Chapter Nine: Jason Graz
We were surrounded by zombies. Kyle had blacked out. Aria was scared stiff now. The only reason I hadn't bolted by now was safety and the fact that, if I was left on my own for a minute in this, I’d perish. Most likely my death would be slow and showing no mercy to those who wished to deal it. Besides, out here, who would show mercy?
My bat grew heavier and heavier in my hands. Each swing became more and more like moving through treacle. The only difference was we couldn’t just get out when we’d finished having fun. We were stuck here, left to die, survive or just go mad, I don’t know.
For some strange reason, I’ve had a feeling that someone has been watching me. Well. Watching this group of us. Us three. The three musketeers… except that we’d almost certainly die at the end of our journey. The three musketeers would just go home, find a wife, have kids, get a real job and earn money, love and live a long and happy life with their families. Not me. Oh no. I was condemned to live real life. I was going to die soon. I felt it in the air. Surprisingly, I was extremely calm about dying. On any other day, if I was told that I was going to die, I’d have panicked and told everyone that I loved them. Now, I felt differently. I was calm. In fact, I was embracing death - welcoming it almost.
The metallic smell of rust-coloured blood poured down the cracks in the stones making up the road, seeping through the cracks in the floor. Sleepiness washed over me. I wanted to fall over. I wanted to give myself up. I wanted to be free. But I knew I couldn’t. Although I was concentrating on not dying, I knew that Aria was making every single previously dead person pay for the one that hurt Kyle.
I have a theory. It may not be right, it may be right. It may be way off the mark and even slightly insulting, but I know that Kyle and Aria are, at least, close friends. Never before today had I known them well, but I know that Aria was never usually that worked up. She took everything in her stride, never looking back when insulted. In fact, when she was insulted, she only stopped to laugh in the other person’s face before running off happily into the sunset, almost, with Kyle. Nothing seemed to faze her. So why was it that now, just after Kyle had been injured, no, in truth, Kyle had saved Aria - she was a wreck? If he didn't have found the strength to jump up and stand in the way of the oncoming attack, she’d almost certainly been killed. The assault was aimed straight at her head, but instead managed to hit Kyle’s shoulder instead.
I think that they might fancy each other.
I mean, think about it. They spend so much of their time together that it is almost unreal. The way that Kyle looks out for Aria seems to be more than just friendship. It is much more than just friendship. Aria is now battling so hard against her and Kyle’s assailants that she’s almost crying with anger. I doubt if she could see more than a couple of inches in front of her face due to how hard she was sobbing.
I searched somewhere inside me, trying to find a hidden reserve of energy. Hoping is no use. There isn't a thing to draw from. Despite the fit of rage that Aria had been flung into by the assault, I could see that she was growing weak and tired. We needed a break from the never-ending cycle of renewable zombies. They were growing too strong for us. Soon enough, I knew that we’d be overpowered by the overwhelming forces of evil. How did the super heroes ever win in these situations?
Wait. The solution hit me like the lightning streaking across the apocalyptic skies. I’d an idea.
I needed to catch them out. Make them jump. Scare them. After all, they were human, were they not? Well, at least they were at one time. So, my plan was this. Find a way to scare them. Catch them off guard. Give myself a spare second or two to act. Then all I’d to do was pick Kyle up, motion to Aria to run and, well… run. I know there are shops that we’ll be able to get into and bar the way if we need to get away for a minute. Even to spare a second. Right. All I needed now was a distraction. But what? What could serve as a distraction to blood thirsty, evil driven, flesh-rotting zombies? Was there even such a thing? If there was, I was going to find it.
Thinking and acting fast, I fended off the oncoming attacks and managed to pick up a torn off limb. It felt cold and clammy against my skin. I resisted the urge to shiver. When resisting failed, I masked it with a mocked war cry and thrust the zombie’s arm up into the air. At least, I think it was an arm. I hope so. Anyway, using all my sporting skills, I chucked the arm as far away as I could. Following that, I let out another mad, grief-stricken war cry.
None of the zombies knew what to do. Were we zombies? Were we simply mad? Were we really to be left? Were we a test from their master? “No”, “ probably”, “I bloody hope so” and “god no!” In that order.
I turned around and bent down to Kyle. “Get ready, mate,” I said under my breath. With almost all the effort I had left, I hoisted him up. Actually, he wasn’t as heavy as I’d imagined, but he was a complete dead weight. It hurt to move from both the fighting and the strain, yet I knew what I had to do. So that is what I did.
“Aria! Run!” I yelled at the top of my voice. “Come on! Now!” I don’t know why I was commanding her all of a sudden, but she wasn’t fazed by it. She let it go and just followed me, no questions asked. That is all that it took. She followed and I ran.
Running now, I found it even harder to stay upright than before. There were more pools of blood that ran between the cracks in the stone, twisting and turning like the threads of fate. The stones were uneven to start with, so there wasn't anything flat to get a balance on and I had a dead weight slung across one of my shoulders. Boy, was this tiring. I would not want to do it again to be honest with you. Although we made it to a shop before the zombies realised we were getting away, I was nearly dead myself by the time we got there.
Blank expressions took priority as we barred the doors in the shop. I lay Kyle onto a desk in a room behind the front of the shop where we’d just entered so that we were out of sight of our assailants. I didn’t bother being even remotely tidy, just shoving all the other stuff onto the floor before Aria had properly finished barring the door.
Neither Aria nor I wanted to check whether Kyle was still alive, but one of us had to. In the end, I did it. First, I checked for a pulse, but I couldn’t find one on his wrist. Trying harder, I looked on his neck. Eventually I found it, but it was weak. He needed to rest. We could only rest until the doors threatened to fall down from the force of the zombies pounding on the door. After that, we’d to run to the church as we’d originally planned, leaving no other time to rest. Aria didn’t bother to disguise the heavy sigh of relief when I told her that I found a pulse.
There wasn’t a doubt in my mind now. She genuinely cared for him as more than a friend. I thought also that he, Kyle, had treated her as though she were more than just a close friend. They were closer than anyone else I knew. Closer even than boyfriends and girlfriends that I knew. They really did fancy each other, I’d decided, and my mind couldn’t be changed.
Heavy pounding disturbed my train of thought. Oh God. Already? The zombies were coming already. Crap. Carefully, I picked up Kyle. Motioning to Aria, we headed towards the back door, planning to escape and just slip away into the blood pooled on the floor. Hoping.
As we reached the back door, a body blocked our path. Swinging hard, Aria took him out with one shot. The zombies were quicker and smarter than I thought. Oh no. This wasn’t going to go well, I could tell. Quickly, we stepped over the body and ran into the darkness of the alley. As we ran, I hoped that the darkness of the back street would grant us a place of hiding. I hoped that if we used this path to get to the church, we’d get there. As it turned out, the church was slightly further away than I’d originally thought.
I’d to tread carefully on the way to the church. The pooled blood was no longer just slippery, but it was beginning to dry in the heated drama, causing it to stick to the underside of my shoes. Kyle was growing heavier with every passing moment, but I was aware I needed to carry him. Aria was in no fit state, especially after Kyle had risked his life for her.
From the corner of my eye as I glanced across to check if Aria was okay, I could see silent tears streaming down her face. No noise escaped her mouth, only the sound of calmed breathing. That reminded me, I needed to try to breathe shallower so as not to alert the zombies of our presence. We were closing in on the distance between the church and us. It looked as though we might just make it without many of the dreaded zombie horde finding and injuring us anymore. We still had hope. It was possible. So long as we didn’t mess it up, or tell them where we were.
There were lots of little side alleys leading off this one. They were all so small, dank and dark. None of them looked as though it would fit near enough as many zombies as attacked us earlier, even if they were split between the lots. There were at least a hundred and fifty that attacked us before, maybe even bordering on two hundred and fifty.
Hah. Fat chance. They came. Oh, they came all right. Only this time, they came in their thousands. Spilling out of the streets, riding on the impulsive ripples in the waves of the crowds rushing to get to us first.
The grand, strong church stood tall in front of us, illuminated by candle light inside. Darkness didn’t seem to be able to touch the godly home of the religious, although it tried. Cobbled streets joined onto this main uneven road heading towards the church. Zombies dashed down them as though they were running for their lives away from The Prince of Darkness himself. Streetlights themselves quivered in fear, ominous smoke coating the already suicidal lack of grip on the ground. Headstones stuck out of the earth at haphazard angles, every one of the once peaceful graves disturbed by the hate driven brethren, whose only goal was to eradicate the heathen of this world, which lay within.
The gap between the church and us was closing, but so was the gap between the zombies and us. It looked as though we might not make it. “No!” I heard Aria scream. She sped up and I followed suit. “We’ll get there! We won’t die now! I didn’t kill this many zombies and fight for the life of other innocents just to fall now!” she roared.
Running through the gate of the graveyard, we began to pull away. The closer we got to the church, the further away we got from the horde of offending attacking zombies.
The path that led up to the doors of the church was chipped and worn, but at least there were no uneven cobbled stones to worry about falling on. Weeds littered the cracked, flat stones making up the path, trying one last time to defeat us. Tangling, twisting and entwining around our feet, they reached out in a feeble attempt to finally overwhelm and get us. It didn’t work.
Within a minute, we’d climbed the steep path to the doors of the church. Aria opened the door with a huge pull, straining her shoulder. She headed inside and I went to follow. Before I finally gave myself to the light and warmth of the church, I looked back on our enemies. As I slipped inside the calming, safe, protecting walls of the god-protected walls of this grand church, I was left with one last thought of our opponents.
None of them had followed us any further than the gate into the graveyard.