“Its arrows got faster,” Vlad said.
“Isn’t that just because we’re closer?” Brett asked.
“No, you can’t see it from behind me,” Vlad said. “Its posture changed. It’s shooting like Perry now.”
“What was it shooting like before?”
Vlad trudged forward, his right leg dragging through the grass. “Like a one-handed donkey.”
“That bad?” Brett asked, sticking close behind. “It got a direct hit on Nelson. Twice.”
Vlad grunted and swept aside a caltrop with Nelson’s feet. “I thought you were going to suppress it, Perry. What are you doing? It’s shot at us twice now.”
“I’m trying,” Perry said from behind me. His arrow clacked against the side of his bow. “It’s shooting between my reloading times. Don’t you know how to use a bow, Bern? Why don’t you take Nelson’s? If the two of us alternate shots, it won’t have time to shoot back.”
“I’m no good with bows.” I’ve done my fair share of hunting, but never with a bow. I used a crossbow, but I sold it during my marriage, and I didn’t think I’d ever need to go hunting again in my sixties.
“I’m not that great with bows either,” Brett said. “But I can try. Pass me Nelson’s bow.”
Vlad crouched down and unstrapped the bow on Nelson’s back.
At that moment, the smart infected released an arrow. But not one to fall behind, Perry fired one in return. I crouched down and used my bag as cover, guarding everything except for my feet and the portion of my knee that wouldn’t fit behind the bag. The infected’s arrow flew over Vlad’s head. Brett had ducked behind Vlad when he had crouched, so the arrow missed him too. The arrow flew over my head as well before striking Perry’s hip. He let out a gasp, and his left leg buckled, bringing him down to his knees.
But the smart infected didn’t get away unscathed either. Actually, it might’ve. After shooting, it had crouched, but not in time. The arrow struck its motorcycle helmet right above the visor. If it wasn’t wearing the helmet, there’s no doubt it would’ve died. It might’ve died even with the helmet. After being hit, it disappeared from view beneath the fence.
“I got the bastard,” Perry said and took in a deep breath. “Patch me up, will you?”
There was a first-aid kit in my bag, but I’m not a doctor. How was I supposed to treat an arrow wound? The arrow looked to be pretty deep in there too. Nelson was the one with medical knowledge, but he’s in no shape to even patch himself up. And the arrow…. “Do you wash your arrows?”
“Of course,” Perry said and winced. “I hunt game with these.”
“For now, I’m thinking we don’t take the arrow out. I wouldn’t say we’re in the best spot to apply pressure to stop your bleeding.” The infected might be behind a fence, but they’re still there. What happens if the fence breaks? I made sure it was supported from behind, but if enough of them push from the back, the fence might snap. “What I’m going to do is cut the arrow down and tape the head inside of you. You should lie down.”
“Are you sure you shot it dead?” Vlad asked. “There’s a hole in my foot that needs to be patched up, and if we’re stopping here, might as well. It hurts like a bitch.”
Brett stood up. “I’ll clear the caltrops and stab a few infected while you guys do your stuff.” He walked around Vlad and swept the ground with the butt of his spear, knocking a caltrop away.
I brought out my first-aid kit and a serrated knife from my bag. Perry lay on his back and exhaled. I took out one of the arrows from Perry’s quiver and held it alongside the one stuck in his hip. Since the arrows were the same length, I could tell it was about eight or nine centimeters deep. If it was shallower, I’d definitely have risked taking it out, but it wasn’t, so I pinched the arrow close to Perry’s hip and started sawing away. Perry groaned, but I ignored it. How thick were motorcycle helmets anyway? If this arrow only went eight to nine centimeters in, would an arrow shot at the other even pierce through its skull?
Brett shrieked, “It’s not dead!”
I turned my head just in time to see Brett toss himself to the ground. An arrow whizzed over him and flew off to the side. Perry pushed away my hands and grabbed an arrow from his quiver as he sat up. He grunted and climbed to his feet, readying himself to fire. The smart other was out of sight, having crouched after taking its shot.
Brett jumped to his feet and ran towards the fence. Without any cover, it was a good choice. Get close enough to stab the archer before it could shoot you. But when he was just about to arrive at the spiked portion of the fence, he let out a scream as his left foot sank into the ground, presumably into a pit trap just like Vlad had. Brett’s momentum carried him forward, and he fell right onto the spikes of the fence. His helmet saved his face, but I had sharpened those spikes a lot, turning the whole thing into a sturdy abatis. I wouldn’t have been surprised if his whole torso was filled with holes.
The smart infected appeared from behind the fence again. It pointed its bow at Brett and paused. Then it pointed its bow at me and Perry.
—and it fired back. But Vlad had already stood up—only wearing one boot—and intercepted the infected’s arrow. With Nelson’s body blocking my view, I couldn’t tell if Perry’s arrow hit or not.
“Brett cleared the way,” Vlad said. “Let’s go.” He hobbled forward, moving surprisingly fast for someone carrying a body while having a hole in his foot.
For the sake of time, I didn’t bother packing my first-aid kit back into my bag, just closing the lid instead. I jogged after Vlad, keeping my eyes on the ground to watch for caltrops or suspicious patches of grass. I wish I’d brought a shield.