Attack of the Zombies Contest Entry
Warning: This is a zombie story. I'm gonna kill everyone. Okay, got that? Still wanna read it? Enjoy!
Bella tucked the blankets in around Renesmee's diminutive eight year-old frame. "Sleep well, sweetie. I'm sure everything will be better in the morning."
Renesmee listened to Mamma's voice and tried to take confidence from it. She tried not to think about what had happened to Jacob or Quil. It hurt not to have Jacob at her side, but he had been among the first to fall sick. Mamma and Daddy hadn't told her what was happening, but she had heard.
Something was making the wolf men turn against the people they were sworn to protect. They were still wolves, always wolves, but they fed on people now. Renesmee's family had been able to keep them from the house, but she'd heard that her grandpa, in town, wasn't doing as well.
"Edward, I'm afraid for him. Charlie's got them organized, but they can't possibly hold out," she heard her Mamma whisper just outside her door.
"I know, Bella. We've done what we can for them."
"Have we? Can't we join them? Surely we're safer all together."
Renesmee did her best to stop listening and sleep. It was difficult though, when she kept seeing wolves, salivating, tearing meat from bones, the bones of people she knew. She whimpered and her mother was at her side instantly, hugging her.
"Shhh, sweetie. We're here. We're all here, all your aunts and uncles. Nothing is going to happen to you.
"B-but, Grandpa," she whispered.
Bella's face and voice hardened. "He's going to be alright, Nessie."
Renesmee cried herself to sleep in her mother's arms.
She woke to a horrible grinding noise, one she only vaguely remembered, only enough to know it was a bad sound. She slipped quietly out of her bed and peeped out of the cracked door. The lights were out in the hall. Continuing to tiptoe, she slunk to the staircase. She froze in shock at the great hairy mounds on the floor. They were all slightly different colors and most weren't moving. Her uncle stood, surrounded by the three wolves still standing and growling. He caught her eye for only a moment before lunging at one of the beasts. All three moved as one, one catching Jasper's leg, another his head.
Renesmee nearly screamed, seeing the awful animals pulling him apart. Only her hands clasped over her mouth stopped her. She needed to run, now! This was her only chance; they hadn't seen her yet. They could follow her using those long snouts and her scent. She was fast, but not faster than them. Already some of the bodies were starting to move, twitching. That was the last bit of motivation her legs needed. Pulling up her nightdress, she burst through the unlatched door, not stopping until she reached her Grandpa's house in Forks. She was panting before she got there, running for miles.
She ran through the unlocked door, shouting, "Grandpa! Grandpa!" There was no answer, and when she stopped, she could tell he hadn't been here in a while. The sofa was broken and the chairs were toppled. "Grandpa?" she asked, a little scared now. Wait, she knew how to get a hold of him. Picking up the phone from the wall she dialled 9-1-1, thankful that whatever had damaged the house hadn't wrecked the phone.
"Forks 9-1-1. If you are looking for the safe-house, please proceed to town hall. Defenders will find you there." It was a recorded message, but told her what she needed. leaving the phone hanging she continued to run, fear driving her beyond her exhaustion.
At the town hall, she saw a young man with nearly black hair holding a rifle. She'd seen her grandpa with a pistol, but never one of these long guns. Only occasionally, in the forest, when she'd run into a group of hunters, might she one like this. She almost turned and ran but the man lowered the barrel quickly. His face softening
"Are you okay, little girl?" he asked, crouching to her height. He was at least as tall as her dad. "You look okay. What are you doing here alone?" he asked. He smiled and she relaxed slightly.
"Ch-Charlie," she whimpered. "My grandpa is Charlie."
"Damn," the man murmured. "You come with me then. Nessie, right? I'm sure he only has the one grandbaby." He took her hand and led her to one of the banks down the street. Renesmee's sharp eyes picked out more shapes on the roof, also holding guns.
When the door opened, she heard, "...I don't care if you have to loot all of Port Angeles, we need more ammunition." That was her grandpa's gruff voice, but she'd never heard it so hard before. "And if you don't have a fast enough car, find one and get Nick to jack it for you. We aren't going to be able to hold on otherwise." The ring of people around him flinched slightly but didn't argue.
"Charlie, here's that stock list you asked for." A woman, whose red hair was laced with grey, passed Renesmee's dark haired grandfather several sheets of paper. He sighed.
"This is good, Sheila. Thanks. Looks like food, at least, isn't running out." He set the pages down and looked up. Renesmee almost hid behind the man holding her hand. She had never been afraid of her grandfather before, but now, he was someone she'd never met, a leader and soldier.
"Renesmee," he murmured. "What are you doing here? Where are your mom and dad?"
At the memory of the scene in the house, she burst into tears and ran to her grandfather's arms. "They came, Grandpa! They killed them. All of them. Jasper... he... I ran while they..." She couldn't say it. She tried not to remember it.
"Shhhh, Nessie. You're okay. You found us. We're going to look after you."
"Chief! Incoming. It's a human wave."
Human? Nessie wondered. Charlie tried to set the girl down but she clung to his neck tenaciously.
"I'm headed for the roof," he told the man. "Nessie, I need you to stay here."
She shook her head, digging in tiny fingernails.
"Okay, okay, don't gouge me, girl. We'll just look. They're humans, so this shouldn't be too difficult." He ground his teeth though, letting her know it would be bad enough.
She stayed in the crook of his arm as the other man held open the door. Several more men with rifles, stopping once to shoot behind them, came racing for the bank door. They joined a line of people with guns on the sidewalk.
Renesmee fought another scream as people shuffled down the street for the bank. They weren't running, not like she had. They dragged their feet quickly though and only paused a moment when hit with a bullet.
"What are they, Grandpa?" she asked.
He shook his head. "Monsters. When the wolves don't kill, it leaves the people sick, like this. They can infect others by biting, and they want to feed, on us. I don't know how many we lost before... " He shook his curly head before continuing. "We haven't figured out how to fix it, and there's only one way to stop them." She tucked her head into his chest after a well placed shotgun shell took off a woman's whole head. When she dared peek again, Renesmee saw that the monster didn't rise and was left behind when the rest shuffled on.
Slowly, very slowly, the gunmen flattened the monsters, all but two. When the gunmen on the street finally dashed inside and barred the doors, the shooters on the roof continued to aim until even they fell.
There was howl in the distance, and Nessie nearly choked Charlie by gripping his neck tight. "Jacob," she whispered, recognizing the call of her friend. "How do you stop them?"
"We don't," Charlie spat. "When they come, we sit in the vault until they go. Even bullets to the head don't stop them. They go down, alright, but they're back up in seconds, and fast as lightning. Nothing like those," he pointed his chin to the street. "I was hoping your family might have had an idea."
Renesmee choked on a sob. If they had, they hadn't told her, and it hadn't saved themselves.
"I should take you in, Nessie. There's other kids there, and lots of toys. We moved everything out of the vault, so there's a decent amount of room, between this one and other across the street." He looked to the only other bank in the town. She saw only one man on that roof. "Most everyone is here though. Not that many left," he said sadly. He climbed downstairs stopping at the man who had brought her. "Thank you, Eric."
"No problem, Charlie. She's really Bella's girl? Doesn't make any sense," he said shaking his head.
Charlie chuckled. "Less sense than wolves that turn people into zombies?"
Eric snorted. "Yeah, point taken."
Renesmee was given a mat to sleep on next to several other children, but she could not close her eyes without remembering this terrible night from start to finish. Something had to be able to kill the wolves.
Memory returned. Venom. Vampire venom killed the wolves. Wasn't that working anymore? Surely her parents and relatives hadn't gone down without biting some of them.
Rising from her spot on the floor, she wandered until she found Grandpa Charlie. He was sitting at a teller's window, head on his arms, asleep. She dragged another rolling chair from behind the wall of desks and set it next to his, putting her head in his lap. Finally, she slept.
She woke when he jumped. Then she heard the wailing that must have woken him.
"Nessie! Into the vault!" he shouted pointing.
"No! We need to go back to the house." She stood, hands on hips, trying to seem older than the eight she appeared to be. "I need Daddy's venom. There's still some in Grandfather's study. I'm sure of it!"
Charlie stared for a moment, agape. "Venom? They have... Never mind that now. We're under attack. We all need to be in the vault. They'll take what they can and go."
Renesmee couldn't have stopped him scooping her up and running with her, but she wouldn't if she could. They hunkered with the others listening to the awful screaming, howling and baying until the monsters left again. Nessie and the children were kept back while four adults went to check that the wolves were gone.
"Nessie, you remember Eric?" Charlie asked, clapping the tall young man on the back. Renesmee nodded.
"He's going to take you to the house. I need to stay here. He doesn't know everything, so explain what you need."
Nessie's mouth worked. She didn't want to go with this stranger! It would be bad enough returning to that nightmare with her grandpa, but with this... She looked up at him, holding his rifle with bullets in bands across his chest and decided he wasn't such a bad protector. He was skinny, but held the gun with familiarity. His face was angular and had the shadow of stubble on his chin. His dark eyes showed no fear, only determination. He would keep her safe enough. Of course, she'd end up holding the gun while he drove. She'd never fired a rifle, weren't they supposed to kick? She was sure she'd heard that. Seeming to understand, Eric put a pistol in her hand.
"Charlie said to give this to you. I told him he's insane, but well, who wouldn't be by now? Giving a kid a gun..." he muttered before addressing her again. "Think you can shoot it?"
Renesmee nodded, not sure at all, but knowing she'd learn fast if she had to. "Let's go. It's half an hour south. How much will this slow one of the wolves?" she asked, following him to a dented van. It had probably been blue before most of the paint had been shaken off in flakes. A little still clung in places.
"Not much. Aim for the limbs. They heal faster than the torso, but slows them down more, unable to run. God, I hope we don't see any," Eric prayed quietly.
Renesmee had to agree.
"What are we going to get anyway? Not people."
Nessie's heart clenched again for her family. "No, a weapon. At least, it should be."
"You're the boss," he said starting the ignition. "Until Charlie tells me otherwise."
The drive was quiet with Nessie occasionally breaking the silence to ask questions about the illness and how the town had coped. It was hard to believe it had only been a week since Jacob disappeared from her side, complaining of a flu bug. His stomach and head were bothering him. The next Nessie heard of him was from Sue, Grandpa Charlie's girlfriend, that the wolves were attacking the reservations of La Push and Macah. Eric told her that Sue was one of the first infected by humans. She was a nurse and helping to treat those not killed. There were almost no doctors or nurses left after the first group of people ate them, infecting them. People didn't heal like the wolves and where the infected had eaten away chunks of flesh, it remained gone, what was left continued to live though, after a fashion.
"Turn here," Renesmee said, pointing to the barely existent drive.
Eric shook his head. "How do they find places like this?" Then he whistled at the large white house with several broken windows. As soon as she had the door open, Renesmee ran out of the van.
Eric fired his gun once, which stopped her short. "Are you crazy? Check there's no one in there first." He held his gun tucked to his shoulder and looked over the porch as he climbed the steps. Renesmee felt like the child she was. What if her family were like the people in town? They might be inside, waiting. Taking a deep breath she lifted her pistol and followed.
"This won't work on people, will it?" she asked Eric.
He looked over his shoulder. "No, not really. Shoot anyway. Slow them so I can take them out."
She nodded and continued to survey the damage. No trace of her family, but two of the wolves still lay in the living room.
"Well, I'll be. They can be killed." Renesmee giggled, then frowned. She knew these men. They were men, not wolves. Why had they never changed back? This was Embry, and that was... Paul, she thought. She'd only met him once or twice. Holding her pistol higher, she started to climb the stairs.
"Whoa," Eric called, running ahead of her. "I'll take point, thank you very much. Don't need Charlie ripping my head off. Enough other things want to do it for him." He was muttering, but it actually cheered Nessie up a little.
"This door," she said when they reached the landing, pointing to the door to Carlisle's study. Eric pushed it open with his shoulder, scanning it over the barrel of the rifle. Nothing seemed to have been moved. Probably the wolves had never come up here.
"Clear," he said lowering the gun. "What is this weapon anyway?"
Nessie ran behind the desk and opened a drawer, fishing through vials. "Poison." When she had the right one, she nearly wept to see how small it was, how little was left. If only one of her family had survived, she could get more. Now she clutched it to her chest while grabbing a couple syringes from another drawer. They'd have more in town. "Let's go," she said, determination coloring her cheeks. "Grandpa needs this, now."
Eric drove quickly, but fortune didn't favor them. Three wolves stood on the Highway just outside Forks. Eric slammed the brakes, spinning the van. Renesmee braced herself on the dashboard as her vision swam and blurred; she tried to keep herself from being thrown into the door.
"No!" she screamed, feeling the van tipping, Eric being tossed into her, the rolling and crunching as the vehicle flipped over.
Holding her breath, she waited for her ears to equilibrate, waited for the world to let her know which way was up. Apparently, it had only shifted ninety degrees. The precious vial was still in her pocket. She pushed Eric aside - the blow had knocked him out - to climb up through his door. Hearing snuffling growls, she ducked back beneath him, filling the syringe. There was smashing as glass rained down around her, over Eric, and a snout followed sharp claws.
Staying mostly behind Eric, she reached around and stabbed with her needle, getting less than half the contents out before the face ripped back with a roar, snapping the hollow metal injector. She plunged the remains into the rubber stopper to hold what was left before running for the back of the van. The one door lay flat to the ground and she ran, knowing she would be chased.
Where was her pistol? She had no time to remember, slipping between trees. Falling, she was sure she was dead, and brought up her only weapon, the broken needle. It stabbed into the chest of the one that leaped onto her and injected the last of that shot. She tried to roll away, leaving the syringe behind. The second sandy-colored wolf was blocked by the first, which whined and swayed, but did not move. She wouldn't have time to ready the second syringe. She stood with her back to a tree, fumbling with it anyway.
A shot rang out and the remaining wolf fell, limping, his hind leg a mass of stringy red tissue and sinew. As she watched, it started to pull itself back together. Fighting the fear, she filled the second syringe and circled wide to avoid the snapping teeth. Eric shot it again, in the head this time, and it lay still. Renesmee plunged half the shot into the furry neck, trying not to acknowledge that she knew this wolf as well. "I'm sorry, Seth," she whispered, fighting tears. Taking her precious venom with her, she ran to Eric.
"Stay back!" he yelled. "They got me." He fingered a bleeding gash on his neck. "Head for town. I'll try to kill myself before I change."
Nessie looked at the remaining vial, then at Eric. "This might work. It might make you something worse. At least there will only be one of you."
His eyes widened. "Won't it kill me?"
"Maybe," she said. "Better than killing yourself?"
He nodded. "Hit me."
"It's going to hurt, either way," she warned him.
He nodded again. "Then be fast about it." Eric held out his arm to her, pulling back his sleeve, but she stabbed him in the chest, hoping to make it to his heart. It'd be closer anyway. Daddy had said that was the way to make the transition fastest.
"Damn!" he yelled, then the words became less coherent as he fell, screaming from the pain. "Burning," was the only word Nessie could make out.
"If it works, you'll have more poison for us. If not..." Rather than finish the horrible thought, she ran the rest of the way to the bank and Grandpa Charlie, vial clutched in her hand. How many wolves were left? She couldn't have enough for more than six or seven if she kept giving them two millilitres each. Would less work? Did they have the luxury of finding out? She hoped at least one doctor was left in Forks.
Thanks to RuthPerk for beta reading. More to come after the contest!