Codex Nekromantia: Section 30

Emblem drove fast. Very fast. Zombies thumped and thudded against the bumper. Each one flashed for a moment in the headlights. The car liberated limbs and torsos and heads from one another, each flying free of the oppressive shackles of bodyhood through the night air. Casimir became less repulsed by the violence and more irritated at the jerkiness of the ride.

"Can you try to hit a few less?"

"Not at this speed," Emblem said.

Emblem cruised the car up to the curb and smashed a half-dozen zombies. Then he reversed so that the car came to a stop in a swath of pavement relatively clear of the undead.

"Save your ammo and don't shoot unless you have to. Remember: guns are loud, especially in the new silence of the city, and we're probably not the only survivors," Emblem said. "Amy, do you know where we might find your brother?"

"Most of his classes are in the Curtis Kirtz Science building, but he spends a lot of time at the gym. We should probably start there."

"Roger that," Emblem said. The three of them crossed the lawn that led up to one of the administration buildings. The trio of administration buildings acted as a barrier between the school campus and the city of Constantinople. Behind them was the oldest quad at the school. All of the buildings of the quad were connected to each other by elevated walkways. They were enclosed in glass. Emblem waved his flashlight along one.

"No zombies. Maybe it'll be faster to move inside," he said.

Emblem pushed open the metal doors. They rattled in their hinges as they opened. The interior smelled of new paint and old wood stain, mixed with the arid odor of ancient chalk dust. Casimir's borrowed sneakers tapped gently on the tile floor. Casimir shivered for a moment, partly because he was wearing what were probably a dead man's shoes, but also from the oppressive volume of any institutional building drained of its occupants. Deep down, his body rebelled against being in such a warren, whether it was the foul labyrinth of a minotaur or the concrete and steel tunnels of modern construction.

"Here," Emblem said, leading Amy and Casimir up a staircase. Three sets of eyes darted into every nook and cranny of the hallways, as they had only seen one zombie who appeared to be forlorn for lack of a company. They'd easily steered clear of him. It would have been less nerve-wracking, Casimir reflected, if the zombies had occupied the space in a great heaving throng.

They pushed through yet another set of doors. Amy and Casimir ran into Emblem's back, as he had stopped abruptly. Casimir peeked over his shoulder and saw the reasons why.

Zombies littered the floor of the glass overpass. All of them were missing heads. One side of the glass was shattered and ruined, while the other side was painted black with blood and brains. Emblem held up his hand for Amy and Casimir to stop. He crouched and crept forward, his shotgun in his hands. After he'd made it halfway through, the sudden crack of glass made Amy and Casimir both jump and grab onto each other in shock.

Casimir watched a new hole blossom in the glass next to Emblem. Simultaneously, Emblem appeared as if his head had been pinched by a great big invisible hand and flicked against the opposite wall. His body flew like a ragdoll and blood sprayed across the pane. The crunch from his skull colliding with the glass was louder than the glass shattering and Casimir tried to run forward but couldn't move. He realized that Amy had him in a bear hug around the waist.

"A sniper," Amy whispered.

Emblem lay still.

"No," Casimir said, still trying to wriggle free. "No, he's fine."

"He was shot in the head," Amy said. "We have to move. The shooter might come to check on his handiwork."

Casimir felt himself being dragged by Amy out of the walkway and into a nearby office. The red lights of a desk clock provided enough light for her to put him into a chair, still fighting.

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