by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Jamie ran along the beach, her heart racing as the abomination that chased her and her daughter continued its pursuit. From the corner of her eye, she saw another zombie stumbling her way, his mouth half gone, and his teeth already mashing together, eager for the taste of her flesh. This was insane, she thought, holding onto Melisa’s hand and yelling at her to run faster! They were almost to the water. She hoped these things couldn’t swim.
She and her husband had originally been traveling with another group of refugees, but had disagreed with them on what their next move should be. Some of them wanted to stay where they were, thinking that it would continue to be safe. From their vantage point they could see down the mountain and spot any un-dead before they attacked. A few of the men even thought it would be great sport to shoot at them, picking them off as they came. Marty, Jamie’s husband, had been very vocal against that idea.
“Gun fire will only attract more!” Marty had argued, but Craig, the thickheaded redneck in their group had only laughed.
“Then we’ll shoot them too. I don’t see what’s wrong with a bunch of dead zombies.”
“And what about when we run out of bullets?” Marty had asked, trying to reason with him. “We’re stuck up here in the mountains with no way down, but the way we came up.”
“Then we’ll use arrows.” Craig said.
“You’re crazy.” Marty said. “We’re not staying. We’ve already seen movement out in the woods and our last hunting party was lucky to make it back alive. If we stay here, we’re dead.”
“We can go down the mountains and move farther south.” Joe suggested. Joe had become their unofficial leader, ever since Walter’s heart attack a week ago. “Get out into hillbilly country and we might stand a chance.”
“That’s just as crazy as staying here,” Marty argued. “We’ll still have the same problem we have here. We’ve seen it, when they run out of food in the city they don’t die, just walk on and on and on, until they find food. They’ve been feeding off the animals in the woods, it’s only a matter of time before they find our camp here and it will be the same thing further south.”
“What do you suggest?” Joe asked.
“On my last scavenger hunt in the city, I ran into some survivors that were on their way north.”
“Oh, here we go now,” Craig said, throwing his hands in the air. Joe motioned for him to be quiet and allow Marty to continue.
“They had an idea and I have to say, it’s not a bad one.”
“I remember you telling us about it,” Joe said, “but there are all kinds of problems with it, starting with, it’s just a theory. There’s only one way to find out and if they are wrong, we could be in an even worse situation, starting with how to keep warm.”
“But that’s just it!” Marty argued. “It’s cold in the north! It’s January and most places are under several feet of snow.”
“Which we aren’t prepared to deal with,” Joe said. “Okay, maybe they’re right and the walkers are frozen solid. Maybe they will be easy pickings and we can kill them all before they thaw in the spring. But maybe they aren’t! Maybe cold doesn’t affect them; certainly losing limbs doesn’t stop them. I saw one of them completely cut in half, dragging himself across the ground! And if we go north and find out there’s no electricity or gas anywhere…and there probably isn’t, we’re just as good as dead.”
The argument had gone on for quite awhile. Finally it was decided to head further south. Marty and Jamie said a tearful goodbye to their friends and went the opposite direction.
They had been attacked as soon as they entered North Carolina. Jamie, making Melisa her first priority, had managed to get away; Marty had not been so lucky. Jamie hadn’t had the luxury of crying, she still had to worry about Melisa.
And now here they were, being chased by these creatures that didn’t seem to know how to die. It was insane, the one that had chased them onto the beach had a broken leg and the other that had just joined the chase looked like he’d dug himself up out of the ground. But they didn’t need speed, since they never stopped walking. Once they had their eye on a prime piece of human flesh they kept moving.
Jamie whooped with joy as she and Melisa reached the water’s edge, their feet kicking up foam as they ran deeper into the ocean. She picked her little girl up, swimming one armed towards a wooden deck, anchored out in the bay. Glancing over her shoulder she saw the creatures walking into the water. One of them fell over when a wave knocked him to the ground, but he continued towards his goal, crawling.
Reaching the deck, Jamie pushed Melisa up, onto the surface, and then climbed up herself. She looked out over the water and didn’t see the pursuing monsters. She kept watch, her eyes scanning for any sign that they were still there. They had to be under water.
‘Can they swim?’ Jamie wondered. She kept watching. It seemed an eternity, but she saw no sign of them. She started to laugh, hugging her daughter. ‘They must have drowned,’ she thought, ‘or been eaten by the fish.’
“It’s okay,” Jamie said, repeating those words over and over again, as she clung to her daughter. “It’s okay, everything’s okay now.” She felt for the first time as though they really had a chance for survival. Then she started to cry, thinking about her husband. She sat still like that, holding her daughter as she would a lifeline. “It’s going to be okay.”
Then Melisa screamed and Jamie felt herself being pulled into the ocean.
Word Count 1000
copyright 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar