Lisa was not pretty, but she was effective. She knew it. Sixth squad had never lost a member. They’d been together since the beginning. But today was not going well. The Z’s were coming in faster than the squad could kill them off. Their line had been split by a surge of Z’s. There was no point in dwelling on it. She gave the order. “Blanco, Terry. Bug out. Reynolds, you’re with me.”
If she’d had time to think, she might have been proud that they Blanco and Terry headed northeast so quickly or she might have been disappointed that they did not protest or try to stage a daring rescue. But she had other things to think about. Four zombies were coming at her at once, and one arc of her bat put two of them on the ground. She immediately swung upwards and into the jaw of the third and put the butt end through the eye socket of the fourth. Only then did she exhale.
She looked longingly at the roof of the P & C Warehouse. There was no way they could get up there even if there weren’t a parking-lot full of Z’s. Why on earth had Clipboard dispatched them here as a single squad? Others must have had the same idea during the Panic, because the supply of Z’s was far greater than the whatever food would have been left inside the warehouse. Someone at Central was going to have to start thinking for a change. No time for that now, though. Blanco and Terry were clear. Some of the Z’s must have followed them. They could run for it now.
“Reynolds. Let’s get out of here!”
They ran out the driveway and toward Van Vleck. With the inertia of a Nimitz-Class carier, the zombie mob turned and followed. They ran northwest on Van Vleck Road until just past the railroad tracks. Reynolds was rolling around on the ground, screaming. “My knee! My goddamn knee!”
Lisa turned. The zombie mob was forty yards away, moving inexorably forward. “Get up, Reynolds. They’re coming.”
“I can’t,” he sobbed. “My goddamn knee. It’s my ACL again. I tore it when I was a kid. I’d know that feeling anywhere.”
“Jesus.” This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Wasn’t she the one that was supposed to fall down and twist her ankle like in the old movies? Where was the charming prince that was going to rescue her? She rolled him over on his stomach, reached under his shoulders and dropped down on both knees. He didn’t flop into the fireman’s carry–he was conscious. This wasn’t going to work. Instead, he hopped up and down on his good leg. She reached between his legs and wrapped her arm behind the good knee, pushing it forward and knocking him down. She stood up. It wasn’t graceful, but it would do the trick.
“What the frak are you doing?”
“Saving you. Shut up and let me breathe.” She started to double-time down Van Vleck and her heart sank. She had forgotten about the Thruway. She’d managed to maneuver them both into a dead end. The cars on the Thruway were the anvil, the hammer was heading toward them on Van Vleck, and they were about to get smashed in very slow motion.
She kept moving ahead to put more space between them and the Z’s, but the closer she got to the Thruway, the more moans she heard. She saw a two-story bungalow on the right side of the road and made up her mind. A poke with the bat through a pane of glass gave her access to the deadbolt. She opened the door. She staggered inside. It was just like carrying cat food, except that cat food didn’t weight 175. She bolted the door again and marched up the stairs, dropping Reynolds on the bed she guessed would be there. She left him there to improvise defenses. She worked quickly. She knew she’d have only a couple of minutes.
She found the dining room table and turned it backwards against the front door. She wasted no time in sweeping the photographs of some long-gone young man off the upright piano, but moving it in front of the front window took nearly a minute. It was easy once it was moving, but getting it started was tough. She piled a couch and two chairs between the front door and the stairs, and then got out her crowbar and started ripping up stairs. She was smart enough to work from above and to pull the wood up with her as she moved.
Finally, she was done. She walked into the bedroom, dropped her crowbar, and removed her boots and clothing. She pulled back the covers and started to get into bed with Reynolds.
“What the frak are you doing?”
“The way I see it, Reynolds, it’s cold in here, and body heat’s going to be the only way to survive. I wouldn’t complain too loudly, either. It’ll attract the neighbors. And besides, have you ever seen the movie Misery? Just think of me as your nurse. Keep me warm and I’ll pay back the favor, honey.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. He winced but knew she held all the cards.
The moaning stopped at 2:30. The slept peacefully for the rest of the night.
The next morning, before he awoke, she got dressed and put four stairs back into place, shoved the furniture out of the way, opened the door, and with quick, merciless strokes, removed the previous day’s threats from the face of the earth. She stopped counting at 250.
Now all she would have to do was face today’s threat: walking home with 175 pounds of man on her back. Normally that would sound like a real treat, but it was 28 degrees out and she had to cross the Thruway. She hoped she didn’t fall and twist her ankle. Reynolds was in no shape to help her. Just like a man. They were so unreliable. If you wanted to get anything done, you had to take matters into your own hands. She always did.
Lisa was not pretty, but she was effective. She knew it.