Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dead Things: End of her rope

End of her rope. The end. The ropes end. The end of it. Smoking gun. Caught with the smoking gun. Pain in the neck. Time. End of. End of my rope.

The rope bit into the pink flesh of her neck and burned with the slightest of movements. It took her a minute to regain what little control she had. First, the cold wood on her cheek, then the realization that the wood was floor and not wall since she was laying on it. Something bumped in the hallway and she tried to call out for assistance, but her throat was constricted and pain shot through her when she tried to speak. Everything smelled stale and medicinal.

What the hell had happened? She blinked and tried to sit up. The rope was caught under her arm and pulled painfully at her burnt skin when she pushed up. She yanked it from under her arm and shoved – bringing herself to a seated position. She then assessed the situation.

Rope. Broken pipe above her on the ceiling. Gun on the floor before her, smoking. Her left shoulder hurt almost as bad as her throat. She touched the burnt skin around her neck and glanced up to the broken set of pipes. Had she tried to kill herself? It seemed impossible, yet there she was. But, the gun didn’t make sense. Maybe someone had tried to kill her? Hang her? And she shot them?

“What…” she clamped her eyes shut as the sting from her throat ran down her spine. No talking for now. She tasted blood and licked her lip. It was split and blood ran from it into her mouth.
She blinked hard and removed the rope from her neck. Pain made her wince as she tossed the rope aside. Her whole body ached.

The noise in the hall came again and the situation made her heart beat faster. If this person in the hall had tried to kill her and she had indeed shot them, she’d have to seek help and fast. She narrowed her eyes when she heard footsteps. Obviously, someone was still very much alive.

She rose to her feet and lost her balance. She was shaken and felt dizzy. She thought that maybe she had hit her head on the way down. She reached forward and grabbed the gun and the dizziness made her swoon and she went down on one knee. Her left arm and shoulder were useless – every movement of them made her shudder with pain. She clamped her teeth down hard and pushed herself up. She had to get out of here, wherever here was.

She glanced around and saw that the room she was in had another way out. At least another door. She stole a glance towards the footsteps in the hall and saw the growing shadow of what looked to be a woman moving up the wall in the half light. She looked back toward the opposite door and made her way towards it slowly and quietly. Her head was clearing, but she was still very dizzy and almost fell through the door in the back of the room when she reached it.

She slipped around the corner and checked the gun. She didn’t remember much of anything, but her fingers flew over the gun as muscle memory took over. She spun the chamber quietly and saw that all the bullets were spent. “Shit,” she mouthed to herself as she slid to the floor. Not good. Not good at all. She looked around and saw that the room was nothing more than a large closet.

The footsteps stopped, then she heard them start to move into the room where she woke up. A scan of the room showed that there were no other exits. A few random things to hide behind, but no means of escape. She listened and tried to keep quiet. The room seemed to grow smaller with each shambling step she heard growing closer. She wouldn’t be able to fight this person in her current state.
The person sounded injured. Hell, if she did in fact empty a gun at it, she must have hit the person somewhere no matter how horrid a shot she may have been.

That’s when she caught the reflection in a large, steel vacuum propped against the wall on the other side of her. The reflection made her heart beat even faster. She fought back the urge to scream and she stared on with wide open eyes and tried to convince herself that what she was seeing was just due to some head injury.

The person shambling towards her had no right arm. It looked like it was shredded at the end of the nub and bone shone through. Bits of gore hung from it and swung back and forth with each step. The figure made a sick, gurgling and smacking sound as if it were chewing air wetly. It was a woman – a breast exposed and covered with blood. But the worst part was the things face. Half of it was gone and pulp with white skull showing through.

Memories rushed in with tidal force. She looked down at herself and the uniform she wore. Police. She was an officer. Janet Temple. She was in the house and trying to run away from…them. Oh God, she remembered it all now. There were more of these things outside and she had run into the small clinic to avoid them. She had shot the thing in the face when it came after her. Shot it over and over, but still it came.

She stood and gripped the handle of the gun tightly, raising it high and ready to hit the thing. She drew in a quiet breath and went still. Janet closed her eyes, wished she were somewhere else, then opened them and waited. She knew she wouldn’t be able to fight for long in her current state. She could barely keep her eyes open and she felt the room spinning under her feet.

The thing stumbled forward and into the small room. Blonde hair was matted to its head with dried blood. Long scrapes marred her side and exposed ribs and muscle. Janet had seen the look before. This woman – what was left of her – was dragged by a car after being hit. She shouldn’t be up and walking.
Janet shook off the growing fear and concentrated. Her side and throat throbbed with every heartbeat. She stared at the things rotten, gore covered face. Skull shown through and the left eye was missing. Janet didn’t move. She felt dizzy, but she willed herself to remain totally still. Beads of sweat appeared on her forehead and upper lip and dripped down the back of her uniform.

The thing stopped and cocked its head to the side. Its hair parted slightly as scalp pulled away from bone. The missing eye socket was an angry shade of red mixed with deep bruise blue and black. It waited, moving its head from side to side slightly.

Janet held her breath, fire raging in her arm still held high with the useless weapon in a death grip.
The missing eye saw nothing on the left. Janet didn’t breathe. Didn’t make a sound. The thing raised it’s arm, then lowered it slowly. It turned to it’s right and shuffled out of the room. Janet heard it stumble and fall, drag its body back up, then move out of the room slowly.

Janet’s arm slowly slid to her side. She stared forward and took shallow, painful breaths. Her eyes closed, then opened slowly. She bit her lower lip and tried to wrap her brain around what was happening, but nothing made sense. She listened, but didn’t hear a thing. Her stomach was churning and she felt as if she might be sick.

“Ok,” she whispered. She palmed the gun and peeked around the corner and peered into the dark. Nothing. She moved back into the room and looked up at the broken pips as she ran a hand over her neck. She couldn’t believe it could be so bad that she’d try to hang herself.

Her belt lay on the floor in the corner and she grabbed it and slipped it back around her waist, slipping the gun back into the holster. No bullets, but she’d sort that out later. The baton she carried was still tucked neatly into her belt’s compartment. She withdrew it and held it tight as she made her way towards the room’s doorway.

The hallway was empty, but that thing could be anywhere looking for her still. She moved quietly and tried to stay to the shadows and darkness.

She glanced out the window and saw other shapes moving there. Other figures stumbling and shuffling in the dark. Part of her thought it might be best to wait in this building until the sun rose, but something inside her wanted out. Wanted to have the option to run if she wanted it. Being stuck in an unfamiliar building seemed like a very bad idea.

The first door she found was heavy and bolted shut. The second revealed her follower from before. It crouched over something small and ate away at it feverishly. Janet didn’t want to think what the small, meaty thing was and moved on.

The door to the outside stood ajar and light pour in from outside illuminating the hall and the lawn outside. A police cruiser was smashed up against the clinic’s fence and smoke rose from the engine as it idled and sputtered – more dead than alive. Radio chatter poured from the open door of the car and the people’s voices sounded panicked and full of fear.

Figures moved around the car, glancing into it and moving on. Shuffling corpses wandering every which way. Janet counted six around the car and more in the street and surroundings, but they were slow moving and spread out at a good distance. She felt around in her pocket for the keys to the shotgun, but realized they were on the keyring in the car’s ignition.

Her teeth ground together as she peered around the door jam. Panic gave way to anger. She didn’t like this at all. It didn’t make any sense. The things outside were…dead. They were in various states of decay. This wasn’t happening.

Her arm was pulsing and she glanced back into the clinic wondering if she should try to find some sort of sling or meds to help her fight through the injury. Her eyes narrowed as the follower from before stumbled from the room it had feasted in and spotted her. It made a small, guttural sound and started moving at her down the hallway. Janet looked outside and saw another one of them moving toward her slowly from the small garden to the right of the car.

She drew in a deep breath, nodded to herself then moved into the light of the headlights, out onto the porch and made her way to the cruiser….

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