Tom gripped his machete with both hands, placing himself in front of Stacia. These were not the tentacle-ninja-things. They were the zombies.
“Daddy?” Stacia squeaked.
Tom blinked. She was right. One of them was Stacia’s father. Come to think of it, he had seen some of these people before. Through the black, greasy crud that covered them head to toe he could still discern the facial shapes of neighbors and other members of the community.
“I don’t think he can hear you right now,” said Tom quietly. He wondered if her father would ever be able to hear her again, but he wasn’t about to say it out loud.
“Why are they just standing there?”
Tom shook his head uncertainly.
A bang from within the bedroom caused them both to jump, and Stacia let out a little shriek. The ninja-thing wasn’t going to stay in the bathroom long!
Tom didn’t want to start swinging his machete at his neighbors. If there was any way to fix this and get them free of this stuff, he would hate to have harmed them when he didn’t have to. But he wasn’t sure he didn’t have to.
“Where does that window go?” Tom asked, jerking his head at the window in the bedroom.
“Uh… Oh! That’s the slope of roof over the backdoor of the garage!”
“We can make it! Go, open it!”
Stacia hesitated, gripping Tom’s arm, then bolted over to the window. Tom backed up, and as he did so the mass of zombies lurched into motion, pressing forward. He slammed the door at them, shouting “Sorry!” as one of them got an arm through the door and promptly had it smashed between door and door frame. The arm didn’t pull back, so Tom braced himself and pushed his shoulder against the door.
“Do you have that window open yet?!”
“The screen is locked! It won’t go! It’s rusty!”
There was a loud cracking noise, and Tom glanced at the bathroom door. A splinter of wood was hanging out of a ragged gash. That door wouldn’t hold much longer.
“Stacia!! We need that window!”
“I can’t open it!”
Tom was starting to slide on the carpet as the weight of bodies on the other side began to overwhelm him. He made a sudden decision. Launching himself away from the door, he stumbled over to the window, somewhat rudely pushed Stacia aside, and chopped at the screen with his machete.
“Out!” he shouted, pushing Stacia through the gap he had made in the screen. She tumbled through the screen, widening the hole as she did so, and rolled out over the overhanging roof and down to the ground. Right then the bathroom door shattered and the ninja-thing spun into the room. Tom stepped out onto the roof, pulled himself through backwards, and yanked the window shut from the outside. He didn’t get it all the way closed, but he decided he couldn’t do much more. He spun, jumped, and gritted his teeth. Fortunately the spring rains had made the ground soft enough that it wasn’t a hard landing.
Rolling awkwardly to his knees, Tom faced the upstairs window, machete at the ready. Nothing.
Standing and brushing himself off, he pulled Stacia to her feet. “Sorry for pushing you,” he said quietly.
“Thomas, you saved me!” said Stacia, sounding surprised at her own statement.
“Yeah, well… erm… you’re… like a sister,” Tom mumbled. “It was nothing.”
“Like a sister?”
“Tom!” Stevie came running across the grass, looking for all the world like he was having the best day of his life. “You got out!”
Mr. Gunderson came trotting up behind. “Heard you went back for the girl. Good man.”
Tom blushed, scratched his head. “Yeah, um, I really didn’t see as I had a choice.”
At that Stacia blushed, and Stevie made a face, but Mr. Gunderson just smiled. “Look, kids,” he said, “we need to talk, but not out here. C’mon, let’s go find somewhere safer.”
“Like where, Mr. Grunderson?” asked Stevie.
“I have a place in mind,” said Mr. Gunderson, and started walking toward the woods behind the subdivision. Stacia looked at Tom, Tom shrugged, and Stevie said, “C’mon, guys! We gotta follow him!” And then all went off after Mr. Gunderson into the woods.