I’m still grinning when we step
outside. The wooden porch sags beneath my feet, feeling a little less than
sturdy, but that isn’t what makes my heart almost stop. My smile melts away and
my feet stop moving, and within seconds I’m shaking like a leaf.
There are three zombies in the
yard. Three of them. I haven’t come this close to one since the first few
months of the outbreak, and now there are three.
Roman steps in front of me and
shoves the shoebox into my hands as he pulls his knife out, all in one fluid
movement. “It’s okay.”
It doesn’t feel okay. It feels
the complete opposite of okay.
Roman steps off the porch, and
one of the zombies spots him right away. The thing groans and moves toward him,
chomping his mouth. Gray skin stretches across his face, and the deep gashes
that cut across the decaying flesh ooze with black goo. Thankfully, the other
two creatures are facing the other way and haven’t caught wind of us yet.
Roman doesn’t seem afraid in the slightest
as he walks toward the dead man. His knife is held firmly in his hand, but he’s
steady. Sure of himself as he walks in a big arc around the zombie. He was
right. They are slow. But it’s still terrifying, and I’m still shaking,
gripping the box of batteries so hard the cardboard bows under the pressure.
Just as Roman reaches the back of the first zombie, the other two notice him
and head his way. My heart jumps to my throat and I reach out like I’m trying
to stop them, but no sound comes out when I move my lips.
I try again, and this time his
name comes out like a strangled cry. “Roman!”
He smiles like all of this is
nothing, then drives his knife into the back of the first zombie’s skull. The
thing drops to the ground, and Roman spins to face the others. He charges the
second one, a sad-looking woman whose nightgown is stained and tattered, her
gray skin barely clinging to her bones. Roman dodges her arms and loops around
her back, then jabs his knife into her skull just like he did with the first
Two down, but my heart is still
The third one is so tall that
Roman’s head only goes up to the zombie’s shoulders. Next to him, Roman looks
like a child. Even worse than his size is the fact that he seems to be faster
than the other two. Less decomposed, even, like he’s just recently died.
Roman circles him, but the
zombie spins too. His hands reach out to grab Roman, but Roman ducks out of the
way. His face tenses, and his eyes dart over to me. I watch, frozen in terror
from my place on the porch as Roman tries to get behind the zombie again. He
could stab him in a different location, but with as tall as the decaying man
is, it wouldn’t be safe. Only no matter how many times Roman tries to get
behind the corpse, it doesn’t work. The thing is too fast and too hungry.