As the door slammed closed behind us, we were consumed by the darkness. My entire body went stiff and a chill ran down my spine extending out to my fingertips and toes. I do not fear the dark, I am however petrified of the unknown. With these zombies constantly lingering in silence and lurking in the shadows in wait for a meal to cross their path, that fear no longer seems so irrational. The safety of night is no longer our friend.
Through his shallow, rapid breathing Tino whispered “I’ve never seen them travel in packs before.”
“Ye-Yeah”, choking on my own words I forced out, “That’s definitely more than we can handle on our own.”
“Shhh”, he said as his voice grew even softer, “I’m not so sure we are alone just yet.”
Still in the darkness, the dark haunting unknown, the wind was crashing against every wall and whistling through the old grizzled window frames. The fowl stench of decay was permeated throughout the room leaving me with that empty, sinking feeling. Tino was riffling through his bag, creating quite a ruckus. He pulled out his lantern and illuminated the room with a blinding white light.
“Oh…. My….. God.” The words fell out of mouth almost inaudible as I gazed upon a gruesome scene of carnage.
With the same astonishment Tino said, “It looks like a goddamn battlefield.”
The walls of the once perfectly preserved Sir William Johnson hall were now lined with bullet holes, and splattered with thick, blackened blood. The floors, the hallways, and the staircase were littered with scattered bodies, some of which were lifeless and others were no so much. The room came to life, for now that they were aware of our presence, a majority of the corpses began to reanimate.
“Shit shit shit shit shit! Swing away!” Tino shouted
“I’ll take the ones on the left, you take the right, and we’ll meet in the middle!” I yelled back to him.
As he buried his machete in the skull of the closest zombie his voice trailed away from worry and became a roar of solid fury. “Whatever you do don’t let them get behind you.” He scowled “We got this.”
He always preferred his bladed weapons. Me however, my weapon of choice was spike. A simple wooden bat with a handful of framing nails protruding out of the head in every direction. Each one was its own potential chance to destroy the brain on contact.
Spike felt as light as a feather in my hands and, as Tino suggested, I swung away. Like following instinct I ripped through the crowd. Each time I swung the nails did their job, sinking in destroying the brain and sliding back out with ease. One by one the zombie hit the floor, and the undead became dead once again. Getting a little careless I allowed two of them to come in a little too close for comfort. Holding spike sideways I punched them back. One stumbled and fell backwards but the other recovered swiftly and charged at me faster than ever. A single blow from spike shattered its skull and peppered my shirt with the same thick, clotted blood that coated the walls. The smell was agonizing.
The other zombie was still struggling to get back on his feet, but he was the last one on my side. A rush of relief fell over me because my arms felt like they were going to fall off. I walked over and swung spike like an axe burring a majority of the nails into the top of his head. When the body went limp I let out a sigh of relief. Yanking on spikes handle I couldn’t seem to muster up the strength to pry it out.
I took a moment to catch my breath and then I kicked the bat loose. I had just bent down to receive it when Tino yelled, “Nate behind you!”
“What?!” I screamed and as I whipped around a zombie grabbed me by the shoulders.
I threw my arms up to hold it back and it was as if time had slowed down. Being this close to one was almost like my very first encounter with the undead. It’s as if I can still see her. Her long blond hair was caked in dirt and blood, the flesh around her mouth was decayed and eaten away in most places, and the most heart wrenching detail, the one that still haunts my dreams, was her eyes. They were glazed over, void of any life, and yet it’s as if they burned with the fury of a thousand caged stars. That gaze burrows into your soul, into your very existence, and leaves you scarred. In one single moment every last detail of this woman’s face was burned into my memory.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Tino pull his glock out of its holster. “No!” I yelled, but it was too little too late. He pulled the trigger and as the shot rang out I felt the zombie become dead weight in my arms. I fell to the ground and the lifeless woman came crashing down on top of me.
“Let’s go, let’s go” Tino said frantically as he dragged the body off of me, “They’re coming. We have to get upstairs.
I picked up spike and began to make my way up the stairs behind Tino. Any zombie within a mile radius heard that shot and would now be on their way here. The horde from the park was already smashing through the windows downstairs and piling up behind the front door.
Once upstairs we ran into the first open door and slammed it shut behind us. I quickly tipped over a dresser in front of the door and slid down to the floor with my back to the wall. “Thank you” I said quietly, “but what now.”
His hands were trembling and he was staring at the floor. He shook his head and started to laugh, “I don’t know…” he said “I just don’t know”.