My heart constricted. My stomach lurched. Tingles shot through my limbs and settled in my fingers and toes.
My little sister screamed again.
I ran to the front of the house. Hyperaware, I now noticed the bloody handprint on the wall, the splatters of blood on the floor.
The bathroom door was open, but I knew it had been closed earlier. The light was on cascading rays of light into the hallway. I dropped everything and ran inside.
Crystabel had my sister pinned in the tub. Her teeth snapped at my sister’s head. They scraped against the bike helmet my sister still wore leaving my sister unharmed, but it caused the bike helmet to go slightly askew. The soap and shampoo had fallen to the floor. The towel had been pulled so it was almost off the rack. The toothpaste and toothbrushes had fallen into the sink.
Our first aid kit was out on the floor with its contents spilled everywhere. The wrap was missing. No. Not missing. It was wrapped around Crystabel’s right upper arm. Blood seeped through it even still – ran down her arm and dripped slowly to the tub. Blood dotted our tiled floor, but mostly around the first aid kit.
I grabbed our neighbor’s shoulders and pulled her hard off my sister. Tears streamed down Mackenzie’s face. She tried to find her footing, but she slipped on the blood and ended up lying back in the tub.
I looked around quickly for a weapon, but didn’t see one right away. Then before I could move or help Mackenzie out of the tub, Crystabel was lunging for me.
I held her at bay as she pushed all her weight towards me as she tried to chomp on my neck. She was stronger as a zombie than she had been as a human. If this had been my first encounter of the night, it would have been fine. But it wasn’t. My arms were already tired after dealing with Mr. Rupert and then hauling everything to the car.
Mackenzie managed to get back to her feet. She stood in the tub. Tears streaked her cheeks. She looked all around for a weapon.
Crystabel had me pinned against the bathroom sink. It gave me a clear view of the discarded camping gear in the hallway. And then Victory was there leaping over the camping gear with grace and agility. She had one of their large butcher knives in her hands. There was no hesitation as she stabbed Crystabel in the back of the head. She had no problem withdrawing the knife unlike me with Mr. Rupert. The zombie fell to the bathroom tiles – her hands trailing down my arms and legs as she fell.
Victory dropped the knife, stepped into the tub and wrapped Mackenzie in a tight hug. Mackenzie burst into sobs as she buried her shoulder into her friend’s shoulder.
“It’s okay,” Victory said. “I’m here. Are you okay? Did she bite you?” Their bike helmets clinked together as they held each other.
“I’m okay,” Mackenzie spluttered between sobs.
I picked up the bloody knife and looked out into the hallway searching for more zombies. The hallway was quiet, but there was banging on the front door again.
“How did you get inside?” I asked Victory.
She pulled away from Mackenzie and pulled our house key out of her pocket. “You left your key in the door. The zombies had dispersed enough outside that when I heard Kenzie screaming, I just rushed right in.”
Mackenzie’s sobs quieted and she ran her gloved hands over her cheeks to wipe away the tears.
“Thanks, Vicky,” she said.
“No problem,” Victory said.
“What about Arthur and Hunter?” I asked.
I really hoped Victory’s door had closed all the way and hadn’t left Arthur exposed.
“They are safe in the van,” Victory said. She stepped out of the tub and started to collect the camping supplies I had dropped in the hallway. “I’ll take these to your car,” she said.
Mackenzie stepped out of the tub as Victory disappeared down the hallway. “I just came in for our toothbrushes and toothpaste and soap,” she said. “I thought that no one would think of hygiene while we were gathering supplies, but we would want them later. I didn’t know she was in here.” Her green eyes darted to the corpse of our neighbor on our bathroom floor. Then they flickered quickly away. “The light was on, but the door was closed so I just thought we had accidently left the light on. How did she get inside? The doors were locked.”
“I should have noticed it sooner,” I said as I placed a comforting hand on my sister’s shoulder. “A window in the study was broken. She must have been bitten and thought she could hide in here. She must have turned while she was dressing her wound.” I looked at the first aid kit.
“We still need the toothbrushes and stuff,” Mackenzie said.
I nodded and let her collect what soaps and brushes she wanted while I collected the first aid kit. Victory came back and helped Mackenzie collect more hygiene items.
I took the first aid kit to the car. The two girls followed close behind me. None of this seemed to affect Victory, but Mackenzie had never liked scary movies or violence. They both climbed into the back seat. I opened the driver’s side door, but before I got in, several items in the garage came to my attention – the ax, the saw, a nail gun, the drill kit. I left the car door open, but quickly went and collected the items. Victory and Mackenzie got out again when they saw me.
We put the ax on the floor of the front passenger seat but buried the saw and other items in the back by the water.
It was when I closed the hatchback that my cell phone rang. I quickly brought it out of my pocket and looked at the caller I.D. hoping that it was my mom or dad. I didn’t recognize the number right away. Mackenzie and Victory looked over my shoulder at the phone.
“It’s Hunter’s number,” Victory informed me.
I quickly answered it. “Your sister is okay,” I informed him before he could talk.
“And Mackenzie?” he asked.
“She’s okay too. Our neighbor, Crystabel must have broken a window and tried to wrap her wounded arm in the bathroom, but she turned. Mackenzie walked in on her. I have to thank you for the bike helmet. It saved my sister’s life.”
“Glad to hear it,” he said and his voice did sound more relaxed than it had a moment before. “I almost called immediately, but was worried the phone ringing might attract zombies and I didn’t want to put any of you in more danger. I couldn’t wait any longer though. I needed to know that you all were okay.”
“Are you and Arthur okay?” I asked. “Did zombies surround your van when Victory left it to come inside my house?”
“We’re both all right,” he said quietly.
“And Molly too,” I barely heard Arthur’s voice say.
“And Molly’s fine too,” Hunter added. “Most of the zombies followed Vicky to your door. She barely made it inside. Tell her if she tries that again, I’ll kill her myself.”
“I have to protect Kenzie,” Victory said stubbornly obviously overhearing him. Mackenzie looked at her with a confused expression clearly not overhearing.
“She has her sister with her,” Hunter replied just as stubborn.
“Victory was a big help,” I said. Not that I was condoning her actions. If she was my sister, I would have been mad at her for not staying in the car too. But I couldn’t deny that she had been a big help. Perhaps she had even saved both of us. I thought I might have come up with a solution on my own to get rid of Crystabel, but maybe I wouldn’t have.
Hunter sighed. “Fine,” he finally said. “Are you almost done? I still can’t get through to either of my parents and it’s getting later and later.”
“I couldn’t get through to mine either,” I said. “We’re finished though. We are just getting in the car to pull out.”
“Good,” he said. “You can follow me to Arthur’s house. Hopefully his mom is all right.”
“Okay,” I said, “and then to Maria at the party.”
“Yes,” he said.
I hung up and motioned for the girls to get back into the car. I climbed into the driver’s side, clicked on my seatbelt, glanced over my shoulder to make sure the girls both had their seatbelts on, and then I started the car.
I clicked on the garage opener attached to the sun visor. The garage door slowly opened behind us. The lights on Hunter’s van were on. He slowly started to backup out of the driveway. I followed.
The zombies weren’t interested in our vehicles. There were several zombies by my front door, but they weren’t banging on it anymore. They were just wandering back and forth dumbly in front of it.
Hunter drove slowly down the street. Occasionally we would maneuver into the wrong lane to avoid a zombie. The red of his brake lights reflected into my windshield. He turned. I didn’t understand why he would pull into the Bahena’s driveway. He came to a complete stop. I stopped in the middle of the street. I debated following him into the driveway, but I wasn’t sure what he was doing and I didn’t want to draw attention from the zombies. Although, the zombies didn’t seem interested in our cars unless they could actually see us through the windows.
The curtains inside the Bahena’s house shifted and a shadow moved beyond them. I almost took out my phone to call Hunter to ask what he was doing, but then realized the light on my phone screen would illuminate me and alert the zombies of my presence so I didn’t. I drummed my fingers nervously on the steering wheel as we waited.
A zombie brushed passed the passenger side of the car. I glanced in the rearview mirror afraid Mackenzie would scream again, but Victory was holding my sister’s hand. Mackenzie looked at Victory with wide, scared eyes, but she didn’t scream.
The zombie rounded to the front of the car. He looked at the windshield and blinked. It was Mr. Morgan. I held my breath and hoped he couldn’t see me. He rounded the car again so he was directly next to the driver’s side window. I held my breath and willed myself to blend in with the carseat. He paused by my window. It was quiet inside the car. I was afraid to breathe. I glanced at the ax on the passenger floor. I might be able to reach it without taking off my seatbelt. My body tensed ready to lurch for the ax if the zombie noticed me.
Then again, the zombie wouldn’t be able to easily break through the window even if it did notice me. Maybe it would be best to just drive away. But I didn’t want to leave Hunter and Arthur.
Mr. Morgan shuffled further along the car until he stopped by Victory’s window. That was when the Bahena’s front door opened and their three children followed by Mrs. Bahena ran out towards Hunter’s van not even bothering to shut the door behind them. Mr. Morgan’s head shot their way.
The youngest child tripped and fell in the grass. The van’s doors on the passenger’s side both opened before the children had even reached it. Arthur and Hunter must have opened them from the inside. Zombies ran at them from every direction. Mrs. Bahena barely paused as she scooped up the youngest child and ran to the van.
The two elder children got inside the back. Mrs. Bahena got into the front with the child she was carrying. The front passenger door closed loudly. Before the side door the children went in could completely close, the zombies were there.