Chapter Eleven

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“We have to jump it,” I said as I threw my axe across the gap. I was already running a few feet back to do a run-up when I heard it scrape against the roof, waiting for me to meet it there. The opposite building was slightly lower and the roof was flat, giving decent space to land. All I had to do was make the distance.

My heart pounded in my chest as I sped towards the edge. I knew if I didn’t take the leap on my first attempt, I would be frozen by fear and the zombies would surely kill me. Ash held her unbroken arm over her eyes as I ran past her, too afraid to watch in case I fell to my death.

Just before I reached the edge, I launched myself off the side of the building, my arms outstretched at my sides. Even though it was only a split-second, I felt like I was airborne for hours, hovering in the uncertainty of my own survival.

I tumbled onto the concrete surface, rolling to a stop and making sure all my bones were intact and the folder was still firmly in my bag. The next thing I knew, Richard was in the air, heading straight for me. I rolled out of the way just as he made impact with the roof, falling onto his side in relief.

I looked to Lea, who was holding her machete in fighting position while she told Ash to jump. Ash was hesitating, peering nervously over the gap while Lea prepared to take on the first of at least thirty zombies that were closing in on them.

“Ash!” I called. “Jump! You’ll make it!”

She nodded at me, but even from a distance I could see the unwillingness in her eyes. Lea glanced at her, having the same realization I’d had: Ash wasn’t going to jump.

“Shit!” Lea said before turning to us and waving us out of the way. Richard and I backed away as Lea swung her machete and baseball bat over the gap. They landed with a clang, the bat rolling to a stop at my feet.

I watched Lea as she grabbed Ash’s arm and pulled her back, holding her hand tight. The zombies were so close that they had less room to run – they would have to make up for it in the strength of their take-off. Lea started running, pulling Ash along with her. At first I panicked, thinking Ash was going to stop short and let Lea fall, but in the last moments she found her courage. They ran to the edge and leapt into the air, still holding each other’s hands as they flew.

Ash was the first to land, making it safely even though it visibly caused more pain in her arm. Lea wasn’t as lucky. Her foot slipped on the fringe upon landing. I watched in horror as she disappeared down the side of the building, only her fingers clutching to the roof.

Richard and I ran to her, lying on our stomachs as we grabbed her by the arms and pulled her up, dragging her onto the roof and as far away from the edge as we could.

“Thanks,” Lea said breathlessly as we lay there, watching the zombies falling off the opposite building, blinded by their lust for us.

Not waiting to catch our breath, we climbed as fast as we could down the fire escape. It rattled and squeaked under our hurried pace, but our time was far too valuable to take it slow. We didn’t know how long our rescuers could wait for us, so we had no time to spare. The rest of our lives depended on us getting across just two more blocks.

I leapt off the ladder, thankful to be back on the ground, and stood flat against the brick of the building, waiting for the others to follow. With a racing heart, I peered around the corner into the street, surveying the area for zombies. In the distance to my left, the horde was still crowded around Eleanor, greedily fighting over her flesh. Immediately to my right was the road that led to Circular Quay.

I turned back to Lea, Ash and Richard, and quietly pointed in the direction we needed to go. They nodded, and at my signal, we sprung into action. We sprinted around the corner and down the street towards the water, only to see yet another obstacle in our way.

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