Danielle Kim immediately took several steps from the gate and raised her crowbar into a batter’s stance. She whipped around, scanning the area for the undead. Her breathing grew rapid as she counted them off.
One. Two. Three. Four.
There was one across the street behind her, approaching from the back parking lot of a strip mall. To her left was a pair; one stumbled toward her on the grass and the other was strapped into a car, the seat belt restraining it. The last of them approached from her right, stumbling through a chainlink fence that was partially demolished, meant to seal off a vacant lot. There were at least three that were going to move in on her position from the inside of the complex as well, she had spied them earlier. She had to be fast.
She sprinted across the street toward the ghoul that was furthest out, giving herself a little room from the others in the vicinity. The bastard seemed familiar, but she put that aside and moved a running charge with the crowbar trailing behind her. She took an upward swing within range of the ghoul. The crowbar connected to a fleshy grey chin, knocking it onto his back. Fat, rotten fleshed jiggled and open sores split open. Blood spilled out around the corpse and rot splashed over Danielle’s sneakers and jeans.
Bile wrenched up her throat and she stumbled away, coughing, sick from the smell of the writhing body of the fat, rotten man who was struggling to rise from under his collected weight. Dani turned to see the other two mobile creatures were beginning to move toward her, moaning. It was as though they had only just recognized that she had changed locations.
These things were slow, only having crossed most of the street. She could use that.
She turned back to the fat one and raised her crowbar above her head and she took a few steps towards it. Her momentum carried from her feet to the tip of the crowbar as the forked end wedged itself deep into the eye socket. After a shuddering twitch, the corpse stopped moving. She removed the crowbar with a sickening squelch and turned her attention back to the two ghouls. Shards of bone dislodged from the impact ripped away from the shattered socket.
She marched toward the ghoul toward her right, the one that had worked its way through the fence. What clothes remained on it had been torn on the fence and most of its shirt dangled listlessly off a twig-like right wrist. She opted to repeat her earlier strategy. She hit him in the chest, caving the ribs in and sending him spinning to the ground. Dani took a deep breath and placed the full weight of her foot on the corpse and swung the hooked end of the crowbar into the gnashing head. She struck it three times before it stopped moving.
She stepped over the corpse and turned around to see the last shambler had gained on her surprisingly quickly. She stepped backward, carefully, in order to give herself some breathing room.
She went into a batter’s stance and waited. The creature nearly stumbled over the corpse of its undead compatriot, finally simply stepping on it, sinking into a rotting stomach cavity. When the monster was close enough she took another swing, instantly crushing the skull of what was once a wisp of a woman.
Danielle walked slowly toward the car that had the trapped creature and pulled a screwdriver from her belt loop. She stood a few feet back as the creature gnashed its broken teeth and reached out with gore-caked, shredded hands. Watching the movements carefully, she found an opportunity. She grabbed at matted hair and held the head as still as she could. She nearly retched as she felt loose skin shift on the skull.
Within a moment, the creature stopped moving and hung silent with a screwdriver wedged deep into an eye socket.
Danielle turned back to the gate and hooked her crowbar on the edge. The first of the undead in the complex had rounded the corner and stumbled slowly toward her direction. They were a couple of hundred feet away. No need to panic. She took a deep breath and tried pulling the gate forward, but again, the gate was stuck.
She studied to the gate, looking it up and down, and noticed that the upper wheel was not in the groove. She lifted and pushed it into place and began to laugh as the gate slid along the track rattling slightly. Systematically… that’s how she needed to approach this new world.
Dani flicked some wet gore from her crowbar as she walked back to her car and sat back in the driver’s seat. The engine turned over with little fuss and she drove out.
She stopped the focus and pulled over just outside of the gates to the Oakwood Apartments. Leaving the engine running, Danielle walked over to the ghoul that had the screwdriver still jammed into the eye socket. Crouching, she braced herself on the car and pulled the screwdriver out with a sickeningly wet pop. She flicked away the gore, something she was beginning to feel was instinctual at this point, and walked back to her car. She tossed the screwdriver onto the passenger floorboard and shut the door.
Everything was going as planned. Everything would be okay.
She drove off, taking a last look at her the complex as the only survivor of Oakwood Apartments.
Thank you for reading the third installment of the Haunted MTL original series, The Dead Life. Please share your thoughts about the story with us.