It was important to stay out of sight. Tam managed to get into, and then out of, several plush apartment buildings and then offices. She felt like a cat burglar. There were some broken windows, discarded clothing, an axe she didn’t bother to pick up. Too heavy.
She made her way through another office block. It was a run-down county official’s office. There were people moving upstairs. Tam glided through the building in silence. She was getting better at that. At the back of the office, a small car park. Then an ugly array of giant, rusted machinery that was humming. She stayed away from it.
One long road led down to the church. Nearly there. It looked clear. She decided to take a chance. At every junction she hid behind a tree or a car and checked all the new sightlines. She ducked from tree to car, from car to dumpster. A block from the church, she spied a group of four Wrecks. She flattened herself against a wall. Edged to the opposite corner to check another route. But there were more Wrecks, coming from the other direction. Damn them for being so quiet. She had to move fast.
The wall was only five feet high so she hopped over it. It wasn’t exactly gymnastics. She ended up in a storage yard at the back of a motel. There were crates of empty beer bottles, sodden cardboard boxes, air conditioning vents and some broken chairs. No unexpected zombies.
The back door led to a kitchen. There was some kind of staff canteen and an office that smelled like a hundred years of cigarette smoke. A TV was showing silent images of explosions. Tam kept going.
Something was moving. Tam was in a dim hallway. The front door was ahead of her. A door to either side. She was guessing that the door on her left led to a lounge. There was a reception desk next to it. To the right, a sign said “Rooms”. The noises came from the lounge. Unwelcome, indistinct shuffling. She waited a while. Then somebody whispered. She didn’t hear what, but that didn’t matter. Softly, Tam said, “Don’t worry, I’m human.”
A shrill woman’s voice called back, “What?”
“I’m not a monster,” said Tam.
“What are you doing here?” the woman screeched. Tam didn’t like all that volume. She approached the door and looked in. She was about to speak again when she spotted the woman, looking through a gap in a door. Two bulging eyes like plates and a beehive haircut. The woman spotted her at the same time and screamed, “Get out!”
“I’m going!” Tam croaked. “Shh!” She tried to make appeasing gestures. Peace, calm, surrender, the gamut. But the beehive woman just shouted “Get out, get out, Get out!” There was a pair of legs on the floor behind her. Blood on her face. She was insane. Tam ran to the front door.
Four undead corpses were heading her way. Great. The door had a large window right in the middle. There was a stand behind it containing tourist information, mostly about God. Tam pulled at it and luckily it collapsed, blocking the door. The owner screamed blue murder at her. Tam pointed her spray bottle of chilli sauce at the glass.
The first Wreck slammed into the door. He glared at Tam. He had once been a heavy-set Mexican with flowing black locks. He swung his fist through the glass. The shattering echoed. He lunged. The woman’s screams turned from angry craziness to hysterical. Tam gave the Wreck a faceful of Pepper Spray. His hands didn’t stop reaching for her. She sprayed the hands too. The Wreck immediately lost its sense of purpose. The other three arrived almost simultaneously, shoving past the first. Tam sprayed them all wildly. Each one became stupid and blind.
The beehive woman kept screaming. Tam ran for the back. She shouted through the lounge door, “Shut the fuck up!” but didn’t slow down.
Just as she made the yard, she saw grasping hands reaching over the wall to her right. “Shit!” She took a sharp left and bounced onto the wall. When she fell on the grass on the other side, she didn’t know if she’d been spotted. But Beehive Woman was making noise like siren. There was no point not taking advantage of that. Tam stayed low and scampered away from the motel. There were smashing sounds. The Wrecks were inside. Beehive woman shouted at them. She was fighting, and hard. Tam wouldn’t be surprised if she won.
Tam scanned the area and jogged the rest of the way. Near the church she saw tyre tracks, where she had screeched off in the Lexus. Blood. Rand had been hurt saving her. She saw spatters leading away. She followed them with a lump forming in her throat. Rand had headed towards the church.