The Power of Christ Compels You!

 
The Power of Christ Compels You!

For Misspell and Hellfrog

She left the burning church quick, fast, and in a hurry. As she reached the relative safety of the outside - which wasn't on fire - she looked around. There was very little burning. Nor much looting either, instead there were people like Pastor David, lurching across the ground and occasionally stopping to eat someone.

This was a good neighborhood too, or used to be. Hyde Park was where the rich lived, the up-and-comers with their fancy cars and their need to be safe behind walls and gates and codes and fences. None of which worked right now, and the gates to the fancy condos next door were wide open. Somewhere, a car alarm was going off, but it hardly registered over the horror. Bayside Avenue used to be the place where people could walk their dogs, not eat them, kneeling on the sidewalk slurping entrails. It was a grotesque juxtaposition with the smooth water on the other side of the street, and the cloudless blue sky so famous in Florida.

She could see the expressway from here - a toll road which probably didn't matter, but it was largely irrelevant since she could see the cars stopped dead on the road. Would I-275 be any different?

Becky clutched the cross on the chain around her neck, tasting panic around her tongue. These things, the abomination that was Pastor David, seemed to be moving around lazily, muzzle-deep in whatever victim they managed to pin down. The smell of blood filled the warm Floridian air, as well as a sweet sickly smell of rotted flesh in heat pervaded her nostrils. She swallowed down the urge to wretch, and moved as quietly as she could to the rear of the church.

Fear coursed through her veins like blood, pounding its way through her heart and to her brain, blurring her vision. Becky just had to stop for just a moment, take a rest, gather her thoughts and make a plan. However, with the constant shuffling and moaning, she knew stopping would be taking an extremely large risk. If she wanted to find some people who were still sane, who still lived even, she needed to get moving. Muscles screaming in protest, Becky crouched behind a tree near the park.

She couldn't go home, to the apartment building she lived in, especially if a lot of people are like... this. Becky wasn't even sure what 'this' was. Taking one of her precious moments, she tried to think of what exactly these creatures were. Sure, she had seen horror movies with monsters like these; vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies. These things were most like zombies. She tries to conjure up what information she knew or remembered about them. Some moved slow, some moved fast, whoever they were before they definitely weren't anymore (Pastor David proves that theory), there was no reasoning with them... She palmed the shotgun nervously and stared around the tree.

The cars were everywhere, doors flung open and windows smashed, their skeletons abandoned for easier transportation. Transportation... yes. That's what Becky needed. Her bike. She didn't live far from the Church at all, and being a student with meager funds, she didn't own a car. She could see the bike in her head; it was just a standard silver bike, with a pink nylon basket on the front. She could risk going to her complex apartment home, down by the waterfront, if it were to mean her picking up a method of getting herself around. Since there isn't many mobile cars, she could use any road... The idea became more appealing by the moment. Becky could even go inside if the place didn't look too bad.

Gripping the gun as if her life depended on it (and it probably did), she began to move around the perimeter of the park as quietly as possible, the soft soles of her tennis shoes not making much noise on the pavement. Praying feverently in her head, Becky did her best to ignore the ripping noises that came from the park bench, as two kids ripped into the chest of their mother, who's mouth was gaped and eyes were glassed over.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Swan Avenue was a nightmare. Literally, a nightmare. Oh, during rush hour it always seemed like that, but this was different. Straight off the silver screen, thrown into sickening color on the two-lane road, was every movie Pastor David said she shouldn't see.

Her silver bike hung in her mind's eye, a goal she wasn't sure was even attainable when she saw the number of zombies lurching across the street. She was a few blocks from the hospital, which was directly across from the Bella Donna salon where she got her hair done. Sparing a moment to wonder if her hairdresser Raul - and his hands of genius - had survived the night, she went over in her mind the chances she had to get that silver bike.

It was only a block past the hospital, really. But the zombies were starting to take notice. Across the street, a pair of zombies started making their way toward her. And a quick glance behind had her noting the bloody-mouthed children from the park. Apparently Mommy-and-Me time was over.

Becky needed that bike. She couldn't outrun zombies forever (even though she was on the Track and Field team in high school), and a car was out of the question. Yes, the lightweight mountain bike was her only option. So forward she went. Her palm slid lovingly down the double-barrel of the shotgun, feeling it's weight. It was long and slightly heavy, and the rattling of shells in her backpack sang like a gospel. This was her weapon for safety, this would protect her. For a moment, she considered running right past the walking dead before her, and getting away from the children behind.

She started to feeling the dread, the creeping sense of helplessness crawl into her mind and threaten her to panic and break down. The few moments of faltering cost her, and the zombies seemed to be getting closer the longer she stood there dithering on the spot. The bike. She needed the bike. Her eyes set on the zombies ahead of her, and she strafed to the left, hoping to make a wide swing around them. Her footsteps started in a lope, her head darting between the children who were shuffling behind her with their hungry interest, and back to the pair ahead.

She needed a distraction, or perhaps she could dart through and around the buildings to get to the next street south. Either way, she had to make a decision, and she had to make it now. Gripping the shotgun harder in her hands, she aimed it at the head of the left zombie ahead, and turned her back towards the open and scattered cars, ducking behind the closest one and side-stepping. She held her breath for a moment before exhaling as quietly as possible. Her back was exposed, and if she would be taken by surprise from behind? Well... that would not bode well for Becky.

Quieting herself to the point wher her ears were ringing with silence, she began to head down the block, weaving through cars and putting any obsticles between her and the shuffling undead. Her thoughts were still on the bike, but the nagging idea of having to go by the hospital that could possibly be teeming with swarms of undead. Then again... there could be people holed up in there, supplies, things she would need...

No. She would get the bike first, and ride by the hospital after.

The obstacles confused the zombies, who slowly went around them as she shimmied between cars and trees and trash cans with ease. She was leaving them behind, and rapidly approaching her goal. One shiny mountain bike coming up.

And there it was. If the clouds above had parted, allowing a ray of sun to appear, shining down from heaven onto her bike, it could not have been a more welcome sight. Less welcome was the zombie feeding on a woman nearby. Her dead eyes stared at Becky, a warning perhaps? The sounds of feeding turned her stomach, but there was the bike ahead and it gave her hope.

She turned her head from the zombie woman, eyes glazed with resolve as she saw the bike sitting where she left it, in the bike rack around the side of the building. Her mind was half on the abomination she was leaving behind, listening around her own footsteps for any shuffling or groaning that came too close. Becky's palms were getting sweaty and her hand slid a little down the length of the gun. This was no time to get nervous, she scolded herself, looking around her shoulders for anything lurking in the corners.

Kneeling down with her back to the rough stucco wall, she used one hand to pick up the bike lock and thumb the dial in the way of the combination. She was surprised to herself that her hand was shaking. There were very fine seams holding this young blonde together at the moment. Becky cursed herself the first time she messed up the combination, knowing that every second was a precious one, like the last grain of sand falling into the bottom of an hourglass. Every moment had to count. She tried it again, concentrating hard on watching her french-manicured thumb twist the dial. 21..., her free hand still gripped the shotgun.

42... Her tongue darted out to lick her lips, and she found herself oddly wishing she had fished out her chapstick for some reason. 7. Her eyes squeezed shut for a moment, listening for the telltale click of the heavy metal lock to fall open. Miraculously, it came apart in her hands and she gave another fleeting look around. She murmured a thanks to God and shook it free of the chain.

The chain caught someone's attention but it didn't matter, as she was on her bike and off in a flash. The silver of the bike was glorious as she headed down the road - even if the situation wasn't all sunshine and roses. Off to the east, she could hear church bells ringing.

A scream caught her attention and she turned her head to the right. There, in front of a 7-11, a little boy no more than 8 or 9 stood, his back to a corner while zombies advanced.

"Mommy...no....don't do this, no... I've been good...." He was crying as they came closer - surrounded, trapped, and about to die.

The church bells rang again, lifting her spirits, even as the boy's plight dragged them down to defiled earth.

The children's cries caused Becky to stop short, heart thudding with fear and the exertion from peddling the bike fast. She stood there, watching the three zombies close in upon the child, and she felt a surge of adrenaline kick in. She thought of Billy, seeing the same fear in the boy that she would have imagined Billy would have displayed in his final moments, and her hands gripped on the handles of the silver mountain bike. After she mildly skidded, she drove around the cars that were parked haphazardly and abandoned in escape.

The church bells rang in the distance and seemed to bolster her, a swelling in her heart indicated her divine purpose. She had to save the boy, it was the first step on the road of destiny. Her hand slid under the pump of the gun and she lifted it up to her shoulder, the butt of the gun against her to steady it. Her sneaker dug into the ground in front of her to steady her balance, wincing at the thought of being smacked in the face with the gun again. Laying her cheek against the stock, she closed one eye, looking down the sight and aimed right at the head of closest zombie.

Before squeezing the trigger, she had the sudden mental image of Pastor David's head being half blown off. She had aimed straight then as well, but it leaned to the left. Becky tilted the barrel to compensate for it this time, she wanted to get it dead center (no pun intended). She felt like she had one chance to get it right, to create enough of a distraction for the boy to run away. Her finger coiled around the trigger, and she squeezed it, ears straining against the loud crack that was about issue from the gun.

The city was chaos. Sully had already had to make peace with the death of her pristine bumper and paint job. She'd had to bump cars out of the way on two separate occasions, and progress was slow, but she had a plan and she had her dog and her weapons. There was even a ton of bottled water in the back of the Durango. Titan had found her stash of beef jerky and eaten it weeks ago, but she was proud of the water.

A gunshot went off near enough to make her jump even with her window up, and Titan growled. Abby snapped her head to the parking lot. Seeing the shuffling zombies wasn't new, they'd been moving all over the neighbourhood, but the scene was new. A gril - maybe a teenager - firing at a zombie. Capping it, too, a damn good shot in her opinion. There were others, though.

She was already turning her wheels into the lot when she saw the kid. It gave her a moment's hesitation, but she decided her plan was still a good one, and stomped on the accelerator. The v-8 roared with a power that always managed to thrill her deep down, and Sully gunned it up into the parking lot, her big truck slamming into an abandoned car and pushing it between the two living people in the parking lot. Crash, thud, and two of the advancing zombies were shoved down in front of the Japanese number the durango was manhandling. There were others, of course, converging on the parking lot, but those two were sniped out from in front of the kid. Sully hit the breaks at the crucial moment to keep from sharing the impact as the car smashed into the streetlight in the lot.

She didn't waste time admiring her skill, stretching in her seat to shove the backseat door on Titan's side open and yell at the kid. "Get in, get in!" She didn't think about it, didn't think about anything except how much she did NOT want to watch a little boy get torn apart. He was crying, but he moved stiffly to get into the durango, so she turned and hit the button for her window to ask the gunwoman. "Hey! Uh. You ok? You want to come with us?"

Becky watched as the shot from the gun blew a hole clean in the back of the zombies head. The zombie looked to be female, maybe once well groomed and manicured, with long sandy blond hair and a good tan. Of course now she was pale and tinged green with undeath and decay, mouth gaped slightly and smeared in blood as if it were red lipstick. Her hair seemed slightly mussed and splattered with more blood, perhaps chunks of flesh tangled in here and there. Her face was also probably pretty at some point, but that didn't matter now, as most of it had been blown open by the blast of the shell. Red, glossy chunks of brain matter and dead flesh bounced from the point of impact, splattering the other two zombies with gore and coating the wall in front of her it hot red mess, dribbling down thick like corn syrup. By the blond of the woman's hair, and the feared look on the little boy's face, she could have equated the zombie to being his mother. Becky instantly felt sorry for him, and began to cross the parking lot to retrieve him.

She was about halfway over, pulling her bike along and uncoiling the chain from around the seat. She wrapped it about her fist, the chain dangling from her clenched fingers like a flail. She wasn’t afraid, she had a purpose. Becky would save him from those zombies and his mother, a small voice told her in the back of her head, and would understand that she had to blow a hole in her head because God told her to. It didn’t sound right, but heck, it made sense to her.

When she heard the engine, she stopped and gripped the bike. The two zombies were knocked off their shuffling feet and crushed beneath the Toyota with a sickening and satisfying crunch. Becky’s brows shot up in surprise, and she looked at the Durango’s driver, a grin cresting her generous mouth. She didn’t know why she was so happy to see this woman, but she was, and gestured for the boy to jump into the backseat of the car. He was white as a sheet, tears streaming down his dirty face, and his shirt was coated with his mommy’s blood, but he seemed to be okay.

When the driver called to her, Becky nodded and grabbed the handles of her bike again, wheeling it quickly up to the truck. She could hear the low moans and shuffling of nearby zombies, and she tapped the back window of the truck, waiting for the driver to pop the hatch so she could heft her bike in. Once Becky got her bike in the backseat, she grabbed the backpack from around the basket and gripped her gun before getting into the passenger seat.

“Hi,” She said, almost breathlessly. She caught sight of her reflection and frowned, her pretty face sweaty and long blue waves frizzing out of her ponytail. She turned back to the woman, who seemed a few years older than she and Becky immediately warmed to her, and she wasn’t sure why. She turned her head to look at the boy and tilted her head. “What’s your name, honey?”




 

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