We turn left at the exit and then we’re on a side road that has houses and a few stores. I slow down a little to give Cassie a break.
“Hey a church!” She points to the left at a one story, brown brick church that sprawls for one block. “There could be adults in there.”
“Stop!” I angle my bike in front of hers so she can’t go to the church.
“What are you doing?” She frowns at me.
“Cassie, we can’t go in to the churches.”
I shake my head. “Whoever was protecting you did you no favors. Churches are risky at best. A lot of the faithful went to the churches when things went down. Some of them just went in and prayed. Others locked themselves in – sometimes not realizing that some of the people were already turning into zombies.”
Her eyes widen.
“Then there were small sects of people that thought this was the End of the World. They thought it was God’s will that we become zombies. Some of them walked out into the zombie horde. Others – entire churches – locked themselves inside their church and turned the whole congregation into zombies.”
“Oh my gosh,” She says, and stares at the church like she can see through the walls and see any zombies inside.
My grip tightens on the handlebars and I look down. There had been a woman named Peggy in my apartment complex who knocked on my door every other Saturday morning to tell me I should come to her church or else I’d go to hell. She always clutched her bible and looked at me sadly like I might explode into flames on the spot. When the zombies hit, she’d tried one last time to convince me and my Mom to come to her church. I didn’t appreciate that she always thought I was going to hell and that I was a bad person, or that she felt her beliefs were more important than mine, but I did try to appreciate that she thought of me when things went bad.
Her church was actually one of the first churches to lock up, and one of the few to be broken in to back when the local news was still on the air. I don’t know if the outbreak in her church had been an accident or deliberate, but Peggy was one of the zombies who came snarling out of that church at the end.
Cassie and I ride away silently, me thinking about Peggy and Cassie thinking about who knows what. The area is mercifully low on zombies. I ride past green yards that are getting to be a bit high, some of them already gone to weed. All of the houses are those small pretty boxes that were built in the fifties and sixties, with the wide steps and porches that look nice but are too hot to use.
Here and there are streaks of blood on walls, on cars, and sometimes open doors with bodies lying in them. The only sounds I hear are the tires on the pavement and the small noises we make while pedaling. I don’t hear any birds or cicadas, which is odd for this area in the summer.
I think of willingly walking into a horde of zombies and letting one bite you. I shiver, even in the heat. I can’t think of why anyone would do that.
After ten minutes we come to a crossroads. The road to the left leads to more shopping centers and larger, new subdivisions. The road on the right leads to a quiet country road where the rich people lived.
And in the middle of the hot black pavement of the crossroads lays a body, a body that I recognize even from ten feet away.
I cry out before I can even consider the danger.