The pale white moon hung bright and full in the dark sky of night. Sheriff Michaels back up slowly, back towards the center of the street, his revolver held out in front of him, his hand steady and firm, and joined the circle of the other men doing the same. They stood in a cross, backs pressed against each others’, weapons held outward, on high alert.
“It’s madness,” said Fricks, the town doctor. “Madness! This cannot be real.” The shotgun he cradled atop his forearm shook violently.
“It’s as real as the nose on your face,” Stevens replied from next to him, not turning his head, eyes sharp and scanning the dusty deserted street and town buildings. “Though wish to God it weren’t. Fightin’ braves ‘ll be easier than falling off a horse after this.”
“Is it just us left?” the last one chimed in, Patterson, who kept the general store. He had a six-shooter in either hand, one from his own holster, the other a rusted, blood-smeared affair he’d pilfered from a fallen corpse.
“Quiet everyone,” Michaels said, waving his downturned hand. The wind howled and kicked up dust against the boots of the four men. “Quiet.”
Then the noise came, the one for which they’d all been waiting. It began as a low groaning, a growling, then rose, many voices together as one. Ten voices. Twenty. More. The sound rose in pitch and volume into a frantic kind of screaming, coming from all around.
“They’re everywhere!” Fricks shouted. “We’re doomed!”
“Quiet!” Michaels scolded him. “Stand ready, men.”
Doors of the town’s buildings swung open, fell open, were knocked off their hinges, as townspeople exploded out of them, screaming their inhuman cries and running toward the group of terrified survivors. In the darkness they could see the horrible distorted bodies, covered in blood, chunks of flesh missing, bones showing through.
The dead swarmed the circle of men.
“Fire!” Michaels said. Gunshots rang out into the cold sky of the desert.
They were doomed.