Authors: Rhiannon Frater
Jenni and Katie’s Untold Tale
by Rhiannon Frater
Jenni and Katie’s Untold Tale
by Rhiannon Frater
Copyright Rhiannon Frater 2014
All Rights Reserved
Cover art by Corey Hollins
Edited by Erin Hayes
Copyedited by Jessica Meigs
Formatted by Kody Boye
This book is a work of fiction. People, places, events and situation are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead or undead, or historical events, is purely coincidental.
So, here we are! An untold tale for Jenni and Katie written specially for the fans of the series. It’s my thank-you for ten years of support and love given to the story of two women facing the terrors of the zombie apocalypse in the Texas Hill Country. It still boggles my mind that I started writing As The World Dies in late 2004. It feels like so long ago, and yet it still feels like yesterday.
Although I have no intention of writing any sequels to the As The World Dies trilogy, I’ve had stray scenes bouncing around in my head that didn’t make it into the trilogy. In fact, I lost several mini-chapters while writing the online serial long ago. The laptop I was using died and I never recovered what I had written. Therefore, no one, but me, ever read those lost scenes.
It’s these lost scenes that bubbled back to the surface when I decided to reward fans of the trilogy by writing a new untold tale when the As The World Dies Facebook fan page hit 5,000 Likes,
Deadly Night takes place between The First Days and Fighting Survive. Jenni and Katie are the primary focus, but you’ll also glimpse a few of your favorite characters and maybe one or two that you come to hate over the course of the As The World Dies trilogy. Deadly Night also serves as a sequel to “A Terrible Moment” in Untold Tales Volume 2.
I’ve missed Jenni and Katie a lot, and being able to spend more time with them was wonderful. I loved hearing their voices in my head, and writing down their thoughts, emotions, and adventures again. Their wonderful friendship has always been the core of the As The World Dies universe, and it was a pleasure to experience the bond between them once again.
Thank you so much for nearly a decade of support.
I hope you enjoy Deadly Night.
Somewhere in Texas….
One night in May…
In the serene quiet of the night, Katie watched the floundering zombie. A half a block from her guard post, the bedraggled creature bounced back and forth between the side of a dilapidated, abandoned real estate office and a light pole. Missing most of its face, the zombie in the tattered housedress was hopelessly caught in a loop of slamming into the building, turning about, and running into the light pole.
“Rinse and repeat,” she muttered.
Katie really, really, really wanted to shoot the zombie.
Finger twitching over the safety on her rifle, she reminded herself of the no-kill order issued by Nerit, the former IDF sniper who oversaw the fort security. A large pack of zombies was on the outskirts of the town of Ashley Oaks, and all activity within the small construction site known as the fort had come to a standstill. The only light was from the bright full moon and awe-inspiring spread of glittering stars above. The darkened lights on the high concrete brick wall enclosing the construction site made the night even more ominous. A flashlight was clipped to her belt alongside the sheath that held a machete, but she was under orders not to use either one unless absolutely necessary. The blackout had been ordered by the mayor in hopes of not attracting the zombie herd.
Positioned on a sentry platform built flush against the wall constructed out of cement blocks, Katie leaned her hip against the rough wood railing and sighed. Tucking a strand of her wavy blonde hair behind one ear, she stared at the zombie with mounting annoyance.
The fort inhabitants were asleep in their makeshift tents and shanties constructed out of blue tarp, pallets, and building materials. She was lucky enough to share a very small room with her best friend Jenni and Nerit inside the old-fashioned red brick city hall building. The room had once housed old files and still reeked of mildewing paper. It was a far departure from the house on the lake Katie had shared with her wife, Lydia, but nothing was the same anymore since the dead decided to prey on the living.
The mere thought of Lydia sent a stab of pain through Katie. Sometimes she missed Lydia so much it was hard to take a breath. It was only in being busy and focused on keeping the survivors in the fort safe that Katie found any respite from the despair that filled her whenever she thought of Lydia. Sentry duty was always a mixed bag. It was a good feeling to do something positive for the other survivors, but at the same time, it gave her time to think of all she’d lost.
At night when she closed her eyes, she sometimes pretended it was Lydia’s gentle breathing she heard in the small room, not Jenni’s or Nerit’s. It would be easier to deal with the loss of the modern world and all its luxuries if only Lydia had survived with her.
The creak of the ladder behind her pulled her attention away from the zombie and her despair. She wasn’t surprised when the pretty face framed with black hair peeked over the edge of the platform at her.
“Can I join ya?”
“Come on up, Jenni,” Katie answered with a sincere smile.
Sluggishly, Jenni climbed onto the narrow platform dressed in cut-off jeans, a white tunic top that barely brushed the ragged hem of her shorts, and battered cowboy boots. Her long tresses shifted on the cool breeze, framing her dark eyes ringed with purplish shadows. Her fair skin was flushed and dampened by beads of sweat; it was evident that Jenni was having a rough night, too. When Katie had climbed out of bed a few hours earlier to go on sentry duty, Jenni had been tossing and turning on her narrow cot.
“I had a nightmare,” Jenni stated miserably.
Wordlessly, Katie held open her arms, and Jenni stepped into her embrace. It broke Katie’s heart to feel the tremors flowing through her friend’s thin frame. Keeping an eye on the zombie, Katie gently patted Jenni’s shivering shoulders. Face buried in Katie’s shoulder, Jenni sniffled but said nothing.
Katie comforted Jenni with silence, not platitudes. In this new terrible existence, words were often meaningless.
Nothing was fine.
There was no assurance things were going to turn out all right.
Jenni’s children were dead, and nothing was going to bring them back.
After a few minutes, Jenni pulled away and rubbed tears away with the heels of her hands. “I don’t even have a picture of them,” she muttered, surprising Katie.
Jenni rarely mentioned her dead boys, Benji and Mikey. Whereas other people in the fort talked extensively about their lost loved ones, Jenni remained mostly mute on the subject of her children. Everyone had their own way of dealing with loss, so Katie allowed Jenni to define her own boundaries. She suspected Jenni avoided talking about her children to keep her emotions contained.
Katie remained silent, waiting.
“At least you have a picture of Lydia. I...” Jenni hesitated, her full lips twisting. Impatiently, she wiped away fresh tears. “I keep seeing the boys the way they looked that morning after Lloyd…after he….”
Jenni had lost her boys when her zombified husband had killed them. Katie had only glimpsed one of them, but the memory haunted her.
“Oh, sweetie,” Katie whispered, vividly understanding. It was Lydia’s undead screaming visage that haunted her. For some obscene reason, her brain clung to that horrific image. It was in her darkest moments of misery that she dared to flip open her cellphone and stare at the picture of Lydia she’d saved as a wallpaper.
“Fuck!” Jenni grunted. “Fuck them all.” Jenni caught sight of the zombie in the street below. “I fuckin’
Katie waited a few beats of her heart to see if Jenni would continue to share her thoughts, but the hatred in Jenni’s eyes as she glowered at the zombie appeared to obliterate all other emotions. This was how Jenni coped. An unhealthy dose of hating and murdering zombies.
“That one has been bouncing back and forth for close to an hour,” Katie said.
“And you can’t shoot it from here?” Jenni stepped toward the railing, her fingers curling into her palms to form fists.
“Nerit’s no-kill order is in effect.” Katie shrugged. “We still have that group of zombies prowling nearby, and Juan isn’t done with the reinforcement of that one wall. So...no risks.”
Rolling her eyes, Jenni hooked her fingers through the belt loops of her cut-off jeans. “And I guess we can’t go down there and pound its head in with a hammer?”
“Not unless we absolutely have to,” Katie replied.
“Jenni…” Katie did not like the gleam in her best friend’s eyes.
Picking up a crowbar from a small collection of weapons stored in a box on the platform, Jenni said, “Well, I absolutely have to.”
“No, I do. Trust me. This
to happen.” Jenni started to scramble over the sentry platform railing onto the wall.
Katie caught Jenni’s wrist, restraining her. “Jenni, it’s
zombie. I can handle it.” Jenni attempted to tug her wrist free.
Holding on tighter, Katie shook her head. “Nerit was very clear on her orders. No unnecessary kills.”
Over Jenni’s shoulder, the zombie turned about and walked into the side of the store again. The itch to kill it was almost unbearable. When had killing become such an intricate part of her DNA? If she was honest, since the first day. It had been easy for her to kill out of fear and the desire to survive.
to do this, Katie.” Jenni’s dark eyes pleaded with Katie.
Letting go of Jenni’s arm, Katie swore under her breath.
“Thanks!” Jenni kissed Katie’s cheek and pulled the ladder lying along the top of the wall toward her. “I’ll be right back. Cover me.”
“I should stop you,” Katie said, reconsidering.
“Try.” Jenni carefully lowered the ladder into place and leaned forward to peer over the wall. She scrutinized the area, then said, “No other zombies. Easy as your grandma’s pecan pie.”
Violence against the zombies was Jenni’s therapy. Katie knew it, but it didn’t make the situation sit well with her. “Jenni...”
“Katie...” Jenni imitated Katie’s chastising tone perfectly.
“Be careful,” Katie said, already regretting letting her go.
“Aren’t I always?”
Jenni tended to act first and think later. She’d scared the shit out of Katie on more than one occasion.
Blowing Katie a kiss, Jenni scrambled down the ladder clutching the crowbar. She landed on the red brick road below with a thump and charged across the road toward the zombie. Swearing under her breath, Katie raised her rifle and covered her friend.
In a way, she was a little jealous.
She’d really, really wanted to kill that damn zombie.
Jenni kept to the thicker darkness bordering the street to keep out of view of the other sentries on the wall. She didn’t want anyone to stop her from her self-appointed task. Shivering slightly in the late spring night air, she crouched near an old battered mailbox. She was aware of Katie anxiously watching from the sentry post, but Jenni had been outside the wall enough times on salvage and rescue runs to not be afraid unless there was visible imminent danger.
Casting a quick look behind her, she was a little unnerved by the glow of the moon reflecting from the windows of the ten-story hotel that loomed over the construction site. The effect gave the glass the appearance of accusing eyes glowering down at her. There were plans to break into the hotel that bordered one side of the makeshift fort and claim it as living space. Though Jenni liked the idea, at the moment, the hotel seemed quite ominous.
A meaty thump drew Jenni’s attention back to the zombie smacking into the building just a short distance from her hiding place. The creature pivoted about and walked a few steps before striking the light post. The stink of death, the sound of its shuffling feet, and its disgusting appearance filled Jenni’s gut with rage. Surging forward, she raised the crowbar over her shoulder.