Authors: Kay Glass
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Dark Fantasy, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Post-Apocalyptic
Ebook Edition, License Notes
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the retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
As always, to my sweet husband, Wayne, for his support.
You’re always so understanding, even when the book pulls me out of bed in the middle of the night, or the house isn’t always clean. Here’s the seven years together, and many more to come. I look forward to each one at your side.
And to my dear friend, the amazingly talented Veronica Angel, for her help with naming Nadine’s baby girl. Cassidy Grace is as much your creation as mine!
And to you, the reader. Your support overwhelms me, and humbles me. I cannot thank you enough for all the comments, likes, shares and downloads. I hope Nadine’s world means as much to you as it does to me.
It had been weeks since Nadine stumbled out of the diner with a full belly, and she cursed herself a fool for not taking something with her. She had all the bottled water she could drink for the next three days. Beyond that, she would be in dire straits. But how was she to know it would be her last meal? How was she to know that her entire life would become what it was now?
Three weeks ago it had all gone to Hell when the body she was working on suddenly sat up. Dr. Golding had never stood a chance.
, she thought, not without sympathy. Mrs. Feinberg had opened her eyes in the middle of her autopsy, and nothing had been right since. She had the backpack full of files of those she knew had woken in the autopsy suite, and she had a handful of lousy weapons. Beyond that, she was screwed.
She thought back to Graham and her heart broke a little. Nadine had been in love with him, and the engagement ring she still wore weighed her down. She couldn't bring herself to take it off, even though he was dead. She should know- she'd killed him herself. Stifling a sob, she pressed a hand to her stomach and the tiny bulge that was forming there. If she'd done her math correctly, she was fifteen weeks pregnant, and that only made things worse. She was starving, and that meant her baby was hungry. She needed to find something to eat, anything, otherwise she and that little bulge would be done for.
Shaking off the depression, she eyed the office building in front of her. Once upon a time, not too long ago, it had bristled with activity, much as it did now. The difference now was life and death- everyone there had lost their lives, and the activity was very much made up of those who had died and sat back up again to un-live another day. There was probably food in there, and supplies that could make her life easier, but the risks were beyond the potential gain. For all she knew, the place had been emptied when it all began.
She had a couple pistols she'd scavenged in a nearby auto shop, but she knew from past experience that the sound drew everything nearby to her in seconds. These things weren't always the shambling monsters that horror movies portrayed. It seemed they retained the speed of movement they'd had while still living- depending on the state of the body, she thought with distaste as she watched one crawling along with only one
side of its body still intact. She could survive dealing with the ones with missing body parts who crawled along, and maybe even the overweight ones who couldn't move very quickly. The quicker ones would be beyond her in her weakened state, so she sighed heavily and moved on. There was no chance that she could risk going in that building with so many of those things shuffling around.
She passed another billboard, one with the bright colors of their country. The background was a deep, soothing blue with red and white lettering, patriotic in the extreme, she thought with an eye roll. COLDEX, the blood-red letters proclaimed. The white below said,
“Never again fight the common cold- talk to your health care professional today.”
Tiredly, Nadine raised her middle finger in salute and pressed on. That’s how this whole mess started, and it made her sick inside to see the victims shuffling along while the cause of their deaths was still bright and shining above their heads. Now that was false advertisement if she’d ever seen it.
Nadine held her breath, hiding behind an overturned b
us as one of them passed by her. A male, she thought clinically as she studied him. He was intact, his skin grey in the weak sunlight from overhead, except for his nose- that was red, swollen, a bit sore-looking. This had been one of the vaccinated, not one of the bitten, she surmised. The vaccinated zombies had a different look to them- most of them were whole, no obvious injuries to their bodies were visible to the naked eye, but their noses were always red and sore, like someone suffering a cold, even after death. He sniffed the air a few times like a dog scenting something on a hunt, and then he shambled off, continuing past her without notice. She released her pent-up air in a quiet hiss and moved on.
Coldex was released to members of the military first- the human guinea pigs for the trial phase. For decades people had complained about how everything had a cure but the common cold. Oh, it wasn’t true- people still died from cancer and AIDS and God knows what else, but there were cures on the horizon. Now there was a cure- being one of the undead seemed to take care of all that. So the government in all its wisdom had their scientists hard at work on a cure for the common cold- and Coldex nasal spray was developed. When it passed the animal testing phase without severe side effects the world took notice, demanding that the process be sped up, for the government to fast-trac
k the nasal spray and release it to the public as quickly as possible. And so the human testing began with military bases giving them to nearly all the soldiers stationed there. And then everything went to Hell when the cure became a death sentence. Mrs. Feinberg hadn’t been the first- she was just the first Nadine had seen for herself. And unfortunately for the United States, she wasn’t the last. Ten more had risen from the steel tables and nearby gurneys that day. Nadine marveled at her luck. She still wasn’t certain how she’d managed to escape without injury.
She’d done what any scared person would do after witnessing
those bodies reanimate- she fled for home, where her nightmare continued. She’d returned to the waiting arms of her fiancé, Corporal Graham Jones, praying he’d help her make sense of what was going on outside the bungalow they called their own. That was when she’d seen firsthand that what she’d thought was a nightmare earlier that day was nothing compared to the horror movie her life would become.
Nadine shook off the recollections of the past and tuned back in to her surroundings. Daydreaming was dangerous when you were the only prey amidst the hunters. Those things were everywhere, and even though she’d gone undetected, it didn’t mean she was safe. No, hunkering down in the tall grass like a field mouse wasn’t safe by any means, so she scouted out her next hiding spot and moved on. There was a sporting goods store in front of her, and those things were scattered around it, but there was plenty of room for her if she made a run for it. She just had to hope the store itself wasn’t overrun. Just because it looked clear from here didn’t mean that the store was empty. Gathering herself, she took a deep breath and broke cover, dodging and weaving her way through the undead, and barely eluding their grasping hands and drooling mouths.
was winded, but she made it inside the store without being attacked. Those things were pounding on the doors, but they would hold. The doors had bars on the inside, so that even with the glass broken, the creatures couldn’t do more than stick their arms inside and reach after her futilely. She turned the deadbolt and the doors were as secure as she could make them without barricading them- and that she would risk, not without checking every square inch of her temporary hiding place. Sighing heavily, she blinked to adjust her eyes and started searching for supplies. She froze in place, listening to her surroundings. Something had triggered her survival instinct, and she knew enough to heed the warning and ignore her urge to pretend it was her imagination. In this new horrible world, ignoring that gut reaction was begging for death.
There- she heard it now. A shuffling sound coming from the back room finally alerted the front of her brain that she wasn’t alone. The primitive back of her mind was already a
ware of that fact. She searched quickly, knowing time was short. If she was aware of its presence, it was most certainly aware of hers. A weapon- she needed a weapon that wouldn’t draw as much attention to her. Funny, she’d been a fan of video games for years, and the weapon of choice was almost always a gun. In the real world, she’d learned that was a weapon of last resort. She wanted something quiet and deadly- she didn’t get off on carnage, and the idea of hacking something that used to be human into pieces made her vaguely ill, but she’d run out of ammo long before she ran out of bodies to pump full of lead.
Nadine disregarded the tennis rackets and golf clubs. She knew they would probably get the job done, but her strength would probably fail her not long after the weapon did. She needed something stronger, more durable. She snatched a wooden baseball bat, heavy and durable, off the floor and crept stealthily towards the back of the store. There were two doors- one marked with the male and female symbols that proclaimed it a unisex bathroom and the other marked for employee usage. She listened outside each door, trying to figure out which door blocked her from danger. She held her breath, careful to not let her own air hide the sounds of the thing on the other side of the door.
Then the scuffling sound came again and she knew that the thing was in the bathroom. She released a little sigh, knowing she had no choice if she wanted to feel truly safe for the first time in weeks- she would have to dispatch whatever horror awaited behind door number one before she could continue her search.
Nadine threw the door open, her eyes blinking furiously. Apparently the store had a backup generator and there was still fuel, for this was the first time she’d dealt with fluorescent lights in weeks. In between blinks she took in the scene in front of her. Blink- the shape was a man. Blink- his nose was missing. Blink- there were teeth marks in his face, and something had obviously gnawed at his collarbone. It was enough- he was one of the bitten, not one of the vaccinated, and she swung the bat with all her might, connecting with his temple. The thing in front of her grunted and released an eerie howl, letting her know it felt pain. She ignored the pang of sympathy- whatever it was, it was no longer a man, and weakness would get her killed. The creature fell to her feet, and she jumped back when it reached eagerly for her legs. She wouldn’t kick it, even though she badly wanted to. She was in shorts and sneakers, and that was entirely too much flesh within its reach. Instead she raised the bat high above her head and smashed it down. The hit was twofold- the bat cracked the top of the skull, and the front of the skull bounced off the tiled floor with the force of the first impact. A second overhand swing and then a third and the thing stirred no more.
Nadine shut the door and went searching for something she could use to bind the body. She knew it was dead- nothing could live without the brains, she was sure- but she would feel better if the body was wrapped up tightly. Besides, she desperately needed to pee, and she wouldn’t be comfortable dropping trough with that thing at her feet. A moment’s search netted her exactly what she’d need, and she ignored her aching bladder as she gathered everything together.
Grimly, she returned to the bathroom, listening carefully outside the door before opening it. She had a tarp and a roll of sports tape- they would have to do for now. She set to work, fighting her stomach for control as she methodically rolled the corpse into the tarp until it was as secure as she could make it. She wouldn’t throw up- besides, there was only a few sips of water in her system, and she needed to hold all she could inside if she was going to be strong enough to get herself and her unborn child through this.
She used two rolls of tape- one at the top of the body near what was left of its neck and shoulders, and one to bind up its ankles. Once that was done she hefted the feet and dragged it to the far corner of the store out of her way. The corpse had weighed twice what she did, and it took her many precious minutes to do what needed to be done. Then she collapsed to the ground and everything went black.