For the past few weeks I've been dreaming about zombies nonstop. I haven't been watching any zombie themed movies or television shows, or playing any zombie video games. I don't know where the nightmares are coming from, but after very little coxing from some fans, I decided to put dream to paper and this may very well be the first chapter of my very first zombie book ever. I hope you enjoy it!
Death is Becoming (working title) By Diana Graves
Breathing quick; in through the nose, out through the mouth; in and out. My arms were pumping, my legs were burning. I ran past the burn, past the pain. The freezing wind was scorching my face, but I ran. I propelled myself forward with everything I had in me because my life depended on it. Not just mine, but my child’s life depended on it. She clung to my back, arms around my chest, fingers entwined and I ran. I could hear her crying and my breathing, but I couldn’t hear them. I knew they were there, just behind us. I knew that if I slowed down even a littler they’d catch us, ride us to the ground and rip into us like so much meat, because that’s all we were to them, meat.
“Here!” a man’s voice screamed out from the woods. His voice was deep and frantic and the horrible truth was that I couldn’t be sure he wasn’t one of them, but I knew I couldn’t go on like this. I couldn’t keep running with a toddler screaming on my back. It was only pure desperation that got us so far, and it was desperation that sent me running toward the voice. Off the cement road and into the thick green woods, I scrambled over logs and ferns and weaved through the trees.
“Where are you?” I screamed with a pain filled voice. For a terrible second I felt stupid. I’d made the wrong choice and there was no room for wrong choices in this world. Stupidity can get you killed faster than anything else, and I just ran into a dense forest with a horde at my back. Fuck! My mind began to race. Could I climb a tree? Could I force my legs to do that? They were already beginning to give out on me, I could feel it.
“Mommy?” screamed Lady.
I turned and was face to face with a rotting corps. Its right eye was milky with death, but its left was red and pussy with rot. Its nose, lips, and eyes brows were gone. It’d long been dead, but it came at me, hungry. Lady screamed her heart out and I did what I’ve done well for the past year. I killed the thing. Weapon of choice for this one, machete. It was in a sheath, tight against my thigh and with a precision honed out of necessity; I drew it and sliced the thing’s face in half with one almost graceful movement. A large chunk of face, frayed none-descriptive brown hair and putrid brain matter flew off into the dark, and for a moment it stood still, but with wide eyes I watched it fall to the ground in a heap. Lady screamed again and I had my pistol out and pointed at the next closets corps, topping over its self to get to us. I took a calming breath and pointed just below my mark, because I was a poor shot. I learned quickly that I always miss by a few inches above where I aimed, so I aim low and I never miss. There was probably some right way to do it, some proper form that I didn’t know. Fuck it. My method worked just fine for me so far. I pulled the trigger and its head was sent back with the force of the bullet. I moved to take aim again, but there were too many to shoot and they were too close to take out one by one before the descended upon us.
“Hold on Lady,” I said as I turned to run again.
“DOWN!” shouted a man, tall and armed to the teeth. He wasn’t alone. He stood shoulder to shoulder with three others, all armed, all pointing their guns at the horde behind us. I didn’t waste time, I threw myself on the ground, detached my daughter’s arms from around my chest and rolled over, pinning her little body to the forest floor. The forest was alight with gunfire and being this close to it made it a deafening sound. I covered as much of her with my body as I could and shielded her ears with my hands as the militia advanced on the horde.
As the men progressed past us I picked up Lady into my arms and ran. Holding Lady meant I was terribly off balance, add our bulky wet terrain and we made a slow progress away from the fight, but we had to gain distance between us before the gunfire stopped. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust the gunmen to kill off those things. I was pretty confident in their abilities. I was just more concerned about what they would do with us once they were done with the corpses. People don’t have a history of being on their best behavior when times are hard, and these were the hardest of times. If I was lucky, they’d gang rape me and leave Lady alone and then be on their way. If I was very unlucky they’d kill us both, or just her. No one needs another mouth to feed, another victim waiting to happen, and that’s all Lady was to most. At least I was a good killer and a fun time if they could hold me down long enough, but Lady was only barely two years old. She was a baby still, my baby. She was the last good thing I had in this world.
The gunfire stopped and the woods were quiet. I dived into the underbrush and pinched my bottom lip. It was a sign to Lady. It meant, ‘no matter what, be very still and quiet.’ And, she was. She didn’t move in my arms, as scared as she was. She burrowed her little head into my breasts and made no sound at all. Keeping quiet and still was the first thing she learned and it saved our lives more than a dozen times. My head was against a tree. I peered out into the pitch black forests and debated how long we’d lay there before I picked her up and ran again. I could wait until I was sure they were gone and then run, or we could wait out the night and hope they didn’t find us. If we stayed until light, neither of us would get any sleep and there was a small chance they could find us in the dark, very small. If we ran there was a greater chance they’d hear us and find us, we could become lost or accidently stumble upon another horde in the dark. Staying put seemed the best option.
I resisted the urge to stroke Lady’s soft mousy brown hair as we waited in the dark, waited for the sun to rise or the men to find us or not find us. I had terrific night vision but that meant shit out here. I couldn’t see three feet ahead of me. I hoped it was the same for those men because I couldn’t help my body’s knee jerk reaction when I heard a man’s voice through the night. Lady tried to dig deeper into me and I did put my hand on her soft hair then.
“Miss?” his deep voice echoed through the tree. “Miss, the things are dead! You can come out now!”
Another man laughed. “You couldn’t have gotten very far with that little one! Come out from where you’re hiding!”
“I bet you’re hungry!” shouted the first man
I settled in deeper against the ground, as if I could hide myself any better than the dark. Their voices sounded far off, maybe fifty kilometers. I felt a small measure of safety in that knowledge, but it was short lived when I saw the first beam of a flashlight shine over us. My heart began to race and I had to fight against my fight or flight response to either stand up and shoot toward the source of the light or make a run for it. I tried to look away from the light, so it didn’t destroy my night vision, and concentrate on the sounds around us. A second beam of light shined directly over my head, and then passed us by. We were shrouded in darkness again and I let out a breath or relief that I quickly swallowed when I felt boots step over me. One boot was on either side of my legs and then the man bent down, smiling.
“Well, hello, hello,” he said inches from my face. Fuck!
I didn’t wait for him to say another word. I didn’t wait to learn his intentions. Noble wasn’t the usual sort of man. Horny, impassionate, brutal, that was the usual. I made a move for my machete. I’d shove it into his throat. It’d be a nice quiet death, long and painful but quiet. I brought the machete up quick, but he fell on top of me, pinning my arms with his knees and grabbing my head with one large hand. At this close I could see the deep brown of his eyes and smell the coffee on his breath. He was rugged handsome, but that was really the only sort of handsome left, wasn’t it.
“Were you going to kill me after what we did for you?” he asked inches from my face.
I gave him mean eyes as he held my head hard against the tree. “If you and your men want payment, take it! But, leave my daughter out of this, please.”
He smiled and looked down at Lady. She had her father’s eyes, large blue soul piercing eyes. She looked up at him with those eyes; so scared as she clung to her mommy, hungry, cold and exhausted from traveling.
He looked back up at me and ignored my words. “What are you doing out here?”
He laughed at that, “I saw that. Can I let you go without you trying to kill me again?”
“Well, at least you’re honest. We’re here!” the man shouted. Light beams began to converge on us and soon I was being blinded by the light. Footsteps followed shortly. “Disarmed her,” he said to his men. He looked back down at me. “Normally, I wouldn’t want anyone out here unarmed, but I can’t have you killing us.”
I struggled as the men pulled out all my knives and guns from their sheaths around my ankles, legs, hips, stomach and arms.
“Fuck, she’s got like fifteen blades on her,” said one man. That was an overestimate, I only had twelve.
“And, six guns,” said another. That was spot on.
“If we take your baby, she’s going to cry, isn’t she,” the man asked.
The man holding all my blades crouched down and looked at Lady. He had long black hair that hid much of his face. “How are you keeping her quiet?” he asked.
“She knows when to be quiet.”
“She wasn’t so quiet while you were running,” he said.
I did as much of a shrug as I could while being pinned down. “We were already being chased. What would be the point of forcing her to be quiet?”
The man holding my guns stood over us. “Well, it would have kept us from hearing you, and you don’t seem to like us so much.” I just looked at him. He had short blond hair that was mostly hidden by a black hat. The look on his face was an unhappy one.
“Call it women’s intuition.”
“You don’t trust us? Why?” this from the forth man, still hidden by the darkness.
“You trapped me, took my weapons and now you’re talking about taking my baby. I’m sorry if I don’t feel all kinds of warm and fuzzy towards you lot.”
The man pinning me shook his head. “Nah, before that. You tried to kill me, why?”
I gave him a raised eye-brow. Did he seriously want an answer? I scoffed.
“She’s so cute,” said the man with my knives. He pet Lady’s hair and I struggled to protect her but I couldn’t. They had us, and there was nothing I could do. We were at their mercy so hopefully they had some.
I licked my lips. “The people I’ve met lately haven’t been the nicest. I’ve learned not to trust. To kill them before they kill us. You can have me however you want me, but please, don’t hurt her. Take your payment and go, please.” Again, the man shook his head. “Don’t play with me! I know what to expect. You can pretend to be all honorable and well meaning as long as you like, but in the end you’re all the same. You just want my guard down so it’s more fun for you. Just take what you want and go!” I said through gritted teeth. These weren’t the first men to play the knight in shining armor. Too often I’ve fallen for the helpful stranger routine, just to be ambushed moments later and raped and beaten. Thankfully, so far, none of the men had gone after Lady, but one tried to mercy kill her once. She had a scar along her stomach where he’d very nearly stabbed right through her before I gutted him like a fish.
“Okay, I won’t play with you. I’ll tell you exactly what we want from you, but first, let’s get out of these woods. I’m going to let go of you and we’re going to take you somewhere safe,” said the man on top of me.
“I don’t want to going anywhere with you,” I said.
He let out a breath and looked to his man in the shadows. “Little help?”
The man came out of the darkness but he was still hidden, dark clothes, dark hair and dark skin. He looked down at me with large black eyes. Slowly he brought his gloved hand to his lips. I felt a pinch, like a bite on my cheek and then the world went dark.