Content Warning: gore, death, zombies, slight BDSM
Bryce never expected to find himself smack in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and he certainly never expected to meet the man of his dreams along the way. But there's more than zombies in the way of his happily ever after. Richard comes with baggage, in the form of his on again, off again bipolar lover Cole, who is off his meds and descending into his own mental hell at an alarming rate. Will the three men be able to work out their romantic feelings? Oh yeah...and then there's that little issue of the zombies...
I didn’t know how long it took us to get to the camp. I’d stopped wearing a watch on day two of the outbreak. Aside from the rising and setting of the sun, it wasn’t like time mattered anymore. Our new friends were even courteous enough to stop and wait for us several times along the way, which only served to further my belief that they did indeed plan on eating us. Or at least Cole. Richard kept distance between us and them, even at the camp.
I had to admit, though, they hadn’t done too poorly. They led us to a half-built structure, barely anything more than a foundation and four exterior walls, but it did have a partial roof.
“What’s this?” Richard asked.
Bob spread his arms and turned in a circle. “Welcome to the American dream. Somebody’s dream, anyhow.”
“Looks like construction stalled,” I mused. Bob and his group had several vehicles, including a couple SUVs, a bread truck, and a large van. They’d parked the vehicles in a half-circle around the front of the structure. Inside, they’d set up some chairs and a couple mattresses, and a long table with plates, bowls, bags of chips, and drinks. Just outside the almost-house was a giant pot of bub- bling food over a roaring fire.
I glanced around the house as we stepped up into the doorway. First, possible zombies, and now, an almost-house. Was this was life would be from now on? Stuck halfway through, with nothing complete? And who were we to be setting up there? An abandoned store was one thing, but someone’s house? This felt wrong. I swiped my hands over my arms, trying to wipe away the sensation of being watched by the ghosts of whoever had dreamed of living here. Were they still alive? Were they zombies? Were they coming back?
Three more women and five more men made up the group. I wasn’t sure why, but for some reason it hadn’t occurred to me that people might be aligning in such large groups. Strength in numbers was all fine and good, but I couldn’t help but think back to what Cole had said the first day I’d met him—extra people just slow you down. Although, as I glanced down at my ankle, I wondered how much I’d slow everyone down. I wasn’t sure what Richard’s plan was—how long he expected us to be with the group—and I needed to find out.
Richard laid a hand on my shoulder, breaking into my thoughts, and pushed me toward a bench. He sat us down; Cole took a spot on the floor between Richard’s legs.
“Hey Becky!” Bob called out. “Come take a look at—I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”
I glanced at Richard, who nodded. “Bryce. My name is Bryce.”
“Right. Come take a look at Bryce. Our new friend took a tumble. Scratched himself up pretty bad, looks like.”
Nurse Becky turned out to be a short blonde woman with a round frame and big doe eyes. I thought for a minute that, if they were looking for sustenance, Nurse Becky would do better than Cole. Then again, maybe they were just fattening her up. I winced and gagged down bile as she grabbed hold of my ankle uncer- emoniously and proceeded to twist it around.
“It ain’t broke,” she triumphantly declared after several more minutes of manipulation, her tongue sticking out between her teeth. “Prolly jus’ sprained is all. Can ya walk on it?”
I nodded. I wasn’t about to tell her it hurt like hell. If she touched it again, I might piss my pants.
“Here,” Bob came back over, holding a tray with three bowls of what smelled like stew. “We managed to catch a little something for dinner. Eat up!”
I looked at Richard again and he nodded. The stew turned out to be just meat and broth. I couldn’t quite place the flavor, but it wasn’t bad. Gamier than I liked my meat, but there was no use being picky considering the circumstances. I polished off my bowl in record time—unaware how truly hungry I’d been.
“Help yourself to more,” Bob said. “There’s bottled water on the table over there, if you’re thirsty.”
“I gotta piss,” Cole announced. He jumped to his feet and walked out toward the edge of our new friends’ camp.
“Don’t go far!” Richard called after him.
Cole lifted his right arm and shot Richard a bird.
“Asshole,” Richard mumbled.
Water sounded good, so I limped my way over to the table, grabbed up a bottle, and froze as something pink and shiny drew my attention. I gagged down bile as I reached for the rhinestone studded collar and shoved it quickly into my pocket. Jesus Christ. What the hell was I going to do? I put the bowl down and walked back over to Richard. I sat down next to him. “We can’t eat any more of the stew.”