AaW Chapter 29
“Get a couple guys and get over to the North gate.” Paige said into her radio, “Leroy shot Peter, so we need Mary. Yeah, it’s bad. He’s still alive right now, so hurry. Leon?”
“Yes Paige?” Leon asked.
“Susan is shooting at us, and there are zombies between the trench and the second fence. So hurry.”
“I am on my way.”
“Watch out for Susan, last we saw her she was on the roof overlooking the guard tower.”
“We will take care of her, Paige. One way or the other. What about Leroy?”
Paige looked at Dora, who shook her head slightly in the starlight. “He didn't make it Leon.”
“Got it, one less thing to worry about. I’m headed your way now, I will be there in about two minutes, tops.”
Mike asked, “Are we going to move? Paige and I shot a half dozen slow zeds around the trench, more were headed this way.”
“When they show up, we move. Or if Susan starts firing through the fence. I don't think we should move Peter unless we have to.”
From the other side of the fence they heard rapid footsteps and then a woman started sobbing and screaming, it was Susan by the sound of it.
“Well shit.” whispered Dora.
“Three of us with guns to one of her.” Paige said quietly.
Mike raised his gun, pantomiming firing through the fence. Dora pressed her hand against the barrel, pushing it downward while she shook her head.
“Go by the shack, try and get a bead on her, if she tries to shoot us we shoot first.” Dora said by way of planning.
“I go first.” said Mike, taking point.
Dora moved to move into second place, but Paige strong armed her to the last position, whispering, “Sick people and head shot kids stay behind.” Peter was not standing or moving, he was conscious and his eyes were as big as saucers, with small pinpoints for pupils. Dora had been taught by Mary to recognize shock and had seen it all too often over the past month and a half from the wounded the guard brought in. Not paying attention to Paige, she followed the woman a few steps to the side of the guard shack, readying her rifle.
“Drop your gun, Susan!” Mike shouted as he leaned around the guard house and pointed his rifle at the woman, who was sobbing over Leroy's body. “Drop it!”
Paige was aiming through the rifle slot, pointed her rifle in the same manner that Dora had when she shot Leroy. Dora stood up enough to peer through the window of the shed and look at Susan. The other woman's tear streaked face was staring at Mike's rifle, her hand was still on the handle of her rifle, her finger on the trigger. Slowly Susan's eyes slid over to take in Paige and finally Dora. When their eyes finally locked into place Susan started shaking, the trembles went down her face to her neck, then to her shoulder and arm.
“Don't do it!” Paige shouted. Susan's finger tightened on the trigger, she nudged her rifle sideways with her knee and fired off a shot towards Mike, then tried to roll sideways. Mike let out a yell, but got a shot off and Paige fired three times, all of the shots hit Susan. Dora could not tell who had hit Susan in the head, but someone had, the woman simply slumped over her lover's body.
“Fuck. I don't...” Dora started, before realizing that Mike was down. He was clutching his lower leg and softly swearing. Dora and Paige went to him to see how badly he was hurt.
“You got shot, of course it hurts.” said Dora, trying to maintain her usual bravado.
“Move your hand and let us look.” Paige said.
Mike took pressure off of his leg and Paige slowly pulled up the pant leg over the wound to expose the damage. Upon viewing it Dora leaned sideways and vomited. Bone shards were sticking out of the back of Mike's leg, his calf looked like a bowl full of extra red sauce spaghetti, complete with meatballs. Mike took one look at Dora, asked “That bad?” and then fainted onto his back. Dora reached forward to catch his head and keep it from hitting the pavement; she vomited on her arm in the process filling the air with an acidic coffee smell.
“-Uck! This night jes' keeps getting better!” she mumbled trying to spit and hold Mike's head.
“Zombies.” Paige said, aiming her rifle down the street towards the trench. She fired three times, hitting two of the closest zombies. Dora retched again.
“Dora! Less puking, more gunfire!”
Groaning Dora dropped Mike's head and reached for her own rifle, then stretched out on the ground prone to start firing at the zombies. She did move over enough before she started firing to avoid laying in her own tossed cookies. Less than a minute later a worried voice called out from behind the second fence, “Paige? Dora?”
“Yeah Leon, we are here, open the gate will ya?”
“Peter? Peter? Madre de Dios! Peter!” yelled Mary, trying to haul the gate open forcefully.
“Over there.” Dora said pointing at the boy.
“I told you we shouldn't have kids in the trench. How many times have I told you?”
“Every other day, at least. He wasn't in the trench. Leroy shot him, no zombies got him.”
The gate finally opened wide enough for Mary to squeeze through she rushed to her son with a backpack she used for emergencies.
“Oh God! Oh God! Please, Lord save my son! Please God!”
Alex came through the gate next, he took up a kneeling position on the other side of Peter and added his gunfire to Paige's. Leon and five other teens came through after that, Leon squatted down to examine Mike.
Dora waited until he was done, then gave him a questioning look, to which he answered, “It’s bad. Mary, bandages please or Mike might bleed to death.”
Mary had a flashlight out and was examining Peter's head. Peter was not responsive, his pupils were pinpoints. Dora watched the woman, who paused for a moment and shook off her hysteria, then very carefully and clearly said, “Well this is not too bad. Peter you will live through this. You are going to be okay.” The boy seemed to take that as a cue to pass out. Mary nodded and tossed Leon a few packs of gauze and some bandages to hold it in place.
Leon and the younger boy from the first gate wound Mike's leg up, the blood soaked through it, so they kept adding gauze and wrapping to apply more pressure. Mary was taking similar action with Peter's head, glancing at Leon's work she snapped, “Harder, Leon, you have to bind it tighter!”
Leon nodded and pulled with much more force, the dripping blood slowed to a trickle. In a moment they were done and he said, “We got to get inside the gates, we didn't bring enough ammo for a long fight.”
Two of the teens stopped firing into the zombies and helped bring Peter and Mike inside the perimeter. The rest of them then started to make a fighting withdrawal into Doraville. Alex stopped to help Dora up.
“You wounded?” he asked gazing at her wet arm and her legs.
Dora looked down and discovered her pants were covered in blood. “No, I don't think so.” The blood was from where Dora had dragged Peter to safety after Leroy shot him. Following the trail with her eyes Dora noticed a black rectangle lying on the ground, close to where Peter had been.
“What is that?” she asked pointing.
Alex bent down and picked it up. It was a digital video camera, covered in electrical tape to make it black. On the back a flap had been fashioned into a crude hinge that covered a small square video screen. “Digital video camera.” Alex said, handing it to Dora, “Yours?”
“No. Did Peter have one?”
“But, he had this one.”
“It looks like it.”
“Dora, Alex!” Paige called, “Talk once the gate is closed behind you!”
Moving behind the fence Dora watched wistfully as Mike and Peter were hauled away, more people had shown up at the North gate, the word had gone out that there was trouble. Dora did not feel up to explaining what was going on, especially not why Leroy and Susan lay dead in front of the gate.
“Leon, get a couple guys and get these two out of here.” to the rest of the gathering crowd Dora said, “Could be for nothing, but zombies got over the trench, and it looks like they are going to press to the gate, so everybody needs to get your ammo, find a rooftop or take a position along the wall, got it? Steve here yet? Steve?!”
“Naw he was pulling on clothing, should be here in a minute.” a voice called out of the crowd.
“Okay then you will have to suffer with me and Leon coordinating things until he arrives, got it? I want two teams of you juniors to haul ammo and information to and from the inner gate, two teams of two, the rest of the juniors need to get back inside the inner gate and make sure there is ammo there for the two teams to keep bringing us.” Dora pointed out two kids in the crowd who she thought were 'junior' helpers, a term Steve had come up with. There was no rank per se, in the way things were done, but people were classified according to ability, the juniors were kids from eleven to thirteen. No one wanted the juniors on the front lines if they could help it, but they could haul ammo and information back and forth to the coordinators of the fight. The walkie-talkies were good for communicating, but when you had fifty people trying to talk at once they could get congested really fast, using the juniors helped with the problems of getting data where it needed to be, when it needed to be there.
The town didn't have a name for kids under eleven. So far there were none; the cutoff for those wily enough to survive on their own seemed to be about eleven. Dora often wondered what this was going to mean for the future, if there was one, there would be at least eleven years between the generations. Shaking her head she cleared her thoughts and got back to the task on hand of running the battle. It was a battle, they realized all too soon.
Two super zombies came over the fence to the east of the gate, they led a group of slinkers and a whole mob of slow zombies into the second ring of defenses and the town had to fall back to the inner fence. By sunrise Dora was scrolling down an excel spreadsheet on her laptop, tallying the dead and wounded. Fourteen people dead, including one of the pairs of juniors she had selected for running ammo. They had gotten caught near the fence when the supers came over and just didn't run fast enough to get away. And this number didn't include the missing scout patrol or the two presumed dead at the trench. Or Leroy and Susan.
Dora scrolled down the list and marked the patrol, the trench guards, Leroy and Susan as dead too, bringing the final count to twenty two. Twenty two people, twelve of them over twenty years old. Ten had been between fourteen and nineteen and two had been juniors. The ratio of adults to kids had just taken a turn for the worse.
Peter and Mike were going to live. That was positive news, the only positive news. Peter's wound was superficial, the bullet had creased the top of his skull splitting the skin from two inches passed his front hair line to almost the back of his skull. It was an ugly wound. If it had been Dora who had been shot the bullet would have hit her in the head or neck. Mike was in worse shape. Steve had been trying to get a hold of the guard all morning.
The town did not have a long range radio, the farthest their walkie-talkies could go was only about four miles and the border was probably twenty miles away. They best Steve could hope for would be to get a hold of a vehicle on patrol that wandered into range. Mary didn't think she could save Mike's leg and wanted to ship him off to Iowa for treatment. A compound fracture was bad news even when society had hospitals and x-rays. Mary's prognosis for saving Mike's leg were poor, she gave it about a fifty fifty chance and unless they got him to better care he would never regain full use of his limb again. Mary was a little out of her depth treating injuries like Mike's. Her specialty was actually infectious diseases, which didn't do the town a helluva lot of good, but a doctor is a doctor and all of them had to go to medical school and learn the basics before specializing. The last few weeks had given her a lot of experience treating a variety of wounds. It was almost with amazement that Dora realized that this was the first time since Marge that a gunshot had to be treated.
The town did have an incredibly good stock of antibiotics and medicines, a few trips to some of the pharmacies had gotten Mary everything she thought they would need for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately antibiotics could not put a leg back together. Even as Dora pondered what to do with so many less adults Mary was performing 'surgery' in the clinic downstairs trying to save what she could of Mike's leg.
Paige had seen Dora to the master bedroom and told her to go to sleep, and then disappeared into her own room. Dora assumed the woman was sleeping, these days it was hard to tell, Paige didn't snore any more. She had lost a lot of weight over the past six weeks and when the pounds came off the snoring stopped.
Mary's soft voice startled her from her thoughts.
“Yeah? How is Mike doing?”
“Maybe it won't be as bad as I originally thought. I have him stitched up now and drugged senseless. Why are you still up?”
“Just updating the town roster.” Dora said gesturing to the computer screen. She pushed her chair back and stood up, stretching her back, immediately she felt nauseas, she rushed to the bathroom and made it to the toilet just in time.
Mary followed her in to the bathroom, a concerned look on her face. Dora finished up and smiled weakly as the other woman handed her a towel.
“You hate it when that happens don't you?” Mary asked.
“When what happens? I puke? Yeah I sure hate that. I mean who likes puking? All those diseased kids getting me sick every go- gosh-darned week.”
“You're pregnant.” Mary stated flatly.
“What! Bite your tongue woman! It is just a bug going around...”
“Dora.” Mary said raising her hand up in a stop gesture, “No one get else gets the flu every week, a flu that lasts four or five or six days. When is the last day you didn't throw up? When was your last period?”
“I don't...oh shit...oh shit...oh shit!” Dora stammered.
“C'mon downstairs. I got a bunch of home pregnancy tests when we raided the pharmacy two weeks ago.”
“Oh shit...oh fucking shit. I told him! I told that douche bag...”
“Dora. Stop. I am too tired right now to deal with anger, with denial, with your usual bullshit. After we do the test, three, four times, I don't care how many it takes to convince you, after we do the tests, we get some sleep. After that we can go back to the usual games you play. For now, let’s just get this done.”
Meekly Dora wiped off her mouth again and followed Mary downstairs. They only needed one test, but Dora insisted on two.