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!
Last week Chase, the fearless zombie hunter, tells Marly she has a rare blood that can defeat the zombie’s bite. Chase kills Marly’s roommate and chases after the escaped test subject, Groucho. Here’s this week’s installment, based on your responses to have Marly and Chase comfort each other…. At the end of the post are choices for the next installment. Don’t forget to vote!
Pray for Night – Part 5
By Jean Willett“
“You’ll feel better after you have a shower and some food.” Chase glanced over and swore to himself when he saw Marly huddled in the passenger seat. Ryan’s plan to use her as bait was a bad idea. “Only a few more miles.”
“Where do you live?” Marly faced him and hugged her knees. He struggled to keep his eyes on the road when her shapely thighs were much more interesting.
“I have a loft down by the river.” The loft was a handy place to hide out for a few hours but not long term. With extra escape routes built into the building, he’d be able to protect her until Ryan came up with a better plan.
Minutes later Chase parked at the side of the big warehouse. He scanned the empty street and couldn’t shake the creepy feeling that zombies were close. Moonlight cast a glint over the water’s edge in the distance. A night-watcher lit the street corner and everything was quiet. “Looks all clear. Let’s get you inside. Stick close to me.”
Marly’s chuckle sounded more like hysteria waiting to break free. Chase hustled around the truck and opened her door. He couldn’t risk her losing it now. Her legs buckled when she hit the street and he wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her close. “Just the shock. A stiff shot of bourbon and you’ll be dancing again.”
She yanked her swing coat around her and straightened. “I’m giving up alcohol. Look what happened after a few gin and tonics. Right. I—”
Swish swish click. Swish swish click.
They turned the corner to find a group of nuns gathered around Groucho Marx, who led them like a choir, waving his hands in a silent rhythm. The sight gave Chase chills. As if on cue, the nuns stepped aside and a slathering pack of growling dogs raced for them. Chase shoved Marly behind him and released his machete. “Move with me, Marly, and stay clear of my arm.”
“Give me something. A knife, anything.” She gripped his shirt and kicked out as a dog lunged at them. The dog’s head fell off, rolling to the curb. They jumped over the dissolving body as one. “I don’t like this at all. Do something or I’m going to need the whole bottle of bourbon.”
“I’m trying.” He jerked his shirt free and slapped a nine-inch blade in her hand. “Don’t miss and cut me.”
“How would I know? There’s so much gunk flying.” She gasped, “Duck!”
A dog sailed over their heads. Chase dispensed the beast with one swipe of his blade before taking out two more dogs on the downswing. When the nuns joined the battle, he shoved Marly toward the door but she wouldn’t budge. Pulled off balance again by her death grip, he glanced behind him and found her swinging the knife back and forth in a macabre dance with a short nun. Chase rolled his eyes and sliced off the nun’s head. The body crumbled at their feet in a puddle of exploding sinew, the sour odor of death coating them. “Marly, run for the door. Now.”
She ran with Chase on her heels. He turned and caught a glancing blow from Groucho’s two-by-four. He went down. Marly screamed. Two dogs leapt toward her. Chase stumbled to his feet, machete swinging. One dog hit the sidewalk and skidded, its bloody fur leaving a trail of black on the cement. Marly whirled too late and the second dog swiped at her, tearing through her coat with razor claws. She stumbled backwards with a wild cry and kicked out, striking the dog’s head. The dog crumpled with half its head still attached. Chase sliced off the rest of the dog’s head and grabbed Marly as she slid down the door.
He hauled her over his shoulder and ran for the truck. She gasped for air as he shoved her onto the driver’s seat and climbed in behind her. The engine roared to life, and he ran over five nuns before breaking free and burning rubber around the corner. Groucho had vanished once again.
“What do we do now?” Marly asked, her voice wobbling.
“I never had Plan A,” she said and slumped against the dash in a faint.
Chase raced for the river and one of his backup locations. The houseboat was moored in an isolated spot with direct access downriver. He called Jack Ryan and arranged a meet, then pulled into a private parking area and slipped behind a motorbus to hide his truck.
Marly was still and pale. He felt the wet on her arm and drew back his hand, covered with fresh blood. “Crap.” He ran around the truck, scooped her up and carried her onboard. Laying her on the sofa, he patted her face until she came around. “Hey, Red, you’re safe.”
“Ha! Only if I’m dreaming.”
He removed her coat and handed her a towel when she slapped at him. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to pull in the gangplank. No more visitors tonight.”
“Good idea.” She swiped dog brain matter from the side of her face. “Yuck. I want a shower. Now. Don’t talk to me until I’m clean. And then you better damn well have some answers.”
Chase watched her with one eye as he grabbed a dress shirt from his closet. She paced the tiny hall looking as if she’d take his head off. He showed her the bathroom, fixed the shower for hot water and left her alone. He cleaned up in a small head off the kitchen. Ryan got a big piece of his mind about the change in zombie behavior. They agreed to meet them at the safe house.
Settled on the sofa once again, she fixed him with a narrow-eyed stare. Chase kept his knife handy.
“How do you know about my blood?”
He debated for all of ten seconds before giving her what she needed. It was her life on the line. “Your father’s file listed a child that was adopted. We traced that child—you.”
“My father?” Her eyes grew big and round.
Jeez, she was pretty. All that auburn hair tumbling around her shoulders catching fire in the lamp’s glow.
“You know who my father is?”
“Was. Sorry.” Her frown made him swallow the specifics until she waved her hand to continue. “He died ten years ago in a laboratory fire. His research in genetic markers allowed the CDC to build their program. Guess he was a great scientist.”
“Ya’think? I’d call him a lousy father. I never knew him. And I wouldn’t be cheering for your scientific program, either. Who the hell lets their test subjects escape?” She slumped onto the nearest chair. “My life’s a toilet brush.”
He laughed. “Come on. Nothing’s that bad.”
“So, why are those zombies chasing me? I thought you were chasing Groucho?”
Chase grimaced. She hadn’t wasted any time connecting the threads. “If we use your blood and create a vaccine, the zombies can’t infect anyone and will stay dead. If Groucho or anyone he infected bites you, they become immune to any of our efforts to kill them. Their powers magnify. The only way to beat them is with a blade.” He pulled out his machete and flicked the edge. Hmmm…it needed sharpening. “Not enough hunters with skills to kill them all. We’ll be overrun.”
She held out her arm. “Then take a pint, for pity’s sake.”
“Let’s clean up that scrape first, okay?”
“This is going to hurt, isn’t it,” she said, turning her back to him and slipping the shirt off her shoulder low enough to reveal the claw marks across her shoulder and arm. He’d never wear that shirt again and not think of soft light on her pale skin. His gaze drifted lower as she edged down the shirt, leaving a tantalizing glimpse of her breast before pulling it tight. Suddenly he knew she wasn’t leaving his sight until this was over. Blood seeped from the wounds on her delicate skin and it pissed him off.
“No. A little peroxide and a gauze wrap should do the job.” He soaked a cotton pad and carefully dabbed at the blood. Her hissing breath made him flinch. He blew on it lightly. She stilled. After covering the wound, he eased his shirt up her arm and stopped at her shoulder. There he placed a soft kiss and another along her neck.
Awareness crawled all over him. She stilled. He whispered against her ear, “Breathe, Marly.”
She let out a breath and he smiled against her soft skin. This is where he wanted to be the moment she’d walked into the Tipsy Pig.
He lowered the shirt until it caught on the first button. Wide, wary green eyes stared up at him as he flicked the button through the hole and pressed a warm kiss to her skin. He wanted more and when she moved, he lifted his head.
She sighed and opened her eyes then he felt her take in an enormous breath. When she released it in a scream, Chase thought he would go deaf. He rolled backwards and came up with his machete and saw several zombie dock workers shoving the gangplank toward the boat. One had crawled halfway across. “Time to go.”
“But where? How? The dock is full of zombies.”
“Out the front. I have a few traps, so they won’t make it aboard.” He flipped a switch as they raced past. The boat motors thrust to life and moved the boat away from the dock. Several zombies tumbled in the water. Swish thump. Swish thump echoed as more came.
“This isn’t good. I don’t have any shoes on.”
Chase rammed a life-jacket over her head. “Won’t need them.”
She grabbed his hands as he attempted to close the brackets. He pushed away her feeble attempt and snapped the last bracket with a fatal click. If she breathed any faster, she’d hyperventilate. “Control your breathing, Marly.”
“It’s easy, sweetheart. Just breathe out. That’s it. Now breathe in.” This wasn’t good at all. The boat rocked. He felt her pulse leap and race beneath his fingers.
“Th-They’re on the boat, aren’t they?” There was that death-grip again. He freed his arm and scooped her up.
“Wait, wait. What—we can’t go in the water.” She struggled to get down. ” No. No.”
“We’re going to escape.” He firmed his grip until she couldn’t move. Holding a wiggling lush handful made him sigh with regret. “Marly, listen to me.” He steadied them as the boat rocked again. Her whimper tore into him. “There’s too many of them for me to fight. Jack Ryan will pick us up downstream.”
“N-No. No. Put me down. I’ll take my chances.”
“Dammit, Marly. Work with me.” Chase gripped the back of her neck and brought her mouth to his. Her lips were cool and he warmed them in a soft kiss. He felt it in her skipped heartbeat, in the softening of her arms around his neck. He deepened their kiss and when she responded, he felt the heat.
“I’ll be right behind you,” he whispered against her mouth then dropped her overboard. “Don’t worry. Zombies can’t swim.”
Marly flailed her arms and wailed, “Neither can I.”
Chase gaped into the darkness as her slow, spiraling yell ended in a big splash. “Well, crap!” He dove in.
27 responses to “Fiction Fridays: Pray for Night – Part 5”