In the spirit of the anthology I edited for Atria Brooks I’ve written a story for you can read right here for free. If you have already pre-ordered your copy of Anything but Zombies, you already know what the anthology is about and that it is available this Tuesday. For those of you who have yet to read anything about it, please click on this Amazon link to be taken directly to the AbZ page.
With no further delay, I present to you part one of The Non-Believers…
Mario lay ahead of Cindy, clutching at his bloody shin and she leapfrogged him. The others were just behind her and she hoped one of them would stop to help him up. But she was just too afraid.
“Guys, help!” Mario’s words were thick and wet like he had hit his face and busted his mouth. City chance today look over her shoulder just as those things reach him, digging their hands and mouth into his young flash. Mario screamed and Cindy let out a scream herself as her boyfriend was torn apart.
“My legs!” Gregory screamed. “My legs hurt so bad!” He had been bitten by those things, three of them, while they’d been wandering through the trees. His sister, Janine had been bitten on the neck and as they had all run her face had turned blue and she had fallen, only to be quickly devoured before her brother could come to her aid.
“Just keep running!” Matt said, surging ahead until he was almost neck-and-neck with Cindy. She didn’t consciously think about where she was going, but she wanted to go home. She wanted to run upstairs and lock her bedroom door before climbing beneath her covers and staying under there until the danger passed.
Or at least until somebody else did something about it.
She stubbed her toe on a rock, but managed not to fall. It hurt like hell, she might have broken it, but she didn’t dare stop. Cindy gritted her teeth against the agony with each footfall, pressing on as they came out of the trees. The others screamed and cried as they ran close behind, their cries no doubt keeping those things on their path if nothing else.
Finally they crested the berm at the edge of her property. Cindy could feel her strength waning, but she couldn’t slow down. Slowing down would mean falling behind and falling behind would mean letting those creatures etch even closer. She’d seen Thomas and Sarah go down. Had dodged around one of those creatures as it munched on Kelly and beneath the lunging arms of another that continued on to gouge out Martin’s eyeballs as the hapless young lineman had beat harmlessly at it with his massive and useless fists.
And then Mario. Poor Mario. The boy who had told her he loved her once upon a time, would love her forever and she’d believed him. Had believed she’d felt the same way. But the young track star had promptly raced out of the clearing of the initial bloodbath, leaving them all behind and disappearing into the woods. She’d seen the stone where he’d had to have bashed his shin, could have told him to watch out for it had he not been so far ahead of everyone else. After all, it was the wood behind her property and she’d known it well enough. So she’d felt no guilt in leapfrogging her boyfriend–her ex-boyfriend by her thinking. As far as Cindy had felt it was better him than her, better she found out what kind of boy he was before she realized twenty or thirty years in what kind of man he was.
They climbed over the old wooden fence that wouldn’t hold those things back for two seconds and she used the precious moment to fill her lungs and finally chanced a look back. As far as she could tell, it was just her, Gregory, Matt, and Delilah. Everyone else had been… caught and well, their catchers might still be eating.
Gregory took that moment to let his legs give out. Matt and Delilah helped him to his feet. All of them were grateful to have an excuse to take a breather, but Cindy couldn’t stop. She turned back toward the house and began a brisk walk.
“Cindy, wait up!” Delilah cried. “C’mon, serious! Greg’s hurt real bad.” Delilah’s boyfriend had been the first one to be eaten, going back to the cooler they had brought to fish out another beer only to have his own guts fished out instead. He’d been the lineman, punching the elderly monster in the face after it had shoved both hands into his stomach. It wasn’t the first time Delilah had been sprayed in the face with her boyfriend’s fluids, but that particular sentence had been ended with a resounding exclamation point.
I hope you’re enjoying so far. Please check back for the next installment and don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Anything but Zombies right now! And if you like pseudo-vampires, check out my first YA novel, Vamp-Hire!