Elliot worriedly examined the body of the dead police officer they'd dumped outside the house. As far as he could tell, the body hadn't moved. The four then hurried quickly but alertly down the doctor's gravel driveway, keeping an eye out for motion near the truck. Elliot heard what sounded like shifting sand ahead and to the left. Moving closer to the pickup, the group spotted several shapes moving down the road towards the vehicle. Joe broke forward with his pistol ready, crouching low to search under the truck and then in its cab. Both were clear. "I'll drive," Joe said, until Scott reminded him who's truck it was. "I'm driving," Scott informed him. Joe and Elliot jumped in the back while Mary climbed into the passenger seat.
Tires squealing, the truck drove forward and made a quick u-turn. As Scott steered around the approaching zombies, Elliot grasped his brush axe firmly and swung at the closest one. A splatter of pitch blood washed over him and the side of the truck. The makeshift weapon, now lodged firmly in the undead thing's chest, was wrenched out of Elliot's hand. The zombie spiralled down to the ground and the group drove on.
Scott turned back onto the town's main road. Joe, at this time, first realized that the zombie-inflicted wound on his hand was burning terribly. Examining it, he found it red and irritated, but said nothing to his companions. They continued down the road, driving past the town's hotel. Again, Scott had to suppress his firefighter's instincts to rush into the building and extinguish the growing fire evident in its lobby. Instead, he kept the truck moving forward, encountering two figures in the road. A closer examination revealed that they appeared to be two women... and one of them was missing an arm. Rather than risk damaging the truck, Scott drove over in the left lane in order to get around them. The one-armed zombie fixated on the passing vehicle and attempted to grab the passenger side mirror with its good arm, but it was too slow.
A brief moment later and the truck arrived at the general store. Scott drove up onto the store's few stairs, aiming the truck's lights up and into the storefront for more lighting. The foursome piled out of the pickup and the firefighter raised his axe, bringing it down upon the door. Unfortunately, a glancing blow off of the doorknob did little damage. A second swing hit only the frame, but his third chop landed a solid hit. A kick later and the splintered door was wide open. The relieved survivors piled into the dark building. Elliot and his wife went into the bathroom to clean the splatter of undead blood that covered him. Scott and Joe smashed the gun case after checking to verify that the store was clear of any walking dead. Three shotguns went onto the counter-top, as well as a bag full of 12-gauge ammunition. Scott decided to also grab a handgun, finding a .357 Magnum (and ammo) that he felt would be up to the task. Elliot, having finished cleaning up, decided on a lighter 20-gauge shotgun for himself, paired with a .357 revolver loaded with light .38 Special rounds. As Scott searched for more flashlights, Joe and Elliot took their new arsenal out to the truck. Mary followed close behind.
After placing two of the shotguns and the extra ammo in the bed of the pickup, the two men scouted down the road for the zombies they had recently passed. Sure enough, the pair of female undead were soon visible through the night's thick fog. Both waited with their shotguns and the ready (much to the distress of Mary) and then fired. Or tried to. Joe's weapon fired, but Elliot had to briefly fumble with his gun's safety. The one-armed zombie soon found itself completely unarmed as a well-placed shotgun blast hit it on the shoulder. The thing spun to the ground, flopping about as it tried to rise again. Its companion took a hit to the leg, knocking it to the ground. Elliot and Joe moved forward, firing at the downed creatures. Even horribly mutilated and nearly dismembered by the shotguns, the zombies continued to struggle until the men were able to pump buckshot directly into their beating black hearts. Then they were still.
Scott arrived with a bag containing several large flashlights (including one very large and very bright electric lamp) and a roll of duct tape. Joe fastened his flashlight to the forend of his semiautomatic shotgun, then proposed the idea of heading to the town's church. Not only had they seen a strange bright light coming from its grounds, but he also held out hope that perhaps a dose of holy water could heal his zombie wound. The scratches were still painfully inflamed and although he didn't say so, he was terrified that he might already be turning into one of the undead. His companions agreed and they once again piled into the pickup. However, after taking a side road towards the church, they found themselves confronted by three slow-moving zombies. Driving up on the sidewalk, Scott quickly maneuvered the truck around them. Elliot and Joe fired at the things from the bed, but the jostling vehicle sent their shots wild. One of the things let forth a terrible shriek as the four sped past.
Passing through an intersection, the group found their path blocked by five of the creatures with no easy way around them. Scott stopped the truck and backed up slightly away from the zombies. Elliot and Joe opened fire on the rightmost one, filling it with lead shot and eventually perforating its infernal heart. They turned their attention to its nearest companion, blasting it back into the afterlife as well. With those two zombies down, Scott was able to barrel past the remaining three and make an immediate right turn towards the church.
They could not help but notice the unnaturally intense light coming from ground to the left of the chapel. Driving closer, they found that the small town cemetery to the side of the church was seemingly no more. Instead, they found a crater spewing forth both a dazzling white illumination and murky clouds of fog. But Joe's focus was on the church itself, and he directed Scott to drive as close to it as he could. Once the truck was in position, Joe leapt out and threw open the doors. There, just inside the entryway, was a font of holy water. He quickly plunged his hand in and then examined his wound.
There was no change.
Dismayed, Joe went back outside. With his hope of surviving as a living, breathing human rapidly dwindling, he decided to simply confront whatever unnatural horror existed down in the cemetery's crater. He stepped up close, despite the protests of his companions, and peered inside. At the base of the twenty-foot-wide crater was a basketball-sized orb, glowing brightly and giving off billowing fumes from its surface. Elliot jumped out of the truck and joined Joe at the edge of the crater. They both peered down at the roughly-sphere shaped object. "Let's shoot it," was the suggestion. With no better plan taking shape, the two of them shrugged, hefted their guns, and fired.
The first shots merely deflected off of the side of the orb, chipping off brightly glowing pieces. The next several shots sent large chunks of the orb splintering off, revealing a hollow center. As it lay shattered and broken at the bottom of the crater, it began a subtle change. Elliot and Joe noticed that the once-steady light had begun to throb and pulsate. A deep, bone-jarring hum filled the air. "Run!" they shouted, and turned to flee. Scott spun the truck around and stomped on the gas. Before any of them had gotten far, there was a brilliant flash of light, followed by a thunderous shockwave. Joe (who had jumped into the air at the last moment) and Elliot were hurled to the ground. The back window on Scott's pickup shattered, showering the occupants with sharp-edged beads of safety glass. All four found themselves blinded and deafened by the blast.
Elliot began to grope about the grass for his shotgun. Joe turned over on his back and looked blindly up at the sky. After a few worrying moments, their senses started to return. "Are you okay?" Scott asked Mary.
"My neck is all cut up and my hair is full of glass!" she replied. Scott found that he had suffered the same minor injuries. Joe and Elliot, ears still ringing and vision still swimming with spots, stood up, readied their weapons, and approached the crater. Their first discovery was that the mysterious light source had been extinguished. Following this, they also found that the size of the crater had grown by at least half of its original size and the billowing column of thick fumes was no longer in evidence. Whatever the strange object was, they could find no trace of it inside the crater. They returned to the truck and the group of four made their way back onto the road.
"Zombies," came the cry as three of the undead approached their vehicle. Before Scott could even react, however, one of the walking corpses began to twitch and spasm. A second later, it had fallen and lay still. Scott spun the truck out around the other two zombies. One of them threw its head back and spouted a noxious torrent of black blood from its mouth. As the blood lay steaming on the ground, the zombie twitched and fell to the earth, never moving again. Scott drove the truck fast away from the third.
A quick discussion and the decision was made to head to Allison's house, a large Victorian on the northwest edge of town. As they proceeded down the small town's streets, they noticed a large number of motionless shapes along the sides of the road and on the sidewalks. Fallen zombies? They could not tell because of distance and lighting. At this point, Mary checked her cell phone to find a single bar worth of signal strength. Joe took the phone and called Allison's house. After a few rings, an anxious-sounding voice answered: Allison's father, Richard. After reassuring Joe that his family was safe, Richard insisted that Joe explain what was going on. His few attempts to do so were only met with confusion from Richard, who insisted he wasn't making any sense. Joe decided to simply tell Richard not to open his door until they arrived at the house. Richard agreed and said he would Dr. Ruby for more information on what was going on. Joe then hung up and dialed 911. There was no answer.
The truck arrived at the Spencer's Victorian and sat waiting while the four occupants scanned the area for movement. They found none. Cautiously they approached the door and announced themselves. A disheveled Allison answered and let the foursome inside. Down the hall, they could hear Richard on the phone with Doctor Ruby. And so Scott, Joe, Elliot, and Mary began to recount the events of the past several hours (could it really only be 5 in the morning?) to Allison and her family. Faced with corroboration from five different sources (including Dr. Ruby, an old friend of the family), the Spencers had no choice but to finally accept the outlandish story as fact. They placed a call to the state police and settled in to wait.
The sunrise brought with it a swarm of State Troopers. They took in the carnage, collected the town's survivors, and treated the injured as best they could. Unsure of exactly what had happened, they took statements from every person they could, including Doctor Ruby and his wife, the Spencers, Donna Flanagan, and the four other survivors of the Heritage Lake Bed & Breakfast. After several hours of securing the town, the Troopers released the final death toll: 85. Five of those had died in the hotel, from smoke inhalation. One of the dead had been Allison's fiance, Jacob. It wasn't long after that agents of the Center of Disease Control arrived, placing the entire town under quarantine. Without any other evidence to act upon, they treated the events of that night as a biological infection or some kind of hallucinogenic or psychosis-inducing agent released into the air. On the heels of the CDC arrived the FBI, who also took statements as well as air and soil samples. Despite all their requests for information over the months and years that followed, the residents and guests of Heritage Lake never received any conclusive answers from the government as to what actually happened that night.