The jump to the top of the van had come as a shock to her. Stewart didn’t think she could go that high, she had been aiming to hop on the sloping hood and then jump up to the top from there. The idea had been to use the van to get over the fence, instead of running the long way past Max. After her injuries she had felt slow as if treading through molasses. She hadn’t tried to use her speed and strength since being hurt, she was afraid the abilities were gone, that maybe she had just been hyped up on adrenaline and was suffering from mis-remembering. She hadn’t shared her fear with the others either. ‘Trial by fire. Don’t abuse it. Conserve.’ Those were her thoughts.
Now she wondered why she had waited so long. Like Max her abilities had a conscious element to them. There was a constant vibe that beat through her body, just begging to be tapped into. When she dipped into it she felt so much more alive, so much stronger, she felt invincible. For these reasons Stewart tried to rein in what she was feeling. She tried to ride the beast, instead of letting it ride her. She remembered the fight with Ella. More importantly she remembered Ella. The woman had been alive and had been taken down by an old man with a knife, he had assessed the situation and used Ella’s desires against her. If Ella could be so attracted to blood and killing that it led to her downfall…it almost went without saying that Stewart could have the same weakness.
Still when the bullets started flying at her she didn’t hesitate to give the beast she was riding a little more freedom. Raw, animal instinct took over and she spun sideways into the tree line, barely avoiding the projectiles that were flying out at her. Stewart ducked and rolled forward towards the only super zombie she could see, her speed and trajectory took him by surprise and he had barely begun to shift his rifle to aim at the woman lying on the ground by his feet when she kicked straight up, knocking his rifle skywards. Stewart still had her rifle, it was cradled in both arms and parallel with her body, with the barrel towards her head. When her foot came down, the barrel came up, three shots rang out in quick succession and the zombie’s head deformed under the onslaught.
This brought his friends out of the woodwork. To Stewart’s left two women, with clear, shining eyes rushed into view and stopped when they saw her. On her right three burly men, looking like lumberjacks coming home from work stepped out of the brush. The five lowered their rifles towards her in uncanny unison and Stewart shouted, “Surrender and you don’t have to die!”
“I’m gonna eat your pussy lady and not in the good way!” shouted one of the super zombies, pulling the trigger on his rifle. Stewart bucked sideways and rolled to a crouch, the bullet hit the ground where she had been laying, kicking up leaves and sodden twigs.
“She’s fast.” The older woman murmured, “All together.”
But they didn’t fire in unison, the woman giving the orders fired and Stewart rocked sideways, bringing her own rifle around, firing as it pulled into line. The younger woman crumpled as at least two bullets hit her in the shoulders, the older woman’s shot caught Stewart right in the stock of her rifle, ricocheting into the ground and splitting Stewart’s rifle into pieces. Stewart tossed the rifle butt at the lead man, who attempted to block with his own rifle, but was too slow.
Stepping downhill, Stewart lunged for the concealment of a large, leafy bush, and then stumbled over a log to the ground. The zombies behind her riddled the air just above her head with bullets.
‘This was a good idea?’ she thought to herself, ‘Of course it was, the others will be here soon.’
Reaching to her belt Stewart grabbed for her pistol. The holster was empty. With her left hand she pulled the short combat blade from her belt. Another thought struck her and she reached to her back and took comfort in the hard, plastic grip of the machete, still tucked into her belt.
Pulling the blade out with her right hand she got up on her hands and knees to assess her situation. More bullets peppered the ground around her.
‘Zombie vision, no fucking fair assholes!’
Stewart shoved herself down the hill at a slant that would bring her closer to where the women were than the men. Sure enough the shoulder shot girl had been trying to make her way around Stewart’s flank. By the time Stewart saw her, the woman was already aiming her rifle.
The bullets flew in a burst from the gun and Stewart gave in fully her instincts. She didn’t escape unscathed; one bullet grazed her thigh, a deep, bloody wound, that adrenaline surged to overcome. Stewart didn’t drop to the ground; the other zombies would be coming for her and she doubted she would have time to recover before they were on her.
‘It’s like I am riding in the backseat of a fast car.’ She thought, trying to keep up with what was going on. If anything it appeared to her that the zombies were moving slowly, as if slightly drugged, the bullets moved faster than she could see, but she could tell from how the zombie angled the gun where they would strike. All she had to do was keep out from in front of the hole in the barrel. ‘So, in other words, do what every other person faced with a gun has ever wanted to do.’ Easy.
Dodging behind a sapling Stewart zigged back and closed with the older woman zombie, knocking the rifle from her hands hard enough to bend the barrel. She followed through with her knife hand jabbing the blade towards the other woman’s chin. The zombie seemed to catch herself, as if awakening from a dream. She swept her arm upward and Stewart’s jab hooked the side of its head instead, leaving a wide gash from just below the right ear to the top of its skull. With her other hand the zombie swung the rifle as a club, something Stewart blocked with the machete.
Stewart sidestepped; the zombie turned and faced her, both women thrust out with their limbs. A jab with a knife to the zombie’s torso did little, a fist to Stewart’s shoulder slide off of her like water from a duck. Finally after a series of fisticuffs that accomplished little Stewart pivoted and swept the Zombie’s feet out from under her. By this time the rest of the super zombies had closed and were standing, gawking in a loose semi-circle around the two, their guns slack and not aimed at anything in particular.
When the lead zombie went down the others reacted slowly, trying to pull their guns up to take a shot. Stewart didn’t give them a chance and lunged into the man on the left leading with an overhand swing of her machete. The zombie, a hefty, six-footer, was barely able to get his arms up in time, blocking the blow using the rifle held in his hands. Stewart’s heavy blade cut through the rifle and split the zombies head like Moses parting the Red Sea.
With her knife hand Stewart thrust into the other woman, hitting her again in the shoulder and knocking her backwards down the hill into the trees.
Stewart heard the gunshots before she felt the pain, her knife arm convulsed and she lost the blade as the zombie fell backwards. More angry than hurt, Stewart threw herself sideways and lashed out blindly with the machete that had served her well so far. The next zombie in line, lost an arm just below the shoulder. He reeled back and fell to the ground, leaving his companion, the only super zombie still on its feet with an open shot.
At point blank he couldn’t miss, the rifle was lined up, sighted on her and she saw him tightening his finger on the trigger. The machete came up as he fired three times, then the hammer clicked on an empty chamber and Stewart stepped forward and took his head from his shoulders.
“No fucking way. No fucking way.” The super zombie on the ground said, backpedaling after jumping to her feet.
Stewart gave her an angry look and stepped towards her, pausing only long enough to swipe off the top of the one arm man’s head as he cradled his severed limb to his chest.
“What’s a matter? You don’t like it when we fight back?”
“What are you?” the woman whispered, still backing off.
“I’m human. What are you?”
“You’re no human. You…you deflected the bullets with the machete, no human could do that! What are you?”
“What I am is not in the mood for talking so fight or run already.” Stewart answered.
The zombie turned and fled.
“Goddamn it.” Stewart grumbled, taking aim with the machete, when she had a clear throw she tossed the blade at it. The weapon spun as it flew through the air and struck the super zombie in the head with the handle, knocking her to the ground where she lay silently.
Stewart stalked towards her and heard more zombies closing in around her.
“You ain’t got no knife this time bitch. Dodge this!” The other woman zombie, still with the knife hilt still in her shoulder was aiming at her from ten yards downhill. A shot rang out, it was the loudest rifle retort Stewart ever heard.