The sound of children screaming told Lydia her timing was on point. Screaming meant they were alive.

She stepped into the open back door, Zombies were hardly known for their manners. First, she found herself in a musty kitchen then quickly made her way to the derelict staircase. With her gun in one hand and sword in the other she quickly reached the second floor and peered down the hall where the sludge marks on the carpet told her they’d headed. Well that and the screaming of course. 

Three flesh eaters were banging a broom handle up into the attic hatch. They’d actually managed to poke a few holes in it too. Lydia took a deep breath, she knew as soon as she made the first kill she’d be on the clock. Flesh-eaters might wander about in small packs, but they flocked by the hundreds when they sensed one of their own being tortured. You couldn’t say dying, because, well, they never really died. 

Lydia set the timer on her watch. Five minutes. Once the five was up, well, things could go bad. Without another blink she pushed the start button and crept up in behind and beheaded the first one and then the next. The tall one she shot in the knee and when it landed, she beheaded that one just the same. 

“Children, come out, NOW!” she yelled at the hatch. 

The tiny door quickly disappeared and children began piling out. So many and all so young. They just kept coming. She looked at one of the older ones, a girl about the age of eight,  ”How many?” 

The girl raised her chin slightly “Nine. We lost one on the way.” For some reason children couldn’t survive a zombie bite, they just died outright. Just as well, thought Lydia. 

A small boy tugged at her shirt and screamed, “Go now! Now! Now!” He was right. 

No sooner had she piled them all up into the Hummer when the street began to ooze with the flesh-eaters. Her alarm sounded. Shit. She slammed the huge vehicle into reverse. She could have driven forward of course but it would’ve mucked up the windshield. “Huddle down!” she told the kids. They did. The littlest ones whimpered every time they heard a wet smack slam into the back bumper. 

Once Lydia had ploughed over a long pile of them, the crowd began to thin out. She was finally at the outside edges of the swarm. She threw the truck into drive and took off for the desert. It was the only place left the flesh-eaters didn’t seem to want to hang out in. And who could blame them. Humans didn’t want to live out there either, not above ground anyways. The Apocalypse had destroyed more than anyone could ever have imagined. 

The drive across the desert was very long, and very hot. It was a miracle they’d found a working vehicle, but one with air conditioning would have been too much to hope for. The need to stop and re-fuel the beast from cans buried along the way sapped Lydia’s energy. Just breathing was sweaty work let alone digging up fuel cans. This was always the worst part of any mission. She’d take slaying deaders over this hell drive any day. 

“How’s everyone doing?” she yelled over the roar of the engine. “We’re nearly there now!”

No one responded. They were all too hot. The littlest ones were being cared for by the older ones who were busily grabbing water and frozen cloths from the tiny cooler bin. Even still, by the time they got where they needed to go they’d need immediate care, all of them. 

Hours passed. The cooler long since bone dry until finally the double-armed cacti she was looking for came into sight. Lydia eased back the gears and stopped shy of it. She looked around just to be sure then climbed out and tipped the cacti over to expose one of the many secret hatches to the underground. Her sister, Ruthie, shouted up from the depths, “We’re ready for them, drop ‘em down!” 

One by one, Lydia carried each half-awake half-limp child over to the hatch and dropped them down into the black hole where a med team awaited their arrival. 

Not surprisingly, the last one to get out was the girl who’d raised her chin to Lydia. She was clearly a fighter, even at her weakest. 

“What’s your name kid?” asked Lydia. 

“Diana, just like the hunting goddess.” She said proudly. 

As Lydia reached to lift her down to the ground, something grabbed at her ankle. She shoved Diana back into the truck and slammed the door before looking down, knowing it was too late anyways; the flesh eater had already sunk its sharp teeth deep into her calf. She  took a shaky breath and her sister called out to her. 

“Everything okay up there? The kids say there should be one more?” 

Lydia cried out as the thing tore the chunk of flesh from her leg. It only hurt badly for a moment before it started to feel numb. She grabbed hold of the living corpse and dragged it out from under the truck. How could she, her of all people, have been so stupid not to check the undercarriage for stragglers first?

Ruthie’s head popped up out of the hole quickly followed by her shoulder and a shotgun.

“No Ruthie!!!! Don’t shoot!” gasped Lydia, growing greyer by the second as she tried her best to out muscle the writhing half torso. The little girl, Diana, popped down out of the car and ran over to the hatch. When Lydia had a tight grip on the beast and it was restrained Diana looked her straight in the eye. 

“I’m going to be the new you. Only I’m going to kill them all. I’m going to get revenge.” And with that she dropped out of sight down the hatch. 

Ruthie and Lydia couldn’t help but share a tight grin as Ruthie helped her chuck the deader into the lockup crate. Together they tied it off up on the roof of the Hummer. No easy feat. 

“Lydster, I – “, began Ruthie.

“ – don’t say it sis. It is what it is now. I’ll drop fang-face here into the gorge then double back and leave the truck in the location of the second drop. Send Tom too get it. I – well, I’ll be waiting for him there okay?” 

The sisters embraced each other and let their tears fill in the gaps that words could never do. 

Lydia pulled back first. “Gotta hit the road sis, not much time left now.” 

Ruthie cried harder, but nonetheless she headed toward the hatch and with a final look of anguish, dropped out of sight. Lydia closed the cacti hatch and limped a sweaty blood stained path back up into the truck. 

She drove off toward the gorge, pulled the old black revolver out of the glove box, and placed it gently in her lap. She’d known the risks when she decided to become a Runner and she understood that the only ones who could hope to save humankind we’re children. They would have years ahead of them to study and build on the science already begun in the hopes of finding ways in which to abolish the creatures. 

The inscription on the gun was familiar but today, as the dead feeling in her left calve rose up to her thigh, it held more meaning than ever before. 

“Choose your afterlife.”  

Lydia knew what hers was going to be.


The Ink Babes welcome you into a realm of deliciously dark places in the upcoming anthology,

Coming Soon……. BLEEDING INK – a collection of Dark Tales

Ever Yours,

The Ink Babes

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  1. Creepy, good horror. And I love the warning sign.

  2. A very good zombie story!! Great work Tammy!

  3. John Austin

     /  August 27, 2012

    Great story!


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