to her feet. “Crying don't cut it,” he told her. “I'd like to give you that luxury, but I can't. Out here this is the way it is. I've lived with it for the last several months.” He pulled Debbie up too. “You had to do it and you did. And a good goddamn thing you did it fast too... No telling how many more of us might have gotten dead if you hadn't.” He turned to George and Brad where they lay crumpled on the ground. “Did anybody see what that was about?”
About the Author
Dell Sweet was born in New York. He wrote his first fiction at age seventeen. He drove taxi and worked as a carpenter for most of his life. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1975. He has written more than twenty books and several dozen short stories.