Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen

A Chapter by Cre8nFrmWithn
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After suffering a terrible loss, an escape must be made...

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Chapter Sixteen

 

 

 I pulled back up into the roof and wiped the bitterness from my face.  Below, sounds of lips smacking, slopping and slurping  rose to our ears.  I cried freely but did my best to control my breathing.  We had to move.

 

        I looked over at Shawna, who was still crouched on the other side of the opening.  She wasn’t crying, just sitting there, looking at me.  She was distant, detached.  She was freaked out yet unmoving.  I didn’t want her with me; I knew I’d have been better off alone but I couldn’t leave her.  I mumbled for strength.  I was stuck with her but wished it had been Darren sitting beside her instead- a cruel thought for sure.

 

“We’ve gotta go.  They won’t think about us right now but it won’t be long before they try getting up here.”

        “They can get up here?”  She didn’t look at me and her voiced sounded so far away.  Further than the nasty’s below.

“I don’t know!”  I snapped.  I put the bag on my backpack, snatched up the gun bag and turned on the torchlight.  It wasn’t bright but we could see.

 

        The Building was old.  I worried about falling through the soft tiles, right into a crowd of the nasty’s.  The idea of their outstretched arms catching me like a bear catching his jumping salmon meal, frightened me.  I had no intentions of being anyone’s meal and didn’t want to watch anyone else being one either. 

 

        I focused on the mission before me.  I had to find a way out.  There were lights from everywhere beneath us.  All about, there were splotches of darkness, where the power was out or a light was switched to off.  It wasn’t difficult to see but tough to find an opening to safety.  I began to wonder if we’d be wandering about the ceiling forever when up in the distance, about ten or so feet, I caught a flash of light.

 

        Dim but visible, there was something fluttering.  “Up there!”  I didn’t look to see if Shawna was on my heels.  I crawled cautiously, desiring no accidents that would give away our position.  If they realized we were over their heads, they’d try their best to reach us. 

 

        I had no clue if they were intelligent enough to put a plan together, one where they’d stack things atop one another to catch us.  I didn’t want to be around and find out either.  I blinked away sweat from my eyes, trying to see if the flash of light was still there.

 

Ahead, about seven feet was the flickering light again.  I headed towards it, hoping it was the shadow of a tree branch outside a window.  I moved towards it.  I glanced over my shoulder to see Shawna barely moving.  She was so annoying now, more than ever. 

 

        “Hey”, I whispered.  She looked into my eyes.  She was hollow, probably from guilt as well as fear.  “I see a light up ahead.  I think it’s our way out. Stay quiet and be careful.”

 

        She nodded and we headed over to the light.  I was sweating heavily, the load I was dragging causing me to wear out.  I didn’t know if the window was going to big enough, I was no spring chicken.  Shawna, on the other hand, was a small one.  She’d fit nicely.

 

        Our crawling rewarded us with a boarded window.  The portal was covered, one of those metal gratings that are over roofing vents.  It barely allowed any light, making me wonder how I saw the flashing light.   I put my hand over the grate and pushed.  No budge.

 

        “How are we supposed to climb out through that?  Your butt is way too big and I’m not going first, in case it falls to the ground!”  Shawna whispered harshly.  I didn’t remind her that we were only a one-story building; the fall wouldn’t be so bad.  If I had to leave her behind, cowering in the ceiling of a candy store, that was on her.

 

        “I can get this cover off and we can get away, as long as none of those-“

“Zombies”, she interrupted.

“Yeah, those things aren’t on the outside, we can get away.”

“Then we’ll be back on the streets.  We don’t have David, we have hardly any food and we still didn’t find a car to drive.”

 

        I thought to myself quietly.  I had to admit, she was right about everything she said.  We didn’t have a ride, David was gone- as though he did something.  Then we barely had anything to eat.  Candy was not going to hold us long.  Finally I came up with a response.

 

“Shut up Shawna.”

 

I turned and began trying to figure out a way through the grating.  I did have a rather large girth but I wasn’t that bad.  I could get through, I thought.  Just because I didn’t weight a buck something didn’t mean I was fat, did it?

 

Shawna groveled while moving up beside me.  She stared through the openings in the metal, with longing.  On the other side of our escape was the roof of the building along side us.  It was the roof to a bakery.  Sitting on the face of the building was a dead neon muffin.  I’m sure it looked tasty when lit.  What I would give for a muffin right now.

 

        I pressed on the grate.  Nothing.  “What now Sherlock? You got a magic trick to get us out of here?”

        “First off, be quiet Shawna.  Secondly, we have to have something that can get us through.”

        “I know what can get us through”, she said while turning to sit on her butt.  She then brought her legs up and with both feet, kicked at the grating.  The sound was clamorous and positing giving!  I reached for her  shoulder and yanked back, towards myself.  I had to stop her from getting us killed.

 

        “What the-“

        “You got a better idea?”  She shouted, fighting me to brace again.  Her face was wild, abominable.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she hated me! 

 

        I stared her in the eyes and wondered what cogs were broken in her head.  With those things below us, we could easily let them know where we were.  If we were unlucky, and it seemed we were, they could get up here with us.  They could figure a way to reach up and snatch us from our spot with their hands and fingers twisted into claws.

 

        “I think I can find a way to get the screws loose”,  I whispered harshly.  I squeezed her shoulder a little tighter to show her I meant business.  I couldn’t tell if my emphasis registered till she put her feet down.  She didn’t break the stare but shook her head in acceptance.

“I have to find something to pry the grates open, maybe even break them.”

“Seriously?  We can’t do that without making more noise.”

“Yeah but it won’t be as obnoxious as your kicking them.”  Didn’t she understand anything?

 

Our situation didn’t seem to be as dire as we thought.  We hadn’t pursued us and with any luck they’d forgotten about us.  The sounds of the Nasty’s below fell silent but they were still  there.  Occasionally, there was a shuffle or bump underneath us; they were looking for more of us to nibble on.  I had to figure a way to get through the vent cover or we’d have to go down there.

 

I slid my backpack off and reached inside, looking for something that could help us pry our way through.  I didn’t have anything.  I felt about the area, my hands bringing up dust particles that flickered in the sunlight that pushed through. 

 

Through my fingers, I felt critters skittering away from my fingers.  I used the pads of my fingers to find something, anything.  Finally, after listening to Shawna constantly ask me what I was doing and two splinters, I found a nail.

 

The nail had a head large enough to allow me to use it as a screwdriver.  I sat for who knows how long, turning, getting scratched by the tip before the first screw fell..  I almost had a heart attack when it slipped through my fingers and hit the tile over the heads of the meat-eaters.  We briefly held our breath, thinking we were discovered

 

     Shuffling and grumbling but no outbursts- we were still undetected.  I began working on the second screw diligently.  I wanted out of the place.  The sun was setting and I didn’t want to be in the store any longer.  The heat caused an acrid smell.  The dead smelled worse than dead.

 

   A couple of times, I gagged.  I pulled my shirt over my nose and mouth but I didn’t smell too great either!  I needed one of those baths where the container was made of a huge, iron tub, like in the western days.

 

    While working and making a sweat, I thought about our situation.  I thought about how I still didn’t know my name and David being dead, probably one of those things down there.  I thought about how Shawna was a huge pain and would probably get us both eaten.  I thought about a lot.  I wanted out.

 

         Another screw down.  Six more to go.

 

        My frustrations were mounting and my hands, primarily my fingers were tired and aching.  I looked over at my companion and saw that she was dozing!  The girl went to sleep?  I finally got irritated.  I reached over and shoved her shoulder.

 

        Shawna’s reaction was almost fatal.  Her body rattled and her hands went out as she flew to her left.  Her eyes went wide as she realized she was falling off the beam that held us up.  If she went over, she’d fall through the ceiling tiles and land smack dab in the middle of the hubbub!

 

        I quickly put the nail between my teeth and reached out.  I managed to grabbed a handful of her shirt and her right arm to stop the fall.  She’d let out a mumbled yelp but stopped short and was breathing hard and heavy.  She then righted her self and shook herself free of my hold.  I gave her a stern look while she whispered angrily at me.

 

        “What is your problem?  I could have fallen and gotten myself eaten by those zombies man!  You crazy-“

         “Stay away!”  I cut her off quick and glared.  I refused to be killed because of her and I certainly wasn’t going to do all of the work while she caught a few winks.  I was tired, hungry and wanted out of the ceiling.  She was going to help me or stay there.

        “I am!”

        “Look girl, I am tired of your crap.  If you don’t want to be with me, then as soon as we get out of here, you can flee.  I don’t care.  You already got one person killed and I don’t want to be your second victim!  David would be with us had you helped me.  Instead, you got all mousy and crap and now he’s gone!  I don’t kno-”  I stopped myself.  I’d struck a nerve, only she didn’t argue back.

 

        Her chest heaved and her eyes glistened.  The corners of Shawna’s mouth curved down.  She didn’t break eye contact until the first streams fell.  I couldn’t bare it.  I looked away and got back to turning the screw in the grating.  I tried to ignore her sobs but they broke through to my heart.  I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings but …

 

Three screws down and I was on the fourth when I heard more banging under us.  The natives were getting restless.  I wasn’t sure if Shawna’s crying had caught their attention or not but something got them riled up. 

 

         I began working faster but my hands were trembling.  I hadn’t noticed but my hands were sweating profusely.  I could barely get the job done.  That’s when the banging started behind us.  I stopped with the screw and turned half way around.  There were flashes of light from underneath us popping through. 

 

         “I don’t understand”, I whispered.  Then another flash of light from below.  The thudding wasn’t strong but enough to be noticed.  That’s when Shawna stopped whimpering and watched too.

 

         In the distance, we saw that something was bumping the tiles furthest away from us.  Again and again, the light would flash around the edges, moving the tile upwards and sloppily back into place.  The hits weren’t hard but they were enough to see if something was there or not.  Or at least, allow a sniff if that’s what they did.  The Nasty’s were seeking us out!

 

“We’ve gotta move”, I said while working with the nail again, fearing that the slight grip would fail me.  I didn’t have enough to hold of the nail.  It was so small that it was hard to get the job done plus the light was fading fast. 

 

    “They’re looking for us?”  Shawna questioned.

         “Yes and they’re not far off.  They’re looking for us”, I confirmed.  I blinked rapidly as the sweat burned my eyes.   I was also having trouble with the sunlight fleeing.  I was sure they’d catch us if I didn’t get the freaking screws out.

 

     The pounding of the tiles moved closer to us.  It was like one or all of them were jumping up and down and irregular intervals, banging against the tiles, hoping to knock us out of the ceiling.  They’re the jumping salmon and the bear.  It’s frightening - driving me crazy!  Concentrating was becoming difficult.

 

As I worked, I could hear my breathing in hurried gasps. My heart slammed against my ribs as the Nasty’s were beating on the tiles.  While working, I prayed for help.  I asked God to get us out, bargaining to do anything He needed as long as we could be safe. 

 

          I looked over at Shawna.  Her lips were going a mile a minute, while wringing her hands like one of those villians in a black and white picture.  She appeared to be praying but that couldn’t be right, eh?  I continued to glance from behind me to her lips, wondering what she was saying. 

 

     Bang!  Bang! Bang!

 

    Her lips began to allow sound to pass through them.  I still couldn’t tell what she was saying, through all the noise.  I worked harder, feeling the vibrations of the ceiling throughout my entire body.  So hard to concentrate…

 

     Bang!  Bang! Bang!

 

     Why won’t they stop, I wondered.  I kept turning and got another screw loose.  I placed it with the others and started up again.  So many times through the clatter, I wished and wished for a screwdriver.  Anything that was larger than the nail head I was using to get the screws loose. 

 

     Bang!  Bang! Bang!

 

          I was beginning to hear Shawna clearly, yet still low enough that I strained to know her words.  No she wasn’t praying, that was for sure.  I did begin to feel more pressure as her words repeated over and over.  I could only do what I could- why didn’t she offer to help me out in place of chanting over there?

 

         “Come on, come on, come on”, she continued.  I wanted to yell at her, the stress so unbearable but I kept at the screw instead.  Turning and glancing over my shoulder, I worked to get the darn thing free.  Then, then the unspeakable happened.  I got the screw free…and it fell to the tile between my knees.

 

         “Bugger!”  I shouted without realizing it. 

 

         The banging stopped.

 

         The silence was unnerving; all I could hear was my heart drumming in a strong whooshing sound.  Had they heard me?  Did they catch our location through all that clamor?  I looked over at Shawna, almost giggling from the insanity of it all.  She looked like a freaking owl; her eyes were as big as stop lights shining back at me.

 

          Seconds passed, minutes with no sounds from us or from…from them.  I began to think I’d lucked out when I reached for the next screw.  Slowly, I extended my hand, fingers lightly over the next screw when they started banging again!

 

         This time, from beneath us!  Shawna and I both screamed in shock!  They found us and were determined to grab a hold.  The tiles banged up towards us, hitting our butts, legs and the metal framework they sat in. 

 

         The Nasty’s weren’t playing anymore.  They hit so hard the tiles were breaking in some spots.  I saw their flesh torn fists popping up and down.  They found their prey but couldn’t pounce.  Shawna was bawling now and I had so much difficulty in using that darned nail that I just leaned back on the rafters and brought my feet forth.

 

         It was hard to hold on with the tiles flying past me.  Some not falling back into their grooves due to the determination of the Nasty’s.  They wanted us, something fierce!

 

          Using one of my feet as a battering ram, I kicked at the grating.  It bent but didn’t give.  It didn’t stop me though; there were too many screws missing for it to hold for too long.  If I could just bend it enough for us to squeeze though, that was all that mattered.

 

         “Hurry, hurry!”  Shawna screamed.  I watched her bounce from spot to spot, avoiding the grasping fingers that flew through the ceiling. 

 

         Between one of my kicks, I chanced a peek downward to see the view below.  It was not pretty.  More of the Nasty’s were in the building; there were about thirty now, from the look of it.  Their skin was a pasty grey color, with scratches, bites and such all over.

 

         None of them had a face that looked familiar.  A bunch of dead They all jumped up at us, making the scene comical.  I almost laughed again but got hold of myself and began kicking.

 

         The next kick pushed the left side of the grating outward.  IT was working.  Shawna kept yelling orders at me, telling me to kick here or there.  I ignored her and kept using one side to focus on until it bent enough for us to push through.  I just wanted out with as much space as possible.  I didn’t need my big butt getting stuck halfway through.  

 

          I pounded, harder and faster, my feet making way.  The metallic shrill was a lilting solo compared to the droning chorus below.  I never really pondered the emotions of a zombie before but if I had to put a name to the emotions of the things that desired our flesh, I’d say they were pissed!  Their dead faces carried scowls and milky-eyed stares.  Others seemed to glare at us, full of hatred.  The looks fueled my effort, missing the realization that I’d bent the grating outward enough to squeeze through.

 

          Shawna was hitting at my feet to stop me, while trying to climb across from her beam to mine to scramble out.  The entire time she maneuvered over, hands darted up and down, attempting to make purchase.  It was rather funny and I let loose a maniacal laugh.  Shawna looked at me with disdain.  It too made me laugh.

 

         She pushed her way through and stood.  I could see her eyes as she slid off the ledge of the opening and then turned to make sure the coast was clear. 

 

          “Come on”, she called in to me.  I shifted back to my hands and knees, grabbed the backpack and tossed it through.  Shawna caught it and then moved back.  I grabbed the gun, about to hand it to her and then changed my mind.  I turned with ease, being the only one in the space, to face the hands reaching for me.

 

          I was going to climb out on my tummy.  I wanted to take a final glance at the monsters below, hoping to keep them thinking we were above.  Since it was somewhat obvious they didn’t sniff us out, I wanted them to keep grasping for us, long after we were in the wind.

 

          I carefully crawled out, making noise and staring down into the dismal crowd.  They growled and roared at me.  I didn’t know what to think.  It was like a terrible movie, dirty, smelly and ugly.  The Nasty’s were rather nasty and I didn’t want to see any of them for a long time.

 

         When I cleared the opening, I pulled the riot gun through.  Shawna handed me the backpack and we stared at one another.  Our clothes were a mess and we were one person short.  But we were alive and that was all that mattered now.  I looked past my companion and saw the sun was just about set.  We didn’t have time to find a vehicle before dark but we had to leave the roof of the store.  We needed them distracted, demanding to get at us in the ceiling for us to get away clean.

 

     I leaned into the hole; they were still there.  Fingers popping into view every few seconds.  Just what we needed.  I used the gun to bang on the grating.  The chorus of moans, roars and yelps grew higher.  Good.

 

“We need to hit the street running while they still think we’re up here.”

 “I think we should stay here.  They can’t get us up here.”

   “Not now but who knows for how long.”  Motioning to the destroyed grating, “I can’t shut that.  If they get up here, they get us.  We need to go while they think we’re here.”

 

  Shawna turned away from me a few steps and then turned back.  “Where do we go?”

    “Anywhere is better than here.  I think we can get a car or maybe some place to hide.  Right now, anyplace is better than waiting for them to figure a way up here.”

    “I’m staying.”

    “What?”

    “I’m staying.  I don’t think it’s good to leave now.  I say we stay and maybe find something in the morning.”

 

     I stared at her, wondering if she really meant that.  She’s been frightened to stone a little while ago, allowing her boyfriend to die.  What would she do if the street became full of them?

 

 I didn’t like the girl but I knew she’d be dead weight if things got really bad.  No pun intended but she was pretty expendable at the moment.  I could easily get away from the building, even though I was exhausted and hungry.  The thing is, I didn’t want to be alone either.  I wanted to have someone to talk to; someone to help keep me sane.  She was a person, after all- as lousy of one as she was.

 

“Shawna, I know you don’t have the energy to run right now but we can’t stay here.  If there are more of those things nearby, they could easily call more here.  We need to go and find a safe place.”

 “No.”

 

Shawna walked to a clear spot and sat down.  I sucked in a deep breath and then exhaled slowly.  I had to make a choice: do what I felt needed to be done alone or wait it out with the girl.  I didn’t like the latter but I didn’t want to be alone.

 

 I walked over to her and sat down.  I stole another deep breath, released and looked at her.  “Fine.  We’ll stay and see what happens in the morning.  Okay?”

 

She didn’t respond.  I could see she was crying.  Probably for David.  She watched the sun as it descended behind the skyline in silence.  We didn’t speak for a while, just listened to the muffled howls from inside.  I didn’t know what to say, or even know if she was mourning.  Did she love him enough to cry for him, after letting him die? 

 

 Stop I told myself.  She didn’t let him die.  She’s a kid; she was afraid.  Had it happened to me at that age, I’d have probably froze too.  I looked over at her and wondered what she was thinking.  Was she seeing him, David trying to get up to her or was she hearing his screams.  His death cries of pain before possibly becoming one of them?

 

I felt bad for her but I said nothing.  I could end up saying the wrong thing and getting her riled up again.  I felt I needed to soothe her but what do you say to someone who’s boyfriend was eaten by a clan of dead people?

 

Instead, I opened the backpack and pulled out two energy bars.  I handed her one and wolfed the other.  I kept quiet until the sun slipped behind the buildings.  I figured we needed to establish roof rules till morning.  I knew she wanted quiet but we had to talk.

 

 “Shawna, we have to be really quiet tonight.  If we’re lucky, we can climb down and get out of here about dawn.  What do you think?”  I didn’t want her to think I was ordering her around.  After all, it was exactly those feelings that got her to get rowdy and loud earlier this evening.  We didn’t need a repeat performance.

 

I waited for her to reply but she said nothing.  I didn’t wait either.  I walked over to the edge of the roof and looked at the street.  In all directions, nothing stirred but papers on the wind.  It was eerily frightening, knowing that things were out there, waiting to pounce.  To tear into your body and devour you alive, was their only mission, the thought shot a chilling shiver up my spine.

 

“Who’s Darren?”

 

 I jumped at the sound of her voice.  She hadn’t spoken in so long.  The sun had set, leaving the moon so cast a low, silvery glow upon us.  It wasn’t enough for me to see her features but I could see her silhouette.  She’d moved the aluminum bat across her lap but was still in the same position.

 

 She asked me a question that left me baffled. Where did that come from?  “Who”, I asked.

 “Darren.  You called out for someone named Darren”, she said quietly.    

 

I thought back, trying to remember when.  “I called on God to help me.”

“Why?  Didn’t you say that he started all this in the first place?”  Her voice took on a tinge of anger. 

“I didn’t quite mean it that way.  When I said that I thought this was God, I meant He was delivering His punishment on this world, His judgment.”

“Yeah, so much for the god of love, huh?”

“He does love us,” I defended.  “There’s so much we as a people, could have done-“

“Shut up”, she snipped.  Her voice didn’t raise and she still hadn’t look towards me.  It was like she was speaking from a distant place. I knew she didn’t want to hear about God but I felt the discussion was imperative.  We had to understand what we were dealing with.  Why else was the dead roaming the earth?

 

“David, was he religious?”  Shawna didn’t answer.  “He seemed to believe.  He didn’t argue with me when I first said something about God making all this happen so-”

 “You didn’t know David.  He was a special person”, she interjected.  Her shout struck me with a tinge of fear.  Not of her but for our safety. I ran over to her with my finger to my lips.  We had to keep quiet or we’d be stuck with no chance of escape.

 

 “Do you want to be stuck here until we die of starvation?  You have a big freaking mouth and it’s already gotten us stuck on this roof and David killed!”  My voice was a shriek of a whisper.  I couldn’t understand the girl but I’d make sure she understood me. 

 

 I knelt on my knees and looked her in her face.  She had no way of ignoring me or what I had to say now.  I was tired of her silliness and I didn’t want her causing us any more danger.  I leaned so far in to her, our noses almost kissed.  I glowered deep into her eyes, piercing with a paternal stare.  I put my hands on her arms and shook her for emphasis with every word.

 

“You are selfish and uncaring.  If David was such a special guy,” I spat in mockery.  “Why didn’t you help me get him up?  He could be alive right now, with us, had you helped me out!  But what did you do?  You froze; you sat there like a big baby and they ate him.  THEY ATE HIM Shawna!  I saw it!”

 

Her eyes were huge ovals, watering and flowing tears.  She didn’t blubber while I fussed.  She just sat there and listened, never breaking the link our eyes held.  Deep down, I wanted to kick myself for being so harsh but she needed a dose of reality; Shawna needed to see what she had done. 

 

 I considered yelling more but felt it more important to keep our location secret from the Nastys.  I gave her another good shake for measure and then let go.  Backing away, I approached the ledge again, looking for signs danger.  Nothing was there.  I checked the other sides and then returned to my spot next to Shawna.  She was looking out at the night again.

 

“I’m sorry.”  I waited.  “I’m not sorry for what I said but how I said it to you.  This has got to be tough for you.  I got to grow up like a normal person, I guess.  I don’t really know much about myself but I do know that I grew up. 

 

“Right now, I need you to grow up.  I need you to realize that this is your life now.  We have to work together to survive.  I need to know I can count on you to help me when danger comes for us.  I need you to help me.”

“I know.”

I was surprised she’d responded.  I looked over at her to see she was already watching me.  I wondered what she was thinking but honestly didn’t care.  If I said anything, it would spoil the moment and I was ready to take a nap.  I at least had her attention enough to get an appreciation for the situation.  That was the start I needed with her. 

 

I passed her a bottle of water and laid back.  I closed my eyes and quickly fell asleep.  I didn’t know it but Shawna followed me just as quickly.



© 2012 Cre8nFrmWithn


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Added on March 26, 2012
Last Updated on April 4, 2012
Tags: zombies, horror, adventure, lost, survival, escape


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Cre8nFrmWithn
Cre8nFrmWithn

Kirkwood, MO



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