Chad, Ray and I leave in the late morning, first to retrieve my bike as well as the supplies. We then will go to several different locations to try and find weapons and more ammunition. Josh stays behind, wanting to rest, I think. Chad offered to let me stay while he and Ray go to get the bike but I reject the offer.
I slept little again. Same dream as before and then I was unable to fall asleep again.
I have my bag on, machete is now strapped to the back of my bag, horizontally. The handle sticks out the right side and all I need do is reach under my arm and pull it out. This seemed fastest and so I worked hard to strap it to my bag in this way. My Rifle is hanging in front of me and I rest my hands on it. Chad and Ray both have pistols as their shotgun ammo has run out. Chad also has his katana strapped over his back.
It takes about forty minutes for us to get back to the house. It looks different during the day and I imagine that it was a pleasant neighborhood to live in. I wish I would have visited it in different times. Everything is as we left it except the bike has fallen over—probably from the weight of all of the bags. Chad laughs when he sees it. It does not look like a bike but rather wheels with bulging cloth connecting them. Little of the bike is visible. I begin strapping the shotguns and CZ 750 back onto the bar when Chad and Ray both put their pistols into outside pockets of bags and each grab a shot gun. After checking the rounds we head out. Going north to a local gun shop—TDS guns—north of his place.
We walk through neighborhoods for two hours, walking in the middle of the street and watching for any signs of zombies. There were none. In fact the trip was relatively calm and by the time we arrived at the gun store we were walking casually, talking amongst ourselves. The doors were locked, and after trying several cars, (to copy what Josh had done back in Reno) I finally shoot the lock. The door slightly swings open. Ray walks forward to open them and is grabbed by the arm.
I watch in slow motion as the creature bends its head downward, opens its mouth and bites Ray in the forearm. He screams out in pain, raising the shotgun awkwardly up and tries, with one hand, to shoot the zombie. He misses, and the kickback from the gun hits his shoulder hard. Another scream as the arm pops and it falls limp. Another zombie walks out and grabs Ray’s head, biting at his shoulder, tearing of skin and muscle. Ray screams and pleads for help. I shoot the first zombie as the other bites at his ear. It is too close for me to get a good shot. More start to come out, grabbing at Ray and biting and mauling him. He turns his head screaming as I fire round after round. Chad just stares and I think he is in shock at the gory sight.
His face pleads with me between screams and finally I move the gun slightly to the left and fire. It hits Ray in the forehead and he drops completely to the ground. Ten, twenty zombies fall out of the doors and pile on to eat our friend. Some come towards us. I fire single shots, killing each from a close range.
Chad finally regains himself and starts firing into the crowd of zombies. They abandon the mangled body of Ray and begin running towards us. Chad continues to fire. Not moving.
“Come on!” I yell, starting to run away. “Come on!” Almost reluctantly, he follows. Sprinting with his gun in one hand. There is no time to grab the bike and so we run, shooting behind us when we can. We make it some distance, but with the horde still following.
“We need to hide,” I say, out of breath.
Chad points to an apartment complex just off the road and we turn, running towards it. It is locked and I shoot a round through the glass door, shattering the glass instantly. We run through and up the stairs, trying to get to the top level so that we can better see the large group of zombies. They follow us to an extent, but barely any (from what we can tell) enter the apartment. I sling my gun across my back and pull out my machete. Chad does the same, holding the sword in front of himself.
“I only saw a few come in,” I say, walking towards the door. “If we can get out without them noticing I think we will be able to make it back.”
I lead the way, opening the door slowly and peering out. There is nothing in the hallway that leads to the stairs. I walk quickly and as silently as I can down the hall, Chad following close behind, both of out blades ready to strike at a moments notice. The stairs weave back and forth and we descend down them quickly, stopping abruptly at the bottom. The door is jammed. I take a step back and kick it hard, near the door knob. It crashes open louder than I would have though and I watch as a zombie stumbles away from the door. Chad rushes through the door, swinging the blade of his katana downward in a slicing motion severing is head from its shoulders. I follow behind him, stabbing another in the face and then kicking it down.
There are three more in the room and we both turn to face them. Chad rushes towards the nearest, the point of his blade aimed at its head. It goes straight through the skull like butter. I swing sideways, cutting the chest of one that was running towards me. It stumbles as I stick my blade in the side of its head. Its weight pulls the wedged machete with it and I lose it from my grip. I bend down to pull it out but am grabbed by the shirt and thrown down.
“Chad!” I yell as the third descends on me. I see a blade on top of it head cause blood and brains to fly out and on to me. I cover my mouth and nose with my arm and roll away from the gore. My machete is there, still sticking out of the head of the fallen zombie. I pull it out violently, hearing a crack from the things neck as I do so.
“Let’s go,” I say, and we run out of the building. There are none in sight and so we continue to run, into the backyard of a nearby neighborhood, and cut across the lawns. Running for our lives.
Some hours later we arrive at the apartment. The lower door’s glass paneling is broken out and the door is wide open. I look at Chad and we both run up the stairs to the top level. There, the door is open, broken at the doorknob. We hear screaming coming from somewhere down the hall. Another office. We both run, following the sound. I can hear Chad’s screaming in the back of my head, but it is not present in my thoughts and I block it out. There, at the end of the hall, are Josh and one of the other men, Jacob, I think, fighting off several zombies. I pull out my gun and shoot them each. Chad has run in front of me and begins hacking them down. Yelling. Screaming.
“Where are they!” He is panting. Looking at Josh and Jacob who have stopped and stare at him. “Where the hell are they!” he yells again, swinging his sword down. It sticks in a desk.
Josh speaks first, stuttering, “they . . . they’re gone.”
“What do you mean,” Chad says, his face fierce and I worry he may punch Josh, or worse, “gone.”
“They . . . they came some hours ago.” He is barely able to talk, but he continues, trying to stay calm and upright. “They came and, and it was so sudden. Like they knew we were here. They grabbed . . .” he chokes. “They grabbed them. Everyone. And . . . it was horrible. There was blood and we . . . We had to run. Please . . . we had to run, or . . .” he trails off.
“No,” Chad shakes his head. “No.” That is all he can say and he says it over and over, falling to his knees. All I can do, all any of us can do is watch as he sobs into his hands amongst the bodies of the zombies. There are tears littering my eyes and I try to get them out, wiping them on my sleeves.
I hear movement from down the hall and silently walk down, leaving the others there. I place my gun on my back and draw the machete, holding it in front of me. The hallway is dark and I squint trying to see. The noise is coming from our sleeping area and my heart beats as I dread what I know I will see, and what Chad cannot see. There, starting to move are Crystal and two others; each trying to get to their feet. All mangled and bloodied and broken. Zombies, truly dead zombies, litter the floor but I cannot look at them. I can only look at Crystal, my family, my sister-in-law whom I love, and that Chad loves, more than anything. More than his own life.
I walk towards Crystal and whisper an apology, tears streaking my cheeks. I can’t let him see, is all I can think. I take my blade and push it into her head, quickly. I can feel her go limp and a sob escapes my lips. I lay her down gently. I then turn to Clive, the beautiful two year old boy, he is not moving. Unlike the others he is still. Dead. I look at the others and then back to him. I pick him up and hold him in my arms, cradling his lifeless body. Crystal is still, and Clive along with her is dead.
I am struck hard and fall to my side. I feel something pulled out of my bag and hear two gun shots. I am then struck again, in the face. I open my eyes and see Chad on top of me, his fist raised. He brings it down on me and I can feel a tooth dislodge itself from my jaw. There is shouting and he is pulled off of me.
“Damn you!” he screams, spitting at me. “They could have been OK. Maybe they were OK!”
I try to speak but my jaw hurts too much. It takes me some time, but I form the words, “It’s better.” He tried to break free, but Josh and Jacob hold him. “It’s better than what they would be.” I can see him visibly relax. Josh lets go, and soon Jacob does too. “I couldn’t let you see them like that.” I whisper, holding my jaw.
“So you thought that was your job, did you?” Chad yells, his voice cracking at the end. I don’t know how to respond.
He storms out, still holding my pistol he had taken from my bag. I stand there, horrified at what I had to do . . . ashamed. But I knew he could not do it. I did not do it for survival, or to keep us from danger. I did it so Chad wouldn’t have to see them like that: snapping their jaws in the air trying to get to me. I did it so they would not have to live like that. I did it for mercy.
I hear shots. They are coming from the street. We run down and out of the building in time to hear the last shot go off and see Chad throw the gun down on the ground. He pulls out his sword and waits. Slowly, zombies begin to trickle out from the buildings and side streets. He walks towards the nearest and decapitates it. Another he chops down through the skull. He continues killing them, one by one. I swing my rifle around and begin shooting them. One by one, taking careful aim.
“Chad!” I yell. It hurts my jaw. I look at Josh.
“Chad,” Josh yells over the mayhem, making his way over to him. “Chad, please. We need you to come with us. We need to get out of here.”
“No!” he yells back. “I am going to kill each one! They killed her. They killed Crystal, and Clive.” I am firing faster now. And with it comes worse aim.
“Please!” Josh says again. “What would they want you to do?”
He stops and stares at Josh. “They’re dead. They don’t want me to do anything.”
“What would they want? Don’t stain their memory with this.” He fires several shots at some oncoming zombies. I change my clip quickly and throw another towards Josh. Jacob stands near me with the shotgun Chad had dropped when first entering the room I had killed his family in.
With every shot more come. Following the noise. Josh is pleading with Chad and I know we need to go soon. I am firing constantly and Josh’s words are lost in the noise, but I can see that he is still trying to convince him. Finally I yell, “You’re killing us, too.”
He looks at me with absolute loathing, then at Josh and Jacob. Everything seems to go quiet as he thinks until finally I watch as he grabs Josh by the arm and, running, leads him past us and slowly out of the fray. Jacob and I follow and soon we are away from them, running into the night, tears blurring each of our eyes.