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21 Chapter Twenty One - Children’s Stories

    The corpse stood unmoving in the centre of the small, quaint living room, it's unseeing red stained eyes seeming to stare at the wall.  Upon the floor, was a smattering of small bones with tiny torn clothes on them and a child's skull with just a few strands of black hair on it's desiccated scalp lie in the corner.  The zombie had wandered about the abode, had stood at the door using its nails to scratch at the plastic as it heard a commotion beyond its hungry reach, had growled and grunted in the kitchen as the scent of meat had enticed it, only to lose interest as the rot of the meat became apparent.  Finally it had returned to wear the only fresh, living meat it had come into contact with now lie scattered in death after becoming food for the zombie.  But that had been too long ago and now with the silence of the world, the zombie simply stood, in the house, in the living room, unmoving.

    Suddenly, as if belying what only the tiny spiders in the room's corners could testify to, the zombie's head whipped around, a audible cracking sound, which seemed to come from its twisting neck, echoed about the walls.  Just as suddenly, the front door of the property creaked open.  The sound and the smell of fresh, living flesh lured the zombie back into swift movement, the stiffness of its joints the only obstacle to obtaining immediately that which could sate its insane hunger.  That and the sudden hole that appeared in its temple, sweeping through its semi functioning brain, effectively making it useless.

    As the zombie fell ungracefully to the ground, a voice muttered; "Ah, I wish I could do that!"

    "Quit complaining," Dexter slapped Patrick about the head, before turning to the man responsible for the zombie's sudden demise.  "All clear?"

    Ren Zexian felt no more movement from his poison core and nodded.  The squad filtered into the narrow hall.  Being large men, they could only do so one at a time, so having a man that could detect zombies with them was appreciated, by most.  Tyler had been left outside with Paul to mind the truck and the arrogant man still could not get along with Ren Zexian.

    "I'm just saying that it might have been nice to be able to end zombies using a flick of the wrist and a blast of air," Patrick grumbled to Harry, behind him.

    "There's no point grumbling to a mortal man like myself," the muscular man chuckled.  Neither he nor Paul nor Dexter had the potential to awaken an ability according to Ren Zexian, but he was okay with that.  He preferred the idea of relying on his body than some mystic mumbo jumbo any how.  "Are you still upset at what happened at that last place?"

    There had been two zombies lurking behind the doors of said cottage, one had been quite abundant in flesh, meaning his rotting form had oozing craters where lumps of skin and fat had fallen, yet still no bones could be seen.  It had shuffled into view and Patrick, in an attempt to impress others had used his ability to hold the zombie by its foot to the floor.  Patrick's ability, while impressive, could only affect small areas at the moment, so he could not completely hold down the zombie or better yet crush it beneath gravity's oppression.  However, stopping it from approaching, while they dealt with the other zombie, should have been easy.  Not everything went as he wished it.

    "Who knew the zombie would tear its leg from its ankle just to get to us!" Patrick moaned, causing Harry to chuckle.

    "It's like you were expecting it to be smart," Harry said, ruffling the smaller man's hair, "and have self-preservation."

    They had raided three of the zombie infested houses so far, inside, guarded by their undead guardians, the treasures were fairly abundant.  Tins of food, packets, boxes, even a few cans of powered milk, they gathered each and every one carefully.  Even though a few had surpassed their best before dates.

    Winston ran up the stairs and saw the tiny, floating corpses of goldfish in murky green waters upon a stand on the landing.  Three doors lead to a child's bedroom, the master bedroom and a bathroom.  There was half a toilet roll left on the holder and bleach beside the toilet.  He didn't leave these, every little luxury was a blessing after all.  The wrapped packets of soap were a better find.  In the child's room were small clothes, probably better suited for a boy.  Lacking a sense of dimension, Winston wasn't sure whether they would fit little Lucy, but he gathered them anyway.

    Lucy, that was what they had named the little girl, who looked to be roughly three years of age.  She could have been older, but her words were still a little ill formed and immature, so they didn't think so.  She wouldn't tell them her given name, perhaps she could not remember or perhaps she didn't want to remember it.  To be honest, she might have actually told Nathan had he been the one to ask, instead of Tyler.  She simply had shaken her head and clutched tightly upon Nathan's combat trousers.

    "Well we have to call her something," the man had stated, testily to Dexter and Ren Zexian, who happened to be nearby.  Tyler was fond of children so to have been shut out by the little girl had made him a little short of temper; what was so much better about a boy who barely paid any attention to her over him?  "We can't keep calling them 'girl' and 'dog!'"

    Dexter had agreed, but couldn't exactly force it.  So he had kneeled down before the child and had said as gently as a man could with as rough a voice as he; "hmmm, how about Hilary?"

    "Hilary?  What sort of name is that?" Patrick, who had decided to join in midway the conversation, had asked.

    "It was my mum's name," Dexter had growled at him.

    "And it's a very nice name!" Patrick had said in sudden reversal.  "Do you like it?" He had asked the little girl, who had shied away, her thumb stuck in her mouth.  The dog, who had been sitting quietly beside her, suddenly had shaken its great, black head.  "You don't like it...?" The dog had shaken its head again.

    "How about Anna?" Tyler had suggested.  Again the dog had not approved.  "Marie? Joanne? Hannah?"

    "Kelsey? Primrose? Tamara?" Patrick had listed a few suggestions of his own.

    "Lucy," Nathan had said suddenly, causing all eyes to stare at him.  Unable to meet any of them, his eyes fell awkwardly to where he had not long removed weeds.  The little girl had tugged at his trousers and smiled brightly.

    "Why that name?" Patrick had asked, curiously.

    Nathan had shuffled from foot to foot.  "I remembered it from a book my nanny used to read to me.  Lucy rode on Aslan's back."  He had pointed to the large dog, who tilted its head and managed to look as if it wasn't a very dangerous beast, but a simple pet.

    "Aslan was a lion, not a dog," Tyler had pointed out abruptly, causing Nathan to take a step back.  His eyes had glanced up meeting Ren Zexian's for a moment as if seeking something from him.  Unfortunately, Ren Zexian had been unable to refute Tyler's words in any way, for he had no idea who this Aslan was.

    "Yeah, but think about it," Patrick had said, almost excitedly, "Aslan is a powerful and strong beast, like our canine friend here and goes out of his way to protect Lucy and the others.  And as they say, he's good lion, but he is not a tame one.  Don't you think that sort of fits?"

    Tyler had not thought so, however he had found himself completely overruled as both child and dog seemed to like their new names; Lucy and Aslan.  "They are good names," Ren Zexian had given Nathan a warm compliment and in return received a small, almost shy, smile.

    Downstairs in the raided house, they had begun to clean up, removing the zombie core's minute core and dragging it outside.  They also gathered the remnants of the child and placed it beside the other fallen corpses.  For this snuffed out light, Paul and a couple of others gave a small prayer, despite their lack of religious conviction, before Ren Zexian set the funeral pyre alight with his flames.
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