Book 2: Page 2

“How are you any different?” Shavian scoffed.

“Because I’m not playing games, poppet.” She didn’t think it would be wise to interrupt him and protest this time. “His games have consequences. I will show him, just like God, that his creations will not simply do as he says.”

Shavian shook to her core. “What do you know about God?” She spit the words at him.

He handed her the same sickening smile. “Oh, but poppet. Unlike you, I’ve met my God. I will show him we will have a place on this earth for a long time to come.”

“You don’t really think that we are going to let you live do you?” Shavian couldn’t believe what he… No. what this thing was saying. She needed to stop believing the Baron was alive. She’d been away from the living too long. How long till she lost her sanity completely?

Lord give the strength. Father give me the wisdom.

It had been her mantra as they’d marched from the ruins of the military base and the screams of the dying chased her from doomed bunkers. The Baron was the only thing that kept her from the same fate. She prayed Jackson didn’t die with them. It was her duty to kill him.

“I say, I think you should look outside. This lovely world is ours now. You are one of the lucky few I will keep with me on my journeys.”

She pulled Higgins’s pistol from the waistband of her surgical scrubs and pressed the barrel to the Barron’s temple. “I said, we are going to find Jackson, and then I’m going to kill him.” He didn’t seem surprised by her sudden show of force. His eyes slowly turned to look down at the handgun she held. Then, turning his head, he slowly opened his mouth and bit down on the end of the gun.

The tip of the gun wasn’t sheered off, or even damaged. While he might be a zombie, his teeth and muscles were still of mortal construction. What he was doing was getting bits of blood and gore all over Shavian’s nice, clean gun.

“Hey!” she shouted at him, “get off!” He didn’t remove his firm hold.

Murrouwww,” was the only response she could make out with a mouth full of 1911.

She tried to yank the gun from his bite but the Barron followed after. He was not going to let her pull the pistol free. “Get off, get off, getoffgetoffgetoff!” she shouted at him, moving backward about the room. He moved along after her with his insistent moaning. Shavian thought about pulling the trigger, and the Barron was all but daring her to do it.

Not looking where she was going, she blindly stumbled when the back of her legs reached the side of the bed. She didn’t have anywhere else to go. With her pinned to the bed he took one more step and pushed the butt of the gun into her chest. This close she could smell him. The death that wafted off him wasn’t as bad as the others. He wore it more like putrid cologne.

Shavian glared at him.

He smiled back at her, the pistol still between his teeth.

“Get off,” her voice deeper, husky with anger.

The baron understood this warning sign. Even undead he had a healthy respect for his own mortality. Carefully he removed his teeth from the gun and Shavian visibly relaxed.

He leaned in and tried to lick the flecks of gore he’d left behind.

“You son of a bitch!” She tried to swing the butt of the gun out and hit him in the temple but he was simply too fast for her.

He leaped over her and onto headboard brain eating grin.

“I say, poppet,” he called down to her from his perch, “that temper of yours is going to get you into a lot of trouble one of these days.”

“It already has.” Her voice was suddenly subdued.

Those words hurt. Not because they were mean but because they were true. What had happened in the bunkers was her fault. Higgins’ death was a mark that her soul will carry.

She turned and walked to the door.

“Poppet?” he called after her.

“I’m hungry.” It was the only thing she could come up with. She wasn’t, and even if she was she didn’t think she could force down another can of corned beef hash. The thought of it would make her sick to her stomach, if the guilt hadn’t already done the job.

The kitchen was empty, but the shambling of the Baron’s followers milling about in the yard seemed to vibrate the walls. Shavian pushed a pile of unopened cans into the sink and pulled herself up onto the counter in the space she’d cleared. She leaned against the wall with her knees pulled up to her chest.

She looked out of the window over the sink. Grime and moonlight had made the glass look like it was frosted over. The last time she’d seen him he was flying away in the chopper. She didn’t appreciate just how much she’d miss him. How they’d argued. How he’d been there to protect her.

She sighed. “I hope you’re okay, Spot.”

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