Chapter One Part Three - Ifs and Assumptions

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“'Lise, wait!” Ken's warning cry came too late for Annalise already had the door open a crack. The distraction though, as she turned to see Ken hobbling towards her using his sledgehammer as a makeshift crutch, was plenty enough for her to be caught off guard when the door was pushed open violently from the inside.

She stumbled backwards, her leading heel catching the edge of a pothole and as she vainly tried to steady herself, the last thing she saw before she crashed to the ground was the slobbering, bloody, hungry mess that was formerly Di's face as the Zed launched itself from the car towards its prey.

Annalise knew all too well that the current state of affairs meant that any long lasting friendships or relationships were pointless things. People died all too easily. The best way to get through life was to make friends, sure, but not to form bonds that caused emotional pain when they were ripped apart. She and Di had grown close over the weeks they'd known each other as part of the group and it was all the young girl could do to kick her legs half-heartedly in a vain attempts to prevent herself from being eaten alive or worse, taking a bit or scratch and risking infection.

She saw Ken's sledgehammer as it flew across her field of vision and thudded sickeningly into the Zed's head, sending it sprawling, and Annalise breathed a sigh of relief.

Pushing herself to her feet, Annalise made her way quickly to where Di – no, she corrected herself, the Zed – was attempting to right itself. It looked as though the blow from the hammer had only been merely a glancing one. Plenty enough to save her life though not sufficient to put an end to its brain functions.

Taking care to avoid nails and teeth, Annalise retrieved the sledgehammer and with a final glance, she swung it over her head and brought it down upon the Zed's head, crushing it with ease.

She turned away to see Ken struggling as he made his way towards her. Smiling weakly she approached him and it was only then she saw why he was having so many problems. His right leg was twisted awkwardly, most likely broken in many different places.

“It was the blokes from the first hotel we found,” he said, gratefully taking the sledgehammer from Annalise. “Bastards jumped us. Killed Dennis dead and took my own damn sledgehammer to my leg.”

“This isn't the work of just men,” she replied. Looking around the makeshift camp she could see that almost all the cars were coated in blood from the inside.

“They had Zeds with them, on bloody leads,” he said, helplessly. “Guess they figured they were better feeding on us than them.”

“Everyone..?”

“I don't know,” he replied. “I've only just made it back. Just in time I reckon, else you'd have gone, too!”

“True,” she replied, quietly. “Thanks.”

“Don't talk crap. You'd have done the same.”

She nodded in reply, knowing full well Ken spoke the truth. “You got a cigarette?”

As luck would have it, Ken did have a couple of cigarettes in his possession so before they set about seeing if there was anyone else left alive and killing those who weren't, he and Annalise took five minutes to calm themselves with nicotine.

Soon sword and sledgehammer were at work, stabbing and smashing brains respectively. They were at it for the better part of an hour and during that time they realised that each and every one of those they called friends were either dead or missing.

“Just you and me, then?” said Ken, attempting to make a joke, however poor the taste might be.

“We're missing five,” Annalise said, taking a deep breath as she mentally recounted those Zeds she and Ken had spent the last hour killing. “Neither of the Jackies are here, nor is Craig.”

“Don't recall bringing my hammer down on that James or his missus, either.”

“Yeah, that makes five.” James and Fiona had not been with the group long. Less than a week, in fact. Talk about a baptism of fire. “If they are alive and assuming they have any sense, they'll have made a break for the hotel you and I scouted yesterday.”

“I don't see a car missing,” Ken said, glancing quickly around. “I guess they hot-footed it.”

“We can't stick around here, it doesn't feel right.” Annalise took another look back towards Di's Cortina. “Get yourself comfortable in the Astra. I'm going to scout around quickly for anything we might need then you and I are going to head to that hotel.”

“Sounds like a plan,” he replied, smirking. “Hopefully those missing five are there. Not sure how much use I'll be clearing a hotel of zombies.”

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