Chapter Fourteen: Martha Gibbs
Jason turned on his heel and walked quickly away from me. What was wrong with him? It couldn’t be me, I hadn't done anything wrong. I’ve never done anything wrong. I’m a perfect model of what everyone should be like.
With one last glance at the purifying sinners’ blood red skies, I too turned on my heels and left the awe-inspiring scene. It almost made me want to meet our creator, our true god. He would understand me, he would not point and laugh as many others have and did until now. I bet they’re thinking that I was right. I hope they are, to be honest. They’ll die slowly and painfully as they deserve and rot for all eternity in hell, I hope their last dying thought was of me and how right I was.
Some people would class me as evil for saying that. Others would agree whole-heartedly with me. I wasn’t sure how much they would suffer, but what I was sure of was that God existed and that good would conquer evil. Evil would be eradicated like vermin, non-believer scum and sinners damned to be tortured as painfully as possible in death.
I knew I wasn’t evil for thinking these thoughts; I was merely a good Christian.
Mud seeped into my plain cloth shoes as I made the small trek back across to the front of the church. Upon finding myself at the huge oak doors with the heavy brass knockers and the intricate designing, I looked back out onto the town. From here, the view was everything in the town. Occasionally the odd building would tower above the rest and obscure some of the range of sight, but other than that, the whole town was under the watchful eye of whoever wished to watch.
There didn’t seem to be any disturbances, neither humans still alive nor zombies. That thought had started to bug me. Since Aria, Kyle and Jason had arrived here at the church; there were no sightings of zombies. It seemed as though they were just after them, but then again, would they not be here by now? Why did these bodies rise from the grave anyway? Would it not be easier to kill everyone by just killing them if this was done by God’s hand? Then again, I wasn’t about to question the work of the almighty, the all powerful, the all-seeing God that was our creator.
Walking into the church, I realise how much cooler it instantly is. I’d never appreciated the temperature in this building before, but I did so then.
Almost as soon as I walked into the church, Aria barged past me, closely followed by Kyle and Jason, all of them carrying weapons. Aria now carried two metal bats, both of them still sticky from their battles yesterday, flesh hanging from the end. Kyle held in his hand a sharpened crucifix and a broken arm from one of the pews. Jason rested a candlestick holder in one hand and was rolling yet another pew arm from one of the mistreated benches.
“What are you doing?” I asked. The panic was rising in my voice, I could feel as my vocal chords got tighter and tighter in a ball in my throat. “There is no way that you can take those things out of the church! That is stealing! Sinners! You’re all sinners!” Shaking uncontrollably, I watched in fear as Aria turned around.
“Who is going to stop us though? Eh? You?” she snorted. “Don’t make me laugh. We’re going to go and live our lives. We’re going to go and do as this Fifth Horseman guy says. We’re going to survive the apocalypse. And we aren’t going to do it because we’re perfect, unblemished, un-sinning people. We’re going to do it because we can. And believe me. We will. Right guys?” She turned and left me standing there alone. Shouting back over her shoulder, I heard her say, “Get a weapon, or fend for yourself and die.” With that, they all marched out of the door and away. I had no choice but to grab my bag, a loose pew arm and run after them down the slippery slope to the entrance to the graveyard.
It's hard to keep upright on the uneven, jagged edged path. Soon enough I catch them up and walk slowly behind them, neither leading, nor lagging behind. What we’re doing seems so wrong to me. Why would I need a weapon? I’m obviously a chosen one, chosen to survive through the apocalypse where others have failed. I’ll be the example of the era of perfect, un-sinning Christian race.
Derelict streets were all that was left of the once busy, hustle and bustle of the town. It was depressing, even to me.
Houses that were once full of people who had lives, families, friends, hopes, dreams, everything in their reach, the world as their oyster, were now no more than piles of rubble along the split, cracked roads. Nothing was left standing in this once beautiful place. From the debris that was left, shards of glass reflected the rust red of the sky, glowing ominously in the low light. I quickly worked out that the glass must have come from windows of the houses. Wooden supports that had once held buildings up, standing them tall and proud, now lay about the road, just splinters remained and even then, they’d scattered in the earthquakes and other disruptions.
Roads we travelled secretively down were cracked and split due to the earthquakes and tension. Rain had got into them and mixed with the vast lakes of blood that flowed almost wherever it wanted to. Covering most of the ground, I soon gave up trying to avoid it and just splashed through them as the others chose to. Occasionally, floating in the masses of blood mixed with water, were scraps of flesh. They drifted by, unaided and unguided, following wherever the wind took them on the ripples and impulsive wishes of the lakes.
Silence lay like a thick blanket of snow over everything as time ticked by, ever so slowly. Air seemed to be as thick as treacle and just as hard to swallow. Every time I took another gulp of air, the lump in my throat grew larger and larger.
Tension also grew. Each corner we turned meant more tension. Everyone was tense because they didn’t know what to expect around the next bend. It sounded cheesy in my head, but I quickly smothered the thought, just as the air was smothering us with the combination of pressure, atmosphere, apprehension and every other horrible feeling you can think of.
The silence ruled these streets, taking no prisoners. There was no room for failure, no second chance to get it right if we missed it the first time. None of us dared to make a sound, barely even breathing as we prowled anxiously amongst the rubble.
For minutes only, we were spared with peace, but not it wasn’t long enough. Sooner than we either expected or wished, a hideous, blood-curdling scream came from in the distance, some streets away. A glance was shared between the other members of the group, but not me. Aria passed it to Kyle, who then in turn passed it to Jason. Jason passed it back to Aria and then the trading was over. I didn’t get a say, not even a look in to the thought or the plan of what we should do. Should we run? Should we fight? How would I know?
At least I recognised where we were now. We were only a few turns away from the abandoned warehouse on Darby Road, the destination of our particular travels this time. There was only one problem. The zombies were heading right for us. With the warehouse directly in front of us, and the zombies bringing up the rear, it felt as though we were being herded into this spooky building.
I didn’t wish to go this way. After my original thought that the zombies would be not after me, I changed my mind when I saw the bloodthirsty look in their faces and in their eyes. I knew on the inside that they weren’t here to hurt me; I wasn’t a sinner; but I didn’t want to chance it. I may have been brought up differently than others, but I wasn’t stupid.
Moist with sweat from the anticipation, my hand loosened its grip on the pew arm I’d taken reluctantly as a weapon. I only just managed to keep in mind that I needed to keep hold of it – just in case.
Aria, Kyle and Jason were frozen to the spot for a moment. There wasn’t anything I could see that was different about their facial expressions; none of them seemed to be scared. They were all connected in their shared expressions, the same look on all of their faces. Each one of them, in their own ways, had accepted death. All I saw was determination, set jaws, eyes fuelled with strength of mind. Nothing was going to hold them back. I could see they’d already decided what they were to do. If they were going to die, then they were going to take as many of these blood–thirsty, flesh-eating, inhuman monsters with them when they went. What Aria said next confirmed what I suspected.
“Come on guys! If we’re going to die, then let us at least take a hell of a lot of these pathetic excuses for creatures with us!” she said, letting out a roar of confidence. I hated to interrupt her, but I could see one major flaw in her plan.
“Why do we not just run?” I screamed, losing any cool I had. “They’re heading straight for us! Do you not want to live?”
Kyle nodded his head. “I see her point. Come with us Aria, Jason.”
Aria turned to follow us. She was going to go wherever Kyle went. Jason didn’t move. He didn’t even turn. Still he faced the oncoming zombie horde, watching as we wasted time as they got closer and closer. Aria turned back to look at him. “What are you doing?” she said. “We’re going to the warehouse! Come on!”
“I’m not.” His voice was resolute, razor sharp, almost like a shard of glass. “I don’t have anyone like you do Aria. You have Kyle and he has you. Martha has God. What do I have?” None of us could speak. What was he thinking? “So, for you, I’ll sacrifice myself. I’ll fight while you reach the warehouse.” Aria started to butt in, try to convince him to run with them, but he just continued. “There is no point in trying to discourage me from doing this, I’ve decided.”
Nodding, we all tried not to cry as the zombies got nearer and nearer. “Jason, I -” I started to speak, but Jason wouldn't let me finish.
“Go. Now. Before it is too late.” With the hand he was clenching the pew arm in, he carelessly saluted to us. “Good luck to you.” he said, chuckling darkly. With eyes watering, lips trembling and hopes high, we saluted back and turned to run.
We all sprinted as fast as we could, not pausing for anything. Nothing tripped us over, hindered us. All the zombies were more than far enough away to ensure our safety in reaching the warehouse. I’d changed my mind now. In such a short space of time, I now knew that the apocalypse wasn’t everything that it was told to be in the Christian Bible. I mean, the pure believers, such as myself, were supposed to be lifted to God, safe from harm in this condemned world. Now I wasn’t so sure. I knew for a fact that I’d never sinned. Since I was a small child, I’d never sinned. The seven deadly sins and the Ten Commandments were the most important rules I lived by. Nothing meant more to me than my belief, with the exception of my family.
My flimsy shoes clung limply and pathetically to my feet, covered in mud and soaked through in blood. Up my legs and down the front of my dress, splashes and blotches of blood were covering both me and the material. Dirt was mixed with this blood and it made an awful mess. For once in my life, I cared more about these next few minutes and whether I lived or died than whether this was hygienic or whether I was clean.
I could hear Kyle to my left, panting heavily as he sprinted. His legs pumped as he ran, his feet pounding against the floor. His gaze was fixed on the warehouse, never fazing or flickering to anything else. All his concentration was on getting to the warehouse before being attacked. To my right was Aria, tearing through the air, despite her lack of enthusiasm about sporting activities and exercise. Her panting was even more intense and heavy than Kyle’s breathing. She was also concentrating on the building up ahead, but every so often, her gaze would wander, sometimes to me, sometimes to the floor, other times to Kyle or behind her to where Jason was about to be overwhelmed.
Trying to keep my pace up, I turned to look over my shoulder briefly. I couldn’t get a fix on Jason properly, or even the zombie crowd. From this distance and at this speed, it looked like a huge grey and red tsunami.
The warehouse door was temptingly close. Seeing how close we were at the same time, gave us a morale boost. Moving faster than I ever had done before, I managed to reach the door first. It didn’t take long for the other two of my companions to reach me standing at the doorway, but in the seconds I waited for them, I managed to fix my sight on Jason. The zombie horde had reached him, but only just. I heard a distant, determined roar and watched briefly as he swung one of his weapons down onto the oncoming masses. There was no way he could win. Even from here it was obvious.
Fighting back the tears, I stood aside as Aria and Kyle reached the door and worked together to open it. My sight was still held by Jason, battling like something that wasn’t quite human. There was something strong about him and I found it hard not to cry while I watched.
No sooner than I expected, the zombies moved in properly for the kill. These monsters moved with inhuman strength and speed. One on Jason’s left managed to leap like a frog over the top of him. Quick in reacting, Jason managed to beat down the attack. That was where the luck he’d been running on ran out. More zombies jumped and leaped onto him, covering him in a huge, free for all, feeding frenzy. All the zombies wanted a piece of him and there was nowhere near enough to go around the masses.
A shiver of revulsion passed through me, using my spine as a main point to shimmy down. Blinking back the tears that wanted to stream down my face, I turned and followed Aria and Kyle as they cautiously wandered into the warehouse.