Alice in zombieland, p.50

Alice in Zombieland, page 50

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series


Alice in Zombieland

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Page 50


  “Okay. ” I’d already decided this was for better or worse. I wouldn’t change my mind.

  Another howl. A scream. Grunts and groans. The sounds came from all around us. I wasn’t sure who was making them, the zombies or Cole’s friends. Next came rattling leaves, pounding footsteps.

  “Yeah, they’re following you, all right,” Cole said. “Bronx?”

  Bronx nodded.

  Both boys donned sunglasses that strapped around their heads. Cole tossed me a pair, but I dropped them. Great!

  “Now,” Cole said.

  In unison, they stepped out of their bodies.

  Someone must have flipped a switch, because bright halogens suddenly lit up the entire clearing, throwing too-bright rays in my direction and chasing away every single shadow. I squinted, my eyes tearing.

  The sunglasses now made sense, and so did the dark circles under my eyes. Black absorbed light, deflecting the too-bright glare, allowing me to maintain optimal sight. A very smart move.

  That was my last rational thought.

  Frosty burst through a thick green bush, the black paint smeared on his face. He wasn’t wearing sunglasses. He dove for the ground, rolling when he landed. “Now, now, now!” The moment he stopped, he had two guns palmed and aimed.

  Good thing. The zombies had arrived—and not just a few stragglers but an entire horde.

  Pop, pop. Whiz, whiz. Thump, thump. Both Cole and Frosty squeezed at their weapons’ triggers, sending bullets and arrows flying. More grunts and groans sounded as zombies tripped and fell. The scent of rot intensified, making me gag.

  More zombies pushed through the bushes, some stumbling over their friends, some managing to remain on their feet. But the moment the light swept over them, they wrenched up their arms to protect their eyes. I’d never seen them in full light before. Now I wished I hadn’t. They might smell rotten, and look it, too, with their dirty clothes, broken features and ripped, sagging skin, but there was something strangely…beautiful about them right now.

  Their skin was like chipped ice, glistening with onyx and sapphire undertones. Eyes that had appeared black in the dark were glittering rubies in the light, and utterly hypnotic.

  The zombies who weren’t hit by one of Cole’s or Frosty’s weapons flailed for the trees when they realized they couldn’t reach the boys without enduring more of the light. A stroke of good fortune—until a gust of wind snuck up behind me and tossed my scent at the combatants. The zombies froze, sniffed…those ruby gazes zeroing in on me. Suddenly they forgot their aversion to the light.

  They marched forward.

  “Swarming,” I heard Frosty tell Cole between shots. “Everywhere. All directions. ”

  Frosty faced front; Cole faced backward. Bronx extended both arms to cover left and right. Boom, boom, boom. Bullets flying in every direction.

  Cole dropped his empty clip, then quickly and easily inserted another one that was ready and waiting on his belt. All three boys aimed for necks, doing their best to sever spinal cords.

  They hit so many, piles of bodies began to form. And yet, they never made a dent in the numbers. As one zombie fell, two more would take his place. They just kept coming. When Cole ran out of arrows and his second round of bullets, he swiped up his swords and hacked his way through the masses. Heads separated from bodies, and those bodies collapsed—but just as before, neither head nor body died.

  He moved with fluid grace, arching back when someone reached for him, then circling around to swipe everyone in front of him while kicking whoever happened to be behind him.

  Footsteps. “Incoming,” I heard someone yell. Frosty and Bronx stopped firing. Trina and Cruz shoved through a wall of zombies and into the light, their hands glowing. They attacked the piles, ashing one enemy after another.

  Another “Incoming!” sounded. Mackenzie, Derek and Haun were next to arrive, then Lucas and Collins. In their spirit form, their anklets hardly mattered, I realized. There was no sign of Brent.

  Some of the boys were bloody. All were sweating, red-faced from strain and exertion. And here I was, up in the trees, doing nothing, letting them put their lives at risk.

  Screw staying up here.

  See? I’d known temptation would get the best of me.

  Zombies followed each of the slayers, and soon we were utterly surrounded. All the kids continued to fire and fight and try to get their glowing palms on those decaying chests. Most of the creatures continually hissed as the heat from the lights flooded over them unceasingly, the blue tones in their skin darkening…darkening…becoming a thick black steam that rose from their pores. They no longer seemed to notice. Maybe because they felt no pain. Wasn’t that what Cole had said? And it seemed as though the zombies were actually working in organized groups, targeting specific kids, separating them before striking with more force.

  A scream echoed. Mackenzie stumbled back as she yanked her arm from a zombie’s mouth. Rather than teeth marks, I saw black ooze bubbling from under her skin and I knew evil had been poured straight into her veins.

  She kept fighting, her motions slowing…slowing…to nothing more than a slug’s pace. Another zombie managed to bite into that same injured arm, the black ooze spreading up, up, up. Her next scream crackled until it broke into a thousand pieces of silence. A new group of zombies leaped at her, disappearing inside her, rising, and dragging her down. None of the other kids realized her distress; they were too busy defending themselves.

  I drew in a deep breath…held it, held it a little longer…I can do this. I will do this…then exhaled with force, propelling my spirit out of my body at the same time, just as I’d practiced. Here and now, with a surge of adrenaline, the action was easier.

  I dropped to the ground, landed in a crouch, straightened, both blades clutched in my hands. A glow here, a glow there. The kids, the Blood Lines. Things to avoid. Immediately I pushed into motion, driving toward the group surrounding Mackenzie.

  I slashed a zombie across the back of the neck. He stumbled to the side. Spinning, I stabbed another in the stomach. Another spin, another stabbing. From the corner of my eye, I saw Mackenzie’s body spotted with black and twitching, no longer glowing, her fingers gnarling from the intensity of the pain. At least the zombies surrounding her had forgotten all about the already bagged and tagged meal they could have and focused on me.

  One snuck up beside me, crouched on the ground as he was, and managed to wrap his fingers around my wrist and tug me down. I stabbed him in the eyes, jab, jab, blinding him. Next I practically did a handstand to kick the zombie I’d heard coming up behind me. My overworked thigh muscles strained but he was shoved away.

  “Zombies will not win tonight,” I said as a multitude of others gathered around me. It was a proclamation I prayed I believed.

  I popped to my feet as they lunged at me, managing to slick my blade through one jugular, then another. I felt something solid press into my back, but didn’t panic. I caught a familiar sandalwood scent. Cole.

  “You’re doing great. ” He fought behind me, shielding my blind spots.

  A warm gust of wind swirled around me, sparking with power and giving me a burst of strength. He’d believed what he’d said, and I’d believed what he’d said. I was doing great, but now I would do even better.

  “You, too. ” I arced my arms in different directions, cutting high with one and low with the other.

  “Keep doing exactly what you’re doing, just do it quietly. ”

  Faster…faster…the zombies reached up to block me, but they were just too slow. I cut and I cut and I cut—shoulders, arms, hands, torsos, stomachs, thighs—and twitching bodies began to rain around me.

  Bronx swooped in, both of his hands glowing bright white, and rendered the deathblows.

  Cole and I continued to battle, but the glow never filled my own hands. After we’d finished hacking our way through Mackenzie’s crowd,
we switched our sights to Frosty’s, then Collins’s. I was bitten a few times, nothing prolonged, nothing like before, but the ensuing burn still managed to at last slow my motions. Each time the culprits jerked away from me in horror, as if they’d realized I would treat them to extra loving from my blades.

  When the battle was over, when there was no one else to fight, I lost every ounce of energy. I couldn’t resist as an invisible chain dragged me up…up…up…and into the tree. Before, I’d always had to reach out and touch. This was the first time I’d ever experienced such a tug.

  I sucked in a breath, the world crashing back into focus.

  Even operating in the natural realm, I was too weak to hold myself upright and just kind of tumbled from the branch. I smacked into the ground and rolled, losing the blades somewhere along the way. There was a sharp sting in my arm, and I knew without looking that I’d ripped open my stitches again.

  There were too many bodies to count around me, the zombies reminding me of flies stuck in sticky paper that had been left out for several weeks.

  “Frosty, get Mackenzie to Ankh,” I heard Cole shout. He stomped to his body, still perched in front of the tree, and reached out. Instantly the two linked up.

  “On it,” Frosty replied. He picked up Mackenzie and stalked off.

  “Trina, Haun, search for Brent. ”

  “Already gone,” Trina replied.

  “The rest of you destroy the remaining zombies. ”

  “That won’t be necessary,” an unfamiliar voice said, slithering from the shadows.

  Someone flipped the switch on the halogens, and the entire forest was suddenly swept into a great flood of darkness. Spots winked in my line of vision. I heard the pound of multiple footsteps, the crackle of…something, then a swarm of people in hazmat suits came into view.

  “We’ll be taking the zombies,” the same person said.

  Cole dove at him, his arm ghosting through. Clearly, the hazmat was in spirit form. “Coward! I should have known you’d show up. ”

  They must have watched the battle on the outskirts, never coming to our aid, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. And what better time than now, while Cole and I were back in our bodies, injured, and too weak to fight back?
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