Together Forever

You race back to the cop car you had passed earlier, hop inside and drive away. It's actually the second time you've driven a police car. The first time landed you in juvenile hall at age 13.

"A zombie outbreak has traffic
tied up along the interstate..."
You make your way south, weaving around all the zombies. As you get closer to Marla's, you see the highway jammed with people trying to flee toward the north. At Marla's apartment complex, there's a sense of a hasty evacuation, like the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Doors are open, and people have left behind the things they couldn't carry, such as microwaves and compact refrigerators.

You knock on Marla's door and ring the bell. Nothing. You climb over a wall to the patio and find the sliding back door open.

Inside, there's a funny smell, like rotting garbage. You walk down the hall and poke your head inside the bathroom. There are drops of blood on the floor, and some bandages and a tube of antibacterial cream on the sink. You continue down the hall to the bedroom, heart thumping.

She's in bed, on her side, turned away from you.

"Marla. You OK?"

No response. You shake her shoulder. Granted, she's never been a morning person, but this is ridiculous.

"Marla. It's me."

Suddenly, she turns and hisses. It's Marla alright: zombie Marla, with blotchy gray-blue skin and red eyes. She lunges at you but you manage to hold her down.

It's strange. She's not as aggressive as the other zombies. She hisses and gnashes her teeth and makes some perfunctory attempts to bite you, but it seems like her heart isn't in it. Is it possible she still remembers you?

Maybe. Maybe she's not so far gone. There's gotta be something you can do. You wrap her in a blanket and help her outside, talking to her the whole way, trying to calm her down as she hisses and tries to bite you.

"Take it easy, baby. We're gonna get you some help."

You head toward the police car when a black van pulls up and three men in SWAT gear burst out and train their weapons on you.

"Step out of the way, sir!"

"Now just a minute."

"Step out of the way!"

"She needs a doctor."

"Negative, sir. Step out of the way!"

"Listen to me. I've been through a lot, and I just need to get help for my girlfriend."

"Your girlfriend's gone, sir."

No, you think. You've come too far. You won't let them waste her. There are times to dig in and fight, and this is one of them.

"She's gone when I say she's gone, you little--"

Just a little feint toward them. The slightest step. That's all it takes. The next thing you know, you're standing in a raging river of bullets. The sensation is like getting punched, hard. The air goes out of your lungs; your legs wilt and you drop to the ground. You might have considered that these men would be a little jittery, what with their first day of zombie combat and all. Maybe even trigger happy. But now it's too late.

You roll your head over. Marla is there next to you, with a neat little hole in the center of her forehead. You put your hand to her cheek. She always had such nice skin. Even in her current state, it has a luster. You stroke her cheek, softly. She seems to be smiling.

Yes, she does recognize me! Look at that smile!

And the last thing you see, before it all goes black, is Marla—the girlfriend you risked life and limb for—opening her mouth and biting your pinkie finger clean off.