Hollowmen / Page 4

Page 4


Tatum was saying something else, but movement caught my eye. Moonlight was spilling in through the trailer window, and a shadow crossed over it. I stood up straight and looked around the room.

“But Bishop still thinks she’s the leader – ” Tatum was saying.

“Shh!” I hissed.

I couldn’t hear anything, so I stepped toward the hall. Tatum had already drawn his gun, and he stood on alert in the kitchen, his eyes scanning the windows.

“What?” he whispered.

I shook my head. “I thought I saw something.”

I was about to tell him that I was seeing things when the window above the kitchen counter shattered as a zombie went flying through it. Tatum lifted up his arm to shield his eyes and fired blindly at the monster crashing toward him.

3.

I rushed forward, grabbing a frying pan from the kitchen sink. As the zombie dove at Tatum, I raised the pan and slammed it into its skull. It felt like I was crushing a soft-boiled egg, and the zombie fell to the floor at Tatum’s feet.

With that strange, thick blood oozing from its skull, I would’ve thought the zombie would’ve been out of commission. But apparently it wasn’t.

It raised its head, its jaundiced eyes sunken deep in the skull. It raised a hand, its fingers curled forward like they were deeply arthritic, and it let out a loud bellow.

I’d heard the death groans a thousand times before, but this was different. The groans had more of a rattled sound to them, like a dying man’s breath mixed with a dog’s howl. This reminded me of the sound a demon made when it was being exorcised in a movie. It was completely… inhuman.

The sound was cut short by a loud bang when Tatum shot the zombie point-blank in the face, and the zombie finally collapsed on the ground, its brains splattered on the cupboard behind it.

“Shit.” Tatum wiped the blood off his service revolver before holstering it. “We gotta get out of here before the rest come.”

“The rest?” I asked. “What are you talking about?”

“They’ve changed their tactics.” He scraped his boots absently on the floor, getting as much zombie off them as he could. “The zombies send out one or two zombies, usually older ones, as feelers. When they find something, they make that call, letting the others know they have fresh meat.”

“They’re communicating with each other?” I asked.

He nodded, his lips pressed together grimly. “It appears that way.”

I ran back to the room and slipped on a pair of ill-fitting tennis shoes. I’d meant to raid the trailer for more supplies, but I didn’t want to waste time waiting for more zombies to show up. I wasn’t as strong as I should be. Just hitting that zombie with a pan had been hard. My shoulders ached, and my arms felt like jelly.

I grabbed the messenger bag and followed Tatum out of the trailer. We were both warier, so we moved quickly and quietly through the compound, being sure to attract as little attention as possible

The darkness made the trailers a labyrinth for me, and I stayed at Tatum’s heels. That was harder than it sounded, though. I was used to being the fastest person, which was how I’d managed to survive so long being chased by inhuman monsters. What training I’d tried to do inside that room hadn’t been nearly enough.

It wasn’t until we reached the gates that I realized how bad the zombie invasion must’ve been. The holding area between the two doors was a complete massacre. Zombie bodies with their greenish blood splattered everywhere and guts hanging out. Uninfected humans either torn up or shot.

I’m not sure exactly why they were shot, but I could speculate. A few were probably killed in friendly fire because of the chaos of the zombie attack, but I’d guess that most were self-inflicted or done as a mercy killing because they’d been bitten. It’s generally believed that death is a much better alternative than turning into a zombie.

“Holy shit,” I said, staring at the carnage around me. I stopped, both to catch my breath and because it never ceased to shock me what this world had become.

Tatum held up a hand to silence me and shot me a glare. “Quiet. Zombies are crawling all around the perimeter.”

I nodded my understanding and followed him through the mess of corpses. My feet slipped a few times in the goop, but I managed not to fall.

Once we’d made it outside, Tatum took to nearly crawling. I could hear zombies, but I couldn’t see them. Their ragged breath sounded too close for comfort, but they weren’t near enough for me to be able to see.

I mimicked Tatum’s movements exactly, walking low to the ground and moving stealthily away from the quarantine. I barely breathed the whole time, afraid of alerting a zombie.

We were completely submerged in darkness, since the tall quarantine walls blocked out the moonlight. When we got past the shadows, we might have to run for it, but for now, the darkness was on our side. If we couldn’t see the zombies, then they couldn’t see us either.

When we hit the edge of the shadow, Tatum didn’t change his pace, though. He kept up the crouched walk for quite a while after we were away from the quarantine. I wasn’t sure of the distance exactly, but it was far enough that he eventually felt safe moving freely again.

“Where are we going?” I asked softly once we were walking normally.

“A campsite,” Tatum explained and pointed off in the distance. “Not too far from here. They’re waiting for me, then they’re leaving in the morning.”

“What if you didn’t come back tonight?” I asked.

“Then they would still leave in the morning. It’s too dangerous to wait around here for long.”

We didn’t say anything else until we reached the campsite. It was at least a mile away from the quarantine, and my legs and feet ached something terrible by the time we reached it. But it was just as well. My body had to get used to this again.

The “campsite” turned out to be an old army truck with camouflage fabric pulled taut over the bed. It was completely dark, and I wouldn’t have known anyone was there if Tatum hadn’t stopped there.

He rapped gently on the back gate and the barrel of a gun immediately appeared over the top.

“Easy, Boden,” Tatum said and held up his hands. “It’s just me.”

“Who’s with you?” a man demanded, presumably the Boden fellow.

“Remy King.” Tatum pointed back at me. “She’s just girl from the building. She’s totally clean.”


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