They agreed to leave early that next morning.
Katie had spent the previous evening packing up various packets of paper that Lindsay didn’t understand. Some were lists of names, some were maps of places she didn’t recognize. When she asked, Katie just said her dad would want them.
The rest of their supplies were food, ammunition, first aid and other survival supplies. Lindsay didn’t know why they’d need all of that, since the radio station would only take a day to get to and then they’d be taken to a shelter or something. Katie insisted so Lindsay didn’t say anything.
Besides, Katie was an expert. She felt safer having the stuff anyway, just in case. What if they had to shelter somewhere on the way out from the radio station? They could use their own supplies instead of whatever the army had, saving it for more needy people. That was a good idea.
The concept of other people excited her. For months it had just been her and Katie holed up in this underground bunker. She longed for conversation and news from the outside. What was happening? Maybe the plague or whatever was getting better? Surely the government had things under control by now?
“Sit down,” Katie said and indicated the edge of her cot. Lindsay blinked at her, her mind still thinking about things getting back to normal. She complied without a word and Katie draped a very heavy vest over her shoulders and secured it with Velcro straps. It felt like it weighed a thousand pounds! With that and her coat on, she also felt like she as big as a house.
“Oof, what is this for?”
“It’s a bullet proof vest with a whole lot of ammunition in it. We need to carry as much as we can.”
“Bullet proof vest?” Lindsay said, frowning. “Why?”
“Because we don’t know what’s happening out there.”
“The zombies aren’t going to shoot at us Katie. We should find like armor or something. Like the knights wore.”
“That’s a good idea too,” Katie said and got up again. She walked back into the supply closet and was gone for several minutes before emerging with what looked like athletic pads. She dropped next to Lindsay and held up two arm guards.
“They were good for paintball and stuff. If they try and bite you, shove your forearm in its face as a last resort,” she said, strapping the plastic to her arm. She did the same for her shins and knee. Lindsay felt a little like Robocop.
“It’s going to be hard to move in all this stuff,” Lindsay said, standing up with some help. Everything felt so heavy. She’d never be able to run in it all!
Katie frowned and then they spent another twenty minutes rearranging their gear. Finally the pads went under their parkas and thick, nylon pants. Strapped closer to her body, Lindsay felt like she could move better, even if she was still bulky. The bulletproof vest was terrible though. She doubted she’d ever get used to that.
“Okay,” Katie said once she refastened all of the straps on Lindsay’s vest. “You good?”
“I feel like a sausage.”
Katie grinned and chuckled at her. That made Lindsay smile. It was nice to see her friend happy, even if only for a moment. She missed Katie’s smile. Missed how things used to be. When they were younger, they’d laugh so hard together they couldn’t breathe. That felt like a lifetime ago. Before Katie’s parents got divorced. Before she moved away. Before Erin.
“Let’s go before you decide we need to take more stuff with us,” Lindsay said as Katie handed her the rifle she’d used earlier. Looping the strap around her head and shoulder, Lindsay felt proud that she remembered how it went on. It hung securely on her chest now. When Katie grinned at her in approval, she felt good. She’d succeeded and made her friend proud.
“C’mon,” Katie said and they headed towards the main door. As they passed through the bedrooms and into the living quarters, Katie paused, looking back once more before shutting off the light. Lindsay thought she looked a little sad.
“It’ll be okay,” Lindsay said. “Your dad will find us.”
They went through the whole place, shutting down power and preparing to place it into a state of dormancy. Katie said it would be needed when they came back, if they came back, but Lindsay didn’t get why. She figured they should just lock up and go, right? Well, she wasn’t very tech savvy. Finally, they popped the seal on the main door.
Standing outside were half a dozen zombies.
“Holy sh—“ Katie began to say, but the first one was already moving. It lurched forward, hissing and swiping with bloodied hands. Katie backed up, right into Lindsay and they both nearly fell.
Lindsay shot out a hand and grabbed hold of a wall, steadying herself. As she did, she saw even more zombies crawling down through the hatch. In that moment, she forgot to be afraid. Her only thought was in wondering how they’d been so quiet.
Then Katie began to fire.
The gunshots echoed loud, pounding with explosive pressure in the enclosed bunker. Each blast hurt Lindsay’s ears, feeling like hammer blows to her eardrums. A loud ringing blotted out the sound of the zombies’ moans, hisses and screeches.
They retreated further into the bunker, the zombies flowing in behind them like a wave crashing to shore. There were dozens of them now, too many to fight. When Lindsay saw that, the fear finally gripped her.
They were going to die. In moments, one of them would be on her, more than one. They would bite her, tear her flesh off and eat her. She tried to tell herself the pain wouldn’t be so bad. It would be over quick.
“Lin, get back into the bedroom!”
Katie’s voice came through muffled, like she was listening to her from underwater. All she could do was stare. It felt like she was in slow motion. There were zombies with mouths open and bloody and black. Then there was Katie, grabbing her jacket, shoving her away.
She had to save her. That feeling she’d had in the forest came again. She could do this, do this one useful thing in her whole life.
A zombie surged forward, reaching for Katie’s shoulder, its yellow, broken teeth coming for her throat.
Lindsay didn’t know what she was doing, she just reacted. Throwing herself between them, her shoulder connected with cold, dead flesh and they both fell. She landed onto of it, her shoulder pressing into its temple. It felt like crushing a hardboiled egg.
Strong fingers gripped her, pulled her up. She stumbled away, Katie’s arms around her middle, propelling her backwards. On the ground, the zombie lay, twitching and vomiting black liquid from its shattered face. Dozens more then surged over it, coming for them.
They moved through the small corridor between the living room and bedroom. Katie pushed her inside and then kicked at something in the hallway. With a grunt, she slid a metal door in place that pulled out from the wall. Immediately they were plunged into darkness as the flow of infected from the other side slammed into it.
Stunned, too shocked and afraid to understand what she was doing, Lindsay rose from the floor where she’d fallen and went to help her get the door shut. They pushed and struggled and finally it latched in place.
Katie found the lights and suddenly they could see.
The door was metal but woefully thin. Each time the infected slammed against it, the door buckled slightly inward. The opening where it slid out from the wall was beginning to crack, spewing drywall dust.
“It will hold for a little bit,” Katie said, or at least Lindsay thought that’s what she said.
“Now what?” Lindsay knew she was shouting, but the ringing in her ears so loud she could barely hear. Katie turned and looked towards the supply room. The expression on her face was strange. She looked worried, but not afraid. No, that wasn’t it.
She looked ashamed.
“Katie?” she said again, trying to speak a little quieter.
“We can go out through the emergency exit.”
“There’s an emergency exit?”
Katie nodded towards the supply room. “Yeah, but…” She turned towards her, looking even more ashamed than before. “I have to tell you something.”
“Now?” Lindsay said, the banging on the door punctuating her point. “Can’t it wait?”
The wall cracked and broke, lacerated fingers wiggling through like fleshy worms. Lindsay shrieked and Katie turned, her eyes wide. She grabbed Lindsay’s hands and pulled her into the supply room.
They had to move the safe out of the way, but it wasn’t nearly as heavy as Lindsay expected. Within moments they had it and the false wall behind it moved aside. There stood another metal door. Katie took a deep breath.
“Um, remember how I said the Petersens left?”
“Yeah. C’mon Katie, they’re coming through!”
Outside she heard the wall crack again. The screaming of the undead became louder, closer. Lindsay reached out to pull the metal door open.
The smell that greeted her nearly made her wretch. There, in a dark tunnel lit only by the faint light from the supply room, were three rotting bodies.