Welcome to Fiction Fridays! We aim to give you a short bite of fiction every week–something you can enjoy during your lunch hour–but with a twist: You pick the idea for the next installment!
It was my turn to write this week’s segment, but I don’t know a thing about zombies. So, I did what I always do when in a writing bind, I turned to my trusty CP, the RITA-award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Darynda Jones, author of First Grave on the Right, Second Grave on the Left, Third Grave Dead Ahead, and (coming Oct. 30) Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet! Because she loves a good zombie tale and always has my back, she offered to step in for me.
Enjoy this special second installment of Pray for Night, and let us know where we should take Marly next!
To get caught up, read Part 1 here.
Pray for Night – Part 2
An ear-splitting scream shattered the thick silence of night, and it took Marly a moment to realize it had been wrenched from her own throat.
She barely had time to register the fact that the woman standing before her wasn’t quite alive when one decaying hand reached for her. She scrambled back, her palms scraping against the sidewalk, but the nun lumbered forward in pursuit. In what little lamplight filtered her way, Marly could just make out the nun’s face. Or what was left of it. Part of her mouth and cheek had rotted away, exposing a row of yellowing teeth. Most of her nose had fallen off. And her lids had shrunk back into her skull, making her eyes look huge.
A hollow moan escaped the woman as she reached out again, and before Marly could react, the nun was over her. Eyes empty. Teeth bared.
Marly twisted and tried to struggle out from under her, but the woman proved faster than she looked. Decomposing fingers curled into a handful of hair, entangling the chestnut locks in scratchy flesh and gnarled bone. She jerked Marly’s head back and bent forward, her mouth open in preparation for a feast.
Panic rocketed through every molecule in Marly’s body. Lunging forward with all her might, she pulled the woman off balance then regretted her decision when the woman pitched forward and landed right on top of her. The force crushed her ribs and emptied her lungs. But surely the fall wouldn’t account for the fact that the woman’s head came clean off. It bounced on the ground in front of Marly’s face and rolled to the curb, falling into the gutter with a soft thud.
Then the weight of the nun’s body lifted and Marly turned to see Chase Montgomery standing over her, machete in hand. He hefted the remains to the side and scanned the area, his body taught, his eyes alert.
Unable to stop the world from spinning, Marly stayed put.
“You okay?” Chase asked when he looked back at her. She tried to answer but couldn’t quite remember how to speak. He nodded toward the severed head. “That was close. Even you don’t want one of those things taking a bite.”
Marly blinked. Gaped unapologetically. And her hair couldn’t possibly look good.
“Chase Montgomery,” he said, wiping his blade on the nun’s habit. The fluid lines of his biceps flexed with each movement. He looked at her from underneath his lashes. “We met earlier.”
“Yes,” she said, nodding absently. She had his number on a napkin in her pocket. “I remember, but what are you doing here?”
“Oh, right, sorry about this.” He lifted the machete for her to see before sheathing it in a holster on the side of a military style knapsack. “I work for the CDC. Kind of. It’s a long story.”
“I thought you worked at the Squishy Suds car wash.”
He sucked in a soft breath through his teeth, busying himself with checking what looked like an arsenal in his knapsack. “Yeah, I lied.”
“Are you okay?” he asked, eyeing her with concern. He bent to help her up then steadied her when she almost crumbled back to the concrete.
Locking her knees, Marly pointed at the nun’s head. “What—? What was—?”
“That?” He studied his handy work a moment. “That was a zombie nun.” When he chuckled, Marly sank into a deeper state of surrealism. “Don’t hear that everyday. Zombie nun. Oh, here.” He pulled a red clutch from the back of his waistband. “You left this at the Tipsy Pig.”
Marly could only stare at it in wonder. “What did you mean, even me?”
When she didn’t take the clutch, he shrugged and put it with his weapons. “Sorry?”
“You said, even I don’t want one of those things taking a bite.”
He paused and looked over his shoulder, letting his gaze travel the length of her with slow, deliberate precision. “You really don’t know?” he asked, his brows cinching together. When she only shook her head, proving the full effects of shock had finally gotten a good foothold on her central nervous system, he said, “That’s weird. And while I’d love to stand here and explain the intricacies of your rather incredible blood, we have company.”
She looked back and gasped at the lumbering bodies headed toward them with way more speed than they seemed capable of. One of the shorter ones took off in a full sprint, a gleam of determination in her eyes.
Marly jumped back and stumbled against her rescuer.
“They look hungry,” Chase said as though commenting on the weather. He took hold of Marly’s arm and pushed her behind him. Relief washed through her. He wasn’t going to leave her there to be eaten by an angry mob of nuns.
“Then again,” he said, sliding the machete out of its sheath as the first one charged toward them, “when don’t they look hungry?”
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