‘The bastard isn’t coming home.’ Katie thought. She was sitting in a sniper position in the master bedroom. She had set up the nest behind the curtains with her rifle pointed through a hole in the screen and propped up using the window sill for a base. It was almost sundown. The bedroom was a mess. She had pulled in enough furniture to build a nest around the window, a nest that included a firm brace for the rifle and a comfy position to support her while she waited. She had used a knife from the kitchen to cut a slash through the curtain and after getting her rifle set up she had gone outside to see how well her camouflage worked. Katie knew if the zombie used his special vision she was toast, she lacked the camo suit she had worn in Chicago. However, she was betting that the man was used to his house being empty and would not think to check it out before he came in.
‘Besides, I’ve replaced one living body with another one. He should see what he expects, his maid.’ Whether Beatriz was supposed to be in his bedroom or not was a different matter, but Katie felt pretty certain she was going to be okay. ‘If he will come home!’
“What some company?” Randy asked from behind her.
“As long as you aren’t going to lecture me.”
“Me? Now why would I do that?”
“You tell me, Randy.”
Randy smiled and shook his head, “Now if I tried to do that you would just tell me I was lecturing. Give me some ground to cover here without pissing you off.”
Katie laughed and nodded, “Well, you got me there. What is on your mind?”
“How long are you planning on being here?”
“Until this bastard comes home, then I pop him and move on.”
“This is starting to sound like the third degree again.”
Randy shook his head, “No. I am just curious, I seem to be stuck here with you and I have to wonder what is next.”
“Why? You got plans or something I should take into consideration?”
Flushing, Randy said, “No, not really.”
“You’re me. You explained that before.”
“Yeah, but I think I might have been wrong.”
“What do you mean?” Katie asked.
“I think I might know things you don’t. Like, remember when we were doing laundry, we ended up alone and decided to get a little hot and heavy on the washer?”
It was Katie’s turn to blush, “How could I forget? It was…earthshattering.”
“But what happened after?”
Katie shook her head, “We got our laundry and went our separate ways?”
“No. There was something else, do you remember?”
“No. Look it was a long time ago, I don’t remember every trivial thing that happened eight months ago.”
“So nothing else happened?” Katie shook her head. Randy continued, “See? This is what I am talking about. You don’t remember the bottle of champagne? The cheese and crackers? I pulled them out of my rucksack and we had a little post-coitus picnic before we folded our laundry and then went our separate ways.”
Katie wrinkled her brow before responding, “No…I, that’s pretty cheesy,” Randy frowned at the pun, “I would remember that…” It seemed hazy, on the edge of her memory, but she did recall something, “You…you didn’t bring glasses, so we washed out the measuring cup from the laundry detergent bottle and poured the champagne in that!”
“So you do remember it?”
“I…I…fuck. No. I don’t remember much, only the thing with the detergent cup. But I think you’re right, I think it did happen. My head is all fucked up, it’s like the memory is there, but I can’t connect it to anything. It doesn’t relate and makes no sense. You know what I mean?”
“I’m right there with you. We’ll figure this out. Not now. There’s a car coming.”
Katie looked back down the barrel of her rifle and sighted it in on the approaching car; a black sports utility vehicle. The car looked spotless and freshly waxed. Something a doctor would drive. It pulled to a stop in the driveway and two men got out; one was wearing hospital scrubs that were immaculate, the other had on a business suit, black with a white shirt and dark blue tie. The man in the suit had a radio set extending from his ear.
“Get the one with the communications first, if you can.” Randy advised.
“If I can? If I can? What the fuck Randy this is an easy shot, he’s less than thirty yards away! Say hello to my little friend mister suit!” Katie pulled the trigger and the suited up man fell back against the truck clutching his head.
“You winged him! You know that won’t keep him down! Get the other one so we can get out of here!” Randy whispered loudly.
“I hit him dead center that fucker is dead again, zombie or human!” except the man wasn’t, he fell to the ground and rolled under the vehicle out of sight. The man in the scrubs stopped dead in the driveway; paralyzed, looking for where the bullet had come from. Katie pulled the lever back and chambered another round.
The doctor went to the front of the vehicle and knelt down to look underneath it. Katie put a bullet through the back of his head, slamming his face into the bumper hard enough to set off the air bags.
“He’s down, grab the shotgun and go finish the other one before he gets away.” Randy said.
“You know, I used to have a partner who could help out with things like that. You ain’t a whole helluva lot of good like this you know.”
“I know.” Randy said, his voice inflected with remorse.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it. I appreciate your advice.”
“Just go get him so we can move on.”
Katie was already moving into the hallway, she had picked up the shotgun and carried both firearms down to the front door, Randy trailed behind her. She leaned the rifle up against the wall next to the front door and burst outside at a jog, shotgun held at waist level. The zombie was now behind the back end of the vehicle and had a pistol in his hand pointed at the second story of the house, he shifted his aim slightly and popped off three bullets in quick succession.
Katie continued forward and fired a round from the shotgun shattering the side and rear windows of the SUV and tossing the zombie backward onto his back. The man’s pistol went flying and skidded down the slight incline of the driveway to land in the gutter next to the street.
Katie ran up and fired again, striking the man just below the knee, which twisted his body sideways, leaving his lower leg bent at an unnatural angle. She stood over the suited man with her shotgun aimed at his head. He was on his stomach and used his arms to push himself up and roll onto his back.
“The ghost.” He murmured.
“You’re the ghost Sentry was talking about. The one we can’t see.”
“I have no idea what you are saying. You’re making noise, but not making sense.” Katie said.
The zombie was in bad shape; the bullet that had hit him in the side of the head had deflected forward and taken out one of his eyes and most of his nose. When he spoke it was with a nasally, wet quality.
“He said there was something here. He thought it was one of his first children or maybe…”
The zombie didn’t reply, as Katie watched his face was pulling itself together, mending in front of her. He tried to maneuver so his leg was more correctly aligned, but Katie shook her head ‘no’ and kicked his limb to a ninety degree angle.
“No way mister, I don’t need you fully healthy so you can jump me, so leave it!”
The zombie grimaced, “But it will heal that way, sideways and I’ll have to have it broken again to set up right…”
“Trust me you aren’t going to live long enough to worry about it.” Katie raised the shotgun to her shoulder and aimed it at the suit on the ground.
“Wait!” the zombie’s eye went opaque and his face started to glow softly in the dusky twilight.
Katie jumped back, startled by the apparition before her. “What the fuck!”
“This is interesting…” Randy said, walking forward.
The suit glanced around, as if seeing things for the first time, his eyes settled on Randy for a moment before shifting ever so slightly to Katie.
“Who are you?” The suits voice had changed, it was slightly higher pitched. Katie felt a pressure on her mind, as if something were trying to squeeze the information out of her head.
She backed up and shook her head, “No.”
“Who are you? You will tell me who you are!” The pressure on Katie’s head intensified.
“Kill him!” Randy screamed, grabbing at his own head with his hands.
The zombie’s face turned to Randy, “Who are you!”
As the zombie’s gaze left Katie, so did the pressure that was trying to break into her brain, seizing control she pulled the trigger of the shotgun, the shell caught the suit on the side of the suit’s head.
“No!” he screamed, grabbing again at the side of his head, the glowing increased and Katie fired again before the zombie could regain its bearings. The second shot hit it square in the face, but didn’t do nearly the damage that Katie felt a shotgun should do as such close range.
With the glow intensifying on the ground, the zombie’s face started pulling together with startling speed, all the while the thing’s shriek intensified, growing to the volume of a train whistle. Katie fired twice more in rapid succession before the firing pin came down on an empty chamber. The glowing had not stopped, but the screaming had. Katie quickly reloaded five shells into the gun and shot the thing in the head five more times, by the time she was finished what was left resembled a bowl full of ground meat that someone had mixed with short, black hair.
“Holy fuck. What was that?” Katie asked Randy, who was still standing beside her.
“He saw me.”
“How could he see me? I’m you, remember, not really me. That’s what I’ve been assuming all this time. How could he see me Katie?”
Katie looked at her partner, “Well, maybe you aren’t as dead as you thought?”