When Sarah escapes from her brutal abductors, she promises to return to rescue her twin sister, but with the walking dead invading Fort Worth, TX, she is forced to rely on a competitive coworker who made her work life hell for years. With her coworker weakened by cancer treatments, her sister still imprisoned, and zombies looking for an easy meal, Sarah’s only plan, if she can pull it off, is Survival.
The women sat in the SUV not speaking. The only sounds came from outside, where the dead attacked the living. Car horns blared and screams filled the night. Try as they might, they couldn’t help but stare at the horror surrounding them. People fled cars stalled in traffic, trying to get in others, or into nearby buildings. Some outdistancing the zombies. Some not.
A woman’s body hit the side of their truck. Blood and gore spattered against Dana’s window and the Expedition rocked. Two of the dead had her held there while their teeth chewed their way into her flesh.
“Oh God. We have to do something.” Dana moved to open her door but found herself shoved back against the seat. Sarah held her there.
“No . . . we can’t. There’s nothing we can do. It’s too late.” They watched helplessly as the woman slid to the ground and other zombies came to feed upon her.
“Screw this.” Meredith backed up the vehicle, getting just enough room to go up and over a trio of animated corpses on the ground next to the front tire and across the median to the other side where traffic was less dense. Dodging what she could, she made better progress. Meredith’s reflection in the rearview mirror showed she was fading fast.
“Mere, if you’ll stop when you can, I’ll drive the r—”
A shrill scream eclipsed all the other noise. Sarah’s head jerked around to her window. Dana gasped. “That sounded like a kid.” All three searched the surrounding area.
“There! Next to that building.” Meredith pointed to her left.
“Stop the car.” Sarah moved to the other side of the vehicle, and grabbed the door handle.
Dana looked over her shoulder. “I thought you said—”
“I know what I said. Just stop the car, Mere! It’s a kid for Christ’s sake.” Sarah opened the door before the Expedition came to a full stop and ran toward the girl. When she saw Sarah coming at her with the machete, she screamed again, but froze in terror.
Sarah dropped the knife next to her as she knelt beside the child. She looked her over and figured her to be about four or five. Blood covered her pink shirt and pants, but she didn’t see any injuries. “Are you okay? Where’s your mom?” She had to repeat the question twice before the girl pointed. Sarah saw a man crouched over a woman, hugging her to him half a block away. “Is that your dad?”
The girl nodded as she whispered, “She tried to bite me.” Tears flowed down her face and she gulped for air. “She bit daddy and he . . .” The child sobbed unable to finish. Sarah rose, picked up her machete, and pulled the girl into her arms. The child’s face nestled against her shoulder, her sobs quieter, but they still racked her small body.
Sarah motioned for Meredith to follow with the vehicle as she moved cautiously toward the man and obviously dead woman. She kept the girl’s face pressed against her chest, so she wouldn’t see the bashed in face which used to belong to her mother. A flap of skin hung from what was left of the woman’s mouth, her teeth and face covered in gore. A brick lay near her head stained with her blood and brain matter.
The man clutched her to him, whispering over and over how sorry he was. He had a huge chunk of flesh missing from his arm and another from his chest. His head turned and his eyes met Sarah’s. “Maggie? Oh, my God, Maggie. Are you okay?” He reached for her, noted how her head pressed against Sarah, and then looked down at his wife. He laid his wife down and tried to stand, but could not. He had lost too much blood. Instead, he scooted backwards a few feet and held out his hands.
Sarah leaned down to place the girl in his arms just as a blast came beside her. She whipped around to find Dana standing there, gun in hand. A zombie staggered toward them, unaffected by the large bullet hole in his stomach. “Aim for the head!” Sarah turned a full circle. Others had heard the gunshot and were now on their way. She shook the man’s shoulder. “We have to go now. More are coming.”
She tried to get him to stand, but he looked at her then back at his injuries. He held his daughter against him, covering her ears as best he could. “I’m not going to make it and I don’t want to put her at risk. Please take care of her. Please.” He stroked the child’s back and begged Sarah with his eyes. Sarah stifled a sob and nodded. “That’s Janine.” His chin pointed at the woman he had left to hold his daughter one last time. And I’m Paul. Campisi. Please help her to remember us.” Tears fell quietly down his face. Sarah nodded again and he brushed the tears aside.
Dana fired three shots at the approaching dead. Time was running out, but she thought they could give him a few seconds more with his daughter. “Maggie? Maggie, look at me, honey.” He gently moved his child so she could see his face. “Your mommy and I love you very much.” Sarah didn’t know how he found the strength, but he held back the tears as he looked at his daughter for the last time. “But you have to go with . . . .” He looked up.
“Sarah. That’s my sister, Dana.”
He turned back to Maggie. “Sarah and Dana are going to take good care of you and make sure you’re safe.”
“No! I want to stay with you and mommy.” The girl wailed and wrapped her arms around her father’s neck.
“I know, sweetie, I know. I want you to be with us, too. But . . .” He caught his breath and held back his own sob. “You need to go with Sarah.” Tears fell then as he hugged Maggie one last time.
“We have to go! Now!” Dana shouted. She fired another couple of shots, but there were more corpses ambling toward them than they had bullets.
Sarah moved quickly, taking a struggling Maggie from her father’s arms. “We’ll take care of her, Paul. I promise you.” She pressed the curly brown head against her chest and ran for the SUV with Dana on her heels.
Another kid ran past her and she shouted for Dana. Her sister turned just in time to grab him by the shirt. He clawed at her, yelling that a zombie had him. He kicked her shin, and punched her in the stomach, but she held on. “Kid! Hey, kid! I’m not a zombie. Stop fighting me or we’re both gonna get dead.” He finally stopped struggling and looked at her. His wide chocolate eyes were filled with fear as he took in the horde nearly surrounding them.
Award-winning author, Rhonda Hopkins, has learned firsthand that truth is stranger than fiction. Her two decades of experience as an investigator provide her characters with a depth and realism that gives truth a run for its money. Having come in contact with the best and the worst that society has to offer, Rhonda’s imagination is filled with story ideas. Rhonda writes horror, suspense, paranormal, and YA urban fantasy. She is the author of thezombie apocalypse series, SURVIVAL, and the award-winning paranormal novella, THE CONSUMING. She also has a non-fiction book, NAVIGATING FAMILY COURT: IN THE BEST INTEREST OF YOUR CHILD, to assist those going through custody litigation.