Alice in zombieland, p.40

Alice in Zombieland, page 40

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series

 

Alice in Zombieland
 



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Page 40

 

  I waited, but they offered no response. They merely stared at me, waiting. My mom had used the same technique, and I knew they hoped I would fill the silence by spilling secrets.

  “Do you treat all newcomers like this?” I asked. “Did you chain up Mackenzie and question her before you accepted her into your exhalted home?”

  “Uh-oh,” Cole muttered. “The questions have started in earnest. ”

  I ignored him.

  “Cole says you’re the most curious person he’s ever met. ” Mr. Holland massaged the back of his neck, an action I’d seen Cole do on more than one occasion. “But if you think we’ll answer without proof of your intentions, you’re as dumb as a box of rocks. Justin betrayed us. He taught those people how to hunt the zombies—how to hunt us. They aren’t the type to take no for an answer, and they certainly wouldn’t think twice about sending a teenage girl into our midst to destroy us from the inside. They want us gone, not the zombies. ”

  “Why?”

  “Why else? We fight them, hinder their research. ”

  I didn’t point out that he was the one who was dumb as a box of rocks. He’d just answered one of my questions without his precious proof. “I can’t believe you think I’m here to sabotage you. That would mean I’d purposely caused the car accident that destroyed my life. ” I tried to air quote the word destroyed, but the wrist cuffs prevented the action. “Maybe I even murdered my own family to draw the zombies and their handlers to my side so that I could join their ranks. ”

  Mr. Holland showed no mercy. “Believe me, it’s possible. ”

  And that meant I wasn’t to be believed, no matter what I said. “All right. Let’s say I’m working with them. What am I researching?”

  For some reason, Cole burst out laughing, no longer trying to hide it. Mr. Holland shot him a look that shouted shut up at lot louder than actual words, saving me the trouble.

  “What?” Cole said. “You’re not going to be able to intimidate her. Believe me, I’ve tried. ”

  Mr. Ankh said, “With the zombies, they want to know how to cause immortality. With us, spiritual powers beyond imagining. What else?”

  Maybe they believed me, after all. The answers were coming more easily now. Or, maybe this was common knowledge among slayers and hazmats. Either way, I didn’t care. I was having trouble digesting what he’d just said. Hoping to find a way to allow everyone to spend eternity as a rotting, walking spirit-corpse? Not cool. Now, research on the people who could see those zombies I got. Hated, but got.

  “How were the zombies first created?”

  The two Mr. ’s shared another look before Mr. Holland said, “Zombies exist because evil exists. We don’t know exactly how it happened, we can only guess. ”

  “We think the source of evil was here before we were, and slowly managed to work its way into human life,” Dr. Wright added. “Like any disease without treatment, it has spread and grown worse, stronger. ”

  The men frowned at her, but didn’t rebuke her.

  I was inclined to agree with her. “As I already told you, zombies caused the crash that killed my family. I will never work with them or for anyone who helps them. ”

  Gaze sharpening on me, Mr. Holland stepped closer. “As a joke, me and my friends dragged your father out of his house one summer night. Zombies were either following me or hunting him, because they came out of nowhere and attacked. He and I were the only ones to react. That was the first time anything like that had happened to me. The next day, I went back to talk to him, but he’d packed up your mother and moved. ”

  Tears filled my eyes at what my dad must have suffered that night. I wanted to hate Mr. Holland for it, I really did, but I hadn’t treated the man much better, had I?

  “I’m sorry about what I did,” Mr. Holland added gruffly. “I’m also sorry for your loss. ”

  The tears trickled onto my cheeks and I managed to choke out hoarsely, “Thanks. ”

  I guess I made Mr. Ankh uncomfortable, because he hurried to change the subject.

  “Why were you snooping through my home, Miss Bell?”

  “And why was Kat with you?” Dr. Wright asked. “Is she involved?”

  No way I’d rat on Kat. “No, she’s not involved. We wanted a place to chat privately, that’s all. Besides that, you can’t blame us for wandering around. You guys knew about the party. You knew kids would be drinking and roaming. You should have put up barricades. ”

  “I did,” he said.

  “Well, someone removed them!”

  The three adults leaned together, a whispered conversation soon wafting from them. Deciding my fate? Or whether or not I was worthy to join them? Maybe they hadn’t heard, but Cole had already shown me to the curb.

  What are you doing, just sitting here? Now’s your chance to act. Even though Cole was watching me—I could feel the heat of his gaze—I stealthily tugged at the restraints. The movements, slight though they were, pulled my stitches tight and caused me to wince. I gritted my teeth and kept going. Helplessness was not something I would accept ever again.

  Success! I managed to free my hands from their bonds. A quick glance down proved I’d opened my wounds, my skin abraded with little beads of blood springing forth. Worth it.

  “We have decided to trust you, Miss Bell,” Mr. Ankh announced. “Just know that we are watching you. ”

  “Awesome,” I replied drily. “But you must not have spoken with Cole. He has other ideas. ”

  “We know he invited you in, and we know he kicked you out, but he did both without permission. Therefore, neither counts,” Dr. Wright said.

  Mr. Holland faced his son. “She’s all yours, Cole. Good luck. ”

  With that, the three adults strode from the room.

  Cole stalked over to my bed and eased down beside me. I watched him through my periphery. He removed his hat, set it aside and plowed his fingers through his hair.

  “You can look me in the eye,” he said. “It’s almost morning, and you woke up once during the night. We already had today’s vision. ”

  “We did?”

  “Okay, so I did. ”

  “What’d you see?”

  “A repeat of the first vision. ”

  Kissing. “Well, you can forget about that. ” I scooted away from him, not allowing any part of our bodies to brush. He noticed—and scooted even closer.

  I was so not doing this with him. I stayed put. He wanted to touch, we’d touch, but it wouldn’t mean anything. I wouldn’t let it. “Where’d the Terrible Trio go? And why were you laughing?”

  His mouth curled in a slow, easy grin. “Because you’re cute when you’re asking too many questions for one person to possibly answer. But I’ll try. The guys went to tell the others to treat you right. ” He lifted and studied my wrist, offering no comment about the lack of restraints. “This is exactly what I’d hoped to avoid. You, injured. ”

  “I told you. I’d die for this cause. ”

  “You might have to,” he snapped.

  I gave him the same silent treatment he’d often given me…until his thumb grazed one of my injuries and I whimpered.

  Everything about him softened in an instant. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there. ” His voice broke there at the end. “So. Yeah. There’s no out for you now. You’re stuck with us. ”

  How ominous he suddenly sounded. “There was an out for Justin. ”

  “Yeah, and look where that got us. ” Cole stood, strode to a cart with all kinds of things scattered on top and wheeled it over. “We won’t make the same mistake twice. If you’re not for us, you’re for them, and with your ability to see the Blood Lines in the spirit realm, we can’t let you be for them. ”

  All right, so we’d jumped from ominous to straight-up threatening. “You would get rid of me?”

  A muscle ticked in his jaw. “I wouldn’t, no. ”

  Clearly, others would. “Gotta say
, so far I’m not liking the sound of my new team. ” I hadn’t made a formal decision to rejoin the group, but with the words, I realized the decision had been made. Indisputably, I couldn’t do this on my own.

  He cleaned up my newest set of wounds. “You’ll come to love them. They’re the ones who will guard your back. ”

  And I’d be responsible for guarding theirs. “So no one else can see the Blood Lines while in spirit form?”

  “No one currently living, but a few years ago, there was a guy who could. He’s the one who led my dad and his friends. ”

  I thought about the journal I’d found. Maybe this former leader was the one who’d written it. “Did he like to write things in code?”

  Cole blinked down at me, frowned. “Why would you ask something like that?”

  “Uh, I’ll tell you later,” I said. “Maybe. If I ever trust you again. ”

  His mouth opened and closed as if he wanted to press me for more, but in the end he merely nodded. “Fair enough. And because I know how much you love details, I’ll tell you—without being asked—that no one was ever able to figure out why he could do it when no one else could. ”

  “What happened to him?” I asked, then pursed my lips in irritation. Several times he’d mentioned my curious nature. I had to get control of my tongue.

  “He died during an attack and that was that. ” He finished cleaning my wounds and wrapped bandages around both of my wrists.

  There were only two known cases of people with that ability, then. The journal had mentioned we should all wield all abilities, if only we would yield to the power inside of us. Maybe this guy and I were the only ones who had yielded.

  “You were bitten repeatedly and deeply,” Cole said, “but the antidote finally neutralized the toxin. You’ll be tired for the next few days, not as strong or as fast, but you should recover completely. ”

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