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Contamination | Invasion Survivor Book One | Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty

Paige believed in that moment that she had some crazy bad karma on her side because she clearly couldn’t catch a break.

Dave tried to avoid the tree and almost managed it. She skimmed her knee a little, but the sudden impact launched them off the bike. They rolled and tumbled a few times before coming to a full stop beside one another.

Paige’s whole body hurt.

“Let’s not do that again,” he said as he pushed himself up and rubbed his head.

“Dave, behind you!”

The jogger came at him from behind and gripped him by the arms.

“Hey, leave me the hell alone, you freak.” He struggled, but the attacker was joined by others and they began dragging him away. Dave thrashed his legs around frantically, trying to halt their progress. He dug his heels into the ground and gained a momentary respite.

“Stop resisting,” a jogger said, and the command was echoed in unison by his companions.

“Like hell I will,” Dave shouted, kicking and pushing his captors, but to no avail.

There are too many of them.

Paige was stunned. She’d experienced affected people acting in a certain way depending on their viral stages but had never seen them working together like this before. And possible implications of that were simply too terrifying.

Normally, they’d go after me, not Dave.

“Let go of me!” He managed to free one hand and swung wildly at the person holding him on his left. The poorly dressed man took it like a pro without so much as a blink, and Dave’s hand was recaptured.

She caught movement from the corner of her eye. Another gang of joggers had appeared, and these now focused on her.

“Dave!” Paige couldn’t help him now that she had her own struggle, but by some miracle, she still had her sword firmly in her right hand. Without conscious thought, she simply started swinging even while scrambling to her feet.

Her survival instinct clicked in, a deep-down determination to act without thought. The drive was relentless, spurred on by the knowledge that this was an all-or-nothing fight. The luxury to give up or break down was no longer available.

They charged at her, a howling mass of destruction, but she planted her feet firmly and swung her sword like an automaton. She would kill every last one of them, one by one, without mercy.

 A female jogger dressed in a cheerful pink outfit was the first to reach her. She had no weapons but that didn’t make any difference. Her face reflected a mindless frenzy and vicious intent. Not wanting to be outmaneuvered in any way, Paige charged as well, meeting her halfway. She managed to nick the woman’s left arm in the first swipe.

The jogger charged again, and this time, Paige had a better angle and slashed her across the stomach. She fell with a shriek but immediately, another took her place.

To her disbelief, her next opponent apparently knew some martial arts and wanted to be a Bruce Lee kind of guy. Even in his zombie state, he apparently wasn’t afraid to use it.

On the other hand, she had a Samurai sword that she wasn’t afraid to use either.

He attacked her, a whirlwind of guttural sounds and limbs, flipped in midair, and tried to kick her in the head. She twirled away to avoid his outstretched leg, but his foot caught her on the shoulder and she staggered a little from the blow.

The man landed on perfectly his feet and came at her again. Paige raised her sword, focused on his limber frame as she tried to anticipate his next move. Unbelievably, she got lucky. 

Unafraid to meet the blade with his bare hands, he launched forward. She swung and slashed his hand off, but that didn’t slow him down. He slapped her so hard with the other, her ears started to ring.

Not daring to stop, she gritted her teeth against the pain and used the opportunity. He stood close, and with a yell of her own, she threw her weight behind the sword and stabbed it into his chest. The blade went right through him and she yanked it back. It pulled against his flesh, then stuck.

“No,” she screamed, panicked now. It was her only real weapon, and she couldn’t lose it to this crazed attacker.

He stumbled, taking the sword with him, and she reached frantically for the haft. Clutching it with his remaining hand, he dropped to the ground. Paige wasted no time. She planted her foot on his chest and summoned the strength she didn’t know she had to yank it out. With a shout of victory, she spun back and continued fighting. She wasn’t done. Not by a long shot.

For what seemed like forever, she hacked, slashed, and stabbed until the last of the hoard fell with a gusty cry and she dispatched him with a final thrust.

Panting deep, ragged breaths, she eased her sore hands and looked at the carnage around her. It took a moment for her senses to absorb the truth. Her attackers heaped the ground while their blood soaked into the once-green grass.

Nothing made sense, she realized. Paige flinched every time she noticed another infected person, but the vast majority of them completely ignored her.

She had to wonder what made those who came after her different. That was only one of many unanswered questions, so she pushed it aside and added it to the pile.

“Dave?” She called out for him, moving in the direction of the place she’d seen him last.

Pretty soon, she heard him yelling, so she picked up her pace and ran toward him.

When she rounded a corner, she noticed that he’d managed to fight two joggers off but still had his hands full with the remaining adversaries.

He punched one in the face and when he stumbled, kicked him as well. The man crumpled, out for the count.

At least for now.

Another came at him from behind.

“Dave, look out!” she yelled.

He spun around and fended him off, but the man charged again. Then, to her and Dave’s shock alike, he hugged him instead of hitting him.

“What the hell?” Dave exclaimed, clearly freaked out.

The jogger stuck to him like glue, and even in that moment of distress, Paige couldn’t help but notice what he wore—the most ridiculous Sexy and I know it fishnet T-shirt. Still, she was confident that with a little coaxing, he would relinquish his prey.

“Let go of me. You really aren’t my type,” Dave yelled, violently indignant and still fighting to free himself.

The man hugging him tighter, drawing near as if to kiss him. It might have been funny but for the crazed look on his face. Paige hissed in a horrified breath.

The jogger is trying to bite him!

She charged and with a banshee yell, thrust the sword through the man’s heart. Dave’s eyes bulged in shock. Her aim was slightly off, and she almost sliced him in the process, but hey, no one was perfect.

The jogger slumped to the ground but the another wearing a yellow bandanna wound around his forehead returned to the party.

He lumbered into the fight, but Paige managed to fend him off. Still, despite her furious defense, he kept coming.

To make matters even worse, the other man seemed to have recovered his drive to kill, proving how off-target Paige really was. He growled and, ignoring the gaping wound in his chest, started to rise. 

Dave yelled his outrage, broke off a piece of a tree branch, and swung it like a baseball bat.

His opponent didn’t have a prayer against the raw power behind the swing. The branch made full contact with his face and he twirled like a ballerina before falling to his knees. Dave waded in with a few more well-placed blows. He clearly wanted to be sure his man was down for good.

“And that’s why you never mess with the fence buster,” Dave informed his opponent.

Paige still had the bandanna man to worry about. “Why are you doing this to us?” she screamed as she lashed out at him. Some perverse part of her, tired of the carnage, demanded answers.

He stopped in his tracks and looked at her with his red eyes as he cocked his head to the side. It made an odd sight, but she didn’t take this unexpected break for granted.

She knew he wouldn’t stop—he couldn’t. It was all there, written in his glittering eyes.

“You don’t belong here,” he said, surprising her with his words and the cold, matter-of-fact tone. “When I get you to the mothership, I will be rewarded.” He laughed, a frenzied, lunatic howl of mirth.

Paige instinctively looked up at the sky, imagining some giant flying saucer waiting to snatch her up, but saw nothing.

“Whatever you say. But why don’t you have your friends beam you up right now?” She only half-joked, but the idea had merit.

He fixed her with a hard look, narrowing his eyes, and Paige couldn’t help but notice that he acted differently to the rest.

“I need you, and I will have you.”

“Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not happening,” Dave chimed in.

The man’s rage bubbled to the surface. “You should have been dead by now.”

It was like he retained much of his former self, she thought. Which meant he could think and plan, and that made him that much more dangerous.

He rushed at Paige with alarming speed. She panicked and braced for impact, but at the last second, Dave pushed her out of the way and swung the big branch he was holding.

The wood connected, crushing half his face, and he hit the ground with a hard thud. Not waiting to see how long that would keep him down, Dave threw the branch away and, grabbing her hand, yanked her into a sprint.

“We are going in the wrong direction,” she protested a few minutes later.

“Is there a right direction?” he countered.

“Yes, back to the bike. I think it’s still working.” At least she hoped it was.

“Why the hell do people go after you like that?” he demanded, changing the subject.

“I don’t know. But did you hear what he said?”

“Honestly, I wish I hadn’t. It nearly made me piss myself. A frigging mothership? Fuck!”

On cue, they both glanced at the sky above and for a few heartbeats, Paige honestly believed a huge ship would materialize like in Independence Day or something. Nothing more than white fluffy clouds drifted in the blue sky.

“Do we actually believe him?” Dave asked, still craning his neck though he wore an embarrassed expression. “He was simply talking trash, right?”

She looked at him, her eyebrows raised.

Fuck.” He stressed the word this time, and it was clear he had something else to add. Then they noticed another group of infected people coming their way. “Oh, for crying out loud—can’t a guy have a nervous breakdown in peace?”

“Some other time. Let’s go.”

They needed to reach the bridge that would take them to Brooklyn.

Luckily, just as she’d assumed, the motorbike still worked. Dave picked it up and made sure he could start the engine, and they were soon back on the road.

This time around, the ride felt smoother. They left the park and he weaved in and out of the cars on the streets without problems.

The practice in the park, despite being chased by maniacal infected people, had given him the confidence that was needed, Paige realized.

She didn’t want to compliment him just yet, not wanting to jinx it even though she was pleased they could get to Fort Hamilton faster.

He now drove on the sidewalk, and they both yelled at the people to get out the way.

He did that to try to make things easier since there were people everywhere. Some tried to run somewhere but others simply stood frozen, staring out into space. These were the worst because they didn’t react to their warnings. The healthy ones brought an added problem—they didn’t want to obey.

“Move,” she screamed while the people yelled all kinds of profanities back.

“Burn in hell,” was the crowds favorite, apparently.

“Get out of the way, lady,” Dave shouted, but the lady in question didn’t move an inch. It was like she didn’t even hear him.

“She’s infected. You’ll hit her!” Paige warned.

Slamming on the breaks, he missed her by a hair, and she took them completely by surprise when she turned and glared. “Watch it, you punks,” she yelled and swung her handbag at Dave.

She looked normal, Paige thought—as in not infected, but maybe demented still worked to describe her.

Dodging blows and insults, Dave kept going despite the difficulties.

They approached the bridge, where cars now stood in a seemingly endless, unmoving line.

She muttered a low curse, then repeated it as a large group of people ran toward them like a wave of the disease after their new prey.

“Well, crap,” Dave grumbled, unintentionally slowing down.

This isn’t good at all. Paige started to sweat.

She reached over her shoulder for the sword in the backpack, just in case she needed it for protection, and felt the bike wobble. Dave lost control slightly as they bumped over something unidentifiable on the ground. Paige didn’t want to look back to identify it.

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

 “Paige? What should we do?” Dave asked under his breath.

“I don’t know. Drive right through them?” she suggested off the top of her head.

“There’s too many of them,” he countered.

“Ride around them?”

Right. Like that would actually work, given their history.

***

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