ROTU BC Please Note: This is a serial novel written by Annelise Ianthe.

© 2012 – 2015

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Chapter 11

 

 

We tossed our gear into the back of my SUV. Rosa headed for the back of the house, wanting to say her goodbyes to Julianna. It was hard when you lost a child so young, most especially when she’d died in such a brutal manner. She returned, moments later, and slid into the passenger’s seat, her eyes blank.

The children soon piled into the car. Joe took up a spot in the trunk of the vehicle, while I hopped into the driver’s seat. My palms grew a tad sweaty as I thought about what was to come. We were heading into the lion’s den, except this one was full of flesh-eating zombies.

Releasing a pent-up breath, I started the car and slowly inched it forward. My mouth grew dry as I glanced at the horde of zombies turning in our direction. I gunned the motor and turned right, driving toward Bravo Supermarket. The coast was clear here, for the most part, but I didn’t want to risk running into more zombies.

I tore down a side street that quickly took me to South Main Street. Signs of people fleeing to safety were evident. Abandoned cars were everywhere, yet we saw no signs of bodies strewn about. My hackles rose as I realized that could only mean one thing. There were zombies here. We just couldn’t see them.

Circumventing the vehicles, I made my way down the street. A thick silence enveloped the SUV. I momentarily considered turning on the radio for a little ambience, but then decided against it. The noise would draw the biters to us, and that was something we needed to avoid.

The further along the road we went, the fewer cars we encountered. Zombies appeared every now and then, however, shuffling toward us with their awkward gaits. So far, we hadn’t encountered that much of a resistance, but that didn’t mean things would stay that way for long.

West Liberty Street was now full of unexpected zombies. Part of the herd we’d encountered at the gas station on the way down to Mom’s had turned in the same direction we’d taken. I dreaded the thought of taking this route again, but it was the easiest way we’d make it back to my place.

“We goin’ for it?” Joe asked as he clutched the lug wrench I’d discarded a while ago.

“Yeah. You’re gonna have to buckle down back there.”

My brother slid toward the floor of the SUV’s trunk. “I’m ready.”

“Meg?” Mallory mumbled.

“Yeah, Baby?”

“I’m scared.”

I clutched the steering wheel tight, knowing there was no going back to how things had been. Our lives were on the line. We could sit here and debate what to do, or we could take the bull by its horns and make the best of things. Either way, I had a decision to make. It was now or never.

“Me too, Sweetie. You buckled in?”

She nodded, wiping the tears from her eyes. “Uh-huh.”

“Good. OK, everyone. This is it. Whatever happens, we fight to the death. Got it?”

“Yes!” everyone cried in unison.

“Here we go!”

Shoving my foot against the gas pedal, the SUV bounced forward. Several zombies turned in our direction as I weaved in and out of the abandoned vehicles. I ran some of the biters over as they stepped in front of the car. A wave of bile rose to the back of my throat as I heard the distinct sound of cracking bones.

Within minutes, I found myself driving down Bank Street once more. Eyeing the still burning crater where the gas station used to be, I turned onto Meadow Street. Tears pricked the backs of my eyes as I released a pent-up breath I hadn’t known I was holding. It wouldn’t be long until we made it home.

The road remained clear until we drew closer to the La Cazuela restaurant. Several cars had been abandoned underneath the light at the 4-way intersection. Zombies milled about, some gorging on dismembered body parts. Another wave of bile rose to my throat as I watched one of them bite into what looked like a heart.

“We goin’ for it?” Rosa asked.

“Yup.”

“Man, that’s nasty!” Joe said as he slid into the backseat beside Mallory.

I rolled my eyes as I peered at him through the rear-view mirror. “You think?”

“Will it be like that all the way to your place?” Mary asked.

“I hope not.”

Rosa pointed to something in the distance. “There’s an opening between those cars over there. You can cut through the 7-11.”

“OK.” I sighed with dismay and gripped the steering wheel tight once more. “Buckle up, guys. Here we go!”

The Explorer bounced forward as I shoved my foot against the gas pedal. I maneuvered the vehicle between the two cars Rosa had pointed out to me, nicking the bumper of a third car as I peeled into the parking lot of the 7-11. A group of zombies turned in our direction, drawing the attention of a second group milling about in front of the barber store.

Driving onto Willow Street, I zigzagged the vehicle through another throng of abandoned cars. The line extended to Pine Street and branched out toward Johnson Street on the left. I accelerated and swerved around a BMW as several zombies popped out of their hiding places. The line of abandoned cars began to grow smaller the further up the road I drove.

By the time I got to Ridgewood Street, there were barely any vehicles clogging up the road. With a quick flick of my hand, I turned the Explorer onto the street. Several vehicles lined the side of the street, and a small cluster of zombies shuffled back and forth across the intersection.

“Ima clear it,” Joe said as he reached for the rear door’s handle.

“No,” I replied. “It’s not safe.”

He waved the lug wrench about. “I got this.”

“I’ll go with him,” Rosa said as she pushed the right passenger door open.

“But . . .”

Joe carefully pushed the door closed. “It’ll be fine, Meg. Move forward once we give you the clear.”

The next five minutes tested our resolve. From the confines of the vehicle, we watched my brother and cousin fight zombies in the hopes of clearing a space for us to turn onto Chestnut Avenue. Little by little, I inched the car forward. Rosa and Joe moved slowly in front of the vehicle, dispatching zombies as they appeared. Pulling the car up in front of the yellow house to the right of where I lived, I turned off the engine, eyeing the group of vehicles clustered in front of the driveway.

“Well, ain’t that a bitch!” Mary said, her shoulders slumping with defeat.

“We can still get through,” Chase pointed out.

“If we move the vehicles,” Emma replied.

I yanked the keys out of the ignition and slid them into my pocket. “I want you guys to stay here,” I said as I pushed the driver’s side door open.

Mary’s eyes widened with horror. “But–”

“I need you to keep an eye on the kids. Rose, Joe, and I will clear the road so that we can head inside the house.”

She groaned with discontent. “I wanna go!”

“No. Please, stay here and watch the kids. Keep the doors locked and don’t make any noise. OK?”

My sister pouted and slumped down in her seat. “Fine!”

A sigh of dismay escaped me. “Anything happens, honk the horn. I’ll come running. And stay away from the back window. You don’t want draw any unwanted attention.”

Mary nodded and looked away. I offered Chase a warm smile as he handed me the aluminum bat. The children’s eyes glistened with unshed tears. My heart ached as I looked upon each of their faces and committed them to memory. With a soft, sad sigh, I slid out of the car and set the locks in place before moving toward the group of vehicles blocking my driveway.