Ethan’s ears rang from the shot. Without a sound, Julia crumpled to the ground. The spotlight fell, but Ethan’s eyes had adjusted. He stepped forward. In the dark, with all the blood, it was difficult to place the damage. Her head was still head-shaped, though, which, as all the zombie movies explained, meant his job was not done. He lifted his shotgun and pressed the muzzle against a ragged temple.
Then sixty pounds of canine bore him to the ground. He looked up and saw one of Jack’s eyes fixed on him, another on the approaching zombie swarm.
The ringing continued as withered hands pinned him to the ground and yanked his shotgun away. They paused for a moment, and Ethan freed one arm, but there were six or more on top of him, and moments later, thick ropes bound his hands together. Another rope went around his neck, and the swarm pushed him out.
A zombie who wore a red bandana over what looked like a curly green clown afro of mold led him by his new harness into the barn. Stacy was there. When their eyes met, she shook her head and looked away. He took in a deep breath. “I have to talk to you,” he said, but she didn’t respond.
“Grr” warned his handler, giving him a cuff on the back of the head. He put the rope over a hook on the wall of the barn, and Ethan sat down against the wall as Stacy tied the knot. Then she kneeled next to him and whispered, “You are alive as a favor to me.”
“Graargh” Ethan blurted. Then he turned red. Never was he so embarrassed by what he had become as now in front of his ex-girlfriend. He breathed and got a handle on his emotions.
“The Sable family are monsters,” he said, “criminal masterminds.” (graugh) “They created the zombie virus and invested around it to make a fortune.”
Stacy shook her head again. Each shake stuck a needle in Ethan’s ego. “Ethan, you sound like The Looking Glass. Was Zombie Bigfoot involved by any chance? Your vendetta against Angela has gone too far.”
“Don’t deadname her. She wants to be called Angela now. Is this conspiracy theory supposed to justify shooting her with a shotgun?”
“She turned me into a zombie.”
“I’m not defending everything she did, but you can’t go around playing shotgun vigilante!”
“The term is ‘zombie hunter.’”
“Ethan, I once thought the same, but I would think you’d be past that simplistic notion after everything we’ve been through.
Everything we’ve been through? What have you been through, Stacy? He shook his head. “Is she dead?”
Stacy scowled. “Her congregation would scatter you across the forest if she were. Kay is doing everything she can for her, but I’m in and out checking if we need to take her to the hospital.”
Stacy chuckled, “Heh, yeah, she’s, um, a Zombie Minister. She preaches to the zombies and tells them God loves them even if nobody else does.”
Stacy shrugged. “She says they need it, and they adore her. I don’t know if you noticed them not attacking me. They’re a much nicer bunch with Angela Worthy in charge than they were under Angela Gobi. A documentary like this – we could blow the case for zombie humanity wide open.”
Ethan shook his head again. “You need to be investigating the, ugh- grm- hmm, the Sable family.”
Stacy rolled her eyes. “Fine, Ethan, I’ll look into it if you promise to stop whatever you want to call what you just did out there.”
Stacy nodded and left. Ethan couldn’t believe the injustice – that these poor zombies would fight so hard to protect the daughter of the family that took their lives from them. If only they knew, they would tear her apart themselves.
Ethan laid down on his side on the hard barn floor, and saw Revenant standing next to him, another rope tight around his neck lashing him to the wall. The animal stared blankly out at the empty barn until Ethan reached out to pet it on the head. In moments, it came to life. A tiny pink tongue licked his face with a hyperactive urgency, and he smiled despite himself, placing his bound hands carefully around the little dog in an awkward embrace.
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