Jack stared off into the darkness beyond the parking lot, looking adorable despite the blood and muck as he fidgeted with an empty Twinkie wrapper.
“I don’t know if I know too much more than you two. Ashley was over at my place and we were just watching TV. Neither of my parents were home.”
I tried to focus on the story, but I seethed with jealousy. Ashley? Really?
“So, we were just watching some music channel, they were showing an old U2 concert, and then the channel stopped working. I flipped around, looking for something to watch, but there was nothing on, just lots of static. I thought the storm had wiped out the cable. But then one of the local stations was working. The President was talking. He was in Air Force One, broadcasting about some emergency, telling people to lock their doors. Ashley freaked out of course, but I figured it was just some crazy prank. I tried to go online, but the internet was down.
“Not so much of a prank, though. My parents take the same train home from the city every night. I’d just heard their train. I knew they’d be home in a minute to let us know what was up.
“And then the front door opened and my parents were home.
“But it wasn’t really my parents. Something was wrong. They weren’t really walking, more like, stumbling. They were bloody, like they’d been in an accident or something. I jumped up and went to try to help them. Ashley started screaming.
“And then they attacked. Dad got Ashley first. Oh my God, he killed her! He jumped on her and tore her throat out! With his teeth! She stopped screaming, but I think it was just because he got her vocal cords. There was blood everywhere, and he just kept right on biting her...eating her! Mom tried to get me. She dove across the room, but I got away. She barely even got her teeth into me...”
Jack trailed off, sobbing. I put my arm around him, trying to make him feel better. I knew it wouldn’t help, but I had to try. I rubbed his neck, caressing the little cowlick where his hairline swirled. I’d dreamed so many times about playing with his hair like that. He stopped moving, and I congratulated myself on having calmed him.
I moved my hands down to his shoulders, and then his arms, where I saw the gaping, circular bite-wound on his forearm. It looked infected, like the skin around it was dying, or maybe eating itself from the inside out. Whatever the case, it looked bad.
I kept one hand on his good arm while I turned to look at Michael. “I think we need to get Jack to a hospital,” I whispered. “Look at his arm.”
Michael quit scowling and leaned around me to see what I meant, and then wrinkled his nose in disgust at the sight of the wound.
“Ugh, yeah, you’re probably right. Where should we take him? Do you think there are any hospitals that are safe?”
I shrugged, and opened my mouth to answer, when Jack started gagging like a cat with a hairball. The gagging turned to violent, full-body retching, and Michael and I jumped away from him, out of the line of fire, as he vomited a black, tar-like substance.
“Gross,” I said. “Jack, are you okay? Jack? Michael, help! He’s going to barf up a lung or something.”
And then it was lungs, or some kind of organs, coming out of his mouth. It looked like his insides had partially liquefied, like the last moments of a tuberculosis patient I’d read about in AP English.
As suddenly as it had started, the spasms were over and Jack lay quietly on the ground in a puddle of his own filth.
Michael took my hand and we crept nearer to Jack, leery, waiting for something else to happen.
Which it did, of course. Jack lumbered to his feet faster than I knew was possible for someone who seconds before had vomited organs. His eyes, which were once so warm and blue, had turned a dull, mustardy yellow. He groaned. He lurched. He zombied.
Millions died when the zombie plague swept the country. For the survivors, the journey has just begun. Jenna, Sam, and Lola are still alive. Jenna avoids human contact, traveling East Coast backroads with her boyfriend, a dog named Chicken, and a Louisville Slugger. Sam escapes to the mountains, where he's conscripted into a zombie-slaying militia sent on nightly raids to kill the undead...and innocent civilians. Lola's imprisoned in the "safety" of a zombie-free New Orleans hotel, but life grows more dangerous when her brother gets bitten by a zombie. Jenna arrives in the French Quarter, lured by the false promises of New Orleans' drunken leader. There, she's ripped away from her boyfriend, drugged, and dumped in a death camp after refusing Franklin's sexual advances. Jenna and Lola's lives collide there, where the dead live and the dying are victims of gruesome medical experiments. Escape isn't easy: release the genetically-enhanced zombies from the lab to create a diversion, slip away, and don't get eaten. When Sam arrives, will he join the right side of the battle?
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Genre – NA-Horror, Sci-fi
Rating – PG-13
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