The sounds of a thousand undead followed them as they entered the rocky break between the cliffs. Some of the gnashing sounded close while others created a horrid background canopy of marching death as the monsters struggled up the steep slopes the cowboys had so recently passed. Mixed with this, the tumbling sounds also reached their ears when the frequent stumbles of the lurching dead sent them rolling down the rocking cliffs into their uncaring brethren.
Once the cowboys had passed through the front of the passage with their horses, the old man’s voice reached them from out of the darkness. “Stay here. I mean it. Stay here.”
Enough moonlight reached them for Brown to see the look of dismay covering Trevor’s face. Soon that look became replaced with one of concern as the first zombie entered the break between the cliffs.
“We should keep moving,” his friend said.
“The old man told us to stay here. We don’t know our way around. Who knows what type of traps he might have set up?” As a second, third, and then fourth zombie entered the break, Brown began to doubt his own words.
Shaking his head, Brown drew his pistol. He took aim, but before he opened fire a loud smashing sound echoed through the mountains as a series of boulders tumbled down the cliffs and not only smashed the lead zombies into a foul smelling paste, but went a long way in blocking off the passage they had just entered.
The two men stared at the blockade as a cloud of dust enveloped the area. The first zombie hadn’t been hit and Brown put a bullet through its head, while Trevor calmed down the horses.
“Well, you coming, you half brain dead bastards?” The old man said from the darkness clinging to the narrow pass ahead of them. “That won’t hold them shitheads off for long.”
The cowboys exchanged another look and Brown allowed himself a half grin. “Might as well do what our benefactor says.”
“Benefactor, huh. Think you’re pretty fancy with them cleaned clothes and horses. I had a horse once. I ate him last winter.” The bobbing white haired mop came into view ahead of them as they moved higher into the range. “Your horses look pretty tasty. Hope one doesn’t break a leg. That would be a real shame.”
Brown grew more serious. “You can insult me all you like, mister, but when you even hint at threatening my horse, we’ll have an issue.”
“Keep your caps on, lowlander. I’m the best chance yer horse has got.” He turned to face them after they had made it another hundred yards. “My name’s Jacob, by the damn by.” After the two men introduced themselves he went on. “I don’t suppose you have a few hundred rounds with you or anything helpful like that?”
“Can’t say we do and we’d rather not use it all if we had,” Brown answered.
The old timer picked at his teeth with his finger for a moment and then said, “Well can I inquire to what genius inspired plan you two were hatching?”
“I think we had the idea of taking them living dead over the range, dumping them on the west side of the Santa Ritas and then riding our horses home.”
Jacob chuckled and it wasn’t a friendly laugh. “Oh my, oh my. I can see a few things wrong with that there plan. Besides the bears, mountain lions, and jaguars just waiting for the opportunity to dine on some fresh horse flesh, them and the damn steer cliffs you somehow think you can get yer horses over, you have no idea what’s on the west side of this range do you?”
Brown looked Trevor’s way and the man shrugged.
“He he, right after this double-damned apocalypse started, some huge ass biker gang road down to the Golden Valley retirement community. Besides being ruthless evil bastards, you can’t really knock their idea. Hundreds of well stocked homes with only old ladies and half crippled men to protect them. Many of the neighborhoods are walled in too.”
“Those bikers moved in and never left. They been living off the corpse of the old world out there ever since. You head down the west face, you’ll come up right into their back yard. I’m sure they is getting hungry by now. They sure as hell will want to eat yer horses. Hell, you’d be lucky if they don’t want to eat you.”
“Son of a bitch,” Trevor swore.
“Son of a bitch is right,’ Jacob agreed and it was about then that a closer moaning could be heard as the first zombies began to make their way over the avalanche.
Come back next weekend to see if Brown and his allies can survive the Eternal Aftermath