Monday, 25 May 2009 - 7:49 pm

The sweaty weasel

Shouts disturbed my post yesterday, coming from outside the motel.

Everyone was immediately on edge, grabbing weapons and peeking out from the edges of curtains. I joined them in time to see a group running ragged across the motel’s courtyard. I knew that look on their faces, hunted and shocked at the nature of what chased them. Dillon offered to go to the roof – he found a way up there a couple of days ago – and took off as soon as he had the nod.

The newcomers swept in and smashed against the doors. We had locked all the outer doors and they started up a frantic hammering, trying to bash their way in. They sounded like shamblers on speed. It was hard to know if they were running from the broken dead or the Pride, but I suspected the former.

Either way, it was dangerous to let them break in; we couldn’t lock a smashed door behind them. Thorpe rapped on the glass of a nearby window to get their attention and asked them what they wanted here. Of course, they immediately began all shouting at once, trying to batter their way in verbally instead of physically.

Shamblers, it came down to, though they used the z-word. There was something in the way they said it that knew how ridiculous it sounds. Dillon came sprinting down from the roof then to tell us that they were close, just outside the motel; this group had been followed right to us. And there were a lot of them – a whole bloody herd, the kid said.

We had a choice to make and no time to make it in. Do we let them in or leave them out there to face the shamblers alone? We don’t know these people. They might turn on us, or run off and leave us to face their pursuers alone. I knew what my heart wanted – the right thing, the benefit of the doubt – but it was too bruised to speak loudly.

Inside, we looked at each other with that grim knowing that we should take a chance on them. Dillon said my name, confused that there was even a choice to make. Outside, their begging continued into our silence, and then broke off abruptly. They were shouting then – no, no, don’t do it, stop!

Before we could see what was going on, a trash can shattered the window next to Thorpe. A body scrambled in after it, no doubt the can-chucker. The big fireman was so angry that he punched the interloper in the face, dropping him onto his butt on the shard-strewn floor.

“We can’t close a broken window, you fucking idiot,” was the sentiment of his abuse.

The sweaty weasel stared up at him, touching the blood streaming from his nose in shock. Everyone else was standing and staring, inside and out. I unlocked the door before anything else was irreparably torn open and the newcomers skittered inside. More than one of them was bleeding and I saw at least one fresh bite-mark.

Thorpe looked ready to whale on the stupid weasel some more, so I stepped in and said that we needed to barricade up the window, and right now. The herd of shamblers were just stumbling into sight and that was enough to close mouths and motivate feet into finding things to block up the portal. Mattresses braced with furniture that choked up the corridor soon solved the problem.

When it was done, we all stared at the oncoming horde. I wanted to go around and barricade every door and window, but there was no time. There were too many ways into this place for those inclined or uncaring enough to use brute force and persistence.


They were halfway into the courtyard when they stopped suddenly, their heads lifting as if they had heard something. Their coordinated shuffle broke into a hurried smatter of motion, if they can be said to hurry at all. They turned and swarmed across the road into closer buildings.

Some of them didn’t make it. The stragglers were caught by the rain when it came about half a minute after they smelt it.

It was one of the most horrific things I’ve seen. The sheet of gleaming green-grey came down and melted them, pallid skin to red to white bone in sodden streaks. They just kept going as if they couldn’t feel it, as if their eyes weren’t burst and their reaching hands weren’t shorn away and shortening with every second. They kept moving on eaten-away legs and crawled on stumps. They didn’t stop until their heads were gone, washed away.

I wasn’t the only one who felt like throwing up; I wish I’d thought to cover Dillon’s eyes, but it all happened so quickly.


After it was done and the rain was filling up the gap between us and the shamblers, attention turned to the newcomers that had led them to us. We couldn’t throw them out, so we told them to go to the other wing of the motel. We didn’t want them near us.

They grumbled and spat, but they went. I noticed that the weasel wasn’t with them; I don’t know where he slipped away to while we were watching the oncoming storm.

I had a sudden fearful thought that he had gone into one of the rooms when a door opened behind us. I turned around to see Ben standing in the doorway, looking at us in puzzlement. He hasn’t been able to stand on his own since he got sick, but there he was and I grinned with delight.

“What’s going on?” he asked, before I bounced over to hug the stuffing out of him.


We spent an awkward night, keeping an eye out for those shamblers in case they decided to come looking for us, or the other group. They never came and we all breathed a little easier by morning. We kept to ourselves today, in case the shamblers were still close, but we’ll be moving on tomorrow. Heading northwest towards Dad’s car yard.

Ben’s more like himself, brighter, moving around and talking. The relief bubbles up in my chest when I’m not paying attention and threatens to burble out in something incoherent. Tomorrow is looking better.