All Good Things, Book Three in The Breadwinner Trilogy
by Stevie Kopas
Gary tore through the hole in the fence like a bat out of hell. He could hear his fellow survivors’ footfalls behind him. In the midst of the firefight, he had been unable to retrieve his weapons and up ahead he spied a few straggling eaters headed his way. He darted right, taking yet another detour. His chest burned and his head swam.
How could things have gone so wrong?
Gary looked back only once to see Clyde and Andrew in hot pursuit; he waved an arm, motioning for them to follow him into one of the abandoned homes.
He rushed the door of a 1980’s-style brick home and prayed that it was unlocked. With a flick of his wrist, he turned the knob and let himself in, the strong scent of rot and decay hitting him instantly. He brought his hand up to cover his nose and mouth.
“Of course I’d choose this house,” he complained.
Clyde was the first to the door. Out of breath, he recoiled at the smell emanating from the foyer. “Oh, God.” He brought his shirt up to his face. “This your idea of safe?” He glared at Gary as he holstered his gun and looked around the entryway for something that could be used as a more silent weapon. Andrew finally joined them, his chest heaving.
“Give me your golf club.” Clyde held his hand out to his brother.
“It’s back at the lot, I couldn’t grab it in time.” Andrew shook his head, his hands on his knees as he tried to catch his breath.
“Fucking fantastic.” Clyde stormed off into the living room, alert and ready for anything. His adrenaline pumped and he spotted a heavy-duty fire poker next to the fireplace. The three men heard a thump and the creak of a door toward the back of the house. “You two, stay here.”
Andrew began to protest but Clyde shot his hand up, palm facing Andrew, and raised an eyebrow. Andrew kept his mouth shut.
Clyde glanced past his brother toward the open door, wondering why Ben hadn’t caught up with them yet.
The lazy shuffling of footsteps and a low moan caught his attention and he turned, stalking through the out-of-date home. Brown doors with bright gold knobs adorned the entryway to each room, and the majority of the walls were done in a dark wood paneling. A dead man stepped into the hallway and cocked his head in Clyde’s direction. He opened his mouth wide, revealing a set of cracked and blackened teeth. He hissed, raising an arm and slowly started toward Clyde. The dead man had a missing eye and several missing fingers. Dried blood crusted over the left side of his face and as he got closer, Clyde noticed a missing ear, as well.
Clyde charged toward the eater and swung the iron poker, cracking the dead thing across the right side of its head. The man toppled into the wall in the narrow hallway and struggled to get back to his feet with a growl. Another moan came from farther back in the depths of the house, but no more eaters emerged. Clyde kicked the dead man in the face, just under his chin, shattering his teeth and knocking him back to the grimy floor. Clyde drove the fire poker deep into the eater’s forehead, his one remaining eye rolling to the back of his head, and he finally lie quiet and still.
The poker came back easily from the decayed head with a sickening slurp, black fluids dripping from the edges.
“Disgusting.” Clyde turned his nose up at the corpse as he wiped the poker off on the dead man’s tattered clothes. He crept toward the sounds of the other eater in the home and found himself in the doorway to the master bedroom.
Blood, feces, urine, and God knows what other substances covered the bedspread. A woman was tied to the bedposts by her wrists, her feet free and her legs thrashing wildly when her eyes met Clyde’s. She’d been gagged, but the rag did little to subdue the eater’s hungry cries.
He felt the air stir and looked up as Gary and Andrew entered the hallway. The dead woman on the bed howled, her mouth opening and closing rapidly. The sides of her mouth were raw, the skin peeling and tearing around the bloodstained rag in her mouth. Her thin, decaying lips exposed rotted teeth and her whole body shook as she screeched. He entered the bedroom, followed by his brother and Gary. Despite the fact that two other people were in the bedroom with him, the eater never took her cloudy eyes off Clyde, making his skin crawl. He gripped his weapon in his right hand and drove it through her skull, putting her out of her misery. Her head fell to the side as Clyde removed the poker and rested it on the filthy bedspread.
Clyde looked toward the bedroom door and frowned. Ben had still not joined them.
* * * * *
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