Authors: Mel Teshco
Book 2 in the Alien Hunger series.
Ally Grayson believes she’s the
last person on Earth after aliens arrived, bringing with them a deadly virus
that wiped out most of mankind.
Somehow surviving the annihilation,
she hides in a Sydney house with her dog, Bonnie. She knows she has to leave
before the “eyes in the sky” detect her and have her captured, but she never
expects an alien to save her and Bonnie from the jaws of a ravenous, feral dog.
Never expects to be drawn to Renate, the alien male who seems more human than
any man she’s ever known.
She fights an attraction she can’t
win, and soon enough she’s in his arms, under his hard, amazing body. Except
their unearthly desire might not be enough to keep them together when Renate’s
alien comrades close in.
She came to slowly, the scent of death assailing her senses
even before she heard the whine of a dog. She opened her eyes to the canine’s
fuzzy black and white face, its head coming closer still as its warm tongue
slid across her cheek in a long, wet lick.
She swiped away the sticky saliva and half-sat, peering
around the room. Her heart stopped, the blood draining from her face as her
eyes jerked wide. She opened her mouth in a silent scream.
Oh dear god, no.
Two beautiful children lay dead either side of her, their
lips blue and their little bodies stiff and yellow.
She scrabbled backward until she hit a wall. “No.” She shook
her head, swallowing past a thick lump in her throat. The little boy and
girl—hers?—were dead. What happened? And what was she doing here with them?
Bloody hell. Why can’t I remember anything?
She sucked in a breath as the room slowly spun around her and
she flushed hot and then cold. She tucked her feet close, clasping her knees to
her chest as she pressed against the wall.
The dog sat on its haunches, watching her with its head
tilted to the side. And that’s when she saw the pages and pages of crayon drawings
littering the floor all around them.
Had she been trying to keep the children occupied?
She climbed to her feet, swaying for a moment and forcing
herself not to black out. Not to retch.
One of the pictures lay face up, a child’s awkward,
stick-like drawing of a man and a woman. Written beneath in an adult’s hand
were the words Ally and Luke.
Luke? Who was he? She swallowed hard. Had he left them here
Another picture showed a cartoonish dog. Beneath the image
was the name Bonnie.
She turned back to the dog and rasped, “Bonnie.”
The animal trotted over, tail pluming through the air. She
stroked the dog’s head, taking meager comfort from Bonnie’s dispassionate doggy
expression. She scanned the room, noting the two buckets against the far wall that
held water, another two filled with dry dog biscuits.
They’d expected to be down here for a while?
A set of stairs led upward to another floor, where a door
was partially cracked open.
“I’ve…I’ve got to get out of here,” she breathed.
She ran up the stairs and Bonnie followed hot on her heels.
Ally was only too glad of the company when she pushed the door open all the
way—to find the body of a man lying face down, as though he’d been running from
“Luke,” she whispered. Somehow she knew this man was the one
and same in the drawing. The same man who’d left them for dead.
Ally Grayson stared in the mirror at her snarled, dark
burgundy hair, feeling strangely bereft of emotion, an outsider looking in on
the horror of someone else’s life.
Her glossy, long locks had once been her best asset. Not
anymore. Without the convenience of running water and with the apocalyptic ash
and grit constantly in the air, it had become high maintenance and impractical.
She didn’t need to be halfway pretty anymore. In fact, far better to look
repulsive than attract alien attention.
Ally lifted the scissors and snipped. Tears etched
relentless tracks down her cheeks as clumps of red-brown hair dropped to the
off-white tiles, as though blood on bone.
Dear lord. She tightened her hold on the scissors until her
knuckles shone white. She’d been living a hell on earth, grief an indigestible
ball in her gut—and it’d taken a haircut for the weeping to start?
She swallowed hard. One day she’d give into the rage, the
raw grief, the anguish that constantly ripped and gouged with long black nails
into her defenses, her sanity.
But not now.
If she gave into the self-pity, she just mightn’t find the
will to keep going.
Tossing the scissors into the vanity sink, she dragged a
hand through the choppy, wispy layers of her short hair even as she pushed back
a whole lot of fresh, unwanted pain. Scrubbing away her tears with the backs of
her hands, she drew in a breath and turned away from the mess on the floor, the
mess of her thoughts, before she stalked into the darkened lounge room.
Pulling aside the heavy brocade curtain, she peered through
the grimy bay window. Though dark, ominous clouds were piling on the horizon,
the midday sun blazed directly outside, streaming through the branches of a
jacaranda tree in full, amethyst bloom and glinting against the windshields of
stationary, dusty cars on the deserted street.
She shivered, despite the sweltering day that caused
rivulets of sweat to run down her spine and stick her white tee against her
Never had she felt more alone.
Her gaze lifted heavenward, searching for the alien aircraft
that’d begun sweeping the area only yesterday. Thankfully, the sky appeared
empty aside from a couple of crows wheeling high overhead.
If being totally alone was something out of her worst
nightmares, then being captured by the very bastards who’d decimated the planet
would most certainly be her worst kind of suffering.
She’d had brief, intermittent memory flashes of the
televised news announcing alien arrival and the virus they’d brought with them.
A virus that felled people where they stood, turning their skin an awful yellow
and their lips blue.
Not unlike the two children in the cellar that she’d come to
remember as her stepchildren. The man in the house, her ex-husband.
She squeezed her eyes shut as a shaft of pain ripped outward
from her heart and into her head, before fading to a dull ache behind her
Why she’d been spared was never far from her mind, especially
since her memories had started to return. Her flashbacks had gained momentum
recently, like a car careening downhill without brakes, flashbacks that skipped
back and forth in time with no rhyme or reason. In some ways she wished the
recollections had stayed buried and forgotten. At least then she’d have nothing
to compare this terrible existence with, have nothing to miss.
Her hands fisted on the fabric. She might have been spared
from the virus, but she’d sooner take her own life than allow even a single
alien to find her…to take her.
Freedom was her primary goal, survival of secondary
She’d been hiding in this house for weeks, months even. But
time had ceased to have meaning, ceased to matter. There was no longer an alarm
clock to wake her up for an important client meeting. No adoring husband and
children to rush home to and take into her arms.
But she had to move on, find another safe house with a fully
stocked pantry and bottled water. God only knew she was running low. Besides
which, some sixth sense told her she needed to leave ASAP.
She’d learned to trust her instincts.
Except…somewhere along the way this house had become her
home, her sanctuary away from the once bloated and rotting corpses outside
covered with flies and putrefying the air. Away from the dog packs with a
powerful taste for human flesh, their muzzles bloodied as they gorged on human
Perverse really, since her beloved Bonnie had been the one
and only thing to keep her sane.
She unknotted her hands and released the curtain. It swished
shut before she turned and called the large, fluffy dog of indeterminate breed.
Bonnie clambered to her feet and trotted over, her pink
tongue lolling, her liquid brown eyes expressing her devotion as she sat just
shy of Ally’s booted feet.
Ally absently ran a hand over the dog’s silky black and
white head. “It’s time we left here, girl.” Not just because of their dwindling
food supplies. Staying too long in the one house meant the threat of being
discovered would be that much higher. She had to keep on the move and stay
clear of the eyes in the sky.
Bonnie heaved a doggy sigh, as if in agreement. And Ally’s
lips twitched in perhaps the first smile she’d managed in far too long. “Glad I
have your approval.”
She gathered up the bulging backpack crammed with
essentials. A medical kit, a change of clothes, toilet paper, canned food for
them both, bowls, matches, a flashlight, batteries, a sharp knife wrapped in a
towel and the last two bottles of water.
Bonnie followed at her heels, as if totally cognizant of the
Ally paused, taking in the darkened lounge room.
Comfortable, easy-to-clean sofas, a baby grand, a plasma and Xbox spoke volumes
about the house once belonging to a young family—a mother and father along with
their son and two daughters.
A floorboard creaked beneath her booted feet as she stepped
toward the apricot feature wall that overflowed with portraits. Lifting a hand,
she ran a finger along the gold frame of one family shot. Her vision blurred
and swam. She could barely make out the smiling faces and blonde good looks of
the people who’d lived there—and who no longer existed.
She sucked in a shuddering breath. Just the same as her
family, these people were long gone. Dead. Wiped out by the same virus that had
seemingly taken the life of every single human on the planet.
Everyone but me.
Fingers interlacing behind her head, she closed her eyes for
a moment, willing back composure. She couldn’t lose it now, not with those
asshole aliens lurking in the skies.
Damn it! The bastards hadn’t even needed to lift a finger to
destroy her kind. Clever, really. And cowardly right to their core.
Hatred for them welled up inside, burning through her veins
until she felt fevered and ill.
She walked a dangerous line harboring such emotions. Too
much hatred could push her over the edge, see her do something stupid and
really mess things up. Just enough hatred kept her strong, kept her going, like
a slow release fuel.
Yes, she wanted to survive, but she wanted desperately to
keep her freedom, to keep on going with the fragile hope other humans lived
She snagged the dog leash off the front door handle and
clipped it on to Bonnie’s collar. On the rare moments they ventured outside,
Ally made sure they were inseparable. She swallowed. She was too scared to let
loose her one friend left in the world. She’d never cope if Bonnie disappeared
Just like everyone else she’d ever loved.
Ally opened the door a crack. No movement, no odd sounds.
She drew in a steadying breath. All the running and hiding,
the uncertainty was getting to her.
In the distance a gray, smoky haze indicated some of the
city fires were still raging. She shivered a little. Already much of Sydney had
been reduced to ash. She only hoped the outer suburbs would stay clear of the
Perhaps the steadily building clouds would dump enough rain
to put out the fires.
“Let’s go, Bonnie.”
Ally half-crouched as she jogged through the front yard and
out through the olive-green painted wire gate, Bonnie’s shaggy tail waving
through the air as she loped easily alongside.
Alert to any sound, any movement, she kept close to the
buildings as she slowed to a walk, severely tempted to drive one of the many
cars sitting in any number of garages, keys already in the ignition. Except the
roads were cluttered with vehicles of all descriptions, most of them containing
more than forgotten keys inside.
She shook her head. She wouldn’t risk drawing attention to
herself from the sky patrol. At least on foot she made barely a sound.
A loud crack sounded somewhere behind her, as if
something—someone?—had trod on a stick or a broken fragment of glass. She
stilled. Her pulse jerked crazily. She wanted almost desperately to slink into
the nearest house. But that was madness. If the aliens had even a vague idea of
where she’d been hiding, she needed to get much farther away.
Bonnie whined uncertainly. The hairs on the back of Ally’s
nape prickled. She sucked in a horrified breath and slowly turned around.
For a moment, one infinitesimal beat, she froze, as if a
mouse in the presence of a cobra.
Dear Lord, he’s beautiful.
any alien she’d ever imagined. He was almost human. But not.
He was bare-chested and huge. Big shoulders, dark brown hair
shorn close to his scalp and a primal yearning in his brilliant, unnatural
green stare that caused goose bumps to prickle all over her body and her
nipples to tighten unwillingly beneath her tee shirt.
She sucked in a horrified, yet awestruck breath as her stare
dropped low. Pants made from a stretchy, glove-like material rode low on his
hips to hug the bulging arousal of his cock.
He wanted her.
Over my dead body.
And yet, something carnal clenched hard within even before
she tore her eyes away with a vicious curse, forcing her body to spin around,
her legs to move fast. Shit. It was like pulling away an oversized pin from a
powerful magnet—almost impossible.
But as though released from a force field, she was suddenly
sprinting for all she was worth, dodging abandoned cars and motorbikes, leaping
over an upturned shopping trolley and a fallen tree limb, her heavy backpack
bouncing between her shoulder blades. Bonnie seemed to sense her fear as she
raced alongside, her ears flat to her skull.
Ally was breathing hard as she rounded a corner hardware
store, sharp chunks of glass glinting on the pavement from its partly shattered
storefront window. She didn’t pause. The alien wouldn’t be far behind.
A block of apartments loomed ahead, the courtyard gate
swinging a little in the breeze. She pushed her legs harder, lungs burning for
Racing through the gate and the paved courtyard, she sent a
prayer heavenward that at least one of the ground apartment front doors weren’t
locked. She’d discovered that many front doors were left ajar or unlocked,
dying homeowners clearly not all that concerned for their safety.
Both doors were closed. She swung to the door of apartment
two and fumbled with its door handle. It was locked. “Crap.” Heart hammering,
she glanced behind her. A sudden breeze jerked the gate open then shut and
skittered some paper and debris along the street.
No sign of the alien.
Jerking around, she dashed to the other apartment. The door
knob twisted easily under her hands. She stepped into the apartment with Bonnie
at her heels, slamming the door behind them and sliding its two deadbolts into
Panting and heart still racing, she took in the musty
smelling room. Closed blinds sealed out most of the sunlight and shadows loomed
long and dark before her. Lounge room, dining and kitchen in one, she realized
as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. A shabby old sofa sat in front of a little
box television on a glass cabinet. A kitchen counter of indeterminate color
hugged the far wall, an old stove and a tiny refrigerator at either end.
Next to the refrigerator an opened doorway revealed a small
bedroom. Partially opened blinds allowed in a crack of light and she could just
make out a mussed bed, a side table with its top drawer jutting out.
She shivered. Though there was no sign or rotting scent of a
deceased body, something didn’t feel right about this place. She’d stay here
only as long as she needed to before she travelled farther afield, to the very
outskirts of Sydney.
Bonnie growled long and low in her throat, her hackles
Ally touched the dog’s head, fingers gently stroking. “It’s
okay,” she murmured. She had to keep Bonnie quiet at all cost. “The alien is
outside…somewhere. We’re safe for now.”
But they weren’t. That same instinct for survival was even
now jarring her senses, making her heart pound and sending blood pumping
through her body.
They might have evaded the alien, but they weren’t alone.
A ferocious snarl erupted from inside the bedroom. She
gasped when a brindle-colored dog emerged in the opened doorway. Even in the
gloom she could see the animal was emaciated, its ribcage protruding along with
the notches of its spine.
The dog took a step forward, its growl deepening,
threatening. Bonnie whimpered, clearly sensing the starving dog was about to
attack. Hunting to survive.
She glanced at the pantry, imagining all the canned dog meat
she’d undoubtedly find. She looked back at the front door and mentally shook
her head. She wasn’t going back outside, not for anything. She’d take her
chances with the dog.