“Put this jacket on,” Hunter said as he handed Arthur a pink, puffy jacket. Arthur took it without question and put it on, but he was clearly not happy about wearing pink. Hunter was back sorting through the things he had just brought in. “Here.” He handed two smaller, black matching gloves to Arthur. He put them on.
Hunter handed two matching blue gloves to Mackenzie. She took them and put them on even as she said, “It’s not that cold out there.”
“It’s not for the cold,” I said before Hunter could answer. “It’s to protect you in case the zombies try to bite you.”
“Yes,” Hunter said. He handed me a pair of black leather gloves. I put them on and tucked them under the sleeve of my jacket for – hopefully – extra protection. Mackenzie and Arthur did the same when they saw me. Victory came back into the room with her arms full with bike helmets.
“Here,” she handed the smallest one – again pink – to Arthur. He frowned but took it. “Sorry, it’s pink,” Victory said. “I used to really like pink.”
“It’s okay,” Arthur said. “Pink isn’t that bad,” but his expression said otherwise as he slipped it on the top of his head. Hunter helped him buckle it under his chin.
“What did you do with Grace’s bow and arrows?” Hunter asked Victory.
“I put it in the back of the van,” she said. “You said we were going to get mom and dad.” I hadn’t seen their van in the driveway so I assumed it was safe in the garage. There was a door directly from the kitchen to the garage so we wouldn’t have to go out among the zombies to get to the van.
“We are,” he said.
Victory now had on a leather jacket of her own and picked a pair of gloves from the pile on Hunter’s bed.
“I wish I could retrieve the arrow in that zombie’s head,” Victory said. “We are going to need as many as we can get.”
“We can’t risk ourselves to retrieve it,” Hunter said. He gave her a warning look.
“Fine,” she said.
I took a black bike helmet from the pile and put it on Mackenzie’s head. She didn’t protest as I clipped it on her head.
Hunter went back to his closet and pulled out his usual black, leather jacket. He put it on quickly and his gloves. The three kids now all wore bike helmets.
“Victory,” Hunter said, “go down into the kitchen and get food and water to put in the back of the van. Nothing that needs to be frozen or refrigerated.”
“Sure thing,” she said. She grabbed Mackenzie’s hand. “Let’s go.”
“Come with us,” Mackenzie said to Arthur as Victory pulled her out. Arthur silently followed the two girls.
I was left alone in the room with Hunter. The thought sent my heart racing which was stupid. Stupid heart. Didn’t it know we were in the beginning of a zombie apocalypse. Now was not the time for unrequited crushes.
He put on a black beanie and pulled it down low so it completely covered his ears. Then he put a blue baseball cap on over it. He handed me a red beanie and a black baseball cap. I put on the beanie making sure it covered my ears and then put on the cap. He stared at me.
“What?” I asked as my heart fluttered again even though he wasn’t looking at my face as he stared at me.
“Your hair,” he said. He took a step closer to me and reached up. “The zombies can grab it if it’s out like that.” He gently stuffed my hair into the back of jacket.
“Thank you,” I said. He smiled at me exactly as he smiled at his sisters. If I had any doubt my crush was unrequited, that would have confirmed it. He didn’t see me as anything more than a sister, but at least there was that. At least I knew he didn’t abandon our friendship because he hated me.
“Why don’t you go supervise the kids,” Hunter said. “Knowing Victory, she’s stuffing the van with candy and chips only. I’ll get our camping supplies.”
“We should stop at my house before we go to Arthur’s,” I said. “I know where my dad’s gun is and we can grab all of Tanner’s baseball bats to use as weapons. And if we are going to be picking up more people along the way, it will be better to have two cars than just one. Our hatchback is still in the garage.”
He nodded. “Good thinking.”
I left him then and went downstairs. When I reached the kitchen, I heard the kids whispering in the garage.
“I don’t think this is what he meant,” I heard Mackenzie whisper as I went into the garage. The back of the van was open and all three kids were at the back of it. Occasional moans sounded from outside so I knew the zombies were still out there. They didn’t sound too close though and there was no more pounding on any doors.
“I’m not going to be stuck eating those disgusting dry soup packets,” Victory whispered back.
They stopped talking as I rounded the back of the van. Arthur froze with a half eaten snickers bar in his hand and a little bit of chocolate at the corner of his lips which he quickly wiped away when he saw me. The back of the van was filled haphazardly with bags of chips, candy and chocolate.
“The water should go in first,” I said keeping my voice low. There was no water to be seen.
“Right,” Victory said as if that was what she had intended all along.
With my supervision and help, we got the van loaded quickly with water, soups – both the dry packets and canned – canned vegetables and fruits, canned tuna fish, cereals, – no milk though – nuts and anything else we could find that was dry or canned. And I let them put the chips and candy back in. I moved Grace’s bow and arrows up to the backseat where Victory could easily reach it if she needed it.
Hunter made several trips with various camping supplies. I noticed he had a large hunting knife strapped to his thigh. I wondered why he even had it in the first place. As far as I knew, his family had never gone hunting. They liked to go camping, but that was different from hunting.
The back of the van was almost completely full leaving just a small space that we would be able to look out when we drove. The floor by the backseats was filled with sleeping bags and blankets. Hunter put a block of kitchen knives on the floor by the backseat directly behind the driver’s seat. “Don’t get out the knives unless we are being attacked and you need a weapon,” Hunter instructed the kids. “The last thing we need is for one of you to accidentally stab yourselves or each other.” All three kids nodded.
“Okay,” Hunter said. “Let’s go to Lily’s house to get the other car.”
We all scrambled into the van. I sat in the passenger seat. Victory sat behind Hunter and Mackenzie sat behind me. Arthur was between them.
“If a zombie gets in our way, I’m not going to stop,” Hunter said. “I’m going to run over them. So if that’s going to bother you, close your eyes.” He addressed it to all three kids, but mostly to Mackenzie.
Hunter started the car but took a deep breath before he opened the garage door. I could see a few pair of legs outside as the garage door lifted, then complete zombies. They paused to look at the van, but didn’t move any closer. They quickly lost interest and continued to mill about on the driveway and lawn.
The zombies mostly ignored us as Hunter pulled the van out slowly. He didn’t hit any zombies. Nothing really happened until one of the zombies looked directly through the windshield and saw me. The green reflection in his eyes was more prevalent now that it was dark outside. Then he rushed to the van. Hunter sped up and turned on to the street. He quickly shifted into drive and sped down the street.
I could see in the side mirror that the zombie quickly lost interest when he could no longer see me.
“Wait!” Arthur called out.
“What?” Hunter said. He slowed a little, but didn’t stop.
“It’s Molly!” Arthur sprang forward so his upper body was between me and Hunter. He pointed to a house to the right of us. It was dark now so she wasn’t noticeable at first, but then I saw her. A labrador retriever with a red cape cowered on one of the neighbor’s front porch.
“The zombies aren’t interested in her,” I observed. She was afraid of them, but they paid no attention to her.
Hunter slowed the van down even more. “They don’t seem interested in any of the animals,” he said.
A cat ran passed a bunch of zombies and up a tree. The zombies didn’t give it a second glance.
“We have to save Molly,” Arthur said.
“Sit back and wear your seatbelt,” I said.
Arthur immediately obeyed as if his obedience would spur us to help her.
“We’ll slow down as we pass her,” Hunter said. “Mackenzie, open your side just a little and Arthur you call for her. If she comes when you call, she can come with us. If not, we’re going to leave her. The zombies aren’t interested in her. She’ll be okay if she doesn’t come.”
“But,” Arthur started, but stopped when he saw the look Hunter gave him through the rearview mirror.
When we got close, Hunter slowed the van. Mackenzie opened the door just wide enough for Molly to fit through.
Arthur leaned across her and called out, “Molly!”
The dog’s head shot up and she looked around. She wasn’t the only one though. The zombies in the area looked around too.
“Come here, Molly.” Arthur made his voice sound as happy as he could to coax the dog. His voice shook at the end when several zombie eyes settled on him and Mackenzie in the van.
I reached behind the driver’s seat and carefully, but quickly pulled out a large kitchen knife. I unhooked my seatbelt and turned in my seat so I could defend my sister as best I could if needed.
Five zombies ran at the van. I almost told Mackenzie to close the door, but Molly chose that moment to run from the porch towards Arthur’s voice.
“Come, Molly,” Arthur’s fake cheerful voice called again.
She was faster than the zombies. She streaked passed them and leaped into the van over Mackenzie and directly into Arthur’s lap. He held the large dog as close to him as he could and cried into her fur. She was visibly shaking as she smothered him in kisses.
Mackenzie immediately slid the door closed just as the first zombie reached the van. His hand caught in the door preventing Mackenzie from closing it all the way. The fingers wiggled in her direction. She pushed with all her might to keep the door closed as much as it could be with the zombie hand in the way.
Hunter pressed on the gas pedal and I had to grab onto my seat as the van lurched forward. Tears streamed down Mackenzie’s cheeks as she vocally cried.
“It won’t shut,” she sobbed. The zombie’s fingers touched her gloved hand. She screamed, but didn’t let up the pressure as she continued to keep the door closed as much as she could.
“Move,” I commanded her.
Her hands immediately left the door and hugged herself. I used my long arms to my advantage and brought down the large kitchen knife as fast and as hard as I could. Five fingers fell on top of the green sleeping bag at Mackenzie’s feet. The van door slid wide open. The zombie fell away now that the door and his fingers weren’t keeping him in place. The back tire ran over him. More zombies began to chase the van now that Mackenzie was in full view.
Mackenzie bent forward enough to pick up the bloody fingers by the fingertips and toss them out the door. Then she quickly closed the door.
I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back in my seat. I didn’t bother to buckle my seatbelt as my house was just ahead. But Hunter didn’t stop. He continued on passed my house.