Chapter 28 – Frank McCormick
Another board snapped on Frank’s window. A pitch-black arm thrust into the opening, swiping its talons at anything it could find. Frank swung his crowbar with everything he had at the arm. A dull thud was the only result. Frank brought the crowbar up and swung again. And again. On the fourth swing, the arm recoiled, but another board broke, and the Empty stuck its head and upper body in.
Dammit. This wasn’t right. The Empty People never came twice in one week. They also never started out as aggressive as they were now.
A talon grazed his neck. Frank frantically bashed the creature’s skull with his crowbar.
He’d have to think about all of this later. Right now, he had to stop these monsters from getting in. If he failed, the Empty would get to Eliza. That was not going to happen.
A plank of wood slammed hard on the Empty’s head, and it retreated from the window. Frank looked up and saw Michael.
“Thank you, Son.”
“No problem.” Michael walked back to his own window.
“God dammit, Michael,” Carter barked from across the diner. “I told you to stay at your post.”
Michael only turned his head. “In case you haven’t noticed, Jackass, we don’t have as many people as we did last time. And one of us alone isn’t enough to stop these things.”
“Whatever,” Carter said. “Anthony, go patch up that whole. Now.”
Anthony ran to Frank’s window, hammer in hand, and got to work helping Frank fix the boards. Carter had put him in charge of repairing, probably sensing how useless he would be fighting directly. He was too skittish.
The three Empty People dashed from window to window, breaking boards in each, slowly wearing everyone down. Anthony could barely keep up. It was only a matter of time before one of them breached a window completely. Then, they’d be able to take someone or come in.
With Eliza and Hadley downstairs, there was no doubt which option they’d choose.
Frank held a board in place while Anthony hammered in some nails. He looked around and saw Carter, Matteo, and Michael dealing with the Empty attacking their windows. Carter was cursing at his while Matteo was speaking in Latin. Michael said nothing.
Rachel scanned the diner and settled her eyes on the kitchen. It wasn’t hard to tell what she was thinking.
“She’s going to be fine, Rachel,” She looked at him. “My Eliza won’t let anything happen to her.”
Rachel didn’t respond. The cracking of a second board at Carter’s window caught her attention.
One of the Empty had its torso inside and its arms wrapped around Carter’s neck. He struggled against it but was being lifted nonetheless. His feet left the floor as the Empty yanked him to the opening. Carter’s eyes filled with rage, and he drew his gun.
It was too late.
Two quick shots rang out, and Carter fell to the floor, rubbing a hand on his throat. The Empty that had been pulling him went limp outside his window.
“Carter, I told you not to—” Michael started but was cut off by one of the remaining Empty roaring in anger. The sound was deafening and echoed off the walls of the complex.
A second roar reverberated throughout. But, this one had been farther away. Frank spun and peered through the boards. The three Empty at the motel were now heading for the diner.
This was bad. The five of them were barely able to stave off three Empty People. Now, they’d have to fight five. It would be one-on-one. There was no way they could handle that.
The two that were already there went into a frenzy and pounded their fists into the boards with much more force than before. The one that had been at Michael’s window was now at Rachel’s. It snapped two boards at once and stuck its arms and head in.
Rachel swung her bat down on its head, but it didn’t stop crawling through. It grabbed the front of her blouse and tossed her to the side into Michael, slamming him against the wall. The two of them fell as the Empty jumped into the diner.
Anthony lost it. He screamed and dropped to the floor, scurrying under a table. The beast took no notice. It ran to the kitchen and turned its head left and right. It set its sights and dashed in the direction of the stairs, disappearing behind the wall.
“No,” Frank and Rachel both screamed. Frank started for the kitchen and Rachel flew by him.
“Stop,” Carter shouted. Frank paused but Rachel kept going. “We can’t break the line. If you leave now, it’s all over.”
“This is your fault, Carter,” Michael said. He went on, but Frank wasn’t listening.
The sound of the door at the bottom of the stairs caving arrested his attention. A second later, the echo of a shotgun blast sent ice into every nerve.
Eliza. The Empty had already broken into the cellar.
“Frank, behind you,” Carter yelled once Frank had taken another step.
Frank turned around. One of the Empty was at his window. It thrust its fists forward and broke the board Anthony had just fixed. It leaned in and grabbed the back of Frank’s shirt. It yanked him to the opening and put him in a stranglehold. His body rose, and his feet dangled.
No. No. This couldn’t be happening. Eliza needed him. He had to get to her.
Frank shifted his eyes to the right. Michael was battling with his own Empty. Matteo was helping Carter with another.
Frank wasn’t going to get any help.
She was counting on him. He couldn’t let her down. He couldn’t let himself be taken.
He had no choice.
Frank drew the small pistol from his pocket, turned off the safety, and unloaded it into the Empty’s head.
He fell to the floor.
The remaining Empty erupted into a cacophony of rage.