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Hollie rolled over. Her breathing was silent yet heavy. She sat up and tapped her mother on the shoulder.
“Mom... They’re outside,” Hollie whispered. Rebecca sat up, ever so quiet, and grabbed her machete, which was never more than an arms-length away. She pushed herself up, the adrenaline already seizing her whole body.
As she approached the door, the groaning grew louder. By the sound of the hopeless, shuffling footsteps, Rebecca determined there were only two. She placed her hand on the doorknob of the decrepit door and slowly turned the knob.
She burst out of the broken-down house and clutched the machete tightly. She swung and hit the closest walker in the neck. He looked to have been a middle-aged man at one point but now he was a bloody mess. He groaned in pain from the machete but soon his agony was cut short. Rebecca had swung the lethal blade again and severed its head.
She whipped around. The second walker was still quite far away. Rebecca cleared the distance between them in three huge strides. She lifted her arm and swung it downward and into its head. This one was another male, but younger than the other. The force of the blow reverberated through her arm. She withdrew the blade and the walker slumped to the ground. Rebecca retreated quickly back inside.
“Did you get them, Mom?” Hollie asked.
“Of course I did. I’m not going to let them get you.” Rebecca smiled at her daughter. Hollie was only thirteen but she was mature beyond her years. Rebecca was twenty-three when she had her. She wasn't ready for a child then but she’s glad she has her now. These past months would have been hell without her.
“What time is it?” Rebecca asked.
Hollie looked at her watch, something her father had given her two years before. “It’s seven twelve.”
“Okay. Gather your things, we’ll eat and then move on,” Rebecca said.
She dug into the food bag and took out a can of kidney beans and the can opener. She opened the can and set it down, then reached back into the bag and grabbed two forks. Hollie finished packing her sleeping bag and the book she was reading and sat down beside her mother.
“Have any dreams?” Rebecca asked her.
“Actually, yeah. I don’t remember the whole thing, but I do remember that we found a mansion to stay at and it was full of food and out in the middle of nowhere so there were no walkers anywhere,” Hollie said, vomiting the words out like she usually did when she got excited.
Rebecca felt bad about that. She felt guilty for not being able to provide a good life for her only child. Hollie must have seen this, though, because she added, “But I wouldn't really like staying at a mansion. Too big.” Hollie grabbed a fork from Rebecca and impaled two kidney beans from the can.
“What about you? Any dreams I should be made aware of?” Hollie asked.
“No. I don’t dream anymore. At least, I don’t remember the ones I do have,” Rebecca said. She ate a forkful of beans.
When the rations were eaten, Rebecca stood up and stretched. “Okay. You ready to go?” she asked Hollie.
Hollie stood up as well and put her baseball cap on. “Yep. Let’s blow this Popsicle stand.”
Rebecca smiled. Hollie was always so cheerful, even during the end of civilization. They gathered their bags and swung them onto their shoulders. Rebecca walked to the window to make sure it was safe to go. It was. She opened the door, machete in hand.They walked out, quietly closing the door behind them. They set off, going in the same direction they’d been going since they’d decided to find a permanent shelter with other people.
Two miles away from the house they just stayed at, Hollie began to whistle. At first, Rebecca didn't recognize the tune, but then she knew it to be “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. She smiled at her daughter and said, “Good choice. Adele always hits the spot.”
Then they heard the groaning and tearing sounds. They quickly took refuge behind a tree. Their hearts were already going a million miles an hour. “Dammit,” Rebecca whispered, “it’s been so clear this whole day. I thought we weren’t going to see any of them today.”
She peered around the tree and saw them. Four of them, savagely destroying a corpse of someone long dead. Their body was already so mutilated she couldn't make out if it was a man or a woman. The smell reached her, but it had no effect. She had grown used to the smell of death. Hollie, however, heaved and clasped her hand to her mouth. Hollie heard one of the walkers’ sudden growl. It had heard Hollie. Rebecca reached into her pocket and clutched the pocket knife hidden away in there. She stepped bravely from around the tree and ran towards the walker who had heard her, an old woman. There were two other women behind the elder one and also a teenage boy. Not a boy, thought Rebecca. Not anymore.
She held the machete tightly and rammed it up under the old-woman-walker’s jaw. She yanked it out just in time to jam the knife into the teenage boy’s eye. She pulled it out and stabbed him again on the top of the head. He collapsed. One of the women came at her then, slow, of course, and, in one fluid motion, slashed her throat with the machete, spun, and stabbed the other woman in the neck with the knife. They weren't dead yet, but now they’d be easy. One was on her knees, clutching her throat, and the other was still standing, dazed and confused. Rebecca hacked their heads off one at a time.
She sauntered back to the tree Hollie was behind. “It’s safe,” Rebecca said, out of breath. “Let’s go, there are some houses over there.”
They began to make their way to the houses. They were about a third of a mile away.
“Okay, you know the drill,” Rebecca said after searching the house for walkers. Rebecca handed Hollie the pocket knife just to be safe.
Rebecca veered off into the living room from the kitchen. The kitchen only had three things of use: a knife and two pots. The living room wasn't much better. Everything was knocked over and in disarray. It was clear that the family who lived here previously had left in a hurry. There was nothing valuable.
She left the living room and went to the bathroom. Hollie was in there, raiding the drawers. “I found a hairbrush,” Hollie said excitedly. Rebecca smiled and went into the first bedroom.
There was a mattress that was stripped of all its sheets and a plasma television on an entertainment center. There were no clothes in the closet. Rebecca sighed heavily and went into the other bedroom. It was just as empty as the other, except for a bookcase, which Rebecca went to immediately. She loved to read. There weren’t many books of her taste, but she got The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. There was also a Nicholas Sparks book that she got for Hollie called The Lucky One.
After stuffing the books into her bag, Rebecca went back into the kitchen. She went to the sink and tried the tap. Why didn’t I check this first? thought Rebecca.
Thankfully, it worked. It was just a trickle, but it was something. “Hollie! Bring your water bottles!” Rebecca began to fill hers up.
Hollie came in the room, a bottle in each hand, and said, “The tap actually works? Hell yeah!” When Rebecca finished filling hers up, Hollie gave her bottles to her mother so she could fill them up as well.
“I think we should stay here tonight,” Rebecca said.
“I agree. Wait! I just thought, if the water is running, maybe the toilet works!” Hollie ran off to the bathroom and Rebecca heard the uplifting sound of the toilet flushing.
In the hallway, there was a closet which contained multiple board games. They stayed up for hours playing Monopoly, Sorry, Trouble, and Yahtzee. Rebecca beat Hollie in Monopoly, but Hollie beat Rebecca in everything else.
When one o’clock came, they decided to finally go to bed. They slept on the mattress in the first bedroom Rebecca checked. They didn’t hear any walkers so they felt quite safe.
They didn’t roll out of bed until around ten thirty. The water pressure wasn’t the best, but they took showers. They hadn’t felt this good in months.
After their showers, during breakfast, Hollie was quiet but she seemed hopeful.
“All right. What’s with the silence? What’s up?” Rebecca asked.
Hollie looked at her mother and said in a mumble, “I think we should stay here.”
Rebecca was puzzled. “We are staying here.”
“No. Permanently,” Hollie said.
“Oh... Well, I don’t see why not... We have everything we’d need. We have plenty of food, there’s a bathroom that works, and we even have beds. You’re absolutely right. We should stay here. If we run out of supplies, we can venture off and find more...” Rebecca was in a frenzy, she felt so stupid for not thinking about it before.
“Really? Are you sure?” Hollie said excitedly, bouncing up and down. “Yes!” she yelled, tears of joy running down her face.
They spent the next weeks just hanging out and playing board games. They only had two visits from walkers, which they took care of quickly. They still had plenty of food; they only ate small rations twice a day.
They discovered that there was a safe hidden in the closet. They couldn’t get it open until they looked under the sink and found a toolbox with a hammer, a drill, a screwdriver, and a wrench. They used the screwdriver and took the screws out of the hinges. Opening it, they were excited, but the excitement quickly drained out of them. The safe was empty. The family who lived here previously had obviously emptied it before they left. However, if Rebecca was them, she would have taken the tools as well.
They always kept the curtains closed and the door locked. Even if there weren’t a lot of walkers around, that wasn’t a reason to be stupid and leave things open.
Hollie had a newfound obsession with Uno. They played it for hours on end. Their longest game lasted two hours and thirty three minutes. Hollie liked how some games could last for what seemed like forever but others could take two minutes.
Things were great until the hunters came. In the middle of an Uno game, they came busting through the door, clad in camouflage. They picked Rebecca and Hollie up by their hair and held them against the wall. The girls had no idea what was happening until they were already caught.
Two of the Hunters searched the house in three minutes while the other four stayed and held the girls captive.
One of them, bearded and smelly, probably the leader, stroked Rebecca’s cheek and whispered in her ear, “We’ve been looking for women for a long while now. We’ve found you.” He drug out the word “you” and cackled maniacally. He was definitely demented and his breath smelled like roadkill. Rebecca stared him in the eyes, the fire starting in hers. The two other Hunters let her go, thinking things were under control.
“You think,” she breathed, menace creeping into her voice, “that you morons can just strut into our sanctuary and steal whatever you please? Rot in hell!” Her anger took hold of her, the adrenaline flowing through her, and she brought her leg up and kneed him right in the groin. He groaned loudly and dropped to the ground. The two others who had been holding her before grabbed for her but Rebecca was too fast. She put all her weight behind her fist and punched the one holding Hollie right in the nose. She felt it break and blood sprayed onto her knuckles.
The girls ran into the kitchen. The two that held Rebecca followed, then the two that had been searching the house came too. Rebecca pulled the drawer to the left of the refrigerator open and pulled out her Desert Eagle and pointed it straight at the Hunters. They only had machetes, which they had drawn.
“Get out. Get the hell out before I kill you all.” Rebecca was so angry, she couldn’t even yell. She was shaking and wanted them to leave before she had to waste her precious bullets on these bums.
They stared at her, fear in their eyes, and retreated, keeping their eyes on the gun the whole time. “Tony...” one of them said, his voice quivering. “Let’s go. There ain’t nothing here but trouble. Come on...” Tony got slowly to his feet, his face red from the blow to his groin.
“Stupid b****... We’ll see you around,” Tony said.
Rebecca clutched the gun tightly and took four steps towards Tony, thrusting it at him, “Yeah? Try it. Go ahead. Let’s see you try, you coward. Come on! Otherwise, get the hell out!”
They left, saying nothing. Rebecca slammed the door after them and watched out the window to make sure they were leaving. She lost control and opened the window, cracking off two shots directly at Tony’s back. The bullets didn’t reach him; they simply bounced away, as if some force field kept them at bay.
When the Hunters got to the end of the driveway, their truck flew through the air and rolled once, twice, three times. She waited a minute with bated breath. She didn’t feel sorry for them, but she had no idea what was going on.
Then, like a blur, a man with a red T-shirt and jeans came out of nowhere. He had a knife. As four of the Hunters crawled out of the truck, three of them flew through the air just like the truck. They landed on the ground, twenty feet away. The man thrusted his knife into Tony’s neck. Tony clutched his throat, eyes bulging, and collapsed. The man walked calmly to the truck, looked inside, saw that the sixth Hunter died in the crash, and went to the other three. He killed them all in seconds, then made a sweeping motion with his hand. The truck and bodies all flew through the air once again and landed hundreds of feet away.
The man turned towards the house and began to walk to the door.