huddled behind the tables. With three people running in desperate haste toward them and blocking their view, Nerit took a majority of the shots. Jenni aimed for the zombies furthest from the running humans and fired off a few shots. She could feel the tension growing steadily as the room slowly filled. Katarina managed to get up and run again, but four more zombies grabbed hold of her denim jacket. She twisted, yanked, and squirmed her way out of the jacket and broke free, running again. Jenni heard a man ’ s scream and barely saw one of the men, whose name she did not remember, go down. Gunshots rang out steadily, but the man kept screaming. “ Nerit! ” Mike ’ s voice was an order. Another shot, then the man stopped screaming. Katarina reached the tables and squirmed behind them. She quickly turned to fire at a zombie in hot pursuit. There was no sign of the other man. He had gone down so silently, no one had noticed. The room was now clogged with the undead. They were tripping over their dead comrades and falling over chairs and tables. The most agile had pursued Katarina, but as they had drawn near the barricade, they had gone down in a hail of bullets. Jenni kept firing, aiming as much as she could, but she was terrified and that terror made some of her shots go wide. Her gun clicked empty, and Mike shouted at her, “ Reload. ” She almost burst out laughing.
3. The Madness of War Katie found herself wedged behind a table with her back against the wall with Travis beside her and Nerit standing on the bar behind them. She hated being stuck in the corner. The gun kept jerking in her hands. Her fingers ached as she tried to aim true and take the heads off as many of the zombies as possible. There had been estimates that only twenty people were in the hotel. That estimate had been seriously low. At least a dozen lay dead on the ground and maybe thirty were still moving around and trying to get to the living flesh. A zombie pushed his way past a nearby table and charged at the barricade. He hit the table Katie was behind and it started to tip. Pressing her back against the wall and bracing the table with one foot, she aimed at his head as he snarled, reaching for her. Pulling the trigger, she was already flinching, knowing blood and gore would splatter her. “ Gross, ” she muttered as wiped brains off her face, and aimed at the next one rushing toward them. Next to her, Travis was busy reloading someone else ’ s gun for them. Jenni was screaming at the zombies as she fired. Nerit was cold and calculating above them as she systematically eliminated the quickest of the undead, leaving the slower, more mutilated ones staggering toward the tables. “ Gawddammit! Why are there so many? ” Felix exclaimed. Beside him, Shane didn't answer as he shoved the end of his rifle into a snarling zombie mouth and fired. Four zombies hit the barricade at the same time and some people had to stop firing so they could brace it. Nerit was in the midst of reloading so Travis picked up a heavy candlestick and brought it down hard on the head of one of the female zombies snarling at them. Katie screamed as something grabbed her leg. She looked down to see the hand of a zombie gripping her ankle. It had reached through the gap between the table and wall. Its growling face was barely visible. With surprising strength, it tugged on her, sending her tumbling backward into the bar. Travis brought the candlestick down hard on the head of another zombie as more hit the barricades. Now only a few people were firing into the crowd of zombies. The others tried to keep the tables from toppling over and allowing the zombies through. The room was filled with the screams of the humans and the growls of the zombies. It seemed everyone was shouting at once: Mike ordering people to hold the tables in place, Katarina screaming that her table was slipping, Nerit telling everyone to be calm, Felix and Shane were shouting as several