Do you believe in magic?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New fanfic idea...

Watching Peter Pan, and this lovely little blurb popped into my head...

Based on the Disney Peter Pan, after the bomb goes off, instead of walking the plank, Wendy and the boys do join up with Captain Hook, and they sail off. Years later, they return, and for the sake of lingering feelings, now grown-up Wendy goes to Hangman's Tree, where she wants to bid her last good-byes to Peter. However, when she gets back to the ship, Hook reveals that Peter was just there. She does all she can to see him again, and when she and Peter finally find each other, romance happens.

Will I ever write it? Prolly not, but it's in my head every time I watch it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mob dream

At first it started off with me cleaning a room, set in a big of those penthouse types. So I'm cleaning, and my boss walks in. He has a limp, and I know that it's because he was injured awhile ago due to a gang fight. He orders me to keep the other mob boss guys company, and I oblige. However, when I get out there, tensions are high, and soon they start firing guns at each other. I freak out, and my boss grabs me and hides me under the table. When the guys are done killing each other, boss pulls me out and brings me back into the room. He tells me to bring him tea as he sits on his chair. As I'm walking away, he grabs my hand, smiles at me, and I start to cry. When I enter the kitchen, I say to myself, "Dad smiled at me."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ghost story...I think I've finally got it!

Teresa (m.c.) invents a device that allows spirits to be seen by normal people. With the help of her ghost-friend, Sophie (also m.c.), they manage to "raise the dead", for lack of better term at the moment. Obviously she becomes the main target for terrorist threats, assassinations, religious activists...but what the two women didn't know is that their device also brought forth another entity, one non-human, non-ghost, but has a spirit like any of the others, and it also wants to kill her.

At the beginning of the story, it shows a boy, prolly around 10-15 years old, and he's watching TV, when the news comes on announcing the activation of the device - still needs a name..was going for Amber, but that's taking it off that game I played...well, I guess it's pretty much the same concept, now that I think about it; the Amber device allowed my player to see the ghosts and travel back and live their deaths through the ghosts. The boy is only slightly interested, but for lack of anything else on, he watches it - I'm leaning more toward 15 than 10 for his age. The moment Teresa pushes the activation button, he feels an electric current flow through him. He's stunned for a few seconds, unable to move his body, but fully conscious and aware of the changes of his surroundings. After the few seconds are up, his body is released, and he starts coughing, almost as if he hadn't been able to breathe for the last few seconds. On the TV, people are shouting, angrily, happily, frightened. A woman has appeared next to Teresa - Sophie - and the reporters and other observers start shouting angrily at Teresa and Sophie.

The boy stands up, looking around his living room. He's alone at this point - yeah, 15 - but he suddenly feels another presence. He's too afraid to go anywhere, but he slowly makes his way to the front door. Just before he reaches it, something grabs him and shoves him against the door. He looks around, but he can't see anything. He can hear a voice, however, which says something along the lines of, "I'm sorry to have to take your body", and then the boy is in pain, screaming. Suddenly, he stops screaming, and his eyes have turned bright red. Thus, the evil entity is born, and the kid is now dead.

I don't think I've ever killed off a character so quickly, but it had to happen. Sorry, kid.

Anyway, after taking over the boy's body, he revels in finally being in a body again; solid - the term is in my mind, but I can't conjure it at the moment, solid is all I can deal with right now. He hears the TV, and curiously he goes to see what it is. He sees Teresa hiding behind a few bigger guys, already having someone try to shoot her, and destroy the device. An announcer is heard, retelling of the happenings from a moment ago. The entity sees Sophie, and becomes enraged. He leaves the house, determined to be the one to destroy her.

That's it for the moment. Ah, I'm excited about this one. :D This one might actually have some potential! :D Now, if only I had the desire to start it, or...not desire, but...motivation! If I had the motivation to start it - and time! - then I'd totally do that! I might have to give Kinden, Magic, and Lights a break, though...Yeah, because I've been working double-time on those books. e_e

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I finally managed to update Magic. ^_^; Took me awhile, and I wrote most of it at school....Ah well, at least it was updated and somewhat finished. I managed to cover my ass and made it a story where I didn't have to worry about the actual storyline at all. As long as I throw in Natsu/Gray, it counts, right?

So, BF is gone. Left to Kentucky to try to make our lives better while I stay here and go to school. It's not that bad. I'm enjoying the freedom of staying at my mom's Monday-Thursday.

I was just commenting at Jcafe that I was lucky he left some of his shirts...which I am!...but then I started to feel sad that he didn't leave his jersey home. I mean, he left his Chargers' jerseys, but they're all of people who don't even play for the Chargers anymore. I mean, the Chargers community kinda looks down on Tomlinson now, don't they? And Cromartie is doing amazing as a Viking...Hm...not quite sure about Merriman. I really need to pay more attention to football. Ah well...they won this weekend so...that's good. n.n;;

I do, however, want a Rivers jersey. *___* That would be amazing. And I'd get to wear it all the time without worrying about getting jumped! :-D

Anywho, I have to get to school I throw in a "laters"? Nah, I'm just going to leave without saying anything.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oh damn...

My computer is running super slowly, which is bad considering I actually need it now for all the fun stuff I have to type up for school. I've decided to reset it back to factory settings (is what the computer calls it?). I've had to upload all my stories to something so I wouldn't lose them, so I thought, 'Hey! I have a blog I can do that to. It's not like anyone reads it, anyway." ;D

I am a little conflicted about resetting my computer, though. I'm going to lose all my music, pictures, files, everything! Can't begin to express how depressing that sounds. I've already gone through my picture file and gave a heartwarming, tear-filled good bye and promised to look them up again when everything is done.

I'm also losing all my bookmarks from google, but I only look at about 4 of them. I've been thinking of writing everything down and then finding them again after I re-upload Chrome.

Aye aye, I was planning on doing homework today, too, but I've barely touched my books. Heh. >_> It'll all be done by the time I have to turn it in, but I wanted to at least lessen the load a bit.

angel cure

I gripped the steering wheel as I pressed the gas pedal to the floor. I smiled as the engine revved, and the hood of the bright red Toyota truck pounded through another mindless being. I had to brake only a little as the truck started to lose control, but I knew enough about driving to get back into control, and continue at a steady speed down the abandoned highway. I groaned a bit at the annoyance of the blood and guts splattered on the windshield, and with no cleaning fluid, the wipers just smeared the blood, blocking my view.

Continuing at forty miles per hour, I rolled down the window to see where I was headed. Just my luck, I was about a few miles out of the nearest town. I would be able to change vehicles, or find a gas station. I was really hoping I could find a working gas station, and not have to worry about a different car. I really loved this truck I found on the side of the road. Not only did it provide protection against the mindless zombies running around, but I also had had a liking of trucks since I was a kid when my dad brought home the new family vehicle.

I couldn’t remember what make or model of the truck was, since the day after my dad brought it home, the old man decided to take a joy ride, speeding the truck around a bend, and rolling it over the side of a mountain. I was told my dad was trying to avoid a deer, or some people told me some idiot was passing in a no passing lane and my dad was trying to avoid that, but I knew how much my dad loved showing off. I wasn’t sure if there was anyone else in the truck, or a cute woman in the car next to him, but I was certain that that was what he was doing. Not that I could blame my father. If I had a truck like that, I would want to show it off, too.

The first signs of the town started showing, and I slowed to a reasonable speed so I could keep a look out for a gas station or another truck. In this day and age, a truck was almost a necessity; for both the traveling survivors and the stay-put survivors, assuming there were any of them left. No one knew where the disease came from, or how it started, but it was there, and it was kill or die to survive. One could never trust another human being anymore. Everyone was on edge now - again, assuming there were people out there to be on edge other than myself.

I was a traveling survivor, never in one place for too long. Of course I had to find a safe place to sleep during the night, but never for too long. Since leaving my home three months ago, I allowed myself a total of four hours of sleep at night. Sleep was a luxury no one could afford these days. Before this little town, I had come from a little human safe house. Upon arriving, I was astonished that anyone in their right mind would stay in one place in such a large city, previously known as New Orleans.

I had visited the city once many years ago with my wife, and we were only a few sane nerves away from spontaneously buying a home there. We both loved the attitude, the smells, the feeling the city brought to us. After leaving home, I had driven there to see how much of it had changed. There was nothing to remind me of the beautiful, upbeat city that I fell in love with such a short time ago. It looked like a ghost town. Everywhere the shadows reminded me of the evil that lurked in the world. I was lucky enough to not come upon any zombies, but I had found the little boy.

He was small, no more than seven or eight years old. He was extremely malnourished, and he looked no better than the monsters who were stalking him that day. He led me to the safe house, and I might have stayed to help them out. There was hardly any food, for few of the inhabitants were brave enough to step a foot outside the home. I was only there an hour before the first sign of trouble started. Everyone in the home started panicking. I couldn’t understand why no one took up a gun, or anything, to fight them off. I managed to save myself and the little boy, but everyone else was doomed, trapped in their little oasis. As the two of us ran off, the boy became tired, and tripped, just as the monster who had followed us descended upon him. I wasted no time in killing them both.

My heart turned to stone that day, as I stared into the frightened eyes of the boy and pulled the trigger. Never again, I had vowed, would I put myself in that situation. It happened twice too many, and I couldn’t bare to have to go through with it a third time. Three strikes and I’m out.

From New Orleans, I grabbed the first durable looking truck I could find, and drove, not caring where I was headed. I hardly ever stopped, except to forage food from a convenient store, or to siphon gas into my truck. I had never siphoned gas before, and was only vaguely aware of how to do it. I found a brand new looking sports car, and was glad to find that it had nearly a full tank of gas. I grabbed the plastic tube I found in a gas station, brought the tube to my lips, and sucked in until the gas flowed. I hadn’t stopped in time, and ended up with a mouthful of gasoline. The taste was nothing like I had ever imagined, and I couldn’t hold in the bile that rose in my throat.

Thankfully, I had gotten better at it, but I only siphoned in desperate times. It wasn’t difficult to manipulate gas pumps, but sometimes they wouldn’t work. I was hoping the gas station in this town did work, for I was not looking forward to sucking up gasoline again. At least, not without a dozen bottles of water.

I drove on, still not having come up to a gas station, and I was becoming uneasy. I really didn’t want to switch vehicles, for hardly any of the cars or trucks looked like they would be working. Besides, none of them were up to standard with my current truck. I was coming upon the first little store of the town, and hoped there would be something nearby. I pulled my head back in the truck and adjusted myself. Driving with my head out the window for such a long time was putting a strain on my back. I wasn’t as young as I used to be, though I was pretty fit for my age.

I had just turned thirty not too long ago, and the milestone wasn’t a happy one. In fact, it was the worst birthday I had ever experienced. I sighed and ran a hand through my hair as the memories came flooding back. I cleared my throat, not wanting to bring the painful memories to light at the moment, not trusting whether or not I could keep my composure. No one was around to witness my brief moment of weakness, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t embarrassed about crying about the past.

As I put my head out the window again, a woman ran in the path of my truck, waving her arms and shouting at me to stop. I slammed on the brakes before I hit her. It figured that, just as I was thinking of the past, this woman appeared, looking almost exactly like my wife. I gripped the steering wheel as she walked up to the truck, constantly looking around. She held a large blade in her hand, gripped it as tightly as I was gripping the steering wheel. She looked a few years younger than me, but that didn’t mean anything. Her hair was tied back in a high ponytail, and she looked like she had better days. Hell, all of us had had better days. I was sure I looked like a mess as well.

She wore suit, which probably wasn’t the best dress to go around fighting off zombies, but I didn’t think she cared. She had on a bandolier - a belt around her shoulder and crossing in front of her chest; my grandfather had shown me pictures of himself and his friends wearing them back in the Vietnam War. How silly all that heartbreaking history seemed to be now.

The woman looked like the office version of Lara Croft - another brief moment of sadness as I remembered the world no longer had Angelina Jolie. There was an abundance of different weapons on the bandolier, in addition to the huge machete she held. She looked like she was ready for war. Strictly speaking, we were already in one.

She approached the window, still looking around, never settling on my face for more than a moment.

“There’s nothing here,” she said quickly. It was then she looked at me, and my breath caught in my throat. It could have just been me, but she looked like the mirror image of my wife. “Can I come with you? Just until the next town so I can get my own car?” She resumed looking around.

I looked around as well, not seeing anyone else around, and nodded to her. She hadn’t seen me nod, so I told her to hurry up and jump in the truck. She smiled at me for a brief moment, and moved around the from of the truck. Just as she came to the passenger side of the door, something hit her, and she and the monster went falling to the ground. Instinctively I jumped out of the truck, grabbing my sawed off shotgun, and ran around to the other side of the truck, prepared to shoot them both.

When I got there, she was on top of the rabid being, chopping away with the machete on its skull. It was obviously dead, but she continued to slice away. I shouted at her to stop, but she wouldn’t listen. Instead, with each strike, she said something about not being taken away like the rest of them. I moved behind her, careful not to get in striking distance of the machete, and using her body to block the mess of blood and other things that flew up as she wretched her blade from the monster‘s head. She was obviously troubled, and I wondered if allowing her to travel with me was a smart idea. I waited until she brought the machete down on the dead monster, and put my arms around her, picking her up off the dead zombie. She kicked and screamed, ordering me to let her go, but I wouldn’t. I opened the truck and shoved her in, slamming the door on her. Once she was inside, she seemed to calm down, staring ahead of her through the bloodstained windshield, silently crying.

I looked down at the zombie, who was dead beyond recognition, and hurried to my side of the truck. Someone had to have heard her little outburst, and I wasn’t going to chance more of the dead guy’s buddies showing up to finish what he started.

I drove off, ordering the woman to put her machete in the backseat. She complied, but her hands were soon occupied by a small pistol. I knew better than to tell her to put the gun away too, for if someone forced me to part with my guns, I’d take no time in shooting them, whether they were zombie or not; though I would feel more compassionate if I had to shoot a human being just because they told me to put my gun down.

I drove out of the town, wishing I had something to wipe the blood off my windshield, but a sign a few feet out of town assured me there would be another town coming up in thirty miles. I was good on gas until then, but I had to fill up there.

“Do you have anything to eat?”

I looked at her, and she stared at me, her face tearstained and dirty. I nodded and opened the glove compartment where I had stored some donuts I had found a few days ago.

“Not exactly fresh, but they’re still good.” I watched as she opened the package and stuffed the first powdered donut in her mouth. She obviously hadn’t eaten in awhile, and I waited until she finished that first donut to talk to her. “Are you okay?”

She laughed. “Is anyone okay anymore?”

“I guess not. But are you hurt at all?”

She looked at me, and knew I meant if she had been bitten. She sighed and took a smaller bite of the second donut.

“I’m fine. Thank you, by the way.” She held up the donuts and gave me a small smile. Now that she was there, and I could see her clearly, she looked younger than I had originally thought. Her voice was small and shaky. She wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand, but that just smeared more dirt on her face. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t come by just then.”

“No problem.”

“How can you see through this shit?” She moved around, probably trying to find the best possible vision spot out of the windshield.

“There’s just enough of a clearing right here, otherwise I have to stick my head out the window.”

“That explains why you were doing just that when I saw you.” She smiled at me, and it was a wonder she could smile at all. I couldn’t return her smile, having lost the ability to long ago. “I’m sincere. I only need a ride to the next town. I have somewhere I want to be, and I don’t think you want to tag along.”

“You have family or someone?”

“No, nothing like that. I gave up on the thought of my family being alive a long time ago. I actually have a list of things to do before I die. Yeah, I’m one of those people.”

“What people?”

“I know I’m not going to get out of this mess alive, whether it gets under control or not. So, I made a bucket list, so to speak. Seemed a good a time as any. No money to worry about. No jobs to worry about. Just go and do it, Nicky.”

“Who’s Nicky?”

“I am.” She smiled again and held her hand to me. “I’m Nicole. Pleased to meet you.”

I was a little taken aback by this woman. She talked like nothing was going on around her, though she knew it was. She was able to smile with such ease, and it actually looked sincere. My first thoughts were, What is wrong with this woman? I had a feeling she was either crazy or sadistic. Either way, I reached over and shook her hand.


“How you doing, Josh?” She ate another donut, and from her silence, I was aware that she actually expected me to answer. I wasn’t much of a talker nowadays, and, honestly, I didn’t get this woman. She looked terrified, and yet she talked with such ease. I didn’t want to get too close to anyone, so I kept my silence. If she wanted to keep talking, then I’d let her be, but I didn’t want to tell her anything about me, so when I dropped her off in the next town, it wouldn’t be difficult. Life was much more difficult when you had ties to people these days, and I strived to keep it from being that way.

She must have figured I wasn’t going to say anything, so she continued talking. I had tuned her out by then, not caring enough to learn anything about her. After about five minutes, I looked over at her, and was surprised to find her sleeping. She looked just like a child, maybe no more than eighteen, which was odd, because she was dressed as a business executive, and when she was awake, she looked older than eighteen. Of course, that was the effects of sleep wasn’t it? When someone slept, their faces were so peaceful, an eighty year old man looked thirty years younger.

I was thankful for the silence. It wasn’t that comfortable silence I was used to, knowing there was another human being in the truck with me. The silence was heavy, and I could only faintly hear her breathing. I sighed and shook my head. It was a mistake, taking her with me. One never realizes how desperate for human contact they are until they actually come in contact with another human being.

I drove into the next town, and didn’t stop until I came upon a gas station. Before stepping out of the truck, I grabbed my shotgun, and surveyed my surroundings, or what I could from the driver’s seat. Slowly, carefully, I opened the door and continued to look around. The silence was eerie, and I was on my toes as I quietly walked around the truck to the side with the gas tank. So far, nothing was around. If there was a zombie nearby, it would have heard my truck and come to investigate. Zombies may have been blood thirsty carnivores, but they at least knew that when they heard a sound, it could mean anything. There was no one around, and, even if I stood completely still, I wasn’t able to hear the discerning sound of a garbling monster, heaving as it ran about. Nothing was around.

Satisfied, I slung the gun over my shoulder, and did all the necessary actions to open the gas tank, and placed the pump inside. From my back pocket, I pulled out one of the many credit cards I had collected over the last few months. There were words moving across the screen of the pump, telling me to insert my card or pay with cash inside, so I knew this pump worked; it was just a matter of if the pump would take the card without me pushing a PIN code. Some pumps didn’t take credit cards, and I had to go inside. Luckily for me, this pump wasn’t one of those, and I was able to fill my tank.

When the pump clicked, signaling my tank was full, I swung my gun back into position, and surveyed my surroundings again. Just because there were no zombies before didn’t mean one or two couldn’t walk by at that moment. Still nothing. I placed the gun back around my shoulders and put the pump back. I needed to go into the gas station for provisions, and I wanted that girl gone while I did this. I opened the door and she jumped awake, aiming a gun at me, the barrel a few inches from my face. I stood frozen, reprimanding myself that I should have taken more care in waking her. Of course she would be on edge. Wasn’t everyone?

She seemed to remember who I was, and put the gun back in her lap, muttering an apology.

“Don’t be,” I said, keeping my eyes on the gun in her lap. “We’re at the next town. Time for us to part. Good luck with your bucket list, and I hope you’re able to stay alive for longer than a day.” It was just an honest parting wish, but she must have taken it other than what I meant. She glared at me as she reached behind her to grab her machete and unbuckled her seatbelt.

She jumped down without warning, and I had to quickly move away or else she would have jumped on me. Without a goodbye, or a passing glance, she walked away. She could have said “Fuck you,” and I wouldn’t have cared. As long as she was gone, and I was able to get back to being alone again.

I watched her walk across the street to a small red car, and satisfied that she wasn’t going to come back, I made my way to the gas station store. I surveyed the windows, looking to see if there wasn’t anyone in sight. There wasn’t. Slowly, I opened the door, waiting for a bell to ring, or anything to indicate that I had entered. With my gun propped on my shoulder, I took aim wherever I looked. It was silent inside the store as well, but the smell of rotting food and other things wafted through the air. It took all the self control I had not to vomit up whatever I had in my stomach at the time.

I cautiously made my way to the car provisions, picking up a tote bag on my way, intending on taking every oil bottle and a gallon of windshield fluid. As I quickly shoved the oil in the bag, I kept my eyes on my surroundings. There was a sudden banging noise, and I jumped, turning behind me and shooting. Shoot first, ask later. That was the way of life. I hadn’t shot anything. Looking down I realized I had dropped an oil bottle. Swearing under my breath, I moved down to the wiper fluid. I picked up the bottle, put it in the bag, and was about to make my way to the exit when another bang sounded behind me again. I turned, thinking I knocked something over, and, again, nothing was behind me.

Looking down, I saw that there was the oil bottle I had dropped, but the other thing that must have dropped was far away from where I stood. No way could I have accidentally knocked it over. I dropped the bag and held my gun with both hands, turning in a full circle, but not seeing anything. Then, I heard it…

Before I could react to the sigh from above me, something dropped onto me, and I turned around as fast as I could so I wasn’t pushed to my stomach. I fought with the zombie on top of me. She grabbed my gun, trying with all her might to wrench it from my grasp. I was always in wonder at the sudden strength these monsters seemed to procure upon becoming infected. I jerked the butt of my gun to the side, making her fall to the side. I made to shoot her, but she knocked the gun out of the way, and I felt the gun jerk and shoot again.

She grabbed my head, pulling me toward her, but I held my arm under her neck, keeping her from biting me. Suddenly her head jerked, and I saw a soda bottle fly over us. The zombie looked behind her, and suddenly her head exploded. I was too late to block my face, but I closed my eyes and mouth in time so no gore fell into them. The body fell lifeless on me. I pushed the deadweight off me, sitting up. Without hesitation, I grabbed my gun and pointed it at whoever caught the zombie’s attention. I had to blink a few times for blood and other clumpy things fell off my forehead and hair, and into my sight. I breathed heavily since the fight had taken so much out of me, but I held the gun’s barrel facing Nicole. She, too, still held her gun facing me.

“You okay?” she finally asked after a few seconds of us staring at each other with our guns pointed at one another. She lowered her gun first, but not without a quick glance around the store. “I heard that first gun fire and thought you were in trouble. Looks like I came just in time. You’re welcome by the way.” She looked at me and smiled again.

I put down my gun, and stood up without saying a word to her. I kicked the dead zombie’s body away from me, wiping my face with my hand. She walked up to me and handed me a towel that she must have grabbed from one of the shelves. I took it and wiped my face as she bent down to pick up the bag.

“Who knew they can hide on the ceilings?” She looked up as I tried to wipe the gore out of my hair. “Right about now would be a good time to shower, I take it?” I glanced at her, and nodded slightly. She was satisfied with my nod, and she surveyed the merchandise on the shelves around us. “There was too long a period of peace, it seemed almost unnatural for one of them not to show up.”

She smiled and handed me two bottles. I looked down at them and saw they were shampoo and conditioner. I shook my head and put the bottles back.

“I don’t have time to clean up,” I said. I grabbed the bag from her and pushed passed her, intent on getting out of there as soon as possible. The dead body was starting to stink worse than when I entered the store. I walked to my truck, fully aware that she was following me.

“I checked all the cars around here,” she was saying. “It seems whoever owned them before made sure to wreck them before they died so no one else can drive them. Ungrateful bastards.” She said the last part slowly, and I had a feeling she was saying it towards me. I hadn’t thanked her for saving me, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

“Thanks,” I finally said, glancing behind my shoulder to her as I pushed up the hood of the truck.

“Don’t mention it,” she said, a hint of a smile in her voice. She nudged me and I had to grab onto the truck and look her. She was starting to test my nerves, and seeing her standing there, a huge smile on her face, bugged me more than her presence.

“Is there something else?” I finally asked her, turning back to my truck.

“You got anywhere important to be?”

“Not that I can think of,” I said as I started pouring the oil in the oil tank. “And before you ask, the answer is no.”

“Why not? I need a ride, you need a companion.”

“I do not need a companion. I’m doing perfectly fine on my own.” I tossed the empty oil bottle behind me and opened another, resuming filling the tank. I was vaguely aware of her walking behind me.

“Just because the whole world has gone to Hell doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take less care of it.” She was next to me again, holding the empty oil bottle. I sighed and put the current empty oil bottle down.

“What do you want now? I’m not taking you with me.”

She opened the windshield wiper fluid and started filling up that tank, having to stand very close to me. I scooted away from her, and we both filled the truck up with liquids in silence. When we were both done, she took the empty bottles and threw them in the trash. I took that moment to hurriedly jump into the driver’s side of the truck and turned it on. The truck had an instant locking mechanism so that when I started the truck it automatically locked. Unfortunately, she managed to jump in the truck before this happened. I sighed and glared at her smiling face.

“Please, can you take me to the ocean?” she finally asked after a few minutes of staring at each other.

“No,” I said as I turned back to the windshield and pushed the button to release the fluid. It took a few moments, but the glass was showered in blue fluid.

“Please? You’re obviously not going anywhere specific. Why not actually drive to a destination? I can help. At night, if you need to sleep, I can drive. Besides, I think I just proved that we needed each other back in that store.”

“That was just a lucky shot. They won’t get me like that again.” I was pleased to finally see the windshield clean. I turned to her. “What was wrong with that car over there?” I pointed to the first car she had walked to.

“No steering wheel.”

“And that one?” I nodded to a blue Subaru down the street.

“The engine blew up. You can’t see the front of it from here, but the whole front of it is gone.” She turned fully in the seat, facing me. “Why won’t let me come with you?”

“I can’t handle getting too close to anyone.” I closed my mouth tightly then, looking away from her. I couldn’t believe I just told her that. Could it have been her outgoing personality? Either way, I wanted her out of my truck, and out of my life. Honestly, she reminded me too much of my wife for me to be comfortable with her as a passenger.

“Please? Just take me to the ocean, and then you can dump me off, and we can part ways there.”

I sighed. There was no way I could get her out of my truck without killing her. I wouldn’t be able to kill her unless she attacked me first, I knew this. There was obviously nothing I could say that could persuade her to get out of the truck without revealing my private thoughts, unless I was facing death. There was no way she was going to find out that I couldn’t be with her because she reminded me of my wife. Everything about her was the same. Her eyes, her hair, her age, her personality; everything except for a bulge in her stomach that represented life growing inside her.

Sighing, I put the truck in drive, and drove out of the station. She was content with my silence as I drove, and she sat back and watched everything pass by from the window on her side. I knew then, as I accelerated out of the town, that she was going to be the death of me. Maybe it was about time? She was right about one thing; none of us were going to get out of this mess alive, but be damned if I died by a zombie.

Chapter 2

It was her turn to drive, but she obviously had no intention on leaving this town any time soon. We had managed to fill the gas tank without trouble, like last time, and, after driving nonstop for fourteen hours, I was willing to let her drive. As she slowly drove about the town, I was starting to regret my decision for letting her drive, but she really wanted to get to the ocean, and I really needed sleep.

She turned off the main street before I finally voiced my objections.

“What are you doing? Can we please just get out of here?”

“I’m hungry, and, I’m sorry, but I can’t eat another powdered donut.”

“Then you should have grabbed something when we stopped.”

“Hey, I’m driving now, so shush.”

She maneuvered the truck around the streets like she had been to this town before. Maybe she had, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get back on the main road and out of that little town. At any moment my truck could be overrun by zombies, but she was adamant about finding a place to eat.

“What do you expect to find?” I finally asked after about five minutes. “A five-star restaurant with top notch customer service?”

“Wouldn’t that amazing? To think about a place like that still open.”

“There are places like that still open. In fact, I can name the house special of every one. Know what that is? Human. So can we please get back on the main road?”

“God, for someone who doesn’t talk very much, you sure do complain a lot. Here we go!” She pulled into a parking lot connected to a fifties looking diner. “I want to get a good spot before the lunch rush comes in.” She smiled at me as she parked next to the front door sideways on the parking spots. “Think we’ll get in trouble for parking in the handicap zone?” She turned off the engine and got out, but not without looking around.

I sighed and got out as well, my shotgun held firmly in my grasp. There was no movement anywhere as we cautiously made our way into the diner. I didn’t know what she expected to find in that place, and there was probably nothing there that hasn’t already gone bad. If she expected to find hamburgers or wine, she was going to be sorely disappointed.

We split up and investigated the diner. I had the large dining room and the bathrooms while she inspected the kitchen. When I was satisfied there was nothing in the building, I joined her in the kitchen. She was standing by a stove, frying something. As I came closer, I saw her making pancakes.

“What the hell?”

“Pancake mix doesn’t go bad, Mr. Know-It-All.” She smiled at me as she flipped the perfectly round cakes.

“How did you know this place used mix and didn’t make their pancakes from scratch?” I looked around, and saw the freezer was wide open. I wasn’t going to chance going anywhere near that place in case there was something incredibly rotten and smelly.

“I didn’t. I was actually hoping beyond hope, but there it was in the pantry. Thank you, cheap restaurant owners.” We stood in the kitchen, she cooking while I was looking out for any intrusion.

For ten minutes she cooked quietly, and I stood with my gun pointed in the direction of the exits, switching between the doors leading to the dining room, the little window for the food passed to the dining room, and the back exit that, normally, couldn’t be open without a key, but better safe than sorry. She was finally done, grabbing a few plates, and we walked into the dining room. She picked a booth next to the window, and she set up the plates, giving each of us five pancakes. I sat down as she walked to a broken fridge next to the cash register, and grabbed two bottles water.

“I wouldn’t trust the syrup, and one can never go wrong with water.” She sat down and held up her water bottle. “To Josh. Just because he has a stick up his ass, doesn’t mean he can’t be charming some times.”

I held up my water bottle and we drank and began eating. The pancakes tasted better than anything I had eaten in a long time, even without the syrup that I, such a short time ago, was not able to live without. The pancakes were such a welcome change from the crackers, or stale donuts, those cup of noodle things, and a plethora of canned goods that I was used to eating. Sometimes I would get lucky in finding meaty beef stew that hadn’t expired yet, but mostly it was chicken noodle soup, tomato soup, or cream of something or other.

 I closed my eyes, savoring the cakey texture, and I could almost taste the sweetness of the syrup my wife used to make. I could see her in our kitchen, mixing the syrup in a small pot, just like her mother had taught her back in her hometown in Maine. She would be wearing her apron my mother had gotten her for a wedding gift. The apron was pink, my wife’s favorite color, with black frilly lace on the edges. She hardly ever wore the apron, but when she did, she was immediately happier than her mood before. She could be in plate-throwing mood, but as soon as she put on that apron to cook, she was all smiles.

Once the syrup was done, she would carefully pour the sticky, thick liquid into a fancy, little jug she received from her mother for the homemade syrup. She would then put the jug in the fridge until she was finished with the pancakes. She always made pancakes from scratch, and I had never tasted anything better. She would always throw in a little something to add to the flavor. Blueberries, chocolate chips, walnuts, apples; anything we had left over from something else, and they all tasted heavenly.

“You’re smiling. I didn’t know you were capable of something so simple.”

I opened my eyes and found I was back in the diner in the present day, sitting across from that woman I had picked up and, unwillingly, agreed to drive her to the ocean. She had finished her pancakes, and sat smiling at me.

“It’s gone now, but it was there. What were you thinking about?”

I shook my head and looked back down to the unfinished pancakes, suddenly losing my appetite. I placed the fork down and leaned back in the booth seat.

“It must have been something special.” I glanced up at her, suddenly annoyed with her prying nature. She looked out of the window, and sighed. She suddenly looked much older in the dim light, her expression turning to something along the lines of sadness, but her lips were still upturned slightly.

“How do you do it?” I finally asked. She looked back at me, confused by what I meant. “Smile. How can you constantly smile like that?”

“By remembering that I’m alive, and remembering what I’m doing here.”

“Eating pancakes with a man you just met in the most dangerous, depressing atmosphere known to man?”

She laughed, and I was taken aback by the sound. She had smiled so much, but I didn’t know she could still laugh. Maybe I had been smiling thinking about my wife, but I was sure it was nothing more than something small, and nowhere near laughing. Could I laugh anymore?

“It’s actually the reason I’m going to the ocean. I am looking for someone, but I’ve never met him before, and I don’t think I would know him once I saw him.”

“Then how do you know he’s at the ocean?”

She sighed and looked down at her hands, which were playing with a napkin. “The day the zombies came to my town was my first day as a surgeon.”

Immediately I knew she was going to tell me about herself, and I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to know who this lady was, where she came from, what she ate for breakfast, or even what her favorite color was. I didn’t want to get too familiar with her; it kept us from making the right decisions when our minds had to be clear. If we knew things about each other and became great friends, would we be able to pull the trigger if once of us became infected? Odds were against it, and I couldn’t take that chance.

I held up my hand.

“Please, I don’t want to hear about your past.”

“You asked.”

“I’m sorry I asked. I don’t want to know that badly. If you can smile and laugh, then more power to you, but I don’t want to know why.”

“Why not? What’s the worse that could happen?”

I was silent as I stared out the window, thinking what I had just been thinking. Getting to know people wasn’t what I was good at, even if my past life had forced me to get to know and like people, whether I wanted to or not. It was how I made money.

Money, what a joke now. Everyone had been so obsessed with money. Who’s to say this whole mess didn’t start by something that had to do with money? A botched experiment that didn’t have the necessary funding, or maybe someone didn’t have enough money to buy a good burger.

“I was a coward back then.”

I looked at her, and she was still intent on telling me her story. I had two choices now. I could sit and suffer through something that was probably romantic and sappy or boring. Or I could get up and leave her here and never have to see her again.

“You know, I did make you pancakes. You owe me a little something.”

“I’m letting you take my truck to the ocean.”

“Yeah, but that’s out of the goodness of your heart.” I snorted, which could have been interpreted as a laugh, and that’s just what she did. She ended up continuing, and, I listened, against my better judgment. This was going to turn to ruin, I could already see it. This was my third strike, and once this was over I was going to be out. Whatever that meant, I hadn’t yet found out.

“I took my boss’s car and drove,” she said. “It was the only car in the community that was fast enough to get out of that place. In fact, I didn’t think it was fast enough. It was modeled after a famous race car in Europe, and was designed to go two hundred miles an hour in thirty seconds, or something like that. I drove until it ran out of gas, just five miles out of some small hillbilly town that, apparently, only had three hundred residents. At least, that’s what the sign said. It didn’t look affected by what was happening in the world around it, but it was empty.

“I walked, finding no cars, trucks, busses, anything, until I finally came up to a large building. It looked like a hospital, which, by then, I was terrified of, having been recently attacked by a patient in my own hospital. But, there were cars in the parking lot, not to mention a few military vehicles. At first I thought, if anyone was in there, then they might not take any chances with me and just shoot me on sight. I probably would have welcomed that back then. It was obvious the world was going to Hell, and who knew how long someone like me would survive on her own. I couldn’t do it myself, so I decided to go into the hospital and have them do it for me.

“When I walked in the building, I was met with a man who held me at gunpoint, but he didn’t kill me. He asked the usual questions. I hadn’t been bitten, I wasn’t infected, and I was just looking for shelter for the time being. I wasn’t carrying any weapons, so he actually took his aim off me, and treated me like a normal human being who hadn’t just come from the world where people attack other people. He was friendly, nothing like what you’d expect a military man to be like in these days. I was still wearing my doctor’s coat, which I hadn’t bothered to take off, so he did it for me. As he held it, I saw all the blood on it, and fainted.” She blushed, and I realized she was humiliated about it, even now. Truthfully, from the day that I’ve known her, she didn’t seem like the type of woman to faint at the sight of blood. She was a surgeon, as she had mentioned before, and surgeons didn’t faint from blood. It was clear that she had fainted from something else, but the blood on the coat was the tipping point.

“When I woke up, I was in a large room, with beds on every side of me. I wondered where I was, and what kind of place I was in. There was a woman there, and she had been waiting for me to wake up. ‘Are you okay?’ she asked me. I had to take a minute to think about that one. Was I okay? Physically, I wasn’t harmed, and I was able to move and walk like it was any other day. Mentally, though, I was still tired. I was ready to lie down at die at that point, but, instead of telling her that, I told her I was okay. She introduced herself as Joann. She was so relieved that I had come along, and, at first, I thought because the man I had met earlier had told her that I was a doctor, but that was far from it. She was glad that I was a woman. ‘I won’t be the only one anymore,’ she said.

“She took me to a small lab, where she introduced me to two men. One of the men was the military man I had found upon my entering. His name was Sergeant Eric Pole. The other man was busy looking over something, and Joann didn’t bother to tell him that I had arrived. She said his name was Dr. Robert Penn. She made me stay by Eric as she went to interrupt Dr. Penn to let him know I had arrived. When he looked at me, it was as if he was looking at a brand new car, intent on buying it, but looking skeptical to let the car salesman think he might not so he could get an amazing deal. It was weird.

“He asked if I were a doctor, and I told him yes, that I had just started my residency. I didn’t tell them I was a surgeon, in case they wanted me to operate on a zombie. He looked like that kind of man, and what he told me next confirmed my thoughts.

“ ‘I’m trying to invent a cure,’ he said. ‘I’ve almost succeeded.’ He was so excited by this point that he grabbed me and pulled me into a room with a single bed with someone laying in it, hooked up to all kinds of monitors and IV’s, but he was alive. ‘He’s a zombie,’ Dr. Penn said. I was frightened. My first instinct was to run, as fast and as far away as I could. Eric caught me, and brought me back to the doctor and his zombie patient. I was terrified. These people were crazy! I didn’t want to be a part of whatever these people were doing.

“When I was brought back to the doctor, he explained to me that the zombie had had a successful brain transplant, and is the new owner of a fully functional human brain. ‘Whose brain did you extract?’ I wanted to know. ‘My son’s,’ Dr. Penn said.

“His son was my age, and was planning on becoming a surgeon as well. When the pandemic hit, he voluntarily let his father take his brain and place it in a zombie’s head, both of them thinking, if it was successful, then the zombie would have human thoughts, and not want to eat people anymore. When he told me this, I asked him if he planned on taking human brains from every living human left and put them in the zombies.

“ ‘Of course not,’ he said. ‘But just the fact that this has proved to be mostly successful has proved that it can be done.’ I was angry then. He took his son’s brain, his life, and put it in a zombie, just to have the zombie in a coma, and without any hope of waking up any time soon, if at all. I was angry, but I stayed. I agreed to help him, as long as he wasn’t planning on taking anyone else’s brains. He wasn’t going to, unless the zombie woke up with a full human awareness.

“For days, weeks, we worked on the anti-zombie cure. We didn’t seem to be making any progress. At least, that was what I had been led to believe. I was sleeping one night when Dr. Penn came in and woke me. ‘I’ve done it!’ he exclaimed. Without waiting for me to fully wake up, he pulled me up and dragged me all the way to his lab. Joann was sleeping in a chair, with Eric holding his gun pointed at her. ‘Look at her,’ he said. ‘She’s sleeping peacefully.’

“ ‘Dr. Penn, what’s going on?’ I asked. I was nervous. He seemed to have gone crazy at that point. I was suddenly terrified with Eric holding the gun aimed at my friend. Joann and I had become so close in those passed weeks, that, without thinking, I tried to grab the gun from Eric, making him stop pointing the gun at her. Dr. Penn grabbed me and held me, keeping me from stopping Eric aiming at her.

“ ‘Just look at her, Nicky!’ he exclaimed. ‘She’s been injected with the cure, and she’s sane!’ At first I didn’t know what he meant, and then it hit me. She had been infected, and he put the cure in her. I was angry again, like I was when he first introduced me to the comatose zombie. Had he infected my best friend on purpose? It seemed like something he’d do. He brought me into his office then, and handed me a box. ‘They’re coming,’ he said. ‘I don’t have enough for everyone. I want you take this box, and you and Eric go and hide on the roof until they leave. When you’re alone, read the note and do what it says. Don’t let Eric out of your sight. He’s the best man to keep with you right now.’ And then he hugged me. I was so surprised that I hugged him back. I didn’t know what else to do. ‘We did it,’ he whispered.

“Then Eric came in, he grabbed me and told me to hurry. We ran to the roof, and we stayed there for three days. Finally he was certain that enough zombies had left the hospital for us to make it down to the jeep without too much trouble. From there, we started our journey to the coast. On the note, Dr. Penn had instructed us to go find his colleague, who was living somewhere on the west coast. We traveled two days until we came upon some trouble. Eric didn’t make it, and two days after that, I found you.”

I was silent when she finished. A cure? Was that even possible? What type of man was Dr. Penn to take his living son’s brain and transplant it into a zombie’s head? I didn’t care if his son volunteered or not, it wasn’t right. No man in his right mind would take his son’s brain and put it in a zombie.

I didn’t believe what she told me. There was no curing this. And if there was, how could someone initiate it into a zombie without putting themselves in danger of getting infected in the process? Then when that happened, the newly infected zombie would attack the cured zombie, and they both would be zombies, so it seemed pointless to even try.

There was no way this lady was telling the truth, and another part of my past job was to know when someone was lying or not. Even though she suddenly looked sullen as she looked out the window again, I knew she couldn’t be telling the truth. That whole story was just something to tell me, a lie she made up to humor me in my desire not to know who she really was.

“Do you have the note?” I finally asked her. If she was telling the truth, then where was the box and the note? I tried to remember, and could have sworn she wasn’t carrying anything with her when she first got into my truck, other than her many weapons.

I could believe she was with a military man, which would explain how she knew how to use all those weapons, and where they came from. Maybe Eric Pole was real, but everything else was just a story.

“It was a private note,” she said, looking back at me. “I don’t think I’d be comfortable with you reading into my personal life that much.”

“Did you and Dr. Penn have a thing?”

She blushed and looked back out the window, and I suddenly began to doubt everything I had just concluded. No, Dr. Penn was probably real, but everything else was false. Maybe he wasn’t even a doctor at all, just some guy she met up with and they had a thing together for a short time.

“I just have to find his colleague on the coast, and then my task would be done.” She turned to me and smiled again. “So, tell me a little about yourself?”

“I don’t think so,” I said, shaking my head.

“Why not? I told you my bit, and now I want to learn a little something about the mysterious man who never smiles, except when he eats pancakes. That’s mysterious right there.”

“No. I have nothing to tell.”

She smiled and leaned back in her seat. “Well, I told you my story, which I probably shouldn’t have. I might have to kill you now, so you may as well tell me something before I do.”

I blinked at her, not sure if she was serious or not. Her smile had been wiped away, and I was becoming nervous. There it was, my third strike. I just didn’t think it was going to come so soon. I slowly moved my hand to grab my shotgun, which she saw and started laughing.

“I was just kidding. Don’t have to be so tense.”

I narrowed my eyes at her, confused by her. How could anyone be so happy as she was. Unless she was some crazy woman who liked how the world turned out. Was she one of those zombie apocalypse whacko’s who predicted this would happen? Was she gloating about her prediction? That had to be it. She was crazy, and I should probably get rid of her as soon as possible.

“Oh, look. Someone else wants to hear your story, too.” I blinked at her, but she was looking out the window.

I followed her gaze and found a zombie running to us. The mindless woman tripped over the hedge just before reaching the window, which for that I was thankful. Had she been coming at us at full speed she would have crashed through the window and we wouldn’t have had time to dodge the shattering of the glass. The zombie stood up and started pounding on the window, and Nicole and I had grabbed our weapons and were backing away from the window.

“Do you want this one or shall I take it?” she asked.

“I’ll get her. You go get the truck.”

She nodded and ran to the door, waiting for me take care of the zombie in front of me. I jumped behind the bar to shield me from flying glass, took aim, and shot. I had become a dead-on shot since this whole thing started, and the zombie’s head exploded, mixing with the shattering of the window. The gore and glass shards flew towards me, and I ducked behind the bar to keep out of the way of the shards.

Nicole had ran out of the restaurant by this time, and pulled the truck in front of the diner where I had just shot the zombie. I jumped over the bar counter, jumped through the now open window, and slid into the passenger seat.

She drove off, but the shot had alerted a few other zombies, who were now chasing after us. I crawled to the back seat and opened the little window to aim at the monsters chasing us. We could have easily just driven away, but I wanted to rid the world with as many of the bastards as I possibly could.

“Slow down,” I told her.

“What?” she shrieked. I leaned forward between the seats.

“Slow down, or you’re going to lose them.”

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. And you thought I was crazy?”

She slammed on the brakes, making me fall forward, nearly flying into the front seat again. “What the fuck are you doing?” I shouted as I sat back up and took aim at the three zombies running towards us.

“Shut the fuck up and shoot.” She picked up speed again, but only so much so we were still out of reach.

I aimed and shot, shooting the first zombie in the leg. It stumbled, taking it and the one behind it down into a rolling ball of zombie mess. The third one continued, having no capability to show compassion to its fallen comrades. I took aim, and pulled the trigger just as Nicole steered the truck sharply to the left. I fell over, the butt of the gun hitting me in my head.

“What are you doing?” I shouted as I sat up again, not bothering about the pain in the side of my face. I looked out the window and the zombie was still running after us, looking like the Olympic gold champion for long distance running. I aimed and shot the zombie, but only hit its chest. The impact still seemed to stun it, and it fell over, imitating its buddies just a few moments ago.

I crawled back into the front seat, finally taking notice of the throbbing headache emitting from the side of my head.

“The hell did you do that for?”

“The road made a turn, so, unless you wanted me to go off-roading at sixty, then I had to turn with the road. You okay?”

“I better be, or I’m going to fucking kill you.”

She laughed and I glared at her, which just seemed to make her laugh more. If I had to deal with this psychotic woman for any longer, I might just kill myself to save the zombies trouble of running to catch me.

“I have aspirin in my bag down by your feet.” She had stopped laughing by this point, but the humor was still there.

I groaned, bending down to grab a small brown pouch, not even big enough to be called a bag. Inside I found the bottle of aspirin easily, but the other contents were actually a little surprising to see in her bag. Maybe not a few months ago, when life was normal, but nowadays no one in their right mind would care about make-up or a hair brush. Well, then again, I wasn’t a woman, so I couldn’t really speak for her.

I chewed four of the aspirin, swallowed, and placed them back in the little pouch. Sighing, I closed my eyes, leaned my head back, and felt the spot where I hit myself. A small bump was already starting to form. I mumbled a curse, ignored Nicole’s questions of concern, and fell asleep.

Chapter 3

I was being shaken awake. I was so groggy, and I wondered how long I had been asleep. No way had I slept longer than four hours. I had slept for only four hours the passed three months, and my body was set on its own schedule now. I had never had to use an alarm clock for anything; I just woke up on my own.

Then it hit me…The aspirin. I had taken four of them by chewing them, of course I was sleepy. I looked at who had waken me up, and found that crazy woman smiling at me, but as I was waking up more, I noticed how much she had changed. Her hair was in the same ponytail, but she seemed fresher, cleaner. She had used the make-up in the little bag that I found, and she had changed her clothes. Where had she gotten clothes?

I jumped out of the truck, finally fully awake, and looked around at our surroundings. We were next to a large house, surrounded by trees. I turned in a full circle, and confirmed that we were surrounded by trees.

“Where are we?” I looked back at Nicole, but she was tossing duffle bags in the back seats.

“Go inside and wash your hair. You need to get all that shit out. You’re starting to stink beyond what I can deal with without making a fuss. I’ve found a change of clothes for you. Hurry up, we’re about nine hours away from Lincoln.”

“Lincoln, Nebraska?” That took me by surprise. We had been two days away from Kansas when I had fallen asleep. Had she driven that long? Had I really been asleep for that long? I hated not knowing things, and where we were, how long I had been out, and what she planned on doing when we finally got to the ocean and her man were things I probably really needed to know, not to mention wanted to know.

I stepped into the house before turning back to the truck. I had left my shotgun in the back seat, and, even though she probably already did a full sweep of the house and surrounding areas, I would still feel safer with a gun in my hands.

“What are you doing?” she asked me as I leaned in the truck, looking for my gun. “I want to get out of here in fifteen minutes.”

“First of all, I don’t go anywhere without my gun.” I found the gun and held it up, showing her to prove my point. “Second of all, how am I supposed to wash at all? There’s no running water.”

“There’s a well in the back. I heated up some water for the necessary washing only. There’s some shampoo and conditioner I found in the bathroom. Good stuff, too.” She grabbed her ponytail and held it up to my nose. Instinctively I jumped back, but not without getting a whiff of vanilla and some sort of floral aroma. If the shampoo would make my hair smell like that, I would rather go without washing.

She had a point though. I did need to wash to get the gore out of my hair from that sneak attack that zombie got on me from the ceiling. I took her advice, and went into the house.

“The water is in the kitchen to your left,” she called.

I looked in the nearest door to my left, and there was the kitchen with a large bucket of water on the counter. Cautiously, I walked into the kitchen, surveying all the little nooks and crannies that a zombie could hide. Though, why a zombie would be hiding once they knew we were in the vicinity was a mystery to me, and made little to no sense.

There was a pair of jean pants, and a dark red polo shirt sitting next to the bucket. The clothes didn’t look my size, but unless I planned on wearing my ruined clothes, then I could probably deal with wearing something a little small. They didn’t look that much smaller than my size, so I probably wouldn’t notice it that much.

On the other side of the bucket were two green bottles and a cup. Those must be the shampoo and conditioner. I sighed, grabbed the cup, put my head over the bucket, and started pouring water over my head.

It would figure that a woman would worry about hygiene in a time like this. I wasn’t really worried about grooming lately, though, at one point in time, I used to take three showers a day just to keep up appearances. I could hear my wife complaining about the water and gas bills that accompanied my long and frequent showers. I just bit my tongue and took the yelling. I wouldn’t be able to live knowing how much dirt and sweat I had procured during the day at the offices. She started to become suspicious about me coming home during lunch and jumping in the shower first thing. What kind of work was I doing in the office that had gotten me so dirty that I just had to shower during my lunch break?

I used to tease her, saying I had a hot date after lunch, but she would just shake her head and let me have my moment in the shower. A couple times, she even joined me.

As I lathered the shampoo in my hair, I couldn’t help smiling at the memories. My hair wasn’t long, but it was shaggy and hung around my ears. God, what I wouldn’t give to have a haircut. I rinsed out the shampoo, and I stood up, shaking water from my hair, remembering how much my wife hated when I did that. She knew, that when I was able to shake my hair and spray her with water, it was time for me to get a cut.

I skipped the conditioner, knowing that I couldn’t really benefit from silky, smooth hair, and undressed. It was a bit difficult, having just spent the last few minutes thinking of my wife joining me in the shower those many times. I tried to pull up the jeans, but I had a bit of an anatomy problem.

I took a minute to weigh my options. I could take care of it real quick, something that I hadn’t done in ages. Even before the zombies came to town it had been awhile since the wife and I had had sex. Besides, I didn’t want to risk Nicole coming in in the middle of me relieving myself.

My other option was to sit and think of things that could sway my erotic thoughts, and, hopefully, the problem would fix itself. Sighing, I decided on that one, and began thinking of anything that could get me out of the mood.

First thing that came to mind was the zombies. I remembered the woman at the window in the diner, and there were no sexual desires in that thought at all. It was working. Okay, next zombie…Those zombies falling over themselves when I shot the first one’s leg. Getting hit in the head by the butt of my gun when Nicole turned sharply.


She was attractive, I had to admit, but I couldn’t start thinking about her in that way, or I would never be able to pull my pants up. Too late. Unfortunately for me, I had already began to imagine her in scenarios that involved the both of us.

Her little temper when I yelled at her to brake the truck, the serious way she looked at the zombie in the diner…Hell, even the annoying laughter made my body react. It wasn’t annoying sounding in the least, I was just annoyed that she could laugh in these situations. I was serious when I said I’d kill her if I was hurt, but she laughed at me anyway.

Suddenly I felt calm. I remembered my head, and touched the area where I hit myself. The knot was still there, but it was smaller than when I had inspected it just a few minutes after receiving it. My body settled a bit at the remembrance of the bump on my head, and I was finally able to pull the jeans on, but it was still uncomfortable.

I walked out of the house, not bothering to shut the door behind me. Nicole was behind the wheel, but she would be moved in a matter of seconds. I didn’t want to risk falling asleep again. Besides, if she had been driving all this time, she might need to sleep herself, and driving while drowsy was no bueno, even nowadays.

I walked to the driver side and opened the door, waving my hand, motioning for her to get out.

“What took you so long?” she asked, a hint of smile playing on her lips. “You have any trouble? The clothes fit okay?”

I glared at her, suddenly worried that she might have seen my dilemma in there. No, she couldn’t have. She was just referring to the size of the clothes.

“I’m fine, but I’m driving.” I got into the seat and waited patiently for her to walk around the truck and hop in the passenger side.

She was wearing a large graphic t-shirt, decorated with Snoopy and Woodstock, and the shirt was easily three sizes too big. She wore a pair of jeans that was tight up around her thighs, and grew looser as they reached down to her feet. Once again, those thoughts I had of her in the kitchen came rushing back, causing a blush to grow on my cheeks. Clearing my throat, I put the truck in drive, and she instructed me away from the house and back on to the main road.

“So, are you going tell me your story now?” she asked after a few silent minutes of driving. I glanced at her and shook my head. “Why not?”

“It’s not important what I did before all this happened, and who I did it with. All you need to know is that I’m a guy, forced into giving you a ride to the ocean, and the only thing stopping me from killing you instead is because you’re human.”

“Be still my beating heart. I think I may be in love.” Again, I glanced at her, but she just smiled back at me.

“You know, you still haven’t explained why you smile so much. It creeps me out some times.”

“I did.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“I’m carrying the cure to the zombie gene. What’s not to smile about?”

“Really? That’s why you’re so happy all the time?”

“Why are you so grim all the time?”

“Because my new career involves killing monsters that were once as human as you or me. I’m sorry I don’t take joy in doing what I do, but it has to be done.”

“Well, when you say it like that, no wonder why you never smile. Killing zombies is a job to you, and jobs aren’t meant to be fun. That’s why they’re jobs. I have learned to look on the bright side of this new way of life. If you can’t enjoy it, even a little bit, then why do you survive?”

She had caught me off guard. I never really thought about why I chose to survive; it just happens. If I come face to face with something that wants to eat me, then I’m going to shoot it, plain and simple. I never stop to think, Why am I doing this? I see a crazed look in their eyes as they charge at me, and I shoot them into the Garden of Eden.

“I was a lawyer,” I finally said after about thirty miles of silence. I had decided to tell her why I was always so grim. Life wasn’t a happy time, and if she failed to believe this, then I was going to convince her why I thought it was no smiling matter.

She tensed up and looked at me. By a quick glance, I could see a faint smile. She probably wanted to make a crack about me being a lawyer, but she was being smart in not saying it.

“Life was good. I had a wife, we lived in a big house, and had the best dog in the world. He was a birthday present for my wife. He was a German Shepherd\Rottweiler mix, but he was the sweetest, and calmest dog ever. He could also be the most vicious when it came to people he sensed were dangerous. My wife, Lisa, she was eight months pregnant when the public was finally aware of what was going on.” My voice cracked when I mentioned her name. I hadn’t spoken, thought, or even heard that name since then, and it was hard for me to tell it to this other woman whom, just awhile ago, I imagined having sex with. The woman in question was sitting in the seat, her full attention on me, and no doubt she noticed the break when I mentioned Lisa’s name.

I took a deep breath and continued.

“We were lucky where we were. Our house was in solitude, like the one we just came from. We were going to have a home birth, which would save time on driving to the hospital. Funny how something that seemed so important back then sounds ludicrous now.”

“Was she pretty?” I looked at Nicole, and she still held that annoying small smile, but her eyes told me she was interested in my story, and wanted to steer me away from any painful thoughts.

“She was beautiful. The most beautiful woman in the world. I often found myself wondering why she chose me. When we got married, we were both unemployed, no futures between us. We were dirt poor. Finally I kicked my ass in gear and went to school, studied law, and became a lawyer, one of the best, if not the best, in the county. She was a huge Beatles fan. In fact, the song we danced to was If I Fell, which some people seemed to think as an odd choice, but she liked it, and I was happy with whatever she chose.

“When the zombie epidemic hit our city, we took shelter in the basement, using those high tech video baby monitors to keep an eye on the world upstairs, in case we suddenly ran out of supplies that we could only get up top. The basement was built like a little apartment, and we planned on giving it to our baby when it became a teenager. No, we didn’t know the sex of the baby. She wanted to keep that a secret. To this day I still don’t know.

“Living in the basement seemed like a good idea at first, but being in each other’s company constantly in that little space raised tempers and emotions. It was my birthday when everything changed. She woke up early and put together a little birthday celebration for me. I was turning thirty, quite a milestone to her. I woke up, and when I saw the decorations, something snapped. We were barely surviving for our lives, and she decided to do something as childish as put up decorations. She had tired herself out, and that made me angrier. ‘Besides,’ I told her, ‘it’s not like anyone is going to remember what thirty is in a few months.’ She started the silent treatment then, and I locked myself in the bathroom.

“I was in the bathroom for two hours before I found a stash of marijuana I had forgotten about. We held a party a year before, and me and some of my friends were in the basement, complaining about life, our wives, kids, and whatnot, and one of my friends had brought it over. I yelled at him. How dare he bring that shit into my home? I stowed it away in the bathroom. I would have flushed it down the toilet, but the plumbing hadn’t been working down there at the time.

“I made a makeshift joint using toilet paper, which burned faster than normal paper, so I smoked it, fast. Lisa had smelled it, which I should have known she would. It’s not exactly an easy stench to cover in such a small space as the basement. She pounded on the door until I opened it, not wanting her to go into an early labor from getting herself all excited. ‘How dare you smoke that shit while I’m carrying your baby!’ she shouted. Then, in retort to that, I said something that I regret to this day. ‘Why do you care? It’s not like the kid is going to grow up and live a healthy and happy life.’

“She slapped me, and stormed out of the basement, the dog following her. I stood there, watching her go, and it didn’t dawn on me that she was running into danger until I heard the dog barking. I grabbed the closest thing to me, I don’t even remember what it was, if I knew at all. I didn’t care, I just wanted to get to her before the worse should happen.

“When I got upstairs, the front door was open, and the dog was going ballistic outside. I ran as fast as I could, terrified that I already knew what had happened. When I got to the door, I saw her. She was being eaten from the stomach.” Again my voice cracked. I didn’t want to get into details about how I stood and watched the zombie eat my wife and unborn child. “I went crazy then, beating the zombie off her, and smashing his head until I couldn’t even tell it was a head anymore. When I turned back to my wife, she was already up, and she was eating our dog. Without thinking, I struck her, but didn’t beat her to a pulp like I did the zombie who attacked her. Then, as a precaution, did the same to the dog. Before I could take the time to grieve, I ran inside, grabbed my car keys, and took my car and drove away, never looking back.”

We were both silent then. I had done my crying for my wife and child, and I refused to cry anymore. There was no use crying over something that couldn’t be changed. It was like a blue-hater crying because the sky was blue. There was no changing the color of the sky, and there was no changing what had already happened. What I did to my wife was strike one to my heart. The events in New Orleans was strike two, and I had already determined Nicole was strike three.

I glanced at her, and was a little victorious that I had rendered her speechless. She was pale and staring out the windshield with her mouth open. Her eyes looked glassy, and I began to pray that she wouldn’t start crying.

I never prayed anymore. What was the point? As far as I saw it, I was going to Hell anyway, so it seemed a little superfluous to ask God for anything. Except, right in that moment, I really needed her to not cry. I could have been content with one of her annoying smiles or that even more annoying laugh.

She did the second worse thing she could have done in that moment, and that was to put a hand on my shoulder. I could already feel my emotional wall breaking, but I held on for dear life to the cement so I wouldn’t be washed away and break down in front of Nicole.

“I’m sorry about what happened,” she whispered. “But know this: I am carrying the cure, and we will be able to kill every one of those fuckers if you wish, because, even if they bit you, I promise, once you have the cure, you won’t become infected.”

“I’m not taking a damn cure. I’m going to kill them whether they bite me or not. Besides, isn’t the point of making a cure in the first place is to administer it to the infected? Either way, once you find your man, I’m going my own way again.”

“Do you want me to drive?”

“No. You need to sleep. I take it you haven’t slept since yesterday, so you might want to get some shut eye.”

“I really am sorry, Josh.” She leaned the chair back and turned away from me.

So, I spilled my sob story to her, now, hopefully, she would leave me alone about not smiling, or making fun of my grim appearance. One thing was for certain; I was no longer uncomfortable in my pants, and would be for a long time.
“Oh, pull over!”

I flinched, but did as she wanted. I had thought she was still asleep. I slowed down and parked on the dirt next to the road. She jumped out with lightning speed before I could turn the truck off. Trying to move so I could see what was so damn important that she had to have me pull over in the middle of nowhere, I heard her gagging, or what sounded like gagging. She must have gotten sick suddenly, and I jumped out walked to her side.

She was bended at the waist, staring at the ground, her hands on her knees. She looked frightened, but there was that stupid smile on her face, so I didn’t know what was going on. Glancing at the ground, I found chunks of white things smothered in some sort of liquid. Vomit always made me feel queasy, so I looked away quickly, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She started breathing heavily, and I thought she was going to puke again, so I left her and rummaged through the duffle bags she had packed, trying to find water. There were clothes, both men and women’s, food, toiletries, and, finally, bottles of water. I grabbed one, but kept my head in the truck until I could no longer hear her puking.

“Drink up.” I handed her the water bottle, and she gulped it down. “Slow down or you’ll puke again.”

She put the now half empty bottle down, and leaned against the truck, muttering curses, but still wearing that smile.

“Are you sick?”

“No, I would know if I’m sick. I’m fine, let’s go. I’m driving.” She walked around the truck to jump in the driver’s seat, and I followed suit, jumping in the passenger seat. “We’re in Montana, aren’t we?”

“I don’t know, I just drive west.”

“I want to go to Yellowstone.”


“Please? I’ve never been. I would like see Old Faithful, and the sights. Besides, I’m driving.”

“Old Faithful is a hole in the ground that shoots up water every thirty minutes. It’s not that spectacular.”

“Either way, it’s on my list.”

Oh right, she had mentioned a list of things she wanted to do before she died. I looked at her. She acted like a child, but she looked so much older. She had gone through school and became a surgeon. That, alone, had to take six or so years. If she had gone to school when she was eighteen, that would make her twenty-eight at least. Dear God, she was only two years younger than me, and she was still acting like she was twelve.

Lucky for her, there were still signs up, signaling where Yellowstone was, and in no time we were driving on the windy road towards the Old Faithful lodge. She slowed down incredibly while she drove, and I started to think she was getting carsick. Of course, we had been driving nonstop for the last few days, and she had never showed signs of being sick. Maybe it was the higher altitude?

Finally we pulled into the abandoned parking lot near the Old Faithful geyser. We surveyed the building and surrounding areas, and, content that nothing was going to kill us, we sat on one of the benches surrounding the geyser.

We sat in silence until the rumbling started. Nicole clapped and grabbed my arm, acting just like an eleven year old. Our seats were a fair distance away, but we still felt the ground shaking under our feet. The water spouted, just slightly, and I could feel her grip on my arm tighten. I was sure she was going to cut off the circulation if she held on any tighter, but the water shot up a hundred feet into the air, and she jumped up. I watched her, cheering and applauding, acting like a damn child again. Tears were brimming on the corners of her eyes.

Something was wrong with her, seriously, and I intended to find out what. I had a feeling it had to do with the wonderful Dr. Penn.
“I don’t know why you bothered with souvenirs. What’s the point?”

“Maybe I want to remember today.” She was looking through all the postcards we had grabbed from the Old Faithful souvenir shop, which I was against, but she was adamant about having something.

I had taken over driving. She had puked in the bathroom, and I didn’t want her to over exert herself. If she was sick, it would have been bad if she were to be driving and suddenly have the need to vomit. I would not have her vomiting in the truck, and I didn’t want her to be driving when she suddenly felt the need and ended up losing control of my truck, probably killing us both.

I had stopped any distractions, wanting to get to the ocean as soon as possible. She wanted to also see the Grand Canyon, but I refused. I gave her a brief description of a big hole in the ground that stretched hundreds of miles, but she was still set on seeing the canyon.

I wasn’t sure what state we were in, but I was headed west.

“Do you need me to pull over?”

“No, I’m fine.”

“I just want to make sure you don’t make a mess in my truck. I would have to kill you if I had to get a new truck because you puked.”

“You worry too much. I’m fine.”

“That’s what you said earlier, and you still puked. You were a doctor, right? Can’t you tell if something is wrong with your body? Maybe its trying to tell you something important, and by continuously saying ‘I’m fine,’ you’re ignoring what your body is telling you, and you’ll probably end up dead tomorrow.”


I slammed on the brakes, and, once I came to a full stop, I turned to her.

“Listen, I’m not suffering through your childish outlook on life just so you can drop dead because of a bug. If you know something, tell me.”

She was silent.

“I’m not driving until you tell me something.”

“I may be a little carsick.”

“But we’ve been driving nonstop for the passed few days, and only this morning did you show signs of carsickness.”

“It’s all the winding and the altitude mixing together, making my stomach queasy. It’s nothing, I promise. I understand if you don’t want to drive all the way to Grand Canyon, fine. But I need your help in getting to the ocean. Can you imagine me driving myself and getting car sick all time? I’ll never make it.” She smiled and leaned back. “You hungry?”

“Are you sure you should be thinking about food right now?” I started driving again, heading west. “Drink some water before you feel like you could eat something.”

“I’m fine, for now. I’m actually famished.”

She unbuckled and crawled to the backseat. I glanced at her, getting a full view of her ass in my face. Blushing, I turned sharply back to the road. I took a few deep breaths, trying not to get over excited again. She sat in the backseat and rummaged through the duffle bags. I cursed myself. I had just relived the memory of what happened to my wife, and I was still getting turned on by this childish surgeon who probably had cancer or something eating away on the insides of her body. I didn’t believe for a second that it was simple carsickness. We hadn’t been driving on windy roads when I first pulled over, so that bit was bull.

She put her arm next to my face, her hand holding a bag of crackers. “We might need to stop for more food somewhere.”

I grabbed the crackers and, after opening it, started nibbling. She stayed in the backseat, which I thought was odd considering she was faking carsickness. As a doctor, she should know that the backseat was the worst place to be with carsickness. Glancing in the review mirror, I found her smiling at me.

“Aren’t you afraid of getting sick back there?” I asked.

“A little. But isn’t life more fun with a little risk?”

“Sure, but not when the risk is vomiting. I don’t want you puke on my back, so please come back up here.”

“Nah, I’m going to stay back here.” I glanced back at her and found her laying on the backseat, her feet against the door, her head laying on one of the duffle bags. “Oh, and try to head toward Los Angeles.”


“I have a feeling.”

I glanced back at her again, but her eyes were closed and she was sleeping. I was sure she had a feeling, and it was going to come running down my back at any moment. I was never one for anything that came out of someone’s mouth - vomit, spit, chewed food; my wife and I had even made a pact for when our child was to be born: I would change all diapers and she would took care of all spit ups and vomit. She even had the consideration to make sure I wasn’t around while she had her morning sicknesses.

I jumped, jerking the steering wheel slightly causing the truck to swerve to the other lane. Thankfully no one was driving the other way or else we would have collided.

Morning sickness! No, that was out of the question. Who would raise a child in these conditions? Who would even want to become pregnant? Sure, things happened and there were consequences…But who wouldn’t stop to think about the danger of raising a child in the present day? My wife and I had thought about how difficult it would be to raise our child, even considered killing it to save it from this evil world. In the end, however, neither of us could do it, until that day I had to kill her and my child; the choice made for us.

I glanced at the woman sleeping in the backseat, satisfied she hadn’t woken up when I swerved. Everything she said and did since I met her convinced me that, of all the things that could be wrong, she just had to be pregnant. I wasn’t surprised, I realized, finding out that she was the one to be pregnant. Of course I was surprised that she was, not to mention the red hot anger that was gradually building up inside me until I was sure I would be seeing red. If that should happen, then I knew I had to pull over and calm down, possibly kill something in the meantime. Another glance back, and I realized I couldn’t be quite certain that it would be a zombie that I ended up killing.

So, if I did happen to end up killing her, the least I could do, for the moment, was humor her and head toward the city that was Los Angeles. Taking a deep breath, I forced my mind to think on something else.

The weather…

It was the middle of summer, which couldn’t be better weather for trying to drive over the mountains. I had grown up in the south, Florida to be exact - though most people wouldn’t really count Florida as “south” - and I was never really skilled at driving in the snow. I had taken a trip to Maine a few years back for my work, in the middle of winter, and I had been forced to drive everywhere. I had transformed from a man who loved to drive fast and reckless to a man who drove like an old woman. I barely inched forward on the roads, going about 2 miles an hour, avoided the freeways, and pissed off a lot of commuters. Well, the way I saw it, it was either drive slow and live, or drive fast and die. I chose life.

Had I known what I was living for - that in just a few small years that our world would turn upside down and zombies were the greater species - I would have purposely crashed the car to the point where my body wouldn’t be recognizable, saved myself from the fear and anger that I live with now. Saved myself from having to kill my own family. But, I had taken the precautions to make sure the I lived, and I could at least continue taking precautions to live for as long as I possibly could. However, if I continued to travel with the maniacal woman who slept soundly behind me, I probably wouldn’t live much longer. This might not be my third strike if I didn’t let it. I could come out of this alive, as long as I made it so.

The second we find her man, I was gone, out of her life an her out of mine, away from the crazies who believed they could cure this pandemic. Let them believe they can save the world, I wouldn’t stop them. Hey, as long as they didn’t corner me and try to take my brain and implant it into a zombie, we can all part ways and no one would have to die. In this day and age, human life was precious, and it’s a shame to have to kill one of my own just so they wouldn’t kill me.

I flexed my fingers and pressed on the gas pedal. We were in Wyoming, and there was little to no chance of coming upon another moving vehicle. Besides, the faster we get to the west coast, the sooner I can ditch the pregnant woman and her inane belief that she holds the answer to curing zombie-ism.

The next big question was: shall I tell her that I know, or let her continue to believe I was ignorant? She was sleeping, and I had awhile before I had to answer.
We were in Utah, on one of the really windy roads. I had picked this particular route for the exact reason the woman was on the side of the road. I stood against the truck, looking out at the canyon wall in front of me, just twenty feet away. The rock face towered overhead, the sun completely blocked by the reds and browns of the rock. It was beautiful, I had to admit. Despite everything going on around this little canyon, it still managed to hold its glory and danger. There was no wind, and, though it was midday, without the sun it was chilly between the two walls of rock. It would have been peacefully quiet, perfect, but every few seconds the woman’s gagging and heaving interrupted the silence. I never regretted leaving that I-Pod behind as much as I did then. Listening to something, anything, other than listening to someone puke, would be better.

I started whistling. Finally, she stood up, spit, and leaned against the other side of the truck. She was breathing heavily, and I was only minimally concerned. Should I offer to get her some water? Maybe. But what’s the fun in her suffering if I was to help her not suffer?

“What is that?” she asked. I stopped whistling and looked around, suddenly on guard for whatever she had seen. My hand was in the open window of the truck, searching for my gun, when she spoke again. “That song you were whistling.” She turned around and looked at me through the window on the opposite side. Her hair was slightly frazzled, still in a ponytail, and she had little wet chunks around her mouth. I wanted to turn around and do my share of vomiting then, but she wiped her mouth with a washcloth she grabbed from one of the gas stations we passed.

I shrugged, bringing my hand out of the truck slowly, not dismissing the possibility that there could be an uninvited interruption at any moment. Just because we were in the middle of the Utah desert didn’t mean there couldn’t be a straggler somewhere.

“Let It Be,” I said. Another Beatles song that was probably the best song that was written in history - which I probably wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t married my wife. Too bad there wouldn’t be anyone around in a few years to appreciate great songs of the “before time.”

She nodded and smiled slightly, grabbing her water bottle from the seat. “I knew it sounded familiar. You were off a few notes, but it sounded nice.” She opened the back door, and I figured she was going to lay down again. I jumped into the driver’s seat, and, after turning the truck on, almost drove off when I realized she had closed the back door and was in the process of climbing into the passenger seat.

As I continued driving, I would glance at her from time to time, but she didn’t seem to ever move. She would sit, staring straight ahead, her skin a little paler than when I first picked her up. She really did look sick, and I had started to question my conclusion that she was pregnant. Sure, she couldn’t keep anything but crackers and water down, but she wasn’t glowing. Even my wife had that certain “glow” that women procured when they became pregnant, and she was worse than Nicole now. Her eyes had dark circles under them, and she always looked so tired that I wondered why she wouldn’t sleep. I had taken over driving full time, so she had plenty of time to sleep, but she barely slept a few hours at a time.

The previous night, I had pulled over to take a quick power nap. She was in the back seat, still sleeping, and when I woke up a few hours later, she was pacing around the side of the truck. I almost panicked and shot her, but then recollection of who she was stopped me from doing so. Since then, she sat in the front, staring straight ahead, never moving, never speaking except the occasional demand to pull over. That small exchange of words about my whistling was the most she had spoken since we left Yellowstone.

I had to admit that I was becoming worried about her silent composure. I had to doubt if she was okay at all; she really looked sick.

I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel as we exited the canyon. The sun had shown itself again, and it was shining right in her eyes, but she didn’t blink, budge, or pull the visor down to block it out. I sighed, and found myself reaching across and doing it for her. It wasn’t difficult, but I had swerved a little, which didn’t bother either of us. Again, she didn’t budge, or even say a thank you.

Five minutes later, and I found I couldn’t take the silence any longer. It confused me to realize I was more annoyed by her silence than her talking. Maybe it was her current condition that triggered the annoyance, but I found myself talking to her, wanting to get her talking about something pointless and unrelated. Anything, if she would just talk.

“How you feeling?”

“Okay,” she had whispered. I tried a few more conversation starters, but she only answered with monosyllabic answers, if she decided to answer at all. A few times she just grunted.

“It’s beautiful here, isn’t it?”


“It’s weird. Despite everything that’s going on, the rocks and canyons haven’t changed. It’s almost like the rest of the world doesn’t matter. Zombie? What’s a zombie?” I glanced at her and saw the corners of her mouth twitch, as if she wanted to smile but stopped herself before she got too far. It was unnerving, her silence and lifelessness.

I clutched the steering wheel, and found myself pulling over before I could even stop myself. What I wanted to do was crazy, and delaying what I had originally planned of leaving her with the man she was looking for. I was slightly satisfied when she looked at me and furrowed her eyebrows as I jumped out of the truck.  I walked around to her side, threw open the door, and pulled her out. She started kicking and screaming as I held her over my shoulder, and probably would have vomited on my back, except I set her down after walking a few feet from the truck.

She fixed her shirt and glared at me, but I just stood there, smiling at her. Yeah, I was smiling, mostly because I finally got some emotion into her, and also because I hadn’t done anything so spontaneous since the “before time” and it felt great. I didn’t think I would ever feel so energetic and optimistic ever again, but here it was, and I didn’t want it to go away.

“What are you doing?” she growled as she moved to walk around me back to the truck. I grabbed her arm before she could walk passed me, and turned her around.

We were in the middle of the desert, nothing but rocks and bushes and sand for miles around. We were in total seclusion, and yet I felt we should walk around, stretch our legs. We had both been cooped up in that truck for so long that a bit of fresh air and exercise would do both of us some good. I grabbed her arm and pulled her along as I walked toward a large rock.

“Let me go,” she said, a little louder than before. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Walking.” I reached the large rock and finally let her go. We were about eighty feet from the truck now, and I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to go further, but I wanted her with me; if she were to turn back to the truck, she might leave me there in the middle of the desert and I would probably die in a day or two from dehydration. I definitely wanted her with me.

“Okay, we walked, now what?”

I looked around, and finally settled on her. “What’s wrong with you?” I finally asked. “It seems like my pessimism rubbed off on you, and it’s making you sick. I refuse to travel with a sick person, so tell me.”

She answered with a blank expression and a few blinks. Finally she sighed, but she started back to the truck.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I called after her, making to grab her again, but she whirled around and glared at me.

“You want to walk out into the hot desert without food or water?” she yelled. “I’m glad you suddenly decided to do something other than drive and shoot and bitch, but don’t suddenly become stupid just because you think I’m dying.”

I blinked at her and followed her a few paces behind. I agreed that it was stupid of me to want to take a walk without water, but what really hit me was she thought I thought she was dying. Well, why wouldn’t I? She was acting like one of the walking dead the passed few hours that I wanted to take my shotgun and shoot her. What if she was becoming one of them? Had all that experimenting with Dr. Penn caused her to catch something that slowed the zombie process? It would be a better explanation for her sickness other than pregnancy, though I would have to kill her if that were the case. It didn’t bother me, killing her, but I didn’t want to kill her because of something that I only assumed.

We reached the truck, and I stood a few feet away from her as she grabbed two bottles of water from the back seat. I could feel the contentment from earlier washing away, being replaced by the same grim-faced man I was before.

“We’re almost out of water,” she said quietly. “We’ll need to stop at the next gas station or some place and stock up.” She turned around and froze, staring at me. I didn’t have to look behind me to know that she wasn’t afraid of a zombie running up behind me. I could feel the expression I showed her. My eyebrows were lowered, my mouth in a slight frown, and I knew I probably looked dangerously angered as I stared at her. She slowly moved her arm behind her, and I knew she was going for her gun.

I grabbed her arms, pulling the one behind her back to her side, quickly glancing down to make sure she didn’t grab her gun, and held her tightly. She dropped the water bottles, and she didn’t hide the sudden fear that I inflicted on her. On any other occasion, I might have pulled back and apologized, but not now. I had to know just what she was getting me into. If she was turning into a zombie, I had to know so I can eliminate her before it was too late and she attacked me.

“Josh, you’re hurting me,” she whimpered. I only held on tighter. She had to know just how serious I was. She was messing with my survival. This was a matter of life or death, and I doubt she would care about her arms in a few moments.

“What’s going on?” I finally asked. My voice came out strained, low, and dangerous. She shook her head, and I shook her. “What’s happening to you? If you’re slowly turning into a zombie, tell me now so I don’t make the mistake of letting you get to me.”

“Would you really kill me?” she whispered.

I had to stop and think. Yeah, I would kill her, but if I told her that, would she tell me the truth? Would she openly admit that she was becoming a zombie, knowing full well that I would kill her? I took a deep breath.

“No. I’ll help you find your man, but I can’t promise anything if you suddenly decide that you have a craving for human.”

She visibly relaxed, and I started to wonder if, just maybe, she was becoming a zombie. I wouldn’t wait until I took her to her man, I would kill her right there if she said that was a zombie.

“I’m not turning into a zombie,” she said. “I can promise you that much.”

I narrowed my eyes at her. Was she telling the truth? She looked at me, unblinkingly, without the same amount of fear she held a few moments ago. In fact, she looked as confident as she was the first time I met her. She was. Nothing in her features betrayed her; her breathing hadn’t changed. She stood there, calmly staring into my deadly eyes. She wasn’t turning into a zombie, but I wasn’t satisfied yet. I wanted to know what was going on with her. Was she pregnant then? I wanted to hear it from her lips.

“What’s wrong with you, then?”

“The longer we stand here, the more our chances of finding Dr. Penn’s associate dwindles. Please, can we not delay any longer?”

She had avoided my question, but that was okay, for now. She was going to tell me, and she was going to tell me soon. I let her go, walked to the driver’s side of the truck, climbing onto the seat, and sat, waiting for her climb into the passenger seat. I silently drove off, neither of us speaking, though this time I didn’t mind it as much. She seemed to relax more, leaning back in her seat and watching the scenery. I still wanted to know what was wrong with her, but I held my tongue.

I knew she was pregnant, but what I didn’t know was how I was going to react when she finally told me. I could finish our little adventure together, waiting until she was with her man before leaving her, or I could leave her as soon as I saw fit. That seemed like something I would do. How much longer could I travel with a pregnant woman? The only reason why I didn’t kick her out of my truck right this moment was because I was certain. I had my reasons to suspect she was, but it could be something else entirely.

I didn’t need this aggravation. I hated her, hated her situation and everything she’s brought to the table. Everything she’s done so far has caused me nothing but stress and doubt my survival from the outcome. Why didn’t I just toss her out of the truck just for convenience? I would be much more happier if I were alone again, but I had a conscience, and it was telling me to stay with her until I knew she was safe. Stupid conscience.

Laughter brought me out of my sulking. I looked at her. She was laughing again, genuinely laughing. I hated to admit it, but the sound made me feel better, relax. I loosened my tight hold of the steering wheel, not quite sure I knew that I was holding on so tightly.

“After scaring the shit out of me,” she said, calming down a bit. “I actually enjoyed the spontaneity of you jumping out of the truck and pulling me into the desert.”

“There’s still a lot of desert,” I replied, shrugging. “Piss me off enough, and it might happen again, though I might leave you out there instead.”

“Oh, so I’ll be safe for another ten minutes.”

We looked at each other and she started laughing again. Even I couldn’t help a small smile, and I was aware of it.

“Calm down,” I said. “You don’t want to puke unexpectedly, do you?”

“It’s always unexpected,” she said as she slowly calmed down.
We sat, staring at the road ahead of us. I refused to drive any further, cursing my stupidity. I had just passed a sign that told me that Las Vegas was twenty miles away, and once I saw that, I slammed on the brakes. I had managed to avoid every main city for the passed two months, but I still somehow managed to forget about Las Vegas.

When we passed over the Nevada state line, I hadn’t thought about where I was headed when Nicole made a joke about the legal prostitution, but now that we were so close, I couldn’t help shouting in frustration. I knew we were headed for Los Angeles, but I wasn’t actually going to enter the city limits. At our current position, it was either drive through Vegas or double back and find an alternate route. I voted to double back, but Nicole was adamant about driving through. We wasted enough time, she had said, and, though I didn’t want to, I agreed with her. If I was to turn around, that just added another hour or more in her company. The sooner I got rid of her, the sooner I could go back to being on my own.

“Besides,” she was saying. “Now that we’re here, we may as well go see the Hoover Dam, which is conveniently placed in the Grand Canyon, which I wanted to see anyway.”

“I don’t want to drive through that city,” I said. That was the gist of my side of the argument; I’ve been repeating it for the passed ten minutes we’ve been there. I refused to go any further. “Just imagine how many zombies are there. Our chance of survival is limited, and not highly.”

“What do you think they’re going to do? Climb over each other and create a barrier that the truck can’t get through?”

“They don’t have to climb on each other. If there’s a large group in our way, they could easily overcome us, and that would be the end.”

“I don’t think they congregate in the middle of the freeway.”

“They could. What if there’s someone in there, and they found him and are all over him? There would be a big group congregated in the middle of the freeway.”

“It wouldn’t last long if it was just one person. Besides, we can shoot and kill as many as we can, not to mention the truck will run them over. This isn’t exactly a chick truck.” She placed her hand on my arm then. It was cold and clammy, a sure sign that she was as sick as she looked. I found myself loosening my hold on the steering wheel, remembering her current state. Could she even handle the stress of driving through the big city? I really didn’t want her to vomit in my truck. I would hate to have to search for another vehicle because there was a vomit smell in my truck.

“Listen,” she continued quietly. I looked at her, admiring her for wanting to drive through one of the most dangerous cities in the country. What would happen to her if we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by zombies? I couldn’t believe it then when I realized I was actually more concerned about her than my own well-being.

“We can do this,” she was saying. Once again, her optimism was showing and overpowering my own doubts. “Just stay away from downtown, and don’t stop for anything. We’re more likely to get out of there alive if we just stay on the freeway.”

“But the freeway cuts through the middle of downtown. Not to mention how many cars and trucks that are scattered on the freeway will make it hard to maneuver at top speed.”

“God, stop making excuses and just go! If you don’t want to drive then I’ll do it.”

I shook my head, knowing it would be even more disastrous for us if she were to be driving and suddenly become ill again. A person simply could not drive while vomiting as hard as she’s been doing. Every time she stood on the side of the road it sounded like she was puking up her stomach, or a lung, or any other body part that isn’t supposed to leave the body through the mouth.

I placed the truck in gear - well, placed was lightly putting it, I more like shoved the truck into drive a little more forcefully than I had intended. I actually drove slower than she had suggested, but I also didn’t want to run into any of the parked vehicles on the freeway. I wanted to get off the freeway as soon as possible, and since we were still in the middle of the suburbs, zombie contact would be less likely.

And besides, she said she wanted to see the Grand Canyon, which was in the opposite direction of California, but I could probably suffer through another short detour. I hadn’t seen the Grand Canyon up close myself, so it could be like a little adventure before we started seriously driving again.

I sighed, vaguely realizing that I've been doing that a lot lately, and put my foot on the gas pedal...right as a shiny red corvette went speeding passed us, straight into the heart of the city. I flinched, having not been expecting anyone around, especially driving something as flashy and useless in this day and age as a sports car.

The sound of the car's engine slowly died away, allowing for another strange sound to be heard. I looked over and found my companion applauding and smiling. She started cheering and pointed at the red car.

"He's got the right idea, follow him!" she exclaimed.

I stared at her, dumbfounded. She hadn't shown this side of herself in a few days, and it frightened me a little.