This new life of Zombie Hunter and Champion of the People, everywhere, was beginning to wear a little thin. But Dana was not the sort of woman who could or would walk away when the going got tough.
Of course the side benefits were nothing to complain about. She’d traded her mundane life of a fifty-something housewife for the body of a twenty year-old, and her vacuum cleaner and mini-van for a sword and a dragon!
And then there were the two handsome warriors vying for her love—what more could a woman wish for?
“Sunshine and daisies, yeah, right, that was my world!” Whoever had coined that happy, happy phrase would have had a completely different outlook on life if he had been viewing it through my eyes. The only daisies I could currently see were cradling a mutilated body lying sprawled on some lazy gardener’s lawn. Probably belonged to the afore mentioned gardener.
Fact was, right then my world more resembled some teenage boy’s wet dream of a Saturday night horror flick. Zombies! Hard to believe, but zombies were roaming the streets of what had recently been a small Georgia town. My job was to end their misery.
Swallowing the bile rising at the back of my throat, I took a step back and raised the muzzle of the Smith & Wesson nine mm, steadied it with both hands—and pulled the trigger.
The woman that had been openly stalking me for the last block was thrown back several feet by the impact of the bullet. A large red hole blossomed between her half exposed breasts even as she slammed into the ground.
The echo of my shot was still vibrating against my mind when I carefully approached the corpse where it lay, her hands still twitching and her body quivering, in the muddy mixture of Georgia red clay and blood. She was dressed in what might have been her Sunday best go-to-meeting dress. I think the young woman would have objected to the disarray of her torn, bloody clothing if she’d been able, but I knew, by the state of her decay, that she’d been beyond caring about anything for a couple of days now. All that had mattered to her since she’d been infected had been the ravening hunger consuming her.
When she finally lay still, I stepped back, took a deep breath, and scanned my surroundings. For three long days, storms had torn through this region, leaving the surrounding towns and countryside looking as if they’d been bombed, but not this town. Our scientists back at headquarters had concluded that this was the epicenter of the disturbance that had destroyed the region and, like the eye of a hurricane, it had remained relatively untouched.
I let my gaze rove over the puddles of water standing in lawns and streets and the leaves and broken tree branches strewn about. Somehow it just didn’t seem fair that the sun could be shining and the wind playing gently through the remaining branches like any other southern day when such horrors were walking the streets.
The sound of retching made me turn around to check on Brian, the young Guardian that had emerged from the alleyway with me. I’d nearly forgotten he was there—guess maybe I really just wanted to forget he was there. I was about to help him up from his knees when my attention was captured by the sound of something rustling through the layers of dry leaves trapped under the hedge of the old Victorian era house on my right. I raised the muzzle of the revolver still gripped in my hands and slowly turned.
I’d been on the job long enough now that there wasn’t much that scared me, but I confess, it took nearly more nerve than I had to stand my ground and face the creature that stumbled out of the shadows of those Azalea bushes. Maybe it was because I knew that this had so recently been a normal human man that I had difficulty accepting it, but the monstrosity slowly shuffling toward me, arms extended and mouth moving in silent plea, completely blew my mind. Skin hung in bloody tatters from his face, and his large, round eyes bulged from their sockets. His face bore a look of horror, perhaps a last sentient reaction to the hunger that had become the only true purpose remaining to his existence.
I easily dodged his clumsy attempt to grab me before pulling the trigger. The bullet flew true, piercing the shriveled flesh of the zombie’s forehead between his eyes. He stopped moving and his eyes slowly rolled up into his head. The zombie quivered and began to sway—and dropped backward to the ground.
The echoes of that shot seemed to go on forever, nearly smothering the persistent sound of the leaves stirring on the gentle currents of the breeze that tumbled its way along the street and lawns. I tried to step from its path but, unknowing and uncaring, the wind flicked across the rotting body of the zombie and gathered the nauseating odor of rot and decay escaping from the gaping wound at the back of his head before washing over us.
Gagging, I covered my mouth and nose with one arm and turned away—and slammed into Brian’s thick shoulder before he could move out of my way.
“Stay back, give me a little space,” I grumbled. I tried not to raise my voice, but I admit that man was seriously getting on my nerves. It seemed like every time I made a move, I ran into him. “Don’t let any of their blood or, whatever, touch you. You know the scientists at headquarters are still not totally sure if we’re all immune or exactly how the virus is transmitting,” I warned him.