Blood and Ash

James Kiely has one messed up excuse of a love life. He wakes up one morning next to the reason for it, and suddenly realises life has taken a turn for the better. Unfortunately, he picked the worst morning ever to wake up after sleeping with his best friend.
He picked the apocalypse. This is my entry for the gaming fan fiction contest on the grounds that it is based on The Walking Dead PC game, which I love. Although I have decided to set it in another country, somewhere far away, so I have some of my own credibility. I wanted to write myself a lovely little story, a romcom, but also decided to mix it up somewhat. Unfortunately it isn't easy to do that, so I hope it works out. If it does, I'll ask Movellas to introduce Zombie Apocalypse Romcoms to the categories list.

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3. Demons of the Forest

"You drugged me. Shit, James, you drugged me."

It wasn't the way James wanted to be spoken to after fireman's carrying her about a mile out of town and into a forest, shooting down anyone or anything that crossed their path. They were way out now, about half an hour's walk through the woods that bordered Karem.

Karem was a small city in a large flat area, right in the middle of Tala. It never grew much in terms of population, but in terms of agriculture, it grew tonnes. Karem's inhabitants were mostly skilled farmers, working huge fields in the plains surrounding them. Only one road went in or out of Karem: the EC3, the East Circular route 3. There were four East Circulars, and four West Circulars, although the third and fourth Circular on each side overlapped into the other half of the country. Tala itself had no distinct borders, the country just stopped at a huge range of crags christened Demonback Ridge. They were impassable from the wilderness beyond, a sheer cliff face lined with towers and sentry posts. Tala wasn't interested with what occupied the barren wasteland on the other side, only what tried to climb the cliffs up. And for that there was adequate defences.

Perhaps not enough, though? How else could what happened in Karem be explained? Tala was an island, and there were other islands on the planet. Only the richest people understood foreign affairs, as only they could afford to fly out on an aircraft and witness them. But even they didn't know what was on the rim. Someone must, though? Is that where these monsters came from? These thoughts crossed James' mind in constant loop as he sat against a tree in the middle of the Southern Forest. Amy was slumped opposite him, death-staring him. It was hard not to look at her- he knew that any eye contact would set her off again. He didn't know what to think with regards to her; the deal was that he prepared for the worst, and a girl messed with the contingency. Particularly the contingency of an unknown problem that tore apart a small city. He was supposed to be alone, so he didn't have to worry about someone who hadn't been training. The skills he had were supposed to be hammered in over years, not learnt on the run over days. This was a liability for him. But something stopped him from leaving her. He tried to reason it was that she held another pack of supplies, but there was a dusty corner in the back of his mind that said otherwise. She could stay. For now.

In the meantime, he had managed to make eye contact with Amy, and she was simmering again. It would only take a few seconds for her to boil over...

"You can't just drug me, James!"

"Amy, you were hardly handling the situation well."

"You could have told me beforehand!"

"At which point, you would have rejected the idea and I'd have drugged you anyway."

She seemed beaten for a moment, but James stayed on guard. Any second now...

"Why did you even bother taking me, then?"

This tripped James up. He hurriedly changed the subject.

"You need to understand that whatever the hell just happened, we probably aren't going back to Karem for a while. This rucksack is your life."

"I feel funny..."

"That may be the valium."

"Why the hell did you give me valium?"

"We've been through this... You weren't dealing with it that well."

"Well if you stopped shooting people, perhaps I'd handle it better!"

James moved forward, leaning in toward her. "I can't let you get killed, I'll never forgive myself."

She leaned in too, now with a mock threatening look. "You did just kill five people."

"Four people, and a zombie."

They kissed. Visions of the night before flashed through his mind as he continued to push forward, until he was on top of her. This was turning out to be a good day.

As if on cue, there was a rustle in the underbush. James sighed slightly even before his training clicked in, and he flicked himself upwards and slid both of the long Wolfsbane knives he had in his holster out. Each one was about ten inches in length, and had a wide and flat construction. A serrated edge took up the first three or four inches, and the rest was sharper than glass, with a slight gap along the centre of the blade, only adding to the industrial look. They had to be painful.

All of the moments before evaporated, and were pushed to another corner of James' mind, before another rustle snapped James round, straight into the direction of the noise. His eyes immediately narrowed, as he widened his stance and waited. All his muscles were tense, and his head was turned slightly. It was clear that he was ready to pounce, and at the next noise, pounce he did.

The source of this noise was another one of the monsters that Amy saw in the city, that much was clear, but it was only this time that she got to see it. The creature bore human clothes, but the resemblance ended there. It's features were horribly contorted, a broken jawline just holding loops of skin that seemed to have been scratched at. The beast's eyes were the worst. Grey and bloodshot, completely void of life. It felt like those eyes were sucking away all of the happiness in the world. The rest of the monster shambled with an awkward limp, albeit extremely quickly, peaking at about the same pace as a slow human jog, but with none of the grace. All of it's skin looked rotting, and whole flaps of it were hanging off or missing. Altogether, it looked to Amy like something out of a horror movie. And a bloody scary one at that.

A lot of the horror of the monster was removed when James plunged one knife into it's throat and straight out the back of the spine, taking a great deal of flesh out in the process. The creature collapsed to the floor, and James leant over to retrieve his knife. One sharp tug later, it was back in the holster, and James was back down against his tree trunk.

"James, what the hell was that?"

Though a little too soon, James realized he owed Amy an explanation of what he understood. He pulled a folded piece of paper out of his backpack, and handed it to her with a sigh.

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