“Where the fuck have you two been,” asked Jed with a half serious tone.
Franklin and Dominic grinned internally as they both looked back over their shoulder in a nod to the growing blaze of house fires behind them. “Had to get my hedge clippers back,” Dom said with conviction, motioning to the small child’s wagon of miscellaneous items they managed to pilfer.
Mason eyed their cache of items. The list of questions adding up quicker than the total cost on a gas pump. He tried to raise a hand in an attempt to gather the attention needed to ask just one, glaringly obvious question. “Is that a fucking garden gnome?!?
The look that sprang up on Dominic’s face was that of a small child who just showed his parents a new cool trick. The sense of accomplishment was uncontaminated as he felt the desire to boast, but managed to contain his excitement. “Gary can kiss the business end of my dick,” he thought to himself, keeping the feeling of domination unmolested.
Mason shook his head in an amused manner before snapping back to the problem at hand. “Were y’all chasing that fast sumbitch,” he asked as exhaustion starts to set in. By now, the night’s events have been somewhat chaotic, but also in rapid succession so as to not notice fatigue creeping up on them.
Franklin began to speak, but hesitated, unsure of what to say. Then, when nobody else spoke up, he tried again. “We barely saw it,” he began. It came out of nowhere; like it was part of a shadow.”
“It had me,” Dominic stated with a sense of gratuity that he was still among the living. “The fucker got the drop on me. I shouldn’t be here.”
Jed and Mo just stood there listening to their account. “Was it a…” Jed began to ask before trailing off, the direction of the question evident to the group.
“I think so,” Dom said. “It was fucking fast, though. Not like these other assholes. Whatever made that scream got its attention, and it ran off after it.”
A few long seconds passed as the friends let everything sink in. The silence was broken as Mo turned abruptly and vomited whatever contents was left in his stomach.
“Well that shit is getting old,” Mason commented as he turned back toward the group. “Anyway,” he tried to begin before Dom pointed toward his friend’s mouth in a nonverbal statement that he had puke in his beard. “Oh damn,” he said with an amused tone. Taking his arm, he wiped his mouth against his sleeve. The action was futile. The group was now filthy and covered in blood, and Mason’s action only managed to smear blood across his face and into his beard.
“You got it,” Dominic said sarcastically, but left it at that. “Let’s get to the trucks. We can’t stay here.”
They all nodded and muttered in agreement right as R.E.M.’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It began to sound off from Mason’s cellphone. He had forgotten that he turned the volume back up, but also that his wife and daughters were en route to their house.
“Hey,” he tried to say calmly as he stuck the phone to his ear. “Okay… Grab the 20 gauge in the closet. Shells are on the shelf. Load it, but don’t go outside.” The conversation was chaotic as his wife’s voice could be heard screaming in panic on the other end. She was scared, and the girls were crying. “How many are there!?! Okay. Okay. Try to keep the girls quiet. They might be attracted to sound. Just stay as quiet and as calm as you can. Do not. I repeat. Do not go outside until you hear me say it’s safe.”
Mason stuck his phone back into his pocket, and the group needed no explanation.
“Your lead, Mo,” Dominic stated, certain that the next steps need to be led by someone who still has something left to lose.
Roughly one minute went by as they hurried to their trucks, loaded their scavenged items by the light of several house fires, and sped into the night.
Dom was lagging behind just a bit, having taken the time to buckle in his new gnome, but made that time up quickly. Franklin drove Mo’s truck, while Mo rode in the back loading up as many rounds and spare magazines as he could in the time it took them to weave through the chaos for the few miles between their homes.
His attempts to do so were proving difficult. The vast amount of blood covering his hands, arms, and clothing made it difficult to grip the brass casings of the bullets while being slung side to side in the back.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Franklin turned down the street to Mason’s house. Still within the city Iimits, he managed to have a spot with about three acres of mostly open land, and only one neighbor that could be considered close.
As they approached, Franklin used the neighbor’s driveway to then cut through the open front yard of his brother-in-law’s property, and made a direct approach to the visible cluster of toe draggers banging and clawing at the door while the red and blue lights from Sheriff Dunn’s truck lit the scene.
“Madness,” Mason thought to himself. They’d be there in seconds, but the door was nearly busted in. He yelled up to Franklin, “HONK THAT GOD DAMNED HORN. GET THEIR ATTENTION!”
A mental eternity of a second passed before Franklin was able to make sense of what was yelled at him, and then he sounded the horn long and firm.
Mo’s heart began to race, and he could hear his own pulse. About thirty yards separated them from the zombies now, and the horn was doing its job.
“STOP,” Mo yelled, recognizing the delay from earlier, and anticipating the same reaction time from Franklin.
The timing was nearly perfect. Franklin slammed on the brakes, and the truck began to turn as it slid to a halt. But, not before Mason timed his leap from the back, hatchet in his right hand and knife in the left. The momentum acted as a slingshot, catapulting him at the cluster, weapons ready to annihilate anything they struck.
*D: DC 17 vs d20(8+6)*
However, the strap from one of the rifles had caught around the top of his foot during the chaos in the back, and the rifle caught the side of the bed as he excited.
Mo flailed and spun wildly in the air; the force and momentum from the truck enough to get him to his target. At the moment of impact, his back was turned to the cluster of zombies, his arms and legs innocent bystanders to the ensuing mayhem.
The loud and horrific scene of bodies colliding left Mason writhing in pain. In the mangle of twisted bodies, his knife and axe somehow found homes in the skulls of two undead. A third lay twitching, it’s head split open between Mo’s knee and the ground beneath it.
“Franky,” he forced out with a lack of air in his lungs, an attempt to yell that failed. Three more zombies scratched and clawed; both as attempts to right themselves and to get at their assailant.
Mason rolled away as best he could to put distance between him and the three toe draggers trying in vain to fight back. His focus shifted abruptly as air reentered his chest. Elizabeth and the girls were inside still, he knew. But how many might have found a way in other than the front door?