Down the side of the building he went at a pace that had his conscious brain screaming, but he couldn’t seem to stop or even slow his limbs. Every scuff, scrape and bruise he suffered as he descended using window frames and eaves as handholds warned him off. It’s painful down there, it’s scary down there, YOU DON’T WANT TO BE DOWN THERE, but he couldn’t shut off the part of himself that did.
He was halfway down when he fell, the impact jarring his bad leg again and momentarily knocking the wind out of him. By then the low murmur of the oncoming horde was driving into his mind. He had to get moving. Had to.
He regained his feet but couldn’t immediately spot the runner. The zombies were close enough that he could just barely distinguish individuals from the mass. There weren’t any disruptions in their line that would mark a mass feeding; they couldn’t have gotten whoever it was.
A part of him quailed at the coldness of the reasoning behind that thought; he’d seen scenes like this before on internet news bites. He’d never been this close to it, not in person. Even that morning he’d been too busy running for his life to look at the approaching hordes, to wonder about how to get away. He’d just run, and eventually distance had paid off.
That wasn’t going to work twice, he knew. Not when he was still tired, and injured to boot.
A flash of motion caught the corner of his eye. His head whipped around just in time to see the runner flying past. Male or female, he didn’t have time to see, but slim, certainly, and dark-haired. He could’ve sworn he or she was wearing long pajamas; a real possibility. When they came for you to throw you into the grinder, they didn’t offer you time to get changed. They came, they grabbed you, that’s it.
He grunted with effort as he swung his legs to follow; the additional knock to his leg had stiffened his ankle but good, and it was definitely slowing him down. “Hey!” he called out. “Wait!”
It was a ridiculous request; nobody in their right mind would turn and wait with a hungry pack of zombies behind, but when you have a hungry pack of zombies behind you, you tend not to be in your right mind.
The figure didn’t stop, but did turn her head. Her large eyes widened, the panicked look intensified, and she redoubled her sprint down the street.
Should’ve expected that one, a dry voice in his mind told him. He tried real hard not to think about how close the pack must be, focused on following after her instead, one painful step at a time.
She was making a bee-line down the center of the street, straying from the path only to dodge or jump over debris, and she was making good time; she was pulling far ahead of the pack, and ahead of him as well. The sound of their footsteps pounding the cracked old pavement gave him something to listen to other than the constant low, droning moan from the creatures behind.
They were a block past the coffee shop in the direction he’d originally come from when she broke from the center of the road. She dashed up to the doors of a large old building with windows all round. She flung herself at the door and wrestled with it fruitlessly.
The road seemed to be taking on a life of its own, trying to trip him up and leave him for the horde behind him. Debris shifted under his feet, cables snagged at his ankle, with a particular fondness for the stiff one, and over it all, the moaning never stopped. His only relief came from the distance at which it came from; he was gradually pulling ahead. As long as that stayed true, the road could do what it wanted with his feet.
Ahead, the woman was screaming, a furious sound, and wrenching at the door. Something must’ve given, as it flew open and without hesitation, she vanished inside as if the doorway had eaten her in one gulp.