Author: Dark Star
Summary: Dangerous times
Written for The Games Challenge at Writer’s Toybox.
Thanks to Jo for the beta.
They were being pursued. Dozens of grotesque shuffling figures followed them down the narrow street and Buffy spared a glance over her shoulder as they ran. She saw more dark shapes spilling out of every adjoining street and mixing with the stinking mob of decaying dead things hot on their trail.
Rounding the corner at a sprint, they veered to the left as they saw more macabre figures shambling down the road toward them. They turned left again, headed off along another street toward a high wooden fence and scrambled easily over the top.
Dropping down the other side, into a small car park where a row of one-story warehouses stood, Buffy giggled, her voice sounding slightly higher pitched than normal. “I’d like to see them climb that.”
Angel smiled back at her, more to take her mind off of the approaching grisly mob on the other side of the fence than anything else. “It would be interesting to see.”
The stood silently for a moment, listening to the noises behind the fence before crossing the car park toward the only exit, and stopped to peer down the narrow alley between two buildings.
The end of the alley was blocked. Swaying dark shapes were already filling half of the tight space and Buffy and Angel backed up. They couldn’t go back over the fence, because they could hear zombies starting to bounce off the wood and sooner or later it would give under the weight of numbers and they would break through. Maybe there was a way out behind the line of warehouses, but inspection showed them nothing but a high brick wall.
Damn. Heading back to the exit alley, swords out and ready, the only thing to do was stop the zombies getting out of the alley in the first place, and for the next twenty minutes, that’s what they did. But no matter how many they cut down, no matter how many disgusting severed limbs lay twitching on the concrete, the numbers never seemed to decrease and the massing dead were pushing them slowly backwards into the car park.
“The fence is going,” Angel called. “Can you hold them a minute?”
“Go!” she snarled through clenched teeth and neatly sidestepped to help fill the space Angel had just left, and to protect the end of the alley better. Behind her, wood splintered and the walking dead began to stumble through the debris. Angel had gone to the nearest warehouse, where she could hear him smashing the locks on the doors to give them access to the interior.
Abandoning the seething mass of dead beings trying to get out the alley, she sprinted back to Angel and together they ran inside the warehouse and looked around for something to barricade the door with. But this part of the building was empty, already cleared of its stock, and they only had a few minutes before the zombies would reach them. Buffy caught hold of Angel’s arm.
“Let’s see if there’s another way out.”
He nodded, and they raced off into the building. Getting themselves trapped in here was a really bad idea, but there was simply nowhere else to go. Ahead of them, a narrow corridor opened out into a wider office area and zombies were already assembling around some the windows. Smashing glass from one of the offices to their left drew them up short. Zombies were swarming through the window, and they could hear more glass smashing nearby to admit even more zombies.
How many of them were there?
With the way ahead blocked by the advancing crowd, and the way behind blocked by the zombies streaming in from outside, Buffy adopted a fighting stance, prepared to stand as long as she possibly could.
“Any suggestions?” Buffy was about to ask when she saw that Angel was looking above her head.
She looked up and saw a trapdoor leading to the attic. Angel reached up above her and slammed the door back, then stood aside to let Buffy go first. If there had been more time she would have argued but instead she scrambled in and Angel followed her up.
If getting trapped in the warehouse was a bad idea, getting stuck in the attic was even worse but there was no other choice.
But at least they had a minute to catch their breath. Zombies can’t climb, and even if they could, anything that stuck its head up through the hatch would have had it cut off. Angel began smashing at the roofing until he had enough space for them both to get through. Buffy looked at the thin roof and frowned.
“I think I’ll be all right,” she said carefully, “But you’re big.”
Angel smirked, his eyes shining. “Nice of you to say so.”
Buffy chuckled. “I meant - will it hold you?”
“Yeah,” he linked his hands together, and let her use them as stirrups to boost herself up. He helped her through the opening and clambered up beside her. “Vampire, remember?”
Not something she was going to forget, really, but vampires had a knack for doing the impossible, and the roof held for both of them. The dash across the rooftop was a fraught one. There was no way to get down onto the ground with the car park full of zombies, and the only chance they had was to try and make it across the adjoining rooftops. The roofs on the neighbouring warehouses were no stronger than the one they’d just left, and they had no time to try and take it carefully.
With the first leap across the gap, the brittle roof they landed on gave a loud crack, and immediately drew the attention of the gathering zombies below. They looked up, saw their fleeing prey, and began a shambolic change of direction to follow them.
The second roof was sound, allowing them more speed but the third was irregular and shaky. Angel’s foot slipped through the rotten wood, eliciting an expletive from the vampire. Buffy turned in alarm, but Angel was already pulling his foot back up. He waved her onwards.
“I’m all right,” he said.
Buffy hesitated, not wanting to leave him behind. But he didn’t appear to be hurt, and she realised that if they travelled separately, the zombies would have two targets to follow. It wouldn’t thin them out much, but it might help.
A piece of the roof broke off as Angel landed behind the fleeing Buffy. He could have done the leap with less damage, but he was trying to draw the zombies’ interest back to him. It worked, as several of them abandoned the small girl for the bigger target closer to hand. However, by the time they reached the broken timber, the vampire had already gone.
Ahead of him, Angel saw Buffy slip on the broken roofing; she instantly caught her balance but then encountered a weak piece of timber that splintered as she put her weight on it, tumbling her straight over the side and within reach of the zombies in the car park.
Slayer reflexes helped her catch the guttering running along the edge of the roof, but before she could heave herself back up, the first zombie reached her and grabbed hold of her leg, intent on pulling her down with him. She shrieked in alarm, adrenaline giving her speed as she kicked frantically at the clawing hands on her legs. A lucky kick landed in the creature’s face, knocking out several teeth, and forcing the zombie to momentarily release his tentative grip on her limb. Buffy used the brief respite to swing out and away, swing back, use the zombie’s head and shoulders as a ladder as she bounced herself off of him and back on to the roof.
Angel reached the edge of the roof just as she landed, and grasping her by the shoulder, unceremoniously hauled her onto the stronger wood higher up. She landed on her feet like a cat, and together they sprinted over the next two roofs without incident. When they landed on the last one, they paused, turning to see what was happening in the car park below.
The whole area was thick with zombies. So many were crammed into the parking lot and the open warehouse, there were no spaces to be seen anywhere. None of them could move anywhere, squashed as tightly as they were into the confined areas and with nowhere to go. Buffy laughed, nodded her head toward the end of the warehouse, and together they hurried to the end of the building and dropped down onto the street below.
But the street was not empty; it was full of people rushing about, and from somewhere up ahead they could hear Giles shouting instructions.
“Tighten up! We don’t want them getting out!”
Buffy grinned as Willow patted her shoulder before hurrying off to help Giles. Xander approached them, arms full of weapons and appraised them.
“I still think we should use sheepdogs,” he said.
Angel answered, “Zombies would eat them.”
“Still,” he indicated his head toward the warehouses where the mass of zombies were safely penned in. “It’s a dangerous game to play.”
Buffy shrugged. “Dangerous times,” she said.
Written in 2012.