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!
To catch up on the story so far, click on Blog and read Part 1 (by A.J. Larrieu), Part 2 (by NYT Bestselling Author Darynda Jones), Part 3 (by Lorenda Christensen), Part 4 (by Susan M. Boyer) and Part 5 (by Jean Willett).
Last week Chase, the fearless zombie hunter and Marly have a showdown with Groucho and his army of zombie nuns and dogs. After retreating to Chase’s houseboat to tend to Marly’s flesh wound (where they have a brief intimate moment) their safe haven is overrun by Groucho’s cronies and Chase is forced to take evasive action: he throws Marly into the river. Too late, he learns she can’t swim and he has to leap in after her. So here’s this week’s installment – the finale – based on your selection: Marly saves Chase from Groucho’s boat attack and beheads Groucho…
Pray for Night – Part 6 – Finale
Marly’s blood-curdling scream snap-froze as her flaming body fell into the bone-chilling embrace of the black river.
Her lungs fought the deluge of water.
Her body fought the smothering weight of it.
Her brain fought for oxygen.
The life jacket propelled her to the surface and her abdomen heaved, the water rushing out in a flesh-tearing retch. She couldn’t catch her breath. Her head screamed with the cold, cold shock. Blue blazes, if the damn zombies didn’t kill her, Chase Montgomery would.
Speak of the devil.
He burst up through the surface driving water back into her lungs, raw from her first dousing. Another hacking cough ripped the fragile flesh in her throat and she battled for air.
“Talk to me, Red.”
Another mouthful. Another feud. She’d breathe or die trying.
“Not happy…” Breathe. In. Breathe. Out. “Montgomery.”
The words scraped through the jerky movement of her teeth, the sound of the chattering barely audible over the rising throb of a motor.
The water was like ink, swirling, racing, hurtling her towards God-knows what kind of danger. The night was impenetrable, but Chase Montgomery sounded dapper.
Okay? She was okay? The only thing that came close to okay was the feel of his hard, sculptured physique, strong and sure like a human shield to her flotsam on the river. Surreal. Had she even left the bar or was she riding the porcelain bus in the seedy bathroom at the Tipsy Pig?
“Okay,” she fought the rigamortis in her jaw, “doesn’t come close.” She checked her body. Felt nothing. Hell. The only part she could feel was her blazing temper. “I want…” Damn, she couldn’t speak. “Out.”
“Zombie’s…” His voice snapped at her ears as he pulled her tighter against him. “There.” His hands fumbled with the life jacket, unsnapped the brackets and pulled it over her head.
The thunderous throb was loud now.
God help them. They had to hide. The clouds chose that moment to separate and let the moonlight through.
A Groucho Marx-shaped silhouette appeared above them, his bushy moustache jerking rhythmically as if in laughter. The scent of cigar mixed with the smell of her fear. A long hook-shaped instrument looped under Chase’s backpack and Marly found a knife pushed into her hand. Chase’s lips pressed against hers, his words more felt than heard. “Kill him and the rest die too. It’s our only hope.”
As one, they were lifted from the drink.
Marly clung to her man.
Well, her disembodied arms clung while her eyes stayed with Groucho and her brain raced. Hypothermia had her lips and teeth gnashing, but her brain cells were wired. She was programmed to kick zombie arse. She was her father’s daughter. Her blood raced with antidote.
Her redhead temper had had enough.
As they swung onto the boat, she let go of Chase. Her numb limbs gave way and she collapsed onto the deck with no grace at all. Chase fell on top of her. Groucho pounced on Chase, his saliva spraying through the air and his mandible shining white in the moonlight as he lowered his rotting teeth towards Chase’s neck, the bony ridges of his fingers knotting into Chase’s hair and dragging him from her spreadeagled body.
She screamed as a figure leapt towards her, another behind it. With a foul-mouthed expletive, she grabbed the crucifix around its neck, beheading it with one desperate pull of the rosary beaded strand. Lifted like a rag doll, she kicked like a she-cat – no way was she leaving Chase to Groucho. The nun disintegrated before her eyes, its pelvis fracturing with the force of her kick. With the knife welded to her hand, she spun with karate-kid ferocity, her foot pushing Groucho from his grisly business. He leapt to his feet, agile and hungry.
Her eyes didn’t leave the hollow orbits where Groucho’s should have been. He was one feisty demon, but he’d met his match. She was done. Fire flared. Ice shattered.
“It’s my blood you want, not his!”
Gnarled teeth flashed. Groucho’s moustache twitched like a rat tail over bare bone, saliva spurting like acid onto her skin. The only way to beat them is with a blade.
He moved fast for a dead man.
Marly struck with the venomous ardour of a provoked rattle snake. One furious slice and sinew popped free from bone. Groucho’s head rolled across the deck, tangling in a bright pink boa and taking out four zombie drag-queens like skittles.
“Montgomery, you okay?”
She couldn’t take her eyes from the zombie-carnage even as the stench of raw nun and fresh-death stole life from the air. Her chest heaved, her lungs clawed for oxygen and her heart hammered so hard she thought it would burst free of her body.
Hell, had he turned? Was he dead too? She couldn’t look. She couldn’t move. She didn’t know how to drive the damn boat and it was barrelling down the river; and she was saturated. She’d kill for a hot shower.
Her gaze dropped to the knife still welded to her fingers.
“That’s some temper you’ve got there Red.”
Relief nearly took her down, the steel that held her strong near buckling under the strain. “You okay?”
“No, you’ve shot my reputation to hell.”
“I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.”
He came in behind her, his muscles tense, his voice gravelly in her ear. “Are you alright?”
“No.” She closed the miniscule gap that kept them apart. “They smell worse than death.”
“That’s not their worst attribute by far. You did good Red.”
“Is it over? Are they truly gone? All of them?”
“With the test subject destroyed, the rest follow suit.”
“Thank God.” Her body was rampant with sensation. With Chase this close, his pheromones did crazy things to her blood. Her breath was raw and ratcheted. “Do we need to steer this thing?”
“Give me a minute.”
The desperate percussion of the engine stopped like its throat had been cut. Blessed silence. Her fingers loosened their grip and the knife fell to the deck. Her awareness shifted to each and every part of her body. She was okay. Fingers. Check. Toes. There. Arms. Yes. Legs. Not so strong. Body… oh my.
Chase was close, his breath hot against her neck, his arousal hard against the small of her back.
“When I came to and saw my warrior woman at work, I’ve never been more turned on. You blasted the chill from my body.”
“That explains why you feel… so hot.” The last two words came out on a whimper as she fought the honey sweet swirl that had her wet and desperate for his possession.
“You want to take this inside?”
“After I call Jack.”
Marly listened as her body went into melt-down. There was nothing more sexy than Chase in authority-mode. She may have killed Groucho, but he’d put the knife in her hand and shielded her with his body. Together, they were quite the team.
“The index-subject is terminated. The rest expired. The antidote subject is secure. We’ll need a clean-up crew back at the warehouse and near the dock. What’s left of the index subject and his cronies are with us. Give us an hour and we’ll be there.”
Chase was silent for a moment, his gaze holding hers with the promise of always. What was it about this man? How could he do that? Talk to her without words? His body communicated with hers even as his words screamed official business.
“Just tying up loose ends, Boss.” He snapped the phone closed and threw it on the nearest bench. The sun peered over the horizon casting its timid warmth over the pile of human debris. “Now, where were we?”
“About to take a hot shower.”
Marly wrapped her arms around Chase’s neck, her mouth close to his. Those eyes. She hadn’t had a hope of resisting them. She’d been lost from the first moment in their mischievous glint and chivalrous promise. He was bad-boy sexy. The kind of man her mother had warned her about. The kind who got under a woman’s skin and drove her crazy with lust. Or just plain crazy. On that she was clear.
“Red, I want to kiss you.”
His breath danced across her lips, his words an excruciating torment. His gaze held hers, his message clear. Forgetting her was not an option.
“So, what are you waiting for?”
“You’ve had a tough night.”
“It’s only just begun.” He closed the miniscule gap, his lips finding no resistance at all.
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