† Arc I - A Decade in Hell †Chapter Eight..."Y'know what that means, Peter." A fine coincidence that Esau guessed right. "The undead surely heard that shot," I muttered. "Do you think they can hear? Or see? How many of them still have intact heads after the pell-mell bombing?" Esau spat and wiped his lip. "Blagh. Pardon me. Anyway, who knowsssaaAAHH-" Esau screamed as a black shape pounced on him with a clap. They flew in one body hurling towards a pile of barrels which shattered with a gush of water. Jesus Christ. I drew the rifle as Esau threw the walking corpse off his feet and delivered a crunching jab with his left hand and as another set of hands pulled the barrel his way. "No, NO!" I yelled as if to make demands with the being in front of me, by far devoid of all human behavior. It discharged at the side of its head and landed somewhere with a sharp twang. Thanking God it weren't the sound of the bullet driving into soft flesh while I stuck my shoe on the undead's chest and drove the bayonet in its eye. This one was starved to bones and where its battle scars would be were solid growths of tissue. The bullet sliced through its eye and exited the side of its skull with the crude action of a stone axe against its temple. I peered into its head. The exposed tissue looked crystalline, waxed. Esau's wet paw grabbed my shoulder and shoved me back in the house. "Move, girl," he said to the child who had been looking on our struggle with a sort of clear intrigue. "Ain't nothing you coulda done t'help us, I dun' blame you for... standin' ere and watching on, huh little lady?" He patted her head with his gummed hands and let them off trailing like ooze. "Oh, uh... well shit. Excuse me, I think I got brains in your hair," he laughed on. "Go and get in that there washroom for a bath." Esau. My bartender for years. A surrogate father for a week or so. The same man who told me in verbatim to "screw getting married and start doing the screwing" after my first love and served diluted Elliom ale to teenagers and never bore a tanline on his ring finger was no longer who I knew, yet growing into an older self. He turned to me and rose his hands shaking. "Shit. We're covered in dead people matter and we ain't got much to get it offa ourselves." "Well," I started, "...what then? I saw you crashing hard into a bunch of water barrels." He threw his hand out the door. "Then you, you go 'n you GET THAT!" "You make that sound easy, pal. Those barrels are at least two feet wide and this house's got steps on it. You-" He put his finger against my mouth and shushed, coming off with a trail like ooze. With the efficacy of a father of many in debt to a lord he squatted below one of the barrels and rose one on his shoulder. He kneeled on his other side and scooped up the barrel and rose. He hulked over and took in one breath with his left step, breathing out with the other like a pneumatic machine and turned to fit his bulging self through the door and laid the first barrel down before dropping the other an inch from the floor with a thud. "Fuck," I thought shutting the door behind him and bolting it. Esau's face was bright red and veins drew up and down his arms which seemed to inflate his old brawn buried enough layers of not giving a fuck after he left his service in Camp Bell. "I do it," he panted, "I do it so I can wash the guts of a dead man out of a girl's white hair. I do it for my children that I could never have back."