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Tom lowered the bat instead of swinging it. “Who is firing down there?” He demanded of the half naked, bald man.

“Probably Joe and the boys. And I gotta tell ya not a moment too soon too. You are both dead, you know that right? Fagot Jews with one shotgun between ya, my boys have my back and they got more than one shotgun. We have REAL weapons, you might as well shoot yourselves now and save us some bullets.”

Tom looked at Max, then turned back to the bald headed man, “How many are there?”

The man said nothing. Tom poked him in the testicles with the end of the bat and shouted, “How many?” The bald man fell half onto the bed before tumbling to the floor.

“Oooh!” groaned the man, clutching his groin with both hands and smearing blood from his head wound everywhere, “Thirty, alright, thirty brothers to kill your butt fucking asses.”

“Thanks.” said Tom. He turned as if to exit, Max backed up with him, then Tom turned around and lurched towards the man on the floor, hitting him repeatedly about the head and shoulders with the bat, screaming, “This is for my roommates you fuck!”

The shots continued outside and were joined by the sound of a horn honking urgently.

“Tom, Tom! We ain’t got time for this man, we gotta get out of here. Tom! C’mon!” Max said as he pulled Tom out of the room, away from the bald man who was probably dead. Max turned Tom around, gestured towards his stuff and pushed him towards it. Tom gathered it up, slinging the big pack over his back and onto both shoulders, grabbing the smaller bag in one hand and keeping the baseball bat in the other. He went out the door into the hall and turned into the bathroom, instead of into the living room, a move that may have saved his life.

A bullet cracked out, whistling down the hallway and into the hollow core door of the bathroom. Max, half out of the bedroom door, ducked down and let off a shot towards the flash of light he had seen in the kitchen. Loud screaming was his reward, followed by the sounds of one, or maybe two guns, with bullets hitting the walls and piercing through them into Tom’s bedroom. Max was not nearly as shielded as he would have liked, the drywall did not seem to be stopping the bullets at all. Tom’s bat lay in the hallway and Max could see enough of the bathroom to know that Tom had probably pulled himself into the tub, meaning he was alive, but was he wounded?

The fusillade stopped and Max remained very, very quiet. A voice shouted out over the moaning in the kitchen, “Throw out yer weapons and we won’t kill you! Do it now!”

Max remained deadly quiet, the shotgun still pointed towards the door, somehow, during the firing he had gone from standing up, to crouching, to lying prone on the floor. A minute later he heard voices in the living room softly talking amongst them; unfortunately Max could not hear what they said due to the crying man in the kitchen.

Then he heard movement and the crying in the kitchen got worse, then the screaming receded towards the front door, Max though now would be a great time to take some sort of action, as he was sure anyone in the living room would be watching the screaming guy being pulled out of the front door.

He regained his feet and in a crouch moved fast and low towards the living room. He saw three men at the front door, one was carrying the man Max had wounded in the kitchen, the other was at an extreme disadvantage as he had picked that moment to assist his friends out the door, leaving no one to watch the hallway. Max leveled the shotgun and fired on that man, then switched targets and fired at the other man, who was fumbling for his weapon, while his screaming friend grappled with him. Both men went down and the screaming mercifully stopped too. Max reloaded the shotgun.

“Tom, you okay? Tom?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I am okay, I am fine.” Tom emerged from the bathroom, a towel in his hand, which he was using to wipe off the blood that had splattered on him when he was hitting the man in his bedroom with the bat.

Tom stopped in the living room, “Holy shit, you killed them all!”

Max just looked at Tom, his look saying, ‘And just why are you wiping blood off your face mister?’ Tom shrugged sheepishly, then said, “Oh shit you are bleeding!” while raising his hand to point at Max’s stomach.

Max shook his head incredulously, “No. No, seriously I am okay! This must be from one of them.”

However when he looked down his shirt was matted in blood and it was dripping onto the wood floor of Tom’s hallway. He immediately fell to his knees, dropping the gun while pulling up his shirt and babbling, “No, no, no!”

Tom ran forward and grabbed, not Max, but the gun pointing it towards the door, the firing outside had dwindled to a random shot now and again, the car horn was still blaring, though it sounded more distant.

“How bad is it Max? How bad?”

“Fucking bad Tom, very bad!” Max had pulled his shirt off revealing a mass of bloody tissue across the front of his stomach, blood was pouring out of it between Max’s fingers.

Tom threw the towel to Max and said, “Can you walk? You were walking, can you walk some more?”

Max picked up the towel, his first instinct was not to mix blood with blood, the old AIDS and Hepatitis fears welling up inside of him, then he figured bleeding to death took precedent and pushed the wadded up towel contaminated with the bald man’s blood to his stomach. It hurt now, like a fire across his stomach. Still he knew he had to move, to get up, to leave. Tom was not going to fireman carry him out of here, in full clothing, completely wet Tom maybe weighed one hundred sixty pounds, whereas Max was a good two hundred, no way Tom could carry him, at least not for long anyway. Besides Max had gotten up from the bedroom floor and had walked into the living room and he had shot the three guys…oh, the realization of what he had done just snapped to the forefront of his mind. He had killed three men. Not zombies, not former men, three living humans. He leaned over on his hands and knees and vomited on the floor.

“Max! Oh man Max, are you gonna make it? You gotta make it man! Get up! Get up!”

“No Tom, it ain’t that, it is..” Max regained his knees, sat back on his legs and gestured towards the three unmoving men near the front door.

“Fuck. You had me worried there, get up. Can you walk?”

“Yeah, yeah, nag, nag, nag. I am going.” Max slowly regain his feet and steadied himself on the counter. “Get their guns Tom, we might as well bring Stewart and Steve a present or two, eh? I will take this guys pistol from the kitchen.” The pistol was actually a revolver, Max was not intimately familiar with revolvers, but after a moment’s thought he managed to break it open and take out the rounds, he had three remaining. Checking the first wounded guys pockets he came up with a black belt. ‘Christ!’, he thought, ‘No wonder the guy carrying was so damn slow.’ The black leather belt with fringes had two pouches, which fell off when Max took the belt off, and continued taking it off, it must have been around ninety inches around, the screamer had been a very fat man. Max grabbed the two pouches, strung them back onto the belt, opened one and found loose rounds, in the other he found four round disks, that extended into the depths of the pouch, pulling one out Max could see each cylinder held six bullets, he pressed the back tip of the cylinder, which looked like a button, and all the bullets fell out. “Shit.” Bending over he gathered up the bullets with one hand and figured out how they went back onto the cylinder. It did not take a genius to figure out that when you used all your bullets you dumped the empty ones out and used this cylinder to quick load the gun. Max tucked the cylinder back away, reloaded the revolver from the other pouch and then slung the belt over his shoulder, bandoleer style, he tightened it until it was snug. He then went into the hallway and pulled up the linen closet and grabbed the largest towel he could see, he used both hands to slowly peel his current bandage back and then secured the fresh one around his middle, tucking the ends in as good as he could. He was ready to go.

Meanwhile Tom had gathered two pistols off the other men and had a few boxes of ammo for each weapon, he tucked one into his back pack’s drink holder and handed the smaller one to Max, “A back up weapon.” Max took it and slipped it into his pocket without a word. The honking car was a block or two away, there were no more shots from within the apartment complex.

“I figure I know this place and the area pretty good, we can go down the stairs and instead of going towards the parking lot, duck back over the railing on the opposite side, coming out towards the street side, I see the kids around here to it all the time. Then we head towards the honking and try to keep things between us and the building. Are you ready?” Max nodded yes and they headed cautiously out the front door.

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