They tore into her. Morgan still fought as it became apparent she was moments from death. She grabbed one by the shoulders and smashed its head into another’s, sending them both down. The smaller one that had attacked Morgan first (which was suddenly much more upright and broader through the shoulders) raked a clawed hand across her back. Morgan stumbled into the arms and waiting mouth of one wearing Thomas’ khaki pants and it clamped its razor-toothed mouth in her throat and ripped.
Morgan spun around, shock and agony the on her face and she locked eyes with her daughter one final time.
“Mommy,” Cindy whispered and was about to open the door again when her mother clearly mouthed the word ‘don’t’. It was enough to freeze her in her place as her mother gave a final, gurgly roar and charged into the largest group, four of the creatures, completely unready for an aggressive attack.
The biggest one was naked and Morgan did some sort of karate chop that sent her hand through its sternum. The thing’s watery eyes bulged, it’s mouth working up and down before they toppled over together. The others didn’t hesitate, falling on her and tearing flesh as she scratched and fought them all.
Seconds later it was over. The first emerged from the pile with an arm. Another had a hunk of upper thigh. The last she saw before turning away in revulsion had her mother’s face held between indexes and thumbs.
“Daddy!” she said, running back to the kitchen. He wasn’t there, but her friends still were. Matt and Delilah looked grave and wide-eyed.
“They’re outside,” Delilah said.
“Gregory doesn’t look good,” Matt said.
Gregory vomited, slumped in his chair. As if it were a second thought he leaned forward and tumbled onto the floor, bouncing his head off the linoleum. He began coughing and Delilah turned and shushed him.
“Quiet. They’ll hear you.”
“Sorry,” Gregory said, barely stifling another cough.
“I need to go find my dad,” Cindy said, feeling as though she were in a fog. “He’ll know what to do.”
“Know what to do?” Matt said. “That’s checkmate out there. Game, set, match. That’s a grand slam walk-off homerun. That’s a–woof!” Delilah rudely interrupted him with a punch to the gut. He went to one knee and looked up at her, a tear streaming from one eye.
“Thanks,” he said.
“Children, what’s going on in here?” Daddy said. This time, in addition to that stupid pipe, he had the equally dumb ascot cap on his head.
“Dad, you can’t go outside,” Cindy said, ice in her veins.
“Of course I can. I have to bring the dog in.”
“No. You can’t. He… ran off.”
Her father actually pshawed her. “Verocchio would never do any such thing. I’ve never had such a loyal companion in all my life.”
Cindy couldn’t help but wonder if that was somehow a sideways dig at her, but she let it pass. “Okay. Fine. He’s dead. I ran him over.” Her father’s eyes went wide. “I just didn’t know how to tell you.”
“How could you–” he began to say, but as if on cue, the damn thing began barking. He gave her a disapproving glare. “Cindyyyyy.”
“No, Daddy, you can’t go out there!” She charged him, shoving her palms into his chest. She stopped him, but only for a second before he casually brushed her aside and continued heading for the door.
“Mr. Nostrand, you can’t go out there,” Delilah said, shaking her head. “They’re out there.”
“Who? You’re friends?” he said. “I already saw them.”
“They’re not out friends. They’re monsters,” Matt said, putting his hands together and shaking them like he was pleading with Cindy’s father.
“Yes. You teenagers and your hormones are all quite monstrous,” he said and this time he did give Cindy a sidelong glance. Matt and Delilah seemed to sense some of what was going on and found something more interesting to look at in the room for a couple seconds.
“Look, daddy. I know you’re mad at me for some strange reason I can’t entirely say, but we don’t have time for this. Those things out there want to get in. They want to get us. Just like they got mommy.”
“Your mother’s out there? No why would she go out there with monsters?” He cocked an eyebrow.
“Daddy, mommy is dead. They… ate her.”
“Are you telling me those creatures out there are zombies?”
“No!” Cindy said a little too loudly. She knew that was a hot word in her household. Especially after her brother.
Her father was shaking now. “Just be honest with me and I’ll believe you. Tell me there are zombies out there.”
“Daddy… I…” Cindy began crying again as that day, three years ago, came flooding back to her.
Make sure to check back for the next installment this week! In the meantime, Anything but Zombies is out now! Go download a copy.