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Authors: C.M. Stunich

DeadBorn (19 page)

BOOK: DeadBorn
4.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Knock it off,” she tells him as she sighs and slumps down to the makeshift bed we've created on the rooftop. We're all too uneasy to be separated right now. There's a lot of moaning and shuffling in the trees around us and there's not one of us that doesn't think we're about to get slammed with a horde. That's probably the only reason Dawson hasn't killed me yet. We've been too busy setting up for the night hours, gathering food and weapons and flashlights and storing everything out here, the only place that any of us really feels safe. Holly cleaned up the upstairs and bolted the door, even pushed some of the heavy, metal filing cabinets in front of the stairwell with my help, but nobody really wants to be in there.

You're a freaking zombie!” he shouts as he paces and gazes out across the refuge with frightened eyes. “You could turn at any minute and kill us all.”

He isn't going to turn,” Holly says irritably as she touches soft fingers to my tourniquet. “It's just his arm.” Nobody knows anything about Holly's necromancy and although we didn't say it out loud, neither of us will tell Valerie or Dawson. Likening Holly to the woman that started this all is not a good idea. Dawson looks about ready to explode as is.

Fuck me,” Dawson says as he gets as far away from me as he's able and sits down in a defeated heap. “Fuck me to hell.” He looks over at us with fear and betrayal burning like embers in his eyes. He doesn't trust us anymore which sucks because when it comes down to it, trust really is everything.

Shut your mouth and let's get down to business,” Valerie says as the lights above the parking lot flicker on and illuminate us all with a harsh, white glow. “We're as prepared as we're gonna be and these damn things don't seem to be in a hurry, so let's talk.”

About what?” Dawson growls as Valerie finds a place to sit and folds her legs beneath her. She hasn't changed and is still dressed in her ranger outfit with the dark brown pants and the beige top. She looks tough and reliable, a symbol of the order that used to be a part of my world. If I could, I'd take it back in a second.

Our plans,” she says with a sigh. “We've got to have plans. We can't just keep flying by the seat of our pants.”

We don't need fucking plans anymore,” Dawson says as he opens a box of bullets and frowns down at them. “Because we're in the middle of nowhere and we're getting slammed with these things. It doesn't tale a friggin' genius to figure out that the rest of the world is seriously destroyed. And we're almost out of ammo, too.”

We've got the bows,” Holly says as she holds one up and sets it in her lap. It's the pink one that Valerie discarded before, but Holly doesn't mind. Pink is her third favorite color after orange and yellow. “And tons of arrows.”

Which do a whole lot of good when a shotgun can't even bring down a monster, right?” Dawson says sarcastically. Valerie leans forward and smacks him in the knee with the butt of her gun.

Shut your damn mouth if you're going to be useless,” she says as the wind hits the water hags and drags their moaning shrieks over to us on the evening breeze.

Why don't you tell that to Holly? She's the useless one. She has a whole butt ton of information about this crap that she won't tell us. Probably knew it all along. Probably helped plan the fucking apocalypse.”

Fuck you, Dawson,” Holly says as her face tightens with a deep rage that I've never seen before. She doesn't want him to think that, doesn't want anyone to think that. Holly's been just as affected as everyone else. She had to shoot her own father. I want to scream these things at Dawson, but I'm afraid that he'll try and kill me if I do. “I don't know as much as you think I do.”

You know more than you're letting on, that's for fucking sure. Tell me, how did you know to tourniquet off Galen's arm, hmm?”

A logical fucking guess!” Holly screams as her face turns pink and a loper bursts out of the trees across the parking lot. From the sounds behind it, and the smell, I can tell that it's only one of many. It's a naked woman with a partially severed hand that flops around as she drags the messy lump of her right foot behind her. She's moaning and keening, stretching her fingers out towards Holly like she's the answer to everything.

Allow me,” Valerie says as she stands up and trades her gun for a bow. “I want to see if my idea works on these fuckers, too.” She pauses. “And if it's possible to sever a limb with a bunch of arrows.” Dawson scoffs and receives an evil look from both Holly and Valerie. “You got a better idea?” she asks him and he shrugs, like he's so over this apocalypse crap and just doesn't care anymore.

Nah, yours sounds just fine,” he tells her as she shakes her head and mumbles something about him being a hot headed dumb ass under her breath. Valerie then grabs an arrow and fits it to the bow, pulling back the string like she's done it a hundred times before.

Nice stance,” Holly compliments and Valerie smiles.

I co-teach the archery classes with a friend of mine.” Her smile falters and the arrow goes flying, burying itself halfway into the DeadBorn's skull. “I guess I should say co-
?” she asks as the zombie stumbles but doesn't stop. She reaches down and picks up another arrow while Holly peels off the last bit of decal that's left on the sweatshirt she's wearing. I recognize it; it used to belong to my dad. Even he couldn't remember what the picture on the front had been. Holly drops the red and white circle in her lap and sighs.

I'm sure not everyone is dead,” she tells us sadly but confidently. “Not yet anyway. I mean, if we're surviving then there are others, too. Military probably.” Nobody says a thing about the downed helicopters. Valerie doesn't need to know about those; it'll only make things worse for her.

She releases another arrow and it hits the DeadBorn in the throat. Still, it keeps coming.

Fuck this,” Dawson says as he rises to his feet, grabs the shotgun, and blows the arm off the zombie. Pieces of flesh spray everywhere along with a hot, metallic stench. It mingles with the tang of rot in the air and gags me. He fires again and hits the woman's good leg at the knee. It doesn't come off completely, but it does drop her to the ground with a sickening thump. He reloads the weapon and one, last shot takes off her other arm and leaves her torso wriggling helplessly on the pavement like a fish out of water. She's groaning and gnashing at nothing, desperately fueled by the magic but helpless to respond. Her arms are like these little flickers of leftover life, digging at the ground with wild fingers as they attempt to pull themselves along. I've seen enough and look away, resting my cheek against Holly's shoulder. She reaches up and strokes my hair comfortingly. It's a nice gesture, but it doesn't do a thing. I feel so sick inside that I think I might have to throw up.

So,” Valerie says with a deep sigh as she tosses the bow to the shingles and kicks it like she's pissed off. “Like Dawson said, we're low on ammo. And we have plenty of food now, but it's not gonna last. Are we going to go into town and try to find some? Or do we need to think longer term, like years. Do we need to plant a garden or something?”

No,” Holly says and although her voice is strong, it's also scared. She's about to drop another bomb on us. I just know it. “She'll come for me here.”

Who?” Dawson asks.

The necromancer,” I say because I know that Holly's having a hard time finding words at the moment. I can't imagine what she's going through, how tangled up her head is right now. I don't envy her the position. Dawson and Valerie share a look.

When?” Valerie asks as a pair of zombies appear from the same spot that the first one did. Nobody pays them any attention yet. We're all too fixated on Holly and what she's going to say. There's this sense of anticipation in the air; we all know it's coming.

Soon,” she says and her throat is so tight that the words come out in a croak. “Very, very soon.”

Could you be any more vague?” Dawson snarls and Holly's head snaps up angrily.

A day or two,” she growls. “Three at the most.” Her arm flings out to indicate the moaning and groaning that's taken over the forest, silenced the birds, and put us all on edge. “This is just the beginning of her horde,” she tells him and then her eyes flash to Valerie. “There's more, a lot more.”

Like the highway?” Dawson asks and he doesn't sound mad anymore. I think he's too freaked out. He runs his hand through his hair and tries to breathe.

Like ten times the highway,” Holly whispers and I almost can't hear her because the water hags are getting excited, howling at the moon like werewolves in torn, bloody gowns. Dawson sucks in a massive breath through his teeth while Valerie stares down at us all with an expression that says,
You better tell me or else …

I'm guessing,” Holly begins and counts under her breath for a moment. “That she has about ten thousand DeadBorn with her right now.” Dawson chokes and Valerie frowns. I don't do a thing, just sit there and stare.
Ten thousand? We can barely handle one.

So we should get the fuck out of here then,” Dawson says as he grabs a pistol and starts shooting at the new zombies. “Leave your ass behind and run.” One of the lopers is wearing a red, flannel nightshirt and a pair of dirty, boxer briefs that are still around his ankles, making him much slower than the other. This is the one that Dawson shoots, emptying his magazine into the elbows and knees before reloading.

You can,” Holly says, but she doesn't sound very confident about their chances. “But you probably won't get far. I told you, this thing is pandemic. It's
Your best bet is to wait here and see what happens with Patricia.”

Dawson rolls his eyes and continues firing until the zombie lies on the ground, twitching. He hasn't killed it, not by any means, but he's fired enough rounds into its limbs that it can no longer stand. In fact, he's done such a thorough job of it that even the fingers aren't working. This DeadBorn is more helpless than the last.

Patricia can suck my dick,” he says as he spits over the edge of the roof and watches the second zombie disappear beneath us. Now someone's going to have to go downstairs to kill it. Not good. “My parents are dead because of her. My life is ruined because of her. The world is in shambles
because of her.
And you want to, what, sit down to tea and talk with her about it? You haven't even told us why she wants you anyway. What's so fucking special about you, Holly?” Dawson spins around and throws the empty pistol at his feet.

None of your damn business, Dawson,” Holly says and she's so riled up now that she can't sit still. She stands up and grabs me by the hand, snagging a baseball bat on her way to the window. “I'm telling you that your best chances are here with me. If you don't like that, then leave. I don't give a rat's ass.” Then she pulls me away and into the building, down the stairs and through the gift shop. We're all the way at the front entrance before I find the words to speak.

Did you love him?” I ask, suspecting that there's more to Dawson and Holly's past relationship than I've been told. Not that I think she's lied to me. I definitely don't believe that, but I'm starting to wonder if she's held something back. She pauses, looks up at the window and sees the zombie come around the corner of the building. This one's a teenage girl with half a face, nearly fleshless arms and a belly full of maggots. They fall out of her as she lopes towards us. She's been dead for awhile, that's pretty obvious, but she isn't wearing much clothing and I have to make the horrible guess that she was probably murdered sometime before the apocalypse. I almost envy her because this fear, this anticipation, this is hell.

Dawson and I used to be next-door neighbors,” she says as the zombie smashes into the glass and starts to punch and claw it with a mindless frenzy that tells me that while it's under the necromancer's control, it isn't an avatar or a puppet or anything. Holly's just unlocked the door; all it would have to do is reach down and open it. “He was my first crush and my first love.” Here she pauses and I feel my heart contract painfully. When she turns to look at me, her blue eyes are bright and almost cheerful. “That is, I thought he was. And then I met you.” I lean forward and kiss her before she commands me to step back and closes the second door. We touch fingers through the glass, and then Holly spins away and opens the front entrance.


Forty-One Hours and Twelve Minutes After …

Later, I find myself on the roof watching Holly smash zombies with a baseball bat. It's much more effective than shooting them, and it doesn't cost any ammo. I want to be down there with her, but she won't let me, not even with my new, super arm. I flex it and run my fingers across the darkened flesh while Dawson gazes at me in disgust. After a lengthy conversation with Valerie, he'd come downstairs and told me their decision: they were going to stay. Didn't mean he had to like it though, he'd said.

What do you know that I don't?” he asks me as Holly takes down yet another zombie in pajamas. That's what most of them are wearing, or if they aren't, they're naked or in their underwear. It's kind of sad, really. All of these ordinary people doing ordinary things when their life was turned upside down and pulled away from without warning.

What do you mean?” I ask and Dawson just stares, like I'm a crazy person.

I mean, what did Holly tell you that she didn't tell us?” I start to shake my head when I catch Valerie's gaze. She knows that they're missing information that I have. I feel bad for them, but they aren't my secrets to tell.

BOOK: DeadBorn
4.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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