I want to thank Regina Wamba of Mae I Design for creating my beautiful covers and modeling for them as well.
“Thank God!” I cried, standing face to face with my best friend. Although it was obvious that Paige was relieved to see me, the haunted expression in her eyes spoke volumes. She collapsed into my arms and sobbed.
“Paige, where’s Allie?” I asked, trying to look beyond her into the safe-room. Unfortunately, she appeared to be alone.
She shook her head as the tears streamed down her face. “I…I don’t know!” she cried.
I wanted to shake her but instead forced myself to remain calm; we’d all been through our own kind of hell the last few hours. “What do you mean?” I asked slowly.
“I don’t know! Allie and Kylie ran away. They were going to try and get help,” she cried through her tears. “I don’t even know where my mom is!”
“Okay, calm down and start from the beginning. What happened?”
Her light green eyes grew large. “It was my stepdad, Dan. He turned into some kind of freak! He tried to fucking bite me. Then my mom…she whacked him with a frying pan. But he…he kept coming towards me with these…horrible red eyes. Mom told me to run, so I did! I ran away and have been hiding here ever since. God, I’m so scared!” she sobbed.
“Paige, I didn’t see anyone else in the house.”
“Well, where’s my mom? She just wouldn’t leave me. They’ve just got to be here somewhere!”
“Paige, it’s okay. We’ll find them, somehow,” I replied softly. “Listen, do you have anything to drink? I could really use some caffeine.” I’d been up for almost twenty-four hours and was finally feeling the effects.
She pulled me inside. The hidden room was larger than my entire bedroom. It held a black leather sectional, an arsenal of electronic equipment, and a fully-stocked refrigerator. I grabbed a soda and walked over to the surveillance cameras.
“Do these things work?” I asked.
“No, I’ve already tried. They hadn’t finished installing them yet.
I sighed. “Well, at least you’ve got the generator, and didn’t have to sit in the dark.”
She nodded and then stared vacantly. “What should we do?”
“Well, do you have any weapons?” I asked.
“What…what do you mean?”
I pulled out the Beretta I had tucked behind my back. “Well, I lost my sectional staff when I was searching your house, but I still have this. You’re going to need something to defend yourself, too, just in case.”
Her eyes narrowed. “From…Dan?”
Crap. She didn’t know about the zombies.
“Paige?” I’d just recounted my last few hours to her. The expression on her face was unreadable. “Are you okay?”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” she finally said. “That’s just plain nuts.”
“Believe me, I wish I was. Do you really think I’d make something like that up?”
Paige shook her head but I could tell she was still having major doubts. It was crazy for me to imagine and I’d lived through it.
I shrugged. “Well, you’ll find out soon enough. Do you have a baseball bat or something you can hit zombies with?”
She looked at me like I’d lost my mind.
“In my room,” she muttered.
We grabbed a second flashlight and hurried to Paige’s bedroom. She took out a metal baseball bat and two softball helmets, one pink and one black.
“Great idea!” I said, putting on the black helmet. “Okay, now stay close to me. I haven’t seen any zombies in your house but there’s a ton of walking dead on the streets.”
She put on the pink helmet and I handed her the bat.
“Wow, I love your nails,” she said suddenly, grabbing my left hand.
I looked down. “Yeah, they look really sexy when I’m shooting at a zombie,” I replied dryly.
Her jaw dropped. “Oh, my God…you really had to use the gun?”
My cell phone started to ring. It was Sara again.
I sighed. “Hi, Sara.”
“It’s Bryce. Where are you at?” he demanded.
I was racked with so many emotions that my knees gave out. I sank to the ground. “Oh, thank God!” I gasped. “I…I didn’t know what happened to you.”
“I’m fine,” he replied sternly. “Stay where you are and I’ll come get you. Are you still at Paige’s?”
Before I had a chance to respond, Paige gasped in horror and backed into me.
“What?” I turned and dropped the phone.
Two zombies stood at the entrance of her bedroom. The smell emitting from them rose like a wave of rotting garbage.
“Holy crap,” said Paige in a strangled voice.
The moon was shining through her bedroom window, giving us a pretty good view of the zombies. One of them, a skinny half-naked man with white curly hair, made an ugly gurgling noise and then curled its lower lip, as if smiling. There was blood dripping from his rotting face and he held what looked the remains of someone’s arm. He tossed it to the ground and staggered towards us.
The next thing I knew, Paige let out some kind of ferocious battle cry, then lifted the metal bat and swung high, bashing the zombie smack in the middle of its skull. Before I could react, she raised it again, this time hitting a solid home run on the creature’s head. It dropped to the ground with a loud, sickening thud.
The other zombie, a muscular bald guy with skull tattoos all over his head, growled at us.
I raised my gun to shoot him, but the Berretta jammed. “For the love of God,” I mumbled trying repeatedly to shoot it.
“Hold on!” Paige snapped as she tried to dislodge the bat from the other zombie.
But skull-head just couldn’t wait; he staggered eagerly towards me, white froth foaming from his mouth. Fortunately for me he was terribly slow, with very little coordination. I stepped out of his line of attack and he fell to the ground. When he finally lifted himself back up, I jumped into the air and did a hard side kick; my foot catching him in the throat. He fell backward onto Paige’s jewelry box and that’s when all hell broke loose.
Paige’s face turned red and she screamed in fury. “Get your ugly ass off of my grandmother’s jewelry box, you piece of dead rotting meat!!!” Then she kicked the zombie onto the floor and stomped the sharp heel of her new Jimmy Choo boot onto its face until it was just a bloody mass of gore.
I stared at her in shock as she wiped the perspiration off of her forehead, then grabbed a towel and began cleaning off her boot.When I finally found my voice, I said, "So, I guess you believe me now?"