Chapter 9 .

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I gripped my baseball bat tighter in my hands.  “Is there anything else you want me to grab from your dorm room?”

“Yes,” Grace said.  “There are two backpacks at the foot of my bed.  Don’t grab the red one. That is just for school.  Grab the green one.”

“What’s the green one?” Connor asked from the backseat.

“A 24 hour kit,” she said.

“A what kit?” Todd asked.

“You know,” she said as she turned so she could face the back seat better.  “A kit with extra supplies to last for 24 hours in case of an emergency or disaster.”

“Why would you have one of those?” Connor asked completely baffled that she would have anything like that.

“To be prepared,” she said as if it was the most obvious thing.

“But why would a college student even think of that?” Connor continued.

“Why wouldn’t I?” she asked.

She was just too endearing.  I leaned over and kissed her.

Todd and Connor both sighed annoyed in the back.

“You are so whipped,” Connor said to me.

“Better than being jealous,” I told him pointedly.  He frowned at me, but didn’t disagree.

“Go on,” she told me.  I started to open the door, but she grabbed my arm.  “Make sure to come back.” She leaned in and kissed me again.  Her lips were soft and warm. The sudden scream from nearby reminded us of the urgency of the situation and I broke away from the kiss.

I looked out the windows before getting out. There were zombies around, but none directly next to us.  I quietly closed the door and opened the back door. Connor looked at me like I was crazy.

“You’re coming in with me,” I said quietly as I reached in and grabbed his arm to pull him out.

“Why?” he said.  “Your girlfriend told you to go in.”

“I’m not going in there alone,” I said.  “We need to watch each other’s backs.” I closed the passenger door quietly.

Connor’s fist closed tightly around the chopping knife he held.  He took in a deep breath and nodded at me. There was a moan from my left.  The closest zombies were beginning to take notice of us. Several began to run towards us.

“Run,” I said quietly.  Connor didn’t need anymore encouragement.   He ran as fast as he could to the dorm doors.  I followed closely behind. I could have passed him as I was faster, but I wanted to guard his back.  He opened the door and almost ran straight into a female zombie. She tried to grab him, but I pushed him out of the way and swung my bat as hard as I could.  Her skull crumbled under the blow and she fell limp to the floor.

Connor had the door closed behind and we were now in the dorm.  The zombies outside banged on the door for a few moments, but quickly retreated when they could no longer see or hear us.

I started to lead the way to the stairs, but two female zombies popped up from behind a couch.  Both had blood dripping from their mouths and hands. They charged us. I swung my bat hard. It connected to the side of one of the zombie’s head and she crumbled to the ground.  The other zombie quickly pinned Connor to the wall. Red spit trickled from the corner of her mouth as she tried to chomp Connor’s cheek, but he quickly turned his face. He tried to push her back.  I grabbed her from behind and pulled her off him. I quickly brought my bat down on her head.

I looked at Connor for a moment as he stared down at the dead zombie in frozen horror.  I clapped him silently on the shoulder. He jumped in surprise.

“They are so strong,” he whispered in a daze.

“Let’s go,” I whispered.

He managed a nod and swallowed hard as he followed me to the stairs.  A third zombie popped up from behind the same couch as the other ones.  Her bloody shirt was torn in several places. Several bite marks littered her neck and shoulders.  It appeared the zombies we had just killed had bit her. She had changed into one of them while we killed the other two.  She charged us.

Connor was behind me.  I had already started up the stairs.  She grabbed him in the moment he froze and forgot he had a large chopping knife in his hand.  I turned to help him, but a moan came from above me. A zombie rushed down the stairs fast. I managed to get the bat up in between us right before she pinned me against the wall.  Her mouth snapped in front of my face as I pushed with the bat to put some distance between us.

“Use your knife,” I called out to Connor as he struggled to hold his zombie at bay.  I didn’t look at him as I tried to push the zombie on me far enough away that I could get enough leverage to bash this bat into her skull.  I did hear the scuffle behind me though. Connor had better succeed because if he didn’t, I didn’t think I could fight off two zombies in my situation.  I couldn’t die here, I had to get to my family. The scuffle behind me intensified. Then there was the sound of footsteps running down the stairs. My stomach dropped.  If it was another zombie, I didn’t know how I would be able to fight them off too.

Camila rounded the stairs with a little black tube in her hand.  She pulled the zombie off me and sprayed whatever was in the tube directly into the zombie’s eyes.  It didn’t faze the zombie at all as she rushed towards Camila. I pulled Camila behind me and bashed the zombie’s skull.  The zombie fell down the rest of the stairs to land at the feet of the other zombie and Connor.

“It doesn’t work,” Camila said in dismay as she looked at the tube in her hand.  I rushed passed her and pulled the zombie off Connor. She tripped over the dead zombie and I used that opportunity to swing the bat down over her head.  The skull cracked and that spot on her head became mush.

“Next time use this,” I said to Connor as I held up his hand that had the large knife.

“Right,” Connor said as he stared down at the dead zombies.

“Thank you,” I said to Camila.

She shrugged and put the tube in her pants pocket.  “I saw you pull up in Grace’s car. You were taking a long time so I thought you might be in trouble.  I tried to help, but apparently pepper spray doesn’t work on them.”

“It got her off me long enough so that I could use my bat,” I said.

“What is even happening?” Camila asked.  She ran a hand through her dark, thick hair.

“Zombie apocalypse,” Connor said.  “We came to get you.”

“I need to get a bag from your room for Grace,” I said.  “And you should gather anything you want to bring too.” I headed up the stairs.  Connor and Camila followed.

“Where are we going?” Camila asked.

“Grace and I said we would meet our families at a diner about an hour away from here.”

“You got through to your family?” Camila asked.  “I’ve been trying to get a hold of mine, but none of my calls are going through.”

“I think we just got lucky,” I said.

Camila opened the door to their dorm room.  I quickly followed in after her. I saw the two backpacks Grace had told me about by her bed.  I grabbed the green one and slung it over my shoulder. Camila emptied her own backpack and stuffed some clothes inside as well as a few smaller bags.  She grabbed that and her purse and then said. “I’ll go with you for a little while, but I want to find my own family too.”

I couldn’t remember exactly where her family was located, but I knew it was out of state.

“Me too,” Connor said.

“After we get my family, we can talk about where to go next,” I said.  “Maybe we’ll go with you. Maybe we’ll have to split up, but for now let’s stick together.”

They both nodded.  I led the way back down the stairs and to the front door.  I opened the door to just a crack and peeked outside. There were more zombies outside now, but none directly in front of the door.  Most of them were in costume, I assumed they were from the Halloween frat party Grace and I had purposely ignored. Some milled about shuffling slowly from place to place.  Others ran towards people trying to escape the dorms or trying to hide inside the dorms. Grace’s car was not outside.

“Where is she?” Connor whispered.  I didn’t realize he was peeking out too until that moment.  “Did she leave us?” His voice was beginning to get louder and there was an edge of panic to it.

“She wouldn’t leave us,” I said calmly.  “I trust that she will be out there.” I opened the door wide and stepped out just as both Connor and Camila reached out to stop me.  They were too late.

The zombies that were nearby immediately looked in our direction.  Connor stepped out beside me and readied his knife as I readied my bat.  His hands visibly shook, but he held his ground.

I trust you, Grace.

The zombies ran at us.  Their mouths were open and their hands outstretched us.  There was a screech of a car nearby and then Grace’s car ran over two of the zombies that had been running towards us.  The car stopped right next to us. Todd reached over the back seat and opened the passenger door as Grace did the same with the front passenger door.

“Get inside,” she yelled at us, but we were already moving.  Connor slid into the middle of the back seat, Camila sat next to him and quickly closed the door just as a zombie tried to grab her.  The zombie’s fingers caught in the door. Connor didn’t hesitate this time as he leaned across Camila and sliced off the zombie’s fingers with the chopping knife.  I sat in the front and Grace took off before I could finish closing the front door.

A large pickup truck drove over a bunch of zombies that had surrounded the base of a tree.

“Hurry, jump down,” someone from the truck called up to the tree.  The young woman I had seen climb up the tree earlier dropped into the bed of the truck.  The truck continued on, but paused every once in a while to allow running students to jump into the back.  The truck and Grace’s car reached the main street at the same time.

The truck was to the right of us on the street.  A man in his forties with a cowboy hat on and a rugged look rolled down his window and motioned for me to do the same.

“We’ll have a better chance surviving this if we are all together,” the man called when I rolled down the window.  He and Grace kept driving at the same speed and his gray eyes would dart from to the road and back again in a constant rotation.  He had passengers inside the truck as well as the bed of the truck, but I couldn’t get a good look at them passed him.

“We’re going to the archery club to get weapons,” I called out the window, “and then we are heading west to find our families.”

The cowboy nodded.  “Sounds like a plan then.  We’ll meet you at the archery club.”  He rolled up his window and sped passed us.  Grace accelerated to keep up.

I was worried about the people in the bed of the truck.  If we stopped, the zombies had a clear opening to them. It was better than being stuck in a tree though.

The parking lot for the archery club was empty and there was no one – zombie or otherwise – around.  We pulled into a spot next to the truck and rushed into the building.

Besides the five college students that were in the back of the truck and the man that looked like a cowboy, there was also another man who looked to be in his forties and a tiny woman who looked to be in her sixties.

“Dr. Smith,” Connor said.  He was surprised to see her.  I had no idea who any of them were.

“Connor,” the older woman greeted Connor as Grace led the way to the bows and arrows.  Grace had a key to unlock them.

“She’s the professor of my Art History class,” Connor said to me.

Grace took out a bow that she seemed familiar with, a quiver and several arrows.  She then stood aside so that others could access the bows and arrows. I stood where I was.  I was more comfortable with my bat.

“This is Dr. Higgins and Dr. Patel,” Dr. Smith indicating the two men I guessed were in their forties.  “They are professors too, but in different departments.”

Dr. Higgins and Dr. Patel were both retrieving bows and arrows of their own.

“I don’t think it’s safe for these students to keep riding in the back of my truck,” Dr. Higgins said.

“I have a car,” one of the students said, “but it’s parked at the cafeteria.”

It was silent.  The cafeteria would be crowded this time of night.  I could only imagine how many zombies would be there.

“Maybe the cafeteria is not the best place to go to right now,” Dr. Patel offered.

“I’m parked towards the back though,” the student said, “not near the building.”

Dr. Higgins looked at Grace.  “Well, what do you say? Feel like a drive to the cafeteria?”

“We will follow you there,” Grace said.

We piled back into the car.  Grace followed Dr. Higgins’s truck to the cafeteria.  He stopped in one of the back rows and the students hopped out of the back of his truck and rushed to a blue car.  I watched them get inside.

“It’s weird,” Grace said.

“Very strange,” Todd agreed.

“What?” I asked.  I looked in the direction they were looking.  There were many zombies roaming outside the cafeteria building.  There was only one person I saw that wasn’t a zombie. He was wearing a hoodie pulled low so we couldn’t see his face.  He didn’t run from the zombies or scream. In fact, he seemed comfortable around them as he finished spray painting something on the side of the cafeteria building.  With yellow paint in big letters he wrote RU in?

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