Chapter 25: Escape
For several minutes, Eli had trouble tracking down the makeshift arrow he had made. Eventually he came to realize that the wind had blown it apart. He ended up simply having to search again for the alleyway that afforded him a view of the police station.
His time in the tomb had cost him yet another day, and now here was again, back out in the bright sun, struggling against the endless weight of the heat. He grabbed onto the iron bars of the fence and attempted to catch his breath. His body craved sustenance, but the last thing he wanted to do in that moment was eat. He could eat when he made it back to the base. Or when he was dead.
On shaky arms he attempted to pull himself up and over the fence, but found it too difficult now. Dropping back down to the ground he pulled off the bag and tossed that over first. With the drop in weight he found scaling the fence to be a significantly easier task.
Back on solid ground, he grabbed up his bag and hurried on down the alleyway. The alleyway was already beginning to fill up with zombies, but now Eli was ready for them.
While he hadn’t been able to bring himself to keep the ballpeen hammer, he was still far from defenseless. In his left hand he held the crow bar, and with his right he reached into the bag and pulled out a pool cue.
Unfortunately, the pool cue did not seem like a great choice. It was incredibly awkward to hold on to, and as he swung it at the nearest zombies he discovered that there just did not seem to be a good way of attacking with it. If he held it by the thin end, he had almost no control over it. If he held it by the wider, heavier end, then he could control it quite well, but the thin, light point did hardly any damage to the zombies whatsoever. Also, after only a couple of hits the shaft was beginning to crack. He could use it to stab with, probably, but he was completely convinced that if he did so, he would not be able to free the weapon for a second use.
Despite his difficulty, he was able to break through the zombie mass and he burst out into the street. By now, sweat was pouring down his face and his heart was pounding away inside his chest. His breath was heavy and labored as his chest struggled against the weight of the bag’s strap. He grabbed a part of his shirt and tried to wipe the sweat out of his eyes, but it was of little use as the shirt itself was already soaking wet. Eli tossed away the mostly useless pool cue and pulled the bag off his shoulder. He reached inside for the next available item.
He pulled forth a frying pan.
Frowning, Eli almost simply tossed this item away as well, but taking a quick look around at the approaching hordes of zombies he decided he did not have the time or luxury of second guessing. Besides, he told himself as he hoisted the bag back up over his shoulder, he had also doubted the crowbar before finding it surprisingly useful.
The frying pan quickly proved its worth. While the light, specialized metal used to create it did not quite have the stopping power of the much heavier crowbar, the large, flat surface doubled as a shield to keep away those biting, gnashing jaws.
When he finished clearing out the most immediate zombies, he tried to make a run for the police station, but immediately had to stop. The world seemed to be swimming, and he suddenly felt like he was under water. He took a step and nearly fell down, so he quickly pulled his foot back and grabbed on to a conveniently nearby light pole to steady himself. The combination of heat, dehydration, and lack of nutrition was clearly getting to him. He shook his head, trying to clear it, but with no luck.
Some zombies closed in on him, and again he was forced to resume his attacks. He realized he probably had all the coordination of a drug-addict striking at phantoms, but it didn’t matter. As long as he was able to keep his attackers at bay.
His way again cleared, he lurched forward, stumbling drunkenly across the street and into a parked car. The hood was hot, painfully so, but he tried to ignore that fact as he needed the vehicle’s support to maintain vertical orientation. Somehow, with some forgotten reserve of strength, he managed to push himself away from the car and make it down the street to the door of the police station. His hand closed on the door handle and he pushed.
“No!” Eli cried desperately, banging his fist as hard as he could into the unyielding wood, hoping that the doors would take pity on him and unlock themselves. In his stupor, he had forgotten that they had blocked off the entrance when they had been there before. As this memory came flooding back to him, he remembered that the back door had been wide open when they had been captured. He giggled with delight and spun around, swinging his frying pan at the nearest zombie to knock it to the ground.
Once again he swung his bag off his shoulder, this time digging around deep inside for a bottle of water. He ripped one out and practically tore off the lid. Raising it up, he emptied half of it just over his face. Despite its warmth, the fresh, clean liquid still managed to feel refreshing washing away the dirt, grease, and grime covering his face. He stood there and drank down the second half of the bottle. It was almost hard to stomach the drink it was so warm, but as thirsty as he was he refused to let that bother him. Once the bottle ran dry, he tossed it haphazardly into the street. He wiped his mouth with a sweaty arm and immediately wished he had not, and then hurried off to the back of the building.
As he had expected, the back door was wide open. A triumphant smile forced its way across Eli’s lips and he hurried up the steps to the door and swung into the building.
Twenty zombies turned to greet him.
“Yipe!” was all Eli could think to say.
In that moment the world seemed to slow to a crawl. Eli’s mind shut down and his body went into pure instinct mode. He was almost not even aware that his arm holding the crow bar lashed out and struck the nearest zombie atop the head. If it had not been for the blur of motion in his vision, he was not sure he would be aware of the action at all. As that zombie crumpled to the floor Eli was already spinning around and headed back out of the door.
Outside he launched himself over the railing. This did not prove to be the best move, however, as he landed on the front hood of a police car, lost his footing, and went crashing down. He bounced off that first car, then into a second, and finally came down hard onto the pavement. The heavy bag strapped to his back only served to make the swinging about all the more wild and uncontrolled. Around him the world seemed to swim and dive like a particularly excited salmon ever eager to make its way up the stream.
With great effort he managed to push himself up to his hands and knees, and out of the very corners of his peripheral vision he could just make out the pants and shoes of somebody stumbling toward him. Eli tried to push himself back up to his feet but without much success. The heat, the exhaustion, and the weight of the bag he carried were all adding up to be too much for him. His right foot slipped on the pavement and he slammed head first into the car on his left. Somehow he ended up on his backside. The bag stood up straight on his right side, the strap loose, so he pushed it the rest of the way off and knocked it away.
This still left him sitting on the ground while his attacker walked steadily toward him. To make matters worse, Eli had apparently dropped his weapons at some point and now he had no idea where they were. With options rapidly running out and his attacker approaching not quite as rapidly, Eli could only think to try and scoot backwards. His back came up against a wall, and with the cars parked snuggly on either side of him, and the zombie barreling down the gap before him, he knew his options had just run out. He closed his eyes and raised his hands up in a meek measure of defense, and waited for the end.
A roar that would have shamed the god of thunder rent the air around him.
This was followed quickly by the sickening sound of something liquid splattering against the side of a car, and then that was followed a few moments later by the dull “thud” of a body hitting the ground.
Timidly, Eli opened one eye. Through the opening between his hands and fingers he could no longer see his attacker, so with a bit less trepidation he opened the other eye. The zombie lay on the ground, headless now, a thick, strangely purple-ish red blood covering the car to his left. There was movement to the right and he jerked in that direction, hands raising in preparation to defend himself once again, but what he saw made his mouth fall open.
“You… you’re supposed to be dead,” Eli said stupidly.