The glass explodes and I shoot twice more, until I’m out of bullets. Then I quickly scooch back on the seat, shake myself a little, and look out the window. Big and Meaty is gone.
I scramble forward and look over the side of the window.
He’s face down on the ground, still on fire, and he’s not moving. It reminds me a bit of how I found Cassie’s dad. I think I actually shot him in the head.
I sink back into the car seat. I think he’s down for the count.
Not wanting to think about anything, I shove the gun into my pack and throw the whole thing over the front seat. I climb up front, slip my pack on, grab Cassie’s bag and I’m out the door.
I step on the ground outside of the car, making sure to be outside of Big and Meaty’s reach - just in case - and I’m surprised at what I see.
The zombies didn’t stay inside the circle.
I’m not sure why; maybe they saw what Big and Meaty was doing and decided to follow. But they weren’t as strong as he was, and the resulting smell is horrible. As I try to look around, it feels like my brain isn’t working right. I know there are zombies in various states of burning around me, all of them on the ground and some of them still crawling. I know this, but I don’t really see all of it, it’s like my eyes bounce right over it.
It hits me that the fire thing had been a really bad idea.
Then I’m moving, ignoring the sick feeling in my stomach, neatly avoiding the outstretched hands of burning zombies, ignoring the voice in my head saying this is all my fault. I know they’re dead, but they still look like humans, and seeing them move all around me, on fire...
I shake my head, then drown everything out, and I finally reach the side of the hill. I tie Cassie’s backpack on the rope, and for a second I felt better.
The key to everything, the fix for the world, might be in that pack.
I tug on the rope, and then the world becomes just the slope, just the rocks and dirt, and the safest way to get up there without falling.
I reach the top dirty, and sweating, and tired.
Cassie helps me over and then pulls me into a hug.