Alice in zombieland, p.39

Alice in Zombieland, page 39

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series

 

Alice in Zombieland
 



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Page 39

 

  “Frosty will drug your grandparents, okay? Without scaring them,” he added, probably knowing I’d protest otherwise. “They’ll never even know he was there. They’ll get a good night’s rest, and wake up nice and refreshed in the morning. They’ll still know you missed curfew, there’s nothing I can do about that since it’s twelve twenty-five, and Frosty won’t get there for another fifteen, but they won’t know what time you actually came home. ”

  His voice had begun to echo. We must be in a tunnel. The underground passage, probably. If I screamed—and I really really wanted to scream—the sound of my agony would echo into eternity and Cole would forever remember me as a wuss. Can’t let that happen.

  But I wasn’t sure what was worse. The potential blow to my ego, or the fact that I felt as if I’d fallen into hell’s fire.

  When Cole stopped, I barely managed to turn the waiting scream into a hiss. I heard another patter of footsteps, then the whine of hinges. Then he was moving again, and I was being laid on top of a cold, hard surface. Suddenly there were voices all around me, both male and female.

  “How many got to her?”

  “Eight that I saw. Could have been more. A nest of them chased her through the grounds. ”

  “How long were they able to feed on her?”

  “Don’t know. But she and I were separated for no more than an hour, so it’s gotta be less than that. ”

  “Any survivors?”

  “No, sir. ” Pride in his tone, followed by the barest of pauses. “How bad are Ali’s injuries?”

  The next pause was brutal, fraying what remained of my nerves. “Very. What they got into her spirit is now in her muscles. If it sinks into her bones…”

  Cole released a spat of dark curses.

  Must be a very bad thing. “Help…me,” I managed. Stop talking to each other and help me! Every second was worse than the last.

  My shirt was cut away, maybe even my bra. I hurt too much to care who was getting a peep show. For that matter, I hurt too much to care about my rep. I screamed, vocalizing the sharpest edges of my torment. Whoever was stripping me never paused. My boots and jeans were discarded in a hurry.

  Something cold probed the wound in my neck, and my entire body bowed as I released another scream. The pain… I’d only thought I knew what it was before. This was true pain. Pain in its purest form. Pain, pain, pain.

  “Knock her out!” Cole shouted.

  Another question poised at the edge of my mind, but it refused to crystallize. It bothered me, whatever it was. Made me uneasy, even queasy. Or maybe that was the zombie toxin or the antidote or whatever was working through me.

  After a pinch in my upper arm, something warm began to wash through me. Dizziness overshadowed that sense of pain, distracting me, and suddenly I was floating through a sea of soft clouds.

  Floating…

  …away…

  * * *

  …floating…

  …back…

  I fought the return to my body. I wanted to stay in this vast realm of nothingness, where troubles were a thing of the past and nothing could hurt me. But I lost this fight the same way I’d lost the fight with the zombies.

  Zombies.

  The word was a tether, drawing me back for good. I dropped…settling in…unable to escape.

  My stomach clenched, shooting a blistering sting up and another down. A moan left me. My brain felt like a big, heaping bowl of Jell-O, and my eyelids felt as if they’d been glued together. I had to force them to part by blinking rapidly. I tried to focus. I could hear a quiet beep, beep in the background. Could smell the strong odor of room cleaner overlaid by the rank scent of rot.

  A too-bright light hung above me, swinging back and forth. Last thing I remembered was the party, the zombies. Running, being chased, fighting. Teeth sinking into me. How had I gotten here? For that matter, where was here?

  My heartbeat picked up speed, and the beeping sounds followed suit. I attempted to sit up but something caught on my wrists, holding me down. I twisted to look, cried out. The skin in my neck and arm pulled tight, shooting knifelike pains through every inch of me.

  “Calm down,” someone said.

  Not alone. Stiffening, I searched the room. The speaker was hidden from view. “Who’s there?”

  “And stay still,” someone else added. “You don’t want to rip your stitches. ”

  “Besides, you can’t get free. ” A female voice I recognized but couldn’t quite place. “You’re restrained. ”

  Restrained? At last my gaze zeroed in on my wrists. They were at my sides, cuffed to the gurney. Calm down? As if! “Let me go! Now!” The words scraped at my throat like glass shards in a blender.

  “If you won’t calm down on your own, I’ll drug you again, and you’ll be completely helpless. Do you want to be completely helpless, Miss Bell?”

  Reeve’s dad, Mr. Ankh, walked around a curtain. He’d traded in his suit for bloodstained scrubs and a lab coat. A stethoscope dangled from his neck. His dark hair stood on end, and his eyes were rimmed with red.

  Beside him stepped a taller man with dark, though no less disheveled, hair. His features were rougher, the shadow of a beard on his jaw. His eyes were an electric blue, and his nose had a slight bump in the center. His face and arms were streaked with dirt, and yet his hands were scrubbed clean.

  Beside him stepped Dr. Wright, who had thin, horn-rimmed glasses perched on her nose and her arms crossed over her middle. She’d ditched her dress for a large button-up shirt and sweatpants so long they’d had to be pinned at the ankles. Somehow, she appeared no less authoritative.

  “How are you feeling, Ali?” she asked. “You’ve been out for most of the night. ”

  “I feel like I want someone to let me go. Here’s a hint. That someone is you!”

  A newcomer spoke out. “They’re just going to ask you some questions. The sooner you let them start, the sooner you’ll be released. ”

  Tensing, I watched as Cole eased through the open door. He hadn’t changed his clothes, even though blood streaked his T-shirt and jeans. My blood, I think. A white ball cap perched on his head, his dark hair sticking out in spikes underneath. Shadows fell over his face, blocking his eyes from inspection.

  “Who is he?” I demanded, motioning to the only one I didn’t know with a tilt of my chin.

  “My father. His name is Tyler. ”

  My eyes widened as I refocused on the rougher-looking adult. Now that I knew there was a connection, I could tell that his features were similar to Cole’s. Same slightly uptilted eyes, same stubborn chin.

  I forced myself to relax against the hard surface of the bed and gave a stiff nod. “Fine. Ask your questions. ”

  Mr. Holland jumped in first. I just couldn’t think of him as Tyler. It was too informal, too friendly when he was clearly anything but. “How did you know where those traps were? Because I’m thinking there’s no way you could have known where we’d set up an ambush unless you’d been spying on us. ”

  To tell the truth, or not to tell the truth? Maybe seeing glowing smears was a sign I was meant to be a slayer—one of those “many more” abilities the journal had mentioned. Maybe not. Maybe it would end all the antagonism lancing my way. Or maybe not. Maybe the antagonism would grow.

  Either way, I did it; I explained the glowing smears. Their expressions remained rigid and harsh, even when they looked at each other, as though curious to know what everyone else thought.

  They had me describe the smears, and I tried not to use a you-are-such-an-idiot-what-do-you-think-they-looked-like tone. They had me pick out the color from a chart on a laptop. Who could have known there were so many shades of white? They drilled me about my father, about the things he’d said and done, and then about the grandfather I’d never met.

  “I think I know what you saw,” Mr. Ankh said. “Or rather, what caused the glow. ”

 
When he said no more, I snapped, “Well. What?”

  He and Mr. Holland shared a dark look before Mr. Holland nodded and Mr. Ankh said, “The Blood Lines. ”

  Cole had mentioned the pouring of a chemical around a home to keep the zombies out. But why would they mark the trees?

  Mr. Holland flicked his tongue over an incisor. “The zombies are coming out when they shouldn’t, just to hunt you. Why is that?”

  “I don’t know,” I replied. “Why don’t you tell me? You obviously know more about this stuff than I do. ”

  He stopped flicking and started growling. “You have to know something. How else would you have survived so many attacks?”

  Anger exploded through me, a white-hot lance consuming everything in its path. “Are you suggesting I’m working with the zombies? That I paid them to pretend to attack me so that I’d trick you into letting me join you?”

  “Did you?” Mr. Holland demanded.

  “Yeah, okay,” I said in a sugar-sweet tone. “You’re right. I was having dinner with Zombie Carl the other night. You know, steaks, rare, and a bottle of vintage type A. He told me all his secrets, but too bad for you I promised him I wouldn’t tell. In exchange I asked him to gather his best undead buddies and stalk me through my friend’s yard. And oh, yeah, it was totally fine if they wanted to use me as an all-night dinner buffet, because having organs is so last season. ”

  Cole turned away, and I heard a dubious choking sound coming from his direction. Was he…laughing at me?

  How dare he! This was my life we were talking about.

  I should have zipped my lips to prevent myself from adding fuel to his amusement but my anger urged me on. “You know, there’s a very good chance I’m the best fighter in this room. Did you ever think of that?” Never mind the fact that I’d almost died. “Maybe, if you were better, you wouldn’t be so surprised when someone exhibits extraordinary abilities. ”

  All three adults gaped at me.

  “Just so we’re clear,” I said to Cole’s father, “what exactly is it you suspect me of doing? What is it you think I’ve already done? You haven’t said. Do you think I’m going to tattle to the humans Justin Silverstone works with? Well, I won’t. Their motives are questionable, according to Cole, and I have too much to lose. ”
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