The sounds of the approaching undead faded as the steel door slammed shut making the darkness absolute. She could hear nothing over her own ragged breathing, until and tearing sound of a match coming to life sparked to her right. The circle of dim fire illuminated the young male face for a moment before it dipped to light a round, half used candle. Another of them, this one no more than in his late teens, lit a second candle.
The small flames sent out just enough light for Sara to be able to see the third youth, the one that had lead her along, walking over to where she stood. “You okay?” he said in a voice sounding more rough that concerned. When she couldn’t bring herself to answer, he went on. “What’s your name?”
“Sara,” she said and the sound of her own voice startled her and she wondered briefly how long it have been since she had spoken.
He nodded. Although his face remained masked in shadow, she could tell he was the biggest of the three. Broad shoulders met strong arms covered with corded muscles. She supposed she might have considered such a man handsome a year ago, but his sight only filled her with terror.
She couldn’t help but contemplate if she might have been better off with the zombies.
He smoothed some of his ragged hair back over his head and said, “I go by, Dane. The guy over near the door is Buzz and the little dude is Davey.”
She might have moved her head. Sara attempted a smile, but doubted it came out looking that way.
Dane went on. “So you have been out there surviving on your own all this time?” As if in answer to his question, the loud mournful moan of a zombie reached their ears.
“I…we, I wasn’t always alone. We ran into some gang, the Rips.” She saw Dane a Buzz share a silent glance. “They shot up some of us and the biters took the rest. I only survived because…” she couldn’t bring herself to finish as the memories of her cowardly actions came flooding back to her. Would things have been different if she had stayed and tried to help them instead of just thinking for herself and running off? Peter had been shot in the leg. She felt twin tears stream down her cheeks. Maybe if she had helped him…
She was jerked back to the present when Dane put his arm around her. She flinched and tried to move away, but he held on. “Don’t worry, you’re okay. Everything cool, you’re safe now.”
She didn’t like the way he held her. “Thanks, but maybe I should just leave. I have some friends out there I need to find,” she lied.
His grip grew tighter. “I thought you said, they were gone. Besides, there’s no way we’re going to let you go back out there. It’s too dangerous.”
She tried to move away again, and couldn’t. “It isn’t up to you to decide what I do.”
The candle light exposed a grin that held no humor. “That’s where you’re wrong. We can make you do whatever the hell we like.”
She tried to struggle harder, but he grabbed her from behind by both arms. Buzz had hurried over and he said, “Help me get her clothes off.” He leaned in and whispered in her ear. “We could have played it cooler, but you knew this was going to happen either way, so you might as well try your best to roll with it.”
She noticed that Davey hadn’t moved to him the others. She pleaded to him with her eyes, but he looked away.
It wasn’t until Buzz pulled at her jeans that she started to scream.
Come back next weekend and discover if Sara can survive the horrors of both the living and the dead as she battles into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath