“It doesn’t matter.” I shook my head and started walking away. “I’m out now.”
“Where are you going?” Tatum asked, following me.
“My old trailer. I can’t wander around in old scrubs without shoes. Some of my clothes have to be left behind. I can’t imagine that Harlow or Lazlo would take them.”
The quarantine was still a maze to me, and I ended up getting lost. Fortunately, Tatum had been keeping tabs on Lazlo and Harlow, and he knew where our trailer was. As we walked to it, he filled me in on how they’d been doing, and they’d mostly being doing well. Or at least as well as anyone can do in this world.
Their things were tossed all over the place – Harlow’s clothes scattered on everything, dirty dishes in the sink, and an old acoustic guitar on the couch.
When I went into the trailer, I felt a lump in my throat. I remembered the last night I’d spent here, in Lazlo’s arms. I shook my head, clearing it of any sentimentality, and went to the back bedroom to get changed and grab clothes. Harlow had clearly taken it over, but some of my clothes were still shoved in the back of the closet.
Tatum waited in the kitchen area for me, and I left the door open a crack so I could to talk to him.
“I don’t get it,” I said as I changed out of my scrubs. “I thought the zombies were all supposed to be dead by now. They told us the infection should die out in a few months, and it’s been almost two years since the outbreak started.”
“They were wrong,” Tatum said simply.
I put on a tank top with the hope that would absorb some of the blood from my incision, and then pulled on a sweater and pair of jeans. My old jeans were too big for me now, so I’d had to put on a pair of Harlow’s that fit just fine.
“How do we know that anything we’ve heard is true?” I asked. “Everything they’ve ever told us about the zombies could be wrong.”
“We don’t. But your buddy seems to know the most on them.”
“My buddy?” I was fully clothed so I opened the door wider.
“Yeah, the doctor. Daniels.” Tatum leaned against the kitchen counter. “He’s the only one that agreed the zombies were plotting against us, and it was his idea that we leave and split up.”
“Was it his idea to leave me behind?” I muttered.
“You can ask him that.”
“He’s in our group.” Tatum motioned toward the walls. “He’s waiting with a little band of evacuees that we’re going to travel with.”
“Great.” I went back to the closet and pulled out a faded green messenger bag. I started filling it with clothes. When I was done, I planned to raid the kitchen for a few supplies. “Who else is in our little band of merry men?”
“I don’t know for sure. Boden was doing a sweep too, so it depends on who he finds.”
“Who?” I asked.
“Boden. He’s my sergeant,” Tatum replied. “But when I left, there were six of us. Some of the last six to leave.”
Tatum was saying something else, but movement caught my eye. Moonlight was spilling in through the trailer window, and a shadow crossed over it. I stood up straight and looked around the room.
“But Bishop still thinks she’s the leader – ” Tatum was saying.
“Shh!” I hissed.
I couldn’t hear anything, so I stepped toward the hall. Tatum had already drawn his gun, and he stood on alert in the kitchen, his eyes scanning the windows.
“What?” he whispered.
I shook my head. “I thought I saw something.”
I was about to tell him that I was seeing things when the window above the kitchen counter shattered as a zombie went flying through it. Tatum lifted up his arm to shield his eyes and fired blindly at the monster crashing toward him.
I rushed forward, grabbing a frying pan from the kitchen sink. As the zombie dove at Tatum, I raised the pan and slammed it into its skull. It felt like I was crushing a soft-boiled egg, and the zombie fell to the floor at Tatum’s feet.
With that strange, thick blood oozing from its skull, I would’ve thought the zombie would’ve been out of commission. But apparently it wasn’t.
It raised its head, its jaundiced eyes sunken deep in the skull. It raised a hand, its fingers curled forward like they were deeply arthritic, and it let out a loud bellow.
I’d heard the death groans a thousand times before, but this was different. The groans had more of a rattled sound to them, like a dying man’s breath mixed with a dog’s howl. This reminded me of the sound a demon made when it was being exorcised in a movie. It was completely… inhuman.
The sound was cut short by a loud bang when Tatum shot the zombie point-blank in the face, and the zombie finally collapsed on the ground, its brains splattered on the cupboard behind it.
“Shit.” Tatum wiped the blood off his service revolver before holstering it. “We gotta get out of here before the rest come.”
“The rest?” I asked. “What are you talking about?”
“They’ve changed their tactics.” He scraped his boots absently on the floor, getting as much zombie off them as he could. “The zombies send out one or two zombies, usually older ones, as feelers. When they find something, they make that call, letting the others know they have fresh meat.”
“They’re communicating with each other?” I asked.