Scrounger: Sixteen

ack’s boots crunch against the leftover stalks of his recently harvested field. Brittle corn stumps scratch against his boots as he places the axe on his shoulder. The news is right. They flock to the forest. Hot orange sunset spills over his shoulders, and he sees their reflective dog eyes shining in the light. They lurk with speed — these three must be recent. Once infected, they can’t be saved.

They showed that last night on Dateline.

Whether it’s the heat of the sunset or the heat of his blood, their eyes dart and latch onto Jack. They creep out of the forest, but before they can settle their bootless feet on his property, Jack hollers a scream of battle and runs toward the scroungers. Their arms and shoulders shake from lopsided movement, but they stay the course.

Without fear of infection, Jack slows his run to a jog, removing the axe from his shoulder and heaves a swing. The head of the first scrounger topples, and he kicks it like a soccer ball into the woods.

“You two are next!”