The Fast and the Dead - Day 8

He bit off a curse and ran to the least-blocked window he could see. “Well, that’s great. Looks like the whole ex-population of the city is out there. They’re spilling past the door, they’ll have this place surrounded in no time.”

The woman stood, breathing heavily, eyes closed. “No chance of a service tunnel out the basement huh?”

“What? Do they have stuff like that?” He was distracted by the pounding, ripping and clawing sounds of the zombies as they beat at the windows.

“Just something I saw in a movie once,” she said. “We’ll have to look upstairs, see if we can get to the roof.”

“More climbing. Better and better,” he groused, but followed her to the stairs. He was a lot slower than she was. “How’d you know there was a gun here?”

“Didn’t,” she said. “Saw it hanging above the bar when I ran in.” She led the way upstairs. The upper floor was set up for finer dining, but not for roof access that he could see.

“Check the back rooms,” she suggested, racing for the rear of the establishment. The staccato beating from downstairs was changing subtly as the door and windows weakened under the relentless pounding.

Kitchen, office, change room, washrooms, but no other stairs. They met up back at the dining room. “Nothing! We’re stuck.” Her focused resolve seemed on the verge of crumbling. He was eyeing the second floor windows anxiously. “What is it?” she asked.

“Maybe we can’t get up to the roof from in here,” he started.

“You can’t be seri—”

“What’s the worst that can happen? We climb out, fall down, and get torn to shreds and eaten. Our other choice is to stay here and get torn to shreds and eaten.”

She stared at him, mouth agape, face pale. For the first time since he’d seen her, it was obvious that she had just been thrown into this situation a short time before. “I … Okay.” And with that the windows were open and they were clawing for handholds above.

It took a few moments for the zombies below to recognize they were there, and when they did the racket was incredible. He didn’t dare turn his head to look as he climbed, but with that much noise they had to be pulling every zombie for miles around to this spot.

He couldn’t look, but he focused his mind on visualizing what that must look like. The effort took his mind off his hands and arms, which were fighting a desperate battle to keep him against the wall, and they weren’t equipped to win it easily. Finally he got himself high enough from the window to brace himself with his good leg against the window frame, and he risked a glance at his fellow survivor.

He’d only thought she was pale before. Now she was a sheet, and sweat-soaked to boot. Not good with heights, he thought, though it wasn’t the best time to ask.

She was slow-going but making it. He found her watching his every move, duplicating his handholds one window over.