This preview is for readers over the age of 18. It contains graphic content, graphic situations, Strong language, violence, and depicts sexual situations. Reader discretion is advised.

Chapter One

I wake up feeling like death warmed over. That’s what happens when you drink a bottle of JD to your face and pass out on the sidewalk, I suppose. I pluck off a rotten banana peel from my combat boots as I stand. A wave of nausea washes over me, and I vomit almost immediately. It splashes on the ground around me, a vile green color that makes me wonder what the fuck I did last night. My memory is fuzzy. The garbage pile groans as I make my final gag.

“Did you just fucking puke on me?” Marla’s voice angrily says despite its being so raspy.

“My bad,” I manage to get out as I spit the taste from my mouth.

“Fucking gross, bitch. Like what the fuck?”

“It’s not like I could see you, slut. Why the fuck are we sleeping here anyway? And where the fuck is here?” Nothing around us looks familiar.

“I don’t know, but I need to get home and wash this shit off me.” Marla wipes at her hair. “You’re fucking lucky I love you.”

“I love you, too…cunt.” I tease. “Hey—what the fuck did we do last night?”

“You don’t remember?” Marla asks as we pick a random direction and begin to walk.

“Not even a little bit.”

“I’ll tell you—but not until after we get cleaned up. And I so have first dibs on the shower.”

“Deal.”

Our apartment is gross. There’s no even trying to gloss over it. It’s small and shitty to begin with, and neither Marla nor I care much for housework. Between the garbage and laundry, it’s difficult to navigate through it without falling. There’d likely be dirty dishes, but neither of us can cook for shit, and the kitchen is more a storage area for booze than anything else.

Marla stumbles to the bathroom to wash my vomit off of her while I hobble into my room. I grab the last of my clean clothes—jeans and a black tank top—out of my dresser and make a note to do some laundry soon.

It doesn’t take Marla long to shower. She decides to crash for a while, and I take my turn. When I finish a nap sounds pretty fucking amazeballs, so I hop onto my own small bed and let the darkness carry me away.

***

A consistent banging on my bedroom door wakes me up. It’s not panicked, more redundant. Bang. Bang. Bang.

Gah!

“What the fuck do you want that’s so important, bitch?” I half-scream as I fling the door open.

Marla rolls into the room through the doorway on the floor. I’ve seen her fucked up a gazillion times, but something is very wrong here. Her eyes have an almost cloudy-white look to them. Her skin is a pale blue. Her veins bulge out in a gross roadmap of thick black lines.

“Girl, you look like shit. What the fuck?” I ask.

She doesn’t answer. For a moment, she just sits on my floor and stares at me emptily.

I snap my fingers a couple times. “Marla? You with me?” My concern begins to grow… “Bitch, stop scaring me.”

Suddenly she springs into action. Like literally, springs up off the floor at me. She still says nothing, but this groan she emits sends a chill down my spine.

Her spastic movements take me by surprise. Marla doesn’t do exercise, or running—or really anything involving fast movements other than dancing like a slut or fucking. Shock freezes me up as she grabs onto my upper thigh with both hands.

“Marla?! What. The. Fuck?!” I scream. This quickly changes to a howl of pain.

She fucking bit me. This crazy bitch just bit me. Not like a little love-bite or a nibble—an actual chunk of flesh is gone from my thigh…and she’s eating it?

Dude.

I manage to kick her off while she noshes on my leg-flesh and get around her. She creepily half-crawls, half-runs after me, skittering on the floor like a rodent. It freaks me out even more, and I manage to slam the door shut inches away from her face.

It seems to stop her. Why can’t she just open it, I wonder... My leg begins to pulsate as the shock of what just happened wears off. Okay. Bandages. We have those…maybe.

The bathroom cabinet doesn’t offer much. I shut and lock the door behind me just in case Marla figures out doorknobs. It takes a moment to shimmy out of my jeans, but I get them off. They were already distressed, so now they’re super distressed. Despite the blood on them, they’re still my cleanest pair.

I wash the hole in my thigh and wonder if I need some kind of tetanus or rabies shot now. Fucking bullshit. Blood still pours out of it. There are no Band-Aids or anything of use. Finally, I grab one of Marla’s maxi-pads. In the closet I find some duct tape—my go-to fix for our crappy shower curtain. Between the two, I fashion a bandage and seem to contain the bleeding.

Once my pants are back on, I stare at the door. Marla’s definitely lost her shit. What the fuck do I do? I’m not exactly a call-the-authorities kind of girl.

Maybe she just needs to sleep it off… Only I can still hear the banging on my door. It almost seems instinctive…a steady rhythm…animalistic more than human.

It also tells me that Marla’s still in the confines of my room. I guess I should go get my leg checked out, so I open the bathroom door carefully. Luckily my boots are already by the apartment’s front door, so I throw them on along with my leather jacket. Once my phone and wallet are in my pocket, I’m good to go. I lock up behind me—more to keep Marla in than to keep any criminals out.

Talk about a fucking anti-theft system.

The broken elevator pisses me off more than usual because of the throbbing in my leg. Every time I take a step down the stairs, my thigh screams at me. Fucking stupid fucking bullshit. Who fucking bites someone in this day and age? Fuckin Marla, that’s who.

The walk-in clinic is my only real option. I fill out their paperwork and wait to be seen. Everyone who sits around me reeks of dejection as much as I do. This is the lower-working class reality of this city. We’re all beaten down in our own way.

It seems like forever until my name is called. They lead me back to my own little curtained-off area. The nurse asks me to take my pants off. I’m in too much pain to even be sarcastic, so I do so without hesitation. Several minutes (or maybe hours) later, an actual doctor strolls in.

“It says here that you got bit?” He asks. He looks as tired as all the rest of us do here. I guess some things don’t discriminate.

“Yep.”

“Dog?”

I shake my head. “Some crazy bitch.” It’s not a lie. Marla is pretty fucking nuts most of the time.

“Huh.” He shakes his head. “Just when you think you’ve seen it all. Alright, let’s take a look.” He peels back the maxi-pad bandage to assess the damage. “She got you good. You definitely need stitches—and antibiotics. I’ll start you off with a shot for good measure.”

I fucking knew I’d be getting stuck with a damn needle over this bullshit.

“Are you in pain?” He asks.

I give him a level look.

“Okay, let me rephrase; how much pain are you in?” He tries again.

“A lot. Walking sucks.”

“I’ll add painkillers to that list. Just let me get the nurse and we’ll get started.”

Maybe it’s because my leg’s still gushing blood without its makeshift bandage, but they’re back in my little curtained area super-fast. The nurse gives me a couple shots—which I’d mind, but the first makes me feel pretty damn good. I watch them as they stitch up my wound. Blood squirts out here and there, making macabre patterns on their scrubs. My stomach begins to feel queasy. The nurse notices and throws a basin under my mouth right as I vomit into it. It splashes up a bit.

“Sorry.” I manage.

“Happens all the time.” She assures me. “You hang in there. You’re almost done.”

I nod and sit back. Maybe watching isn’t such a good idea after all.

The doctor finishes the stitches and stops the bleeding. He redresses the bite with clean gauze. “She’s going to give you meds and instructions. Follow them.”

“I will. Thanks, doc.”

The nurse returns quickly with some pill bottles and papers. “You may want to get out of here. All of the crazies seem to be coming out the woodworks today.”

“Preaching to the choir,” I remind her. “Good luck.”

“Same to you.”

I make my way through the maze of curtains. I’m almost to the door when I hear the doctor. “This makes the third bite today. What’s going on out there?”

I hear a scream emit from the back as I walk out the door but think little of it. Even the clatter that follows. Likely someone not happy with their diagnosis.

Between my leg and the shot they gave me, I stumble back out onto the street. It’s kind of quiet. A block down, I notice someone run by. Then a small group of people that look suspiciously like Marla had tears by after them.

My convoluted brain begins to rationalize what’s going on…

People biting people…

Marla’s pallor…

Has everyone lost their damn minds? Or is it just me?

Because I swear this is what zombies do…

So either I’m crazy, or the zombie apocalypse has begun…

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