From the Author
A hail of bullets cut down variouscorpses; legs shattered, heads burst open, arms sailed through the air. When the guns stopped, Brad racedacross the lot.
A dead little boy latched onto hisleg. Horror nearly stopped Brad cold but he bashed his knee into the kid'shead, bones crunching, and sent him down. Brad jumped over him and continuedon.
Two lumbering men gathered togetherin front of Brad, reaching for him. He sidestepped both of them, avoiding theconfrontation.
He wasn't so lucky with threeothers that came out of the dark, hitting him head on, catching himself offguard and tripped over his own feet.
He hit the asphalt, scraping bothelbows and losing grip on his gun. The three dead bent down to him, crawling ontheir knees to feast.
Brad's heart pounded his chest. Hisspine stiffened and his throat ran dry. The scent of rot wafted dangerouslypast his nostrils. He gasped, but instinct kicked in.
He grabbed the heads of the firsttwo dead men and bashed them together. Foreheads collapsed against each other,noses smashed. The two collapsed onto the ground.
The third creature reached forBrad's throat, but he managed to catch its head in a leg scissor choke. Hesqueezed as hard as he could, but the thing flailed, nipping at his legs. Bradunlocked his legs and delivered a hard kick to its neck, snapping it. The thingwent limp.
Brad twisted around and scooped uphis gun. He turned backwards and shot the oncoming woman, who had a missingarm, in the head. She tumbled to the ground.
The front door came in to sight.Brad rushed it, giving it a swift kick and nearly taking it off its hinges. Heused the parking lot lights and street lamps to guide his steps. How could hehave forgotten his night vision goggles?
Inside the dead walked darkenedaisles strewn with fallen cans of food, torn boxes of cereal, and rolls oftoilet paper. For some reason, that sent an icy chill down Brad's spine.
He opened fire, hitting each in thehead methodically. One by one they fell into the splashes of amber streetlight.Above, he heard thuds and the trampling of feet. He made his way to the back,crushing cookies, kicking cans of soda out of his way. He popped a few moreshamblers as he passed the broken refrigeration units. Puddles of melted icecream pooled inside.
In the back he spotted a set ofstairs ascending into the dark. Brad started up and stopped. A shuffling soundcaught his attention. He cocked his gun and a three hundred pound womanbarreled into him, forcing him against a wall. Her muumuu was drenched inblood, globs of flesh were missing from her bulging belly, and her eyes wereorbs of white.
She stretched her arms for Brad andhis tantalizing flesh, her own girth working against her. She snapped her teeth but couldn'treach him.
He felt his air being cut off. Hisgun was buried under layers of decayed flesh. He managed to free one of hisarms and swiped it against the shelving on the wall. A can of fruit cocktailfell into his hand and he bashed the woman in the head with it.
The huge woman stumbled back andBrad ended the attack with a gunshot to her face. A loud thud resounded as the corpse crumpled to the floor. Hemoved to the stairs. He looked up and waited, listened. He heard movement, butnot on the inside.
Brad readied his gun. "US MilitarySearch and Rescue! I am here toevacuate!"
He heard tons of feet stomping.Voices crying. "On the roof, up on the roof! There's a hatch in the storageroom!" It was a man's voice. Brad searched for a light switch but couldn't findone. He eased up, step by step.
The top of the stairs opened up toa storage room full of boxes and sacks of rice and potatoes. He nudged his wayin and found a light switch. The scent of rot drifted past his nostrils. Hereached for the switch and the room was illuminated.
Brad found himself standing in apool of blood. A few inches from the pool, a body--or what was left of it--layunmoving, an axe buried in a head of gore.
His gaze scanned the ceiling, andin the far corner he spied a hatch. Stepping over the piles of flesh, he boltedover to the hatch, climbed up the shelving units to the hatch, and pushed.
It wouldn't budge.
"I'm here to get you out. Open thehatch."