Something’s gone terribly wrong. In one breath, Patrick and Thomas have gone from a loving couple to zombies on the run, fighting to stay one step ahead of the dog pack sent to bring them down. What’s worse, Patrick seems to have lost his mind, a wide-eyed innocent not realizing their danger.
Heartbroken, Thomas wonders if he’ll ever get his lover back, let alone find the sanctuary rumored to be in the east, before their lives come to a depressing and rather horrifying end.
Patrick hummed under his breath, sounding happy as they walked through the dry grass, the crunch of their boots the only sound. But as time passed Thomas chewed at his lips, growing anxious as dusk descended and he didn't spot a clump of boulders or a fallen oak tree they could hide in, the lone rock they’d just passed too small for both of them. He wasn't afraid in the daylight. They rarely came across an uninfected person. But at night ... The untouched ones gathered behind chain link and razor wire and set the dogs loose.
As if on que a howl broke the stillness and his blood surged, heartbeat thundering in his ears.
Patrick's tiny, scared voice made his protective instincts leap to the forefront. With a glance at the empty landscape ahead of them, he shoved Patrick toward the boulder behind them.
"Climb!" He laced his fingers to boost him up, then scrambled after him, leaving scraps of rotting skin on the granite face. Once at the top, Patrick hunched down in the center of the semi-flat stone, wrapping his arms around his knees. Thomas hunkered down behind him, balanced on the balls of his feet on the inadequate space, and slid his arms around his shivering lover. "It's okay. I'm here."
"I know, babe. Me too, but we're together. I've got you." He put a finger under Patrick's chin and turned his head, lifting his wrecked face. "Can I kiss you, in case ..." He left the obvious unsaid.
For a second panic flickered in Patrick's beautiful eyes. His lips parted and Thomas quickly covered them with his own, before he lost Patrick to the madness that often seized his mind in these instances of danger. There was the tang of death and rot, but under that he still tasted like Patrick, and love and pain swelled in Thomas’s chest.
The dogs drew closer, their yelps and snarls echoing across the empty fields. Patrick whimpered and Thomas leaned to his ear. "Hide, baby. Lose yourself in some sweet dream."
The hounds broke from the trees and launched themselves at the rock. Patrick cried out, lurching back when a snarling muzzle snapped in his face. Thomas instinctively tightened his arms around him, steadying them both. Tighter, as the dogs leaped against the rock trying to get at them, and felt something give in Patrick’s body. Oh God!
No answer. With that last convulsive hug, he’d crushed his lover’s rotting shell. Biting back a howl of anguish, no longer concerned with the raving dogs, he held Patrick to him, not caring as the soft flesh slid from his bones.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered brokenly, rocking Patrick in his arms. It couldn’t end like this. Unendurable loneliness crept from his heart. Despair. His sweet, sweet lover was gone. He didn’t care when the dogs fell silent, and crept away with a whine. Nothing mattered, and it was a moment before he felt the growing heat in the body he held. What?