Archibald looked up and down the street in a vein attempt to come up with something, anything that might get them out of the situation they had found themselves in. Mobs of those things shuffled towards them from both ends of the street. With more of their blood stained companions coming up out alleyways to join with their unholy moaning choir. He didn’t know if the moan was meant as a distraction or as a summons but either way it was very affective. None of the alleyways were an option and the brick buildings that lined the street mostly looked closed, with windows barricaded. Still he had no other choice at this point. Pointing at a three story brick building with heavy Tudor influence he called out “Up the stairs boys.’ There was no need to tell them twice they all fell into together and moved as a group.
Beside him Carl emptied last the last round out of his heavy python pistol. The smoke from its power drifted out of the barrel as stuffed it back in to the holster. They had gotten far too close to reload now. Not that he’d intended to get into hand to hand, but the small boarding axe was still hooked through his belt from earlier in the day.
The muscle bound William fired off the last couple of rounds from the long rifle from the back of the group. He’d spun it around to hold the business end and his moist gloves steamed as he cracked the butt across the nearest one’s jaw. A half second later its jaw hung down from only one side of its face and than it tumbled backward. He climbed the steps bringing up the rear ready to use his makeshift cricket bat on any that got to close.
“You want the door open Captain?” Maurice asked
Entering a building had been one of the options he’d considered. His attention right was more focused on his attackers and how they kept just getting up after you shot them. “Do it!”
Maurice lifted his boot and smashed it down in between the door knobs. One of the heavy oak doors swung open with a crack while the other was held fast in its frame. Carl and William pushed past and hurried into the building, the light from their lantern lit up the hallway and stairwell it. Maurice followed in behind them and stood at the base of the stairs. The place had the look and feel of a warzone. Doors where smashed, thick red blood coated the walls and the stairs were caked in it. Despite the moans outside they could still hear things inside the apartment. A floor up something was shuffling across the floor dragging its foot along behind it. Slow drawn out music came from behind a door labeled with the number one, the sound reminded Archibald of a phonograph that needed to be cranked back up.
When the light from the lantern was cast across the top of the stairs they saw the source of the noise. A man in a fine black suit and a felted top hat leaned against the rail and glared down at them. Fresh blood dripped from his chin and his eyes looked blankly at the bottom of the stairs and its next meal. It took two steps forward and tumbled down the stairs right at them. His top hat flew off and landed in a pool of blood at the base of the stairs. He crashed right into Maurice his face slammed into his stomach. It dug his teeth deep into his Maurice’s flesh who screamed out. The cries didn’t end when Carl buried the boarding axe into the things head.
Outside their attackers had started crowd around the stairs, the ones at the front fell forward trapped between the stairs they didn’t seem to understand and the press of those behind them. On the ground they pulled themselves forward up the stairs. William smashed in their heads with the butt of his rifle. It was enough to slow the flow of their attack but certainly waste anywhere near enough to stop them.
“We’d better go up Sir there’s just too many of them out here.” William called from the steps
A steam whistle further down the street drowned out the moans as William fell back to the door. The Commander looked over the heads and out stretched hands and saw the steam-powered sports-ster as it rounded the corner racing running flat out at the mob. “Unless those cursed things can drive too, we might just have another way out.”
The silver and brass trim steam car glittered in the moonlight. It was an oversized family model that had three rows of seats and its steam tanks mounted at the front on either side of the engine. The driver was plowing through anything on the street, and was barely slowing at all. In the passenger seat someone swung a massive broadsword and let out a war cry rang out as three heads rolled off their bodies and down on to the cobble stone. Their face was obscured by the white helmet of a fencing mask.
“Get ready to jump in we can’t stop or they’ll be all over us.” the sword swinging passenger shouted as they neared the mass in front of the stairs.
“William grab Maurice, we’ll bandage him in the car. Carl, you and Mark cover them.” Archibald grab grabbed the rifle from him and slammed it into the head of the nearest one. The sound of the crunching skull had become one of the most satisfying sounds in Archibald’s recent memory.
Mark had just finished reloading his pistol and stepped back out of the house. He snapped of shots slow and steady dropping one with each and ever shot. William scooped up Maurice in his arms and carried him out on to the stoop. He got out of the building just as the car slowed down in front of the stairs. Archibald smashed the butt of the rifle down into the face of the rising town’s person as he crossed the gap between them.
The hands of those that had lain flat seconds before reached out from under the car to grab anything that got close. Their moan was a strange muffled by the reverberation of the cars engine. “Move it, There already getting back up,” he screamed at the men as the last one covered the distance and jumped in to the slow moving car.
The swordsmen had climbed back two rows and swung at anything that came near the car. His actions were not even slowing the things down, they clearly had no regard for the own life. He was a menace with the sword taking bits of flesh off them with every swing and enjoying every minutes of it.
Archibald was the last one to get in the car after he ground the heel of his boot against the fingers of one of them that had gotten to close. He swung one leg over the side not bothering with the door at all, the sporty convertible made things easier. He switched his weight from one leg to the other and swung himself in. A hand grabbed his heel, he struggled against it. “Go!”
The engine roared to the life and whistled as a bit of the pressure was bleed off from the tanks. Then with a belch smoke the sports-ster pulled away. Creatures where pushed out of the way as it pulled forward and the commander’s foot was pulled free from the one that held it tight. They were nearly clear of the mob when the driver swerved to hit one that had been slow to join the mob. It hit the car with a wet thump only this one did not go flying and wasn’t knocked to the side. The blood stained man in a butcher’s apron and muscle shirt hung off the hood of the car and was now struggling to pull itself towards the windshield. All of the damage that had been done to his arm, the bites it had received at one time and the flesh that had been torn from it didn’t seem to be slowing him down at all.
“Gun” Archibald said hold his hand open behind him.
“One round left,” Carl said has he handed it forward.
Pistol was pressed down in to his hand. It’s was grip still moist and warm from the last person who’d been using it. If the thing knew what was happening or could even still hear didn’t show on his face. It just kept looking at the Commander with hunger in its eyes. The pistol was raised up and he took careful aim not wanting to hit the engine or the front mounted pressure tank. With a flex of a muscle the trigger depressed and the weapon flashed a puff of smoke as the things head exploded. Beside him the drive flicked on the wipers and kept on driving as the Commander sat down in the passenger seat beside.
“Pleasure old Chap, the names Lord Alfred. Nice to make your acquaintance.” the man behind the wheel took a leather gloved hand from the wheel and offered it to the Commander.
The Commander quickly shook his hand and let go in time for him to use both of them turn the car and avoid the on coming wall. “I’m Commander Archibald of His Majesty’s Service. Thanks for the rescue we’re grateful, but could ya maybe tell us what’s going on?”
The car speed down the street zigzagging from side to side between the over turned cars. “Not to sure myself to be honest those things just started showing up a day ago. They have been raising hell ever since they got here. Most of the folks I know have already been turned.”
A female voice from the back of the cut him off and force Archibald to do a double take. “This one’s been bitten dad.”
“Oh dear.” he said dead pan.
Archibald had turned and was looking back at the swordsmen, who was vary clearly now a swordswoman. Her hand hovered over a pistol on hip and the sword was now resting against the seat. “We were attacked by one of them in the building. It tumbled down the stairs and smashed right in to him. Speaking of which Carl have you gotten him bandaged yet?”
Carl’s hand was pressed against the wound in the back seat between the girl and Maurice. “No Sir, I’m just holding it so far, it was enough to stop the blood flow. I knew I was going to need some help so I wanted to let people catch their breath first.”
“Nice thought but it doesn’t matter any more, now does it?” The woman said.
“Forgive us but we’re new to all this. Could you break down into small chunks so that us Navy folk could understand please.”
“Long and the short of it is this, whatever those things are is passed along by biting. Kinda like those blasted bugs that caused you boys all those problems over in India.”
“So how do stop it?”
He shrugged as the car started to slow down a bit. “Don’t rightly now. If I did the town wouldn’t be in the right mess it is, now would it?”
From the back the daughter tossed in her own two bits “A bullet through the brain seems to be the best solution but those are in short supply and high demand. If he’ll hold still I’ll put him down the old fashioned way.”
Archibald heard the snap of a holster being undo and could see Mark sliding his python from the holster. He couldn’t see Maurice for the seats “We won’t be putting any of my boys down like dogs thank you very much.”
“Better now then later don’t you think?”
The Commander knew that she had a point and if things where as bad as they said then it might well come to that. “How long does it take?”
“Never timed it.” Lord Alfred’s daughter snapped.
“Hate to cut short this jolly chat but I’m running out of pressure.” The car had continued to slow down steadily since the last turn and was now only coasting forward under its power. “So everyone up and out.