Hollowmen / Page 29

Page 29


“Can we get a little privacy?” Nolita snapped.

“Sure, have all the privacy you need,” I said. “Just make sure you bring the food with you.”

I was walking away and about to round the pots and pans when something caught my eye. The fire from the torch was shining through the shelves, and it reflected off the stainless doors of the fridges and freezers. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the light moving.

I turned back around in time see the fridge door opening and a hand reaching out. Not just any hand, but a thin one with long, yellowed fingernails. A zombie.

19.

“Watch out!” I shouted, and Nolita acted instantly.

She pushed Daniels back, protecting him, and he fell back into the rows of pots and pans, making them all clatter to the ground.

The zombie had completely emerged from the fridge now, and it was clearly an older one. It was too sunken to have male or female features, and its only hair were a few patches of long dark strings hanging from its skull. Its mouth was mostly full of teeth, all jagged and crooked and protruding from its mouth. It was almost as thin as the zombie I’d seen climbing out of the semi-trailer, but this one was in better shape and surprisingly fast.

Nolita charged at it, although I’m not sure what she meant to do since she had no weapons. I think her mind was probably fogged from making love with Daniels, and her only thoughts were focused on protecting the guy she was falling for, at any cost.

The zombie lurched at her, and she punched it. She connected with its eye, pushing it deeper into its skull. If she’d hit in the jaw, everything might have gone differently. But she didn’t.

I stood at the ready, holding my oversized pot, and if I’d seen a moment to jump in, I would’ve. But Nolita had a killer right hook, and as the zombie fell to the ground, I assumed she had it under control. She hadn’t taken off her combat boots, even to have sex, and I thought she’d smash the thing with no problem.

But the zombie only fell to its knees. Nolita grabbed what was left of the zombie’s hair, meaning to yank its head back and punch it again. Instead, the zombie jerked forward, leaving Nolita with a fistful of zombie scalp.

The zombie’s head was right at the level of Nolita’s bare stomach. She’d put on her panties and pulled her shirt down over her chest, but she hadn’t bothered to adjust it, so it was still bunched up under her breasts.

And like that, the zombie bit into her, its teeth sinking into her flesh. She screamed, loud and piercing, as the zombie got a mouthful of her stomach.

“Nolita!” Daniels shouted and tried to scramble to his feet out of the mess in of pans and shelves.

Nolita was still screaming and hitting futilely at the zombie’s head, but it refused to let go. It dug its bony fingers into her thighs, latching itself even more tightly to her.

“Move your hands, Nolita!” I yelled. I wanted to hit the thing, but she was hitting it and grabbing onto it, so her limbs were in the way.

She did as she was told, and somehow, that knocked her off balance, and she fell backward with the zombie on top of her. It let go of her, but only long enough for it to tear a hole in her skin before going in for another bite.

I swung the pot down on its back as hard as I could, crushing its bony spine, but it still didn’t let go. I didn’t want to hit its head out of fear of hurting Nolita worse. I hit the zombie again, and again, but it didn’t let go. Nolita was still screaming, and Daniels kept shouting her name, standing impotently behind us.

I kicked the zombie in the side using all my might, and finally it came free. Sort of. It flew off the side of her, but Nolita’s intestines went with it. The zombie had a grip on a long tendril of her innards.

When I’d hit the zombie repeatedly in the back, I’d apparently severed its spine, because it couldn’t seem to use its back legs anymore. It crawled toward Nolita, pulling itself with its hands.

“Nolita!” Daniels immediately rushed to her side, kneeling down beside her.

“There’s still a zombie, you idiot!” I grabbed his arm and yanked him back, fearing the zombie would latch onto him if it had a chance.

The zombie opened its mouth, preparing to let out some kind of howl, and I jumped over Nolita and slammed the pot down into its head. I could feel the skull crushing underneath, but I lifted it and slammed the metal onto the zombie twice more for good measure.

When I was done, I pushed the hair back from my face and turned around. Daniels was kneeling next to Nolita with tears in his eyes. She was still alive, her eyes open wide, but her mouth was filled with blood. She’d stopped screaming, and the only sound she made was her trying to swallow and choking on her blood.

“What is going on?” Boden asked, storming into the kitchen and brandishing his gun. Then he saw Nolita and stopped cold. “Oh hell.”

I stepped over Nolita and shut the fridge, just in case there were more zombies waiting inside. Then I made sure all the other doors were closed, and Boden walked slowly over to where Daniels was crying and cradling Nolita.

Her intestines were hanging out of her stomach, leading to where the zombie lay crushed to death on the floor. Her mouth was moving, and she was trying to make words, but there was too much blood filling her mouth.

“I love you, Nolita,” Daniels said, pushing the hair back from her forehead, and then he looked up at Boden standing over him. “I can’t help her. I can’t fix this. It’s too …”

“Move,” Boden said simply.

Daniels looked down at her and sniffled. Almost reluctantly, he let go of her. He still knelt by her side, but he moved back from her.

Without saying a word, Boden stared down at Nolita. Then he pointed the gun at her forehead and pulled the trigger.

I jumped, and Daniels wailed. He immediately picked up Nolita again, holding her dead body to him.

As someone who’d been awake while people played with her intestines, I knew that Boden had done the right thing by Nolita. She wouldn’t have survived that much longer. Even if she miraculously did live despite the wounds, it would only be a matter of time before she was a zombie.

Boden turned and walked out of the kitchen. I stayed behind, watching Daniels cry over Nolita for a few minutes, but the situation was too gruesome for me to leave him there.

“Come on.” I touched his shoulder. “We need to go.”

“No, I don’t want to leave her,” Daniels said. “I can’t just leave her here like this.”

“We can’t bury her, and you can’t just sit here with a dead body,” I said. “Let’s go and get you cleaned up.”


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