Massacre on the Grass (Part 2)

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"Damnit Citro," Rowan barked as he finally withdrew his barbecue fork from deep inside John Boy's head and let the newly dead People crumble to the ground like a sack of powdered A-7 protein supplement. "They come back, remember!" Rowan marched over to Sands, who'd been standing indecisively above Spacekid, hesitant to swing his hacksaw for fear of injuring the hume. Rowan grabbed the saw from him and then, after yanking the Alpha/cadaver's hair to expose the jugular, he lunged in and hacksawed the head from the neck.

This wasn't a graceful affair. In fact it was pretty much the exact opposite of Citro had just done with her silky smooth flaying knife. The dull hacksaw rented and tore at the cadaver's hot stringy neck flesh, producing tearing, popping noises similar to what you hear when you rip a carpet up from the subfloor. Rowan ground his teeth together and had to really put some elbow grease into it. As the neck yawned open gallons of still-warm blood poured like heavy red paint over the window of Spacekid's helmet-a perfect red sheen blocked all view of his purdy face.

Rehearsal, who had finally managed to extricate his poker out of the fallen cadaver's neck, took one glance at what Rowan was doing and started dry heaving. He had to turn away and steady himself.

It still wasn't over. Though technically deceased, the Alpha's body shuddered in evident discomfort at Rowan's ministrations. His clawing hands had lost interest in Spacekid's throat and now flopped and flailed aimlessly. The scene was so gruesome that Sands and Citro, each dry-heaving, finally couldn't take it anymore and together stepped in to grap Rowan by the shoulders, as if planning to yank him away. But by then the brutal decapitation was finally complete and Alpha's headless corpse thudded back down upon Spacekid, a fresh wave of blood spilling out of the frayed stump and washing over the sticky glass screen. If without the built-in vocal amplifiers, you would have been able to hear the kid screaming inside his blood-darkened space helmet.

After serenely handing Sands back the red glistening hacksaw, Rowan took the head and walked it back over to mailbox like he were a construction worker carrying a lunch pale to the eatin' place. The mailbox seemed to stand at the outer periphery of the protective "hot" zone; Rowan dared not cross the boundary. Not yet. Safe for the moment, he allowed himself an extended visual survey of the visible neighborhood, which had very much come alive, although that phrase hardly seemed fitting. The People across the street had seen what he'd done to Alpha, and most of them were stomping their feet in protest.

"He was just a dopey kid looking for a bite!" cried the lady with the pelvis, directly across the street. Her tone was hawklike, more of a caw. She waved her axe threateningly in the air and took a few steps down her porch.

"Why'd you have to go and do that for?" hollered the gangly, long-faced neighbor standing sentinel on the porch of the next house over. He had a rifle in his hands, though he appeared to be holding it backwards.

As the cries of protest escalated, the People seemed emboldened by their collective umbrage. They started moving in earnest towards the scene of the massacre on the grass. Meanwhile, the growing crowd of cadavers had never ceased in their slow, stilted approach. The nearest group-those recently freed from the garage across the street-were now within a few yards of the mailbox, though the residual heat from the fire kept them from moving any closer. Rowan wasn't too worried about them-there weren't quite enough of them to pose a serious threat. So long as none of the astronauts were injured, they'd be able to easily evade the number of cadavers presently milling the street.

No, it was the People that worried him. More People had emerged from their homes toting some manner of knife or blunt instrument. As the cries of incense swelled, so did each individual People's boldness, and soon the People were coagulating into a sort of unofficial lynching party. Some were brashly pushing cadavers out of the way as they approached Kestrel's crash site.

With little time before the sheer number of People/cadavers blocked all avenues of escape, Rowan eyeballed the direction in which he knew Charles Grober Middle School to lay. Excepting a few cadavers, the way remained clear, but even as he looked, a cluster of People moved to cut off the path.

Rowan needed to buy the team some time. He raised Alpha's dripping head high into the air. After switching on his helmet external speaker, he bellowed, "PEOPLE, HEAR ME!" There was a marked lull in the general clamor. The People halted their progress toward the house. "See what I did to your friend?" continued Rowan. "Well, that's how I treat People! That's what I think of People! They are nothing to me, where my survival is concerned. Less than animals!"

"Put his head down!" squawked Pelvis pleadingly from the opposite sideway. "He's just a boy!"

"This head belongs to me now," said Rowan, "and I'll do with it as I please. Perhaps I'll use it to wipe my bum."

Wails of shock and disgust rippled through the growing mob. Behind Rowan, Citro and Sands had helped Spacekid to his feet and were now trying trying to wipe away some of the blood covering his helmet screen. Rehearsal had grabbed up most of the survival gear. The team seemed to have an idea of what Rowan was about to do.

"Or," said Rowan, after sneaking a quick peek behind them to visually confirm the above paragraph. "I can get ready fo' some FOOTBALL!" He drop-kicked the head into the middle of the street. The mob of People gasped and retreated as the head sailed gracefully in a high arch before coming back down to the Earth. It bounced awkwardly off a milling cadaver's head, causing the cadaver to fall over sideways, before, itself, crashing bluntly onto the asphalt and bouncing messily to a stop by a sewage drain. Evidently tramautized by what they'd just seen, the People had, as a mob, retreated a few steps backwards, thus thinning out the street just so. The path toward Charles Grober cleared.

After switching his helmet's speaker back to internal transmission, he whispered just one word to the others: "Run."

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