Pain. Max’s life had devolved to a single, black and red existence of pain. When the car careened over the open space where the road should have been Max had just about wet his pants. Somewhere in the split second before the impact he made the decision to be found dead and dry, instead of with urine soaked pants. Only he didn’t die. Beside him Stewart moaned and flailed about with her hands.
‘I’m stuck.’ Max tried to pull himself free from the wreckage. He was strapped in and upside down, the airbag had deployed into his face and blood was dripping down onto the ceiling of the car. As he fumbled with his seat belt he could hear yelling from somewhere nearby. ‘Oh, thank God, Bill must have stopped in time and he is coming to help us.’
Two gunshots sounded in close succession followed by another yell. Max finally hit the release on his seat belt and tumbled to the ceiling of the car. ‘I don’t think anything is broken. That’s a fucking miracle.’ The top of the car had been squashed in the impact and Max could barely stay on his hands and knees as he tried to reach Stewart. Finally, he hit the button and she dropped heavily into his arms. Her eyes fluttered and she reached for him awkwardly with one arm. Her hand was hanging limply and it looked like she had an extra joint between the elbow and wrist.
“Max.” Stewart said.
“I got ya. Just hang on a second and let me pull you out of here.”
“Max. Listen to me. Pull my arm straight.”
“You gotta pull my arm straight, I can feel my body trying to fix it, but like that other zombie, I think it might heal bad unless you get it straight.”
Max looked at Stewart, she hadn’t fared any better in the accident than he had, her nose was bloody and she was sporting two rapidly blackening eyes. Keeping his eyes on her, Max gave her arm a sudden jerk.
“Fuck! You coulda pulled it slowly, it’s not like it was dislocated!” Stewart said, falling back and cradling one arm with the other.
“Sorry, Jane! I thought…” Max stopped and his body jerked convulsively.
Stewart looked up at him for a moment before he fell over her legs, unconscious. Behind him was a dark haired man in a police uniform, the prongs from a Taser still in his hand, with wires leading to a spot on Max’s leg.
“No, not unless we’re told to. And you wouldn’t like that.” The man grabbed Max by both of his legs and pulled him from the vehicle. Stewart saw the legs of several men standing outside the car, the men pulled both of Max’s hands behind him and double handcuffed them together.
Looking around frantically Stewart saw her gun had been thrown from the vehicle, but her machete had fallen to the ceiling from where she had stashed it in the door.
Outside the car Max was coming around, he was face first in the rubble of the collapsed highway bridge. A moment of struggling and he realized that his hands were cuffed behind his back. There was a group of zombies in uniforms with guns milling about and Max saw two trucks on the street just clear of the rubble. This was all he noticed before Stewart flew out of the car in front of him, machete in hand. The zombie closest to the car had his head sliced horizontally in two just above the bridge of his nose before he even knew what hit him. Stewart vaulted off another gun toting zombie and into a third before the gunfire started.
Max rolled to his back and struggled to sit up, that’s when he noticed that Bill and Javier were trussed up not too far away from him. There were two zombies standing above him, one had a length of rope in his hands, obviously getting ready to truss Max up like his friends, in addition to the handcuffs. Max kicked the other man in the knee, buckling it and causing him to drop the Taser he was reloading.
Stewart was unable to get in another killing blow on the remaining half dozen zombies, now that they knew she was there they were reacting quickly. She pushed her machete through the torso of one of them and twisted it as she pulled it out in an effort to slow him down. The zombie standing next to him brought his shotgun up and pointed it in her direction, Stewart was still moving, but it was the zombie dressed as a police officer who knocked the gun sideways and spoiled the shot.
“No guns!” the officer barked, he was limping away from Max and his crew, hearing that order, switched to short clubs. The officer continued to back away and inserted a fresh cartridge into the Taser.
Stewart was fast enough to trade blows with two of the zombies and still get in a few licks of her own, but when the third, a massive man wearing army fatigues stepped up she knew she was in trouble. ‘This guy is huge…and as fast as me!’ Stewart backed off, looking for a way out. She still hurt, her arm was not fully healed and she was fighting five zombies with Billy clubs. Casting a quick glance behind her she considered flight. The zombie with the Taser didn’t try and shoot her with it, instead he shot Max again, sending him into convulsions on the ground. The officer then drew his handgun and stepped over to Bill and Javier.
The army zombie came forward fast and low, swinging to take out Stewart’s legs while one of his buddies aimed high. Stewart leaped sideways and lashed out with her weapon, it hit the muscle bound army man mid-chest. There was a loud tearing sound and the blade rebounded from the body armor he was wearing beneath his jacket. Stewart made a clumsily landing and backed another two steps away from the army guy and his buddy. Behind those two the other zombies were fumbling with their belts, it looked like they had Tasers as well.
‘I’m not sure how that would affect me, but they have to hit me first.’ Stewart thought.
One of the zombies in the second row stepped up with a bottle that looked like a miniature fire extinguisher. ‘Surely that’s not.., Fuck!’ The zombie unleashed a torrent of pepper spray onto the area. It was an aerosol type designed to disperse crowds, but it served to blanket a huge swath of ground in a smoke-like cloud that Stewart could not avoid. Instead she charged.
This caught the smaller of the two zombies in front of her by surprise and she lopped through his upraised arm and into his melon like she was chopping wood. Stewart pulled the blade free with a spray of black zombie blood and launched a quick attack on the army zombie. He was, as usual, quicker than he looked. He deflected her blade using the Billy club and punched her in the face with his free hand. The blow sent Stewart reeling back into the cloud of pepper behind her and immediately she felt her eyes swell up and she started coughing. Stewart didn’t stop moving; she darted sideways and came through the cloud well out of range of her army nemesis. As soon as she emerged the itching and burning from the pepper spray stopped.
A loud ping sounded and Stewart swept the machete blade in front of her by instinct alone, the blade deflected the metal prongs from a Taser round and earned a respectful eyebrow raise from the army zombie who was coming at her again. Stewart had no interest in fighting him, not until she could clear out his helpers. She dodged towards Bill and tried to circle the big zombie, coming close to the one with the pepper spray. He raised it up to defend himself as Stewart brought her machete down towards him. A bullet struck the machete blade as it descended; Stewart tried to correct it and pull it back on track with the zombie’s head, but was only able to sink it into the thing’s shoulder, partially severing its arm.
Another gunshot rang out, followed by, “Stop, or I will kill him.”
The other zombies halted in their tracks, except for pepper man, he dropped the spray can and stumbled backwards clutching his nearly severed arm. Stewart glanced over to the zombie in the police officer garb and saw that he was pointing his gun at Javier’s chest.
“So shoot him, I know what happens if we give up. He’s better off dead.”
The officer put two bullets into Javier’s chest, the young man convulsed upwards and a low moan escaped his gagged mouth. The gun shifted to aim at Bill, “I don’t bluff. Drop it and let us take you in.”
Stewart was rattled by the casual killing of Javier, the shock must have shown on her face, but she quickly regained her composure, “Nothing’s changed except one of us isn’t coming back.”
“Maybe I’m aiming at the wrong target.” The zombie shifted his pistol to aim at Max. The officer watched Stewart’s expression and smiled, “I guess I was. Your boyfriend is next little lady, or you come with us and no one else dies.”
The Taser caught Stewart in the upper thigh from behind and dropped her like a stone. She fought against the pain of the electricity coursing through her body, but lost control of her limbs and felt the machete being kicked from her hand even as her feet collapsed beneath her. One of the zombies sat on her head while another pulled her arms backward none too gently and locked handcuffs around them.
“Get off my head asshole!” Stewart shouted into the dirt. The zombie didn’t move, except maybe to grind himself down harder. Stewart felt her legs being bound up in the rope that had tied Bill and Javier, and then she was turned over and sat up. She saw the police officer looking at her for a moment, then a bag went over her head and she lost even that small privilege.
She could still hear though and their conversation was short and concise.
“Tie him as well, leg shackles for all of them. Clayton get the cuffs and rope off the dead guy.” She was pretty sure the officer was calling the shots.
“She about lopped off my arm.” said a whiney voice.
“You’re fault for letting her get that close. Sentry told you they would be fast.” The officer replied.
“Did you even see her come out of the car? I know Matthew didn’t, it’s like she just fucking appeared.” came the whiney voice again.
“Shut it, Jamie. We all knew the risks.” said the officer.
“Jeezus Scott, cut us a little slack here, you don’t have to play hard ass all the time.” Came a deeper voice.
“I don’t? Maybe I am not playing. Did you ever think of that? Now get them loaded up and let’s go.
Stewart was lifted up and thrown into the back of what she assumed was one of the trucks she had seen. She felt two other bodies thrown in beside her, one on each side.
“Xavier, Johnny and Bobby, you ride in the back with our guests. Jamie you ride shotgun, I wouldn’t want to stress your arm anymore.” said the officer’s voice, who Stewart now pegged as ‘Scott’.
“Fuck you, Scott. Fuck you with a horse dick.”
The gunshot came so rapidly that Stewart jumped. There was complete silence in the back of the truck, where the zombies had been getting in.
“If Sentry asks, the big guy shot Jamie too. Everyone agree on that?” asked Scott, the malice in his voice weighed heavy on the air.
“I never liked that little prick anyway.” said the deep voice Stewart thought belonged to the army guy.
“Sure, no problem. The fat one shot him.” said a new voice.
“No problems here.” answered another.
“Good. Bobby, hop down you’ll ride up front with me.”
“Me? Why? I’m okay. Really. I…” Bobby stammered.
“Now, Bobby! Before the big one shoots another one of our team.” Scott ordered, “Get on the radio and tell Russell to meet us with the van. We’re heading in.”
The truck bed lurched and shortly after that two doors shut and the truck started moving.