Pushing Up Gravestones – Chapter 21

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“Come on, we have to keep going!” Rory said, flicking his sandy blonde hair from his eyes.

Denise, Ferrah and Tina kept up to him quite well, despite all being tired and grouchy. They continued on, though, determined to reach the base, and get to safe ground.

Walking for so long in such a strange environment took its toll on all of them. This was an area of downtown they were not particularly familiar with. Even Denise, an avid runner, and over all athlete, was starting to feel the effects. However, they knew that if they stopped for too long, a brand new horde would find them, and it would leave them running for their lives again. The hordes were getting increasingly and alarmingly bigger, and harder to avoid, whether it was because they had learned that they could kill more when in groups or there was just more zombies around now. Thankfully, they weren’t getting too big just yet. It was nothing they hadn’t handled before, yet.

Maybe they spoke too soon; maybe they jinxed themselves. Just as they turned the next corner, they saw another group of zombies. The biggest horde they had come across yet, zombies of all ages, shapes and sizes. There were young ones, scrawny ones, old ones, fat ones, and buff, athletic ones. It was too many to count at a glance. Denise would hazard a guess that there were anywhere between a hundred and a thousand; she really had never been good with numbers. Her guesses would always be off, and her math teacher could attest to that. 

Luckily enough, the horde didn’t appear to have noticed them, and just went about their meandering business. They seemed to be tearing into the body of their latest victim, a young boy, about six, whose remains were now spread all over the grassy area surrounding him. Denise winced; even post apocalypse, she still wasn’t used to seeing dead bodies splattered on the ground, especially not that of children.

Suddenly, from all the way across the large open field in which the zombies had taken the life of the young boy, Denise spotted another group, a group of real, uninfected people. There were two, young redheaded girls.  There was also a tall boy, who had a large cut that ran all the way up the outside of his right leg, and a larger, clearly older man. The girls were carrying what appeared to be the dead body of an old woman between their arms, probably a loved one that they don’t want to leave for death, even though it has probably already taken her. It looked like the zombies hadn’t spotted the other group yet, nor had the other group spotted them. Denise tapped Rory on the shoulder, and pointed enthusiastically in their direction. Rory, seeing the other group as well, started trying to wave them over, and Denise, Ferrah and Tina joined in, all waving energetically at the other group, hoping that they might have some information, or even food.

To their shock, the large, older man, most likely the leader of the group, pulled out a large hunting rifle, much like Rory’s, and aimed it at one of the zombies, preparing to shoot.

The group stumbled back slightly, scared of what this man was about to do. Of course he knew that if he shot a zombie then the horde would attack his whole group! They would never escape carrying a body like that, and with the boy being injured. This was a huge mistake. He wasn’t that stupid, was he?

They started jumping and waving franticly, desperately trying to get the man’s attention, but they were already too late. He had lined up his aim, and pulled the trigger, killing one zombie, but alerting the rest to his location.

Having clearly not thought this through, the man panicked, and ushered his group back down the path they had come from, but they were already too slow. The horde aptly rushed the group, tearing each member open. Their internal organs burst out of them like lava out of a volcanoes the zombies overtook them. 

Denise stood in horrified awe, a kind of trance, as she watched the horde brutally dig in to the remains of the group. No matter how long this lasted, or how many zombie apocalypses she lived through, she would never get used to seeing that. People, brutally torn open by what could have once been their friends. Neighbors. Partners.

A sudden loud growl caused them to turn their heads. Caught up in the moment, none of them had noticed another nearby horde coming towards them, breaking into a sprint.  Rory grabbed Tina, scooping her into his arms and pointing the girls down an alley off to the right.

The big horde, now finished with their afternoon meal, had seen the group and was running towards them as well. Rory swung Tina around onto his back, and she looped her arms around his neck. He led the way, with Denise and Ferrah not far behind.

They ran around a corner, and found themselves in the middle of the city. With the zombies still right on their tail, they didn’t exactly have time to stop and look up at the marvel of the sky scrapers and offices.

They ran for miles, before Rory lead them into an abandoned office building, with a big pair of heavy doors. They slammed the doors behind them, quickly locking and barricading the entrance, leaving them enclosed in the office. 

“What are we going to do?” Ferrah said, after a long, painful silence. 

“I don’t know. We’d better look around,” Rory answered, “Everyone split up, and then meet back here in half an hour. We’ll see what we can find.”

*****

The group split up, each checking their own section of the building. It appeared to only be a two story building, but was still filled with offices. Denise went up to check the roof, and it was quite beautiful. A heavy metal door led up to the roof.  There was easily an acre of concrete spread out across the vast low-rise roof. Combined with the towering skyscrapers and the cloudless sky surrounding it, the sight really made for a breath taking sight. Denise was awe struck for a moment, and seeing such a beautiful sight despite the apocalypse just strengthened her resolve to stay alive.

She turned, ready to go back into the building, and pulled on the metal door. Locked.

“Damn it!” She yelled, her voice laced with anger, filling the empty sky with its furious power. 

*****

Rory and Tina looked around some of the rooms, searching through some of the files and supplies, looking for something they could use. They found a fridge, full of cans, and a few packets of potato chips scattered here and there.

“We’ll probably be safe here, for a while. It has food and heavy doors after all.” Rory said to Tina, as she cautiously opened one of the packets of chips.

She put one in her mouth, then recoiled slightly from the bitterness of the flavor she had chosen. Rory chuckled a little, taking one of the chips and placing it in his own mouth, surprised at how bitter they really were. Tina laughed at the face Rory made at the sour crisp, before grabbing another one. They continued to explore, chips in hand, and went to look around the rest of the offices.

*****

Ferrah sat in the swirly chair of the previous big business executives, using her toes to push her around slowly. She started thinking about how this could possibly be her last day alive, and sparing thoughts for her family and friends. She thought about how she acted towards some of the people she called her ‘friends’, and how badly she had treated them. She longed for a chance to apologize, but knew that most of them were probably dead now, and most of them she would never see again. She stood up, kicking the chair behind her, and making her way over to the fridge that had been mocking her from across the room. She took out a can of energy drink, and took a big gulp, feeling the caffeine fill her veins. It didn’t exactly energize her much, but it fulfilled the basic requirement of quenching her thirst, which was good enough for her.

*****

Denise panicked slightly, before slamming her fist down onto the door, again and again, shouting for someone to come and save her. She must have done this for around twenty minutes, before Rory, Tina and Ferrah found her. 

“What are you doing out here?” Tina asked.

Denise shrugged.

“I wanted to see the roof. But I didn’t know that it was an automatic door.”

“What?” Rory asked, “It’s not an automatic door, we had to push it open. It wasn’t easy, either. Had to use a lot of force. I’m not sure how you got it open in the first place.”

“Are you calling me weak?” Denise mocked, “Because I’m pretty strong, you know. I got the door open no problem,” Denise smiled.

“Then why did you say it was automatic?” Ferrah chimed in.

“Oh, I meant that if you don’t hold it open, it locks itself automatically. That’s all.” 

There was a painful moment of silence where everyone just looked at each other, and stood very, very still. Then suddenly, almost in unison, they all turned around slowly to look at the heavy metal door that led back into the building. It was locked. They all looked around the roof for another way down, but it seemed that the only way was the obvious one, jumping. Denise peered cautiously over the side, to see that the whole building was surrounded by hordes of hundreds, if not thousands of zombies. They all exchanged glances, wondering what to do next.

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