If I had the answers, this would be a different story, Paras Marcone thought, glancing at the passenger in the seat beside him. The woman could’ve been sleeping, but he could see blood seeping through her fingers where they clutched her shoulder. Her neck was tight. Her breath the windows, tiny puffs, shallow breaths, a struggle. Her life.
He turned his eyes to the road and made for the hospital. Why a hospital? It seemed as good a place as any, and nowhere seemed very good. It was all lost in a barrage of gunfire, exploding pinpoints of white and orange, fire, smoke, the woman’s body rolling across the hood of his silver Buick as it screeched to a halt.
Who? He thought as the blood smear flickered visible as he passed a streetlamp. Why?
“Who are you?” he blurted, checking his review mirror. Getaway drivers did that, he knew, in all the great action movies. The street was empty. Did they see my license plate? Can they track me?
“Just. Drive,” the stranger hissed, stirring. She tossed a handgun onto the dash with her free hand.
Paras flinched with a horrified shriek. The car swerved then righted itself when he realized she hadn’t shot him. He looked over briefly and saw her dialing a number. The phone was battered and smeared red. His stomach turned.
Maybe he didn’t want answers.
The trio was not strong enough to fight off the zombies. One woman screamed as she was enveloped, her boyfriend watching in horror but unable to help her; he was too afraid to move. The second woman struggled. And failed.
He never saw where she came from, the little girl in her gray rough spun dress and white bonnet, but he owed his life to that hatchet of hers. The dead never saw her coming. She hacked through them like a butcher and grabbed the man with a cherubic hand, pulling his frozen limbs into action.
They ran – half fighting, half falling – for the cabin with bonfires lighting a perimeter. Her pa stoked the fires with religious fervor. He was a tall man with a fierce gray beard covering his gaunt features.
“See, Savannah,” he howled at his daughter as she whisked her charge into the cabin, “This is what happens whenst thou doth not believe!”
Savannah spun around long enough to watch the horde advance across the prairie against the holy fire. Then the door shut and she was safe, bloody hatchet still clutched in one small hand.
The sheriff was bantering with his deputy, a no-nonsense young woman with a gun strapped to one hip and a hunting knife to the other, when the boy with black hair walked through the door. The sheriff stopped talking. The deputy straightened quickly and leaned over her desk to get a good look. In his trousers and loose shirt, the little boy might’ve been from the 19th century.
The boy looked at the sheriff through wise eyes that had seen many things. He had his mother’s eyes and his father’s good sense to be afraid of the dead.
“I think my momma is going to kill pa,” he said as he laid an old, rusted hatchet on the sheriff’s desk. “With this.”