Thirty Two Zombies
This story is an original work and is copyrighted by the author. Copyright 2013
Author’s Note: Feedback is welcomed at my new email address. Khall828@earthlink.net
The darkness of night surrounded her. The eve of All Hallow’s Eve to be exact. Midnight was drawing near, and she really had no idea how close, or far away, she was from the safe zone. The slight chill in the air barely kept the sweat of exertion from her dirt covered skin. Her breath was coming in pants, her heartbeat pounding with restless anxiety.
The mission had begun three hours ago, and she had since, been running through the blackened woods, evading her hideous stalkers.
She finally had to slow the pace of her feet, but her eyes stayed in motion, scanning the thick stand of trees. The shadows played games with her mind. The sounds played tricks on her ears. An occasional branch above her head would crack under the strain of the wind. Her dark haired head wrenched skyward at every one of those noises in case something else was lurking in the eerie trees, waiting to drop down on her.
Chase Brennan had everything she ever wanted in life, a beautiful and loving wife, and two adorable children, a six year old girl and a two year old boy. Her career as a physical therapist satisfied her need to help others, and her family filled her soul with never ending joy. It all kept her alive.
Alive, dead…undead. That’s what this world was about now.
Chase barely remembered the events that had brought her to this point, but as long as she remained untouched, she stayed alive.
The dead leaves crunched under her boots…or was it the undead things that shared the forest she was currently tromping through.
Was that the wind?
Chase wasn’t sure any more. The moans and groans of the things that tracked her, became louder every time they got close. But she had to let them get close in order to keep their numbers down. Every time she pulled the trigger, she felt a surge of adrenaline, a little jolt that kept her going.
The creatures were unrelenting, but since they lumbered along with a limping gait, taking them out when they were alone, was pretty easy.
Well, no, none of it was easy. Her muscles protested as she topped one hill, only to face another, even taller. The muddy bog about half a mile back had left her legs caked with drying dirt half way up her shins.
Only the darkness really hindered her hurried advance. But Chase Brennan was determined to win the night.
She crested a small slope, stepped into a clearing, and instantly felt the eyes on her, the sensation creeping down her spine like a string of marching spiders. A thick fog suddenly drifted in, encompassing her legs, almost grabbing at her with its cold, damp tendrils. Her weapon came up and she turned in circles, not knowing from what direction the attack would come. But knowing that it was coming. Her blue eyes blinked and her head tilted, trying to discern the shadows that moved in the darkness. It was quiet for the moment, even the wind had subsided. Chase stopped, waiting for them to come to her.
A scream sounded in the distance.
To calm her nerves, Chase began singing her son’s favorite song. “Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase. Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze. It means no worries, for the rest of…
Chase spun around, her weapon at the ready. It was a trio of grotesque monsters she faced. She pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Again and again. The gun was jammed, but she kept squeezing. “Damn!” she yelled, “Not yet you don’t!” Chase grabbed for a second weapon she had slung across her back. She dropped one easily, the body slumping to the ground with a soft thud. Staring her foes in the face, Chase suddenly recognized the other two.
Rob Hernandez. He was her neighbor. Last year they had organized the annual block party. His oldest daughter would babysit for her children from time to time. Chase had beaten him at a charity basketball challenge earlier in the year. But that was then. His gray business suit, once so immaculate for work, now hung on his form in tatters. His stomach lay ripped open, a rope of bloody intestine grossly swaying as he moved. This thing was not a friend anymore. Bang.
Stacey Baker. She taught at the neighborhood school, where Chase’s daughter attended. Last year, Stacey had helped the kindergartener to learn the alphabet song. And Stacey had been named teacher of the year by the student body. She was a friend to everyone, student and parent alike. But the thing before her now was an enemy. Bang.
Chase took off again, wondering why she ever volunteered for this. A far off explosion startled her, causing her to stumble from her steady pace. She almost stayed down, just willing to give up. It was too hard. But her daughter’s smile and words rang through her mind. “I know you can do it Mama.”
Chase blew out a resolute sigh. “Yes, I can baby. Yes, I can.” She planted one foot on the ground, and then the other, over and over, propelling her further into the darkness.
Chase was determined, but exhausted. She hoped the safe zone was over the next rise. The map she had tried to memorize, had long left her weary head.
A spotlight suddenly burst to life, momentarily blinding her. Having tripped the perimeter sensor, Chase knew she was almost safe. Blinking away the harsh intrusion, she saw two more horrific faces advancing on her.
But before they could even hit the ground, she knew more were behind her.
It was an ambush.
Bang. Bang. Bang. On this night, she had already taken out at least 25. But they kept up the pursuit.
“Come on!” Chase yelled at the top of her lungs, as she backpedaled to a nearby group of trees, shooting as she went.
She bent at the waist, sucking in oxygen. But she didn’t have the luxury of a lengthy rest. When she finally looked up, she saw the ground littered with bodies…but nothing moved.
Her heart beat no more than two dozen times before she heard the leaves rustle across the ground beside her. A low groan escaped from between gray tinged lips, and Chase’s head whipped around. Her blues eyes widened as she stared into the lifeless orbs of the thing lumbering toward her.
“Oh no,” Chase exhaled. “Not you.”
This zombiefied human was definitely female, smaller then Chase by at least six inches, and her hair had been blonde. Although her conversion had left an open, oozing rip down one side of her face, Chase remembered the beauty. She knew the intelligent mind and gentle soul that lay beneath the gore.
And Chase also knew this woman quite intimately. Eight years earlier she had married her.
The fighter retreated just six steps when her back hugged the nearest tree. She reached for the pouch at her waist. “No more ammo,” she mumbled, as she watched the creature come nearer. “Guess, it is game over.”
The petite monster came toe to toe with Chase, sniffing around her face and neck. She studied her victim with interest, baring her blackened teeth, nipping to get a first taste. The moan that left her lips was almost erotic. She reached up with both hands and grabbed the taller woman’s face. Chase surrendered without a fight.
The gray mouth opened and…the kiss that followed was long, slow and deep.
The zombie pulled back and whispered, “Thank you sweetheart for not shooting me. I’ve always loved your brains. I just don’t want to eat…them.”
The midnight darkness was suddenly a light, illuminating the surrounding bodies, who were climbing to their feet, some smiling and others laughing or patting each other on the back. A couple of unzombie like fist bumps completed the picture.
A voice sounded over a loud speaker. “Thank you ladies and gentlemen for playing Zombie Paintball on this pre-Halloween night. We hope you had fun. Would all of those who had prosthetics applied, please return to the makeup trailer to have them removed. Video copies of tonight’s game will be available in two weeks. Thank you again and have a good night.”
Chase Brennan hugged her wife, Robin. They transferred a good amount of paint, sweat and dirt during the embrace, but the couple was unfazed by any of it. It certainly wasn’t the first time in their active 13 years together. And it undoubtedly wouldn’t be the last.
Robin again kissed the lips that now shared the deathly hue of her own. “You were so sexy,” she said with a husky voice, “playing your role to perfection, defending humanity with your courageous heart and these impressive muscles.”
Chase chuckled. “I had nothing to lose…except my reputation…and the 300 dollars.”
If Chase had made it to the finish line, with the scarf still attached to her waist, she would have won the prize money that the players had contributed.
Robin was currently tying that scarf around her own waist. “I know you would do the same if this was a real situation,” she said, rubbing her wife’s buff belly. “And Brad Pitt has nothing on you.”
Chase grinned as she swiped a thumb across her wife’s cheek, coming away with a smudge of black. “You’re the cutest damn Zombie I’ve ever seen,” she said, “but can we get this stuff taken off so we can go home? I am exhausted. I want a nice hot shower and our big, soft bed.”
“Can we make that for two?” Robin asked with wiggling eyebrows.
“The bed always,” Chase said with a wink, “the shower, we’ll see.” Robin’s pale lips formed into a pronounced pout. Chase couldn’t resist and kissed it away. “If I said yes, what would you give me?” she asked.
Robin smiled mischievously. “I’ll show you my vampire impression. And then…” She reached up to whisper the rest of the delightful description in her spouse’s ear. Chase’s eyes soon disappeared behind closed, fluttering lids. An erotic tingle crept across her neck, not just from the incredible words, but the hot breath and teasing tongue at her ear. With one last nibble, Robin pulled back and smiled sweetly.
Chase blew out a breath. “You are such a minx. And I love it.”
Rob Hernandez stopped next to the grinning couple and cleared his throat to announce his presence to the preoccupied pair. He reached out for a hand shake. “Sorry you missed out on that prize Chase.”
Chase shrugged. “That’s how it goes. Hey, no hard feelings man, but I hate your guts,” she said, pointing to his exposed mid-section.
Hernandez laughed, grabbed the rubber intestines and twirled it around. “Next year, I’m gonna make sure you get this one.”
“Oh no!” Chase protested strongly. “This was my final game; I’m getting too old for these things.”
“Yeah, that’s what you said last year,” he scoffed.
“Its true honey,” Robin concurred. “And I believe those were your exact words. And you were just a slow moving Zombie then.”
Chase looked slightly chagrinned. “Well, this year I mean it.”
“We’ll see baby, we’ll see.
* * *
Later that night, after that promised seductive shower, the tired couple were in bed, snuggled tightly in each other’s arms.
Chase yawned. “I’m glad we don’t have to pick up the kids from your parents until tomorrow evening. I plan to say in bed until noon.”
Robin mirrored the yawn. “I would hope so, since it’s already three in the morning. I’ll say it again baby, you did good.”
Chase let out a little chuckle. “I certainly didn’t expect to see you there, looking like that. You said you didn’t want to play.”
“Strategy,” Robin murmured.
“You wanted me to lose?” Chase asked.
“No. My own personal strategy…or should I say experiment. First, I wanted to see if you would recognize me, then I wanted to see if you could shoot me. ”
Robin felt the belly beneath her hand shake with silent laughter. “What?” she asked.
“I…um…I ran out of ammunition.”
Robin shot up and reached for the lamp switch. “Are you saying that’s the only reason you didn’t shoot me, because you ran out of ammunition?”
Chase’s enigmatic, but charming smile replaced any words she could have spoken. She pulled her slightly miffed spouse down on top of her, and proceeded to kiss her silly, hoping to soften her temper.
“Where’s my candy?”
* * *
Two weeks later, the couple was at home, watching the video of the paintball game. After getting the children into bed, they had settled in with hot drinks and snacks, in front of the fifty five inch screen. They laughed at the group of over acting zombies, played by family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. At times, Robin teased her determined spouse over her facial expressions as she tromped through the dark forest in her zombie killer mode. Part of the same large acreage of forest sat behind their suburban home, and from where they currently sat in their walk out basement, they could look out upon that dusky, and slightly intimidating woodland.
Chase uttered a few of her own taunting comments, when the little blonde monster appeared in her close up. And both agreed that their kiss was impressive on the big screen.
Right before the final moments, Chase paused the video. “You know, even though I knew this was just a game, at times it really was very spooky out there.”
“I’m sure it was,” Robin said, as she snuggled under the arm draped over her shoulder. “I definitely wouldn’t have gone out there all alone.” She chuckled. “I scared myself just looking in the mirror after I got the makeup put on.”
“Well, like I said, I won’t be playing the hero again.” Chase took a long drink of her hot chocolate, and came away with a marshmallow mustache.
Robin kissed away the gooey remnants. “But you loved playing the hero this time.”
Chase considered the idea, and flashed a half smile and sluggishly shrugged a shoulder. “Well, maybe.” Another thought occurred to her. “Hey, doesn’t the super hero always get the girl?”
“You’ve had the girl all along Babe.”
“I haven’t had the girl yet today.”
Robin smiled and informed her, “It’s still early.”
With that, some serious kissing began, a few buttons were undone, and several patches of skin were exposed.
Until a cry sounded. Since their son had just turned two, Robin insisted that they still use a monitor in his room, especially when they were in the basement family room. “I’ll get him,” Robin said, as she adjusted her clothing. Bestowing a last kiss, she informed her wife, “Be back as soon as I can.”
Downing the last of her cooling, chocolate drink, Chase started the video again from the beginning. But this time she played it faster, intent on taking a body count.
Robin came back down the stairs about 25 minutes later. “He must have had a dream,” she said. “A few kisses and a song, and he went right back to sleep.”
“A few kisses from you usually perk me right up.” Chase said with a sexy leer.
“As it should. Speaking of, why don’t we head up to bed?” Robin noticed the video had been paused near the end. “Did you watch it again?” she asked with a grin.
“Just scanned through it. I took out 32 zombies,” she said somewhat proudly.
“There were only 31 people playing, not counting you and me,” Robin said as she put the dirty dishes onto a tray.
“But I just counted, and there were 32 zombies.”
“You must have just miscounted, Honey. Because I collected the money and wrote the paintball company a check for 33 players.”
Chase picked up the remote and pointed it at the television. “I’m sure I was right, but let’s take another count.”
They sped through the video, stopping to carefully count at the right places. “…30…31…and 32. And there you are, and I was out of ammo.”
Robin was at a loss. “But that’s impossible. We paid for 32 zombie make ups. I survived, so there should have been 31 other zombies. And I counted 31 people before we started.”
Chase echoed. “But we just saw that I shot 32 zombies.”
Robin pointed at the frozen screen shot. “I know…but…how…where…?”
They sat in stunned silence for a few more seconds, searching for an explanation. Robin finally made a suggestion. “I bet the paintball company slipped in their own person just to see if anyone of us would notice.”
Chase’s dark head shook. “I really don’t see the purpose of that.”
Robin jumped up and hurried over to the window, checking the locks and closing the heavy curtains. “I’d rather think of that than the alternative,” she said, double checking the door.
“And that alternative would be?”
Robin turned with a look.
“A real zombie?” Chase asked with a skeptical chuckle. “They only exist in fiction…and silly, people games. Besides, I suppose he was just passing by and thought it was a family reunion.”
Robin relaxed and laughed. “Yeah…and some wimpy zombie, to be taken out by a simple paintball.”
“Right,” Chase agreed. But with a thought, she tipped her head to one side, and added, “Of course, it might have only been stunned. Maybe it came to and ambled off in the other direction.” She turned off the TV, got up and walked over to the window, peeking through the curtains. “Or maybe, it’s still out there, wandering the woods,” she said with a spooky tone. “Have any of the neighbors gone missing?”
“The Harrisons, down on the cul- de -sac, but they’re on vacation.”
Chase wrapped her arm around Robin’s waist. “Or are they?”
The couple headed up the stairs, still bantering playfully about the extra zombie.
They were too far away to hear the thump against the basement door…or the menacing groan that drifted in through the slightly open window.
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