The tiniest noises were now making the elders left back in the mission hut jump. A screech owl, probably several hundred metres away, its cry faint, caused Chris to leap a few inches into the air as it called.
James Church laid a hand on his shoulder and firmly guided him back to a seated position on the sofa.
"They've been out there a while."
"They'll be fine. They have Nabulungi with them and if anyone can fight zombies I bet its her."
Chris nodded and picked up The Book from the table. He flicked through it, the flimsy paper crinkled in the evening heat.
"There aren't any zombies in here," He said a little forlornly. James shook his head and picked up a book of Arnold.
"Arnold must have written something about zombies in here." He began to rifle through the pages, "I wish he'd added an index to this thing."
"Jesus was kind of a zombie." Eric Schrader looked up from the card game he and Elder Zelder were still trying to continue. He ignored James's raised eyebrow and the look he shared with Chris.
"Well he died and then came back to life. Technically for three days he was undead, therefore a zombie."
A low gravelly moan shot through the night, the floor almost rumbling beneath them.
"I don't think these zombies are Jesus," Elder Michaels shook his head, "These zombies need him."
"We can't just sit here." Elder Zelder looked around at the group, "We have to do something."
Eric's question was met with silence and finally Zelder sighed and shrugged, returning to sorting out his cards.
"Here's something!" James said suddenly, putting on his glasses and leaning closer into Arnold's scrawl to read it. "Saint Sean, a man of great bravery and strength, pleaseth the lord greatly through his mastery of those not on earth or the celestial kingdom."
"I don't understand." Chris wined peering over James's shoulder.
"Let me finish," James said patiently, "Descendents of the wicked Lamanites, these walkers of God's kingdom, known as zombies were defeated by Saint Sean. He walked among them like a brother thus confusing them and bringing his companions to safety."
"I still don't understand."
"Neither do I," James admitted, "I thought it would become clearer but it didn't."
They were interupted by another strange noise. Chris looked around scared until he realised it was just Eric yawning.
"It's late. There's not much more we can do here, we should go to bed."
"With them still out there?" Elder Michaels looked at him shocked, shuddering as a gust of wind howled and rattled at the flimsy windows.
"Someone should stay up to let them back in." James suggested diplomatically.
"Can't we just leave a key under a flowerpot?" Elder Zelder's idea was met with stony silence.
"I'll do it, I'm not tired," Chris said, planting himself more firmly in his seat and opening the book on his lap.
The other elders nodded, now realising how tired they were once the initial shock and adrenaline had worn off.
Elder Michaels and Elder Zelder made their way back to their room, standing close and protectively to each other. Once inside they closed the curtains and pushed the beds against the door. Then wordlessly they pushed them closer together. They wanted to sleep closer than an arms reach that night.
It wasn't long before there was a stifled knock at the door. They shared a glance before opening it a crack. They weren't sure what they were expecting but were relieved for it to just be Elder Schrader at the door.
He was wrapped up in his sheets, as pale as his face. "I heard some noises. Can I sleep here tonight? It's just a bit quiet in that room alone."
Elder Michaels nodded then moved over on the bed to make room for him.
"You do realise," Elder Zelder began, "That we're going to spend the whole night reminding you that when Elder Neeley comes back, he's not going to be happy with what you told us."
Elder Michaels grinned under the covers and scooched over so all three of them could fit comfortably on the bed.
Chris jumped as he heard footsteps behind him then exhaled as he noticed it was only James.
"I came to give you a bit of company."
Chris smiled at the gesture then moved over to make some room for him on the sofa.
"How're you feeling?" James asked, leaning in closer than he would have done normally if there were others present.
"A bit guilty. I think it's my fault everyone's so hyped up."
"There are zombies Chris, what do you expect?"
A high pitched scream from somewhere in the distance was loud enough to shatter through the hut, displacing a mug on the table. It fell to the floor with a loud thud causing both Chris and James to jump and grab hold of each other.
After a moments pause, they both laughed nervously at each other, realising how close they were. Neither made an effort to pull apart.
"It's a shame there's zombies outside, there was going to be a meteor shower tonight," Chris said finding himself hugging James closer than would be considered appropriate.
"How do you know that?"
"Kalimba told me. She says she follows the stars and that there's always a meteor shower on this day, once every four years."
"I wish I could see that." James found his voice dropping, not needing to raise it due to their proximity.
"Maybe we still can," Chris said hopefully, the idea of watching a meteor shower with James now a very desirable concept.
They shared a glance before both getting up and creeping slowly to the back door.
"Just five minutes."
"Five minutes." James reiterated, his hand ghosting the door handle.
"We'll stand really close so if anything happens we can just come straight back in."
"It's a fail safe plan." James agreed. He still hesitated before turning the handle, then did so, the pair of them walking out simultaneously.
The heat hit them straight away, like an oppressive blanket, smothering and thick. For such a dark evening, it sure was boiling hot.
The white walls of the mission hut reflected the suns rays throughout the day so it was nice and cool during the evening. Foil on top of most of the roofs in the village, an idea the missionaries had brought with them, helped reflect the heat also.
This meant that being indoors was copeable and pleasant. Elder McKinley wouldn't dare think about letting any of his boys out in the heat of the day anyway. They all said it was because he burnt very easily and so resented everyone else from being out in the mid day sun.
James and Chris found each other's hands and stopped the other shaking by holding firmly.
"She said it would begin just before midnight."
"That's soon. We'll be absolutely fine nothing to worry abo-"
James was interupted by a wail, incredibly close to them, its source invisible in the curtain of darkness. James turned on his heel his hand dragging Chris to get back in the hut.
What he didn't count on, was the foot he was using to keep the door propped open, spinning out from under him causing the door to close with a resounding click.
Chris looked at James his eyes wide them back to the door. He yanked at the handle but it had no give. He pushed it, still no use. The wail, which must belong to some creature only a few feet away, sounded again.
James took a few steps back and ran at the door with his shoulder. It shuddered but still there was no give.
"What do we do?" Chris was shaking his voice shrill. James glanced around desperately for some way to enter but found none. His eyes wandered upwards towards the roof.
"Quick!" He held folded his hands together beneath Chris's foot to give him a leg up. The mission hut was one story and so he could easily climb. James took a running jump, Chris's hand extended to him to help him scrabble up the wall.
As they both sat panting their feet dangling over the edge, they breathed heightened sighs of relief. They squinted in the darkness to see what ever it was slink away into the bushes with a rustle before it was gone and there was silence.
Nevertheless, it was clear to both of them, although unspoken, that neither of them was going to be jumping down anytime soon.
Chris turned to James, face flushed at the exertion.