Kat's eyes opened.
For a long time it was silent. It was dark outside, but Kat couldn't remember falling asleep. Everything seemed surreal, the room was unfamiliar and Kat's body felt heavy. She lay there, wondering what was going on.
Then the sound of pistol chambering a round broke the silence.
Kat jerked away from the noise, and a bullet sent up a puff of feathers as it slammed into the mattress next to her ear. Out of pure instinct, the girl rolled off the bed and onto the side opposite the shot, searching for some kind of weapon.
Then she remembered why she was in the room.
"I'm not dead yet!" Kat yelled, covering her head with a pillow that she found on the ground. "Damn it, hold your fuckin fire!"
There was a dull thud as the gun dropped from Key's fingers. "Holy shit
you've been asleep for nearly thirteen hours. You weren't moving. You were bit at nine this morning
it's been twenty two hours."
Kat crouched there, pillow still over her head. Her heart was pounding faster than ever before, but the shock of waking up with someone about to shoot her was only part of it.
"Death happens at twenty hours." Kat whispered. "Reanimation at twenty three. I'm still
Key bent, picking up his pistol and ejecting the round in the chamber before locking the safety. "Yeah. You gave me the scare of two lifetimes."
"Why the hell didn't you check for a pulse before pointing that thing at me?" Kat asked incredulously, slowly getting over the shock and standing. "You could have killed me!"
"Well I wasn't about to put my head on your chest."
Kat opened her mouth, and then closed it. "Good point."
A nervous voice came from the other side of the door. "Why do I hear talking?"
Kat smiled. "I'm fine Jon. I'm alive. I didn't turn." Putting her hands on her hips Kat gave Key a triumphant look. "See? I told you I was immune. I never doubted it for a second."
"Yeah, it takes five seconds for your fist to connect with a mirror."
The pillow promptly whacked Key in the face.
Kat slipped out of the room to see Jon, who stepped back when the door opened. He had a kitchen knife clenched in his hand, and looked ready to use it. "Say something." The blond medic commanded, despite the fact that his hands were shaking.
"Something." Kat smiled, and bumped Jon's shoulder with hers as she passed. "You can put the knife down now."
Jon let out a sigh and put the knife down on a nearby table. "Don't do that again, okay? We really thought you were dead."
Before Kat could open her mouth to answer, a pounding on the door of the house drew her attention. It was followed by many more moans, groans, and screeches that rent the air like nails on a chalkboard. Key quickly jogged over to the door and jammed the chair that was already braced against the door harder under the knob. "Just so you know, we had a little trouble with the neighbors while you were sleeping." The lock pick informed Kat. "I think they heard the mirror break and decided to investigate."
Kat's eyes widened as she hurried to the closest window and peeked through the shutters. "What?"
Outside the little house was what seemed to be the whole population of Defuniak Springs, trying to beat their way in through any opening they could find. Some of the undead had already worn their fists and arms down to bloody, pulpy stumps that splattered the house with gore. One saw Kat's eyes searching the mob and screamed, charging the window. The girl stumbled back just as the body collided with the screened pane.
The sound of slowly cracking glass was unmistakable.
Jon, Kat, and Key all stood frozen for a moment, knowing that the sound could spell their painful demise. Then Kat and Key started pilling furniture in front of the window while Jon ran to get their things together.
After working in silence for a while, Kat paused while stacking a stool against the door and said, "Hey, I'm sorry for yelling at you earlier. I was scared."
Key leaned his weight against the bulging door and started hammering a board he had ripped from a drawer across the middle. Between whacks, he answered his friend. "Its alright. I've been a jerk lately to." Key stopped hammering for a moment to push his shaggy hair from his eyes. "Its just
you guys look at me like I'm some fearless leader, and I'm not. I'm a kid like you guys, nothing special about me. You all act like I can take the world on and I cant. I'm not that strong."
Kat was taken aback slightly, her mind racing as she pushed the kitchen table against the door after Key moved away. "Man, I never really thought of it like that. I *do* look up to you to lead us. You seem the smartest. No offense meant to Jon, but he seems more of the gun and run type. I guess I'm gonna have to look at you like a teenager more than a commander."
A tight smile graced Key's lips. "It would be welcome."
Jon ran down the stairs, nearly slipping as he pushed some extra clothes into his bag. "Everything's set next to the back door. There aren't as many their but we gotta go quick."
His two friends nodded, and together they got their gear on and drew their respective weapons. Kat stood by the door, trying to ignore the throb in her left forearm as she tightened her grip on the doorknob. The bite that was underneath was still hot, and the cuts on her right hand weren't exactly happy about having to conform to the machete handle. Fighting wasn't going to be as easy as before.
Key and Jon looked at her, and gave the signal that they were ready. Kat jerked her head sharply, and then yanked the door open. Jon charged out, his baseball bat ready to crack open zombie skulls-
That was, until he slammed face first into the screen door.
The door rattled in its frame, then the aluminum groaned and bent out before exploding from its holdings. Jon stumbled out, and looked up to see several rotting heads turn in his direction.
"Shit." Key grumbled, and ran out, grabbing Jon's arm and hauling him up to a steadier position as Kat jumped out and set herself in front to fend off any attacks. The undead that had seen them lumbered over, not entirely sure if the noise was from their prey or not. It took only a few seconds for Jon to recover enough to start running, but the zombies needed no more time than that to see that their food was indeed out in the open.
With a howl, the mob moved as one towards the back of the house, falling over themselves to get to the three teens as they began running like mad to the clear street. Only a few of the inhabitants of Defuniak had been gifted with speed, but Kat knew that if she, Jon, or Key stumbled the tiniest bit, they would be over run.
"Jon!" Kat shouted to the medic, who was closest. "Reach into the pocket on the left of my pack and give me a handful of what you find, and then speed up to Key."
Jon didn't ask questions, thankfully, and pulled out a handful of ground flower firecrackers and modified cherry bombs, depositing them into Kat's cupped hands before pushing himself to catch up with Key's longer stride.
The combination of running and trying to see where she was going, Kat could only twist the fuses of six ground flowers and three golf ball sized cherry bombs together before the rest bounced from her hands. She growled and shoved a hand into her right pocket, holding the precious firecrackers tightly with her left as she retrieved a zippo lighter and flipped the cap open to expose the flame.
"Left 4 Dead Green Flu, don't fail me now." Kat mumbled to herself and pushed the bundles of fuses into the blue fire.
For a few, gut wrenching moments the fuses refused to catch, and Kat cursed, risking a slower pace to stop jostling the lighter. The horde was no more than ten feet away before the hiss of the firecracker's countdown finally caught Kat's ears, and she whipped around, hoping she could keep her balance.
"HEY ZOMBIES!" she shouted, and drew back her arm. "FUCK YOU!"
The two bundles of firecrackers landed mostly at the front of the crowd, so Kat quickly turned back and started booking it towards her two friends, who were further away than she had thought. She didn't have to look back to know what would happen.
As Kat ran, the ground flowers skittered to a halt next to the cherry bombs. Because their fuses were shorter, the ground flowers, went off first, drawing the attention of more than half of the infected as they let out a shriek and began spinning with multicolored flames at their ends. As the zombies crowded around the bright little tubes, the cherry bombs finally came into effect.
These were not normal cherry bombs. They *had* been normal, but Kat, against her father's advice, had decided to make them more of shrapnel bombs. Two broken open cherry bombs were put inside a ping-pong ball, then tiny ball bearings packed around them. Kat had found they were effective at ten feet, as the small scars on her legs attested.
The fuses disappeared into their holdings, and not a second later, a small boom echoed through the small town.
Key and Jon looked back to see a third of the undead on the ground, a ball bearing having penetrated their eye or nose or ear and wreak havoc in their skulls. They only got a quick glance, however, for Kat ran past them, pushing their shoulders. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU STARING FOR, MOVE YOUR BLOODY ASSES!" She yelled at them, and they focused ahead again.
As she ran, though, Kat allowed herself a small smile. The ground flowers and cherry bombs had worked perfectly, and had sowed enough confusion that the horde was following much more slowly. It seemed that they still had some sense after all.
As they left the edges of Defuniak Springs, the three slowed to a jog. The night was quiet besides the ragged breathing of the teens, and Jon turned to check behind them. The horde was meandering amount the buildings of their former town, like bloodhounds on a trail gone cold.
"I think we lost them." Jon whispered, and Key and Kat slowed to a walk, shoulders hunched from their equipment and steps heavy.
After a few silent minutes, Key said lowly, "Kat, remind me to remind you to never punch a mirror again."
"Okay. Oh, by the way, are we going the right way this time?"
Kat smirked. "Touché."
Jon didn't join in on the banter. He was concentrating on where his feet were going on the road when he heard a strange noise. He looked up and glanced at Kat and Key to see if they had heard it also, but they weren't paying attention. The medic shook his head and looked back down. ^If two, more experienced survivalists don't take note, then a city kid shouldn't either.^ Jon thought to himself, and scuffed his sneaker on the pavement. ^Besides, its laughter. That's probably what it was, Kat giggled at something.^
It was a full minute before the sound came again, and this time Kat was talking. Jon felt the hairs on the back of his neck lift.
" He tapped Kat's shoulder, and she turned, a slight grin on her face. "I keep hearing this giggling noise."
Kat scratched under her bandages, and shrugged. "I didn't hear it. I was talking though. What did it sound like?"
Jon open his mouth to reply when it started again, this time closer. Kat and Key froze, and all three looked towards one of the many abandoned cars on the highway.
"Put your gear down." Key whispered, and lowered his backpack to the ground as he drew his berretta. "we cant fight with it."
His companions nodded and mirrored his motion; Jon pulling his rarely used Ruger 22 from its holster while Kat readied her 38.
Then the giggling stopped.
Kat looked around, trying to see something, anything that would hint to the source of the noise. It seemed like everything was still.
In a flurry of pasty grey and giant claws, the top of a small blue Mercedes Benz exploded upward with the shriek of ripping metal. A crouched, heavily muscled form launched itself towards Key, stubby legs propelling it faster then Kat thought possible.
"KEY, LOOK OUT!" She screamed, but was to late to warn the lock pick of the creature hurtling towards him.
With a frightening thud, the grey thing landed on Key's shoulder and bore him to the ground, raising a hand that lacked fingers, but instead had long, bladed bones.
"Get off him!" Jon yelled, and began shooting at the freak on top of his friend. Kat joined him and was able to score a hit on its upper arm. The creature let out a strangled, contorted laugh and leapt away, dragging its claws across Key's back and cutting through shirt and skin like tissue paper. Key cried out as they dug into his shoulder, searching for bone.
A 22 caliber round punched through the things eye socket.
For a long moment, it stayed hunched over Key's bloody back, then it toppled backwards to the pavement. Kat tossed her revolver onto her pack and rushed over, pulling the fingers from Key's back. She checked for a pulse as Jon ripped open his first aid kit and pulled out two gauze rolls.
In the dark, it was hard to tell how much blood was on or around Key, but Kat knew it was enough when her hand came back sticky and wet. It seemed like the monster had ripped Key's back from shoulder to hip with three of its knife like claws.
"He's alive. Key, can you hear me?" The lock pick groaned, but didn't move. "Guess that's a yes
Jon took one look at the cuts and stuffed his gear back into his kit. "We can't do much here. We need to find somewhere safer, and not as sandy. This stuff could get all in his wounds and they could get infected."
Kat nodded and grabbed her pack, shouldering it and slinging Key's over her right arm. "I'll get his right arm, you get his left?"
Working together, Jon and Kat managed to get Key's arms over their shoulders so that he was supported between them, his feet dragging on the ground. Kat puffed a stray wisp of brown hair from her eyes and jerked her head in the direction of the woods off the side of the highway. "We should get at least a little cover in there, despite the uncomfortable sleeping conditions. We have to get him out of here."
Jon nodded, and together they set off to the dark pines.