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Affliction (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 22) Laurell K. Hamilton 2022/8/5 16:54:19

When we got back to the trucks, Little Henry wasn't there. Badger said, 'I told him to stay here, damn it.'

'There he is,' Yancey said.

At the same time Nicky said, 'There,' and pointed.

I followed where he pointed, and it was Little Henry running toward us, using all that long leg to run as fast as he could, carrying someone over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. There were two zombies chasing them.

'Go save his ass, then we got a hospital run to make,' Sergeant Badger said.

We had a second where SWAT looked at us and we looked at them. I said, 'We'll take the zombies, you secure the civilians.'

'Roger that,' Yancey said.

I wanted my shotgun when we got to the zombies, but once you had the AR on its tac swing for running, you had to hold it as you ran, or it tangled your legs. The shotgun in its cross-draw shoulder sleeve was fine for running; I'd just have to change guns when we got there. I started jogging toward the zombies and Little Henry. Dev, Lisandro, and Nicky did the same, all of us jogging with our ARs in our hands. The men fell in around me, jogging easily to keep up. SWAT was moving out to meet Little Henry and there was a moment when all eight of us were close. Then the zombies seemed to sense that their prey was getting away, because they suddenly picked up their own pace, and it was fast. Why was it that only the flesh-eating zombies ever moved like that? I started to run, using that otherworldly speed the way I had in the mountains, and my men paced me, easily. They could have outstripped my shorter stride, but they stayed with me, because I had a plan, I would tell them what to do; people with training like people with plans, and they'll stay with you as long as you keep having a plan and making decisions.

We left SWAT behind, because humans couldn't move like we could. We came even with Little Henry. He was running full out, long legs eating up the ground, the woman on his shoulder bouncing a little as he kept moving toward SWAT and we kept moving toward the zombies.

I let my AR slide to one side, keeping my left hand on it, and reached with my right hand to draw the shotgun out of its back sleeve. I had a few moments of running with a gun in each hand. Nicky was beside me with the same double-handed run. I stopped with a few yards between us and the running zombies. I let the AR fall from my left hand and put both hands on the shotgun, raised it to my shoulder, and snugged it into place as the zombies ate up the ground between us. Nicky mirrored me.

I shot the knee of the zombie on the right. It stumbled, falling to the ground. The zombie on the left fell down as Nicky blew its leg out from under it, too. Lisandro and Dev moved up on both sides of us to flank the zombies. They got up off the ground on hands and the remaining leg, snarling, and launched themselves at us. Nicky and I shot them in the heads; at this distance most of the upper parts of the heads exploded. Their bodies recovered from the force of the shots and they got back up. Lisandro and Dev fired into their bodies. Again the zombies reacted to the physics, but they couldn't feel pain, or fear, and they were already dead, so they got back up. Nicky and I shot them again, took the rest of their heads. Lisandro and Dev concentrated on the other intact leg. They used their hands to start to crawl toward us. Nicky and I used the shotgun to blow a hand into red mist on each of them. Lisandro moved up and shot the arm that Nicky had taken the hand off in a series of rapid gunshots until the arm was destroyed. Dev did the same on the arm of my zombie. Nicky and I took the other hand on our zombies, and Lisandro and Dev took out the arms. The zombies lay on the ground with legs and arms ruined, no heads, their bodies destroyed, and the remains of the bodies started trying to wiggle forward.

Dev said, 'These things just never give up, do they?' He stared down at the zombies with a look that might have been fear, but he was trying to hide it, and he'd done his job perfectly.

'No, they don't,' I said.

'It's going to be a long night,' Lisandro said.

'Yeah,' I said, 'it is.'