“Stop yelling,” Wildcat ordered.
“But we have to find him,” Irish responded.
“No,” said Bulldog. “Wildcat’s right. I hear it too.”
Off to one side of the road, the ground sloped downward. Bulldog slowly made her way over. When she got there, she looked down the slope, dropped to the ground, and slowly started to back away. By the time she made it back to the others, they could hear it too and there was no doubt what it was.
“Witch,” Bulldog whispered. “One of the ones that walks. The damn thing is coming this way.”
“We’ve got to get out of here,” Wildcat advised.
“But, what about Trojan,” Irish asked.
“I don’t like it anymore than you do, Irish, but we’ve got no choice. If we stay here, at least one of us will get killed by that witch. As much as I want to find him, I don’t want to lose anyone else more. We’ll come back. I promise.”
They grabbed their gear and started walking up the road. Wildcat looked back over his shoulder and vowed that if they found Trojan as a zombie when they returned, he would make sure that he was the one to put him down.
Less than a hundred yards away from where Wildcat and the others had just been, Trojan was still struggling against the smoker’s pull. His lungs were burning from lack of oxygen. Black spots were starting to form in his vision. To hell with it, he thought. Let death come and get me. At least I’ll get to see my family again that way.
Suddenly, he found himself face down on the floor, gasping for breath. It was still hard for him to get any air for a minute as the area was now filled with smoke. When the air cleared, and he was able to breath normally again, he looked back at the smoker, but found three people standing there instead. The closest to him, a man, held a machete, while the other two, both women, held shotguns.
Trojan was about to thank them when the man put his finger up to his lips, indicating silence. The man responded to Trojan’s questioning look by pointing to his ear. It took him a few moments, but he finally heard the witch’s cry. He looked around for his gun, but he couldn’t find it. It must have fallen out of his hand when he was grabbed by the smoker.
After motioning for him to follow, the others started walking further into the tunnel, which was a lot longer than it first appeared. He couldn’t see the other end of it from here. When they were far enough away from the witch, the man and women turned on flashlights and stopped. The man looked at him and asked, “Are you ok?”
“Physically? I’m fine.”
“Good. My name is…”
“No,” Trojan interrupted. “No names.”
The two women looked at each other, then back at Trojan. “Why,” one of them asked.
Trojan’s face went from confused to happy, then to sad all in the span of five seconds. “It’s something the founder of our group did. I guess he thought it would help him keep his distance from the rest of us. It just occurred to me that I could’ve stopped doing it after he died.”
“I’m not going to make you change your traditions. So, what have you been calling each other?”
“I’ve been having people name themselves after sports teams. Most people have been using pro or college teams, but non-sports fans have been using their high schools, as well. I’m Trojan. There are only four others left in my group out on the road: Wildcat, Irish, Bulldog, and Spartan.”
“Well, Trojan,” the man said, “I guess you can call me Rocket. This lady next to me is my wife….”
“Panther,” she finished. “And this is my sister…”
“Rebel. Nice to meet you, Trojan.”
After looking them over, Trojan noticed that the two women looked the same, with the only difference being the length of their hair. Panther kept hers cut at shoulder length, while Rebel’s went halfway down her back. He guessed that they were twins and they did that to avoid any confusion.
Before they could get to know each other any better, they heard crying echoing down the tunnel. Rocket grabbed the shotgun from his wife and, after signaling the other to stay where they were, headed back the way they came. He was only gone for a few minutes when he came back into view.
“You’re not going to believe this,” he exclaimed, “but that damn crying thing followed us into the tunnel.”
Enough time had passed since they had last heard the witch and Wildcat started working them back to where they left Trojan. The highway they were on was mostly empty, but there were a few cars scattered around. While Wildcat led them, and Spartan watched their backs, Irish and Bulldog looked for supplies in the cars they passed. Most of them either had their doors open or their windows broken, so the chances of finding anything useful was slim, but they looked regardless.
Wildcat held up his arm to halt the group. He heard a zombie, but it was unlike any zombie he had ever heard before. A roar off to his left made him turn his head. The zombie charged in and grabbed Irish. Unlike other zombies, however, it didn’t stop once it had grabbed him. It kept running until, about a hundred feet away, it ran into a car. After it had slammed Irish into the car, it began repeatedly pounding Irish into the ground.
Bulldog and Spartan started running to help him. Wildcat raised his rifle and, as he sighted in on the scope, he wondered if it was already too late to save Irish.