“Bet they’re trapped in there,” Roger went on. “What a way to go.”

“I’m sure jets went down all over the world. I heard, right before the TV went black, that the planes over DFW were going down into neighborhoods. Just dropping right out of the sky,” Bill said.

“So many ways to die,” Jenni said with a sigh.

“Yeah,” Bill answered, and they all fell silent again.

They passed an overturned car. Inside a figure was flailing around. They drove on.

A figure darted out in front of the moving truck behind them and it was immediately flattened.

How easy it was to kill them now. So very easy.

Katarina again came to mind. He had seen her right before they had left.

She had been walking into the hotel as he exited.

“Try to,” he said, then hesitated. He wasn’t sure where he had gotten his nerve, but he had actually said, “Hey, Katarina, want to have a drink with me when I get back?”

She had smiled and said, “Yes, that sounds nice.”

Then she had walked on and so had he.

He kept thinking of that moment. He wanted to survive, go back to the fort and have a drink with her. He was ashamed to admit it, but he wondered what her hair smelled like. He hoped he would find out. Maybe someday, if she could ignore his plain looks and beer belly.

He turned the wheel and the truck slowed down as they hit the outskirts of their destination. Closed restaurants, gas stations, and a truck company lined this road. Then, up ahead, the two story modern hospital that served this town and several others loomed over an old laundromat. It was small, but that didn’t mean shit in this world.

The truck came to a stop.

Just inside the glass doors, two zombies in wheelchairs clawed at the glass.

Lenore and Ken were jostled around as the moving truck made its way down the country road following the first team’s red truck. They sat on a long bench secured to the interior wall, holding onto straps someone had drilled into the side.

“So why did you come?” Lenore fussed with her hair, wishing her new weave wasn’t already getting smashed under a hat. It had been a relief to get some beautiful lush hair after months of dealing with her own short hair without any decent products or styling tools.

Ken crossed his legs and gave her his most annoyingly cute look. “Guess.”

Lenore scowled at him. “You do realize, twinkle toes, that we are going into a highly dangerous situation where we will most likely get our asses eaten.”

“He’s really cute, don’t you think? All rugged and strong. Dreamy,” Ken said, smiling widely.

“You do realize I only heard the words ‘eaten’ and ‘cute guy’ just then.”

“I hate you.” Lenore tried to get comfortable on the bench, cursing herself for volunteering.

“Why did you volunteer?” Ken fussed with the laces of his boots, retying them as he bounced around on the bench. He made it look easy performing this feat. She would have landed on her ass.

“You volunteered, so I volunteered. Someone has to watch out for you.

You’d be all staring at Dale and some zombie would bite you. Then I would have to beat you for being stupid and then kill you for being a zombie. Which would be annoying.”

Ken laughed with delight. “Besides, I’m your best friend and your fag.”

“Do not make me feed you to the zombies!”

“I am going to pound you.” She winced the second the words were out of her mouth and she saw Ken’s opening. She hastily added, “No, don’t you say it!”

Ken rolled his eyes and began to check his weapons. “You love me.”

“No, he didn’t. He doesn’t like me like that.”

Lenore frowned. “No, he doesn’t.” She hated how the thought of Felix having interest in her made her pulse speed up.

“He likes you. Why else would he sit in our beauty shop for hours waiting for you to trim his hair?”

“Because he knows I know how to trim his black hair and that your white ass does not.”

Ken shook his head. “No, no. He likes you. Which is kind of funny if you think about it. Dale signed up to be part of the fort. I signed up to impress him with my prowess. You signed up to save my ass. And Felix signed up to watch yours. It’s the circle of life.”

Lenore wasn’t too sure about that, but she didn’t want to think about much more than getting into the hospital, grabbing what they needed and leaving. She wasn’t just doing this for Juan, but for everyone in the fort that may one day need the supplies.

After awhile, they lapsed into silence. Ken dozed off with his head against her shoulder. She loved the idiot, but she hated to admit it. He was the most loyal friend she had ever had, even if he was annoying. Sighing, she checked her crossbow and the bag of bolts.

When the truck came to a stop, she mentally prepared herself for the worst.

The doors opened and Dale looked up at them. “It’s pretty clear except for some dead guys in wheelchairs inside the front doors. Weirdest shit I’ve seen in awhile.”

“Thank God for that,” Ken said with relief. He hurried over to leap down, while Lenore pulled herself to her feet and grabbed her bag.

“Let’s get this done so we can go home,” Lenore grumbled as she tried to get down off the moving truck and still maintain some dignity.

Dale grabbed hold of her and helped her down with surprising ease. She flashed a grin at Ken’s jealous expression and slung her bag over her shoulder.

Felix, Bill, Jenni and Roger walked toward them, their weapons out, looking around cautiously. Lenore also swept her gaze over their surroundings. It was surprisingly calm and zombie free except for the two creatures inside the glass doors of the hospital. Linda came around from the front of the truck, braiding her hair back from her face.

“Kinda feels too easy all at once,” Dale decided.

Bill pulled his belt up over his stomach and looked grim. “We go in. We get the stuff. We come out. Alive.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Felix said as he fell in beside Lenore.

Feeling shy after Ken’s declaration about Felix’s intentions, Lenore cautiously stole a look at him. Felix flashed a big smile and lightly took her hand in his. Giving it a soft squeeze, he seemed amused by her startled expression. Since she was not very good at the whole flirting thing, she ended up scowling at him, which elicited an even bigger grin.

“So, it’s zombie killing time,” Dale declared, stretching, his huge muscles flexing under his t-shirt.

“Yep. Better zip up your jacket and pull on your gloves.” Bill motioned to Dale’s exposed chest. “T-shirt ain’t protection.”

Lenore made sure her thick wool scarf was tight around her neck and yanked on the thick leather gloves that would allow her the flexibility to fire her crossbow. All of them were in zipped up leather jackets, jeans, and heavy shoes. Leather gloves protected their hands and anyone with long hair had it braided and pinned up on their heads.

“And they get ya from behind easier. I’ve seen it,” Dale added.

They had yet to come up with an effective way to protect their faces and necks, though a few people back at the fort were working on some ideas.

Lenore finished messing with her clothes and looked up to see that everyone else was ready, too. Jenni looked pale and worried as she stared at the hospital. Linda cocked her shotgun and looked toward Bill, waiting for the word.

“Let’s do it,” Bill said grimly. “Let’s get it done.”

Pain is what brought her to consciousness. Sitting up sharply, she was startled, then pleased to see she was in her bedroom at the mansion. Her face was throbbing and the coppery taste of blood filled her mouth, but she was home.

The fucking hicks had finally seen the light and sent her home.

The last thing she remembered was Charlotte, that fat nurse, coming in to tell her that she was going to give her a shot for the pain. Blanche never should have believed her, for almost immediately she had felt herself slipping away into darkness.