CHAPTER 10: To the fires of hell...

"We move now" Anya growled and the tired bodies rose. Rubbing their eyes they looked out the hole in the building to what was left of the city.

"You saved us" Roy stated, his mind in a daze.

"Of course" Anya said helping Katie to her feet "You didn't have to stop for me on the road, but you did. You're human, you do stuff like that"

"What happened?" Roy gasped holding onto Jewel as they peered outside the structure, the streets filled with molten lava, ashes snowing from the sky as the clouds cleared to outline a sky of scarlet.

"Hell broke loose, the dead, heh, the departed" Anya chuckled shaking her head "They were only a warning"

Anya helped Katie and Holden to their feet. Holden lifted up Pheobe and rested her on his hip.

"We're going to join mommy and daddy aren't we?" she asked softly. Holden glared at Anya.

"Not if I can help it" Holden growled and Anya directed the coughing and gagging survivors toward a staircase. Heading down toward the lava the temperature grew insufferable and they were forced to seek another means of escape.

Jewel let out a blood chilling shriek and everyone turned to her, frozen in fear. She pointed to Anya and everyone gasped, a small blue creature sat upon her shoulder. It was no larger than a cat with midnight black eyes on a round little head with a large fin rising from its head. It had three orange whiskers on each cheek and short legs. It had a short flat fin for a tail.

"Kip?" it whispered.

"You see him too?" Anya asked.

"Kill it!" Jewel shouted.

"Why?" Roy snapped. Jewel glared at the creature.

"This thing's name is Kip, and he is our way out of here" Anya said and Kip dropped to the floor looking around. He dashed up the stairs and Anya chased after him. Without time to complain everyone followed suit.

"Where did they go?" Holden shouted when they made it up the staircase.

"Over here" Anya called and Holden ran to her voice. Kip was staring at a fire escape, it was smouldering red but slowly water ran from Kip's jaws. He opened his mouth like a cannon and freezing water blasted the fire escape causing steam to rise as thick as fog.

"Get something over your mouths and noses" Katie demanded and took her shirt off and cut it up, giving Holden and Pheobe a piece. She adjusted her grimy tank top and wrapped a strip of cloth around her hand before attempting to touch the fire escape; it was warm to the touch but no longer scorching.

"If we can get down to that bus" Anya said pointing to an over turned transit bus "We can get across to the apartment complex on higher ground and make our way upwards until the lava is gone"

Holden went first, followed by Anya and then Roy. Once everyone was on the final platform of the fire escape Anya took a leap of faith and landed on the bus, gesturing for the others to copy her. Kip kept the bus cooled. Roy was first to follow, landing perfectly; he turned to help catch Katie. She backed up, having a desperate fear of heights, and got a running start to her jump. Holden gripped Pheobe firmly by her belt and, with all his might, threw her forward toward the bus. Roy caught her and handed her to Holden once he landed safely. Jewel jumped quite easily right behind him; the only one left was Lannah.

"Jump!" Katie shouted.

"Kip can't hold on much longer, you have to jump now!" Anya added and Lannah peaked over the edge to the fire below. She kicked off from the edge and lost her balance, hitting the side of the bus with a heavy thud and clawing at the smooth metal, sliding closer and closer to the molten sea below.

"Lannah!" Katie screamed and Roy dropped to his chest and caught Lannah's wrist. Kip stopped spewing water and the bus began to heat up again, causing Roy to sweat quickly.

"Don't drop me!" Lannah shouted and Holden dropped down beside Roy and stretched down his hand.

"Swing your other arm up" Holden said through clenched teeth. Lannah swung her body from side to side, slipping out of Roy's grasp little by little. She threw her arm up and Holden grabbed her arm. He started to pull her up with Roy's help but she fell out of his grip and swung back down to the side, pulling Holden with her. Anya and Katie jumped onto Holden's ankles to keep him from sliding it.

"Pull me up!" Lannah screamed as the boiling lava below burst a bubble, nearly landing a glob on her leg.

"We're trying" Holden growled. Ayna and Katie pulled Holden across the bus but they weren't quick enough, another bubble burst spraying Lannah's leg and melting her jeans to her flesh.

"Gaaaaahhhhhh!" Lannah bawled. Jewel turned away, losing her lunch at the smell of burning tissue. Roy scooped her up and Anya led the group from car to car, Kip growing weaker and each car growing hotter. Finally they got onto the fire escape of the next building, climbing quickly to the roof.

"Kip spray down Lannah's leg" Anya demanded and the creature cooled down Lannah's leg, stopping the burning. Anya kissed Kip's head and he fainted in her lap.

"Where now, genius?" Jewel asked looking around the rooftop "We're still trapped"

"No we're not; If we keep moving north there should be a balcony we can drop to in the next building. From there we can get out of town" Anya said opening her backpack and throwing everything out. She slid Kip inside and closed it securely and strapped it to her back so he could rest. "Wrap up her leg with something, we have to move quickly"

"Why?" Jewel asked, grabbing Anya's arm.

"There is much worse to come, zombies and some lava?" Anya scoffed "Nothing in comparison"

"And how would you know?" Jewel snapped.

"I have been able to see them since I was born, wandering aimlessly. The souls, of these things, are trapped here. If their bodies are set free on earth they won't be lost, just really, really, pissed" Anya explained. Lannah got up on one leg and leaned on Roy, Jewel seemed satisfied with Anya's answer.

"Let's go" Lannah said, forcing a smile. Anya went first, showing everyone the way down, she leapt off the rooftop and kicking off the next buildings wall, which was only about five feet away, a kick off the apartment complex wall and stick a back flip landing on the balcony.

"Show off" Lannah sneered and Katie leapt down, grabbing hold of a clothes line and swinging down safely. The others also found Katie's way easier and copied her instead. Holden attempted to break down the doors to get inside but an all too familiar smell forced him to cringe. There was undead inside, still roaming about.

"You smell them too?" Anya asked and Holden nodded. They had no weapons or means of protection against the walking dead within.

"Why not fly?" Pheobe asked "Like we did off the Costco?"

"That was a onetime thing" Anya explained.

"But they can help us" Pheobe said pointing to a building in the distance. Anya strained her eyes but sure enough she saw a river of blue creatures flowing toward them over rooftops.

"What are they?" Holden asked.

"Kips" Anya smiled "The zombies rise with hell, which means the kips must fall from heaven"

"So were going to be okay?" Pheobe asked.

Holden kneeled down and wrapped and arm around her, kissing her forehead. She rested her head on his shoulder as they watched the Kips grow closer.

"Yeah" Katie chuckled "I guess we are"

The creatures were indeed headed for the group and, upon seeing Kip in Anya's arms, they surrounded the group. They jumped about and squealed like puppies, excited to have found one of their own alive. Explaining their predicament the creatures seemed to understand every word they said. The creatures, with combined strength, were able to help the group down to the streets and create a watered down path for the group to escape the city to the mountains in the north. But still they had their sights set on Canada and its arctic tundra, a safe haven from the dead. But down the other side of the mountains the lava was not yet flowing and at the border, where many had fled during the initial infection, the mass of hoards patrolled the streets in search of tender flesh. The danger was riding as time went on, hell hot on their tails and little chance of survival ahead of them. Hope hung by a thread even with the help of the blue creatures.

"Heh" Lannah chuckled as they made it over the mountain and caught their first glimpse of the wasteland before them, the journey having already been a three day climb "Piece of cake"

"Are you insane?" Holden asked looking at the border crossing with squinted eyes "We'll be lucky if we survive the trip back down"

"No" Lannah shook her head "We'll be fine. Heck, we made it this far. I thought you all were just spineless runts and would die back at the ranch. You've all proved me wrong so far"

"Yeah" Katie said resting a hand on Holden's shoulder, somewhat offended by Lannah's statement "We'll survive this too"