Excerpt from The Dead Song Legend Book III: March from Myrtle Beach to San Antonio by Jay Wilburn
“This shouldn’t have happened again, Randy. We were counting on you.”
“I’m sorry,” he said and turned away from her. “Greg, go find Pete and figure out what the hell happened.”
People began filing out the door slowly trying to avoid the bodies and gore. Tiny counted only about a dozen zombies total. It did not look like anyone had gotten bitten and all the corpses were motionless on the floor.
Randy stepped up to their group. “We either have a breached fence or a sleeping guard. Either way, you should get inside your bunk. Sorry about the trouble.”
“Do you need help?” Satch asked.
Tiny sighed and rolled his eyes. We should be using this as our moment to escape.
“We have a system for searching and securing. You’ve already done more than your share here. It might be safer if you batten down and let us handle it. Sorry about the exciting evening, guys. I’ll see you in the morning.” Randy kicked one of the bodies on his way through the batwing doors.
“Looks like it’s bed time,” Kidd said.
“Or time to slip away,” Tiny said.
Kidd looked at Tiny and over at Satch. “Really?”
Satch shook his head. “We got jumpy guys with bows and arrows hunting for rogue zombies. We’ll end up speared, if we try to sneak around now. Let’s lock down like he said and stick with the original plan.”
They walked back along the facades until they reached their bunks. Shouts rose from different points of the camp in the distance. Satch opened the door and they went inside as two men with shotguns walked by behind them.
Satch pushed the door closed behind them. “We might want to set a guard schedule tonight or barricade the door maybe.”
The door burst open and slammed into Satch’s back knocking him a few steps away. The two men stepped in training their snub nosed shotguns on Satch and Kidd. The one aiming on Satch had a tight crew cut with patches of hair all along his neck and jaw. He wore black pants, boots, and a short sleeved shirt. The other man was dressed similarly, but was more bulky. He had thick, hairy arms and either had a shaved head or was bald. The darkness of the bunk didn’t allow for any better detail.
The man with the crew cut said, “I’d rather get the reward for bringing you in alive, but if you make it easier to kill you, I’ll do that and take the cut. If you make me shoot you, it will be in the gut, so that your faces aren’t messed up. You move; I shoot. Got it?”
“We got it,” Satch said.
“Stand guard outside until we’re ready to move.”
The bald man stepped back out and closed the door. The bounty hunter kept his gun on Satch with his finger inside the trigger guard. He reached down to his belt and pulled off three sets of handcuffs. He tossed one each at their feet with Tiny on the left, Satch in the middle, and Kidd on the right. His hand returned to the stock of the short shotgun.
“Behind your backs and then turn where I can see that you got them tight. Let’s go quick so you or your friends don’t end up hurt.”
None of them moved.
“Is this the moment where you test me to see if I’m serious, boys?” he asked. “You got your dicks up down in the valley with the others you killed and you think you’re dealing with someone like them. How about I shoot your dick off and take you in alive, but screaming? Would that convince you?”
He lowered his aim on Satch.
“I just didn’t want to move and get shot,” Satch said. “You seem like a jumpy sort.”
“I’m cool as a fucking cucumber, Satchelmouth Murderman. Now cuff yourselves.”
There was shouting outside and shots sounded off. One report from a shotgun outside seemed to vibrate the whole room.
The guy cocked his head over his shoulder to the left.
Kidd sprung from the right. He grabbed the gun and shoved up. One barrel went off into the ceiling filling the room with an eruption of sound and a rain of dust. The bounty hunter jerked his head to the side slamming Kidd’s face. Kidd grunted but still struggled for the gun. The hunter stomped Kidd’s knee dropping him to the floor.
He brought the gun down toward Kidd.
Satch launched and drove his helmet into the hunter’s face. Another shot roared blowing apart the side of one of the bunks in a hail of splinters. Satch and the hunter slammed into the closed door.
Gunfire continued outside muffled by the ringing in everyone’s ears in the closed space of the bunks.
Kidd came back up and grabbed the gun again. The hunter drove his knee into Satch’s gut twice. Kidd pulled the gun and the hunter shoved it driving the butt into Kidd’s jaw. Kidd Banjo staggered back, but had the shotgun in his hands.
Tiny drew his knife and charged from the left. The hunter twisted and pinned Tiny’s arm to the doorframe with his elbow short of the stab. He lifted off and slammed his elbow into Tiny’s wrist again causing him to drop the knife. The hunter twisted back still struggling with Satch but connecting with Tiny’s nose with his forearm. Tiny saw stars and held his face as he staggered and then fell.
Kidd rested the bore of the shotgun into the hunter’s ribs pulling back the hammers. Satch drew his knife. The hunter grabbed Satch’s knife hand in both of his and twisted it back toward Satch’s face. Kidd pulled the trigger and the gun clicked empty. Kidd reached for his own knife. The hunter lifted his right boot and side kicked driving his heel into Kidd’s chest. Kidd launched backward dropping the shotgun. He slammed into the damaged post of the bunk snapping through it and dropping the top bunk on top of himself.
Tiny got to his hands and knees and crawled toward his knife on the floor. He couldn’t draw air through his nose.
The hunt swung his left leg around and swept Satch’s legs out from under him. Satch’s helmet rolled away. They slammed to the floor with the hunter on top pushing Satch’s knife slowly toward his face.
Kidd stumbled out from under the mattress with the assault rifle. He squared and aimed at the hunter’s side. The hunter rolled hard pulling Satch on top of him between him and Kidd’s aim.
Kidd lifted the rifle away. “Shit.”
Tiny got his knife and sat up on his knees.
Satch brought his knife around pointed at the hunter’s face. The hunter lifted his feet under Satch’s body and rabbit kicked his weight up into the air. He rolled hard to the side and threw Satch into Kidd knocking them both away.
Tiny made a stab at the hunter. The hunter came up and caught Tiny’s wrist. He twisted and took the knife away from Tiny. The hunter stood, pulling Tiny to his feet as he drew the knife up above Tiny’s skull.
The door swung open hitting the hunter’s shoulder and elbow knocking them both a few steps to the side. The hunter’s partner charged in backward aiming his shotgun out the door with an arrow in his left bicep. He bled from a bullet wound in the other shoulder.
The hunter backed out of his partner’s way and Tiny bolted out of the reach of the knife. The hunter reached around and grabbed the gun out of his partner’s hands. He whipped around on Kidd and Satch. The hunter sidestepped and when Kidd fired he hit the partner once in the side, once in the neck, and once in the head. The bigger man went down.
Tiny dropped to the floor to avoid being hit.
The hunter pulled the trigger and the gun clicked empty. “Shit.”
Kidd fired again, but missed. The hunter made a break for the door. One of his boots came down on a pair of handcuffs and slipped out from under him almost causing him to do a split. Kidd shot him in the thigh blasting open the muscle in a meaty mess.
The hunter grabbed his leg and drew back Tiny’s knife to throw it. Tiny grabbed the hunter’s wrist with both hands stopping the man’s motion with his hand cocked behind his back. The hunter turned his head and glared at Tiny with teeth gritted. Tiny couldn’t tell if it was pain or anger.
Kidd fired twice more hitting the man in the chest both times. Even in the darkness, Tiny thought he could see the color drain from the man’s face even though he could barely hear the gunshots anymore.
Tiny pulled his knife from the hunter’s grasp. “Enjoy your reward, Mary.”
Tiny stabbed the bounty hunter in the throat. Blood gushed from the wound down the front of his shirt. The man clawed at his own open throat and Tiny pulled the blade free letting the hunter fold to the bloody floor.
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