Authors: R.J McCabe
Bill woke with a start. Had something woken him? It took him a little while to get his bearings as he had been in deep sleep due to the lack of it the previous night. It took him a moment to notice that Gina was asleep on his chest and then he remembered. He recalled how they had touched each other, how she had lived up to everything he thought she would be and more.
It had been a while since he had held a woman. He chose not to sleep around, sure he thought about sex as much as the next man but sex with a woman he had to pay at the end would leave him feeling empty and desperate and he could do without those feelings.
She was sound asleep on him and he dared to hope that something might come of this. He hoped that he might, just might, be able to settle in Sundown but before he could really consider any of that he had the small matter of potentially undead bodies shambling around his town. Was it all real? Could it be? His trail of thought was broken by a shout outside. The sound was that of someone either in dire peril or plain scared to death. Bill sat up, Gina slid off his chest and onto the bed.
‘Bill?’ she said, not fully awake, ‘Bill, what’s wrong?’
‘Someones in trouble,’ Bill said and got out of the bed.
He picked up his clothes and began to put them on. Another sound came from the town, and then a gunshot followed by another. Gina was now sitting up, ‘Jesus, I heard that’ she said, the moon lighting up her pale, flawless skin.
‘Its like last night all over again. I had better get down there now’ Bill said, ‘Your father might be there, he was stayin' on duty.’
‘My god, what the hell is goin' on in this place?’ Gina said, tears welling up in her eyes.
‘Don’t worry, I'll take good care of him. I need you to lock everythin' once I've gone, keep the lights off and here, I'll leave you this.’ Bill took a pistol from the side cabinet and checked to make sure it was loaded. If anyone comes here and you don't like the look of them you blow a hole in em, you understand?’
‘Bill, I cant just…,’
‘You can and you will. This town has changed a lot in the last few days and there are things and people around that you cant trust. Anyone comes here then you try and keep low and out of site but if the moment comes when you think you might be in danger, then you pull that trigger and you don’t think twice about it. Now tell me you understand that’
‘I got it but please, once you know my daddy is safe and find out what is goin' on, I want you to come tell me okay?’
‘I promise. I’m going now so lock everythin', I mean everythin'!’ Bill leant down and kissed Gina on the head before heading out to the hall to put on the rest of his clothes and his gun belt.
Bill made his way to the town dressed in only a loose shirt , trousers and boots. He walked at pace but made sure to keep in the shadows. He could hear commotion coming from somewhere in the town and he just hoped that it didn't involve Ken. Gina would be devastated if something had happened to him and as far as Bill was concerned it was the only friend he had.
A scream filled the air, closely followed by another, this one a slightly different pitch which to Bill, indicated more than one person was in trouble. He upped his pace to a run but he decided not to go flat out as he didn't want to be red faced and out of breath when the time came for him to act. He had no idea what was waiting for him in that town and he needed to be ready. Again a scream rang out and he realised it was coming from Gina’s place. There was no-one on the street outside so whatever was happening was taking place inside the building. Bill took his gun out and made his way through the door, noting the door was already open and there were bloody handprints on the wood.
Bill entered and looked into the hall. The place was a lot nicer than Bill had imagined but it looked like a mini tornado had been through there, a table was turned over and chairs were smashed amongst other mess but there was no one to be seen. Bill heard a loud bang come from upstairs, followed by a cluster of screams. He looked over at the stairway but could see nothing, carefully he started his ascent.
He reached the top of the first set of stairs and there were two short hallways, one to his left and the other to his right. He began to walk down the hallway to his right and noted there were two rooms along there. He reached the first room and swung his gun around the door frame and pointed it inside. There was a bed, the sheets crumpled and messy but no sign of anyone in there. He left the room and heard thudding sounds were coming from the level above. Bill looked towards the ceiling but knew he had to check the floor he was on first.
He walked into the second room, his heart beating hard in his chest. He was somewhat relieved to see that room was also empty, but then he noticed the blood stains on the bed and red sprayed across the wall. Something had gone down in there and by the looks of it, it was something awful but now it seemed the problem was upstairs. Bill left the room and was going to check the hallway opposite when something came marching up the stairs to his left. He span around pointing the pistol at the approaching figure.
‘Jesus Bill don’t shoot!’ bellowed Ken one hand up in front of him, the other hand was holding a large rifle. ‘What the fuck is goin' on up there. Sheriff? I gotta get up there and save my Gina.’
Even in the tense situation, Bill felt a little awkwardness creep over himself. ‘It’s okay, Gina isn't here.’
Ken looked confused ‘Then where the hell is she?’
‘Well,’ Bill said, ‘she's over at my house.’
Ken formed an 'Oh' with his mouth, that was followed by a wink.
‘But I imagine the rest of the girls are trapped up there so we need to get the hell up those stairs.’ said Bill
‘Sure thing Sheriff’ Ken said and gripped the rifle with two hands.
The two men began to climb the stairs, Bill in front and to the right Ken just behind with his gun pointed straight ahead. Another thud came from above followed by screams and Bill could tell now that it was definitely more than one voice, it was three or four women screaming and it sounded like something or things were smashing against one of the doors.
‘Get ready Ken,’ said Bill as they reached the top of the stairs.
Bill turned the corner and didn't know whether to be relieved or more worried at what he saw. It seemed that two men were trying to smash their way into a room where, Bill guessed, the women who were left in the house were hiding. Bill aimed his pistol at the men.
‘I think maybe its time for you boys to vacate these premises.’ Bill said in his most authoritative tone. The two figures were just about to give the door another smash when they stopped and began to turn and look at Bill and Ken, there movements slow and deliberate.
‘I don’t like this Bill,’ Ken said from behind.
‘Oh is that so?’ Bill whispered back, ‘Im having a great fuckin' time.’
The figures turned fully and were now facing the two law men. Not for the first time that week Bill felt the moisture in his mouth run dry. The men that were facing him were not your average whore house customers. Their clothes were ripped and bloodied, their mouths gaping with drool dripping from either side, and the eyes were eyes Bill had seen before, on the mountain lion, they were pure white.
The figure on the left, the taller of the two, bared his teeth, then the other joined in, its face a mask of blood. Bill didn't move for a moment, shooting a wild cat was one thing but shooting people, whether they were crazy or not, was a different matter.
‘Why don't you both put your hands on your head and get down on your knees and then I'm not gonna have to open up on you?’ Bill said in a last ditch effort. The two figures simply swayed a little, one growled and the other snarled.
‘Are you for real Sheriff?’ Ken said. ‘Do they look like they are gonna give it up?'
‘I’m stalling,’ Bill said talking out of the side of his mouth ‘As I don't know what the fuck to do.’
It was at that moment that the decision was taken out of Bill’s hands as a piercing scream came up the stairs behind them. The two lawmen reeled around to see a figure running with a look of pure rage on its face. It was up on them in an instant and it reached Ken first.
Ken pulled the trigger of his gun, the bullet entering the underside of the attackers chin, sending brains and goo up onto the ceiling. The figure was stopped in its tracks, the eyes rolled up and it began to fall backwards, but not before Ken noticed something.
‘Holy shit Bill, Its Tom the store owner!’ Ken said as the figure fell backwards down the stairs.
‘Correction, it WAS Tom the store owner’ replied Bill.
Just as the words left his mouth he turned around and saw the two snarling men running towards them both. He let two shots off, one hit the first men in the chest sending him backwards and the second shot hit the bigger man in the side of the head causing his head to tilt and his eyes to roll in their sockets. The first man hadn't gone down and was now running towards Bill and Ken once again. Ken stepped forward and shot at him, blasting a large part of his neck away causing the thing to make a high pitch wheezing noise. The other man was advancing again now but his walk was odd and uneven, the shot to his head seeming to upset his equilibrium but he came at them all the same. Bill took aim and put a bullet in the big mans left eye, the force of the shot snapping the lumbering man’s head back before he dropped to his knees and then fell face first onto the red carpet. The man with the hole in his neck was still standing and was using the wall for support.
‘Ive had enough of these mother fuckers!’ said Ken and pushed forward. He ran at the wheezing man-thing and slammed his gun into its face again and again. The thing fell onto its back and Ken kept on hitting him. Bill watched with a mixture of fascination and disgust as Ken smashed its face over and over. Eventually the skull began to give and Bill’s stomach turned as the face began to fold inwards.
‘Deputy! That’s enough, Stop!’
Ken stopped as ordered and dropped the blood and mush covered gun onto the floor. He was breathing heavy. Bill approached him and tried not to look at the now faceless mess.
‘Damn Ken, what got into you?’ Bill asked. Ken looked up and gave the sheriff a harsh look.
‘Its just like the big Apache said Bill, these things aren't alive anymore, they are the dead and they are walkin' around tryin' to make us all the same as them. We gotta stop em cause they ain’t taking my fuckin' town.’
Bill looked at Ken and could see the older man couldn't be reasoned with, he believed what he believed but if Bill was honest with himself, he believed it too, even if he didn't want to.
Bill walked down to the door and tried the handle. A loud popping sound made Bill jump back and the two prone bodies exploded at almost exactly the same time.
‘Jeez, would you look at that’ Bill said at the bodies turned to mush.
‘God-damn, that’s gonna be a hell of a thing to clean up,’ replied Ken.
Bill shifted his attention to the room where he assumed the girls were hiding. ‘Girls? This is the sheriff, it’s okay, you can come out now.’
There were a few seconds when Bill thought he could hear whispering behind the door, then the handle turned and the door began to open. Five women were hiding in the room, they eyed the sheriff and he offered them the most comforting smile he could muster.
‘We need to get you girls somewhere safe, I don't know if there are any more of those things around so we have to be careful. Im going to let Ken take you up to my house. Gina is there so you can hide out until we sort this mess out, you got it?'
The girls all nodded and Bill guided them towards Ken trying not to let them see the piles of mush on the floor. One of the women looked down at the mess and screamed then covered her mouth in shock and started to weep.
‘Don’t worry, its looks bad but those weren't men anymore’ said Bill.
That didn't do much to calm the women.
‘Deputy, I want you to take these girls over to my house, I think its best if you stay with them and make sure they are okay. I need to check the rest of the rooms in here and then see if the rest of the buildings are empty.