Authors: Edward Crae
Tags: #Post-Apocalyptic | Horror
Copyright © 2016 Edward Crae
Cover Art by Necropolis Digital Art (shawnecrapo.com)
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
All brand names mentioned within are the registered trademarks of their respective copyright holders. No infringement, endorsement, or detraction is intended.
This is a work of fiction, and any resemblances to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Place names are used respectfully and solely for the purposes of reference points for the story.
Animals were harmed in the making of this story. A guy’s gotta eat, right?
This story is dedicated to all of my friends and fans, including my parental and sisterly units. But, most of all, it’s dedicated to Lisa, who continues to put up with my bodily noises, smells, and other unpleasant things.
“That’s a pretty nasty bite,” Toni said, standing over Jake as she cleaned his wound.
They had taken refuge in the storage room of a nearby restaurant. It was a filthy, run down shit hole, and probably always was, but for now it was their only shelter. The woman had dragged him there with just a little bit of effort on his part, which he found surprising. She was a pretty tough bitch.
“It hurts like hell, too,” Jake replied.
He was feeling pampered and was possibly exaggerating a little when he spoke. He liked the attention, especially coming from such an exotic source. Toni was pretty hot, even by his own standards. He preferred the bigger women—the ones he called “curvy”—but there was just something about her that made him sweat. She was thin, but muscular, and in damn good shape. And her smooth, commanding voice…
Forget about it.
“This came from a mutant?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Jake said, still confused about the whole thing.
“You should have turned, baby.”
There was a sudden, intense sting as she applied some alcohol with a rag. Jake jumped a little, turning his head to look at her handiwork.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” he said.
Toni stopped and stared at him for a moment. She had that resting bitch face; the one that typically made any man just shut the hell up. He shut the hell up.
“I don’t get it,” she said, leaning in to get a closer look. “Are you sure it’s a bite?”
“What does it look like to you?”
She hummed a little, shaking her head. “I guess it looks like a bite. But if it was, you should have turned.”
“I thought I was going to,” he said, truly believing it. “That’s why I tried to blow myself up.”
She began wrapping his shoulder with gauze, carefully dressing the wound like an expert. “You didn’t do a very good job of that, did you?”
“I guess not,” Jake said. “There was a big horde of them coming at me from an alley door. I wanted to make sure I got them all, so I tossed the grenade a ways. I thought it would still be close enough to take me out, too.”
“You couldn’t get away?”
“No. There was a fence, and I’m a bit too big to be climbin’ fences.”
Toni chuckled as she finished the bandage. She patted it to make sure it was nice and snug, and then pulled a chair up next to his. She leaned back, propping her feet up on the nearby counter.
“Who were you with?” she asked.
“What makes you think I was with anyone?”
She shot him another look. “Guys like you don’t go runnin’ around no damn inner city battlefield by themselves.”
Jake feinted being offended, but she kept that same look, knowing he was full of it.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, chuckling. “I was with two other guys. Dan and Drew were their names.”
“And what happened to them?”
Jake wondered that, too. He hoped they had gotten away. He was sure that Dan could climb that fence, even with that big ass binder in his hand.
“When I got bit, I told them to go without me. I think they got away.”
Toni laughed out loud, letting her feet fall to the floor as she bent over clutching her belly in laughter. “You think you’re some kind of Rambo? You a movie hero? Go! Go on without me!”
“Hey, why not?” he replied, and then burst out laughing with her. “Fat guys can be heroes, too.”
“I wonder where they went if they
get away,” he said, feeling somewhat forlorn. He missed the guys, even Vincent.
“Did they ever talk about where they were going?” Toni asked. “I mean, where did you guys come from anyway?”
“Dan had a house outside Martinsville,” he said. Toni shot him a look. “Yeah, yeah. They picked me up in Lafayette, but we chilled at his place for a while. The mercs came and attacked, Dan got kidnapped by a serial killer, me and Drew got kidnapped by the mercs… long story.”
“Damn,” Toni said quietly.
“What about you?”
She leaned forward, putting her elbows on her knees and hanging her head down. “I lived here,” she said. “I had an apartment on the west side. I was planning on trying to survive there until those mercs, as you call them, destroyed my neighborhood. So, I went wandering and wondering.”
She sat back up, folding her arms across her chest. “Where to go.”
Jake nodded, realizing that he was wondering the same thing. Where
he go? Where
he go? More importantly, where was the nearest pharmacy? He wouldn’t last long without a good supply of insulin, or a bag of emergency sugar snacks.
“I need to find a pharmacy,” he said. “I gotta have insulin.”
She turned and looked at him curiously. “You’re diabetic?” she asked, as if it were suddenly important.
He nodded. “Type one.”
“What was going on during the time you were bitten?”
Jake shrugged. “We were running away after escaping from the Gephardt base. Why?”
“Stress,” she said, sticking out her bottom lip. “Your glucose was probably high.”
“Yeah,” Jake said. “Prolly.”
She stared at him for a moment, cocking her head to the side a little as if encouraging him to think. What was he supposed to be think—wait!
“Are you saying my blood sugar might have saved me?”
She shrugged. “Maybe,” she said. “High glucose is dangerous for your organs. Maybe it’s dangerous to this… whatever it is.”
Jake grunted. He hadn’t thought of that. Maybe that’s why he was immune in the first place. But what about Dan and Drew? And Toni? What if diabetics were all immune and once everyone died out, only they would survive. That was a frightening thought.
Jake stood, pushing himself up with Toni’s help. He was still feeling shitty, but he knew he had to get some sugar in him soon.
“I need to eat something,” he said.
“Sit back down,” Toni said. “This is a restaurant. I’m sure there’s something you can eat. I’ll find something.”
Resigned, Jake sat back down. Toni left then, and Jake closed his eyes. He had a pounding headache still, and his eyes hurt like hell. He was beginning to get the shakes, which is how he knew his blood sugar was low. Who knows how long he had been lying there, half dead, before Toni had found him?
There were plenty of cans remaining in the dry storage area of the kitchen. Toni perused the shelves, looking for something high in protein for Jake. She was hungry, too, but Jake was a priority. Without something to eat, he could go into a coma or something worse.
There was a can of chili there among the other foods. That would be good. It not only had protein, but enough carbs to keep him going for a while. He could probably use some quick sugar, too. She grabbed the chili, and then went back out into the cooking area.
There were pots and pans scattered everywhere. Some of them were full of rotting food; a lot of it moldy and fuzzy. She found a can opener, a mixing bowl, and a spoon. There would be no heating up the chili, but at least it was food.
Underneath a table in the baking area, she found a tub containing a large chocolate bar. It was damn near the size of a computer monitor, and just as thick. It was likely baking chocolate, with just a small amount of sugar. Just enough for her purpose.
She broke off a chunk of it and went to the can opener. The inside of the chili can was topped with the standard amount of grease, she noticed. She scraped it off and dumped the contents into the mixing bowl. She took a bite of the chocolate, savoring its semi-sweet flavor, then returned to the storage area.
“Here, Jake,” she said, handing him the bowl and the chunk of chocolate. “Eat up. I’ll find something for myself. You should get some rest afterwards.”
Jake happily took the food, sitting the bowl on his lap as he took a bite of the chocolate. He smiled, winking at her. “Thanks, baby,” he said.
An odd feeling awoke Jake early in the morning. The faint blue light of dawn shone through the windows, casting its eerie glow in the kitchen. He searched with his eyes, looking at everything that was within his view, but he couldn’t tell what it was that had disturbed his sleep. He quietly rolled over onto his back, keeping his head faced away from Toni, who was next to him on the makeshift bedroll.
A long, drawn out hiss quietly echoed throughout the kitchen, followed by a slight clicking sound. His heart quickened, and he could feel the hairs standing up on the back of his neck. Though he kept his mouth open to mask the sound of his breathing, he still drew shallow and slow breaths. Still, he heard the hissing… or was it breathing?
There was something inside with them.
Slowly, he turned his head toward Toni. He was shocked to see that she was awake. Her eyes were wide open with shock, and she stared directly at him. She could feel it, too, he knew.
He mouthed the words, “Do you hear that?”
She didn’t move nor make a sound, but he knew the answer.
The clicking sound became louder. It didn’t increase in urgency, but it seemed to be getting closer. The hissing breaths that accompanied it sent chills up Jake’s spine. He didn’t know what it was, but it was here, and it was probably hungry. He suddenly realized that the two of them probably smelled bad.
He also had to cough.
He put his hand over his mouth, grimacing as the tickle in his throat grew in intensity. Toni’s eyes grew wider. She knew what was going on, and she too was terrified. If he coughed, whatever was out there would know they were here—if it didn’t already. Slowly, Toni moved her hands down to her sides. She maintained eye contact as she did, and Jake’s throat tickle became nearly unbearable.
He couldn’t hold it any longer. As he inhaled sharply, Toni’s eyes became like saucers. He let loose, blowing phlegm upward and toward his feet with a hail of heavy coughs. Suddenly the hissing was replaced with a sharp screech, and something impacted the stainless steel table at their feet.
Glowing red eyes were surrounded by a dark shape, something dog-like from what Jake could see through his coughs. But before it could leap at them, Toni blasted it with several deafening shots. Jake nearly shit his pants. The creature was thrown back, screaming, and it thumped lifelessly onto the floor, out of sight in the shadows.
Jake looked over to Toni, who laid there with guns akimbo; a smoking .44 magnum revolver in each hand. She holstered her guns quickly, jumping up and grabbing Jake.
“Let’s get the fuck outta here!”
Jake struggled to get to his feet, still coughing. Toni grabbed her pack, and pulled him toward the front of the restaurant. They burst through the swinging doors into the dining room. There were a few corpses there rotting in their booths, and the glass at the front was blocked with boards. Through the barriers, they could hear the moaning and scraping of who knows how many infected trying to get in.
“Shit,” Toni whispered. “They must have heard the gunshots.”
“Well, no shit,” Jake said. “Those things sounded like fucking cannons.”
She dragged him back into the kitchen, where she noticed a door with a sign reading, “
in bold letters. She pushed through it, and Jake followed. When they entered, she turned and slammed the door shut. There was no lock, but the mutants weren’t very bright. They likely wouldn’t turn the handle.
“Let’s go,” Toni said, mounting the stairs.
“Oh great,” Jake said, huffing and puffing. “Now we’ll be stuck on the roof.”
“No problem,” she replied, not stopping. “I’ve got a plan.”
They burst through the door at the top of the stairs. The roof was pea gravel; with various vent stacks, and an AC unit on the alley side. Toni slammed the door behind them. Jake breathed heavily, but felt good. Better than he would normally feel after running up a flight of stairs.
“We can get onto the next roof,” she said, eyeing the three foot gap between them.
Jake scoffed. “Um, no,” he said, shaking his head. “This white boy don’t jump.”
Toni grabbed him by the front of his shirt, pulling his face down to hers. She stared up at him aggressively, her teeth showing like a rabid dog’s.
“I said, we can get onto the next roof. I didn’t rescue your big ass just so I can leave you behind on this damn roof.”
Jake swallowed. It was fear, with a bit of lust mixed in. His dick shifted a little.
“Alright,” he said. “Whatever you say, mama.”
Toni tossed her pack across, and then mounted the short brick wall. With one look down, she leaped across, landing squarely on her feet. Jake climbed up as well, looking down at the narrow alley. He felt dizzy.
“Jump,” Toni urged him on. “Quit lookin’ down.”
Jake closed his eyes and heaved himself forward. He landed hard, felt the cracking in his knees, and groaned as he rolled forward.
“Ah fuck,” he grunted. “That hurt.”
Toni chuckled, pulling him to his feet. “I felt the building shake,” she joked.