“Guys?” They both looked up from their conversation. I felt a pang of jealousy, so far down I almost didn’t notice it. “I’m gonna go out and grab some stuff. You coming?” Mandy was on her feet in a flash, but Frank hesitated. “Dude, we got your back.” I said, guessing at the cause of his reluctance. He smiled, but still looked troubled. I pushed it down to think about later. He stood, reaching for his sword, still shiny and pretty, still unspoilt by bits of corpse. Mandy picked up her chunk of wood, and span it round a couple of times experimentally. I reached out to grip the cool handle of my pitchfork, stained red. It was weird how attached I had become to my makeshift weapon. It had saved my skin, no doubt.
“So, I thought we’d get you guys some bike leathers.” I said, chucking my own on over my hoodie. “They’ve saved my skin more times than I care to mention- Literally.” I said. They both looked uneasy, and I almost said something comforting, but I changed my mind. Fear was good. Fear would keep them alert, and possibly keep them alive. Mandy reached the window first, and part of me wanted to go first, and take the potential bullet, but I understood that I couldn’t wrap her in cotton wool, much as I would like to. I decided to let her do this, but to stay close. She dropped out of sight over the window ledge.
I heard a scream that froze the blood in my veins, and I launched myself out of the window like a goddamn rocket. Mandy was backed against the wall, and the undead were advancing on her. There were at least three of them, and none too fresh from the smell of it. “Mandy!” I yelled, pointing to her left. She turned, and swung her club into the head of a little old lady with a flowery skirt and half her face missing. Her head exploded like rotten fruit. I heard Frank squeak behind me.
I turned to my right, and was face to face with a zombie vicar. He made his way towards me, shuffling lopsidedly due to the lack of one of his arms. I raised my fork and stabbed forwards. The fork smashed through his throat, and got caught on his spine. “Shit!” I yelled, and wrenched it away. The almost decapitated corpse kept coming, his head resting grotesquely on his shoulder. I yelled out as he swung his stiff arms into my face.
The texture of his skin was spongy, and damp, and he smelled like what he was- rotting meat. I ducked under his outstretched arms, and swung the heavy fork into the back of his head. The top of his school ripped off, and he pitched forward, splattering grey brain matter up against the side of the church wall. From somewhere behind me, as if from a great distance away, I heard Frank throw up. “WILL!” I heard Mandy scream, and I turned, breathing heavily, to see a toddler crawling towards her. It would have looked alive, but for the fact the lower half of its body was missing.
It was chewing on her shoe, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just kick its head off. She pushed it gently with her piece of wood, and knocked it off balance. It blinked up at us with dusty blue eyes, and let out a little cry that sounded incredibly human. It started dragging itself back towards Mandy. “Kill it!” I yelled. She stared at me with eyes made wide and shiny with fear and something else. I noticed that the kid was within an inch of her shoe. I strode forward and raised my fork. Quicker than I would have expected, the kid lunged forward and clamped its small teeth on her shin. We both screamed in unison, and she brought down the nail end of the wood swinging down.
It scythed into the kids head, taking it off in one blow and spraying blood over the grass. Surrounded by twitching corpses, forgetting about Frank behind me, unmindful of the bodies I stepped in, I ran over to Mandy. I collapsed by her legs, my eyes drawn to the steady flow of cherry red blood that streamed down her bare leg. “No- NO! Mandy!” I cried, without realising I was even speaking. There was too much blood to see- So much blood!
I looked up into her terrified face, feeling her body shake. Was this it? Would she become like the others? Mindless… Savage… A zombie? “C’mon honey… We’ll get you cleaned up…” I said, not concentrating on the words that spilled from my mouth, focusing instead on that trickle of red. She didn’t seem to be able to move, or speak. I carefully picked her up, bridal style. I looked around. I wasn’t going to be able to get her through the window, no way.
“The side door…” I heard Frank say quietly. I turned to him, almost blind with panic. He looked terrified. I hurried in, and quickly, gently lay her down on the altar. I looked around for water to clean her leg. The only water I could see was a little… holy. I didn’t care. I ripped off my hoodie and tossed it to the floor, quickly peeling off my t-shirt and dunking it in the water. I carried it dripping back to Mandy, who was whiter than anyone I’d ever seen. “You okay?” I asked weakly. She laughed, the sound making me jump, it was so out of context. Her eyes still sparkled blue, despite the awful situation.
I began to clean the blood off her leg, carefully and slowly. Her eyes filled with tears, and she bit her lip as we made eye contact. “Will-” She said, as I started to say “Mandy…” We both stopped, and nervously laughed, despite or perhaps because of the unbearable tension. “I just want you to know that if this is the… If this is…” I swallowed, even though the only thing in my mouth was fear, and continued. “I think I might have maybe fallen in love with you.” I said all in a rush, and looked down. The tears that had been threatening to spill over her cheeks escaped. “Will, I know. Me too.” My head snapped up. “Wh- Really?” I asked. She nodded, a wobbly smile appearing. “Really. I dunno why, or how, but I just- kind of- love you.” She said, her voice breaking. “If I’m gonna die-” I started shaking my head. “No!” I said. It was too unbearable. “We don’t know…” I stopped, tears choking me. I swallowed, and picked up my wet shirt. “Soon we’ll know.” I began to clean up her leg again both our gazes fixed on the laceration beginning to show. I gave one final swipe, and burst into silent pouring tears. It was a gash from the nail in her club.
It was too straight, and deep, and too clean to be anything but that. I felt the tears drip onto my bare chest, and didn’t care. I threw my arms around Mandy, feeling her tears on my skin, tasting them on her lips, my lips… We held each other. Mandy wasn’t going to become a zombie. She wasn’t going to die, and nothing felt better than that knowledge. I had known her for a day, and yet she had suddenly become the center of my world.
We continued to hold each other until no tears were left, and our eyes were red and sore. After a moment of silence, I spoke. “I meant what I said, you know.” I felt her smile against my shoulder. “I know. I did too.” I felt a wide smile break out. “I love you.” I said, tasting the words in my mouth. “I love you, too.” She said, still smiling. I planted a little kiss on her lips, then stopped. I had completely forgotten about Frank, too panicky and scared to accommodate another person besides Mandy in my head.
I turned to look for him, and saw him smoking awkwardly at the back of the room, staring at the ceiling and trying not to make eye contact, trying to give us some privacy, I think. I smiled at Mandy and gestured to Frank. She nodded, and I helped her down to limp over to him. “I’ll join ya.” I said, slipping my packet of cigarettes out of my pocket. I slid two out, sticking one in my mouth and placing the other in Mandy’s. I lit them both, and said “Are you okay, Frankie?” He half smiled at my nickname for him, and shrugged a shoulder. “What’s up?” He breathed out in a rush, flicking his hair up out of his eyes. “I screwed up, man. I just… I froze, you know?” I nodded. “You were scared.” His eyes flicked around the church, not willing to look at either of us.
“I was scared, but more than that… It was like… They offended me, like… Zombies are just wrong. They shouldn’t exist, they screw up everything. They aren’t part of the natural order, they…” He gestured in the urgency of the telling. “They offend my sense of reality.” He said softly, and I knew how he felt. “I feel the same way, sometimes.” I told him. “Sometimes I think, how the fuck did this happen? Why is it happening? And then, I just go back to killing them.” I took a drag. “Thing is, Frankie, they may not be natural, but they’re here, and I don’t think they’re going anytime soon. Problem is…” I hesitated. I had to say it- it was brutal, but it was true, after all. “If you wont kill them Frankie, you’re a liability. You need to learn to kill.” His eyes filled up with tears, and he looked at me like I had just killed his puppy. I felt so bad, I might as well have. “We all need to be able to trust each other to have each others backs. I need to know that you’ll kill for me to keep me safe. I would do the same for you, but it needs to go both ways.” I said, still feeling like scum, but knowing it had to be said.
He nodded, and I could see that even if he didn’t like what I was saying, he understood. I felt so bad, but he had to understand- the rules had changed. The world had changed. I patted him on the shoulder, and stubbed out my cigarette. I stood, and both faces turned up to me in shock. “Where are you going?” Mandy asked. I grimaced. “I don’t wanna go, trust me, but I gotta get the jackets one way or another, and at least this way, there’s someone to look after Mandy while she’s hurt.” I wished it was me looking after her, but it had to be done. I walked to get my fork. “Be safe.” Mandy called, and it hurt my heart to see how scared she looked. There was no trace of the cocky, confident, seductive-as-hell girl from earlier. Now she was subdued, hurt, and I could see the fear in her eyes. “I will.” I called, and blew her a kiss. I caught Frank’s eye, and he looked both amused and sympathetic. I grinned at him, saluted him, and dropped out of the window.
Sooo, what do you think? R&R, maybe? Hopeful face XO