All Falls Down

When the chips are down and the stakes are this high, every move is a gamble. Catch up with Evie and Owen’s story on How Not to Die in a Zombie Apocalypse.

         “Evie, love, talk to me,” Owen shook her slightly.
         His hands on her shoulders brought Evie violently back to the present. She wrenched away from him, stumbling backwards–away from Edgar’s body. Evie could feel his blood on her face again. Leaning over over, she vomited and felt her guts cramp until there was nothing left in her belly.
         “Don’t touch me,” Evie panted, catching sight of Owen’s familiar boots.
         She wiped the back of her hand across her mouth and stepped away from the spot of sick on the floor. Evie felt the cool wall meet her back and leaned heavily against it. Keeping her eyes fixed firmly on her feet she resisted stuffing her fingers in her ears as Jessamy and Owen conversed quickly in lowered voices. She knew what the wet dragging sound was. It sounded just like a knife going through a tweaker’s rotting skin as they dragged the body out of sight.
         “We can’t stay here,” Evie said, feeling the bile rise in her throat again. “Not with that…thing. It’ll draw them.”
         She didn’t think anyone heard her, but Owen stood at her side again.
         “I’m calling Gregg,” he said as he dialed the number Gregg left them.
         The satellite phone lit up, the greenish light oddly comforting. Evie slid down the wall until she was sitting, arms wrapped around her knees. Her ear still rang and she hoped her eardrum wasn’t ruptured.
         “Gregg? Gregg?” Owen raised his voice and walked a few steps away from Evie, trying to find the best signal. “Gregg, mate, you coming in today?”
         Evie could picture Gregg lounging in a comfortable chair somewhere in Reno with a beer and horseshoe of dip in his jaw. She leaned her forehead against her knees, her head pounding. She could feel bruises forming on her back, welts from the gun barrel. Her whole body felt heavy and it seemed like the past month of little food and less sleep suddenly roared over her. She wondered for a moment if there was a train nearby as the sound in her ears grew louder.
         “Evie,” Owen’s hand on her shoulder felt unnaturally warm, she pulled away from it. “Evie, love, can you stand?”
         What a stupid question, she thought until she opened her eyes. The world swirled around her and she put out her hand instinctively. She felt Owen’s rough fingers curl around hers and wondered why her hands were so cold. She let him pull her up, resting her forehead on his chest. Her skin felt clammy and her mouth desert-dry. The buzzing in her ears faded but she was afraid to open her eyes. She could almost feel the hum of hesitation as Owen wrapped one arm around her.
         “I think you fainted,” he said unhelpfully, his breath stirring her hair.
         Evie felt the gentle pressure of his chin on top of her head. Just a little longer, something whispered. But she pulled free, making sure her legs were steady before she backed away from Owen, not meeting his eyes.
         “Did Gregg answer?” she asked, scanning the room to see Jessamy still standing guard over Vanessa. She didn’t look like much of a threat; her head hung down and Evie could see that her shoulders were shaking. She wondered if the other woman was crying.
         “He did. He said to get to high ground—as high as we can get—and light the flares when we think he’s about thirty minutes out. He’ll come to us,” Owen sounded like he was talking to a wounded animal and Evie shot him a look.
         “I’m fine,” she wiped her clammy palms on her jeans. “What do we do with her?”
         “I guess we take them both with us,” Owen glanced sideways at Vanessa and Jessamy.
         “And if Gregg won’t let all four of us on the plane?”
         Owen opened his mouth to answer and froze, cocking his head to the side. It took Evie a moment longer to hear what caught his attention. There was a wet ripping noise. Evie tried not to gag.
         “Where did you put his body?” she asked, already striding towards her bag.
         “We put it down one of the hallways—didn’t want to take down the barricades more than once,” Owen was pulling his own holster on after checking the chambers of both guns. “Jessamy, stand down. They’re inside.”
         Jessamy hauled Vanessa to her feet and handed her Edgar’s gun. He kept his gun leveled at her for a moment.
         “I won’t try anything,” she said hoarsely.
         Jessamy nodded once and went to grab his own bags. Evie shoved everything she could reach back into her pack, wishing she had time to rifle through Edgar’s stuff. Instead, she saw Jessamy gather his bedding and stuff it into the abandoned bag. He caught her eye and grinned.
         “They never let me carry anything important. Edgar kept the goods,” he hefted the bag easily and picked up his gun. Owen was pulling down the barricade at the door.
         “What if they’re outside, too?” Vanessa’s asked, adjusting her grip on the gun.
         “I think it’s too cold out there,” Owen answered. “The fire must have drawn them in here.”
         As he pulled the last chair away from the door and reached for the bar, Evie heard a low moan and turned towards the dark hallway, gun raised towards the stumbling tweaker. He shambled in on feet that were black with frostbite, one arm hung limply in the socket and his skin was raw in places, bitten so deeply the muscle showed. There was fresh blood on his face and twisted hands and Evie felt a moment of grim satisfaction. It was short lived as he turned his head, scenting the air. Another garbled sound escaped his throat and there was a sort of answer as the hallway behind him flickered with movement. Evie heard the metal bar rattle in the main door handles and Owen leaped back as the horde of tweakers outside thrust themselves against it, bending the bar to its limits.

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10 thoughts on “All Falls Down

  1. Excellent — only one suggestion — in the last paragraph: “He shambled in on feet that were black with frostbite…”
    The “He” here is really distracting and unclear. How about “The tweaker shambled in” or change the last sentence (I think I like this way better) to “Evie heard a low moan and turned towards the dark hallway, gun raised toward the stumbling tweaker. He shambled in on feet….”

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