Dana Evans, has reached that point in her life that is a time of endings and a time of renewal. It seems to her that all of her life has been like one big dance in the rain—a constant hustle to dodge the less than pleasant things life was throwing at her and a hunt to find that single ray of sunshine.
Tormented by nightmares and waking dreams Dana finally surrenders to the summons persistently whispering at the back her mind and returns to her home state of Florida—and walks straight into the welcoming grasp of those who have been waiting for her to answer the call of her blood.
But everything is not sunshine and rainbows. In this new world she has found herself there are much more likely to be dragons, goblins and zombies. As a warrior of the Nautica Guardians she has a duty to all who depend on her. She has lost the love of her life, but she made him a promise and she will find love again—and she’s going to have a great time doing it even if it gets her killed.
Sunshine Capital of the Gulf Coast—the place for family fun on the beach, boasted a large billboard plastered to the side of a tall condominium across the street. I just shook my head; I don’t really think this was exactly what the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce had in mind when they’d posted that sign because right now it was really hard to see the fun on the beach.
At the moment I was watching a fight raging in the streets below and dreading the fact that it was just a matter of time before I would be forced to abandon my relatively safe perch and join the battle. I applied pressure to one side of my mount’s neck with my knee to signal her to drop lower. I wanted to get a better look at a woman in a flapping yellow sundress who had just stumbled into the street. Her face was twisted in terror as she repeatedly looked back over her shoulder at the two men following her. Of course, I was using the term men rather loosely because it had been a couple of days since either of them had actually been human.
Both were wearing Hawaiian shirts and shorts which wouldn’t have been half bad except that one was missing part of his arm while the other had only one foot and was walking on the bloody stump of his leg. To have achieved this level of degradation it must have been at least two days ago that they were infected. They may have arrived at this resort town with the intent of having fun in the sun, but the only thought in their virus-infected brains now was of hunger, for hunger was the main motivator for zombies.
As a commander in the Nautica Guardians, I had been ordered to take my team into this tourist town to deal with the recent outbreak. We were lucky that the town was partially isolated from the neighboring communities by the bridges and national parks surrounding it. It was also off-season which meant fewer victims.
This was plainly the work of the sorceress Morgana. We’d been tracking her and her coven of witches for months now, but she’d mastered the Destri artifact she’d stolen well enough that she’d been jumping dimensions and staying just ahead of us. At this point we weren’t sure she was even aware that she and her coven were the source of the infection being spread through the Chain of Worlds. As far as we could discern, she was so focused on her mission to increase her power and discover a way of destroying the Nautica that she had not connected the outbreaks with her own passage. We still didn’t know the basis of her unnatural hatred for our race and I guess it really wasn’t our main concern right now either. All we knew was that the witches had been infected and, because of their partial immunity to the virus, they were acting as hosts to it. The only symptoms for the carriers in this case would be a slow degradation of their reasoning ability. Our scientists believed that they would eventually go completely mad, but we had no idea of how long it would take for the witches to succumb. Until they did, they would continue to spread the zombie virus to the unsuspecting people they interacted with.
My train of thought was interrupted when I saw the woman trip on the hem of her skirt. Well damned. “Lady, get up and run,” I shouted when she merely sat on the ground with her hands in front of her face, screaming, instead of trying to save herself. Sometimes I wondered if maybe stupid people should just be left to die.
“Down, ‘Bella,” I called into the wind swirling around us. Of course, the dragon I was flying on was a pretty smart cookie and had already altered her course. She knew I wasn’t going to let the foolish woman get eaten even if I thought I should.
Using my legs to keep me tight on the smooth scales of the dragon’s neck, I raised my revolver in one hand and steadied myself with the other in the thick ruff of skin at ‘Bella’s neck. She banked slightly toward the bigger of the zombies and I pulled the trigger. The zombie staggered as his head flew back from the impact. A large, red hole appeared between his eyes—and a large splatter of gore struck the street behind him as the bullet exploded out the back of his head. This stopped the forerunner in this race, but the second zombie did not so much as slow down.