The sun hung low on the horizon, only partially hidden behind the copse of locust trees being used as a makeshift fence...
"Won't be long now," it was Edward, at least now it was, before all of this it was just Ed, or Eddy to his friends, "We'd better get back."
Edward peered up the hill into the thicket, "Hour, maybe a little longer..."
Ben dropped his head for just a moment, an act that must have caught Edward's attention. As Edward's hand touched the young man's shoulder Ben forced a smile, "The girls are gonna wonder 'bout us if we don't get back..." His voice cracked a little, he hoped that Edward hadn't heard it, but knew somehow that he had.
The two men walked quickly back to the barn, a huge structure with half the planks missing. At one time, it must have been a deep red, but now it was, for the most part, stripped of paint. It stank of many years of livestock, but compared to the streets of Des Moines, it was manageable.
Edward pushed the main door open. The girls where all ready in the van.
"Edward," Mandy jumped into his arms, her auburn hair tumbled over his shoulders, "she started getting really tired, I tried to keep her awake,...but..."
He brushed her lips with his own, "I know baby, you did everything you could."
"Ben, check on her, I'll go and get the van ready."
Ben nodded and moved toward the rear of the van. Vanessa lay there in a makeshift bed, sweat matting her hair to her face. Ben stopped momentarily and just stared, she was certainly beautiful-maybe beautiful wasn't a strong enough word, breath-taking would work better. He took her hand in his, cold, clammy and soaked in sweat. He bent to inspect the hand closer. Her skin had started to pull back on the fingertips, leaving her nails looking like claws.
"Well," Ben jerked upright, smashing his head on the van's roof.
"Whoa chief, can't afford to lose you now..." He looked down at her hand, "Well?"
"Fever's broken, pulse sittin' at 46..." Ben bowed his head, his words came out slowly and labored, "She won't make it through the night."
There was an eternity of silence, Ben couldn't bring himself to look at Edward. "I'll do it Ed..."
"No...She's my sister, I have to bring peace to her..." a long moment of silence passed between them, "Start the van Ben, I'll be along in a few minutes."
Ben nodded silently and moved around to the driver's door. It creaked open loudly and Ben let himself into the captain's chair. It conformed to his shape comfortably, he thought about how strange it was that for the past several months the only comfort he had been able to achieve was a stupid seat in a ratted out old van...his thoughts where interrupted by the song of Edward's 30-30. He looked toward Mandy in the passenger's seat, her face contorted in anguish, tears rolling unchallenged down her face, "I...I..." she looked at him quietly and put her hand on his knee.
The sliding door screeched closed menacingly, "Let's go Ben..."
The van roared to life and peeled out of the barn into the twilight. Ben wanted to say something to comfort his friend in some way, but what could you say to comfort a man that just had to shoot his only surviving relative...
"Christ...they didn't give us much time did they..." Edward's voice snapped him out of his trance. Ben looked out toward the opening in the thicket, sure enough, a small band of the damn zombies lumbered their way down the road.
"Gun it Ben!"
The van's eight-cylinder motor roared as the van barreled toward the undead, Ben was grateful for the noise, it drowned out the sickening thump of the zombies as the Chevy ran them down. Ben checked the rearview and found 2 still standing.
"2 left Ed!"
"Gun it Ben...Screw 'em!"
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