Flesh
Author:Kylie Scott

For a first date, it sounded shit even to his ears. She seemed less than impressed. The woman glared at him like he had grown a second head, and it wasn’t any better than the first.

 

“Right,” he said, straightening his spine. “Then we’re just going to have to do this the hard way.”

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

Ali glared at the stranger with all the animosity she could muster. Having spent eight weeks hiding in her neighbor’s attic, living like a rodent while the world fel apart outside, there was a hoard of hostility at her disposal. An ample amount of petrified too, but hostility came in handier.

 

Do it the hard way? The fucker. She wanted to go medieval on his ass, but oh man, he was big. She wasn’t tiny by any standard, but her neck ached from looking up at him. On a good day she would barely reach the notch in his chin.

 

Today was not a good day, which did nothing for her terror levels. Her heart tripped about in her chest like she was having a coronary.

 

She should have stayed at Mary’s house, safe and sound and starving. How could she have missed him, even crouched down, rifling through the cupboard? Al of the effort to be hypervigilant on her few trips out into the world, and yet here she was, caught. She had to escape. Civilization was gone. Law and order a distant memory. Who knew what people would do now that the rules did not apply.

 

Apart from his size, the stranger seemed normal enough, if appearances counted. A head of dark hair with traces of gray, broad shoulders, and a mind jam-packed full of plans, apparently. The way he stared disturbed her. And his long, lean face inched lower and lower, as if he planned to kiss her.

 

Had he forgotten she had teeth? She hadn’t. He risked losing more than a nipple if he tried to kiss her.

 

Ali heard the moaning the same time the stranger did. His head snapped around as his big body tensed. The oversized paws dropped from her hair and hip, enabling her to make a dive for the shotgun.

 

All kinds of confidence rushed back into her once she had the weapon tight in her hands.

 

God, who to turn the gun on first, zombies or him? Her heart sped.

 

Ali had watched the world unravel through Mary’s front window, her own neighbors murdering and looting. Once law and order were gone, no one could be trusted. She’d crawled up into the attic and puled the ladder up after her, then stayed there a month after everything was silent, too scared to move.

 

A common enemy didn’t mean a thing. This man had done little to engender her trust. He might not have hurt her so far, but he showed no signs of letting her go, either. Asshole.

 

Meanwhile, the asshole was all business. One hand retrieved his pistol while the other reached for his pack and delved within. He emerged with a box of ammunition, which he proceeded to load, every move calm and efficient. The loony smile was long gone, just like she should be. It was better to be safe than sorry.

 

The shotgun felt good and heavy in her hands. Survival was everything. She could only trust herself for that. She had to be alone.

 

“Sounds like we’ve got a group of them,” the man reported, his big hands stil on the go, seemingly unconcerned about her gun. How could it not occur to him that she might be just as much of a threat as the infected? “They’re coming from the street out front. Go out the back door, I’ll be right behind you. Go.”

 

But she didn’t move a muscle, just stood there, overwhelmed, trying not to empty the slight contents of her stomach onto the kitchen floor. This house wasn’t secure. Escape meant going outside, where the infected were. The thought terrified her. Her mind became a mess of white noise. No choice, she had to go out there.

 

“What are you doing?” the man bellowed. “Run!”

 

Escape back to Mary’s house. Back through the rabbit hole and up into her safe place in the attic. All on her own.

 

He could follow but, being built akin to the proverbial brick shithouse, no way would he fit through the hole in the fence. His surviving this long told her he could obviously handle himself and deal with the infected on his own. He would be fine.

 

Ali ran like a rabbit, straight out the kitchen door and into the midday sun, her gun held before her in a grip that could choke.

 

It was safer alone. Alone was best. If her own neighbors had gone nuts then strangers certainly couldn’t be trusted. And this guy was the quintessential definition of strange. No need to feel guilt over leaving him. She didn’t even know him. So why were her feet faltering?

 

Why look back?

 

They were there, the infected, spilling around the sides of the house and into the suburban backyard, lurching forward in their fucked-up fashion. Far too close for comfort and far too many to fight. She broke out in a cold sweat. The tattered, bloody remains of clothing hung from their putrid flesh, rank in the summer air. No humanity left, walking nightmares. Hungry, yawning mouths stretched wide.

 

The acid burn of bile hit the back of her throat.