Save the Last Bullet

The thundrous crack of the final gunshot broke against her numbed ears. It seemed like a minute before the zombie's diseased brains geysered out the back of its skull, but Anna knew it had been instant. Its grip now slack, the dead thing slid over the edge of the overturned semi where she'd taken refuge above the notice of most shambling dead. No longer. The gunshot would bring more and her scent would lead them to her. An industrial area like this, she might still have time.

With a smooth motion, she pulled the rifle's clp and checked what she already knew: one bullet. This was the moment she and so many other survivors had discussed late at night, huddled around dying embers when fear made sleep impossible. I'd save the last bullet for myself, they all said. She wondered now if she had.

If I wait, she thought, more will come. I can shoot one, and bash in the head of one or two more, and then one will get me and I'll become one of them. Will I know what I am, trapped in a flesh-hungry body, or will the me be gone? With no evidence for the former, she assumed the latter. The pain is discouraging, but it doesn't matter after I die. But why go through it?

She warmed her hand on the barrel of her cooling gun and imagined she could hear distant moans. If the bullet was for her, she'd be one zombie less in the world. A humanitarian act. If she waited and shot one, it'd be even. And if she got more than one, a net benefit. In exchange for death in agony and the small, probably made-up chance of captivity in a body no longer her own.

No decision was a decision just the same. She knew she was going to die, she'd always known. She'd just wanted to go out her own way. And she would, maybe not saving the world, but helping her little part of it. Eyes closed, she breathed deep. At least the air tasted clean.

She could definitely hear the moans grow louder now.