We silently waited. Our weapons were at the ready. The pounding on the doors gradually stopped. The moans from over the house settled down. We let out a collective sigh of relief.
“Both of my parents are dead,” Hunter said. “And Grant’s mom. We can’t give up hope that there are survivors hiding in this house. Let’s find them.”
He was being so brave and putting his own sorrows aside to help the rest of us. This was not helping my crush.
“Any suggestions on where to start?” Hunter asked Grant.
“That way,” Grant pointed to a hallway to the left. Hunter led us as we silently crept to the hallway. We all stepped over the puddles of blood that dotted the carpet.
We came across a closed doorway. There was blood and scuff marks along the door. Hunter knocked quietly and we all held our breaths as we listened. The door opened a crack and an eye peeked through from the other side. The door opened wider and Maria’s mother greeted us from the other side.
Maria pushed her way between Grant and Hunter and threw her arms around her mother’s neck. She cried into her shoulder. Her mother cried silently with her and patted her head. She wasn’t alone. There were three other women in the bathroom that I didn’t recognize. They were dressed in a variety of costumes. All of them were too revealing for a zombie apocalypse.
There was a moan from down the hall. A zombie came into the hall and saw us. His moans grew louder and two more zombies showed up behind him. They were all bloody. Moans came from the opposite end of the hall. Three more zombies entered the hall on that end.
“Quick. Hide in here.” Maria’s mother pulled Maria in, but the bathroom was already crowded. Grant eagerly went into the bathroom, but while Richard and I hesitated wondering if that was the best course, Hunter stepped out in front of us and readied his hunting knife. I readied my ax and Richard readied his own knife.
When Maria saw us, she stepped back out beside me and readied her knife. The zombies at either end rushed us. We stood back to back, Hunter against my back and Richard against Maria’s. When Maria’s mom saw we were not going in the bathroom she charged out to stand next to her daughter with the toilet plunger in her hands. More zombies came into the hall, but I couldn’t spare them a glance as the first zombie was close to me now.
I brought my ax down hard into the top of her head and she collapsed to a heap on the floor. Maria stuck her knife in the eye of the zombie in front of her even as his hands grabbed her arms. She pulled her knife out. Blood squirted from his eye as he fell at her feet.
Hunter and Richard shuffled behind us as they fought off the zombies in front of them. Hunter’s back pressed into mine several times. I would have turned to see if he needed help, but Maria’s mom was barely holding off the zombie in front of her with the toilet plunger. Both Maria’s mom and the zombie held onto the toilet plunger. It was turned on its side and raised in front of both of their faces. The zombie’s mouth opened wide and bit one of her fingers.
Maria screamed, her mom screamed as the zombie bit through the finger, chewed it and swallowed it. His head bent for another bite, but Maria stabbed it violently in the temple. Maria’s mother looked in horror at the stump where her finger had just been. I grabbed her wrist and pulled it to the carpeted floor. I didn’t hesitate as I chopped off the remaining stub with my ax. I just hoped I got to it in time. The ladies in the bathroom pulled her back in and immediately began to wrap her wound.
Maria still screamed as she stuck her knife into the next zombie head. I stood up ready to face the next zombie, but I froze when I saw my own mother in front of me. There was no recognition in her eyes. Her pupils glowed green. Blood dripped from the corners of her open mouth. Her teeth were covered in the red liquid. Her hands gripped my shoulders. Somewhere inside me I was aware of Maria screaming Hunter’s name, but I couldn’t move, couldn’t think as I saw my mom’s mouth get ever closer to my face.
My mom was pulled off me. Her fingers lingered on my shoulders until she was completely pulled away. I saw it as Hunter plunged his knife in her temple, but I didn’t really register it. Then Hunter was in front of me with blood dripping from his knife and over his gloved hands.
“Are you all right?” he asked me. His eyes scanned over me for bites.
“I wasn’t bitten.” It was my voice, but I didn’t consciously say it. I sounded hollow – monotone.
“We need to survive now,” Hunter whispered to me. “We can grieve later.”
That brought me out of my trance and a tear spilled onto my cheek. I brushed it away roughly and nodded. There were now only dead zombies in the hall, but there were moans around us in various places of the house.
“Let’s continue,” Hunter said.
He led the way down the hall. The ladies followed us. Maria’s mom was between them holding the bandage around her hand. Maria stood close to her mother. Richard and Grant were taking up the rear, but one of the ladies took the knife away from Grant and said, “You’re a coward like your father,” and pushed Grant in front of her so she was now walking in the rear with Richard.
We rounded the corner of the hall where my mom had come from. We were now inside a large kitchen. Various food items and drinks were on the kitchen counters and table for the guests. Some were knocked to the floor and mixed with the blood.
“There’s another dead body,” Maria whispered from behind me.
Behind the table I could see the unmoving legs of a man. My stomach turned. I recognized the pants. I couldn’t move. Hunter didn’t know yet and went around the table to where the head would have been and stopped. His eyes met mine and I knew.
Grant had joined Hunter, but Hunter didn’t seem to notice. “This one doesn’t have a head wound either. Why didn’t they turn?” Grant asked.
I grabbed the nearest bowl on the counter and threw up in it. Maria was there patting my back gently. I stared at my vomit that mixed with the chips in the bowl before I quickly put the bowl back on the counter and turned away from it.
“What’s wrong with her?” Grant asked.
“This is her dad,” Hunter said quietly.
“Oh,” Grant said.
“Everyone make sure you have a knife or weapon of some kind and let’s continue,” Hunter said. The ladies that didn’t have weapons grabbed the kitchen knives. Grant grabbed several. Maria’s mom took one too. Her skin was beginning to take on a sickly color. I wasn’t sure if she would turn soon or if it was because she lost so much blood.
We still hadn’t found Maria’s and Grant’s dads or Darren’s and Monica’s parents. Actually, I didn’t know what their parents looked like. The woman who took the knife away from Grant and called him a coward kind of looked like Darren. Maybe she was his mom.
We went to the closed door at the back of the kitchen. Hunter opened it and peeked out. He opened the door all the way and led us out. He and I listened to the first door we came across. Low groans and shuffling of feet greeted us. We didn’t bother to open it. We moved on and came to another door. We listened, but didn’t hear anything. Hunter knocked quietly, but there was no response. He opened the door. Someone gasped behind us at the carnage inside, but I didn’t know who.
Body parts were strewn all across the room. Blood was splattered across the walls and carpet. It had been a bedroom – I guessed a guest bedroom – but now the headboard was broken and the mattress and quilt were in tatters. A cool breeze came in through a shattered window. The window frame was half in and half out of the house. Hunter closed the door and we went on our way.
“What could have done that?” Maria whispered.
As bad as the zombies were, we hadn’t come across any carnage like that tonight. Hunter gave a look like he knew, but I thought I was the only one who noticed. Everyone else seemed clueless.
“Maybe there’s a different kind of zombie we haven’t come across yet,” Richard said. “A really big vicious one we don’t ever want to come across.”
Hunter didn’t say anything, just led us on. We came to the stairs. We slowly went up them. We went slowly down the hallway. There was an open door to the left. Moans and shuffling came from the room. Hunter went in the doorframe just enough to grab the door handle. The moans grew louder and the zombies inside ran at him. Hunter slammed the door shut. The zombies from the other side of the door began to bang on it. I tightened my grip on the handle of my ax.
Moans came from all over the house. We waited, but no zombies appeared in the hall before us. The banging from the other side of the door quieted and footsteps shuffled away.
The next door we came across was closed.
“My bedroom,” Grant whispered.
Hunter put his ear up to the door. I couldn’t hear anything from within. Hunter opened the door slightly and looked inside. Two women and a man stood up from the other side of Grant’s bed where they had been crouched. All of them were crying.
“What’s happening?” the woman asked.
“Zombie apocalypse,” Richard said.
“What are you doing in my room?” Grant asked accusingly.
We all gave him a disgusted look.
“What?” he asked.
Hunter shook his head before he asked. “Do you have anything in your room that could be used as a weapon. Scissors, a baseball bat, anything?”
“No,” Grant said. Then his expression changed. “Wait. I have golf clubs.”
He went into his room and opened his closet. He pulled out a bag of golf clubs. “These are expensive though,” he said.
“No one cares anymore,” Hunter said. He snatched 3 of the golf clubs out of the golf bag and handed them to the three adults that had hidden in Grant’s room. “Let’s go.”
We went down the hall and stopped to listen at every closed door. There were zombie moans behind every one. The same was true with the last door. We were going to just leave, but Grant said, “That’s my parent’s bedroom. There is a bathroom in there too. Maybe my dad is hiding in the bathroom.”
Hunter and I looked at each other.
“Let’s just leave,” the woman that had called Grant a coward said. “He isn’t worth it.”
“Don’t say that about my dad,” Grant said.
“Maybe if you saw what I did, you wouldn’t be defending him,” she said.
Grant was silent.
“What did you see?” I asked.
“He and his wife were running up the stairs together,” the woman said. But I knew we had already seen Grant’s mom in that room downstairs. “The zombies were running after them, were going to catch them so your dad threw your mom down the stairs so he could get away.”
Grant shook his head. “My dad wouldn’t do that.”
“He did do that,” the woman said loudly. The moans in the rooms grew loud. Banging came from the other side of the door that we stood in front of.
“Regardless,” Hunter interjected, “I don’t want to become the type of person that leaves people behind.” He opened the door just barely and stabbed the first zombie head that came into view. The door started to open wider as many zombie hands tried to open it and Hunter was keeping it closed with just one hand while the other stabbed another zombie.
Richard pushed his way to the front to stand by Hunter. He took over the door for Hunter. He held on with both hands. Even though there were many zombies trying to open it, he was strong enough to keep the door opened just a crack. A zombie head poked out at waist level and tried to bite Richard’s fingers. Maria crouched in the space between Richard and Hunter and stabbed at any of the zombies trying to crawl out or bite Richard’s fingers. I joined Hunter and we alternated with him stabbing and me axing until there weren’t any zombies left.
Richard pushed open the door and we stepped inside over the pile of dead zombies. Grant rushed between us and into the room. “Dad?” he called out.
A door in the back of the room opened and a portly bald man with thick glasses stepped out. “Son?”
“Dad!” Grant rushed over and hugged the man.
“I couldn’t save her,” the man said sadly. “I tried, son, but I couldn’t save her.”
“I’m telling you,” the woman said quietly to me and Hunter, “I saw it myself. If he wouldn’t hesitate to push his wife to the zombies, he won’t hesitate to do it to any of us.”