A quick update before the next installment. The overall story is almost finished. A few more thousand words and I should be able to type "the end." This thing has been an easy write, and that always makes the process more fun. I've got ideas for the next story in the series, the next steps in the overall tale. I like it. Hope you will too.
So, again, if you've enjoyed the story up to now, tell others to check it out. Share it on social. Evangelize for our zombie aliens.
OK, enough rambling. On with the show.
Welcome to the End//Part 15--Dome
After a moment Caroline’s screaming stops. She shakes her wrist free from my grip and runs beside me. There are wailers all over, but not as many and I thought there would be. But even one wailer is too many. They all cry out, screaming to each other in a shrieking language that I can’t understand, but can tell that they are communicating. They seem to be converging on us in a slowly tightening circle. They come from behind. They approach from the front. We continue to run.
Caroline points at a pile of rubble a dozen feet high. I can barely see it through the rain, but we make it our target. We each take leaping steps up to the top, not worrying about a misstep or a footfall that will send us tumbling. It’s climbing with confident abandon. We reach the top, have the high ground. From up here we can see that the situation is worse than I imagined it could be. The wailers aren’t stopping. It’s like this rain has caused whatever dormant wailers there were to hatch. They are all out now.
Caroline is turning tight circles as we watch the wailers approach our pile from all directions. The first reach the base of our stack and begin to climb. They aren’t as confident as we were. Or maybe they aren’t as desperate. They climb slowly, carefully. That’s good for us. I pick off those that get halfway up the side I’m watching. Caroline fights off hers off with the machete. I help her if she needs it. She helps me if I need it.
But this tactic won’t be effective forever. This first wave of wailers is scattered, spread out. They are climbing the pile one at a time. But soon they will be coming up in pairs. Then threes and fours and fives. And eventually the pile will be overrun. We can’t hold them off forever, and I start to consider that this is the hill where I die. A pathetic little hill made up of spilled brick and concrete.
I fire a couple of shots into wailers that have just reached the base of our hill. I take aim at another and my gun just clicks.
“That’s it,” I say. “I’m out.”
Caroline swings at a wailer and asks if I still have my gas mask.
“That goofy thing you grabbed from the doctor’s office.”
She grunts through a slash across a wailer’s chest then plants a boot into the thing’s stomach. It tumbles down the rubble, taking two others with it. Other wailers have reached the bottom of the stack on my side. They climb over fallen brothers and begin the ascent up to us.
“It’s in my pack,” I tell Caroline about my mask.
“Put it on,” she says and lays down her machete.
I upend the pack and its content pile up at my feet. I push my hand into the pile and feel around until my fingers brush a cold, brass fitting. I pull the mask out and put it on.
Caroline begins chanting something in fast words that I don’t understand. Her hands begin to glow a bright blue and she speaks louder. Her voice climbs to a shout and at the crescendo she lets out a scream. It triggers some sort of blast from her hands. It’s a shockwave of blue light that runs along our pile of rubble and out to the streets. It cuts down every wailer it touches. They lie silent and still. I can’t tell if they are sleeping or dead, but it doesn’t matter. They are down.
The blast stretches out for a couple of blocks then begins to arch over us, coming together at a point just above Caroline. We are now inside of a blue glowing dome.
Caroline collapses onto the top of the pile. I reach to take off my mask and she grabs my wrist.
“No. Don’t,” she says.
A muffled why comes through the mask.
“It’ll kill you. You aren’t made to breath the air in here.”
“And you are?” Again, muffled.
“Apparently.” Caroline lays back. Her breathing is deep and quick. She’s exhausted, like she’s just run a sprint. And, in a way, I suppose she has.