Chapter 2 - Entry 6
April 19th cont.
We were on the road an hour after breakfast with me driving, Nathan in the passenger’s seat and Mary sitting on the floor between us with the laptop in her lap. The roads were in bad shape with large cracks and frequent potholes big enough to eat a tire. Not a single building seemed undamaged by the wrath of nature, fire, or relentless pounding by undead fists.
A few homes still smoldered from fires. Trees had fallen. Partially eaten bodies rotted slowly away. Rats, birds, cats and the occasional dog were the only animals to be seen. Silence fell upon us as we traveled, feeling small and insignificant in the wake of such destruction.
The undead were ever present; shambling through yards and clawing at us from broken windows. Groups of five or six would follow us for awhile before turning away in search of slower prey. I noticed a few stiffing the air and wondered if their sense of smell had heightened too. The thought wasn’t a pleasant one considering we shared that trait.
I carefully steered the semi around fallen trees, large pot holes and hungry dead. It made for slow going and I could feel the tension rising. Shots rang out from up ahead as we passed through a small commercial area with many wrecked and abandoned cars blocking the way. Two roads intersected to form an X with little stores, a few fast food joints and a pair of gas stations spread among the four corners. I brought the semi to a stop when we saw the gunfire’s source.
There were a dozen men working to clear the road ahead, all dressed in the same archaic manner as Nathan and his horsemen pursuers. “Nathan, climb in back and hide under the bed. Mary, take his seat with your rifle ready.” While my companions did as they were told, I studied the group before me as they worked.
Two teams of three were moving from car to car, putting zombies down with sharpened poles or shooting distant dead with their rifles. A second team drained gas from the cleared vehicles before a bulldozer pushed them off the road. Men on horseback with rifles flanked the bulldozer and covered its rear. It was efficient and well choreographed. I didn’t like it one bit.
One of the horseback riders approached while the rest took cover and trained their rifles on the semi.
“Mornin.” I offered cheerfully once the rider had stopped within earshot. “Just passin through.”
He adjusted the wide brim of his hat and leaned forward in the saddle to regard Mary and I. “Please step out of the truck.”
Well so much for that. “Afraid not.”
There was a momentary pause as his face took on an expression of shock. Obviously he’d bought into the cult’s bullshit and thought I should do as told, being a woman and all.
“That wasn’t a request.” He offered with an angry sneer.
I shrugged. “Well, we can get into a fun little firefight here and I’ll kill you all, or you can get the fuck out of my way and no one gets hurt. There enough of you boys to lose a dozen men without affecting your fucked up little circle jerk?” I leveled the rifle at him through the truck’s window and winked. “Plus you’ll be the first to die.”
I watched his Adam’s apple slide up and down as he swallowed, caught by surprise and unsure of what to do. “Tell that bulldozer to move aside. Now.”
A pair of balls suddenly grew as he shook his head and tried to speak with a more commanding voice. “No. You both need to get out of the truck and surrender your weap….”
His head exploded in a pink mist as I squeezed the trigger. Things happened very quickly after that.
I tossed the rifle aside, put the truck into gear and floored it. “Hang on.”
Steering with one hand, I pulled the Glock free with the other and started giving them reasons to duck. There were a handful of cars between us and the bulldozer but the semi’s big engine and chrome bumper pushed through them easily enough. Men scrambled as the cars they hid behind suddenly threatened to crush them but more than half started firing.
The windshield spiderwebbed as bullets struck home. Mary ducked down while I drove the truck straight through the cars, aiming for a pair of men on one side. The Glock spit out a steady stream of return fire but I knew the odds of landing a hit were slim. My goal was just to get past them and around the bulldozer. A round tore through my door and I felt my side explode in pain for a moment before going numb. Growling, I shifted into second gear and picked up speed.
Two more rounds hit me before I passed the bulldozer, sending a trio of shots into the driver’s chest after I’d pulled even with him. Blood was pouring from my side just below the ribs, my shoulder, and the side of my face where a bullet had torn off half my cheek. That pissed me off, knowing it’d leave a scar. I drove a few hundred feet past the bulldozer’s rear and put the truck in park.
“What are you doing?” Mary shrieked from the floorboard.
I rocked a fresh clip into the Glock and holstered it before hopping out with the rifle ready. Another shot hit my thigh as I took cover behind an SUV they’d pushed to the roadside. My first shot caught the remaining horseback rider in his throat but the results were lost to me as a hail of bullets showered my position and I ducked for cover. Dropping to my belly, I scanned the road from beneath the SUV’s body and spotted several pairs of boots. Screams of pain rang out as I blew shins and ankles apart.
There was a moment of silence as men stopped firing and took better cover. I used it to reload the rifle and give my body time to heal itself. It was a huge rush to watch my thigh push the bullet out and seal itself. I was a killing machine that couldn’t be killed.
A goddess among mortal men.
These thoughts filled my head as I ran in a crouch behind the row of cars pushed along the roadside, moving closer to my prey.
The bulldozer was to my left as I moved past it, reaching the final vehicle they’d cleared. I could hear men whimpering softly. Crying. Groaning in pain from their wounds.
It made me hungry for more and mad with glee.
I sent a rock flying through the air where it struck the riderless horse. Men rose from their positions as the animal reared and whined in protest. The Glock was in my hand and firing a heartbeat later, sending heads ducking down with one missing part of its face.
I moved to the next car and crouched behind its hood, gun held two-handed and braced against the ash-covered metal. Like a game of wack-a-mole, heads popped up again. Another exploded and when they ducked again, I ran forward. The scent of urine washed over me when I stepped around a bumper and saw a man, little more than a boy really, clutching his gun.
Another kill for the huntress.
More bullets whizzed around me as my world became a narrow focus defined by hunt and kill. Predator and prey. Two men remained, one with a destroyed ankle and the other alert enough to send a shot punching through my stomach when I moved into sight. I grunted through the pain and put three rounds into his chest.
Blood was everywhere, the coppery scent overwhelming me. I drooled and rushed forward to kick the survivor’s face when he reached for his gun. His nose exploded and yet more blood filled my senses. Hunger ripped through my body, dropping me to my knees as I struggled against vertigo.
On hands and knees I crawled towards the still living man, teeth snapping as my mind saw only food. Meat. Blood. Flesh. The hunger would end. The pain would pass.
The goddess would be healed and ready to kill again.
The predator exalted.
The Glock rose of its own accord as Mary rushed towards me. Hand shaking, I struggled to tell my brain she was a friend. Not food. Not prey. Heedless of the gun aimed at her, Mary dropped to her knees before me.
“Oh god Jaeger. Are you ok?”
She recoiled as I laughed, head swimming with bloodlust, then punched a car door hard enough to break a few fingers. The brief flash of pain helped me focus.
A few hesitant steps were taken backwards after Mary had risen, the scent of fear drifting from her in waves. Movement caught my gaze as the dead body behind her began to stir. Some part of me rejoiced and the hunger pains died away, replaced with a surge of strength.
“Run.” I whispered as more bodies rose.
One by one I killed them all again, a savage grin splitting my face as I reveled in every death.