The killing field. It was all that stood between Peter and Boulder City. An area a quarter mile wide on the eastern side of the city he never thought he would see. Not a single tree, or bush occupied the space. Nothing large enough to hide behind. Nothing large enough to obstruct the view from atop the city. A ring of cars, turned on their sides and piled three high stood in the distance before him. Atop it, a wooden structure, walls, a walkway beyond. He thought he could make heads out over the wooden wall.
Shouts behind him, Peter bolted forward, shotgun slung over his shoulder, slapping his back with each step. “Open the gate!” he yelled over the heads of his companions. He risked a glance over his shoulder, and wished he had not. The closest of the Others was barely ten feet behind him, with more behind that one. He put his head down and surged forward, lungs on fire.
“Don’t shoot! Open the gate,” he heard someone say, but could not tell who over the blood pounding in his ears. He began to pass a small form, his vision blurry from the sweat. He realized that it was Kyle, whose bike lay in a crashed heap a few feet behind him, and slowed down long enough to scoop the boy up in his arms.
A shot rang out from up ahead, the wind from the bullet whistling close enough for Peter to feel it.
“Stop! Don’t shoot!,” Shouted a female voice, Sarah’s, or maybe Amy’s. No further shots, someone must have got the point.
Peter could here ragged breathing behind him and he dug down, plowing forward toward the high vehicular wall that had been built around the city. Through his sweat he could see an opening in the wall. The gate was open. He used his forearm to wipe the sweat from his eyes, his vision clearing enough to show that indeed, the gate was open, but it was still a long ways off. Zachariah was a few feet in front of him looking over his shoulder, a look of fear on his face. Before him ran both Julie and Sarah, side by side. Brian was in front of them, the guitar on his back rocking violently. Amy was closest to the gates, nearly through them already, into the waiting arms of a crowd of people.
Peter stumbled, a tree root in the ground tripping him. He managed to catch himself without falling, without dropping Kyle, who was crying in his arms, but it cost him most of his momentum. “Zach!” Peter called out.
And it was followed a moment later by Julie shouting her son’s name.
A blow fell upon his back and he let the boy go, who took off running after his mother. Peter spun, his fists outstretched, and connected with something. His eyes focused and he watched as the Other, a blank eyed man, fell away, the side of his face collapsed at the cheek bone. The victory was short lived as two more, a woman in a floral sun dress and a man in blue cover-alls, were upon him. Arms pumping, he swung at anything that moved, fists connecting more often than not.
“Woah! Stop!” Someone said as Peter continued to flail. It was Zachariah and he was pulling Peter to his feet. “Come on.” Peter was pushed towards the gate, still seeming forever away.
He ran again, feeling the breath of his pursuers behind him. Hands on him again, this time from in front of him.
“Close the gates.” He heard an unfamiliar voice say. He could feel a press of people pulling him forward, more people crowding behind him.
Amy was beside him. “We did it Peter. We made it, all of us!” He felt her hug him, and then the squeeze of his hand.
“Thanks,” it was Sarah.
A hole was slowly forming around the newcomers as the crowd gave them space.
Brian was kneeling in the dirt, panting, Sarah hunched over him. Julie was crying, holding her son close. Amy stood nearby, eyeing the crowd.
Zach had an eye that was quickly swelling shut, but he was smiling. “Almost lost you back there.”
It was Peters turn to nod and say “Thanks for coming back for me.”
“You would have done the same for me. Hell, I’m sure you did a few times…”
“What do we have here?” It was the unfamiliar voice again, parting the crowd to his right. A tall man in a blue polo shirt stepped through the opening, a pencil-thin mustache gracing his upper lip, and his right arm hanging tight against his body in a white sling.
Kyle’s eyes lit up and he ran toward the man, “Dad!”
Battered and bruised, that was the last thing Peter heard as he slumped to the ground, his heart beating heavily in his chest, his lungs gasping for air.