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Beer Run | Book Two The Fog Series | Chapter Five

As the group neared the Queen Vic, they kept their masks on and their weapons ready. Thus far, though, there seemed to be nothing wrong. On the contrary, it continued to be a lovely night. And considering the lack of New York City traffic, it even appeared to be a lovelier night than normal.

“So how far away are we?” Sara asked.

“Not far. We just have to turn around the corner of this street,” Elijah replied.

“So why is it called Queen Vic?” Amber asked.

“It’s named after Queen Victoria,” Elijah said. “The owner thinks he’s English because he’s been to England once. Don’t ask him about it unless you want to stay and listen to him for years because he never stops talking about it.”

“Wow. Sounds like a character,” Sara said.

“Oh, definitely,” Elijah replied, “But he’s always got good alcohol at cheap prices.”

“And he never closes,” Alex added. “That’s a nice plus.”

“Sure, but he’s never had to deal with a Ted invasion before,” Amber replied.

“I hadn’t really thought of that,” Elijah said.

Benjamin sighed. Well, at least, their breathing masks seemed to be working. None of them had turned into Teds yet. Benjamin just hoped that there wasn’t some sort of delayed reaction to contracting the virus through the air rather than through the fog.

“But we’ll see,” Sara said. “It’s better than sitting around and doing nothing. At least, we can say we tried to improve our situation.”

They turned the corner. Elijah stopped abruptly and backed up, holding his arm out. Benjamin bumped into him and nearly voiced his displeasure. “Quiet!” Elijah hissed, pointing.

Alex put a hand over his mouth, clearly meant to muffle a shout of surprise. When Benjamin peered around the two men, he understood why. There were a group of Teds wandering around. They moved in sluggish, aimless circles. These Teds had decayed more than Ted, or any of them that Benjamin had seen before. Some of these Teds were missing limbs. It seemed they were continuing to decay, which made Benjamin wonder just how long someone could survive as a Ted. Were the Teds a problem that would end itself? Just massive amounts of people dying? How horrifying.

“What now?” Sara whispered.

“I don’t know,” Elijah replied. “They don’t really seem to be looking at us. Maybe we can sneak past.”

Benjamin nervously ran his thumb over the handle of the knife he held. Could they risk it? He didn’t know enough about this virus to make that kind of call. He needed a larger sample size before he could say anything for certain about these Teds.

“If it’s like in the movies, they should be slow,” Alex replied quietly. “We can try sneaking past them, and if we’re caught, we should be able to run past them.”

“I think it’s worth a try,” Daisy added. “They’re far enough away that I think we’ll manage okay.”

“We’re in agreement, then?” Elijah asked.

Benjamin felt Elijah’s eyes fix on him. “I don’t like it,” Benjamin said, “But if the group is going, I’m going, too.”

“Same,” Amber replied.

Elijah accepted their answers with a nod. Then, he crept forward, inching closer towards the Queen Vic. As Elijah moved, he hid behind anything he could—postal boxes, trees, and parked cars. It was a strategic move, keeping things between him and the Ted’s.

After scarcely a second of hesitation, Alex followed. Thus far, the Teds didn’t appear to see anything. Although this was obviously good, Benjamin’s heart raced, beating in his chest like a swarm of butterflies aching to be released. At any second, this could go terribly wrong. There were at least ten Teds, and Benjamin knew he would be no help in a fight.

Daisy followed, a death grip on her baseball bat. For all her talk earlier about wanting to slay some Teds, she seemed like the rest of them—resigned to the fate of hiding and trying to evade the Teds.

Next, Benjamin went. He tried to stay as close to Daisy as he could without it being creepy. Daisy could wreak havoc with that baseball bat, and if Teds potentially might come after them, Benjamin would prefer they come after him with Daisy at his side. She would be able to take out at least a couple of them, while he screamed in terror and likely did very little. God, he really was such a coward, wasn’t he? Benjamin didn’t want to be a coward.

But he also didn’t want an infected to eat his brains, and that didn’t seem like such an unreasonable desire.

Sara followed, and she kept close to him. Benjamin heard the soft sound of her breathing, quicker with the adrenaline of having seen more Teds. Up close, he could still see the flecks of blood from their earlier fight with Ted. The original Ted.

Lastly, Amber came, and she remained as quiet as the rest of them. It seemed like they really might make it. Then, something terrible happened. A Ted stopped, paused, turned, and looked right at them. Benjamin froze.

An ear-shattering groan split the air, rising into a chorus like some sort of macabre choir. The Teds then shuffled forward. “Run!” Elijah yelled.

Not that anyone needed to be told. Even Benjamin, who considered running to be his mortal nemesis, took off at the sight of Teds running after him. Benjamin’s shoes pounded on the concrete as he raced after the others. He was clearly the slowest. And wouldn’t this be the most absurd way to die? In his early twenties while being chased by a group of people infected with something that everyone was going to call the zombie virus?

And Benjamin realized this was an insane thought. Hysterical laughter bubbled from his throat.

The sign for the Queen Vic appeared finally, and everyone rushed to the wooden door at the pub’s entrance. They fell against the door in a flurry of screams, fists, and pounding. But there was no answer. Elijah tried the knob, but it didn’t budge.

“What do we do?” Amber screamed.

There was nothing they could do. Benjamin looked behind him. The Teds were coming closer. Any second, the Teds were going to reach them, and there was no way to avoid them except to keep running.

Benjamin tore off, fleeing as fast as he could. Elijah passed him in seconds, followed by Sara and Daisy. Alex and Amber kept pace with Benjamin. It quickly became clear, though, who could run and who couldn’t. Although there were Teds behind him and his pulse was racing a million miles a minute, Benjamin’s legs hurt. His chest felt as though he was being engulfed in flames. His breath came in ragged pants, and the Teds were tireless. They kept coming and coming and coming.

And this was really how it was going to end. He was going to die like this. He rounded a bend with everyone else and slowed for a half-second. Amber looked back at him and brandished her wok. Sweat dripped from her red face. Her chest heaved. She couldn’t run anymore either, and if they couldn’t run, their only option was to fight the Teds that were growing steadily closer.

“Let’s do this,” Alex said, holding his machete before him.

Benjamin suddenly wondered if Alex even knew how to use a machete, or if the weapon was something Alex just happened to keep around. Like people who collected medieval weapons but without any intention of ever using them.

Boldly, Elijah, who showed no signs of tiring, strode forward.

“You could keep running,” Amber said.

“Yeah, I know,” Elijah replied, brandishing his baseball bat, “But I’m not going to leave anyone behind. This was my idea! We’re in this together!”

“’Let’s go it!” Sara exclaimed.

“Definitely!” Amber replied. “Ted’s! It’s time for you to see the light and realize that you shouldn’t have messed with me!”

Benjamin shivered as he held up his knife and the pan. He was breathing so hard that his breathing mask was uncomfortably hot and damp from his own breath. This was it. Their final stand. They were all going to die.

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