Dead Rising

Zane watched as the woman bathed in the frigid river beneath him. The tree he perched in giving him a full visual of her as she splashed the icy liquid against her skin, while the night breeze enveloped her. For a moment, he was thankful that the utilities of the neighboring town had been cut off when healthy humans sought permanent shelter from the diseased, rather than working to keep such civilized accoutrements going.

Her skin seemed to glow in the moonlight. Zane was particularly mesmerized by the water drops that clung to her body as the rest ran in rivulets down her curving hips, and could easily read the tension that racked her by how tight she held her shoulders. She never relaxed, even under his coven’s protection. None of them did, really. He couldn’t blame them, not as he swallowed against the burning in his throat. Scant months ago, he’d be stalking her for a one-time meal, enjoying the sensuality of her bathing in the night, only for a moment, before he made his deadly attack.

A twig broke in the surrounding forest. In unison, they snapped their necks toward the sound, only Zane could hear the soft shuffling of the leaves that followed.

“Damn!” The sanctuary of the river, and his quiet revelry, were abandoned as he leapt from the tree and swooped up his charge. “Thank God you weigh so little, Maria.” He sprinted her back to the safety of the community high school, only yards from the river. He carried her, farther still, into the building’s basement for a fresh supply of clothes from the storage locker.

Maria shook from the cold and fear, and had trouble with the buttons on a yellow blouse he’d grabbed for her. He reached out to assist. She didn’t push his hands away, instead she let her arms fall to her sides in defeat as tears of stress pooled in her eyes.

“Thank you for saving me, Zane.”

“It’s not a favor, Maria.” He reminded her, as he folded down the shirt’s collar, pausing to caress her neck and feel her still racing pulse beneath, lightly gripping her throat, his dark eyes baring down into hers as they widened again in terror.

Her shaking abruptly stopped and she froze in place, her tears drying instantly as the fresh fear gripped her body. He could feel all her primitive impulses rushing to keep her safe. He reveled in it, and couldn’t contain a whisper of a smile as he felt her pulse race faster still. In the school, she faced a danger of a different kind than what she found down at the river, as did all her companions resting fitfully above them behind locked doors and barricaded windows.

The waves of fear that emanated from her served as reminders, to them both, that the alliance between humans and vampires was fragile and born only of necessity. Humans needed protection from a disease born of their precious science and thirst for war, while vampires needed to protect their food source.

“There’s a strict no biting rule in the compound,” she choked out. Her voice trembled in time with the beat of her heart. The whisper of a smile that danced across his lips before grew to a menacing, fang filled, barking laugh.

“The rules exist for our sake, Human Girl, not for yours.” He dropped his hand from her neck and left her standing there wide eyed and alone. He knew she was safe, even in a den of his own kind. Eventually she’d run back to the relative peace of her family’s room and lock the door; a joke in itself, any vampire could break through such meager defenses.

He stalked down a dark corridor, annoyance cloying at him, as he made his way to the pantry refers. The survival of humans ensured the survival of vampires, and as such the coven couldn’t risk succumbing to their own blood lust by drinking from the warm and supple source of their food. Reaching his destination, he walked into the bitter cold of the deep stand up refrigerator and reached for a bag of blood lovingly donated by one of the humans in the herd sleeping above his head.

Zane grimaced against the first sip of the liquid, it tasted vile, cold and stored so far away from its host. But it tasted better than inevitable starvation if the zombies outside infected every human. There were already precious few healthy humans left in this dystopian world.

So, the herd of humans, locked behind the barricaded doors of the high school, were safe; at least from the vampires that needed them alive.

Above is the beginning of a project I’ll  be continuing in the future and you should see more during the coming months. To those of you who’ve encouraged me to continue, you’ve gotten your wish, but the rest isn’t ready yet ;). Like my last piece, it began as a humble answer to a writing prompt on reddit. It’s grown past that for me. 

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