We scrambled out from under the van and raced across the paved area to the door. The zombies at the window immediately lurched towards us. I grabbed the door handle and turned. It was locked. "Hey, in there!" I called softly but urgently. We didn't need to attract attention, if we could help it. "Let us in!" I shook the door handle to reinforce the fact that there were people out here. Nothing. Only silence greeted us. I guess I was mistaken about someone being in there.
Lucas readied his bat as the zombies stumbled up the wooden stairs. He looked nervous but determined. I moved across to a window and peered inside but I couldn't see any movement. Nothing for it but to break the window, I decided reluctantly. That was bound to attract unwanted attention. A grunt behind me drew my eye and I saw Lucas and Emma slam their bats into the faces of the two zombies, sending them flying off the stairs. From their uniforms, they must have worked at the resort.
Using my bat as a battering ram, I broke the window glass and cleared it away from the frame. I suspected we only had a short window of time before other zombies came to investigate the noise. Gesturing to the others, I clambered through the window. There was a counter with brochures in the right corner and a door just beyond it which I assumed was an office.
Where would one keep car keys, I wondered. As Emma and Lucas climbed into the room, I raced behind the counter and started searching the drawers. Emma passed me, headed for the office, while Lucas nominated himself to keep a lookout.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?!" The enraged voice came from a large, red faced man standing in the doorway of the office, waving an angry finger at us. "You think you can steal from me?! I'll kick your bloody arses, all of you, if you don't get the hell out of here now!" Startled, Emma backed away to stand next to me.
I straightened up slowly and talked soothingly to the belligerent man. Presumably, he was the owner or the manager of the resort. "I'm sorry, sir. We didn't know you were here. We'd really appreciate it if you would give us the keys to one of your vehicles." It did not occur to me that he wouldn't be willing to help us in these extraordinary circumstances. I was wrong.
"Oh I bet you would, missy." He sneered. "Well, you can go back to your looter friends out there and tell them that I've called the police. They're on their way now." He gestured at the two zombies who had picked themselves up and were banging at the door. Thankfully, they hadn't yet discovered the broken window.
I exchanged a surprised look with Emma. "Looters? That's what you think is going on?"
Lucas suddenly spoke up. "You might want to hurry this up, guys. We've got company." Shit!
I looked at the large, blustery man in front of me and anger started to blossom within me. All the screaming and mayhem going on in his park, and it was clear this man had not so much as stepped foot outside this office to assist his customers.
I pulled out the parang and held it up, noting with satisfaction the sudden widening of his eyes. "Look, mister," I said, oh so calmly. "I've already killed a lot of people today, and, frankly, I am quite happy to add one more to the list. Give me the keys to a car right now or I'm going to start chopping pieces off you until you do."
He swallowed hard, which surprised me a bit. I must sound very convincing.
"Guys...!" Lucas sounded a lot more urgent. I stepped forward with the parang, holding the man's eyes. He backed away and threw his hands up. "Okay! Take the bloody keys. They are on the pinboard in the office." I nodded at Emma and she skittered past him into the room.
"There are about a dozen car keys here! Which one do we take?"
I cocked a questioning brow at the man, whose face was becoming more flushed by the minute.
He scowled but answered. "The orange one belongs to the closest jeep."
Emma hurried out, clutching the keys. "Got it. Let's go." I nodded and backed away, grabbing my bat as I passed the desk. As we joined Lucas at the window, I paused to look back at the man. "Those aren't looters out there, mister, and I'm pretty sure you had no luck reaching the police. I would suggest you get out while you can." He glared at me contemptuously. Shrugging, I clambered out of the window.
Not a minute too soon, either. The paved courtyard was full of zombies, all with only one thing on their simple minds. The three of us. The front ones had already reached the office stairs. In silent agreement, we jumped off the verandah and flew across the pavers to the car park where the jeeps were stationed.
Lucas and I jumped into the first jeep as Emma stilled her trembling fingers while she tried to place the keys in the ignition. "It doesn't fit!" She squealed in dismay. Anger coursed through me and I felt a moment of intense regret that I hadn't chopped a few pieces off the miserable bastard! He might have cost us our lives, I thought, as zombies flooded around and in between the vehicles in the car park.
"Try the last vehicle!" I yelled at Emma as I leapt out of the jeep and swung my bat at the nearest zombie. He bounced off a car and collapsed onto the ground. From the corner of my eye, I saw Lucas ram his bat into the stomach of a zombie and push it violently back into the creatures behind it. With the tiny bit of breathing space we had gained, the three of us backed away and ran down the line of parked vehicles until we reached the last jeep.
Lucas and I held our bats at the ready as Emma shakily stuck the keys in the ignition. Please God, let this be the one. Relief made me weak in the knees as I heard the wonderful sound of the car engine starting. The jerk turned out to be pretty predictable in his thinking, after all. Emma scrambled over into the passenger seat as Lucas hopped into the back. I guess I'm driving, I thought wryly. Throwing the bat on the backseat, I jumped into the driver's seat and sent the jeep into a screeching reverse, cutting a swathe through the huddle of zombies immediately behind us. As I threw the jeep into first gear, a zombie succeeded in grabbing Emma's arm. Emma screamed as the zombie brought its mouth towards her bare skin. Viciously, Lucas jammed his bat into the creature's mouth and held it at bay as, with a squeal of wheels, I sent the jeep charging forward.
Ahead of me, blocking our exit from the park, was the boom gate. I placed my foot down on the accelerator.
"Lori, you're not going to do what I think you're going to do, are you?" squeaked Emma, clutching her door frame.
I smiled grimly. "You'd better duck." I crossed my fingers mentally, closed my eyes and sent the car crashing through the barrier. The light wooden pole splintered into many pieces and I roared out of the park onto the highway.
On the highway, horns beeped and tires screeched as drivers desperately tried to get ahead of others. The calm on the road of only half an hour ago had rapidly deteriorated into anger and fear. I braked sharply to avoid hitting a car as it cut ahead of me. I crawled past two cars that had collided minutes earlier as the owners harangued each other.
"This is mayhem." Emma muttered anxiously, her eyes darting from car to car. "We should get off this road as quickly as we can."
I agreed but, unfortunately, the first turnoff was at least a mile away. If we could make it there, though, it would take us straight to my sister's. I prayed that this madness had not reached there yet. Fear surged through me as I wondered if Roy and the kids had reached the house safely. I shied away from the thought - there was nothing I could do about that at the moment.
I fought the chaos successfully for another half mile or so before movement came to a standstill. The horns beeped futilely and drivers cursed and yelled in vain. None of us were going anywhere.
"What do you think is going on?" Lucas asked, standing on the back of the jeep to get a better view. I shrugged, trying not to let my anxiety show. "An accident blocking the road, probably." Maybe, maybe not. My ears strained to hear anything that would give me a clue. With all the honking and yelling, it was hard to separate the different sounds. Still, that whine I could hear above the general noise seemed to be getting louder...
Too late, I realised the sound I was hearing was not a whine but cries - the cries of hundreds of people fleeing. They poured towards us through the stalled vehicles like ants fleeing a fire.