Excerpt from The Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 2: February from Vicksburg to Cherokee by Jay Wilburn:
They scrambled out from under the remains of the shack and ran through the gap created by the dead chasing them over the top where they used to be. Satch was carrying his sister trying to hold her throat, but he still nearly outran Tiny. Blood dripped into the pine straw behind them and Tiny heard the dead following.
“How far, Satch?”
“Down by the river. Keep going.”
As they crossed the road, a zombie with green smeared in its beard whirled on them. Satch ducked away and Tiny stabbed into its head. Brackish water gurgled out of the wound and the grimy creature collapsed to the road.
Another dove teeth first at Satch’s leg and he had no free hand. Tiny stabbed into the forehead and stopped the undead attack short. He ran after and tried to get ahead to provide Satch cover, but Satch was not slowing down.
They reached the bank and Tiny saw the boat a few feet farther on. Satch jumped in. “Can you drive it?”
“I don’t know how.”
“Hold her wound.”
Tiny dropped the knives in the boat and covered her throat. Satch stepped out and leaned to push the boat off. A creature blasted through the pine branches with arms out.
He turned with his hands still on the boat and thrust kicked heel first into the zombie’s jaw. The bottom teeth jammed back into its face. The creature folded backward and stumbled onto its back on the bank. It rolled over and scrambled to its feet again. More emerged from the trees and staggered toward the boat on both sides.
Satch splashed out into the water and then jumped in the boat. The dead splashed into the river after them. They’re going to flip the boat, Tiny thought. Satch engaged the motor and the boat lurched backward.
The zombie with the collapsed jaw dove where the boat had been and vanished below the water. The river water splashed up into the air like piranha are tearing apart a cow below the surface. Tiny turned away from them and watched Peck bleed below his hand.
Satch lowered the motor and let the current turn the boat. Tiny saw the dam stretch above them. One of the dead stumbled over the railing and dropped into the water. Satch blasted the motor and the boat tilted as it raced across the Tennessee toward the southern bank.
Peck coughed and lurched under Tiny’s hand. He was actually surprised she was still alive. He felt air pass wet through the wound under his hand and she stilled. Her eyes slid open and stared glazed up into the sky. Tiny saw the reflections of the clouds rolling across the wet curves of Peck’s eyes as Satch pressed the engine.
“Satch.” Tiny whispered, but the words were lost in the roar of the engine against the Tennessee River.
Peck heaved for air and fought against Tiny’s grip.
Satch called. “Hang on, Peck. We’re almost there.”
Her teeth snapped and Tiny pulled his hand away. Peck sat up and clawed at her brother. Satch just stared as she reached for him. Tiny grabbed her braid and yanked her backward at the last moment rocking the boat.
Satch cut the engine. “Stop. You’re hurting her.”
Peck tried to roll over to bite Tiny. He pulled her braid again so that she fell back on his chest in the boat. Her skin had faded from the even brown that matched her brother’s to a sickly, gray hue. She snapped her teeth together loud enough to echo over the water. Her voice came as a hiss and gurgle from the deep cut in her throat. She thrashed bobbing the boat from side to side.
Tiny slid his hand through the wet gore under her chin and then locked her head tight in the crook of his elbow to pin her jaw closed. She hummed and struggled.
“I said, don’t hurt her, Tiny.”
Tiny came up with one of the knives and held the poit next to the opening of her ear. As he prepared to drive the blade into her skull he focused on Satch holding his own, dark knife positioned above Tiny’s head aimed at him instead of his sister.
“Satch, we have to …”
“Don’t do it, Tiny. Don’t.”
They turned dead in the water as Tiny clutched Peck’s cold throat and Satch stood above with the clouds drifting beyond him.
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near Myrtle Beach on 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 Main Street, and Middletown Apocalypse. 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 The Great Interruption, Time Eaters, and co-authored The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com
©Jay Wilburn, 2016. All rights reserved.