The flames danced with spirit as the fire grew in size and ferocity. It quickly engulfed the adjacent side of the cabin from which Ryan and Kas stood, who were waiting patiently for their moment to run. They could hear the excitable sounds of the lurchers as they were drawn towards the blaze in number.
Ryan held up his hand as an instruction to Kas to wait. Anxiety grew for Kas as the inferno threatened to grow closer to them. They couldn’t go too soon or too many lurchers would be drawn to their presence. The fire had to captivate enough of them first.
Its rate of spread grew and Kas could feel the smoke starting to invade his lungs. “Ryan,” he uttered with concern.
“Wait,” Ryan quietly responded.
A timber broke above their heads and crashed down just before them, the old, brittle wood burning with ease. Still they waited. It was only when the fire was mere centimetres from engulfing them that Ryan called out.
The pair of them smashed through the wooden wall and started to run with a mixture of speed and stealth. A quick glance behind told Ryan his timing had been impeccable as the entire cabin was now engulfed. He held his 7 iron at the head end as he ran, not wanting it to slip out of his hand. Kas stayed close behind and kept up well despite his condition. The inhaler was clearly doing its job, though for how long was anybody’s guess.
The lurchers were sparse and the pair of them managed to deal with them easily enough. The only real problem was how cumbersome Kas’ pitchfork was. It wasn’t easy to kill a lurcher and then carry on running in a fluid motion. Worse still, the concentration of the creatures grew as they went along.
Just as Ryan was thinking they might have to dispense with stealth and start using firearms instead, Kas found himself in a tussle with a lurcher and, just as he was about to remove his pitchfork the creature’s head, another appeared behind him and they fell to the ground. Ryan called out for Kas and made his way back over to him, beating a couple more lurchers away as he went. He hit the lurcher attacking Kas on the side of its head to kill it immediately and then helped his breathless compatriot up to his feet.
“You’re fucked!” Ryan said bluntly.
“I’ll be fine in a minute,” Kas replied, followed by a timely coughing fit.
“Bullshit! Take a breather for a few minutes. I’ll fight off the bastards that come our way.”
“Don’t be a hero, Ryan. Carry on and I’ll catch you up soon.”
“If I hadn’t come over here when I had you’d soon have been lurcher food! I’m not letting that happen. Get your breath back, take some of your inhaler, and we’ll get moving again.”
“I don’t get it. You’re completely amoral. Why does keeping me alive matter so much to you?”
Ryan wasn’t afforded the chance to answer as a gawker ran at them with a signature leap. He pulled out his bowie knife and, as the gawker approached, slid the knife into its brain through the underside of its jaw. He looked at Kas with fire in his eyes. “Go and hide somewhere, now! Ready your gun just in case!”
Kas did as he was told and found a secluded spot as Ryan withdrew his knife from the gawker’s skull and awaited the next deluge of undead.
It wasn’t long in coming and they soon staggered towards him with hungry growls. Ryan grinned confidently as he held his 7 iron over his shoulder. As the throng came near, he wielded the golf club with the grace of a swordsman. He rarely missed his mark as he systematically brought the herd down.
From his viewpoint, Kas marvelled at Ryan’s skill. It was clear to see he hadn’t been taught his craft; that didn’t make it any less precise. He fought like a man on the precipice of life and death—and death had to wait its turn! While the lurchers might have had the instinct to hunt in packs, they did nothing more than launch themselves at their prey in a haphazard manner when it came time to make their move. That worked perfectly in Ryan’s favour as he picked his spots just so. In that moment, Kas knew he was stuck in this fix with absolutely the perfect person.
The lurchers kept coming and Ryan wondered momentarily whether they’d ever stop. That didn’t stop him swinging his club and ending every single one of the bloodthirsty creatures that came near him. He hadn’t come this far to die now.
All at once, Ryan lost his footing and fell to the ground, dropping his 7 iron as he went. The next lurcher descended quickly upon him and went for the kill. Ryan spied a rock on the floor next to him and used it to bash the lurcher in the side of the head before it could try to take a bite. The blow didn’t kill it, but Ryan rolled on top of it to hit it several more times and finish the job. As luck had it, that was the last of that particular wave of undead. He knew more would soon be coming and got swiftly to his feet, picking up his club as he went.
“Kas, let’s move before any more show up.”
Kas came out of his hiding place and surveyed the area. Give or take a couple, there must have been fifteen lurchers on the ground. He looked at Ryan with the utmost respect. “Thanks, man.”
“Don’t thank me yet. We have to get out of these woods. Have you got your breath back?”
Kas nodded affirmatively and held up his inhaler.
“Good. We haven’t got another minute to lose.”
The pair of them carried on, hoping they’d soon find their way back to the hotel and relative safety.
TO BE CONTINUED