I hear them. They’re coming again. Their empty steps, they’re tepid groans that replace the comforting inhale of the living. They’re always coming. I thought this time we had covered more ground, I thought we had more time.
I tighten the laces on my knee high army boots, as I fling my feet over the side of the cot. I slip my small, double barrel shot gun into the make-shift holster on the outside of my right leg. I swing my four inch knife into my belt and load my hand guns into their holsters which hang next to my ribs. Nothing fits right these days, we don’t have much of a choice.
I hear the soft groan and realize they haven’t smelt us yet, at least that’s how we think they find us. Personal hygiene is somewhat of a luxury now. Even I have trouble coping with the smell. But the senses weaken when you die, they need to be close to smell us. This time we’re in a bunker, the smell must not be getting through. It would seem that they just wandered in, perfect.
Once I’ve equipped my arsenal I wake the others. No need to rush if they haven’t found us yet. First I wake Sal, he always takes longer than anyone to rouse. I shake the aging man’s shoulder, “Sal,” I say in a whisper. The man groans and brushes a hand along his uneven, knife-cut beard but doesn’t wake. I shake him harder and speak directly into his ear. “Sal, get up. Sal, it’s migration.”
Sal’s eyes open in a panic, he scrambles to get to his feet causing the cot to squeak. The absent minded groaning which alerted me to their presence turns and is directed our way. I grab Sal by the mouth and arm squeezing until I’m about to draw blood. Sal froze.
“We haven’t been found yet,” I say. “But they’re here. So keep your panicking to yourself and get your shit together. I’ll wake Gia.”
As Sal makes attempts at quietly packing his things I walk over to Gia’s cot. I stroke her shoulder. She opens her eyes with a soft moan of annoyance.
“Gia, it’s migration.”
The fourteen year old girl looks down at the floor and sighs as her dark hair falls over her face. I back away as she flings he sneakered feet over the side of her cot and beings to pack her backpack.
I swing my green army duffle over my head, hanging it from my back. Sal fills his old hiker’s pack and clicks the straps into place across his chest, rifle at the ready. Gia tightens the straps of her backpack, pocketing her switchblade and loading her hand gun. Sal was skeptical about giving a fourteen year old girl a gun, but after a few lessons with makeshift ammunition her shot has become quite accurate.
The slow shuffle and groan of the dead came from the front entrance of the bunker. We dawn our usual formation, me in the lead, Gia behind me, and Sal bringing up the rear. I lead the other two to the back door of the bunker, which is proceeded by a narrow stair case. At the top of the stairs the doors out are directly above us. The doors are thick steel and it takes me nearly all my strength to dislodge them. I’m going to have to use all my strength to throw them open, causing a substantial amount of noise. Not knowing exactly what awaits us on the other side of the door makes this a terrible escape route, but the alternative is waisting ammunition we don’t have and most certainly risking our lives. There isn’t much time to think about it, I hear the shuffling feet behind us find purpose and quicken, they’ve caught our scent.