Final edits are almost done on the new DEAD book. Yep, number 5 comes out in a few weeks. Stay tuned for the cover reveal of Dead: Siege & Survival a week from today if all goes well. For now, I will be featuring excerpts throughout the week.
So, as we left off with Kevin in Dead: Winter, he and Willa were heading back to the country club with the medication he'd scavenged for Valarie, the girl with Down's syndrome who was suffering from hallucinations.
Kevin leaned out the door as the Snow Cat rumbled to a halt. The dazzling brightness reflecting off the snow hurt his eyes. Every time he closed them, he saw spots. Still, he didn’t need perfect vision to see that there was big trouble up ahead.
“I guess the ride is over, Kevin,” Willa said as she shut down the motor. “Grab your bags, looks like we’re hoofing it from here.”
Kevin didn’t say a word. There wasn’t really anything to say. He looked at the herd that packed the breadth of the highway up ahead. Even from as far away as they were, he could hear them moaning and crying. There was one other noise under it all. It took him a moment to realize what he was hearing.
“The snow,” Kevin whispered.
“What?” Willa asked as she shouldered her pack and buckled the weapon-laden webbed belt around her slender waist.
For some reason, Kevin found that simple action amazingly sexy. He had to shake off the inappropriate thoughts starting to bloom involving her wearing only that belt dripping with blades and a few more exotic hand-to-hand items.
“You can hear them walking though the snow,” Kevin said with a nod towards the approaching mob.
Willa tilted her head slightly and peeled back her tight-fitting knit cap. With one finger, she tucked a strand of black hair behind her ear. Kevin couldn’t help but stare.
“Hey,” Willa said with a big smile, “you’re right.” She tugged the hat back down. “Not much gets past you does it?”
There were a few seconds of silence between them as Kevin struggled to banish the thoughts in his head. The only sounds carrying on the cold winter breeze came from the approaching wall of undead. He shook his head clear and focused on the situation…and Aleah.
“The best choice for us would be to head north. The river should be that way. If we can come across a bridge at any point, I say we take the opportunity to make the move.”
“You lead the way.” Kevin nodded.
The rest of the day was spent in relative silence. It didn’t seem that the herd saw them. If they did, they chose not to pursue. The zombies they did encounter were usually singles or small groups. Kevin continued to insist that they only engage the ones that took an active interest in them.
“You ain’t worried about bringing a bunch of them with you on our heels?” Willa asked at one point.
“We have so many places we will be ducking in and out of that I just don’t see the need for the waste of energy.”
At one point, just after they had crossed an open field and began winding through a scattering of trees, Willa grabbed Kevin’s shoulder and motioned for him to keep quite. She swung a crossbow off her shoulder and placed a bolt. Bringing the weapon up and tracking something in the distance, he looked around for what she might be taking aim at in the general direction she seemed to be focused. All he saw was snow…and more snow.
With a thrum and a hiss, there was a puff of snow about twenty yards away. Willa clapped her hands and bounded off to retrieve her prize. Reaching down, she stood and waved a plump rabbit in the air. Five more times that day, the ritual was repeated. Four of those times resulted in a dead rabbit.
As it began to grow dark and the first snowflakes of the evening began to fall, Kevin spotted the shadows indicating a scattering of residences. He veered off course, searching for the first intact home.
Luck was with them as the very first home they came to looked to have all its windows and doors. As an added bonus, the picket fence surrounding the front yard was in excellent condition. At first, Kevin thought the residents might still remain. He discovered that he was only partially correct as he drew close enough to see the large front window. It was smeared with filth, a clear indication that a zombie (or two) was inside.
“Let’s go around back,” Kevin whispered when he came to a stop across the street from the two-story home.
“You see something?” Willa let her crossbow slip down her shoulder and into her hands.
“Nope.” Kevin shielded his face with his hands to cut back the glare. “But I don’t want our tracks to just advertise where we went. It’s bad enough that anybody who wanted to could follow us, but if we circle around to the back of the house and make tracks to each of the five houses in this little area, it will help me relax.”
“You are something else,” Willa said appreciatively.
Kevin headed around the side of the house, his face turned away to hide the blush and the grin. All his life, he had been the awkward one…the geek…the nerd. Now, he had the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen waiting for him back where he currently called home while he was out in the middle of nowhere with another very pretty woman who lavished him with compliments and openly flirted with him. Not to mention the fact that he’d had to fend off the advances of a teenaged high school cheerleader that he’d saved from a horrific situation.
It took them about a half hour, but Willa did exactly as he asked, and they eventually had tracks all over the place; each house in the area had multiple sets of them leading to and from.
When it came time, Kevin pulled a small case from his own bag and made short work of the locked door. He drew his sturdy machete and nodded for Willa to open the door. Slowly and cautiously, so as to make as little noise as possible, she turned the knob and pushed it open. There was a tearing sound as the weather seal and the door, gummed together from any combination of not being used for months during the hot summer and now this freezing winter, separated. Then…the metallic rattle as the door chain reached its end and kept the door fast—open no more than a few inches.
A second later, the stench of rot and death hit them both square in the face. Kevin staggered back and shook his head, but Willa stumbled as if struck by something physical. The sounds of her retching were met by a low moan from the other side of the door.