Waiting for the Dead:The Last Town #3(3)

By: Stephen Knight

Reese trained his shotgun on one of the ghouls attacking the Guardsman, but there was no way he could fire and not potentially kill the man. Instead, he reversed the weapon and slammed the butt stock into the skull of one zombie with all his strength. There was a satisfying crack as the ghoul’s head bounced back from the impact, but it recovered almost immediately and resumed the attack. Reese slammed it again, putting more of his weight behind it this time. Black ichor exploded out of the corpse’s nostrils, and one eye bulged outward, erupting from its socket like a gooey balloon. The zombie forgot about the Guardsman and reached for Reese instead. For its trouble, Reese gave it another good knock in the face, and then Bates rolled up. He started literally stomping on the zombie’s head with one boot, again and again and again, until bone finally failed and more foul-smelling blackness leaked out onto the damp floor.

“Get the other one!” he shouted to Reese, his voice barely audible above the racket Narvaez and the other Guardsman were making as they continued fighting on. The Guardsman on the floor was holding the second zombie at bay with his rifle, using it as a lever to keep his masked face away from its snapping teeth. The zombie wasn’t even trying to push around the man’s defense—it was literally trying to climb over the rifle, as if it was a wall that had to be scaled instead of an obstacle to be nudged aside. Reese reached down and grabbed the back of its hospital smock and yanked it away from the man with all his strength, flinging the zombie across the floor. It moaned as it clambered back to its feet, its hollow eyes focusing on Reese now.

“Duck!” he heard Bates yell. Reese did, crouching over the soldier on the floor, waiting for Bates’s shotgun to speak. When nothing happened, he looked up just in time to see Bates swing an IV tree right at the zombie’s head. He laid into it like he was Barry Bonds on a triple dose of the good stuff, and the ensuing impact was strong enough to severely bend the metal pole. The zombie staggered backwards with a growl, then slipped in a puddle of water. Bates tossed the IV tree to the floor in disgust.

“Damn, I really thought that would work,” he said. He quickly reached over to where his twelve gauge was leaning against the wall, brought it to his shoulder, and finished off the ghoul with one thunderous report.

“Bates! What the fuck are you doing?” Reese shouted as he helped the fallen soldier to his feet. “Why didn’t you just shoot it?”

“I save the shotgun shells for when they’re coming after me, Detective,” Bates responded, frowning. “You know, you really need to go back to finishing school and learn up on showing some gratitude.”

Reese steadied the Guardsman as he clambered back to his feet. “You all right?” he shouted. He realized then that he had dropped his shotgun. “Are you bitten?” he asked while looking around for the weapon.

“I’m fine! Thanks, man!” the Guardsman shouted from behind his mask.

Reese found his shotgun lying behind him and scooped it up as the rest of the Guardsmen pushed past him and Bates. A figure thrashed about on a bed not far away, trapped beneath a feasting ghoul. Bright jets of scarlet shot into the air, spraying all across the wall. Reese hurried toward the pair as they writhed about on the bed, as if in the grips of an urgent ardor. The man the zombie was feeding on was already slipping away, his eyes rolling up in his head, a froth of bloody saliva leaking from his mouth as the female zombie savaged his neck and chest. Reese shot them both, emptying the shotgun’s tube.

“Reloading!” he shouted to Bates.

“Take your time,” Bates said, looking ahead as the Guardsmen continued clearing the room. “Looks like this might just be about over.”

That’s when the doors leading into the isolation area flew open, and a gaggle of newly turned zombies slithered inside. Bates turned toward them, then looked over at Reese. He gave a little shrug as Reese reached into his vest and began pulling out his reloads.

“Okay, maybe not,” Bates said, turning toward the threat. He raised his shotgun and began firing slowly and carefully, dropping five zombies while Reese continued reloading. By the time he had slid seven shells into his Remington 870 tactical, Bates was about done. Seven corpses lay on the floor, the majority of their heads missing, splattered across the walls and doors. There were only three left, and Bates was in the process of pulling his pistol when Reese stepped up beside him. He opened up with the shotgun, bringing down the remaining zombies. Behind them, Narvaez and the rest of the Guard were mopping up the room, exterminating any ghouls that had been overlooked in the initial assault.

Also By Stephen Knight

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