Wordless and anxious Oakley handed Hunter his weapons, watching him strap knives and clubs to himself like some kind of soldier. Last he fixed a quiver to his back and took his bow from her, leaning over to give her a kiss on the forehead.
She closed her eyes when he did it, her stomach tight. They weren’t going to let her come along as they opened the doors to the mall. She was pissed, but outnumbered. So they built a seven-foot fence with shelving units inside the folding doors to keep the surge out of the store and away from those staying behind.
“We’ll be all right,” Hunter assured her, tone soft, and she had to smile.
She wrapped her arms around his back. “Just come back, okay?”
He kissed her softly with hands on each side of her face. “Nothing could keep me away, gorgeous.”
Then he turned, moving away from her and joining the line of men stepped between their barracade and the folding door, which was still locked. Oakley affixed one end of the shelving to the wall next to the opening with a solid length of chain, clipping it closed.
Sawyer, Ty-Ty, Oakley and Rainbow all climbed standing ladders next to the shelving. The idea was they could maybe take out a few creepers from the higher angle to help the guys out, they just had to watch out for that whole “friendly fire” thing.
Ty-Ty had a handgun. Oakley had a bow and arrow a lot like Hunter’s. Rainbow had a shotgun. They all straddled the “this is not a step” rung for comfort and stability. Hunter watched while they got settled, and he sent her a brilliant grin before reaching out to yank the folding door open.
He kept the opening narrow so a small stream of creepers could stumble in, easy for him and his crew to take care of. With a few dead bodies clogging the entry Tap opened the door further, and they continued the same way until the door was open and a waist-high barricade of unmoving zombie meat kept the throng at bay. While they turned their attentions to one half of the entry, the women were able to take a few pot shots on the opposite end.
Two arrows through two creepers’ head for Oakley and she was smiling. Ty-Ty took out a few herself and was giving loud “yipees” every time.
Down the mall corridor she could see a few stumbling creepers, but it didn’t seem like there were all that many. They were certainly concentrated at the home centre’s doors, likely from the sounds they’d been making.
Oakley was absorbed in her target practice, realizing she was rusty on archery but at least zombies were slow-moving and she hit more than she missed. When she was down to her last two arrows she heard the hollering.
The piles of undead were falling over, and they’d pinned one of Hunter’s guys in place. He was screaming as hands and mouths fell on him, tearing his skin from bone.
“Oh, Jesus.” Ty-Ty was muttering.
The screaming kept going, and Oakley had heard the sound before but it had been a long time since she’d been reminded of it.
“Ty-Ty,” Oakley was muttering, waving her arm to get her attention. “Take him out if you have a shot.”
Ty-Ty looked shocked. “What?”
“Listen to him. He’s in agony. Take him out.”
Ty-Ty’s eyes were huge, but after a short pause she nodded and took aim.
Oakley closed her eyes, saying a short prayer for the soul before it was departed, and the report of Ty-Ty’s handgun brought her around again. A round had gone right through his forehead, and he was soon engulfed in bodies.
Oakley tried to find Hunter, but the throng had thickened. She strained to figure out what had happened to turn the tables, but before she could put it together she realized creepers were falling in the crowd all on their own.
“Where are those coming from?” Rainbow was shouting, and that’s when Oakley found Hunter. His bow had been abandoned and he had a club in one hand, knife in the other, seeking out skull after skull to break open. Tap was doing the same, and the rest of Hunter’s crew seemed to be okay after all.
“Look!” Ty-Ty cut through the noise, pointing to a grate in the ceiling over the mass of stumbling corpses. An arm was darting out, objects were dropping, and they were all hitting creepers in the head. Handles were all that was left, various colours of molded plastic jutting from soft skulls.
“What the hell …” Oakley frowned. “Are those screwdrivers?”
She used her last two arrows, Ty-Ty used her rationed ammo, ditto for Rainbow, and then they could only watch while the men and whatever was flying out of the ceiling took out creeper after creeper until the only animated forms were Hunter and his remaining group.
Hunter looked for her, and she raised her hand to wave. Then Oakley watched as he pointed upward.
He’d seen the screwdrivers, too. He strode to a creeper next to him, yanking the handle out of a spot behind its ear. Yep, screwdriver. Hunter looked upwards, face growing serious. Then he brought his eyes back to Oakley’s and he actually grinned at her.