Chapter 48: Last Few Minutes
They followed the maze of hallways this way and that, until finally they ran out of places to run. With no other options, they took the door at the end of the corridor with hopes to find somewhere to hide.
This room already had several upturned tables, chairs, and desks, and Eli and Jay ran towards one, leaped up and over, and came down into a crouch on the far side.
“What are we gonna do?” demanded Jay between gasps for breath. “We can’t keep running forever.”
“No we can’t,” agreed someone.
Eli nearly jumped out of his skin. He spun away from Jay, facing the other direction for the first time, and discovered the others of their group were already hiding in the room.
“Christ!” he spat. “Like my nerves aren’t on end enough.”
“How the hell did we all end up here?” asked Jay.
“It just seems like all directions lead to this room,” Aliyah said, shrugging.
“Anyone else get the uncomfortable feeling like we’ve been herded like cattle?” Mac asked.
They sat in uncomfortable silence at that thought.
“Eli,” Amber said suddenly, her voice cutting like a dagger through the void, “how do we stop these… these…”
“Frankensteins,” Eli finished for her.
“Rolling Stones,” Jay corrected.
Amber’s mouth hung open as she looked back and forth between the two young men. She had the feeling like she didn’t even want to ask, but she couldn’t stop herself from saying, “What?”
“Well, I said that these things are undead monsters sown together from other people and raised back to life by electricity. That obviously makes them Frankensteins.”
“And I said that they’re awful and they seem unstoppable, so they’re like the Rolling Stones.”
“Do you two ever stop?” Aliyah snapped harshly.
Eli and Jay exchanged glances and then looked back at her. “What?” they asked innocently, in perfect unison.
“How do you stop these things?” Amber demanded, hissing the words a bit louder than she had intended. She glanced at the door as though she expected the noise to have pulled in the creatures like a fishing line.
Eli frowned. “Well, I don’t know. I mean, we can’t even seem to agree on what they are…”
“Eli!” Amber snapped, glaring at him with a fire in her eyes.
Eli withered under that gaze. “Okay,” he squeaked. “Fine. I… it’s hard to say. I mean, Frankenstein’s monster only appeared in one story, really. The original. And his creator never actually manages to stop him in the story. There’s a bunch of other stories that use the character but they mostly amount to little more than fan fiction and they’re so inconsistent…” he paused to swallow and shake his head.
“But you have a theory, right?” Amber demanded, impatient.
Eli sighed. “Yeah, I guess. I mean, the point of the original story is kind of not how much of a monster the creation is, but rather how human it is. It may be tough, super strong, and somewhat wild, but it is, in the end, basically human. It should die from anything that kills a human. My bet is that, as a general rule, anything that stops a zombie should stop one of these guys.”
“So basically, if we destroy the brain, we stop these bastards.”
“Yeah,” Eli agreed.
“That’s still not easy,” Mac said. “We all saw what little effect your baseball bat had on the first one.”
Amber turned to Eli and smacked him in the shoulder. She then held out her hand expectantly. “Give me your gun,” she said.
She smacked him again. “Give me your gun,” she insisted. Eli eyed her unsteadily, but pulled the weapon from its holster and handed it over to her. She checked it, making sure the safety was off and that there really were bullets in the gun and Aliyah hadn’t handed him an empty cartridge. She then pulled her own gun out as well.
The timing was eerily perfect. At just that moment one of the creatures came punching through the door. As it stood there, looking around the room, another creature came breaking through a side door. The two started into the room, and from the echo of footsteps in the hall they could tell the others were not far behind.
Amber held up both guns to the side of her head, barrels pointed toward the ceiling. She took a deep, steadying breath, and then let it out. “Okay,” she whispered to no one but herself, “here we go.”
Suddenly she sprang up, turning around as she did, and pointed each gun out at one of the creatures. She leaped up onto the desk and slid along it to get over the barrier, firing as she went.
Her aim toward the one standing in front of her was a little off. The bullet embedded itself into the creature’s shoulder. It jerked with the force of the projectile and roared with surprise and rage.
Her aim at the creature entering through the side door was completely perfect. The bullet ripped through the being’s skull and straight into the brain. As Eli had predicted, it collapsed to the ground and ceased moving.
The creature that had only been wounded snatched up a nearby table and launched it at Amber. The lithe young woman spun, dropping to her knees and bending forward. The table passed right over her.
She brought both guns to bear on the creature and fired. The bullets ripped through its kneecaps, forcing it to drop to the floor. She rose and fired again, just once, straight into the creature’s brain. The light went out of its eyes and it started to fall over, but just then another creature entered the doorway behind it, and ducked down behind its dead compatriot, using the gigantic body as a bullet shield.
Amber stood there a moment, considering her options, and then raised one gun and fired at a light fixture. One of the cables holding it up snapped and it fell, metal, glass, and bulb all, and crashed into the hiding creature’s head. It reeled back, more out of surprise than pain, but still enough to reveal itself. Amber switched weapons, aimed, and fired with deadly precision.
A fourth creature entered from the side door. It roared and reached for Amber. She did what nobody expected and actually ran closer to the creature. She jumped up, pressing her chest straight into her opponent’s, and it involuntarily hugged her into place. She had one gun perched directly under the creature’s chin. Their eyes met for a moment, just long enough for her to see the creature realize what was happening, and then she fired.
The creature toppled over backwards, spilling Amber out above his head and she rolled into the next room. Two more creatures were in there, waiting for her, but they had not expected her to make the entrance she did.
She rolled right past them, came up to her feet, and jumped over a nearby table. When she landed, she rolled again, and came up firing at the creatures with both guns
The one on her left just stood there, shocked, as it got pelted with bullets. It took three: one to its right arm, one that skipped along the top of its collar bone ripping up skin and shattering bone but not fully penetrating, and a final one that pierced its brain and ended its life.
The creature on her right roared as she had been sliding over the table, and as she was still rising to her feet afterwards he started charging at her. She was trying to adjust her aim while still rising and firing at two targets, and it wasn’t easy. While her shots at the creature on the left had been lethal, her first two shots at her charging opponent both went completely wide. Finally, she focused on dropping the creature on her left, and then diverted all of her attention to the one charging. It only took her a moment to breathe out, steady her aim, and fire straight into the creature’s brain.
His head jerked back and the life went out of his body, but sheer momentum kept him barreling forward towards Amber. She tried to dodge out of the way, but to only minor success. The creature’s shoulder clipped hers, and she went spinning down to the ground. One gun flew from her hand and clattered away somewhere.
She quickly pushed herself back up, dizzy, but determined. Her mind was racing through memory and calculations as she tried to remember how many of the creatures there had been, and how many she had already taken down. There had been the creature that had been Sgt. Moore, and then five, no… six of his brethren had entered the room before they had attempted to flee. And how many had she killed? She mentally ran back through the motions of the fight. One, she counted, two, three…
That just left Sgt. Moore.
She heard pounding footsteps, and turned to look. She had barely so much as faced in the correct direction before the creature rammed into her. It lifted her up off her feet and slammed her into the wall. The breath was knocked out of her, and the creature pressed into her, smothering her against the wall, one arm barred across her neck, making it impossible for her to breathe again. She could feel her face and limbs burning with the need for oxygen and her vision started going black. Her eyes dimmed until all she could see was the monstrous rage in the eyes of the creature holding her there against the wall, waiting for her to die. It wasn’t Sgt. Moore, which meant she either miscounted or…
The table. She had forgotten about the creature on the table. The one that had started to rise as they ran from the room.
Distantly, she was aware of the fact that she could still maneuver her arm holding her gun. Not much, but perhaps just enough. She squirmed and wiggled until she was pretty sure she had it aimed at the creature.
She squeezed the trigger.
The bullet ripped through the flesh along the back of the creature, but did no serious damage. It roared with the pain and increased the pressure on her. She felt like she was about to pop. She wasn’t sure what would happen first, death from asphyxiation or her insides liquefying and splattering out across the wall and floor.
She quickly readjusted the gun and fired again.
This time the bullet ripped up through the creature’s rib cage, along its chest, and out through its lower neck. The creature dropped her, reeling back and grabbing at the two new holes in its body. It seemed to be in pain, but it didn’t seem to be dying.
Amber collapsed to the ground, gasping for air. Her entire body ached from where the creature had been pressed up against her. She still couldn’t see, though she had trouble knowing if that was from the lack of oxygen or the darkness of the room.
The creature recovered and turn to face Amber. A fire burned in its eyes. It stormed over to her, raising a fist to strike.
The roar of a shotgun filled the room. The creature, already overbalanced as it prepared to strike, was knocked clear off the ground and crashed backwards into a nearby table.
Mac lowered his shotgun and stepped over to Amber, offering her his hand. She took it and he pulled her back to his feet.
“Metal Health,” Jay said, whistling in appreciation as he surveyed the damage. “Remind me never to piss you off.”
Amber could only cough in response. “Took you guys long enough,” she wheezed after a moment.
Jay said, “Yeah, well, we were kinda in shock.” Eli nodded his agreement. Mac just shrugged.
The final creature stirred from where he lay in the broken wreckage, and started to rise. Amber stomped on over to him and put her gun in between his eyes.
“Go to hell,” she said, and pulled the trigger.