Needless to say, Mark could tell that fight was over when he heard the guy’s screams morph into moans overnight. The guy just kept banging on the boards over the windows until finally Mark took the rifle and picked him off. He put him out of his misery. Lindsay kept sayin’ that she couldn’t sleep. Mark noticed that she hadn’t gotten much sleep since the whole thing started, what with the undead roaming the streets and all and Poppa missing and Momma being a meat-eating vegetable chained up in the basement.
Chute! Mark had forgotten to feed Momma again. It was the worst thing he had to do in the whole day, but he did it every day, without fail. He would go out in the day and hunt around the neighborhood for bodies or live animals, like squirrels or rabbits. One time he even tried to catch a dog for Momma to feed on, but it was too smart and realized what Mark was trying to do with it, so it escaped. Momma’s loud groan woke Mark from his trance, and he went to grab the rifle. He kept it locked up where Lindsay couldn’t find it, in a place Poppa had shown him before he left.
“I’m comin’ Momma!” Mark called, even though he knew Momma couldn’t hear him. She was just a drooling carnivore who just wanted food. That was something Mark tried to mention less and less now that Momma had fully turned and Lindsay had gotten old enough to understand what had happened to Momma. He checked his shirt pocket to make sure his baseball card of Babe Ruth, his most prized possession, was safe. Mark loaded the rifle, walked to the front door and looked through the peephole.
The field looked empty, and that was a good sign.
Mark opened the door quietly and closed it just the same. He didn’t want to wake Lindsay, who had gotten to sleep only two hours before. He looked to the left; he looked to the right, like he was crossing the street. But, in reality, he was looking for something far more dangerous than cars…the walking undead. He made sure the rifle was loaded before he ran across the field. He ran, perspiration falling down his face in streams.
Then, he heard a sound.
He stopped immediately…what could it be? Was it Momma, calling from the house? Was it Lindsay, screaming from one of her nightmares? Was it an animal, being attacked by a zombie? Or was it a zombie itself? Mark made sure the bullets were in the gun as he raised it. He didn’t like his situation at all.
Mark spotted something move to his left, and the tall grass shifted from this thing. He turned his attention to the tall grass to the left of him. Mark listened for any other sounds, if it was a zombie sometimes it would make a low sound in the bottom of its throat. He did not hear this, however, so he assumed it maybe to be an animal. But he had to make sure, if it was a zombie, he had to kill it then and there, he couldn’t risk it coming to the house, which would lead other zombies to their home.
He knew he couldn’t endanger Lindsay…she was only eight. But what of himself? He was barely fifteen, and look at him now: a loaded gun in his hand (one he was capable of operating), ready to hunt and kill the shuffling remains of a person. Mark knew it was probably a sin, at least, that was what the Reverend had said a few days before the zombies came to rural Ohio. But was it still murder if the person was dead?
The grass shuffled again, and then Mark heard it: the low sound, one made from the bottom of a throat. He was preparing to fire when he heard another low sound to his right. Then another one to his left. It didn’t take Mark long to realize they were closing in on him…trying to box him in. When a mangled face flew out of the bushes, teeth bared and eye falling out of its socket, Mark ran back towards the house.
He pumped his legs as hard as he could. The gun slowed him down a bit, but there was no way he was going to drop it. The rifle was his and Lindsay’s only source of protection, he had already seen once before that axes didn’t work. He finally approached the house, but what he found was terrifying. More of them had followed the three from the field, as he had feared. They were beating on the walls, on the boarded windows, and above it all, Mark heard his sister, screaming.
“Lindsay!” he cried, and some of them looked at him. He turned the rifle around to attack…gunfire would draw more towards them. The butt of the gun would make an excellent club. Mark gave the first one he approached, a fat, saggy woman, a whack worthy of the MLB. He imagined himself to be his hero, Babe Ruth, hitting home runs as he fought his way to the door of his house. Every cracked skull was a home run. And boy, did Mark get a lot of home runs.
He got to the door and kicked it open. He slammed it shut behind him and locked it…it would hold the remaining ones off for a few minutes, and would at least buy him and Lindsay some time to escape. But what about Momma? What would happen to her? He couldn’t think about that now, now he had to get Lindsay.
Mark ran up the stairs, calling his sister’s name. He got no reply. He continued calling, searching the entire upstairs, and still not finding his sister. Finally, on the last call, he heard a faint voice call his name.
“Mark? Mark, help me!” Lindsay said, in a faint voice from somewhere in the house. Mark followed the voice until he got to what he deemed its source: the basement. If Lindsay was down there, that also meant Momma was down there with her. Mark channeled Babe Ruth, one of the greatest men he knew, to help him find his sister. He took his gun butt, swung like Babe Ruth and a baseball bat, and took the descent down into his dark basement.
It smelt of must. A fly was buzzing somewhere, but Mark couldn’t tell where. He took another step, but the sound of his boot on the concrete made his Momma groan…and his sister scream. Mark ran towards the back room, where he kept Momma, and braced himself. Something bad was about to happen, he could feel it. Mark kicked open the door and swung.
The butt connected with something, and Mark found it to be not his mother. Instead, he found his father, now crawling thanks to Mark’s mighty swing, groaning and dripping blood from his bald head. Lindsay was huddled in a corner, crying and screaming for her brother. Mark, however, was lost in a different world.
“Poppa?” Mark whispered. How long had his father been down here? When had he gotten in? How had he gotten in? And where was Momma? Mark’s head filled with these questions as he stood there. He did not see his beloved Momma coming up behind him.
“Mark!” Lindsay screamed, and Mark swung his mightiest swing at his Momma. It connected, and she fell. Mark moved and his Momma fell to the ground next to his Poppa. Poppa wasn’t movin’, she wasn’t either. They were dead, Mark knew, but they were alive somewhere nice. They didn’t do no harm to anyone, so Mark remembered what the Reverend had said: the zombies who didn’t do no killin’ or nothin’ went up to Heaven.
Mark quietly collected his sister, and they stood, hand in hand, and remembered their parents as they were before the zombies attacked: funny, intelligent, and loving. Lindsay cried for a minute, but Mark calmed her down. Mark led his sister up the stairs and to the main floor of their house. Mark stood and looked around at his family memories.
“Is there anything you wanna get before we go? We probably won’t be comin’ back for a while.”
Lindsay stood there and thought for a moment, and then quietly walked over to the table in the living room and picked up a picture of their family: Mark, Momma, Lindsay, and Poppa together at a park. She looked at it and smiled a little.
“I like this one, Mark. We’re all together and nobody’s a monster.” she said.
Mark smiled and told his sister he liked it too. Then he grabbed her hand, put his gun butt in his other hand, and walked to the door. Babe Ruth was about to verse the zombies. And Mark knew deep down that Babe Ruth wasn’t only a good baseball player, but he was a hero too. Mark was hoping he and his sister would be called heroes one day as he unlocked and opened the door.