For all of those who have been so anxiously awaiting my next post, I invite you to follow my new blog http://www.ninjaturtleclan.com, which will follow my attempt to live after the passing of my very young, beautiful wife. Without whom I will be raising 4 young sons the very best I can and keep myself afloat in this crazy place we call life. Join me!
My wife is in a coma right now and I need her to wake like you wouldn’t believe. This is the only true story I have ever written and may ever write again.
Dear friends, I need your prayers and your faith now like you wouldn’t believe. Please . . . She is so young and perfect. More beautiful than any gem. Not even 28 and the absolute love of my life.
For the princess I so devoutly love, for the four little princes she bore unto me when I made her my queen at age 18, for the sanity I have hanging by a thread after bringing her back to life with CPR, I give you my simple plea: Help her return with your faith.
The man you know as Aeron MacArthur
The entire city is pitch dark and full of movement. Hungry shadows speckle the streets like packs of wild animals on the prowl, cloaked in a silence known only to the undead. If not for an occasional snarl I might make the fatal mistake of thinking I have the entire city to myself.
With only my bow in hand and a bouquet of arrows sprouting from my backpack, I can’t help but feel rather vulnerable. For whatever reason the zombies don’t seem to notice me half the time, like I’m a ghost. The other half they hate me like I punched a baby. I haven’t quite figured out why I make them so moody, but I’m being extra careful because all it will take is one wrong turn to get boxed in with nowhere to run. Of course, I would feel a lot better with cold steel in my hand and a magazine or two within reach, but I’m about as likely to stumble upon something like that right now as I am a fucking pepperoni pizza.
So, I don’t exactly remember much of anything beyond when I awoke about 24 hours ago. Who I am or when the world went to hell in a handbag are both mysteries to me, and my last memory is of a kiss so spectacular fireworks went off in my head like the time I went to the New Years party at Time Square. I remember the face of the girl who kissed me like that, too, with her rich chestnut hair and big doe eyes, the taste of mint on her breath . . . and then everything went black. When I awoke she was gone and the fireworks were replaced with a migraine unlike any I’ve ever had. Bloody footprints marred the hardwood all around where I lay, but she was nowhere to be seen.
If she is still alive I’ll do whatever it takes to find her, and if she’s dead I’ll gladly dive into the abyss of lost souls to drag her out again, even if it is just for one final kiss. Not that I’m a romantic or anything. I’m just, er, thinking that seeing her again will jog my memory. But first things first. If I’m even going to make it another day in this hellhole, I’m going to have to get some grub.
I’ve honestly spent the last twenty minutes eyeballing a pack of chocolate Hohos and a bottle of Coke Zero through the window of a hole-in-the-wall store on 5th. At first glance the place looks vacant, but that’s because some punk with a green Mohawk is behind the counter devouring the cashier. He looks occupied enough that I could probably sneak in and steal off with the goods, but I’ve noticed that some zombies are faster than others and I’d hate to find out the hard way.
Deciding I’m going to risk it, I glide over to the glass door. Despite my efforts to keep quiet, the bell jingles above my head when I open it. I glance at the pool of blood beneath the cash register to see if I need to run, but the zombie’s still too absorbed in his meal to notice me. I let out a quiet sigh and creep forward. The stillness to the air is so stifling I have to fight the urge to turn back. The sound of his constant chewing has a way of chilling my blood beyond measure.
Snacks are scattered everywhere, making the room look as if it were turned upside down and shaken a couple of times. Every step crunches a pack of Doritos or pops open a Twinkie wrapper, but the masticating never stops.
I have an arrow knocked and ready to loose just in case he comes at me, but it’s sort of a last resort since I’m not much of a marksman. Had the person I was before been a little less into his physique and more into survival, I might have been able to waltz right in and take what I want from this store instead of sneaking around like Bilbo fucking Baggins.
I tear the pack open with shaky hands and practically inhale the chocolatey treat inside. Its so blissful I can’t help but eat more. This goes on until I realize that I’ve already devoured the entire box.
Scratching my head in confusion, I turn to the refrigerators, thinking that a drink might help tame my hunger. After a quick glance behind me to make sure my host is still unaware, I reach for the frosty Pepsi inside.
My hand touches it’s cool surface right at about the same time I see two dead eyes staring at me from within. I fall backward with the bottle in hand, frantically striving to get my arrow knocked before it’s too late. The zombie inside lunges just when I begin to pull back the string, spilling drinks of different shapes and sizes all over the isle. I manage to launch my shaft in mid air, but it glances off the thing’s neck and stabs straight into a plastic bottle.
“Shit!” I exclaim, shoving my drink into its jaw to keep it from biting down on my arm. That buys me just enough time to scramble to my feet and dart down the isle. It looks like I’ll have a clean escape until I realize that the punk is blocking my path, his face and hands awash in blood.
I reach into my pack and pull out another shaft as he progresses. My hands are shaking so badly I can barely manage. Luck must be on my side, however, because I hit him right between the eyes and he goes down squirming. When I try to run something catches my leg and I fall flat on my face, my bow sliding beyond reach. That’s when I feel his teeth sink into my sneakers, ripping off a chunk of fabric before I can kick him in the nose.
Blood splatters down his maw when his nose snaps like a broken carrot, but it doesn’t even seem to phase him. He just keeps biting at me over and over. I feel the sort of panicked you get when a rattlesnake slithers over your feet and starts shaking it’s tail. Only worse because this thing actually wants to eat me! In another moment he’ll reach my calf, and there’s no telling what will happen once his saliva touches my bloodstream.
Frantically I reach out for anything I can get, only to come up with a can of fucking bean dip. In my haste, I don’t even hesitate to whack him across the skull. Luckily it makes him stagger just long enough for me to snatch an arrow out of my pack. He goes for the kill, but this time I skewer him straight through the eyeball. I’m not convinced that’s enough, though, so I roll him over and deliver another dozen or so stabs before finally declaring him dead.
We’re both a bloody mess by the time I cease, but at least I’m still alive. Breathing heavily, yes, but alive nonetheless.
The store is mine, I realize with a hint of satisfaction. Anything and everything I ever wanted by way of junk food is at my fingertips! I’ll be able to survive here for weeks!
I step carefully around the corpses to snatch up one of the soda bottles littering the floor. It fizzes with a twist as if to welcome me to my reward, but before I can indulge in it, the shrill scream of a woman splits the air outside. The hair on my neck stands on end.
“Shit,” I say, screwing the cap back on. “Just when I thought I could relax.”
I shove as much junk food as I can inside my backpack and pick up my bow. So much for festivities, I say on my way back out the door.
The bell chimes behind me when I step out into the street. In the distance I can see shapes moving, but I don’t quite make out what it is until I creep forward a bit. Suddenly I feel very nauseous. Thousands of them are coming, and they look like they see me plain as day.
I begin to run the other direction, but a gunshot down an alley grabs my attention. No matter how dangerous it might be, it’s the first sign of life I’ve heard since I awoke. Before I can rule in favor of good sense, I hear the girl screaming again and go bolting toward her like the idiot I am. To my misfortune, the horde follows.
About halfway down the alley I see the girl kicking and screaming as several men remove her from some kind of a net. She’s frightened as can be, but positively stunning. Her hair is dark as a raven, and her body like that of a goddess. She has a face equally gorgeous, and when they rip her shirt off I see that her breasts are perky and full. My first instinct is to rush in and stick up for her, but I have no way to get up there and I’m outnumbered four to one. I’m in the middle of trying to formulate a plan when I see a familiar face lying unconscious in the net.
I tiptoe forward to confirm my suspicion, hiding in a recess in the wall so not to be seen. My breath is coming a mile a minute now and suddenly I’m remembering things. The outbreak. The ascent to the roof. The fall into the gym where I tweaked my ankle—Chelsea’s kiss!
As quietly as possible, I climb on top of a dumpster, knowing full well that the zombies will be able to reach me in less than a minute. Every ounce of common sense inside of me is screaming to run, but all I can do is stare at that face. Unconscious as the kid may be, I would know him anywhere. After all, we roomed together for nine months.
Kyler, you fucking bastard! Where’s Chelsea? Did you abandon her too? I should leave your sorry ass behind to die like you did to me!
It’s then that it occurs to me. Even if I somehow manage to get away at this point and Kyler dies, all knowledge of Chesea’s whereabouts will die with him. Like it or not, that leaves only one choice: risk it all for the fucking bastard who left me for dead.
You seriously have no idea what I’ve been through since my last post. I feel like I’ve been through hell and back again. Engorged zombie hands have groped every part of me from head to toe, and I’m covered in so much fucking blood I can’t tell if one of them actually landed a bite or if I just scraped my arm. I feel absolutely disgusting and probably look twice as bad. I would do just about anything right now for a good long shower and a chance to brush out my hair.
If I sound a little hysterical, it’s because I am. We were supposed to rendezvous with Devin and Chelsea two hours ago, but our quick trip to the Jeep soured rather quickly. It all happened when we turned a blind corner and found zombies munching on my pet poodle. We practically bumped right into them, and I was too shocked at the sight of it all to even move a muscle. All that blood and mutilated fur . . . I still get grossed out thinking about it. They began closing in on us from all directions when the realized we were there, and all I could do was stand around like some stupid statue. Kyler easily could have ditched me to save himself and I would have deserved it, but he actually stayed. If ever I had a crush on a guy, it’s now. You should have seen the way he cut through the middle of them with the little ammo we had left, hauling me past their gaping maws right in the nick of time.
Despite our temporary victory, however, I’m realizing that I’ll probably never see home again. I’d never admit it aloud, but the thought of that is like a needle through my heart. Any time I let my mind wander it strays to the late nights in the sauna I’ll never get to use again, and the breakfasts our cook used to bring to me on the veranda. I recall making out with boys in the game room with the lights dimmed down, talking with mom about our life in Israel when I was an infant, and lounging by the pool in my latest bikini. Those times feel so distant now they could be another lifetime. I suppose they might as well be. From now on everything is going to have to change. Like it or not, the world I knew as a child is dead.
For the last hour we’ve been making our way through town at a limp because Kyler twisted his ankle jumping off of the roof of Dad’s shop. It’s a long way down and a foolish move, I know, but we had to get over the fence somehow. He trooped it out for a couple miles after catching me and fighting through two other skirmishes, but he’s wearing down fast. In the last couple of minutes we’ve gone from a walk to practically a crawl. If it was anyone else I might consider leaving him behind. But not Kyler. If it weren’t for him I’d be zombie chow anyway, so I’ve opted to use my last bit of strength being his crutch. I won’t last long with his weight on my tiny shoulders, though. I’m afraid that if we don’t find a safe spot to rest before nightfall, neither of us will make it till dawn.
My eyes zero in on a moving shadow behind a white picket fence. I can feel my heartbeat quicken at the fear of what it might be, but I’m relieved to see that it’s just a dog rummaging through garbage. This isn’t the first time I get startled. I feel like I’m going insane. Bags blowing in the wind have been taunting me since we left the confines of my house, and I flinch any time a pigeon buzzes overhead–oh, and cats are the worst! I swear I’ll pee my pants if one more hiss at us. The only thing that brings my sanity comfort is knowing that Kyler is just as paranoid.
We take a turn down a dark alleyway to escape an object rustling behind a dumpster. The thought that it could be another survivor crosses our minds, but we don’t want to stick around to find out. Right now our top priority is landing some transportation so we can meet up with Chelsea and Devin before it’s too late. The only problem is that every vehicle we’ve encountered is either out of gas or surrounded by zombies. And to make matters worse, Kyler looks like he could collapse at any minute. He just keeps rambling on about how ironic it is that he’ll die in the same way somebody named Connor did, and how he thinks Devin tried to get us killed so he can have Chelsea to himself. I would be lying if I didn’t say that last part bugs me. Not because Devin will have her to himself, but because that means Kyler still has feelings for her even after we did the dirty tango! I should have known he just wanted to get into my panties. He’s a man, after all. Oh, and in my desperation not to die a virgin, I let him cum inside of me without protection. Dumb move, right? His semen are still dripping down my leg even now. Gross, right? I mean, how much did he pump into me? I better not get pregnant, or I’ll go ballistic on him. Can you imagine getting knocked up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? As if teen pregnancy isn’t tough enough already!
I shake the thought from my mind as we move down the alleyway. Something about being trapped between two buildings has always chilled my blood, but I do have to admit that it’s nice to be out of the sun. The heat was starting to make my shirt stick, and now I’m thirsty as can be. I would reach for my water bottle, but I don’t dare slow our momentum in the middle of this thing. Not when all it would take to seal our doom is a couple flesh eaters coming in from either side.
We’re about halfway through when a single silhouette comes into view at the other end. My breath catches in my throat at the sight of it. It doesn’t seem to move like one of them, but the prospect of what it might want sends goosebumps down my spine. Especially with the way it just stands there, as if it’s waiting for us.
“. . . Devin knew they were there,” Kyler continues with his arm wrapped around my shoulders for support. “The son of a bitch knew they were out there and he still sent us out to die. I should’ve known he would sink to that level. What a fucking asshole!”
“Uh, Ky . . .”
“If he wanted Chelsea for himself, he should have tried to win her over. I mean, what the hell kind of person sends his friends to their deaths over a girl anyway?”
“Ky, I really think you need to see this.”
“I swear I’m going to tear him limb from limb if I ever see him again, and if he so much as harms a hair on Chelsea’s head—”
I reach under his arm and pinch his nipple. “Ouch!” he yelps so loud it echoes.
“What was that for?”
I roll my eyes. “Quit being an idiot for a minute and look!” I say, pointing toward the other end of the alley.
Kyler’s eyes lock on the silhouette. “What do you want?” he calls out.
The man lets a baseball bat slide through his fingers, only to begin rapping it several times on the pavement. Three ruffians come hooting and howling from the fire escapes in response, all bearing some sort of blunt weapon.
“Well, what do we have here?” one with a greasy tanktop calls down. He looks to be in his thirties, with the knotted muscles of somebody who has works manual labor.
The youngest of the four kicks down the fire escape and begins sliding down, his eyes wild and crazy. “I’ve got dibs on the girl!” he shouts.
“The hell you do, Kevin!” a man with a thick belly snaps. “You know the rules. We share everything in this family. Even pussy.”
“Especially pussy,” the one with the tanktop agrees, grinning. “Now get her skinny ass up here before that horde arrives. The last thing we need is them gathering around our building.”
Kyler doesn’t hesitate to train his gun on the center of the batter’s chest. “Touch her and you die, asshole.”
I scoot closer to Kyler to calm my nerves, but I can feel my knees knocking together.
“Don’t be so selfish, kid,” the batter says to me as he closes in. I can see now that he’s well into his forties, with grey hair speckled through his beard and a biker’s jacket that clings to his frame. “It’s like Ronnie here says. We all share in our family.”
“I’m not part of your fucking family,” Kyler grumbles in a way that temporarily stills their laughter. “Now get the hell out of our way before I splatter your fucking brains across the wall.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” he says, smiling from ear to ear. “Don’t you realize that every bullet you fire draws them nearer? It’s no wonder there’s such a big group of them after you two.”
Kyler’s hand falters from fatigue, but he wills it to continue holding up the gun. “What do you mean?”
“The creatures. They’re after you because you make too much noise. They might look stupid, kid, but they know how to track. Before you know it you’ll have the whole town out for a taste of your flesh and this little filly will be devoured like a filet mignon. Best you let us have the girl. She’ll be safer here with us anyway.”
“Take another step,” Kyler growls. “I dare you.”
I can hear the men nearing from above as they reposition escape ladders. My mind races with escape ideas as I look on, but none of them seem practical with Kyler’s ankle the way it is. When I realize that there’s nothing I can do, and that these disgusting men are going to have their way with me, tears begin to stream down my face.
“Kyler,” I whisper in a tight voice, “don’t let them take me. Please.”
He pulls me closer, holding his gun as steadily as he can while edging around the batter. “This is your last chance,” he tells the man. “Get out of the way or start sprouting holes in your chest. Your choice. You’ve got ten seconds.”
“You don’t want to do that,” he says with a flash of anger. “Use that and you’ll only get yourself killed. I promise. Zombies will be all over this place in less than a minute, and you’ve got a bum ankle.”
Kyler looks nervous.
“Admit it, kid. You obviously can’t take care of this girl. Give her up to someone who can. Please, we’ll treat her like a queen.”
“No!” I shout. “Leave us alone!”
“You heard her,” Kyler says as confidently as he can. “Let us go and my friends will spare you.”
The entire group roars with laughter, “The only friends you have tailing you are a bunch of flesh-eating cock suckers,” says the muscular one. “Now give up that bitch!”
“Last chance,” says the man with the bat.
Kyler fires a round straight at the man’s chest, knocking him flat on his back as if he were no more than a rag doll. We make a run for it, but the batter grabs Kyler’s bad leg and rolls him onto the pavement. The next thing I know our gun is skidding out of reach and we’re being swallowed by a fishing net.
I scream at the top of my lungs when they begin hoisting us into the air, kicking and flailing in a desperate attempt to break free.
“A pity you didn’t want to share the girl,” the batter says when he’s finally composed. “We really would have shared her . . . sometimes.”
“Only when our cocks are so sore from drilling her they’re about to fall off!” the muscular one chides.
“This is against the law!” I exclaim. “I’m a minor and a citizen! I have my rights!”
“There is no law now, darlin’,” the fat one says. “But don’t worry your pretty little head about it. Me and my boys are gonna take good care of you. You’ll be treated like royalty.”
Kyler reaches his arm down through the net to grab the man with the bat, but misses. “You won’t get away with this!”
“Next time aim for the head, kid,” he says as he removes a set of body armor. “You’d think you would be used to that by now with all the zombies walking around. I guess some people just aren’t meant to survive.”
Just then the all-too-familiar sound of scuffling feet comes into range and I see the horde approaching from the other end of the alley.
“Let us go!” Kyler shouts. “We’re sitting ducks out here. Please, I beg you.”
The man cocks his baseball bat back with a smirk. “Let you go? Now that’s rich. Where’s the fun in that?”
Before I can so much as protest what he’s about to do, the bat slugs Kyler across the skull and his entire body goes limp as a noodle. Everything becomes an instant blur after that, and all I can hear is myself screaming like I’ve gone completely insane.
They try to remove me from the net next, but I scratch and claw and bite until I nearly fall head first onto the pavement. It isn’t until I land a fingernail in Ronnie’s eye that they get really mad, though. After that all hell breaks loose, and all I can feel is blow after blow wracking my frame until I’m rendered unconscious.
The last thing I remember hearing before it all went dark was the sound of my shirt ripping off amongst the howls of four horny men.
It’s six o’clock in the morning. I haven’t eaten or slept in over 24 hours. My hair is a total mess and my makeup is streaked with tears. I look like the time a rainstorm rolled through one of my photo shoot in Maui and destroyed two hours of the stylist’s work. Only this time I’m downstairs with Ky racing to pack provisions in the middle of a fucking apocalypse!
Right now Chelsea is upstairs putting together some clothes for all of us as fast as she can, and Devin is keeping a lookout from the camera room just in case one of those things gets inside. In case you didn’t read our last post, there’s literally thousands of undead milling about my yard right now. Zombies or not, I’ve never seen so many people in one place in all my life, but here they are, gathered around my house like fucking groupies at a Justin Bieber concert!
If you saw me this instant you might think I look excessively calm for a girl about to get eaten, but I’m really freaking out on the inside. Chelsea would say that my inability to express fear is an expression of denial, but I say screw her. She lost any right to diagnose people when she used dish soap in the washing machine at age sixteen. Yep, that’s her. Now maybe you can see why I don’t trust her opinion on anything.
Now, lazy as this might sound, I’ve spent the last fifteen minutes eating low-fat string cheese while my 21-year-old college dreamboat crams tuna cans into our backpacks as fast as he can. He claims they’ll be essential to our survival once we’re on the road, but I have no idea in hell how he expects my scrawny shoulders to carry one of those things through droves of zombies whilst somehow remaining unscathed. I thought about telling him as much, but he’s too cute being manly for me to interrupt, especially when he keeps stopping to listen for unexpected visitors.
I guess maybe that’s what I like about him. The whole world is dying, we’re outnumbered with only a couple magazines of ammunition up our sleeves, we’ve just received word that the zombie virus is the doing of some military group approaching from the north, and he wants me to help fit more beans into a backpack?! Poor guy’s gone looney. Sooner or later I’m going to have to explain to him that we don’t have a chance at survival. At this point it doesn’t matter what we do or how well we do it. Eventually we’re all going to be dead.
Now, I’ve been meaning to tell you because all my friends are dead; I have an earnest confession to make. I know it’s a little messed up, given our current circumstances, but I need to get it off my shoulders once and for all. Being in the pantry with Ky while we’re on the brink of death is getting me going in a bad way. I’m not just talking hot and heavy, or lusting after a girlhood crush like I might have done my sophmore year. I’m talking, stick-my-tongue-in-his-mouth, let-him-pin-me-against-a-wall-with-his-dick-and-fuck-me-until-I-can’t-walk-straight, turned on. You probably think that’s weird, I’m sure, but near-death experience do that to people all the time. And don’t laugh, because I’m being truthful here. Since I was little, I’ve always had this secret fantasy to steal a guy away from Chelsea. It might sound cruel, I know, but before you go thinking I’m the world’s worst stepsister, hear me out.
In high school I was still too young to be a fair match for her size 34C man-killer chi-chis and perfect ass, but can you blame me? I’m 3 years younger! When she was popping her shirts and skirts just enough to give every guy on campus his own personal set of wet dreams, I was just outsizing my first couple bras. Needless to say, I couldn’t compete. Any guy who came to see me was really there for her, and any friend I ever had was just hoping for a beauty tip from the great Chelsea Cummings. I was always living in her shadow, always second best. Sure, she’s still hot as a rocket engine, and still got more admirers than she knows what to do with, but I’ve grown up a lot. She might not know it yet, but it’s a whole new ball game now. I’ll wrap Kyler around my little finger by giving him the time of his life, and then maybe she’ll see that she’s not the only Cummings girl who can turn a head. Besides, I’ve got to give it up to a boy at some point, right? I mean, a girl doesn’t work her panties off at the gym all year long just so she can die a virgin.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not being careless about who I give my cookie to or anything. I really have been saving myself for the right guy and all that, but given the situation I figure that I need to choose between Devin and Kyler. When you look at it like that, there’s not much of a choice. Devin is a smart kid, I’ll give him that much, but he got hit with the ugly stick at some point in his life and I’m not about to give it up to Quasimodo. Therefore, my choice is easy, especially when I take Chelsea into consideration. Right or wrong for me as Kyler may be, he’s definitely the better choice. I’ve already seen his package, anyway, and it will do just fine. Not to mention that he’s cute in a sophisticated sort of way, sweeter than any boys I’ve ever dated, got nice abs, and even decent enough not to look at my boobs when I’m watching.
“There, that should do it,” Kyler says, snapping me back to reality when he zips up the last backpack. “Any last items you want to grab before we head up?”
I try to think of a sexy remark like Chelsea might use if she were in my shoes, but my tongue gets twisted and it comes out all wrong.
He raises an eyebrow in that cute way that floors my libido like the pedal of a Lamborghini. “What is it?” he chuckles charmingly. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
My mind is racing with questions. Does he want me? Will he even have sex with me knowing that I’m a minor? Does that even matter now that society is no more? Oh shit, I don’t have a condom. What do I do after he cums?
To make matters worse, he sees me stealing glances at his crotch and I begin to blush.
“Everything’s going to be alright,” Kyler says, shouldering the packs. “Just have faith.”
“It’s not that,” I tell him. “I . . . need something else.”
“Like what?” he asks.
I bite my lip and sway cutely from side to side.
“You really should tell me soon,” he insists. “If you don’t get what you want now, you probably won’t have another chance for a long time.”
I open my mouth to say what I need, but close it again half a heartbeat later, cursing myself for a fool.
Ky opens the door and steps out into the kitchen. “Speak now or forever hold your peace. We don’t have long before they find a way in, you know.”
I grab his arm before he goes and blurt out, “Cookies!”
“You need what?”
I glance at the ground bashfully. “I need your . . . I mean, some cookies.”
“You want cookies?” he asks, confused.
I nod. There’s no turning back now.
“Alright, cookies it is. Where do you have them hidden?”
I gesture up with my eyes and give him a half-smiles, perfectly aware of how my loose shirt slips off my shoulder to reveal a red bra strap and the brim of an overflowing cup.
The stillness settling about his almond eyes tells me he noticed. There’s no confusing the way they drink in my dark skin and hair, or how they meander hungrily down my slender curves. At first I don’t think he’s going to do anything, but he moves forward. My heart begins to pound like a drum with excitement. By the time we’re standing chest to chest, I’m breathless. I feel like he’s on the brink of sweeping me off my feet with a kiss, but he reaches up to the top shelf instead.
“You know,” he says once he has the box of Chips Ahoy in hand, “this all would be a lot easier if you—”
I can’t stand it anymore. I grab him by the belt and reel him in for a kiss. He hesitates for a split second and then proceeds to lift me off my feet. A fire ignites across every inch of my skin when our lips touch. Reflexively my hands begin figeting with his buttons.
“Are you sure you want this?” he asks when he comes up for air. “Chelsea might not like it.”
“I don’t care,” I lie, resuming where we left off.
After a moment of bliss, he pauses. “Shit, I don’t have any condoms—”
“Shut up,” I say, sending buttons bouncing across the floor when I decide that ripping his shirt off is quicker. It doesn’t matter, I think to myself. We’ll be dead soon anyway.
The warmth of my skin against his seems to rev his engine, sending his fumbling fingers to unfasten my shorts with the patience of a little boy at a candy shop. I smile giddily when they tickle against my tummy, thinking how utterly adorable he is to be so excited when he’s probably done this a dozen times. I can’t wait to see the look on Chelsea’s face when she finds out I claimed him first. She’s going to be so jealous!
I step out of my shorts when he finally gets them off, and I realize that the time for me to take the plunge is now. I’m down to nothing but my red bra and matching thong at this point, my tan skin glistening with sweat.
Kyler stops for a moment to admire me, his chest heaving up and down from all the excitement. “Holy shit, you’re hot,” he breathes.
I give him a cute shrug and close the door to the kitchen, ignoring the sound of zombies outside to keep this last perfect moment the way I always dreamed it would be. “I’m all yours,” I say as I unbuckle his jeans.
He pulls my thong down next and slowly penetrates my lower lips, sending a tremor of pleasure over me unlike anything I’ve ever felt. I want him to thrust deeper, but he just teases me with the tip until my cheeks and ears turn bright red.
I let out a whimper when he pushes it in further, feeling a rush of pain and pleasure so bitter-sweat I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Every muscle inside of me sings high notes as he continues, and before long I feel a rush of emotion inside of me like I’m going to burn up. Just when I think it can’t get any better, he turns me around to go in and out of me from behind. I can’t help but gasp, a small trickle of blood running out where my hymen has torn. My breath is coming quicker than ever, caught up in my chest in the sort of way that sends goosebumps over your skin. I can hear him panting too, shuttering with arousal. Judging by how firmly his fingers are wrapped around my hips, I can tell he’s just as enthralled as me.
I want him deeper, so I bend a little further and get just what I want it. He’s so big now it hurts, but I can’t seem to get enough even still. He begins to go faster, and it feels so good inside of me that I let out a cry of pleasure. My fingernails dig into the wall I’m leaning against, ruining my manicure. For the first time ever, I don’t even care. All I want is more of him.
When I get close to climaxing again, he pulls out his penis and lays me down on my back like a perfect gentleman. Our eyes meet for an instant, and I see my lust and desire reflecting from his expression. I wrap my slender legs around his waist and pull him in to experience something I’ll never again be able to live without. He begins by going harder than ever. I’m making tons of noise now, and my body’s becoming so hot I feel like I’m about to go supernova. And then it happens. I let out a cry so intense my back arches. My mouth hangs agape as I shutter from the wave of sensation washing over me. Kyler seems to be experiencing the same sensation, pumping semen into me over and over again until we’re a sweaty mess.
When it’s over, we lay there for a moment, holding one another the way I always wanted a man to hold me. Beside us is an overturned box of Chips Ahoy. Kyler smiles at the sight of it and reaches out, his face red with fatigue. “You still want those cookies?” he asks breathlessly.
I accept one with a laugh, still unable to get over the fact that he’s inside of me. “Best. Cookies. Ever,” I say as I finger through my mess of sweaty hair.
“Yeah, that was pretty freaking hot,” he replies with a cookie of his own. “I’m, er, glad you liked it.”
I give him one last kiss before he starts to get off of me.
“We should keep this between us for now,” he says, pulling his penis out.
I nod in an attempt to keep my grin from spreading. “Probably a good idea. Chelsea isn’t going to like it one bit.”
He begins tugging on his pants. “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, I guess, right?”
I feel a stream of fluid running down my inner thigh when I stand, and I reach for a napkin. “Shit. Next time we really should use a—”
A noise from the kitchen silences my words.
Kyler’s eyes meet mine with dread. He heard it too. I’m completely naked with his sperm running down my legs and he’s shirtless. If the zombies have breached one of the entry points, we’re toast.
He grabs me by the waist and moves protectively between me and the door, his handgun at the ready. Get dressed, he mouths.
As quickly and as quietly as I can, I throw on my clothes. I wish I could relish just having lost my innocence like most girls do after their first time, but there’s no time. Right now there’s more urgent matters at hand, like staying alive to do it again.
Once I’m decent, Ky opens the door a stitch to peek out. There’s nothing in sight but polished granite countertops and hanging copper pots. Zombies are still banging on the front and back doors, but they haven’t quite managed to break through its four inches of solid oak yet, so we breathe a sigh of relief.
“Just the wind?” I ask hopefully.
Kyler scrubs his hand across his scruffy jaw. “Let’s hope so. Just be glad the windows are too high off the ground for them to reach.”
I nod absently as I rearrange my shirt. “Can I ask you a questions?”
“Was I . . . good?”
Kyler gives me that grin again and plucks me off my feet, my legs straddling him as he sets me on the countertop. “That was some of the hottest sex I think I’ve ever had.”
I grin. “Not bad for a sixteen-year-old?”
His face goes bright red, and he begins rubbing his neck. “Yeah, um, I kind of forgot about that part, but yes, definitely very hot for a sixteen-year-old.”
I nudge his shoulder playfully. “Don’t worry, I won’t turn you in for statutory rape. Not as long as you’re nice, anyway.”
“Yeah, well, all the same. Maybe we should keep this our little secret.”
My grin widens. “Of course,” I lie. “And, maybe if we don’t die today, we can do it again tomorrow?”
“We’re not going to die,” he says, hugging me. “I won’t let us.”
I close my eyes and reply with a kiss. One that ends up lasting longer than anticipated. It begins to feel like we might have a second bout of intercourse when my eyes open just in time to see a snarling corpse running at us from the basement stairwell.
“Shit, Kyler look out!” I scream, pulling him with me to the floor.
The engorged zombie is on top of us within seconds, drooling bloody saliva as it goes for a chunk out of my leg. I retract just in time to roll out of its way, but it lunges again. Kyler takes a shot with his handgun, nailing it in the spine, but that doesn’t even phase it for an instant. Two female zombie come barreling up the stairs before he can fire again, both missing chunks of skin and sinew where other zombies must have bit them.
“Kyler run!” I shriek, groping the countertop behind me for anything that might be of use.
He turns just in time to take down the first with a close range shot between the eyes. The second one is merely knocked off her feet when the slug takes her in the chest. Before she can get up, more are toppling up the stairs over her.
“Leave me the fuck alone!” I shout as the fat one approaches me. I slash with a steak knife in an attempt to frighten it away, but it doesn’t seem the least bit scared. It just embraces my cut into its belly and tries to bite my hand. I let go of the blade and jump back instinctively, barely evading its teeth. To my misfortune, it snatches my arm up before I can take another step, pinning me against the cabinets with its immense belly.
It falls in a heap of blood and brain fluid before it can taste my arm, its skull pierced from the bullet of a rifle.
“You’re sitting ducks down there!” I hear Devin say from the overhang overlooking the kitchen. “What the hell took you so long? We’ve been waiting up here for you for almost an hour.”
“We—er—got delayed,” Kyler says, falling back with me behind the counter.
“Delayed?” Devin asks with amusement, picking off another zombie with his rifle. “Why aren’t you wearing a shirt?”
“Now’s not the time to explain, Devin” Kyler groans.
He laughs. “Whatever. Just get your asses out of there before one of them bites you. The last thing we need is for one of us to get infected.”
“Where the fuck are we supposed to go?” I exclaim as I shoot another. “We can’t get to you and they’re crawling all over the back porch.”
“Not since they broke out that basement window and are lining up to get in. It’s just clear as day out there right now.”
“You want us to go out there?” Ami exclaims. “Are you crazy!?”
“Trust me. We’ll climb down from the balcony and meet you outside. From there it’s a straight shot to the Jeep. Easy as pie.”
“And if we get separated?” Kyler asks, switching magazines to fire off a few more rounds. “Where should we meet?”
“And if we do?” I shout back. “We need a backup plan just in case, and you know it.”
Chelsea comes into view beside him, her amber eyes scanning Kyler’s naked chest. She looks like she’s itching to ask about his shirt, but doesn’t. “My apartment should be the emergency rendezvous point,” she says plainly. “It’s on the way out of town, but please try to avoid getting ‘lost’ at all costs, Ami. This isn’t a joke. You two could die out there.”
“I’m not stupid, Chelsea.”
She purses her lips. “I know you’re not,” she says. “That’s what worries me. Just remember, I’ll never forgive you if anything happens to Ky. And I mean anything.”
“Whatever,” Devin says, picking off another couple of the creatures coming up the stairs. “We won’t need a stupid emergency rendezvous point if you just leave now. Go through that door and we’ll see you both in five minute.”
Kyler takes my hand and gives me a deep look. “You ready for this?” he asks as we sprint for the door.
I try to forget the sour taste Chelses’s words left in my mouth, but can’t. “Ky, just in case we die out there, I want you to know that you were my first.”
He puts his hand on the knob and begins to turn it. “If we’re being honest here, you should know that you were mine too.”
A smile sneaks across my lips. Before I can think of a reply, he’s already twisted the handle and taken us several feet into the courtyard. Things seem to be going pretty smoothly until we round a corner to find a horde devouring Ami’s pet poodle. We try to back up slowly, but it’s too late. We’ve been spotted and now dozens of them are coming our way.
I go stiff as a statue with fright. Strange as it is, I can’t even feel my toes. The only thing to bring me out of the trance is the foreign sensation of a tug on my arm and the seemingly distant sound of Kyler shouting: Run!
By the time we near the rendezvous point I feel like I could fall asleep on my feet. Shoots of early morning light are slipping through the mansion’s shutters, warming the marble corridors like the first day of spring. Ever so faintly I can hear birds chirping outside, as if the world has already forgotten last night’s horrors. A part of me wants to rush out and go for a stroll just to see if I can, but yesterday’s memories still haunt me.
Chelsea and Ami are just beginning to talk like friends for the first time all night when we stumble upon their maid. My heart stops that very instant, freezing solid. A deep slice through one of her eyes tells me she’s not sleepwalking, accompanied by jelling blood smeared across her face and a horrible stench like she shit herself.
“Yun Chi,” Chelsea gasps, covering her face.
The maid, Yun Chi, rounds the corner so quickly I barely have time to raise my gun. Inches before she reaches me, I squeeze the trigger and wait for the recoil, but nothing happens. I try again. Still nothing. It isn’t until I glance down that I realize the safety’s on. Quick as can be, I flick the lever up with my thumb and go for a third attempt, but by then I’m already being knocked to the floor beneath the world’s scariest undead maid.
Chelsea stumbles back when I bump into her on my way down, caught off-guard by Yun Chi’s surprising speed and agility.
I manage to hold the maid’s head of bloody black hair at bay as she snaps and snarls, but she’s so strong I begin to falter. In a matter of seconds it will be too late. She’ll have bitten me and I’ll be infected.
Before I even realize what’s going on I see Ami’s legs come into view. She’s standing over my face, grunting and cussing as she fights Yun Chi off with her knife. I scramble for my gun to help, but by the time I find it blood is gushing everywhere. One of them has proven victorious, but I can’t tell who. I climb to my feet as quickly as possible, knowing that I could never forgive myself if anything happened to Ami because of my stupidity.
Relief finally kicks in when I see Ami’s switchblade protruding from the top of Yun Chi’s skull, leaving her motionless against the wall like some kind of creepy voodoo doll.
“I had no choice,” Ami says, staring at her bloody, quivering hands.
My breathing only starts to calm after I put a bullet through Yun Chi’s skull for good measure. Chelsea gives me a funny look, like that was unnecessary.
“Best not take any chances,” I explain. “They’re getting stronger.”
Ami timidly retrieves her knife from the corpse and then backs down the hall as far away as she dares. “I thought I’d already killed her after she bit Dad,” she explains, “but evidently knifing one of these things through the eye isn’t good enough.”
“I can’t believe it,” Chelsea whimpers, looking like she wants to go cradle the old woman’s corpse. “Yun Chi’s been here since I was twelve . . . and we just killed her. This doesn’t make any sense!”
“Chels, she just tried to eat us,” I explain. “She was sick. If Ami hadn’t acted quickly we’d all either be dead or ticking zombie time bombs.”
She starts to choke up, but manages a silent nod.
“C’mon, let’s keep moving before your butler pops out of a closet or something,” I tell her when I notice Yun Chi’s good eye twitching. “There’s nothing we can do for her now anyway.”
When we’re a good distance away from the corpse, Chelsea turns to Ami and says, “Who else turned that I know? I need you to tell me.”
“Chelsea, you’ve never been good with coping. I’ll give you a roster later, okay?”
“Tell me, Ami. I need to know.”
Ami blows her hair off of her face with a long sigh. “Fine, you really want to know? The gardeners, Tito and Pedro, were first to turn. Then Emil the cook, and after him the UPS driver who always gives a flourishing bow when we cross paths.”
“Who else,” she demands, interlocking her fingers with mine to snuggle up against my arm.
Ami’s dark eyes look like they’re melting as they quiver with tears. “. . . Mom, Chelsea. She turned before Emil. Are you happy now? You always hated her!”
Chelsea puts her arm on Ami’s bare shoulder and gives her a sincere squeeze. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have insisted. Are you doing alright?”
Ami shakes her head of silky black waves and stifles a tear. “I’m fine,” she lies in a shaky voice. “We all have to die some day, right? It’s just too bad it happened like this.”
“Sorry to ask, but is your mom still wandering around like the maid?” I ask bluntly. “Better we find out now than when we’re in a pinch.”
Ami shakes her head again. “No, she’s not. Dad put her down when he realized what was going on, but I think it was that gunshot that drew Yun Chi toward us. We didn’t even know she was in the house until it was already too late. Damn things seem to be attracted to noise.”
Chelsea nods. “Note to self, don’t make noise.”
“You and your dad didn’t change with the rest of town,” I muse. “But he still got infected after he was bitten. There’s got to be something similar about our physiology that I’m missing. Something that kept us from the initially exposure. But what?”
“Don’t ask me why,” Ami says, tugging the loosely knit neck of her shirt back over her shoulder. “I barely passed all of my science classes. Dad was baffled by it too, though. He kept swearing over and over again as we watched it all go down on the news.”
“The news?” I ask, my ears suddenly perking up.
“Yeah, it was pretty disturbing. They had a name for it. Some kind of major outbreak. I think they called it a . . . a . . .”
“Yeah! They were rolling footage in a park of people running frantic when the reporter suddenly had a seizure. When he got up, he was drooling all over the place like a rabid dog. Next thing we knew, he was biting people left and right and others were joining in.”
“And the camera just kept filming?” Chelsea asks in disgust.
“Well, yeah, the camera man and anybody else disinterested in human flesh were busy sprinting to get in their cars.”
“This is bad,” I groan. “Did they say anything important before he turned? Anything about where survivors need to meet up or what protocol the authorities are taking?”
“One other station was talking about the disease being some sort of biological warfare. It was just getting interesting but I noticed Dad was having trouble breathing and I had to stop watching. His face was all pale and he was sweating like a pig. Something about that blank look in his eyes reminded me of Yun, and after seeing what the people in the park were capable of I knew I had to leave right away.”
“I know exactly the look you’re talking about,” I say as we round another corner.
“Did Dad say anything about me before you left?” Chelsea asks.
Ami rolls her eyes. “You always think everything is about you, Chels.”
She turns up her hands. “Well, did he or not?”
Ami’s face is a mask of jealousy. “He said to go and find you because you’ll know what to do. There, are you happy now?”
Before Chelsea can respond, we arrive at the panic room. Devin is inside twisting foil around a wire coat hanger with an array of camera monitors blinking from one zone to the next. “About time you show up,” he says, glancing over his shoulder. “I was beginning to think you—holy shit, who is that?”
Ami’s eyes overwhelm Devin in a flutter of sexy dark lashes, smoky eyeshadow, and irises black as onyx. “Chelsea’s kid sister,” she replies in a sharp tone. “Who the hell are you?”
“Devin,” Chelsea explains when he seems too shocked to speak. “And don’t introduce yourself as my kid sister anymore. It’s embarrassing. You’re sixteen now. Try to act like it.”
“I’m two years younger than you,” Ami replies, adjusting the black camisole beneath her loosely knitted shirt. “That makes me your kid sister.”
“Ami, English is your second language. Trust me, kid sister means that you’re a kid. Get it? No boobies, no sex. Besides, we’re barely even considered sisters and your birthday is next week anyway.”
Ami crosses her arms beneath her breasts and tries not to look wounded.
“Don’t be like that or I won’t get you a present,” Chelsea snaps.
“You’re such a bitch,” Ami grumbles. “I hate you.”
“Hate all you want. Somebody has to teach you to be a woman now that your mom’s gone. Being pretty isn’t everything, you know.”
“Oh, so that’s what you’re doing? Teaching me because my mom’s dead? What about before?”
“This is awkward,” Devin says to me as they continue. “I’m just going to keep working over. Let me know when the wrestling begins.”
“They’ve been fighting like this since they reunited,” I whisper to him beneath the bickering. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Nothing,” Devin replies. “We do nothing. I have three sisters and that’s the safest bet. Get involved and you’re better off taking your chances outside with the zombies.”
I chuckle. “Any luck with the TV?”
He shakes his head. “The satellite channels are just airing an emergency broadcast tone. A voice comes on every couple of minutes saying to keep indoors, but that’s about it.”
I scrub a tired hand across my jaw. “Have you tried the local frequencies?”
“They’re all black and white fuzz, but give me a couple minutes and we should have something.”
“Sounds good,” I say. “Let me know if I can help.”
Since the girls are still engaged in a heated conversation, I decide to take Devin’s advice and flat out ignore them. The mini fridge is calling my name anyway, but when I open it my stomach is sorely disappointed. There’s nothing inside but a couple dozen Fiji water bottles and a wheel of goat cheese wrapped in wax.
“Think there’s enough water in here?” I say as I grab one and plop down on the couch.
“My dad’s kind of funny about drinking tap water,” Chelsea explains. “He’s a bit of a health nut.”
Ami nods. “Since he married my mom I’ve had nothing but purified water, gluten-free wholegrain wheat, organic produce, and salted goat cheese.”
“Sounds nasty,” Devin says as he connects the antenna. “My body only consumes Mountain Dew, raspberry-filled donuts, and Cheetos.”
“And that’s why you’ll look like Santa Clause in a couple of years and I’ll still be skinny,” Ami shoots back.
“You think that’s funny, asshole?” Devin asks me aggressively. “Well get used to my diet, because in a couple of days the power will run out and there will be nothing left to keep your precious organic foods from spoiling. You’ll see. All of you will be begging for my preservative-enriched lipids.”
I hold my hands up in defense. “Hey, don’t look at me. On a student’s budget I eat whatever I can get. I only drink alkalized water because somebody sold me a machine as part of an MLM and now I’m stuck with it.”
Ami, now sitting off on the other side of the couch in her short shorts and fur-lined boots, hugs her naked legs and cracks open a water bottle. “I didn’t have you pegged for a get-rich-quick type, Mr. Boxer Briefs,” she says with that crooked smile. “How much did you pay for it?”
I let out a sigh. “Not that money matters anymore, but I paid $6,000.”
Ami chokes on the water. “Did you just say $6,000?” she asks in a tight voice. “And I thought I had bad spending habits!”
Devin shrugs. “I would wipe my ass with that right now. If this . . . apocalypse has spread further than Blithe County—and I think it has—money has lost all its value. Now food, guns, and clean water are the commodities.”
A channel flickers on when he finishes plugging in his makeshift antenna. The image keeps fading in and out, but we can see much more than before.
“Is this a re-run of Breaking Bad?” Chelsea asks from the corner by the fridge. “I can’t tell for sure, but that looks an awful lot like Heisenberg.”
When Devin adjusts the antenna ever so slightly, the picture of an overweight thirty-year-old with long hair flickers into view. “Definitely not Heisenberg,” Devin mutters under his breath.
Chelsea starts to reply, but sound suddenly comes through the speakers.
“Fellow survivors,” the voice begins, glitching in and out. “The disease you are encountering is a highly contagious pathogen created for bio warfare. Dangerous as it may be, this is not our only concern. The . . . are invading as I speak. Military Intelligence says they are approaching from the north. You must run. Hide anywhere you can. Be cautious. They will . . . anyone they find at first sight. I don’t know how many of you are out there, if any, but know that help is not coming—”
The broadcast fades out to the point that it’s impossible to see or hear.
“Devin, what did you do?” Chelsea whines. “Fix it. Now!”
“I’m trying, I’m trying!”
“Fellow surv . . . this will be my last broadcast. I am retreati . . . south. Stay in small groups and travel by night as much . . . possible. And above all else, remember what I said about . . . the water. This . . . Peter Walsh signing off. Farewell and goodnight.”
And just like that the channel goes dead, leaving us to stare black and white static battling across the screen.
“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” Devin exclaims. “He just gave us the most pertinent information we’ve heard all night and we couldn’t even understand what the hell we’re supposed to do with the water?”
“Because you couldn’t hold it still!” Chelsea shouts.
“Maybe he was trying to tell us not to bathe in it or our hair will start falling out,” Ami suggests with a sidelong glance at her stepsister. “Sucks to be you.”
Chelsea begins rubbing her arms like they suddenly burn, her expression growing more frantic by the second. “Am I going to turn into a zombie now because I had a shower? That’s so not fair! I don’t want to go bald. If that’s the case, please shoot me now. That would be so disgusting!”
I raise my hand. “Am I the only one here who heard him say that somebody—or something—is coming from the north?”
“Uh, sorry to interrupt,” Ami begins with a tone of urgency, “but can somebody come look at these monitors to tell me if this is real or if I’m just hallucinating?”
My attention is instantly sucked to a whole horde of zombies making its way through the gate. Thousands of them rip and pull at the bars, opening it just far enough to squeeze through. My breath catches in my throat, and my voice becomes tight.
Just when I thought we were going to get some rest, I think to myself.
“Guys,” I say in a trembling voice, “we have a bit of a problem.”
You never really know how strongly you feel about a girl until you’re watching a zombie get ready to rip out her throat. It’s like time stands still and everything becomes perfectly clear. Suddenly you know what needs to be done, even if it seems rash. Your first instinct might be to think it through, but if you hesitate for even a moment, you risk losing her forever.
That’s how I feel after chasing Chelsea into the master bedroom in Mr. Cumming’s mansion. At first glimpse I think he’s whispering something fatherly in her ear as they sit atop the canopy bed, but it doesn’t take me long to see that his teeth are bared and on the brink of taking a big chunk out of her neck.
Trapped in his embrace, Chelsea cries out, snapping me out of shock not a second too soon. Before Mr. Cumming’s teeth can make contact, a round blasts out of my barrel and through his skull. He slams straight back, and blood goes everywhere. The pillows drink it in like sponges, turning the white bedding crimson all around. Petrified as a statue, Chelsea stares at what was once her father, her eyes full of tears. By the time she begins to scream I’m already lifting her off the bed to avert her eyes.
“He . . . he . . . he tried to eat me!” she stammers. “I’m so stupid, Ky! I should have seen it. The whole world is dead! We’re all that’s left!”
“You don’t know that,” I tell her soothingly. “It was an honest mistake to think he wasn’t sick. Anybody would have been fooled, including myself.”
“Is he . . . dead?” she asks me abruptly.
Devin chuckles unsympathetically from over by the door. “Kyler just put a bullet through his frontal lobe. Of course he’s dead.”
I mouth for him to cut her some slack, but he just rolls his eyes. “Let’s not think about that right now,” I tell her. “First things first. Devin’s going to go sweep the upstairs to make sure there are no other zombies lurking about while I take you to your room to get washed up. Right Devin?”
“I guess,” he replies. “Maybe then we can finally get some rest and scrounge up something to eat.”
I nod. “We’ll sleep in shifts if we have to, but come morning we need to think of a plan.”
Chelsea looks over at her father’s corpse again and frowns. “Do you think Ami and her mom are okay?”
Devin, now searching the suite’s closet and bathroom, says, “Chances are they’re sick too.”
Chelsea lets out a long sigh. “We’re all going to die, aren’t we?”
“Not if we can find other survivors and get to safety,” I explain. “There’s got to be more people out there like us. We just need to keep our cool until we find them. Who knows, the Feds could be arriving any minute.”
“The Feds?” Devin laughs. “Like that will happen. What we really need to do is turn on a TV and start looks for broadcasts. Maybe then we can figure out what the hell is going on.”
“What if we’re infected too?” Chelsea asks. “What if it’s just taking longer to change us? What if we’re only hours away from turning into that?” She points at her dad with a shutter.
Devin shrugs. “Could be. For all we know, one of us might wake up a zombie in the morning. All we can do right now is try to figure it out and hope we don’t. For all we know, this is happening because everybody partook of some gnarly peanuts at Texas Roadhouse Grill or something.”
That doesn’t seem to make her feel any better. “If we’re going to make sure this place is zombie-free, we should go to the panic room,” she says after a minute of contemplation. “There are monitors there for all of the cameras around the property, water bottles, food, and even a TV.”
“You just made me the happiest man alive,” Devin says. “Just point me in the right direction and I’ll get started tinkering with everything.”
“Take a left out the door,” she explains, “turn right when it forks at the end of the hallway, and then all the way down to the end.”
“We’ll come find you when we’re through,” I call after him.
Once he’s gone, Chelsea says, “You can put me down now, Ky. I promise I won’t do anything stupid.”
“Oh. Ah, yeah,” I stammer as I put her on her feet.
“I can’t believe he’s dead,” she says, idly walking to his side. “My own dad . . . and he tried to eat me.”
“It wasn’t him,” I assure her.
She gives me a funny look.
“I mean, it was him, but not after the sickness took him. I’m sure he loved you very much.”
Chelsea starts fidgeting with her eye like she’s got something in it, and I realize that she’s crying again.
“Yeah, I just need to get out of here,” she says hurriedly. “C’mon, my room’s not far.”
“I’m guessing yours is the one we passed with the dartboard.”
“Yeah, that’s right. How did you know that?” Chelsea asks, now drying her tears.
“Because it’s got a picture of you with about five darts stabbed through your face.”
“Ami,” she grumbles. “Dad must have made her stay in that same room even after I moved out.
“She hates you that bad, huh?”
“You have no idea,” she replies, casting one last lingering stare at her dad. “C’mon, let’s go see what she’s done with the place.”
Trees scratch their branches across the night sky as we walk the hallway, their shadows spilling in through windows for a dance. Chelsea grabs my hand and holds it tight when we go around a corner, nearly jumping out of her boots when the wind begins to howl. At first I begin to think she’s going to bolt and do something stupid again, but fortunately we reach her room before she has a chance. She won’t go inside, however. Not until she’s peeked in from every possible angle to make sure nothing is waiting for us in the shadows.
The bedroom is a contrast of light and dark, where two completely different styles of décor are at war with one another. One side is adorned with pictures of friends, unicorn figurines, a music box, bright pink bedding, and a plethora of creepy little dolls. The other is decked out in black sheets, crimson pillows, a mess of expensive clothes and lingerie, and one well-used skateboard. There’s also what looks like a shrine of indie band merchandise and a MacBook Pro carelessly placed on a beanbag. A screensaver flashes through a file of limitless selfies, all of some mega hot chick. Her hair and ensemble seem to change from picture to picture, almost like she’s an entirely different person. In some it’s bleached blonde, in others it’s red or brown. Sometimes she’s wearing punk clothes, and sometimes she’s in prep, but my personal favorites are the ones where she’s barely wearing any at all. The only constant about her seems to be her dark eyes, and one freaking hot bombshell of a body.
“This used to be my room,” Chelsea tells me in disgust, still acting a bit dazed from the incident with her father. “Kind of a mess, I know, but it’s not exactly my fault.”
I stroll in and take a seat on the pink bed, trying not to let the staring dolls disturb me. “Is this one yours?”
Chelsea blushes. “I was a little girl when I picked it out, okay?”
I chuckle. “And the dolls? How old did you say you were when you moved out?”
“Don’t worry about it,” she tells me, her face red as a tomato. “I’m totally not into stuff like that anymore. Except for maybe that doll with the lilac dress. It’s collectable.”
I lean back on the bed and laugh, idly tossing around one of her pillows when she goes into the bathroom. “I should go help Devin make sure the house is clear,” I say after a minute.
“Don’t go!” she says hurriedly, popping her head around the corner. “I need you . . . in case another one of those things comes along.”
“Do you want me to wait outside?” I ask when I notice a mirror with a perfect view of the bathroom; a minor detail she seems to have overlooked.
“No, I’ll just be a sec,” she tells me, ducking back inside to strip down. “I’m going to rinse off really fast and then I’ll be right out. I just feel so disgusting after all that we’ve been through.”
For a split second I contemplate whether or not I should tell her about the mirror, but that idea vanishes out the window when I see her start to remove her shredded blouse. Slender shoulders and a waist so thin I could probably wrap my hands around it are revealed beneath, glowing bronze in the dim bathroom light. I can feel my heartbeat quickening when she bends over in those tiny shorts to unlace her designer boots.
“This all happened so fast,” she says as her fingers work the laces. “One minute I was studying a cadaver and laughing with my friends, and the next I’m running for the roof with you. If you hadn’t been there, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”
“Um, yeah,” I say stupidly, swallowing a lump in my throat when she removes both boots.
Her black bra is next to go, revealing red nipples the size of silver dollars, tipping breasts so firm they barely even bounce when she goes to wiggle out of her shorts. I take a deep breath when her tiny black thong becomes visible. Watching her twist and bend to remove her shorts is probably one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen. Beneath is a rock-hard ass and thighs that could give a man the time of his life.
“They would be eating me right now if not for you,” she continues. “I guess I kind of owe you. Maybe when this is all over I’ll let you take me on a date.”
The most I manage is a grunt of agreement at this point, my mind occupied with the fantasy of plucking off that last tiny strand of fabric so I can plunge myself deep inside her again and again. The way she would breathe, the way her slender hips would move, the way she would call out my name when I—
Suddenly she peeks her head of chestnut hair outside the doorway, startling me half to death. “Keep a lookout for me?” she asks.
I grab the first doll I see and use it to cover the enormous bulge in my pants. “Of course,” I choke, hoping she doesn’t notice.
She smiles innocently and goes back inside to turn on the shower, her red-tipped breasts leading the way. My last glimpse of that gorgeous ass is when she removes her little black thong, hangs it on the doorknob as if to tease me, and disappears into a cloud of steam.
I let out a long sigh when she’s gone and try not to feel guilty for being so aroused. If Rachelle knew what was going on in my head, she would slap me so hard it would make my head spin. Then again, who’s to say she is even still alive? Without really knowing, would having sex with Chelsea until I know for sure even technically be considered cheating? I don’t think so, do you?
With the memory of Chelsea’s stark naked body so fresh on my mind, I find it hard to sit still. A noise like a twig breaking comes from outside the window, but I’m so mesmerized I completely miss it. I’m in the middle of unbuttoning my pants to go in and do something very bold when the window abruptly opens and something that smells as sweet as peaches falls right on top of me.
Thinking of zombies, I reach for my gun down on the floor, but suddenly hear the squeal of a very confused girl. My face goes bright red when I realize that my pants are off and my dick is sticking straight up. In that instant I see Bombshell herself straddling me, and I’m so embarrassed I begin to wish I had died back in the gym instead of Connor. Her cheeks are rosy from the climb up to the window, and her violet lips full of color. When I go to swallow, I notice that she’s got a switchblade pressed to my throat, and suddenly I become very frightened.
After a great deal of cursing in Israeli, Bombshell mops several strands of black hair behind one of her pretty ears and looks me straight in the eyes. “What the fuck are you doing in my room?” she asks in an accent so hot I think I might lose it all over her, “and what the hell is this?”
Before I can explain, she grabs a fistful of my junk and gives it a tug.
“Zombies are crawling all over the city and you find your way into my room to fucking masturbate?” She has a look around to see if anything is out of place. “Were you touching my underwear? Shit! Please say you weren’t touching my underwear. If you ejaculated on anything, I swear I’ll cut your cock off!”
I shake my head when she tightens her Kung Fu grip and try not to whimper. Her deep black eyes are lined dark with mascara, smoky eyeshadow shading them like something you might see in a Victoria’s Secret catalog.
“Are you that creep that’s been stalking me at my photo shoots?” she asks breathlessly.
“No,” I manage with a gulp. “I’m here with—”
“Ami?” came Chelsea’s voice from the bathroom, her tone laced with ire.
I glance over to see Chelsea standing there in a tiny white towel, her jaw agape in disbelief. The sight of her sixteen-year-old sister straddling me with my pants off couldn’t have been a more confusing sight. To make matters worse, the baggy shirt Ami is wearing makes it look like she’s not wearing anything from the waist down.
“Sis,” Ami says with a surprising change in tone. “You’re home.”
“Ami, why are you on Kyler?” Chelsea demands, her jaw now clenched tight as a clam. “And Ky, why aren’t you wearing any pants?”
My face goes through about three different shades of red as I roll out from under Ami and fumble my way back into my boxer briefs. “She—I . . . I mean, we—”
Ami tucks her switchblade back into her fluffy boots and gives me a wink. “What Romeo here is trying to say is that I made him take off his pants to prove he wasn’t a zombie,” she says with a crooked grin. “I was about to fuck him to be extra sure, but you arrived just in time to spoil the fun. Thanks for that, sis.”
Chelsea crosses her arms and looks at me from across the room, her eyes narrowing as if to tell me I’m not off the hook.
I look at Ami for help, who’s now fixing her hair in the mirror, and then back at Chelsea. The two of them couldn’t have been more different, and yet still so similar.
“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Chelsea,” Ami teases, “I won’t steal your boy toy. Girl scout’s honor.”
“He’s not my boy toy,” Chelsea shoots back.
“I can’t believe you,” Chelsea huffs. “You ruin everything! Why couldn’t it be you that turned into a zombie and not dad?”
“I take it you saw him, then?” Ami asks. “I couldn’t bring myself to put him down, so I just shut him away in his room. I mean, it’s dad after all, no matter how psycho he looks.”
Chelsea opens a drawer and begins picking through clothes. “Don’t you dare pretend to care for him. You never did anything but resent him for replacing your dad.”
“Hey! What are you doing in my drawers?” Ami yells. “Those are my clothes. Get your own!”
“I would, but in case you haven’t noticed, we’re kind of in the middle of a zombie apocalypse!”
Ami approaches to slam the drawer, nearly taking off Chelsea’s fingers. “I don’t care. Find your own.”
“If you want our protection, you’re going to let me borrow something.”
“I don’t need your protection. I’m doing fine on my own.”
Chelsea pushes her aside, losing her towel temporarily. “You say that now,” she says once she gets it wrapped back around her breasts, “but what about in a week when all of your food runs out and you need to go into town?”
“I’ll figure it out,” Ami says as she throws on a set of Beats headphones and lays back on her bed, scowling.
Chelsea pretends not to let it bother her, but her face goes bright red. Wearing the mother of all glares, she goes into the bathroom to change into a pair of holey skinny jeans and a loose tee she managed to snag from the dresser.
“You seem to be taking this whole zombie thing pretty good considering your entire modeling career just went down the drain,” Chelsea says with an edge to her voice. “That’s got to suck, working your whole life for something, only for it to shatter when it finally starts to peek.”
Ami pretends not to hear, but Chelsea just keeps on talking.
“I guess that’s okay. You were far from pro anyway, right? I mean, you never really had what it takes. Look at prom for instance. You didn’t even make junior queen. You know what they say about runner up. It’s just a nice way of saying first looser.”
The air becomes still for half a heartbeat, and next thing I know Ami’s headphones are crashing against the wall as she storms into the bathroom with the switchblade in hand.
“Wow!” I exclaim, rushing to block the doorway. “Let’s all just calm this down a notch.”
Ami’s eyes feel like they’re on fire, but she puts the blade away. “Tell that to my trash-talking bitch of a stepsister.”
Chelsea giggles as if their little tiff is just a game. “Sorry, little sis. Just getting even. Thanks for the clothes.”
“Did I have a choice?”
“Not really,” Chelsea replies. “So what happened to your mom? Is she . . . you know, zombified?”
Ami reaches past me, grabs hold of the bathroom door, and slams it shut right in Chelsea’s face. “Sometimes I really hate that bitch,” she says to me. “Oh, and by the way, I like you better without pants.”
While the rest of town undergoes a raging nightmare, I curl up like a cat on Kyler in the back seat of his topless Jeep, stifle a sneaky yawn, and allow my eyelids to slip closed. His shirt smells of faded Acqua Di Gio cologne, his breathing and steady heartbeat nothing short of intoxicating; just the sort of simple comfort a girl needs after surviving her first night of the apocalypse.
As I lay there, Kyler strokes his fingers through my hair, tickling me just the way I like it. Without meaning to, I let out a subtle moan and wriggle tighter into his embrace. If I wasn’t so tired I would be unbuttoning his blue shirt and feeling my way up his abs, my curiosity for what’s in his pants getting the better of me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t craving him after how hot he was back at the cop car. Let’s just say there’s something very attractive about a man who knows how to handle himself. If Devin wasn’t around, I’m pretty sure Ky and I would be laying in a totally different position.
In case you were wondering, I’m not a virgin, but I’m no slut either. Sure, I might have made a frat boy grin a time or two earlier this year, but not like Naomi. That whore—may she rest in peace—has had more semen deposited in her than a metropolitan sperm bank. Since my high school sweetheart, Jonathan Spencer, I haven’t had sex with more than a handful of times, and never more than once with the same guy. Have I wanted to? Yes, but more than once and I risk getting my heart broken again, and that is not an experience I care to repeat.
The breeze is in the middle of cooing me to sleep like the perfect tonic to my anxiety when suddenly our vehicle’s breaks screech to a halt and that wretched woman on the GPS says, “You have arrived at your destination!”
“Ugh, just when I’m getting comfortable!” I groan, rubbing the weariness from my eyes.
When my sight settles in, a familiar view of tall iron gates etching their way around an enormous property washes over me. Childhood memories come flooding back in the blink of an eye and a sense of safety I seem to have lost somewhere along the way returns. Suddenly I crave the warmth of my old bed and the soft couch facing the fireplace where I used to snuggle up and read.
The outdoor lights spotting the acres between the road and my house melt away the darkness in eerie pools of white, revealing pines and statues I recall playing around as a little girl. I’m so happy I could cry. This is my sanctuary, I realize. My rock. The zombies can’t get me here.
“I don’t get it,” Devin says, toying around with the GPS, “it says we’re here. Did I take a wrong turn or something?”
I let out a long sigh. It’s been far too long since I’ve been home and Dad isn’t going to like the fact that I’m bringing guys over with my blouse torn in half and daisy dukes hugging my ass so tight they could be painted on. Not to brag or anything, but Sumba dancing has worked wonders for my backside. One glance from the right angle and anyone with a bad ticker just might find himself flat-lining in the ER.
“Wait a minute, is this your house?” Kyler asks me in awe.
I shrug. “Yeah, I guess you could say that. I haven’t been home since Dad forced me to start sharing my room with Ami, though.”
“Ami?” he asks. “Is that your sister?”
“Stepsister,” I correct him. “Her mom’s Israeli.”
“Israeli?” Devin chimes, a mischievous grin sneaking across his lips. “That’s hot.”
I roll my eyes. “Sure, I guess. She’s been modeling since she could walk. Now she’s sixteen and thinks she’s eye-candy for anyone with a shred of testosterone. Of course, she’s probably not wrong, but I still hate her.”
“Wait, wait, wait, back up a sec,” Devin says from the driver’s seat. “First of all, that house isn’t a house. It’s a mansion. The thing’s got to be at least ten thousand square feet, so stop making it sound like it’s a freaking bungalow. Second of all, you’re telling me your dad made you two share rooms when the thing’s big enough for you to have your own suite?”
I purse my lips and give him an agitated nod, suddenly thinking that coming crawling back to daddy might not have been as good of an idea as I thought. Trust me, being pegged as the rich girl isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. “My dad claimed that sharing our living space would make us more sisterly,” I explain, “but it only made me nauseous, so I moved out.”
Kyler slides up to sit on the edge of the Jeep so he can hop down to let us in. “C’mon, she can’t be that bad.”
I scoff. “You don’t know her like I do. All Ami’s ever cared about is trying to prove herself better than me. Since the day our parents got married she’s made my life a living hell. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have to live on campus, waiting tables for money while she sits out by the pool getting tan.”
“All sisterly drama aside,” Devin interjects, “why are you scraping your way through college when your dad is loaded? Can’t you just ask him for a little cashola?”
“Well, I mean, he gives me a little, but only enough to pay for my living, tuition, gas, food, and a couple hundred dollars in spending cash.”
“Uh, what else is there left to pay for after all that?” Devin replies.
I roll my eyes. “Hello, ever heard of clothes and jewelry? Do you have any idea how expensive a good pair of heels is nowadays? And don’t even get me started on purses! You can’t find a good one for less than three hundred dollars anymore. Not unless you want to look like a hoochie.”
Laughing, Kyler hands me the shotgun and hops down from the back of the Jeep. “So how do we get inside this fortress of yours?” he asks, checking the ammo in his .45 for the fiftieth time.
“Over there. Type in the code: 4569,” I tell him as he approaches the numeric keypad.
Within seconds the gates swing wide, he climbs back in, and we’re driving our way up the stamped cobblestone trail I used to play hopscotch on as a kid.
As Kyler and Devin admire the landscaping , I can’t help but chew on my perfectly manicured nails and worry over what I will say when I see my dad again.
Hello Daddy, how was—er—Christmas? I know you invited me to come but I was busy with . . . ah, school stuff.
Okay, you got me. It wasn’t really school stuff that kept me from going home for the holidays, but can you blame a girl for accepting a free ride to the Big Apple with her two besties and a couple of cute guys? The stores there are unreal! I think I spent half my yearly salary that week alone.
The second we come in sight of my house, Devin and Kyler do that thing all my friends do when they see it for the first time. They go speechless. They just let their jaws hang and they stare like halfwits. It drives me crazy! I mean, it’s a nice house and all, and maybe a tad bit bigger than most people are used to, with fancy Juliet balconies and vines scaling the stone—but they act like they’ve never seen anything like it! Seriously, I can’t have the only house with intricate archways leading to a courtyard in bloom with flowers that get changed year-around, or a fountain custom carved to depict Greek goddesses splashing and playing. Right? I mean, I can I see the appeal, but they don’t understand how hard it made my life in high school. Being rich is tough.
“You all right?” Kyler asks earnestly. “I didn’t want to disturb your moment but we’ve been sitting here in the valet parking area for a while and . . .”
Embarrassment colors my face red as a pepper. “Yeah, sorry,” I reply. “It’s just been a very emotional night. Let’s go.”
“You’re dad’s not going to freak out if we park here or anything, right?” Devin asks in that nasally tone of his.
“Of course not,” I lie. “C’mon.”
Something in the courtyard catches the corner of my eye as we get out, but I don’t turn to acknowledge it. For some reason the feel of home brings a sense of safety to me that makes me forget all about our near-death experiences.
Without really stopping for a formal tour, I lead the way through a French door at the back and into the kitchen.
Shiny brass pots hang from the ceiling like something out of a cookbook, with spices in decorative jars and creamy countertops so shiny I can see my own reflection.
“This is the kitchen,” I tell them as I shut the door behind me.
“Really?” Devin replies sarcastically. “How bizarre, I thought it was your bedroom.”
“Haha,” I tease back. “Very funny.”
“You sure it’s alright that we’re here?” Kyler asks. “I mean, your dad’s not the overprotective type, is he?”
I put on my best poker face—which isn’t really all that good—and nod. “Unless he sees you sneaking around with that gun tucked under your shirt. Then he’ll probably wig out.”
Kyler tucks it in farther and puts his hands in his pockets. “Sorry, after all we’ve been through, I just can’t help but think something is going to come jumping out at us.”
I roll my eyes. “Did you see that fence on the way in?”
“The one with the seven-foot iron bars?” Kyler asks with a grin. “No, I must have missed it.”
I grin and give him a playful slug on the shoulder. “C’mon, I bet my dad’s up in his study working on his latest project. I want him to meet you.”
A motion light picks us up and pops on when we walk down the hallway, illuminating a grand entry with a crystal chandelier and two spiral stairways jutting up in opposite directions.
Kyler points up at the chandelier. “That thing probability costs more than my Jeep.”
“More like your apartment!” Devin chortles as he munches on a handful of truffles he stole from the kitchen.
Once we reach the upstairs, we go down a hallway where the rich hardwood floor is lined with Persian rugs. Renaissance paintings dot the walls along the way, and porcelain vases hide away in lighted niches. The carved mahogany of the door to dad’s study brings back a hundred memories. As I knock I remember my mom saying how much she loved it before she died. Even now the memory is so vivid it brings tears to my eyes.
The door creeks open from the pressure of my knock. “Hello?” I call out. “Is anybody here?”
With an eerie feeling crawling up my spine like a spider, I proceed with caution. To my relief, a sweep of the room tells me there are no zombies. There’s actually nothing more inside than a bunch of really expensive furniture and papers that look to be covered in my dad’s scrawl.
“Where to now, Sherlock?” Devin pipes once we’re back in the hallway.
“His bedroom,” I reply, heading down the hallway without so much as a pause.
“Wo, wait up, Speedy,” Kyler calls after me. “I’m sure everything’s fine, but what do you say we slow down just in case.”
I whirl around, my eyebrows raised defensively. “I told you, there are gates surrounding the entire property. Nobody comes in without that code we entered, remember? Now just chill-ax.”
This time I don’t wait up. I trot down the hallway at a fast jog, leaving them a good distance behind in the labyrinth of corridors. I can’t believe it took me until now to realize how much I really care about my dad. The thought of losing him is almost too much to bear, and it continues to drive me ahead even when something in the back of my head cries for me to stop. If something has happened to him in my absence, I’ll never forgive myself.
I push open the double door to his room the second I arrive, storming in all flushed with red and breathless. A flood of relief spreads through me when I see him lying there in his giant canopy bed, white hair and dressed in silk pajamas just like I remember him on Saturday mornings.
Without even thinking through what to say or how I want to conduct myself, I rush over to his side and throw my arms around him. “Daddy!” I exclaim. “I was so worried about you.”
He raises his head incoherently, acting a bit startled. Slowly, as if he had forgotten how, he raises his arms and wraps them around me.
“I missed you too,” I tell him. “You have no idea. I’m so sorry I didn’t come home sooner. Have you heard about everything that’s going on out there? It’s like the whole world’s gone mad!”
His only reply is the tightening of his embrace.
“I love you too, Daddy,” I reply with tears in my eyes, assuming that he’s just being emotional. “It’s all going to be okay. I’m not going anywhere now. I promise.”
His arms begin to hurt my ribs, and suddenly he begins to shake. That’s when I realize something’s wrong.
“Daddy, say something,” I tell him, trying to pull away. “It’s not funny, you’re scaring me.”
Still there is no response.
“C’mon, loosen up a bit. You’re hurting me!”
I feel a flutter of fear go through my chest when I realize that his breathing isn’t regular. My first thought is that maybe there’s still time to save him, and then I feel his feverish skin and the heat of his breath on my neck, followed by that disgusting, throaty rasp they all make before sinking their teeth in.
I try to tear myself loose, but it’s no use. He’s too strong and I’m far too close. The realization that my dad is about to eat me sinks in, and just before I feel the warmth of blood all over my body, I let out the loudest scream of my life.
The fact that my life will never be the same registers the moment we leave campus. I begin to worry for my family back in Vegas. Are they even still alive? How far has this pandemic spread? What is everybody going to think of me when they find out that I left Connor for dead?
Every question rattling around in my head dissipates the instant I notice a stillness hanging in the night air. Something is very wrong. With the top off of my Jeep I should be able to hear far more than I could. There should be traffic rushing along the freeway, music blasting from cars, laughter at the bus stops, sorority girls calling out to frat boys, or at the very least the squeal of a random young woman losing her virginity in someone’s back seat—but instead I hear nothing. Only the breeze whipping past my windshield and the crackle of my radio as it scans through empty channels. With the exception of this blog, our phones still don’t seem to be working. If you see this, please say something! Let us know we’re not alone! There has got to be other people out there just as lost as us.
I flinch when my headlights contorted the shadow of a tree into what looks like one of those monsters. To my relief, it passes right over our heads.
It isn’t until we reach the highway that the gravity of our situation begins to sink in, as my gaze falls upon a sight that rips every last shred of hope from my heart and sets it aflame.
As we creep uncannily slow through a red light, I take note of the endless automobile accidents branching out before us. I have never seen so many in all my life. The havoc seems to stretch on forever, like some giant came tromping through during the middle of rush hour.
A silver Accord is crunch like an accordion with a tree sprouting out of the middle of its hood, a Moped is bent around a fire hydrant, a Greyhound bus lays overturned with skid marks marring up half the block behind it, and—my personal favorite—a black Tundra seems to have mounted an Audi in such a way they look like they’re fucking.
It looks as if all of the drivers fell asleep at about the same time, but why? I suppose I could go investigate. The corpses look harmless enough, but something tells me they’re no better than those chewing on Connor back at the gym. One whiff of our living flesh and they will awaken with an unquenchable hunger, only this time there will be thousands of them to hunt us down and nowhere to hide.
“Damn it,” I say when I see the double decker Greyhound blocking the avenue up ahead.
“What. The. Fuck,” Devin says from the back when he realizes I’ve begun to slow.
“That bus is blocking the way,” I explain. “We’re going to have to turn around.”
Chelsea, leaning over the stick shift with her dainty arms wrapped around mine, stirs uncomfortably. “Back to the campus?” she asks nervously.
“Or to another road that isn’t blocked,” I reply, trying not to get distracted with the way her boobs feel against my skin, like two hot water balloons yearning to be held.
“Are you really that stupid?” Devin says, chuckling like somebody who aught to be locked away in an insane asylum. “Seriously, Kyler, don’t be such a pussy. Go around! The whole town’s dead and you’re worried about obeying traffic laws? You have 4-wheel drive for hell’s sake. Use it!”
He’s right and I know it. I clench my jaw for lack of a witty response and my whole face begins turning red.
“You don’t look well,” he teases, eyeballing Chelsea with a sort of suppressed sexual desire that makes her uneasy. “Do you need me to drive?”
I get the feeling he thinks it should be him sitting in the driver’s seat with a babe on his arm. “No,” I reply a touch too quickly. “I’m just going to go check out that cop’s ride over there. He’s probably got a shotgun or something we can use. It’ll only take a minute.”
He gives me a nod of approval. “And just when I was beginning to doubt your leadership capabilities. For a minute I was beginning to think I had confused you with—”
He paused when he saw my expression, eyebrows raised and mouth poised to enforce our rule about never speaking poorly of Connor.
“Nevermind. Just be quick about it,” he says, avoiding eye contact. “Chelsea and I will wait right here for you.”
Trying not to look nervous in front of Chelsea, I take off my seatbelt and clamber down from the Jeep’s 4-foot lift, her soft hands holding onto my arm until they no longer reach.
“Just be careful,” she tells me with a look of concern.
I give her my best smile and try not to think about my girlfriend back in Vegas, who is probably somewhere out there worried sick over my wellbeing.
For a summer night the air is brisk. The moon glows a dull red. Already I can see shapes beginning to stir within their cars. I get the feeling they can smell my presence like wolves, and it seems to be feeding their will to walk amongst the living. I quicken my pace when I see an old woman turn her bloody gaze upon me from within her car, her blank stare becoming more intense by the second. Within seconds she’s fumbling at the lock and frantically trying to figure out how to get out.
When I’m a good two hundred feet away from my Jeep and halfway to the SUV, I see dozens more begin to rise. It’s then that I regret the bullheaded move of leaving the safety of our vehicle.
“I should’ve just stayed in the Jeep,” I tell myself once I reach the SUV. “I might have gotten laid with the hottest chick in school tonight, but no, I had to be a hero. And now I’m going to die. Nice.”
After a quick peek inside to make sure the coast is clear, I try the handle. To my amazement, it’s completely unlocked. I’ve never looted anything before in my life, and certainly never a cop car, but tonight I feel justified. The only problem is that damn siren. It’s drawing too much attention. Already I can see the undead staggering toward me. If I don’t hurry I’ll be surrounded in a matter of minutes.
Once inside, I take a couple of quick guesses at what switches turn off the siren and get lucky. It goes silent all at once, but it’s too late. They’ve already honed in on me. As quickly as I can, I scramble into the back seat and begin searching through a tactical backpack with the word “Swat” inscribed on the side. Inside I find a black sawed-off shotgun, a plethora of ammunition, and a chrome compact .45 sitting snug between the boxes.
“Ooh, a Smith and Weston,” I say to myself, sliding out the magazine like a giddy little boy. “And with hollow points!”
I shoulder the pack to be on my way when I feel something move behind my seat. Somebody is back there, I realize, but my body is too frozen with fear to turn around. In the rearview mirror I can see a policeman rising with eyes glazed like the others. Drool is dripping from his double chin and dribbling out the corners of his mouth.
It’s all I can do to break free of the shock before he lunges. I manage to stop the bite by grabbing his flailing arms, but he knocks my S&W straight out the driver’s side door and begins crushing me with his weight. Before I know it I’m sandwiched against the floor and barely able to move. It’s all I can do to keep his gnashing teeth off my skin. I make a mad reach for the shotgun up on the seat but come up short.
I’m going to die, I think. The door is wide open. All it will take is one more zombie joining the party to overwhelm me.
One bite comes dangerously close to my neck when he lashes out again, but I manage to straight-arm the fat bastard right in the chest. He staggers for just long enough for me to reach the gun and put it into position. His next nip catches around the shotgun’s short barrel, breaking out several teeth before a hundred metal beads blow out his brains all across the upholstery.
Exhausted as I am, I wriggle out from under his belly, grab the Glock from his belt, shoulder the ammunition pack, and climb back out the way I came. I’m about to make a mad sprint back to the Jeep when I realize that I’m surrounded by hundreds of undead. A wave of excitement pours through them when they see me, like sharks in a feeding frenzy. They surge forward all at once, biting and snapping.
Without even thinking twice, I blow the first one’s head clean off. Another topples over his corpse to get to me, but I take him too. Three more spring up where he fell, and I begin to feel anxious. As quickly as I can, I retrieve the S&W .45 from the pavement and climb to the car’s roof. They follow me in a mad rush, snapping and snarling. From there I can see their faces beneath the streetlights, broken and bleeding.
I take a nervous step backwards, firing round after round. In the distance I see the two headlights of my Jeep flash, as if Chelsea and Devin are trying to tell me something. It takes only a moment for me to realize they’re going to do something crazy. Before I can tell them not to risk it, they come racing toward me.
A hand reaches up from behind to tear me down as I watch, but I put a bullet through its wrist, leaving only a bloody stump. Another body appears on the hood and I blow a hole in its chest with the .45. By now my breath is coming in hoarse and my lungs are heaving. I can see the Jeep plowing down the mob, but if they stop for even an instant, I know the zombies will overwhelm the cab.
I try to time their deceleration to make a jump, but they do not slow. It’s then that I realize their crazy plan is to ram me, but it’s already too late to adjust my footing. Wincing when my beautiful Jeep slams into the SUV, I fall flat on my back and begin choking for air.
“Get up, you pussy!” Devin shouts. “Time to go!”
With a grunt I climb to my feet, leap onto the hood of my Jeep, and vault over the windshield.
“Please tell me there’s something good in that backpack,” Devin says as he kicks it into reverse.
Before I can reply, a pair of deranged paramedics tries to tear Chelsea out the empty door slot by her boot. She tries to shake them by kicking, but they’ve got the grip of a freaking banshee. Before they can pull her out the opening, I whip out the Glock and pierce both their skulls with a hollow point.
Chelsea ducks down with her hands over her ears and begins screaming. Every zombie within earshot perks up in that instant, grabbing desperately at the Jeep as we begin to speed away. Several more manage to cling on last minute, but I put them to rest with the shotgun.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Devin hoots as we climb the curb and rip through the landscaping. “How many guns did you get?”
I look down at my shaking palms. Blood is splattered all over my clothes and skin. I can still feel all those hands grabbing me, their breath panting hungrily for my flesh. A shiver runs through my body at the thought of how close I had been to dying. Now that my adrenaline is subsiding I feel like could faint, but Chelsea steps into the back with those long legs of hers and suddenly my heart rate is right back up again.
“Don’t ever scare me like that again,” she says as she checks me for wounds. “I already lost Connor. I’m not going to lose you too.”
“What about me?” Devin asks from the driver’s seat. “I could have been killed back there too. If it wasn’t for my fancy driving Kyler would be zombie chow right now.”
Chelsea raises her eyebrows with obvious distaste when their eyes met in the rearview mirror. “Keep your eyes on the road, mister, and don’t think I can’t see what you’re looking at.”
Devin chuckles nervously. “Please, you’re not even my type,” he lies. “I only go for porn stars and lingerie models.”
Chelsea laughs. “The male kind, probably.”
“Not even,” he says with an incredulous shake of his head.
“So, where to next?” I ask.
“To my dad,” Chelsea says to me softly, brushing up against me as we teeter back onto the road. “If anyone will know what to do, it’s him.”
Devin, being the asshole that he is, guns it out of the gym without so much as looking back. Chelsea, her once-white blouse now stained with blood and torn half way off, takes a bit more effort. I have to drag her, kicking and screaming, all the way to the gym’s exit. I feel her nails digging into my shoulder, her fist pounding on my back, her feet kicking at the air, and all while calling me a coward in every way, shape, and form she can think of. She might only be 5’6”, but that girl is a whole lot of ferocious packed into one sexy little body.
As we run, I still can’t help but think how messed up it is that we’re leaving Connor unconscious on the floor with a room full of zombies! What the hell kind of friend leaves his buddy to be eaten by zombies?
That would be me, apparently.
The door screeches open in protest as we spill out into the parking lot. I can feel my heart racing. The night cools the sweat on my arms in a rush of frigid air, tickling a chill down my spine that I can’t seem to shake. All I can think about is Connor, and how we’re just . . . leaving him. It’s a decision I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life, and already I despise myself for it. But whatever I’m feeling seems to be a hundred times worse for Chelsea. The poor girl’s an absolute mess. Mascara is running down her face, she’s spouting tears like a spring waterfall, and she doesn’t seem to know if she should laugh, cry, or scream about any of it. She keeps babbling on and on about her coach who died and how gruesome it’s going to be when they start ripping Connor apart.
Bent over and panting like he’s run a marathon, Devin points over at my white 1997 Jeep Wrangler. “That yours?” he asks as if nothing’s happened. “I’ve seen you drive off in it after class. It’s a V6, right? Big wheels, four-wheel drive; exactly what we need.”
Without a word, I walk over and punch him square in the jaw. Before he even knows what hit him, his knees buckle and he’s on his butt dripping blood out that giant freckly schnoz.
“What the hell?” he snaps.
“I’m going back in,” I reply, furious enough to abandon all logic.
Chelsea’s babbling stops abruptly when my words register. “In? Like back in there with the those . . . things?”
“Connor would do the same for any of us.”
“Because Connor’s an idiot!” Devin says, spitting out a mouthful of blood. “You can’t be serious. You’re actually going back in there? At least leave us the keys to your Jeep.”
I approach him for another well-deserved punch, but decided he isn’t worth the effort. Instead, I walked back over to the door and pulled on the handle, only to realize that it’s locked from the inside.
“Shit! How could I have been so stupid?”
Chelsea stands up and gives it a try, only to yield the same result. “It’s my fault,” she says like she’s on the brink of tears again. “If only I could have gotten the ladder in place quicker, or if I’d been strong enough to carry him, or if—”
“It’s not your fault,” I tell her. “It’s not anybody’s fault. Connor chose to save us.”
Devin climbs back to his feet, trying unsuccessfully to suppress a grin. “Give me a break, Kyler. Save us? The guy fainted.”
My fingers roll into fists.
“What, going to punch me again?” he chides. “Go ahead, do it, but know that we’re wasting valuable time right now. Think about it. Whatever disease is spreading could be minutes away from your family—from Chelsea’s family. Do you really want their deaths weighing on your shoulders?”
“My family’s in Vegas,” I tell him. “That’s hours from here.”
He laughs. “And you think hours away is far enough? Sheesh, I thought you were pre-med. At least try to act intelligent. This thing, whatever it is, is airborne. No doubt about it. It’s spreading faster than anything I’ve ever heard of. Unless the government’s got the entire city on lock down it will be coast to coast within a week. I’m just trying to figure out how the three of us haven’t contracted it yet.”
I clench my jaw, seeing that his points are hard to argue. “So what do you want us to do, leave him for dead?”
Devin sighs. “Let’s be real here. Assuming he’s even still alive right now, there’s no feasible way back inside without risking far too much. And even if there were a way in, it would be suicide. Plus, who’s to say these things have even awoken all the way. Once the disease has had a chance to cozy up inside their bodies, they could become even faster, stronger—smarter. We need to round up what family we can and head for the hills before its too late.”
I glance back at the door, reluctant to leave, but conceding defeat. “Fine, but I don’t want to hear you say another bad thing about Connor. Got it?”
A loud rattle sounds around the corner of the building, like somebody tripping over an object. It is too dark to see much, but I can hear something—or somethings—coming.
If we don’t move soon, we’re going to be surrounded, I realize suddenly. Sorry, Connor. We have to go before it’s too late.
With her arms folded for warmth, Chelsea inches her way into my embrace. “What’s the plan then?” she asks me timidly, her breath warm on my neck. Out of respect for Rachelle, my girlfriend who’s back in Vegas, I try not to let it rev my engine too much.
Suddenly feeling very hot, I fish my keys out of my pocket, grab her by the hand, and begin leading her toward my Jeep. “Let’s get out of here before this nightmare gets worse,” I tell her. “Devin, you can ride in the back.”
“Can you take me to my parent’s house first?” Chelsea asks sweetly, with a bat of her eyelashes to seal the deal. “They live on the other side of town. I’ve tried calling, but nobody’s answering. You don’t think they’re . . . Do you?”
“Climb on in,” I reply. “There’s only one way to find out for sure.”