RDC(R&D): The Many Faces of Death..

*Chapter Eight*

“I told ya they’d come for you colored’s, you brought’m here!” She screamed as she burst through the door, pushing past me, I just sighed as I locked it behind her.

She ran throughout the house screaming, waking everyone up, Hunter tried to restrain her but she was bucking and kicking like a bull. Caiden and Tzar came running down the stairs, both trying in vain to calm the crazed old woman. Patience was about to come down but I told her to stay up there, so she sat at the top of the stairs, with a sad look on her face, and wrapped her arms around her knees. I turned back to them and Caiden told me to go to the kitchen, and check the drawer by the sink for her meds. I obeyed and ran as fast as I could to the kitchen, I quickly found them and was about to head back, but something stalled me in my tracks. The last can on the end of the twine Caiden had set up, was clinking softly against the window.

“Guys, get the fuck in here, one of the cans is moving!” I screamed running back into the living room, but no sooner had I gave warning, all the cans started clanging loudly.

“What the hell does it mean? What happens if they’re all ringing?!” Tzar asked, helping Hunter keep a hold on Granny, we all jumped when Hunter returned to the room cocking the shotgun. “Aww, Damn..”

“I set some booby traps, but they won’t hold them long, especially if there’s a large group.” Caiden told us, quickly taking charge. “Grab what you need, only what you need, and we all meet back here in two minutes, hurry now!”

I ran up the stairs to help Patience put some cloths on, silently thankful to Hunter for making us pre-pack the Betty, so we had little to grab. I could hear them struggling with Granny downstairs, and from the sounds of it, she’d gotten away from them. I urged Patience to hurry and get dressed, as sounds of them running around the bottom floor, could be heard below us. I just happened to be by the window, looking out into the moonlit night, and I could see swift moving shadows coming toward the house. I grabbed the young girl, barely glancing down to see if she had any shoes on. I pulled her down the hall behind me till we reached the stairs, that’s when we heard the shattering sound of windows being bust out, accompanied by screams and haunting moans. We saw Granny run past the bottom of the stairs, Tzar right behind her, but still two or three steps behind.

“Patience, you have to stay right here, don’t move unless one of us guys comes to get you, do you understand me?!” I asked, as I turned and crouched down to meet her face to face. “If worse come to worse, you go to the attic, and pull up the draw string.”

“I..I understand” she replied apprehensively, nodding at me with wide fearful eyes.

I tried to put on a brave face for her, but it was no use, I’m sure she could feel my hands trembling uncontrollably. I left her there at the top of the stairs, and ran down to help, my heart about burst through my chest, it beat so fast. I could see Hunter and Caiden barricading the windows and doors, but the dead were relentless, tearing their way through any space they could. I could tell the house was surrounded, their deathly and ghoulish moans permitted the air, sending chills up my spine. I ran to the front door where Hunter was pushing a bookcase, trying to help anyway I could, suddenly a hand broke through a nearby window, and grasped Hunter’s neck, pulling him against the wooden barricade they had tried to put up there. I reached into his waist strap, and pulled out his Revolver, I stuck the barrel through the hole and pulled the trigger.

“Ahhh, what the fuck, that shit hurt!” I scream, dropping the gun, my fingers were stinging and my wrist burned, up past my forearm, with sourness from the recoil.

“What?!” Hunter yelled, even thou he was standing right next to me, he was holding his right ear, then his eyes cut to my hands. “Oh! You have to brace yourself when you shoot the Eagle, babe. She kicks back like a bitch! Damn… My fucking ear is shot to shit too!”

We were able to block the door and reinforce the small front windows, but it seemed like the pack at the front thinned out a bit, Hunter noticed as well. Just when I was about to comment, we heard a crash in the the back.

“Yo! I need some fucking help back here! They’re getting through!” Caiden yelled, we heard a series of gunshots right after.

Both of us bolted toward the kitchen, but on the way we heard the harrowing screams of Balthazar and Granny, down the hall. I looked at Hunter and told him to go help them, I’d go assist Caiden. I went to hand him his D.E, but he told me to keep it, and reminded me to brace for the kick. I nodded, and quickly kissed his lips in a rush, before running the rest of the way to the back of the house.

____________________________

I could immediately see the damage, the large panel window over the sink had been fully breached. The Risen were swarming over each other to gain entrance, and Caiden was blasting the ones that did with his sawed off shotgun. I raised the Eagle shoulder level, aiming down the sights, and braced my shoulders best I could. The first one I hit was a black woman, kinda robust and stout, and the side of her face came splattering off, as well as the man behind her. Soon we settled into a rhythm, me catching the ones getting through and him keeping the window clear.

“You’re a better shot then I pegged you to be Princess..!” Caiden yelled over to me, trying to make light of us, literally staring into the faces of death.

“I’d take the backhanded compliment but you know this isn’t sustainable, they’ve started to gather in such large numbers! This isn’t a pack, it’s a herd..” I told him, as I reloaded, willing my hands to stop shaking.

“I’m almost outta bullets, and we stocked everything on that damn oversized RV!” He yelled, letting off two quick shots, that wasn’t slowing them down much any longer, plus the bodies were piling up.

“What the hell are we going to do?!” I screamed at him starting to panic, I was immune but I wasn’t immortal, my flesh was just as tender as the man next to me.

“Well I know what I would do at a time like this, but I don’t know if y’guys would agree it’s the best idea?” He replied, reaching down into his pocket, he pulled out a black ball and tossed it to me.

“ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY!?” I asked, looking at what lied clutched in my fingertips, his only answer was a shrug.

It wasn’t a damn black ball I held, which was so obvious at this point, the dark green hand grenade a heavy weight in my hand. I thought about it for a moment, realizing, who’s to say what lunacy was anymore? The dead had risen to feast on the flesh of the living, who would get back up and join the feast. I pulled the clip with my teeth, looking for an opening, and I tossed it. It went sailing through the air and looked as if it would go out the window as I’d planned, but a flesh eater came through and it hit his chest, bouncing into the kitchen sink. I looked at Caiden, both our eyes wide, as we bolted from the room. The incipient explosion blasted us into the hallway, Caiden landing right on top of my back, I winced as his gun stuck me in my upper back. Tzar came running down the hallway, looking behind him screaming, until he came to a sudden halt, looking at us down on the floor and flames behind us.

“What the hell is wrong with you two?! You could have brought this old ass fucking house down on top of us!” He screamed, still checking behind him, he as breathing hard. “Hunter told me to run.. To find Gran and Patience, get them to the attic, ’till he could come for us.”

Caiden jumped off of me and ran down the hallway, from where Tzar had come, I made to follow but Tzar grabbed tight to my arm.

“No, You can’t!” He warned, pulling me back the other way. “Hunter told me to find you as well, and to take you with me.. There is some creature back there, not like the other ones, some kinda crazy mutated freak! We have to go find the girls, and get to somewhere safe!”

When we got to the stairs, I sighed in frustration, of course Patience was nowhere to be found. More of those things were coming in through the flaming gaping hole that was once the kitchen, the moans all meshing together like a disgruntled choir. We took off up the stairs, and I quickly glanced into the rooms looking for either the girl or the old woman. Since my search came up empty, I ran to meet Tzar down the opposite hallway, he had just pulled down the step ladder to the attic. As I ran past the stairs, I could see those things were clamoring to get up to us, I let off my last two shots in hopes to stall them. I damn near pushed Tzar up the ladder, and we barely pulled it up in time, they were reaching and jumping to get us. I slammed the hatch, and locked it, I was breathing hard and looked at Tzar to see we were both wet with sweat.

“What are we gonna do? Granny and Patience are gone, we’re trapped up here, and who knows whether Hunter and Caiden are still alive! That thing downstairs was like nothing I’d ever seen before!” He exclaimed, clearly at wits end, and asking questions I hadn’t the answer to.

I didn’t answer him at first, I just looked around the attic as if I’d find the answer amongst the musty boxes and dusty books. Good thing Granny wasn’t too much of a pack rat or there would have been no floor space for us.

“Look, on the other side.. Is that a window? I think it’s the one on the front of the house, maybe we can reach the Betty!” I looked back to him hopefully, trying to keep us optimistic.

“I don’t know, it looks like the only way over there, are those two beams over the plaster, If one of us falls we’ll go right through the ceiling..” He said skeptically, but in truth he was right, they didn’t look like the most reliable bridges.

“You’re right, but we have to take the chance, it’s either that or rot up here and starve..” I said, not sure if I, myself, was brave enough to attempt escape without him.

He finally relented, and we both walked over to a beam, I tested mine with my foot and the old wood creaked slightly. Butterflies began to fill my stomach, and I looked over at Balthazar unsure, I was surely out of my damn mind to suggest this. Both of us decided to take different approaches to the task at hand. He chose to crawl, while I chose to advance standing, both of us taking baby steps. The aged wood began to creak and groan, as the old house protested the extra strain to her frame. We could also hear the dead below shuffling about, no doubt trying to find the source of the sounds. About the time we made it halfway across, I breathed a sigh of relief at how easy this was to me, I almost felt like a cat.. or a monkey. My balancing abilities slightly scared me, it was a talent I’d never noticed having, as unnerving as it was I used it to my advantage and sped up.

Suddenly a hand burst through the plaster below my beam, it grasped the wood, sending wild vibrations straight for me. Something instinctual told me to jump, just at the right moment, it helped me to avoid the wave but I knew my beam was about to give. I landed on my tippy toes, like I was Gabby fuckin’ Douglas or Simone Biles, easily balancing and bracing myself on the old beam. I heard Tzar yelp as more hands, and even a head, burst through the plaster below us, all grasping and tearing for us. I launched myself toward the small ledge below the window, clearing the last five or six feet, but I felt myself falling backward. I reached out and grasped at anything I could, splinters from the old wood dug into my fingers, but I was able to stabilize. I look back to see Tzar had sped up, but it still was at a snail’s pace, the ghouls were highly irascible and mordacious below him.

“C’mon Tzar, you have to go faster! The beam won’t hold for much longer.. if you get closer, you can jump and I’ll catch you, I swear!”

“Bitch are you crazy?! I saw your little cat woman act over there, you not foolin’ anyone wit cha bullshit!” He screamed, barely able to hold on, as the dead clawed at him from below. “You on some Next-level Nigga shit, I ain’ fuckin wit ya!”

I turned to the window, tried to open it, and it wouldn’t budge. I checked for the lock, and it was off, so I checked the seams. It looked like someone had sealed off the windows, with some type of cement caulking. I tried to open it again, and it was still resistant, but I could hear it giving. One of the risen must have gotten into a bedroom, because he bounce up and crashed through the plaster, latching onto Balthazar’s beam. I urged him to come on, but he looked back, and screamed as he tried to crawl faster. The man pounced, landing not too far behind Tzar, and the weight caused the beam to snap. Tzar tried to jump, but he was doing so from an awkward position, I knew he wouldn’t get the lift he needed. I reached out for him to grab my hand, he barely caught it, almost bringing us both down into zombie filled rooms below. A man who looked like he had been mauled by a bear, grasped onto Tzars leg, his grip tight on the boot he wore.

“Loki, don’t let me go, please!” He screamed, as I played tug of war with the infected bastard.

Tzar started to kick wildly, catching the man in the face, I took advantage of the opportunity and pulled him up. He hugged tight to my neck like a child, and I hugged him back as tight as I could, after a moment I pushed him off me and turned to the window. I asked him to help, and we both tried to open it, but to no effect. Tzar pulled off his boot, and bust out the glass, then started knocking any jagged edges clear. I looked at him in shock, and he just raised an eyebrow, then shrugged his shoulders.

“This house has gone to shit, what’s one more fuckin window?” The fool had nerve to say while putting on his shoe.

I didn’t argue with him as I climbed out onto the roof, and looked down to see another level down, that covered the porch, and the Betty about fifty yards away. All in between was clear, the herd of flesh eaters must have hoarded the inside of the house. I had quick thoughts of Hunter, even Caiden, were they still in the house? I didn’t dwell long on it, it wouldn’t help now. Crawling slowly, I tried to be as stealthy as possible, getting down onto the porch roof, surprisingly, Tzar was better suited to the task. We could hear gunshots and commotion coming from below us, in what had to be the living room. I stalled but Tzar dragged me on, and we scaled the rest of the way cross to jump down. I landed in one of the violet bushes, and Tzar did some sort of roll, that looked like it hurt but he jumped up just fine.

We started toward the Betty, the big black sleeping beauty was heaven for sore eyes. Something big crashed through the window behind us, it was Caiden, I looked at Tzar in shock while he looked as if he’d seen a ghost. What could be strong enough to toss a grown ass man through a window like a baseball? That’s when Hunter came out the door, blasting the shotgun behind him. He ran over to Caiden and handed him a pistol, while he stabbed one of the dead that had ran out the door after him, he caught him in the head with a screwdriver. I could see something big make it’s way out of the door, it looked to be a man, with major mutations that disgustingly disfigured his proportions. I saw something else, something that almost made me stop in my tracks, it was that things eyes. So eerily human and clear, like the soul of that person was still in there, trapped within.

“Loki, what are you doing?! RUN! Get to the Betty..” Hunter screamed at me, but he was cut off, when that thing roared.

It rushed past Hunter and Caiden, knocking them both out of the way, Tzar screamed, because both he and I knew it was coming straight for us. Suddenly, the house exploded, the gas line must have finally leaked into the flames. It all came crashing down, and anything inside not dead already, surely was now. Tzar and I continued to run, with that thing, quickly outpacing us. The Betty was maybe twenty yards away, when I felt something like a tentacle, latch around my ankle, dragging me down to the ground. Tzar grabbed my arms, as I was pulled closer and closer to the creature, His feet were dug deep into the dirt for leverage but it was no use. That’s when the Betty’s engined revved to life and her lights lit up bright. Granny hopped out the side door, with a bandanna around her head, and an assault rifle in her hand. As soon as her feet hit the ground she started shooting, the creature screamed as the bullets tore into the long tentacle-like arm that had a hold of me.

When I was free, Tzar helped me to my feet, I looked to Granny and she tossed me two magazine clips. I loaded the D.E. then turned to run and help the two brothers engaging the creature, I stopped and raised the revolver, letting off two shots into its torso. I could see the ribs had broken, as flesh blew off in fragments, but the thing just kept coming. Granny let off another torrent of bullets as Tzar hopped into the Betty, but they did little to slow him down this time. Plus all the commotion seemed to be drawing more of the Risen to us. That’s when Caiden came around the creatures right side, letting off shots near its head, which end up causing the creature to look in his direction.

As it was about to lunge for him, Hunter jumped on it’s back, driving a knife deep into its neck. It wailed in a fit of rage, and tore around in a flurry, it’s deadly claws sharp as razor blades. It managed to flip Hunter over its shoulder, and slashed at his chest, tearing flesh down to the bone. All I could see was red, the river of red that flowed from Hunter’s wounds, the newly red stained claws that were being licked clean of the life liquid craved by this man-creature, on to the raging red of fury that clouded my vision as I emptied the mag-clip into it’s back.

“Nooooooo! You motherfucker!”

I didn’t stop shooting, even after I heard the clicking signaling an empty chamber. The creature turned to me, and it’s lips seemed to crack a smile, before it suddenly started to run at me full speed. I reloaded, and started blasting, aiming for where his heart would be. After three or four shots I noticed under his ribcage seemed to be impenetrable, he slowed to a walk and made a noise as if he was laughing at me. I aimed at his face, and was about to blow his head off, but his arm lashed out and struck my hand, I tried to hold tight to the gun but it slipped free. He was close enough that he could grab me with his human-ish looking hand, and his clawed fingers wrapped tight around my neck. The grin returned to his face, as he opened his jaws opened impossibly wide like he would swallow me whole.

“Sorry Big Guy, but you were late for supper..”

The remark came from Caiden, as he moved in from my left, sticking his shotgun right in the creature’s mouth, blasting its head off. The skull and brain fragments flew everywhere as it’s head exploded, he was so close to me that my ear was ringing from the blast, and I had trouble hearing him as he dragged me to my feet. The Risen were coming, another pack of them had heard us and were closing in, all our commotion was nothing but a dinner bell to them. I ripped my arm free from Caiden and ran to Hunter, as fast as I could, he was walking towards me but he soon stumbled to the ground.

“I’m here, I here, come on babe ..move your hand so I can see… Please, I can fix it!” I cried when I reached him, the tears blurring my sight, he wouldn’t stop hugging himself to let me help.

“No, Babbitt ..please, just Run!” He said, coughing up blood, his eyes wet and bloodshot. “I can feel it changing me already, it hurts… There’s nothing you can do.”

He opened his arms and I could see he was right, fresh tears burned down my cheeks as I saw several bones of his ribcage, where the monsters claws had reached deep. I cried, as I kissed his lips, and looked into those eyes. He suddenly pushed me back, and shot one of the dead flesh eaters in the head.

“Loki, Go now!” He screamed at me, through hard tears.

“No! They’ll have to take us both, I’m not leaving you!” I cried, crawling my way back to him, but I was soon dragged the other way by Caiden.

“Stay together.. love each other, find some way to live a happy life in all this!” Hunter yelled out to me, as Caiden had to carry me over his shoulder crying, kicking, and screaming.”I love you Loki, always have.. always will.. even death won’t stop my love for you!”

When we got to the Betty, Tzar was there waiting, looking like a scared child holding a toy gun. We heard two gunshots but Caiden didn’t turn back, he just quickly hopped on and carried me to the back, he told Tzar to keep a hold on me as Granny and Patience stood there watching in silent tears. I screamed, kicked, and fought as Caiden grabbed a sheet, then rolled me up in it, like damn joint. He told Tzar to sit down on me, while he would get us out of here. I struggled fiercely, making Tzar bounce all over, I couldn’t help feeling like I had been put in a straitjacket. We started moving, and I could hear another gunshot, Hunter was running out of bullets but that also meant he was still alive.. and still him. I was finally was able to wiggle free, and I as soon as I escaped I punched Tzar in the face. I pushed past Granny and Patience, and made my way to the front, grabbing a sniper rifle I’d seen sitting to the side. I walked right up to Caiden, and tapped him in the head with the butt.

“Stop the bus, bitch nigga!” I screamed at him, he just looked up into the rear view mirror, my eyes meeting his sparkling greens.

“Do you even know how to use that?” He asked doubtfully, not even stopping the bus, so I raised the rifle and aimed down the sights, as I cocked the chamber.

“I know enough..” I said, putting the barrel to his head. “And I only have two bullets, don’t make me waste one.”

He immediately stopped the bus, and I quickly jumped out. I was glad to see we hadn’t gotten too far, and that Hunter was still moving, so I started running back. I could see five of the dead closing in on him, running fast as they could to their fresh meal. Hunter let off two shots, which landed their target, but he stumbled and hit the floor. I stopped and looked through my scope, then aimed down my sights at the one closest. I let off the shot, forgetting to hold my breath so I missed, but I hit the one near the back, and he hit the ground hard. Hunter tried to crawl away, but the other two were getting closer, he stopped to hit them both with a head shot. I put my gun down smiling as I ran towards him again, I knew I could make it to him, that’s when I saw the one that I had hit start crawling again, driven by hunger. I screamed but Hunter couldn’t hear my warning, I heard someone behind me, and looked to see Caiden running my way. I turned around and kept running, there was no way I would let him stop me.

I could see that the flesh eater had reached Hunter, and they struggled, suddenly Hunter was able to push him back. He lifted his gun, but he pointed it at his own head, my heart felt as if it fell to my stomach. I stopped and bought my gun up again to see, his lips moved as if he was saying something, then he closed his eyes and pulled the trigger, only to find the chamber empty.

“You can’t save him, we have to go! We have to live or his life was..” Caiden said, coming up behind me close, I quickly cut him off.

“Shut your fucking mouth motherfucker!” I screamed, through the tears, turning back to the scene before me. “Just who the fuck are you?! You don’t know me, or what, I’m capable of!”

“What are you gonna do, huh? Patch him all up? How are you gonna play doctor, when you couldn’t even cut into a cadaver?! It’s not like you can shoot your blood into his veins and give him some cure, we both know it doesn’t work like that!” He yelled at my back, as we both watched the man and Hunter struggle, he paused before taking a softer tone. “I made a promise to him to take care of you, all of you, and there are people that love you back there too! they are waiting for us, and worried about us..”

He placed his hand on my shoulder, but I shook it off, I didn’t want him touching me. I picked the gun back up and looked through the scope, Hunter and the flesh eater struggled, and soon he was able to pin him down. I closed my eyes, wishing this was all a dream, that I’d wake up and everything would be as it was. When I opened them again, the man’s teeth were inches away from Hunters shoulder, ready to tear into his flesh.

“I can save him..” I broke, coming barely above a whisper, as I lined up Hunter in my sights, thinking of the love we’ve had.

Focusing on my target, I held a breath, as I squeezed the trigger.

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