An excerpt from Dead Hunger IX: The Cleansing by Eric A. Shelman
The series began with Dead Hunger I.
Punch put the car in drive and let his foot off the gas. Dave reached down and pushed the scissor activator, and the cow catcher became a slicer-dicer.
“Cross your fingers and say some prayers,” said Punch, spinning the steering wheel to the right, angling toward the City Hall building, which they could no longer see through all the milling zombies.
“Start grabbing the packs,” said Punch. “Bug, toss ours up here between us.”
Bug hoisted the two backpacks over the seat and Dave received them.
“My idea is to use the super soakers. Spray the shit out of any who get too close to us, and concentrate the spray near the front door so we can clear them out and get inside.”
Dave felt the front, passenger side wheel bump over the curb as he slid forward and shrugged into his backpack. He grabbed his weapons from the seat, gripping the Walther in his right hand and the super soaker in his left.
The rear tire rolled up the curb, and now the car moved forward at an angle with two wheels on the sidewalk. The scissoring, blood-coated cow catcher on the front of the GTO slammed into the shambling Mothers and Hungerers, simultaneously shoving them aside and severing their arms and legs.
As the car lumbered slowly forward, the newly broken bodies were crushed beneath the wheels. The engine strained as Punch gave it more gas to push though the horde; the sound of bones snapping was loud enough to be heard from inside the advancing muscle car.
“Fuckin’ gnashin’ is intense,” said Bug, leaning forward. “Looks like they’re all chewin’ gum or somethin’.”
“Which makes it even more dangerous,” said Dave. “Even if they’re not sensing us, the mouth of a downed rotter could chew into our ankles.”
“That’s why I wear fuckin’ boots,” said Bug.
Punch threw the car in park and cut the engine. “This is about as close as we’re gonna get. When we jump out, just spray the ground with urushiol first, and keep an eye out. Let’s go.”
Dave saw they were parked about twelve feet from the door to City Hall. He picked up his radio and switched to channel 9. “Kevin, it’s Dave Gammon. You read?”
“I’m here, Dave,” said Vikki Solms. “We’re packed to the gills in here. Where are you?”
“I’m right outside the door with Punch and my uncle,” said Dave. “Vikki, get someone by the door and when we bang on it, unlock it.”
“Dave, there are probably a hundred people in here who aren’t in the bunker! It’s going to be hard enough just to clear people back enough to open the door!”
“You have to do it!” shouted Dave. “Vikki, we can’t stay here, and we need to talk to Reeves and figure something else out.”
“Okay,” Vikki relented. “We’ll cram to the back, but bang loud. They’re making a racket at the door already!”
Dave clipped the radio back to his belt. “Okay, let’s go.”
They pushed open their doors, and Dave spun his body so his back was pushing against the mass of stinking bodies. He reached down and sprayed the urushiol blend behind him at his feet. When he heard the hissing and felt he crowd behind him break, he turned around and tucked his arms as best he could.
To his left, Bug pushed slowly through the crowd, like a concertgoer trying to get closer to the stage. In his peripheral vision, he saw Punch moving around the front of the GTO.
Dave held the soaker out and panned his spray at shoulder height, the stream from the powerful squirt gun splashing off the faces and necks of several abnormals. Like a building imploding, the bodies dropped away, clearing the path to the door.
Then he saw her.
No. He saw them.
Three Mothers. One had been crouching down as though she had somehow known what the men intended to do. Dave tried to grasp the idea that somehow they instinctively knew to avoid the caustic liquid, even if it didn’t affect them as catastrophically as the regular Hungerers.
“Watch out!” shouted Dave, glancing at his Uncle, who had pushed past two more rotters and appeared to be concentrating on not slipping in the goo at his feet.
When Dave looked back, he only saw two Mothers. They had moved perhaps six feet from their previous locations. The third was gone from sight.
They’re attacking, thought Dave. This is a strategy.
“Bug!” shouted Punch, and Dave watched as his uncle began to turn. Before Bug could understand the reason for Punch’s warning, he dropped like a surfer pulled under by a great white shark.
His arms flew into the air and he tried to keep upright by clutching at the gore-riddled clothing of the rotters on all sides of him.
He fell from view.
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com