“How many zombies are you going to shoot?” Pam said to Margaret.
“All of them,” Margaret said with a smile, checking the air canister on her paintball gun. “I’ll leave a couple of the crawlers for you.”
Amy pat Pam on the back and Margaret kept smiling. “You ever held a gun before, Northerner?” Amy said, her grin revealing the missing teeth in her smile.
“You ever brush your teeth, old bird?” Pam replied, and the whole group broke into laughter.
Pam was the only one in the lot that as not from Texas. Being from the northern panhandle of West Virginia she always caught flack about being a Yankee doodle even through West Virginia was a southern state.
“Every other day, thank you,” Amy said as the laughter began to die down. “Mouthwash works just fine on the days between.”
“You’re so gross,” Margaret said with a chuckle.
One of the coordinators came over with a smile and tipped his cowboy hat. It was Halloween, so his full cowboy getup didn’t make anyone bat an eye. He put his thumbs through two of his belt loops and stopped in front of them.
“You gals ready to ride?” He said, far louder and more excited than Margaret expected.
“Well if you lay down I’ll hop right on,” Amy said, revealing her smile again.
The cowboy released a nervous laugh, and the rest of the group giggled.
“Don’t mind her,” Sicily said, grabbing Amy by the shoulders and pretending to hold her back. “She just wrapped up her third divorce and is raring to find a new line dancing partner.”
“Thank you kindly, ma’am, but let’s get down to business.” The nervous look on his face morphed to the excitement, and he flapped his elbows a couple of times, keeping his thumbs looped through his belt loops. “Well the world is over, and you’re humanity’s last hope,” he continued, crouching down a little and putting on his best narrator voice. “You’re armed with the only thing that can bring down this scourge on God’s country,” he finished.
The group of five women lifted their guns and shook them, hooting and hollering as the guy’s words brought their hearts to a gallop. He turned and held out an arm toward an open doorway. The room they were in was illuminated like normal, but the doorway was too dark to see more than a few feet inside.
The group shuffled past him and into the darkness. The room led into a hallway, and after a few moments, it led them through another doorway that went outside. Outside was another coordinator in a cowboy getup, and Margaret started thinking they should have all dressed up in costumes too.
“Well, if this isn’t the toughest group of ladies I’ve ever laid eyes on,” the new coordinator said. He walked around to the back of a trailer and opened the gate, looking at them until they shuffled over to him. “Watch your step,” he said with a grin. “Wouldn’t want anyone to break a hip or something.”
Margaret cringed at the comment. Too many people made jokes about her breaking bones, and she always pretended they didn’t bother her. No one would consider her sensitive by any stretch, but in the past few months, the idea of death had started to niggle her. In her mind, breaking bones pushed her closer to the grave.
After five failed marriages she was content to be alone on most days, and doing things like what they were doing on this night helped as well, but the joke still put morbid thoughts in her head. She heaved up into the trailer and sat on one of the hay bails as the rest of the gals piled in.
Being blessed with a beautiful face meant she’d spent most of her life ignoring flirting men, and now she was just old enough only to have to deal with those comments every so often. She did find a great deal of joy from a young man that had called her pretty a few weeks back, but she didn’t even understand why since her looks had never been a focus of hers.
The gang all sat down, and the coordinator went around to hop into the driver’s seat of the tractor. He turned it on, and it sputtered to life, vibrating the whole trailer.
“I could use one of these at home with me on the weekends,” Amy said.
“God is going to punish your foul mouth,” Julia said, putting a scowl on her face.
“I think he already has,” Margaret said, and the whole group laughed again.
The trailer ambled out from where they were and onto a fenced in the path. On either side, countless obstacles had been spray painted with bright colors. The full moon provided a little illumination from above, and the first zombie actor appeared, popping up from behind a dumpster and startling Margaret. The whole group opened fire, aiming their paintball guns and pulling the trigger as many times as they could. Most of them missed, but none of them cared. It was fun to shoot.
The trailer ambled along down and a few zombie actors limp-ran along beside them. Closer than the first zombie actor, the group was able to paint the white shirts of the zombies every color of the rainbow, and Amy released along yeehaw as the two zombies fell beyond reach.
“This is way more fun then I thought it would be,” Margaret said, taking aim at walking and moaning zombie.
“I told you so,” Amy said, laughing and glancing around at her friends as they all continued to shoot.
The air was filled with sounds of laughter, the soft pop of paintball guns, and the guttural groans of all the zombie actors. The ride was about 15 minutes long, and by the end, the group was out of breath from laughing and having so much fun.
They piled into the exit room and exchanged reports of their best shots and worst misses.
“I say we go again,” Amy said, smiling.
“Yolo!” Pam said, grinning to match Amy.
“Yoyo?” Amy said. “Don’t nobody understand that young talk,” Amy said.
The group agreed with Amy, and they all went back to the front desk to pay for another round.