I flicked the safety off my gun, steadying my stance a little more. “Back off,” I warned. The guy with the bandana smirked. Joe and David raised their guns, and Eloise joined us. They were outnumbered but they certainly didn’t look like they were going to back down. At some point in our stay at the hospital, Eloise and David had swapped their army gear for normal clothes, keeping only what would protect them better. They might have backed down if they knew two of us were from the army and one of us was a strung out psychopath.
“I’m being fucking serious, if you back down, I’ll let you guys live,” I gave them a second chance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good fight, and I’m used to putting my life on the line, but I didn’t want to risk Joe getting hurt. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of letting the others get hurt either. I didn’t care for Carol, but Richard was the only family that little kid back there had, and Eloise had helped me through the worst of the withdrawals. I wasn’t particularly fond of David, but after hearing he’d pretty much saved Joe in the hospital, I figured I owed the guy one. See? I’m not a total cunt really.
The shorter guy just laughed in my face. I saw red, and before I knew what I was doing, I’d put a bullet in his thigh. He collapsed with a screech, clutching at his leg. Everyone around me tensed, but I felt my body relaxing. Time was slowing down. The guy with the bandana reached down to the waistband of his pants, taking an age to pull out his gun. As he did this, my attention was stolen by a third guy getting out of the car.
Before I could focus on the fact that this was clearly a problem, their guns were out. Time had sped up again but left me behind. They didn’t blink. I wouldn’t have usually, but the first shot caught me off guard and the anxiety and panic kicked in. Unlike us, they hadn’t been lucky enough to come across any silencers. Even if we somehow all scraped our way out of this alive – given that our only two stable, experienced fighters would match them – the noise now raging on was definitely going to attract more trouble than we needed. The guy I shot in the leg was killed off quickly. All we had to do was take out the other two, and then we could get the fuck out of there.
I scrabbled to find somewhere to hide. Eloise and David had their bullet proof vests on, I wasn’t worried about them. My hand found Joe’s arm and wrapped around it as I flew towards the relative safety of one of the emptied gas pumps. He didn’t argue, letting me drag him with me as we watched the four of them fighting. I had no intentions of sitting out; I just wanted a couple of seconds to get my heart rate in check before I did something I’d regret. Joe was quicker to get his bearings than I was. Angry at both them and myself for freaking out, I turned and started pulling my weight.
Eloise had found another pump to duck down behind and David had obviously followed suit, already aiming from behind a third. Unfortunately, the two guys we were left fighting had had the same idea and the initial ringing of gunfire had stopped. I hated shootouts like this. The tension rose quickly, each of us knowing that a bunch of hungry dead things would be on us soon enough, each of us waiting for someone else to make the first move.
I spotted one of them wasn’t entirely hidden by the pump he’d hidden behind. I could get him if I ran from this pump to the next, but it was risky – I’d definitely draw their attention, though, and that would give the others room to fire.
Yeah, that took me about half a second to decide on. Quietly, I let Joe know what I was about to do and he nodded.
My body was shaking, protesting against what I was about to do. I swear there were bullets with my name written on that day – as I made my insane run, I drew all their fire. They clearly weren’t so worried about saving ammo as we were. One bullet came so close to my head I felt it ruffle my hair. As I ran, I did shoot at the one poking out, but I only clipped his side. It didn’t even slow the fucker down. Eloise got a couple of shots in but they both fell wide. I dunno what David was doing, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt when he didn’t shoot.
Joe, on the other hand, snuck down the side of his pump while I was distracting them, and did get a good shot in. The guy with the bandana fell to the floor, his chest leaking blood like a dam with a crack in it. At first it was slow, a small patch on his shirt. Then it was a flood. I put my attention on the last man standing.
Seeing the other two dead, he started to panic. Or he stopped caring. One or the other. He started firing like a fucking madman. It didn’t even register that I heard glass break, or Carol screaming. I guess I just thought that he’d hit the shop window and that Carol was panicking, because let’s face it, a guy with nothing to lose can be a scary opponent to face.
It was only when David took him out and we all sighed a collective breath of relief that any of us realized Carol was still kicking up a fuss. I looked over to see Carol holding Alicia tight against her chest, shielding the kid’s eyes.
“Oh god,” one of us muttered.