“It looks like the gym was close to the cafeteria,” Devon panted. “See there’s a loading dock there—hey look, it’s open.”
“Yeah and also surrounded by undead,” Emily yelled, over the constant gunfire the pair produced. “Oh gross, he has a bunch chained to the sides of the loading docks, It’s going to be a bitch getting in there.”
“Good point. We outdistanced most of the ones following us. Why don’t you sharp shooter those eternal guards of his, while I watch your back.” Even as he spoke, Devon literally put their backs together while he took pot shots as the Walkers slowly stumbling up from the center of San Miguel.
A minute passed.
“The dock is clear,” Emily said. “That’s the good news.” She turned to make sure they had eye contact. “The bad news is I’m almost spent. Zombie boy better have some kind of weapons cash or we’re in serious trouble.”
Devon said nothing and started to jog toward the loading dock. Emily quickly followed. A few stray zombies blocked their paths, but since Haeds had all but emptied the town when he sent San Miguel’s zombies at Devon’s ranch, these were not enough to stop the pair, but before they made it to the gym, Devon had run out of ammo for his colt. He tucked it into his backpack with a curse. Letting his desert eagle lead the way, he entered the Gym.
The place was beyond foul. It had a sink that could never be removed. They had seen the town’s undead pour out of here a week ago and there was no doubt in Devon’s mind that Haeds must have kept them stored in here somehow. But how he did it, only became another mystery to add to the many, when it came to anything involving Haeds.
Again a few zombies lingered. But Devon hardly noticed them as they began to lumber toward him. “Do you see that?”
“A ladder leading up to that score booth, yeah.”
“I have a feeling, what we are looking for might be up there.”
Behind them the town’s remaining Walkers were slowly catching up to them.
“I sure as fuck hope so,” she said, “because if we get trapped up there without any ammo, I’m shooting you first.”
* * *
A string of curses constantly erupted from his lips, as Spencer stepped through the courtyard of the ranch. All around him the people that Devon had rescued from the Ripper jail, were packing their things and loading them into the various vehicles they had acquired.
“All this work for nothing. These people are just going to run off and get themselves killed,” he grumbled. “Oh no,” he said, while making wild gestures with his hands, “four hundred zombies are coming this way. What the hell do you think you are going to find out there,” he yelled at a group of three who were loading an SUV, “forty thousand?”
As he walked, he noticed that punk kid that tagged around with Brown. He was leaning against the side of a shack breaking cigarette butts so that the dog ends of the smokes fell into a wrinkled rolling paper. His faded blue Mohawk bounced in the wind and matched the aqua blue lens of the goggles he always wore.
“What up, dude, why aren’t you running scared like the rest of your jail bait buddies?”
“Because I have aspirations.”
Spencer made a face. “Aspirations huh, I might be interested in hearing what those would be, but I forget your name.”
“Just call me Wart. And you are Spencer, and don’t get all higher than mighty, you were in the jail too.”
“It’s Spike, call me Spike. And yeah for like an hour.” He paused. “Is Brown in there?”
“Yeah, he asked me to keep everyone out.”
“But that doesn’t mean me.”
Wart was saved from having to answer, when Kimberly rushed up to them. Spencer didn’t have any trouble remembering her name.
“Have you seen Devon?”
“Huh, where have you been? I haven’t seen him or my sister for almost a flippin day. Best guess they are on the other side of Haeds’ cute little zombie army.”
Her petite face stayed etched in concern. “I’ve been taking care of that woman, Ann, that you rescued. She has been abused so horribly.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Damn, I hate that freak, Haeds. I wish I could just kill him.”
Her large eyes stared at him, then she finally said, “I was taking care of her and then the doctor and were told we are all leaving.”
He crossed his arms. “I’m not leaving. Not without Devon and my sis anyway.”
Wart lit his recycled smoke and it smelled like burning hair. “I’m not leaving unless Brown is.”
“Does this have to do with your aspirations?”
“This is all crazy. We have to wait for Devon. Isn’t he the leader here?” she said
“That’s what I’ve always thought. Every person here, even the new girl owes him their life and now when he might be in trouble, we’re supposed to run just because four hundred Walkers are headed this way. Devon is trying to build something. Make the world a better place and all these people want to just blow it off.”
“Not all of them,” Mel said from behind him. Flitch stood beside his friend as skinny as the other man was stocky. “I figured I’d start handing out ammo over here before those others try to lay any claim on it.”
Spencer smiled. “I’m starting to like you guys more every day. But could you do me one favor, I really want to get Rollie out here, we need to have a serious discussion with the more enlightened members of our little ranch. Now please open this door. We need to find out what the hell Brown is doing in there.”
“There’re more zombies here than I might have guessed,” Emily yelled over the gunfire. Her young body jerked left and then quickly right as shot after shot exploded from her rifle.
Devon preferred to get closer and used his two pistols with a deadly effect as he weaved through the growing pack. “Yeah, but do you notice something about these that Haeds left behind?” She was too busy to reply so he continued. “All of the ones we’re fighting are gimped in some way. Look this one is missing an arm,” he said, seconds before the zombie in question spread his brains over the faded sign for a pizza parlor.
“Yeah, maybe you’re right,” She said. “Many of these are older or injured in some way, which’s a good thing because at least we might have a chance. But it’s also a bad thing.”
He emptied his magazine and while he paused to slap another one in, he yelled, “A bad thing—why’s that?”
“Because it’s just damn creepy that this zombie lover, Haeds, would take the time to sort his zombies into fitness groups.”
“I can’t argue with you there. Come on the high school’s this way. We’re getting close.”
* * *
Spencer looked over at Mitch. “This is crazy. After all the work we have put into this place, you just want to bail and not even try to fight?”
Moving his wheelchair closer to the table, Rollie said, “I agree with Spencer. Devon and Em might not even be able to find us if we move.”
“We can leave them a message, besides I’d rather not waste every round we got fighting a battle that could be avoided. I think that’s what Devon would want us to do.”
“I have some doubts about that,” the teen grumbled. Looking at the stocky man sitting opposite him, Spencer asked, “What’s the deal with the ammo, Mel, I thought you were making plenty of rounds?”
“I am and believe me if Devon and your sister are still kicking, I’m a reckoning they owe their lives to me. But yeah, we might have enough rounds to kill off that many as long as everyone’s an ace shot, I’m not saying that we can do it safely without losing anyone though and if something goes wrong, I’d hate to be holed up and outta lead.”
“Can we focus, please? We only have about two days before those Walkers start showing up?” Mitch said. “We need to spread the word for everyone to pack up and prepare to leave.”
“On whose authority?”
“I was the leader of these people when we’re all trapped with the Rippers. I think I have more authority than you, kid!” Mitch’s face matched his words.
“Screw that. The doc and Brown aren’t even here. Where’s Brown anyway?”
* * *
“You can’t do this.” Haeds eyes had grown wide. He spit a wad of blood to the floor. It might have contained a tooth. “The guy with the beard wants me alive.”
“Devon isn’t here you sick puke and after what I heard you did to Anna, I’ll do whatever I feel like and still only be able to put you through a sliver of what you inflicted on that poor girl.” He emphasized his words with a punch to Heads stomach.
After Heads was able to suck enough air back into his lungs, he said, “Enough. Let me go and return my queen to me. If you do this, I will call back my family and let you live in peace.”
A chuckle escaped from Brown and he rubbed the back of his neck. “Your family,” a strained smile could be seen past his stumble. “I had figured that most people that had survived this long into the plague would be crazy, but I never thought I’d meet a person as screwed up as you.”
“You know you’ll die if I don’t call them off.” Could this Brown be slowing down, giving up?
“You’re an idiot, just like Devon said, maybe a special idiot, but an idiot nonetheless. We have vehicles you moron, we can drive away any time we like.” He took of his cowboy hat and leaned in close enough for Haeds to smell the garlic on his breath. “But none of that will matter to you if I put your body underground. My only issue would be whether I put a bullet in your head so you don’t come back as those zombies you love so much, or if I will bury you in a coffin and let you come back, but be forced to live the rest of your unlife trapped forever in the dark.”
He picked up and pair of hedge clippers. The blades flicked open and closed, each time coming within inches of his face. “Now, I’m only going to give you one chance before I cut off your first finger. Why don’t the undead try to eat you?”
A twenty mile hike through the desert had Devon and Emily more ready for a fourteen hour sleep than entering a hostile town filled with who knew how many walking dead. Still Devon realized that it was time to rise above such concerns. Everyone at the ranch was counting on him to do something. If he didn’t, they would soon be fighting four hundred zombies without his and Emily’s guns to aid them.
As they entered the darkened town, Emily asked, “So what’re we trying to do again?” Tumble weeds sped over abandoned roads. In some areas the desert winds had dislodged enough sand to obscure the pavement beneath. “This place is like a real ghost town.”
“I was thinking the same thing.” He let his pistols lead the way. It had been an easier hike without his shotgun, but now he wished he’d brought more fire power. “And as to your question, we’re here to get whatever we can, be it information, guns, or maybe even reinforcements.”
It didn’t take long before the first undead started to make themselves known. A dozen unbreathing lungs moaned before they had made it a hundred yards.
“Quiet or loud?” Emily asked.
“Loud, we don’t have the time. Besides, I’d rather know what we’re facing.”
“Remember,” she smiled past the grit, “there’re still about a hundred on our trail.”
“I know, but I still think you should do it.”
“Do what?” She asked, while taking aim with her rifle.
“One of your screams,” he said before he shot the closest Walker in the head.
“Oh, a piercer,” she said with a smile before she let out a violent scream that left Devon wanting to cover his ears.
“Okay, now we’ll know what we’re really up against. Come on, we saw him leaving the high school gym before. Maybe we’ll get lucky and that’s his base. Let’s fight our way over there.”
* * *
After what felt like an eternity of waiting, a man he had seen a few times, the one that always wore a shit kicker hat, came into the room they held him in. Haeds erupted in anger, his wrists strained against the handcuffs, as he called out, “Is that daylight? Where are you holding me? You’re keeping the king of the zombies in a fucking shack! I should have them eat you one inch at a time. Then I will-”
He rant ceased when the butt of a shotgun slammed into his stomach. “That’s just to let you know that you just became the king of crap and can feel free to call me God, you dumbass corpse lover.”
“You might think you’re something special, but I just think you’re another breather stupid enough to shoot at us. We’ve put down everyone who has done it so far and I could easily add you to that long list. It seems like your precious Queen or should I say Anna would certainly have no problem if I did.”
Brown leaned in with his lip drawn back in a snarl. His fierceness caused Haeds to draw back involuntarily. “I just came back from talking to her. She told me what you did you sick freak. And now I assure you that you are about to tell me everything you know that I want to know. Either that, or we start playing Mr. Piggy, the hard way.”
* * *
“This isn’t right.” Mitch looked over at him. The marching zombies created a snake of darkness that twisted along the road. Spencer scratched his head. “Let alone the general weirdness of this whole man that’s ignored by zombies thing, why are they marching this way when Devon and my sister should have been able to lure them away? My sis is walking zombie bait. But besides all that, where are they? They should be able to run circles around these Walkers.”
“Did they ever tell you to come back and pick them up?” Mitch said, while he eyed the slowly approaching horde.
“We didn’t really go over it.”
“I’m glad you’re so organized. I think we need to let them take care of themselves. We should be more concerned with this army of Walkers heading toward our ranch. Maybe we should think about bailing.”
“Screw that. Besides we can’t do anything until we hear from Devon and my sister.”
Mitch eyed Spencer for a moment and then gazed back at the shambling corpses. “We had better get back. And they better show up.”