Authors: Phaedra Weldon
So…the third option I had was to attempt to
as my best friend wished, with fire.
I moved as far back out of the thing's range as possible. Bonaventure Cemetery was a tight bone yard, speckled with plot-to-plot family gatherings of headstones and mausoleums. Luckily we weren't in one of the larger plots where massive stone and marble monuments were built to the memory of some patriarch or matriarch of the family. That would have been way too close an area for me. I'm not a big man. I like open space for that fourth option.
I turned and faced my opponent as I shouted a single word.
It was Sumerian for fire, and boy did it make some fire.
Initially I wasn't sure where the power came from. I assume the
worked as the catalyst and my own energy, chi, ka, whatever you want to call it, fueled the spell.
Of course, I could be uber wrong.
Fire engulfed the rotting corpse with a bit more force than I intended. Tiny pieces of flying concrete stung my face and bare forearms as the headstone exploded. Then silence.
I had my eyes closed. Which of course was a habit I seriously needed to correct. But I didn't want to them to get hit with flying zombie guts.
When I opened them, nothing moved in front of me. Bits and pieces of zombie embers floated in the sky like sick little fireflies. I heard a brushing noise just before something clamped down on my ankle like a vise. I looked down to see a bony hand gripping me for all it was worth. I screamed like a little girl and hopped around on my non-zombie-grasped foot while I tried knocking the hand and lower arm off of the other.
A hand grabbed my upper arm. "Hold still."
That was Mike Ross. My oldest friend. My best friend. One of his Desert Eagles gleamed in the moonlight as he pointed it at my ankle.
My eyes bugged. "Not the ankle, not the ankle!"
He fired, and the ugly piece of zombie flew against a nearby headstone. Bits of flesh, bone, and goo splattered on the concrete. A closer look showed that most of the exploded zombie covered the nearby azaleas and trees. I don't know why I yelled. Mike never missed what he aimed at, and barely missed what he didn't.
Mike looked around the cemetery, the weapon pointed skyward with a bit of wispy smoke curling up from the barrel for effect. Dude was ultra cool. Tall, well-muscled, and rugged. Women always saw him first.
Well, he was a good foot taller than me, so
saw him first.
His body was tense. Mike either sensed other zombies in the cemetery or he was looking out for us. Either way, I propped myself against one of the adjacent headstones and took a look at my ankle. Other than some seriously gross body fluids smeared over my boots, it felt okay.
Instant, burning pain sliced through my calf on the other leg. I dropped the just-rescued leg and looked down to see a zombie sinking its teeth into my flesh
my jeans. Its remaining arm and hand grabbed at the ankle below it and pulled. I lost my seat on the headstone and slipped down onto my ass, the back of my head connecting painfully with the concrete.
"Sonofa —there's another one!" Mike shouted.
Mike's discovery did not give me comfort because he wasn't aiming at the one biting me. And it also meant he was distracted with his back to me as the zombie started dragging me away from him.
Stars circled my head as I shook it in an attempt to refocus on what was happening to me. A zombie had its teeth in my calf, a hand on my ankle, and was dragging me with it at a pretty damn good clip away from where we'd been. I tried to see how it was doing this, given that it had its mouth around my muscle and flesh. It was moving backward—which meant the zombie was moving backwards while dragging me along on my back. How was that possible?
Mike's voice was somewhere over my head, meaning he finally noticed I wasn't with him anymore. He was coming up behind me as I traveled. I tried grabbing at anything I could as I passed it. A different headstone, a bush, a piece of statuary. Unfortunately, the same things I tried to grab hold of also worked as instruments of blindsiding. After the third stone knocked painfully into my right elbow, I gritted my teeth and kept my hands inside the ride. This gave me a more than disgusting look at the muncher on my leg. I realized immediately—from what I could see between crashing into obstacles—that this zombie was less decayed with more meat on his frame. What I initially believed was a one-armed zombie was actually a two-armed zombie. As it tried to grab my other leg, I started stomping at its head in mid-cruise.
"Dags—you need to smite it!"
Good God, who gave that man a dictionary?
One problem I'd come across when using the fire spell I'd received from the
was that it drained my energy. One or two big blasts and I was ready for a nap. Anything more than that I was out cold. I had maybe one good blast left in the arsenal and I intended on keeping it handy.
So smiting was out. But chopping was a good secondary. On command, a huge sword formed in my outstretched right hand. I instantly put my other hand on the hilt—it wasn't a light-weight sword—and started hacking at the thing's head. I had to be careful for two reasons: one I didn't want to hack my own leg—it already had a bite in it that was stinging to high hell—and two, I didn't want the sword knocked out of my hands by passing obstacles.
Luckily I wasn't clobbered by either as I successfully lopped off the thing's arms. Somewhere in there we stopped moving, and I continued rolling to my right. I didn't lose hold of the sword, but I did connect pretty hard with the side of a mausoleum. Those things are made of marble.
No stars this time, just the fringe of an inky blackness closing in from all sides. I could feel what was left of the bastard chewing on my muscle.
That is not a sound I recommend anyone ever have burned onto the hard drive of their brain. One of being chewed…on…
I managed to lift the sword and saw the head moving up and down just past my chest. I hacked at it again, but nothing was working. My position was too awkward. It was time for that second smiting. The sword vanished and I held out my hand.
Fire flared from my palm and incinerated the zombie where it was. Within seconds it was gone. This was nothing like the floating embers from my fire before—this was vaporization Sci-Fi style. It was also an exhausting exercise and I lay on my back, panting, my eyelids heavy.
The pain of the bite didn't disappear with the blast. I lay somewhere behind a huge marble structure with a bleeding zombie bite on my leg. My head hurt and I wanted to throw up. I wasn't even sure if Mike knew where I was or had seen where I'd been dragged.
This was really bad.
"Mi-Mike," I called out, but I wasn't sure if I used my outside voice or not. My ears felt stuffed with cotton. I recognized the signs of shock—and I was heading down that road. The bite was going to be bad enough—I mean, it was a ZOMBIE bite, for crying out loud. Mike was going to have to kill me now. If we pile on the fact I used magic spells twice and summoned the Guardian Sword…
I was heading toward the great Land of La-La and not expecting to wake up.
Something brushed against my neck, but I wasn't able to move. My eyes were closed, and a weight settled on top of me. "Mike…" I whispered. "It bit me…gonna have to kill me…"
Soft laughter stayed my dive into oblivion for a few seconds as I felt knuckles brush against my cheek, and then a cool hand covered my eyes. "No…not tonight, Guardian. That's not something I can allow." The voice was female and the accent nice and sexy, but not something I recognized.
The hand on my cheek moved my head to the left and I felt lips brush my neck. "Sshh…just relax, Guardian. It's not your time to die. I haven't even started with you yet."
I felt a sharp pain where she kissed me, and then nothing.
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