“What are you doing?” I asked Hunter.
His dark, brown eyes looked in the rearview mirror. “We need to lose the zombies before we stop at your house.”
I glanced in the side mirror. Through the darkness and the light from the car lights, I could see about 8 zombies chasing us including 3 children. They quickly lost interest when the distance between the van grew wider. They began to wander and disperse. Arthur continued to sob into Molly’s fur. She in turn continued to rain him with wet, slobbery kisses and rub her furry face all over his.
“Okay,” Hunter said after a few minutes. “We’ll circle back around. Be very quiet,” he said mostly to the kids in the back. “They seem to react when they hear or see us. It’s dark in the car so they might not be able to see us directly, but maybe you should duck just in case.”
He turned the van back around and headed back towards my house. I held the house key tightly in my fist inside my jacket pocket. The kitchen knife was still in my other hand. Victory and Mackenzie ducked their heads low when we passed a congregation of zombies. Arthur was blocked by Molly. I sunk low in my seat.
Everyone inside the van was extremely quiet – even Molly. She stopped her slobbery kisses and instead the large dog sat on the ten year old’s lap as best she could. We were in front of the neighbor’s house now. Their porchlight was on, but everything was quiet.
Hunter pulled into our driveway and put the van into park, but left it running. Our yard was thankfully zombie free, but there were a few zombies across the street and in the neighbor’s yard.
If we wanted to gather what we needed and get the other car quickly, I would need Mackenzie to come in with me. And we would need to do this quickly. Who knew how long Maria or our parents would last. The problem was that the zombies would surely see us as soon as we exited the van. I needed to protect not only Mackenzie, but those left behind in the van because they might get noticed too once we exited. The door on Mackenzie’s side would take longer to shut as it slid shut as opposed to mine which I could just slam shut quickly.
I didn’t want to take the chance that the van door by Mackenzie wouldn’t shut fast enough and let a zombie get in leaving Arthur especially exposed.
Hunter looked at me through the darkness as if he knew exactly what I was thinking.
“Mackenzie,” I whispered. “Climb up here.”
“Why?” she whispered back.
“You’ll need to come in with me, but I don’t want you to use that side door. We’ll both use this front one. You’ll go out first and run to the house. I’ll be right behind you.”
“Aren’t we all going in?” Victory whispered.
“We’ll wait here,” Hunter said quietly.
“Why?” Victory’s voice grew slightly louder, but not enough for the zombies to take notice yet. “I have to be there to protect Kenzie.”
“Her sister will be with her,” Hunter replied roughly, but still quietly. “There is a good possibility when they get out of the van it will attract the attention of the zombies. How would we be able to get back to the van if we went with them and when we came back out the van was surrounded by zombies. Then they wouldn’t be able to get their car out either and we would all be stuck here.”
Victory shook her head and looked out the van window. Her arms crossed over her chest. Her jaw clenched, but she didn’t argue.
Hunter reached up and pushed a button by the overhead lights so they wouldn’t come on when I opened the door.
I heard the click as Mackenzie undid her seatbelt. She maneuvered passed Arthur and Molly and climbed clumsily into my lap. We hadn’t been in this situation since I was ten and she was five. I wrapped my arms around her – extremely careful with the knife in my hand – and gave her a little hug from behind.
“We’re going to be okay,” I whispered into her ear. I pulled the keys out of my pocket and put it into her gloved hand. “Run out first. Head straight to the door and unlock it. Don’t look behind you. I’ll be there and I’ll protect you. Be calm and don’t panic. If you drop the keys, it’s no big deal.” I told her this because I knew my sister and if she panicked and dropped the keys, she would panic further and would fumble with picking them up and fumble with the lock putting us both in danger. If I told her it was okay to drop the keys she likely wouldn’t drop them and if she did, she wouldn’t panic because I already told her it was okay.
Mackenzie’s hair tickled my face as she nodded her head in understanding. I gave Hunter one last look. He nodded at me.
“Go,” I whispered urgently to Mackenzie.
The cool air hit my cheeks as she opened the door. Then the weight and warmth on top of me was gone and my little sister was running straight to our door with the key extended forward. Heads turned in her direction. I gripped the bloody kitchen knife tightly in my hand and was out the door. I closed it fast and loudly behind me. More zombies looked our way. The two in our neighbor’s yard ran towards Mackenzie and our door.
I reached the door just before they did. More zombies from across the street were now in the road as they ran straight for us. Their moans echoed in the quiet night. The pupils in their eyes glowed that eerie green.
I stood at my sister’s back. I faced forward towards the oncoming zombies. Two reached our porch just as I heard the click of a lock. I kicked at one of the zombies – she used to be Mrs. Rupert – and she stumbled backwards tripping the other zombies rushing us. The second zombie that reached our porch grabbed my forearms. He – Mr. Rupert – tried to bite at my face at first, but I used my long arms to keep him at bay. I couldn’t help but notice the bloody wound along his neck. The door opened behind me and I heard my sister’s frantic steps as she scrambled inside.
“Lily!” Mackenzie screamed/sobbed behind me.
“Stay there!” I demanded.
The zombie that was once Mr. Rupert – still dressed in his traditional Dracula costume minus the fake fangs – went to bite my arm instead. All he got was a mouth full of jacket. I let go of him with my other hand – the one that held the knife – while the one he tried to bite still held him at bay. The zombies behind him were rising to their feet. More zombies were running towards us from further away but consistently getting closer.
“I’m sorry,” I said to him as I stabbed him in the temple with all my strength. Blood rushed out onto the knife and onto my gloved hand. I tried to pull the knife out, but it was stuck on something hard. His skull probably.
“Lily!” Mackenzie screamed again. I dropped Mr. Rupert and let the knife fall with him still stuck in his head. He didn’t move anymore and the green glint disappeared from his eyes, but the other zombies were scrambling back towards me.
I turned and ran inside the house. My sister quickly closed the door and locked it behind me. We turned and looked at each other. Her eyes were filled with moisture, but she quickly blinked them away.
“Are you all right?” She whispered to me.
There was a loud bang on the door followed by more. My sister jumped and began to shake. I motioned her to me. She came to me fast and quiet. I held her and stared at the door. We waited.
After a few moments of us being quiet, the pounding on the door quieted and there was shuffling beyond the door as the zombies stepped away from the door.
“Get the keys to the car,” I whispered to Mackenzie. “Fill the back with food and water like we did with the van.” Mackenzie nodded. “I’m going to get dad’s gun and Tanner’s baseball bats. You can get the large kitchen knives to pack in the van too. Anything you think will be good as a weapon.”
“Okay,” she whispered.
I cupped her soft, oval cheeks in both of my hands and hoped that would give her the strength and comfort she needed so she could be calm enough to accomplish her tasks. Then I left her and went upstairs. I went to my parent’s room first and grabbed their jackets and gloves for when we found them. I then knelt beside the small safe in their closet. They had told me the combination a few years ago. I opened it quickly and took out the unloaded gun and the box of bullets. There was also a small stack of cash they had told me was only for emergencies. A zombie apocalypse surely must have counted as an emergency so I took the cash and stuffed it into my pants pocket.
I went to Tanner’s room with my arms filled with the things I just took from my parent’s room. I grabbed 4 of Tanner’s baseball bats and went down the stairs with my arms full.
Mackenzie was in the garage filling the back of the hatchback with cereal boxes. With a quick glance I could see she already put in water and canned foods. She had put our kitchen knives still in the block on the backseat. I put my collection of stuff on the floor by the backseats with the exception of the gun and box of bullets. I put those in the glove compartment.
“I’m going to get our camping supplies,” I whispered to her. “Quickly gather anything else you think we need. We’ve got to hurry.”
She nodded and took off back into the house and down the hallway. I made my way to the backroom where our closet of camping supplies were. I took out my cellphone on the way and tried to call my mom. It rang and rang, but there wasn’t an answer. I hung up and stuffed the phone back into my pants pocket. I pulled out several sleeping bags and the pack with our cooking supplies, flashlights, matches and other camping supplies. With my arms and hands full and sleeping bags dangling, I started the walk back down the hallway towards the front of the house and the door that led to the garage.
That was when I felt the cool breeze. I stopped as darkness and dread filled my being. The door to the study was open. It usually wasn’t. I hadn’t noticed it opened when I made the trip down to get the camping supplies, but it was dark in the house as I hadn’t turned on the lights and I had been on the phone trying to reach my mom. I tiptoed with my arms still full into the room. The curtain over the window blew inward. Glass shards spread out on the carpeted floor beneath it.
From further in the house, my sister screamed.