* * * * * Katie clung to Travis as they both began to shout at the top of their lungs for help. A form fell from above and they both ducked slightly as it landed near them.
It was Jenni. She landed on her feet and flipped her hair back from her face.
With a grin, Jenni walked toward the zombies, her long hair flowing in the night wind. She sauntered up to the determined flesh eaters and her laughter drifted into the night.
* * * * * Jenni’s hair danced around her face as she smiled at the undead approaching her. She understood them now in a way she could not in life.
They were desperately sad and terrible, but they were hunger personified and her friends were their chosen meal.
That was simply not acceptable. This was no place for pity or mercy.
“Hey fucktards, why don’t you stop right there and wait for the nice sniper lady to shoot your heads off?” she said, then stepped into the midst of them.
The zombies stopped in mid-step. Slowly, they turned toward her, their hands grasping at her arms, face, and neck. The growled in confusion and hunger. They could not grab their delicious prey.
* * * * * Holding each other tight, Katie and Travis watched as Jenni walked into the center of the approaching zombies and they gathered around her, grabbing at her hungrily. From the wall, Juan and Peggy stood in shock and stared at the form of the woman in a red sweater, hands on her hips, standing the midst of the zombies as Nerit took them down one by one.
“Get the loading dock open and get them in,” Juan said finally.
“She’s got them,” Juan answered in awe. “Loca’s got them.”
* * * * * Anyone who saw it, could barely believe what they witnessed. Others, who were not there, did not believe it at all. But the woman in the red sweater with the long black hair held the zombies at bay as Nerit shot their heads off one by one.
The loading dock doors slid open and heavily armed fort personnel covered the distracted zombies as Katie and Travis ran to safety. The heavy doors clanged shut. Those gathered in the hotel windows and along the wall watched in awe as Jenni walked calmly over the downed monsters, pulling the remaining zombies along with her.
She turned at the sound of Juan’s voice, her dark eyes smiling up at him.
She lifted her hand and blew him a kiss as the zombies clustered around her.
More were coming now.
Jenni shoved a few out of her way as she walked, but none could grab her.
They followed her relentlessly, moaning with aggravation.
As Jason and Jack joined the group on the wall, Jenni squatted down and looked at the ground.
“Go, Mom,” Jason said softly, tears in his eyes.
Jenni activated the hidden dynamite under the dirt and blew the zombies to hell.
As the smoke cleared, nothing moved in the mouth of the alley or beyond.
And Jenni, once more, was gone.
The lobby was packed with people as word of what had happened between Curtis, Travis, and Katie spread throughout the fort. Katie found herself huddled on a couch with Travis, sipping water and trying to keep her hands from shaking. She wasn’t sure what had happened to Curtis’ body, but a few people kept commenting they should throw him over the wall to the zombies.
Kevin sat nearby with Nerit. He looked utterly shocked that she was up, let alone looking so good.
Katie tilted her head to see Ed standing nearby.
“Sorry, folks, but I can’t believe no shit about ghosts. Jenni is dead. End of story. Curtis may have been the Vigilante, but we broke fucking protocol opening the loading dock.”
“Were we supposed to just leave them out there to die?” Peggy exclaimed.
“I’m just saying that this place is going to shit fast,” Ed responded.
“I saw Jenni,” Juan said sharply. “I saw her!”
“So did I,” Peggy exclaimed. She was smoking up a storm and was shaking.
“Ghosts are bullshit and if this is what I can expect when the zombies get here, people busting protocol ‘cause someone is in danger, I’m out of here,” Ed said firmly.
“I saw ghosts, too,” Katarina said from near the elevators. “I saw my Mama until Bill and I got engaged. After Bill died, I saw him.”
Voices began to rise up, some agreeing with Ed.
“How many here saw a ghost tonight?” Nerit’s voice broke through the murmuring.
Silence fell over the lobby, then slowly, nearly a third of the room raised their hands.
“So did I. I saw my dead husband. And he told me what Curtis was trying to do. I saw Jenni, too. Now, I may be an old woman, but that only means I’ve lived longer than most of you and I have seen things I cannot explain.
The ghosts were here. They came to guide us. But they have all passed on now and it’s up to us to deal with what happens next.” Nerit’s voice was firm and strong. It was a far departure from her frail appearance when she lay in a coma.
“C’mon,” a voice said nearby. “That’s a bunch of bull. You’re sounding as crazed as those Baptists we threw out.”
“Our leadership seems to be under a lot of stress,” a familiar voice said.
The former Mayor stood nearby. He wasn’t doing very well health-wise and looked strained.
“I saw Jenni, too,” Travis finally spoke up. “I saw her clear as day. I saw her turn back the zombies coming for me and my wife. If we have the dead walking the earth, why are ghosts so hard to believe in?”
“If your ghosts are real, why don’t they just come and save us all?”
Katie couldn’t see who all was talking now. The lobby was packed.
“They did what they could to give us a fair chance to fight back. But what happens next is up to us,” Nerit said.
“So did they give you any assurances, huh? That we’ll live?” Peggy asked this, her face quite pale.
“No. They did not.” Nerit stood slowly and her presence seemed to push back those closest to her. “It is up to us if we win or lose. If we live or die.”
“That side door was opened up,” Ed said again. “After there was explicit orders to keep it closed.”
“That was my call,” Juan said. “To save Travis and Katie.”
“No offense to them, but if we go around breaking all the rules for the popular folks, we’re all gonna die,” Ed continued.
Gretchen, former librarian and always an outspoken woman, stepped next to Ed. “He’s right. We’ve all been following along behind the leaders of this fort. Doing what you said. Even when we disagreed because we all wanted this to work. But would that door have been opened for me?”
Angry murmurs grew loud until Nerit held up her hand. “Juan did what he felt was right. Whether you agree or not, the choice was made.”
“You know, the Baptists hightailed it out of here talking about God’s judgment. Now you’re talking about ghosts. Anyone noticed that the gay people around here have kinda been dying?” a male voice called out from the back.
Bette looked sharply toward the person who spoke and Katie saw Linda take hold of her arm.
“You have no right,” Lenore suddenly shouted. “No right to say that. Ken gave his life for all of us!”
The Reverend took hold of her arm and drew her back. Comforting her, he said, “Many have given their lives for all of us.”
Travis stood up and towered over everyone. Katie held onto his hand and he rubbed her fingers gently with his thumb. “This isn’t a time to fall apart.”
“The ghosts came to warn us! To tell us to fight!” Katarina sounded close to hysterics. “Bill says the veil is thin and that is why he could come to me.
He said we gotta fight and we can’t lose.”
“What the mighty hell is this damn veil?” It was the same man who had made the comment about the gay people. Katie finally recognized him as someone from the mall. His name was Art or something like that. He was a former councilman of another town.
“It’s what lays between the physical realm and spiritual realm,” a woman’s voice said. It was Maddie Goode. “The veil is what keeps the worlds from bleeding over.”
“No, real stuff. Plus, a New Moon tonight. The veil is very, very thin.”
Goode lifted her tiny chin and looked defiantly at Art.
The Reverend cleared his throat. “God does send messengers. We must remember that.”
“She’s talking witch stuff,” another woman said. “Everyone knows she’s one of those Wiccans.”