Chapter 19 .

Lily

We tried to be quiet at first as we crept along the streets.  Except Gunnor didn’t have to try, he just was quiet. And the weres could have been silent if they had wanted to, but Mason was purposely walking loudly.  He even broke out into song.  

Before any of us could tell him to shut up, groaning started from the side streets all around us.  Zombies rushed at us from different connecting streets, ran through yards, burst out of windows. We were surrounded by snarling, groaning zombies in a matter of mere moments.  

All of the weres shifted easily.  It was our first glance to see the werefelines in their feline forms.  Their fur was short. Zoe’s fur was a deep black with spots of gold similar in size to a jaguar’s.  Callie’s fur was a dark brown also with the spots of gold. The shapes of their faces were also similar to jaguars, but their canines were longer.  Somewhere in between a jaguar’s and a saber-toothed tiger’s.  

Gunnor disappeared first amid the mass of zombies that was running towards us.  The weres broke off in different directions. The werecats took on the group coming at us from the left.  Alex went to the group on the right while Mason and Elsie took the group behind us.

The chorus of groaning zombies, the flash of their teeth and the green in their pupils made a shiver go down my spine.  As fast as Gunnor and the weres were, some zombies still broke through. Hunter and Grace used their bows and arrows to take out a few of them.  Arthur’s arrows soon joined them. His arrows hit their mark every time. I had to admit he was good and not just for a kid. He was good compared to anyone.

The weres didn’t simply break the necks of the oncoming zombies.  There would be a pause in the blurs as the weres momentarily became visible.  They ripped off zombie heads and let the heads and bodies tumble to the ground in a bloody mess.  Occasionally a zombie limb would go flying in the air followed by a head.

The brief moments when Gunnor would appear, his fingers were bloody, his fingernails extended like sharpened claws.  He didn’t bite into the zombies, but his canines were extended as they were when he killed those humans. His eyes glowed red.  He would sever the spinal column at the back of the neck with one quick swipe of his hand. Sometimes he would tear their heads off completely.  Other times his fist would crash into the skulls.

More zombies broke through as Dr. Higgins and Darren joined the others with their bows and arrows.  I stood shoulder to shoulder to Tanner. He had his bat ready in case any zombies got too close. I had my ax ready.  Richard took out his knife and watched the crowd of zombies carefully in case any got too close. Monica at first took out her gun.  She looked at it for a moment then at the blur of the weres before she put the gun away. She took out her knife instead.

Zombies died, but more zombie groans from other streets joined the chorus.  Soon more zombies were running on our street drawn by the noise and the zombie groans.

The others continued to shoot with their bows and arrows.  I worried that we would run out of arrows. That store Hunter first brought us to was nearby.  It might be a good time to restock either before or after we confronted the venefici. It might have to be after as the store was directly across from the RU in? cafe.  The venefici might know we are there by the time we get there. I also wondered if all the zombie groans were drawing the attention of the venfici. We were still far enough away from their cafe that I hoped not.

Several zombies got through from Alex’s side.  He howled either in warning or frustration I wasn’t sure.  I wasn’t up to date on my werewolf howls. Hunter, Grace and Arthur shot one each while Darren and Dr. Higgins continued to fire into the other groups of zombies.

As fast as Hunter and Grace were, they still weren’t fast enough.  They didn’t have the same super speed and strength that the weres and Gunnor had.  More zombies got even closer, dried blood on their lips and teeth, claw-like fingers extended as they ran and groaned towards Hunter, Grace and Arthur.

Tanner and I stepped forward at the same time.  He bashed his bat into the skull of a zombie reaching for Grace.  There was a loud crunch and the zombie crashed to the road dead.

I swung my ax into the head of a zombie charging Hunter.  The ax embedded itself into the middle of the zombie’s face through the nose so the face was perfectly split in half vertically.  Coagulated blood oozed out around the blade. I pulled with all my might to get the ax out quickly. The zombie fell at my feet.

Monica stepped up to the next zombie.  She grabbed its neck with one gloved hand so it couldn’t bite her.  She brought her knife into the zombie’s temple before letting it fall to the road.

Richard stepped forward to take out the last close zombie, but the zombie was closer to Tanner.  And Tanner was faster than Richard. He swung his bat as hard as he could into the back of the zombie’s head as the zombie rushed past him to get to Grace.  The zombie was dead before it hit the ground, but the momentum carried it forward. Grace easily side-stepped it before it could knock into her.

A horrible yelp came from Alex’s direction.  It caused goosebumps to form on my arms and a tingle shot down my spine.  Elsie immediately left the group of zombies she and Mason were dispatching.  Her graceful, lupine form leaped into the air to get to Alex quicker. She landed on the backs of two zombies.  Alex was still fighting. He hadn’t gone down. I wasn’t sure why he had yelped, but it hadn’t been for no reason.

The zombies finally thinned out.  There were no more groans of zombies far away to join the fray.

Gunnor finished with his group first and moved to Mason’s side to help him.  When they finished with their group, Mason moved to Elsie and Alex’s group while Gunnor went to help the werefelines.  No zombies were getting through now. Grace and Hunter moved among the downed zombies to retrieve the arrows that were spent.  

The last of the zombies fell and the weres and Gunnor rejoined us.  The weres shifted back to their human forms and I finally saw why Alex yelped.  When he shifted, he didn’t shift back into the clothes he wore before. The pants and boots were the same, but he only wore a red t-shirt instead of the coat he had before.

There was a big bite taken out of his left forearm.  His eyes quickly scanned over my bloody ax and Monica’s bloody knife.  They settled on Richard’s clean knife. He quickly walked up to Richard, took the knife – Richard didn’t protest – and sliced off that section of his arm in one quick motion.  He cut so far down the bone could be seen. He ignored the blood that dripped down his arm as he handed the knife back to Richard.

“Thanks,” he said.

The six of us that had been in my original group exchanged a glance.  “I’m not sure that’s going to work,” Monica said. “Lily cut off Maria’s mom’s hand when she got bit, but she still turned.  And we know now with that last green light that werewolves can turn into zombies.”

The three werewolves exchanged a glance.  “Werewolves heal quicker than humans,” Mason said hopefully.

“That might not mean anything anymore,” Gunnor said.

“Stupid,” Elsie punched Mason’s arm.  “Why did you make all that noise?”

“I thought it would be better if we got rid of the zombies before we confronted the venefici so we wouldn’t have to worry about them coming at our backs.  I didn’t know Alex was going to get bitten.”

“It’s not his fault,” Alex said.  “I got complacent.”

We stood around in the cold in silence.  All of us looked at Alex in concern. Even Gunnor.

“We should hurry and take out the venefici,” Alex said.  “If I’m going to turn into a werewolf zombie, I’d rather take them out first.”

“You have another option,” Gunnor said.

All of the weres exchanged a glance, but none of them explained what that option might be to the rest of us.  For once, Hunter and Grace looked as clueless as the rest of us.

Finally, Mason said, “That would be an abomination.”

“So would a werewolf zombie,” Gunnor said.  “Which would you prefer? For Alex to turn into a werewolf zombie or become a vampire werewolf hybrid.”

I didn’t even know such a thing was possible but it sounded awesome.  Why were they so hesitant? Vampires didn’t seem to be affected by the zombies like the rest of us did.  If it could save Alex’s life, why not do it?

“He’d be exiled from the pack,” Elsie said as if that was the most horrible thing imaginable.

“Maybe,” Gunnor said.  “Or maybe Erik would allow an exception in these strange times.”

“You’d be hunted and ostracized for turning him,” Mason said to Gunnor.

“Jin and I already broke the rules of our brood and left.  I’d be in no more danger than I already am.”

“It’s my decision,” Alex said.  “Not Erik’s or the pack’s or anyone else’s.”

“But,” Mason said, “you’d be all alone.  We wouldn’t be able to help you if Erik exiles you.”

“Still my decision,” Alex said.  “Let’s go to the cafe.” His arm was already starting to heal.  The skin hadn’t completely reformed, but I couldn’t see the bone anymore.  “If I feel the zombie change coming on, or if you see me starting to change, we’ll talk about it then.  Whether or not you should just kill me or I become a vampire werewolf hybrid.”

We were silent as we moved along the streets, but more than one of us glanced at Alex.

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