This short story of mine was first published on Kriss Morton’s The Cabin Goddess for her recent Zombie Week. When Kriss approached me to write something short and sweet, I couldn’t resist – The Treehouse was the end result. I hope you enjoy it 🙂
It walked with a sickening limp. The accompanying noise was akin to the grinding of teeth, only louder. Much louder. It was a sound that reverberated inside your head, warning you of its imminent appearance.
A voice snaked out of the darkness at me. “It’s comin’ this way!”
It was Billy. Stupid Billy.
“Shhhh! It’s gonna hear you!”
The response was barely above a whisper. Too quiet for poor Billy to hear and likely too intelligent for him to understand.
The grinding noise seemed to get closer. Out of the corner of my eye I could see it. Everything about it was frightening. The slack, waxen face. The left eye drooping out of the socket and laying half eaten on the discoloured flesh of its cheek. The gore pocked clothing relaying the message that it had eaten – recently. The worst sight was its left leg; the skin had been flayed off of most of the lower half and one of the bones was broken. The sound that we were hearing was the scraping of the ends together as it limped awkwardly in our direction.
We didn’t have the best hiding spot but sometimes you have to make do with what is around when you’re on the move. Technically we were just on the opposite side of a large planked fence, but the fence was broken. It looked like a herd of elephants came through a section just a few feet down from us, but we knew what it really happened.
We saw it all go down. About 3 days ago, a group of survivors were fleeing an onslaught of Zombies on the road. With the corpses so thick in front of them, they changed directions and drove straight through the fence.
In any other situation, the action would have been cool to watch but the fence was the only thing keeping the Zombies out of the yard and away from the tree that supported our sanctuary.
As we watched from our vantage point, high above the verdant ground, we saw the truck come through one length only to lose the speed needed to go completely through the length on the opposite side. Instead, it got hung up on the broken fence beneath it and stopped short.
The driver panicked and in their haste to free the floundering truck, managed only to hopelessly tangle it among the hewn boards.
Panic is a funny thing; it can give you superhero capabilities or it can paralyze you. Like a sick game of Russian roulette, it chose paralysis this time.
We listened in horror as the Zombies flooded the backyard and surrounded the car, our minds making movies of what was occurring below us. Each whisper soft sound of their decaying limbs brushing the shiny blue of the truck. The dull pounding of their grimy hands on the glass, almost rhythmic in its intensity. The sharp cracking of the glass as it spider-webbed out from the point of failure. Screams assaulted our ears as the Zombies pulled the occupants through their access point. Not daring to look down lest we give away our position, we were forced to watch the translation of those sounds run behind clamped eyelids.
It didn’t take long but the memories of what we heard reverberate in our minds even now. Everything that we’ve seen and heard have melded together to produce the most horrific montages that play across the black expanse each time we close our eyes.
We knew we had to leave our makeshift home. With the hole in the fence, the backyard became a draw for them. We’ve waited until this moment to climb carefully down the lowered rope ladder, hoping not to attract attention to ourselves. I was the last to descend, cautiously feeling for each woven rung as I watched the scarred and lonely landscape around me, hoping I wouldn’t attract any attention.
Over my left shoulder I saw it. The solitary corpse had spotted me and was now limping in our general direction. It was slow but it moved with a purpose. Our only hope was to confuse it by waiting until it was in the enclosed backyard before sneaking out behind it.
Fate wanted to play a different game with us today. Not only had it stacked the deck against us with Zombies, it had also given us Billy.
As the broken leg of the Zombie came into view around the smashed edge of the planked span of fence, Billy screamed. High pitched and girly.
He froze, his mouth forming a perfect, round hole as the scream choked in his throat. A face appeared around the damaged edge, almost comical in its surprise and hunger. Its eye locked on Billy, the milky cornea searching for something; recognition perhaps.
With another scream, matched by a strident noise of victory from the Zombie, the dance of death resumed.
The rest of us took the moment of inattention to scale back up the rope ladder, knowing that at some point, we would need to escape. The time will come; we just need to be patient.