DYING DAYS 5
Sally was bleeding out and all Mitchell could think about was if the zombies could smell it. He’d been covering her mouth for an hour, pushing down hard every time she tried to scream.
“You’re hurting her,” the little Puerto Rican bitch said for the fifth time in the last twenty minutes. Her New Yaw-Rican accent was getting on Mitchell’s nerves. If she wasn’t so damn hot, he would cover her mouth, too, but also her nose, until she died.
He hated having such vile thoughts. He was one of the good guys. “If she cries out, we’re dead. I heard noises outside.”
“There’s always noises outside,” the wimpy dude with the cracked glasses said. “The world moves around us.”
“Man, whatever drugs you’re taking, please share with me,” said the Puerto Rican chick. “Or else shut the fuck up with your Matthew McConaughey crazy talk. You’re not nearly as good looking.”
Mitchell put his hand up when he heard another noise. He was sure of it this time. Someone was right outside the door. Something…
There were seventeen people crammed into the bathroom of the Chinese restaurant, and it only had two stalls. Not nearly enough room to survive for long. With Sally sliced open and stinking like death it was only a matter of time before they were found out. Despite what Mitchell and a few of the more intelligent members of the group wanted, no one would let them toss Sally out into the restaurant or the street to be eaten. She hadn’t been bitten. She’d taken a nasty fall off a roof onto a wrought iron fence.
Sally was dying and she was going to get them all killed.
“Everyone please be quiet,” Mitchell said. He pointed at the door, which had no lock on it. They’d piled the garbage cans and wedged a chair under the door handle like someone had seen in a movie once, but Mitchell knew it wasn’t going to hold against anyone with a bit of intelligence. Like the fucking zombies roaming around lately.
Why had he joined with this sorry group of people anyway? Mitchell was doing just fine on his own. He had a little bit of food and water. He was sleeping on the roof of the Staples building across the street. He’d found two computer keyboards inside and he was keeping them as his weapons. So far he hadn’t had to use them. The break room vending machines were his source of food and drink. Until he’d emptied them.
There was a knock at the door.
One of the women went to go to the door, but two men held her down.
“Maybe it’s someone who needs help?” she asked, struggling to break free. “My poor son could be out there.”
“Or a zombie messing with us,” one of the men said. “I’ve been face to face with a smart one. They’ll screw with you, chase you down like an animal, and then bleed you out for hours. Stay away from the door.”
“You’re talking too loud,” Mitchell said. He waved his hands for everyone to back up into the far end of the bathroom.
There was a second knock. “Is everyone alright in there? I heard some talking. You people need any food or water? We set up a base camp just up the road.”
“We’re saved,” the woman said with a faint smile. “I knew my prayers would be answered.”
Mitchell shook his head. “No one speak.”
“Hello? This is the National Guard. We’re here to save you. The zombies are retreating back to Canada. Order will be restored. God has saved us all,” the voice said. “But we need to move fast. We’ll be heading out in a few hours.”
Now several people were coming forward, relief on their faces.
Mitchell knew it was all bullshit. He shook his head and put his arms up but no one was stopping. “It’s not real. There are zombies on the other side of the door. Don’t you get it? We’re being duped into opening up and letting them feed on us. All of us. I’m not going to do it.”
“Get out of the way,” a large man said, sweat streaking down his face. He’d been sitting against a sink since Mitchell had gotten here, and he hadn’t said a word. Now he was coming at Mitchell and gaining momentum. “I’m getting rescued.”
“Seriously, this is a mistake,” Mitchell said before the man pushed him out of the way. “We’re all going to die.”
“This isn’t a trick, is it?” an elderly woman was shouting.
As if they’d tell you the truth, Mitchell thought. No, we’re lying. This really is a trick. Haha. He moved to the back of the bathroom as the people scrambled to open the door and invite death inside.
Just as the door was cleared, something heavy slammed against it from the other side and everyone surged back.
People murmured and the large man put both hands up and tried to hush the crowd. It didn’t work.
“Open the door already. I’m having an episode,” a woman said. “I don’t like cramped spaces.”
“You’ve been here for three days without complaint,” someone else said.
Mitchell tried to blend into the wall, knowing there was something really bad about to go down.
“Please don’t open the door,” someone else said but they were drowned out by murmuring. “This isn’t going to end well.”
Another knock at the door and everyone fell silent.
Mitchell slumped down to the floor. He didn’t want to see people getting ripped apart, and it was going to happen.
“Hello?” a deep male voice said from the other side of the door. “Can I have your attention, please and thank you?”
It wasn’t the same voice as before. Whoever was talking had a bigger presence to Mitchell. An authority figure. Trouble.
“I can hear you in there. At least a dozen, maybe more. I have good news and bad news. What do you want to hear first?”
“Good news,” the big man finally said when no one answered. He’d stepped up to become their leader, and Mitchell was fine with it.
I should’ve stayed on the roof across the street, Mitchell thought.
“Alright. First, the good news… you didn’t open the door. Smart move. There were three zombies out here, ready to kill everyone in the bathroom. It would’ve been really bloody and quite the mess. So… you’re welcome. I wiped them out. But watch where you step when you exit the john because there might be a few puddles and limbs on the floor.”
Mitchell covered his head with his hands and pulled his knees close to his body. Could this get any worse? He knew it was about to.
No one made a sound, staring at the door.
“Hello? You still in there? Someone needs to ask about the bad news now,” the voice said.
“What’s the bad news?” Mitchell heard the big man say.
“Well, here’s the kicker. I’m also considered a zombie, except I’m more powerful than the ones bothering you. So powerful, in fact, I dispatched them with ease. Which was good short-term for you. Long-term? That would be up to you.”
“Don’t… open… the… door,” Mitchell yelled hysterically.
“Before everyone freaks out and tries something ridiculously stupid like attacking me, there are a couple of things you need to know. I’m not here to kill you. I’m actually here to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Interested in hearing my sales pitch?”
Mitchell stood up. Had he heard right? Was the fucker playing with them now?
“What do you think?” the big man asked and shrugged his shoulders.
“I’d rather not destroy the door, to be honest. But I will if you make me count to three,” the voice said. “Regardless, I’m going to chat with you for a bit.”
Mitchell pushed through the crowd. His hands were shaking. He couldn’t take this anymore. If they were going to die, so be it. But this teasing was literally going to kill him.
He was expecting someone to stop him as he put a hand to the door, but everyone was busy holding their breaths. Mitchell glanced around before turning the knob and pushing open the door.
It was a sharp-dressed man in the hallway. Not a bloody monster, although he did have some crimson spots on his royal navy suit. His dress shoes were covered in gore and the bottom of his pant legs was ruined. But he was smiling.
“Hey, thanks for opening the door. I really do appreciate it.” The man motioned, with his hand, for Mitchell to come out. “Let’s talk in the main room. Away from the smell of the hallway and the bathroom. I have a proposition, like I said.”
Mitchell stepped over what could be an arm but he didn’t want to spend too much time staring at it. He was afraid he’d pass out and fall face down in a pool of blood while the rest of his companions stepped over him.
The group was led into the restaurant, the man going to where the front doors used to be. He stood in the entryway in the darkness and now Mitchell could see his glowing red eyes. “I’ll get right to the point. I was like the mindless zombies and then I smartened up. Quicker than the rest. It was beneficial to me. I spend my nights roaming the area. I search out the zombies and destroy them.”
“Why?” Mitchell asked skeptically. He figured he had nothing to lose and no one else was stepping up to ask any questions. He wanted the guy to get to the point.
“Because I’m no longer a mere zombie. I’m so much more. I have powers you can only imagine. I can sense things. I can control things. Read minds. Manipulate the world around me. Understand more than the human brain could ever hope to learn and process. I have become the evolution of the race, and there can only be one of me.”
“You sound more like a vampire than a zombie,” Mitchell said.
The man smiled. “If it helps you by putting a label on me, so be it. It doesn’t really mean anything. I am what I am. And I am offering you all a chance to live.”
“Keep talking,” a woman said.
“I am building a new life. A safe haven where the zombies won’t be able to touch us. A place with food and water and electricity. Somewhere you can raise your children without worry,” the man said. “And in return I ask for your loyalty. Nothing more.”
“Nothing more?” Mitchell asked. “Then what’s in it for you?”
“A community to help protect me, of course. There are millions of zombies and they’re all heading to Florida. I can’t destroy them all myself. I need people on the walls of the compound to keep them at bay. I need help in keeping the human race alive.”
“To what end?” a woman asked.
The man chuckled. “I no longer need human flesh to live. I no longer have the horrible sexual urges of my lesser brethren. But I do need the blood. I won’t die without it, but I will survive longer with it.”
“You are a fucking vampire,” Mitchell said. “Holy shit.”
“If you come with me tonight, I offer safe passage to Daytona Beach to live and flourish. I won’t force you. If you choose to stay, I have no problem with it. But then you will become an ongoing source of blood for me. I hope you understand. Our human numbers are dwindling and I have so many big plans to expand where we live. We have a garden but need more people to help with crops and to gather supplies. Does anyone have any construction experience?”
Three men held up their hands.
“Excellent. We’ll be starting expansion in the next week. We’d love to have you be a part of the team. I will protect you. Will feed and clothe you. In return, you will help me. Any questions, or shall we go? I have a team waiting for you outside in a school bus to transport you to Main Street.”
“Who are you?” Mitchell asked.
“I am The Lich Lord.”
* * * * *
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