23 Chapter 22: Taking on Half the Burden
Joshua found himself running through the forest as fast as he could. He had to make it in time before anything drastic happened so he pushed forward at a frightening pace. After the message Nathan had sent them, the entire group had gotten a bad feeling about how things would turn out. Although they hadn't seen many zombies around the area of late that was most likely because of the fact that the farm and its surroundings aren't near any major highways or roads. Based off of what Nathan had overheard the group of idiots say, the place they were headed to was closer to a main road that lead to a highway. The likelihood of that place being within shouting distance of a ton of zombies moving away from the nearest city or large town was high.
Of course none of this would matter if the group was smart, quiet, and knew how to cover their tracks. Considering they beat up Nathan and stuffed him in a closet expecting to get away with it, Joshua had his doubts that was the case. He wasn't willing to risk the entire group's safety on the competency of those fools. The problem was he had the feeling that if something did go wrong then Jacob would bring the trouble back to camp rather than lead it away and escape on his own. So that's what lead to the current situation , he was in a dead sprint to try and lure away most of the hoard if there was one, while Natalie was on her way back to camp to alert everyone and prepare the defenses.
Laura and Madalyn on the other hand were heading over to a nearby road and setting up a trap for Joshua to lead anything he runs into over too it. The two girls hurried to get prepared for the ambush not knowing how much time they would have. They had set up quite a few plans of action just in case they had found a large hoard of roaming zombies while out training on their own. Of course bringing them back to base was a last resort, but for the most part they had figured out several ways to use their powers in order to counter act the situation. For now the two women had decided to go with a plan that mainly relied on Laura's power over fire on the environment to create a wide explosion. In fact most plans they had come up with away from base revolved around her power more than the others.
The two ladies found themselves on the side of an abandoned road mid-way between the farm and the town. They got to work moving as many of the cars in the area as close together as possible while they searched some of the abandoned trucks for any gasoline containers. They lucked out a bit finding a total of five containers in a few of the abandoned trucks. Apparently farmer's liked to keep spare gas on hand. They quickly spread out four of the containers evenly in between the lined up cars on the road. They saved the last container to pour on the street so that the explosion spread as wide as possible as fast as possible. They would wait till Joshua gives them the heads up that he was on the way beforehand though.
Laura stood aside and waited, but noticed that Madalyn had been doing something odd with their set up for a while now. She walked over to get a better look and noticed Madalyn creating what looked like green clouds of mist from the pores of her skin on her arms, she would then condense and pour it into empty bottles she found in the cars. "What are you doing?" Laura asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh relax, I'm just improvising and making things easier for us. Think of these as a poisonous smoke screen that will spread out the moment we blow those containers and cars up. It might not kill the zombies that pass through, but it sure will slow them down." Madalyn said with a wicked smile before turning her attention away from her work and towards Laura. The only response she got in return was a simple nod as Laura started to turn and walk away. "You don't talk much do you? There a reason for that?"
"I mind my own business and so should you." Laura stated without even turning to look back towards her accomplice.
"Well I hope this is all for nothing." Madalyn said as she turned her attention away from the anti-social girl and towards the direction Joshua had headed off in. "Otherwise this phase is going to start becoming a lot more difficult."
While they were finishing up their preparations Joshua was busy bursting out of a forest line and coming into view of something he wished wasn't happening. A ways away from him he could see what looked like at least five hundred zombies starting to chase after a group of three recognizable idiots. It didn't take long for the fat one to fall behind and become zombie food. The distraction slowed quite a few of the zombies down, but about half of them kept up the chase. Joshua waited for Jacob and Rick to make it to the tree like heading for the farm just as he feared before rushing over towards the large group of zombie's that were beginning to forget about Matthew's corpse and start the chase again.
Before the zombies could catch up to their friends in chasing their original objective Joshua ran out in front grabbing all of their attention. Unlike with the creatures from town where he had to shout and make noise to keep the focus on himself, the zombies had no problem rushing after a new target the moment they saw him. So Joshua rushed pass and brought them back around in the direction of the trap. He started to judge the distance between his self and the mob running behind him. Over time he started to pace himself so as to keep them close enough where they would all follow him and not become a roaming herd that they would have to deal with at random later.
After getting in a nice rhythm where he didn't expend too much of his energy running he opened his mind up to the mental network Natalie had created so he could check up on her progress in getting back to camp while informing her that their fears were on point. 'Natalie can you read me.' Joshua broadcasted his thoughts.
'Yeah, loud and clear. I'm just about fifteen minutes from camp.' She replied.
'Well I'm sorry to say it, but there's a hoard of zombies heading that way, of course being led by a pair of those idiots. The bigger one didn't make it, but the other two are leading about two hundred zombies towards camp through the forest. I lead another three hundred of them away and we'll take care of those, just make sure everyone's ready to defend themselves.' Joshua explained with a grim tone of voice.
'Alright I'll worn everyone and tell them what's going on. Don't go and get yourself killed, your leadership so far is what's keeping the group together. If you die then they probably won't have much of a chance surviving and Laura and Madalyn will probably just leave and take care of themselves.' Natalie explained getting a mental nod in response.
Joshua pushed on and kept his eyes open for any sign of the upcoming trap. He was waiting till it came into view before he would send the heads up to Laura and Madalyn to make their final preparations. When he came into a clearing where he could see a line of cars pushed up together on a road about five minutes of sprinting away from him, he knew he was in the right place. 'Laura, Madalyn, I'm about a five minute run away from your position so put any finishing touches you have in mind into action before I arrive, then move as far away as possible.' Joshua told them as he looked back to see that the zombies were still following through the trees into the clearing.
'Alright, no problem.' Madalyn's voice responded letting him know they were ready. 'Make sure to get some room between yourself and the zombies so the explosion doesn't hurt you. Wouldn't want Laura here to have to bring back a smoking corpse to camp.' Madalyn teased before the mental link went silent.
Joshua new she was just messing with him, but he still took the advice to heart as he started to judge the distant between himself and the hoard behind him. The entire way he had let them remain rather close just to keep their attention, but now with the huge clearing ahead the only thing in the area the zombies could possibly focus on was him. So now that he was at the finish line he started to pick up the pace and run all out to create as much distance between his self and the hungry zombies behind him. By the time he had arrived at the road the zombies were a good ways behind him.
When he ran up to the side of the road he made sure to jump over the ditch in his way and then made his way between the cars to the other side where he once again jumped over another ditch and made his way out of the area. He kept running in the direction where he could see both Laura and Madalyn standing in position. Laura had her hand held out with a large basketball sized conjured flame at the ready. While Madalyn on the other hand had a bow out with an arrow strung and ready to be released. Although she wasn't nearly as good as Natalie at archery she had been training for the past few weeks like most of the men in the village at using a bow so they could kill without getting to close. It would be easy to hit from this distance with all the zombies clumped up together and even if it didn't kill, the poison on the tip of the arrows might finish the job.
Joshua closed in on the girls, but kept a bit of distance so he wouldn't be in the way of their line of sight. He stopped just a bit ahead of them before pulling his pair of Machetes out and turning back towards the car line. He took a moment to catch his breath as he could hear the mob of zombies getting closer and closer. For a second he could hear the screeching of zombies tumbling into the ditch on the other side of the cars before the sound of them crashing into the front line of vehicles took precedence. That's when he could see them clamoring over and between the cars as they flooded the area. Most of them came through at the same point that Joshua had, but a lot started to spread out ramming into other obstacles in the area.
Soon some of the zombies were able to make their way through as they tumbled into the ditch on Joshua's side of the road. You could see them covered in gasoline that had been poured all over the area as they tried to drag themselves out of the ditch and start sprinting towards their prey. That's when Joshua watched as a fire ball soared over his head and headed towards the middle of the line of cars. The crackling sound of the fire grew quieter as it flew further away from him before it sang out loudly as it crashed into the middle of the street. For a moment all you could hear was the wailing of some the zombies that had gotten hit by the fire, but within seconds that all changed.
A loud roaring sound burst to life as the first gasoline tank exploded and spread throughout its immediate surroundings. Then came a chain reaction as the other containers exploded as the fire started to spread out. The zombies in the immediate surroundings were roasted alive and tossed around from the explosions. Then the gas inside the cars that were now surrounded in flames started to catch a flame as well as more and more sounds of explosions filled the air. Pieces of shrapnel and other parts of the cars and zombies started flying out and crashing into the grass around the road. The ditch that many of the zombies had stumbled into were also set ablaze as the gasoline poured on the grass made it catch fire so much faster.
Another thing that Joshua took notice of was the plumes of green smoke that he could see bellowing out of some of the exploding cars. The green smoke seemed to cause even more damage to the zombies nearby as they fell over paralyzed whenever they breathed too much of it in. The fire would then burn the stunned creatures to death within moments. For a while the three of them stood there watching and waiting for any survivors of the explosion to make their way through, but after waiting for minutes all they could see were a few shambling flaming zombies that soon fell over dead in the grass.
"Well I didn't expect that to work so well." Joshua said in surprise as he started to make his way around the scene to check for any survivors. After he got a clear look at the other side of the wreckage he could see the zombies on this side had it even worse. Since most of them were either stuck trying to force their way through the line of cars or still trying to crawl their way out of a ditch, the explosion had engulfed all of them. The ones that weren't close enough were either injured by flying shrapnel or crushed under cars that had been flipped over thanks to the explosion.
"You can thank me for that. The poison I added into the trap caused most of those things to be unable to get out of the fire." Madalyn said proudly as she shot an arrow at one of the few stragglers that had survived. Although the ten or so survivors had taken notice of them the poison had made them so sluggish and lethargic that they were stumbling over each other in their poor attempts to get to their prey.
"Good thinking, will have to incorporate that into more of our plans in the future." Joshua replied as several ideas started to come to mind. The three of them smoothly killed off the last few zombies before moving further away from the still crackling flames to have a talk.
"So, now what?" Laura asked as she looked towards Joshua. "We heading back to the farm?"
"That's the plan. I'm sure Natalie has already reached camp by now and warned the others, but I don't think we'll make it back in time. We're a good hour away, when I started luring these things towards here that was only about twenty minutes away from camp at sprinting speeds." Joshua explained as he put his Machetes back on his waist belt and looked towards the farm.
"Well then I wish you guys luck in saving those assholes." Madalyn said as she started to head off, but was stopped by Joshua.
"Not this time. You'll be coming with us." Joshua said gaining a surprised look from both of the girls. "It's becoming more and more dangerous out here and you being on your own might get you killed in the future at this rate."
"I can handle myself and I seriously doubt that I'd be welcome back anyways." Madalyn said as she huffed at the idea of having to ask to be let back in with the town's people.
"You won't have to ask, I'll be the one telling them how this is going to work out." Joshua said with confidence in his voice. "Anyone that has a problem with you will have a problem with me. Now is not the time to be having fights amongst ourselves."
Madalyn just stared at him for a moment with a look of hesitation before letting out a held breath. "Alright I'll come along with you guys for now, but I'm trusting that you know what you're doing."
"Fine, let's head back. Even if they can handle things back at camp we still have a traitorous bastard to deal with." Joshua said before his eyes grew cold at the thought of the man who caused all of this.