[author’s note: If you’re new to Oasis, you’d better start with Chapter 1: The Last Shift]
I looked back at the infected that were rounding the corner, then back up at Carl, “Because they’ll know we’re here.”
Carl put his hands on his hips and raised an eyebrow. “They’ll know we’re here. That’s it? Who cares?”
“You should. If we all go in now, that whole infected mob is going to gather on your doorstep. They’ll pound and pound with inhuman strength on your doors. They will never rest. You’ve seen them, that’s all they do is chase after the uninfected. They’ll crowd around your building. You’ll be trapped inside for good.”
Carl’s eyes went wide, and he stuffed his keys back in his pocket.
“Good point. Here’s the plan, then.” He pointed at me. “You’re going to lead them away. We’ll leave the stuff right here until they can’t see us take it in. The rest of us will round the corner and get out of sight.”
I looked back to the street.
The closest infected was thirty, maybe thirty five yards out.
I had a feeling that there was a part of the plan that he didn’t say out loud. The part where he didn’t open the door for me when I came back. This plan was Carl’s convenient way of getting rid of two problems, the crowd of walking dead and me.
Still, I couldn’t let his family be trapped and die just because he didn’t trust me.
There was no time to argue.
I nodded and looked back up at him. “Fine.”
Beth grabbed my hand and started to move. “I’m going with you. Let’s go.”
The three men called out to stop her. Paul reached out like he was going to grab her.
We were already out of range.
She turned back and waved. “Please wait up for us, even if we’re back late. We’ll knock three times on that door.”
Her father’s face twisted up in agony. “No!” He took a step in our direction.
We picked up the pace and headed straight for the front of the front of the infected pack.
She looked straight ahead. “Which way?”
There were four infected in a clump about ten yards away.
I pulled on her hand and circled right. “Think we can make it back the way we came a block?”
“Yeah, they’re spread out enough.”
We would have to dodge ten or twelve of them to get back to the next intersection.
I figured that if we could get those ten or twelve to follow us, then Beth’s father and two uncles would be safe to go in the warehouse. The infected that were further back would never even see anyone but Beth and me.
Beth dropped my hand. “Turn right at the intersection ahead.”
We had already passed the first four infected. Scattered in the street ahead were another six or eight.
Beth went to the right, and I went to the left.
The world felt hazy and surreal. A lot of things weren’t right.
It was a fine idea to lead the infected on a wild goose chase, but I doubted my ability to see the task through.
The street was wide enough. All I had to do was weave around the infected and keep moving forward. They weren’t fast, but if I stopped, I would certainly be trapped. To make it worse, I was was tired, hungry, thirsty and injured. They’re everywhere. What made me think I could do this?
I glanced over to see how Beth was doing.
If she felt any of the fear that had incapacitated her back at the storage units, she certainly wasn’t showing it. She moved swiftly and confidently. The infected never even came close to touching her.
Wow, she has a really nice…
An infected man dove at me.
I threw my weight to the right.
His grasping hand passed about two inches from my arm.
I stumbled and struggled to keep my balance.
The infected man hit the ground.
Should’ve been paying better attention. I stumbled for the intersection.
Beth reached it a good ten or twenty seconds ahead of me. Her eyes darted up and down the streets.
The crowd of infected continued to close in.
She grabbed my hand again. “Come on slow poke.”
We walked fast enough to keep a safe distance between us and the infected, but not fast enough to lose them. Not yet. We had to make sure they followed us.
“So tell me what happened to you, Corbin.” She gave me a quick glance up and down and gave a half smile. “You kind of look like crap.”
I was relieved to hear her deal with the situation with some degree of humor. “The past couple of days haven’t exactly been kind to me.”
“I can see that.”
I glanced back over my shoulder. Good distance. “Let’s see. I got punched in the stomach. I got shot with some kind of tranquilizer. I fell down a flight of stairs. I kind of fell from a second story ledge. I spent a sleepless night on the cement floor of a storage shed, and i think I tore a muscle in my chest when I broke my bat against the head of an infected man. And to top it off, I’m probably dehydrated.”
“You weren’t kidding.”
“Sorry if I’m kind of a grump. I think I need a nap.”
If we hadn’t kept talking, I think I might have gone crazy at the insanity of it all.
There were now thirty or forty infected shuffling down the street behind us.
Beth and I had a good lead, but I was uneasy not knowing how many more infected could be waiting just around each corner.
We continued straight for several blocks.
The wear and tear of the past couple of days was taking its toll on me. I couldn’t think very straight, and if Beth wasn’t holding on to my hand, I wouldn’t have been walking too straight, either. I felt like was ready to collapse in a heap at any time.
I squeezed her hand with what little strength I had left. I think she may have felt it. “You about ready to go home?”
She looked back at our followers. “I think we stole their full attention. We’ve just got to figure out how to double back without any of them seeing or following.”
Something caught her attention up ahead. Her eyes opened and she pursed her beautiful lips in a thoughtful expression. After a moment, she sped up. “I’ve got it. Let’s hurry.”
What kind of plan is up Beth’s sleeve? Keep reading in “Chapter 22: Amazing Super Sale“