Inverted Image by Chante
Part 20 - Things that go bump in the night
The evening air was crisp and clean. This was a good sign that nothing undead was lurking nearby. I took in a deep breath. It's a shame that so many forests have been cleared to make ugly multiple dwelling buildings to further expand the sprawling suburbs. I looked up through the trees and I could see the big dipper. The moon was half full and gave an eerie dark glow to the trees around me. Dennis and Alex were walking in front of me. Alex looked like he tried to strike up a conversation and Dennis politely told him to be quiet.
The wind picked up a little and the trees came alive with movement. The noise of the bare branches swaying in the wind almost sounded like running water. I was thankful that the trees weren't in full bloom with leaves. Otherwise, the woods would have been much darker but no less ominous. The wind died down to a breeze and I noticed movement off to my right. I pointed in that direction and we stopped.
The shape was low and I could hear it as it stepped on the dead leaves scattering the forest floor. I thought about the zombie dragging it's legs. What if this zombie didn't have legs and was walking using it's hands? It stopped and I held my breath. All of a sudden we heard a loud noise and the shape took off. I sighed in relief.
"Wild turkey. They're all over these woods." Alex said, "At least we might have a great Thanksgiving!" Alex chuckled at his own joke. I was relieved but I wasn't laughing.
Just then another gust of wind came up and with it came the obvious smell of death. My stomach turned and my eyes widened. The guys had smelled it too and now we were all on high alert. Dennis pointed in the direction the wind was coming from and we could see two figures heading in our direction. These were not turkeys. They shambled towards us and swayed every once in a while when they would get snagged on a branch. We spread out in a triangle formation watching the shapes before us and watching that nothing else was sneaking up from behind.
I smashed the first zombie in the forehead with the flat part of my shovel. The second zombie just barely missed biting my arm as Dennis grabbed it from behind and threw it into a tree. Alex swung his axe and the zombie was missing the top part of it's skull and brain before it even hit the ground. The first zombie was a young woman with short hair. She was wearing a trench coat and hiking boots. A bag of trail mix peeked out of one of her pockets as I dug deep into her brain with my shovel. Her outstretched arm fell to the ground as her zombie existence came to an end. I used the wooden handle of my shovel to open the trench coat. She was wearing jeans, a turtleneck and a warm sweater underneath. She also had a Swiss army knife, a Leatherman and a hunting knife attached to her belt. I showed what I had found to Dennis and Alex.
"I don't think she's a zombie who just wandered into these woods. I think she was in these woods trying to survive and didn't make it." I said.
Dennis hadn't been the only person who thought the woods might be their safest bet. If there were a lot more people, like this woman, out here then there were probably a lot more zombies out here too. I double checked that the woman wasn't getting back up before I removed her tools and put them on my own belt. I even took the trail mix from her pocket.
"You're not going to eat that, are you?" Alex turned his nose up at the trail mix in my hand.
"Why not? There's no blood on it. I'm sure she didn't touch it after she turned, I don't think they eat nuts and berries. Plus, I'm hungry. So why shouldn't I eat it?" I stuck a handful of cashews, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds into my mouth. I looked over at Dennis and he looked just as disgusted as Alex.
They both just shook their heads and Dennis waved us on to continue walking. I ate the last of the trail mix and stuffed the empty bag in my back pocket. I'm not a litter bug. We came to a small clearing and Dennis said this would be a good place for us to rest. None of us could sleep so we sat back to back in the tall grasses. The dried grass was tall enough to conceal us yet short enough for us to see over. It was an ideal spot to take a quick break and recharge. Despite my will, that wanted me to keep moving no matter what the cost to find Evie, I heeded Dennis's advice to take breathers from time to time so that we could keep up the search as long as it took. Otherwise we would end up completely exhausted and be more at risk for making fatal errors.
I wondered how my little Evie was doing. Had she been fed, changed or clothed properly. Was she scared? She was new to the world but I'm sure she could sense that something wasn't right. I only hoped that Melissa wasn't some sort of deranged pedophile or serial killer of children. Maybe there was a logical explanation...wait, what am I thinking!? This woman killed my daughter's grandmother and then kidnapped my daughter. I don't care what explanation she might tell me. I was going to get my revenge... I felt a hand close over my tightened fist, it was Alex. I turned my head and our eyes met. His face reflected mine and I'm sure his thoughts mirrored mine too. Dennis opened a can of Vienna sausages and the noise startled us.
*Crunch* Crunch* Crunch*Crunch* Something was walking into the clearing. Whatever it was made the dry tall grass crunch under it's feet. We got to our feet still crouching. The grass in front of me moved and I sniffed the air. Nothing, not the faintest odor of death or decay was in the air. I almost expected a forest nymph or a leprechaun to show up. Why not? After all, if someone had told me two years ago that I would have to kill my zombie butcher one day I wouldn't believe that either. I was startled when I recognized the four legged creature before me. It was the some dog that had been in our backyard being chased in circles. The dog looked frightened and sniffed the air, in almost the same fashion I just had.
"Well, I'll be damned..."
"Isn't that the dog I rescued behind our house?"Alex sounded shocked.
The dog wasn't a very pretty pooch when it had been behind our house and it wasn't any prettier now. We knew it had to be the same dog because it was missing the tip of it's right ear. The dog approached very slowly and stopped near Dennis. The smell of the food must have been overpowering for the dog. It bowed it's head and Dennis threw it a sausage. It gobbled it up. He threw it the last sausage and that one disappeared even faster.
"Sorry girl, I'm all out of sausages." Dennis held the little can upside down to show it was empty.
The dog sniffed the air again and darted off, back into the woods. What were the odds of us ever seeing that dog again? I took it as a good sign. If we could see some random dog again I was positive that we would find Evie. This might be a bit of a stretch but I needed to do all the stretching I could to keep my hopes up. My little Evie was out in these god forsaken woods and I was going to find her. I just hoped we could find her before any of the undead did.