"Six is all I have left," Jake said as he slipped the shells into his shotgun. Overhead, thunder rolled among the black clouds.
"I'm down to three," Shelly said as she spun the cylinder of her revolver. She raised the pistol and pointed it at the roof door. Glancing up at the sky, she added, "I hope it doesn't rain, I worked on my hair all morning."
Jake looked at her. Shelly was a card carrying member of the big hair, short shorts crowd, something that Jake normally appreciated. Still, there was a time and place for everything. "Really? That's a worry right now?"
Shelly shrugged. "If not now, when?"
Jake had to admit, she had a point.
The steel door jumped as something heavy slammed into it.
"I don't want to be eaten," Jake muttered. "I wonder if it would less painful to die in a fall." He peeked over the edge of the apartment building. Five stories down, zombies milled the streets. They limped along in stiff legged packs, rotting as they strolled. Jake gagged from the stench that floated up to his perch.
"More likely you'll survive the fall, in which case you'll still get eaten but with the added bonus of breaking your legs first. And let me tell you, broken legs hurt. I was an E.R. doctor."
Jake looked at her dubiously.
"You shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. I can be pretty and smart," Shelly said. "Besides, even if you run out of ammo you still have your baseball bat."
"True," Jake nodded, trying to sound confident. As a minor league baseball player trying to break into the big leagues he had been a mediocre hitter at best. But the last five weeks he had been an ace smasher of zombie skulls, batting 1000.
The door jumped again and Jake could hear the moans coming from the other side.
"Do you think any of the other made it?" he asked.
"No, if they had they'd be up here with us," Shelly replied.
"I wonder how they got in. I thought we sealed everything shut."
"Verna and Jimmy were on guard duty on the back door. They've been making eyes at each other all week, probably snuck off for some alone time."
Jake shook his head, "Jeeze, it's like no one ever watched a horror movie. I bet we're the last two people on Earth." They had heard about the outbreaks around the world, before the last radio station went off the air.
"Could be, but I bet there are other survivors," Shelly replied.
The door jumped again and there was an angry squeal as the top hinge bent. Jake raised his shotgun.
"Remember, aim high," he reminded Shelly.
"What do you think I am, an amat-" Shelly's voice was swallowed up by a roar louder than thunder.
A silver sphere lowered out of the sky, a rocket on its base spewing flames. Three metallic legs extended as it slowed and came to a rest on the roof. The engine shut off.
"Look, there are more!" Jake pointed at three more spheres that landed in the street. "Maybe it's the marines?"
The roof door gave an ominous squeal, and the moans got louder. Jake could hear the gibbering cry of "Brains!" from the ravenous horde. Yet he couldn't take his eyes off the sphere.
A ramp extended from the front and three beings strode down it. They were seven feet tall and impossibly thin and wiry, like a basketball player that had been put through a taffy puller. They stood on two scaly green legs, and had five tentacles extending from their torsos. Each tentacle held a silver rod. Their heads were just huge, pulsing brains, the size of the giant beach balls the crowds batted around the stands of the minor league stadium.
WE CLAIM THIS PLANET IN THE NAME OF THE EMPEROR OF MARS.
"Ow!" shouted Jake. It was like someone was yelling through his ear straight into his brain.
"They must be telepathic," Shelly said as she clutched her own forehead.
Just then the door gave way and the zombies piled onto the roof. "Brains!" they moaned as they stumbled toward Jake and Shelly.
Suddenly, the zombies stopped in their tracks. Each and every zombie slowly turned to look at the Martians.
SURRENDER AND YOU WILL BE PERMITTED TO SERVE AS OUR SLAVES. RESIST AND YOU DIE.
The zombies stared at the Martians' pulsing craniums as if hypnotized. Their jaws dropped open and, in some cases, fell off completely. The zombie in the lead wiped a bit of drool from her chin and took most of the skin with it.
Then, as one, the zombies screamed "BRAINS!!!!!"
Jake had never seen a pack of zombies move so fast. They charged the Martians like hound dogs after squirrels. The Martians must have thought the zombies were surrendering, because they didn't react until the lead zombie jumped up and took a bite out of one of the Martian's craniums.
Lasers flashed from the sticks in the Martians' tentacles. Zombies exploded into clouds of ash, but for every incinerated zombie, two more took its place.
RETREAT! WE MUST RETURN TO THE MOTHERSHIP FOR REINFORCEMENTS. REST ASSURED HUMANS, THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING. WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU IS WIPED AWAY!
The two surviving Martians retreated back up the ramp. A zombie lunged forward and bit the slower Martian on the ankle. The Martian obliterated him with its silver stick, then staggered into the spaceship and collapsed as the hatch closed.
The spaceship took off and Jake saw other spheres rise into the air as well. With a roar, they zipped into the stratosphere.
The zombies watched longingly as the Martians flew away. Then they slowly turned and looked at Jake.
"Aw crap," Jake said.
"Jake, catch!" Shelly tossed him one of the silver rods the dead Martian had dropped. "Press the button on top."
Jake pointed his stick at the advancing zombie horde and pressed the button. Zombies began disappearing. He and Shelly kept firing until not a single zombie was left on the roof.
"Wow, these are pretty useful," Jake said.
"I wonder how long the charge lasts?" Shelly said as she studied her stick.
"Shelly, look out," Jake pushed Shelly out of the way as the dead Martian, now a pale, rose to its feet. Jake incinerated it with a flick of his stick.
Looking down at the street, Jake saw one of the spheres remained on the ground and several zombie martians lumbered alongside their human breatheren.
"You know what this means, don't you?" Shelly said.
"No, what?" Jake said.
"We have a chance. We'll go underground, find other survivors, and bide our time. We let the martians and the zombies duke it out..."
"And then mop up whoever's left," Jake said. "Wow, you are smart."
"I told you," Shelly winked.
Copyright 2012 John Lance