“Ooooooo.” My footsteps stopped right in front of the rusted gates of a walled off church. We had reached the edge of the small town, and the thin blue spires of the holy building now towered over, casting a long sunset shadow on the road we were on.
Seeing a church, or any place of worship as intact as this one was quite a rare sight. Humanity’s world war had seen the destruction of many such institutions regardless of faith and occupants due to radical extremism of catastrophic proportions. The subsequent anarchy in wake of the reanimation infection gave the still devout no chance to save what was left.
“Strong enough for the night?” Johnny came up beside me. He eyed the fence. Rusty, but should be solid enough to keep the zombos out for a while.
A smirk spread across my face. “You can … go in?”
“Yeah, why not. Open to all, right? I…” he nodded for a bit before trailing off at the sight of my face. A bitter sulk made his upper lip curl. “Really?” he almost growled.
I chuckled mischievously and slipped off my pack. Tip-toeing as tall as I could go on the cement blocks lining the entrance, I attempted to peer over the wall into the compound. No good. At best, my head only got as tall as the wall itself. I tried hopping a bit, but was still only limited to more wall. A mocking *hmph* sounded behind me.
I turned to leer at Johnny, who simply crossed his arms and stood in the middle of the road nonchalantly. I looked around at my feet, and picked up a plastic bottle and a rock. Placing the rock into the bottle, I rattled it loudly and pitched it over the wall. It landed with a dull *thunk* on the gravel floor. We both stood still for a while, straining our ears for any noise that followed.
When no sound came, I made to swing myself up and over the wall, crouching slightly to make the jump. But Johnny just flung his pack over the wall and leapt over effortlessly, clearing the wall neatly like an Olympic long jumper.
“Coast is clear. C’mon over,” he announced. I didn’t need to see his face to tell that he was being utterly and much to his amusement, snooty. He had probably already detected no hint of life (or reanimated) with that animalistic senses of his way before I pitched the rattle. I made a face and turned to retrieve my pack.
I stood clueless for a moment staring at the empty spot before realising that Johnny had taken my pack with him. With a little more effort than I would have liked, I pulled myself over the wall. Johnny had already made his way to the doors of the church and stood still, trying to sense movement within. He waited for me to grab my rifle before swinging the wooden doors wide open.
The sound of the doors swinging open echoed throughout the dusty hall. Johnny backed up to our packs.
“Just to be safe,” he noted, and swung them up onto the ledge of a crumbled saint. Getting them down without his superhuman abilities would take some time, at least. As a precaution, we gave the area outside the church a once-over, to find other signs of entry. But it seemed as if the church had not had any foot set upon it even before the war. “Maybe the whole town became atheist?” Johnny suggested.
“Maybe they saw it coming,” I hazarded.
Apart from a stack of timber making one corner of the walls accessible, the whole area seemed pretty secure.
I entered the church, spinning on my heel to face Johnny in the doorway. A big grin stretched my face. Jaw crooked with annoyance, he stepped over the threshold of the church without any ill effect.
“Ahhhh,” he mocked pain boredly.
“Thanks for humoring me,” I shrugged. “Yea yea,” he sighed in response.
A thorough and clean teamed sweep of the inside of the church yielded no new information as to why the church was abandoned. No signs of life at all, apart from a few rodents and birds roosting in nooks and crannies. The serenity of the place was almost eerie. My shoulders and eyelids sagged.
“Hey hey hey. Don’t pass out just yet,” Johnny bumped into me. We had been walking for, what, 4 days almost nonstop? The luxury of sleeping every night was lost in my urgency to find my convoy. Perhaps I had finally burned out. I sat down heavily onto a pew, crossing myself out of habit. Johnny chuckled slightly and sat down next to me.
“Still believe in that, huh,” he leaned back, appreciating the sunlight streaming through the stained glass window. “No cause not to,” I leaned back too. He hummed thoughtfully.
“Do you?” I mumbled sleepily.
“Mmmm nope,” he stated briefly. “And no, it’s not because I’ll ‘burst into flames’; I just… never had any reason to. Maybe it was something about my kind being ‘monsters’. Hmm,” he mused, humming at the end at the irony.
“Yeah. Something about ‘His people’ ‘doing it in The Name’ kinda spoils the whole thing for me too,” I sighed. “Still, it’s Him, not His people, right? Or something to that effect,” I mumbled drowsily.
I turned to him, a smirk on my face again. “Would you sizzle if you touched Holy Water?” my voice sounded drunk with sleep.
Johnny rolled his eyes. “How many times do I have to tell you? I’m not supernatural; I’m just-”
“Unexplained science,” we both finished. I giggled.
“I know this is consecrated ground and shi-… stuff, but there are rabbits out there and I’m starving. And you are delirious,” Johnny got up. His beastly features were beginning to show (out of hunger and hunt?)
“Yea yea, desperate times and whatever. I’m gonna go find some place to wash up,” I got to my feet shakily. He made no move to sit me back down. Maybe he thought I needed to keep myself occupied.
“Watch yerself, right,” he flicked my head and went out.