Sky wept uncontrollably into her hands.
Kris lowered the bat. He looked at the decaying body and tried to imagine it as it was before it turned. The man was handsome. He wore baggy jeans and a purple tank top that displayed his toned arms. His sandy hair had been cut into an attractive swoop look. He had a chiseled jaw and high cheekbones. Hours ago, he’d been alive and well.
Now he was dead.
But Kris wasn’t the thing that killed him.
“I-I-I didn’t,” he stammered. “He-he was dead. He attacked me.” Kris felt like he had a lump in his throat he couldn’t get rid of. He swallowed again and again to no avail. “I’m sorry, Sky.”
Her shoulders shook with grief. She tried to look up, but Kris stepped between her and the body. The graphic scene of her dead boyfriend’s shattered skull was the last thing Sky needed to see.
Quivering, Sky stood, using the wall for support. Kris offered his hand, but she didn’t accept it. He couldn’t blame her. She looked him in the eye, turned, and shuffled back down the hallway to the last door on the left. Kris barely heard it close, but the definitive click of her locking the door seemed to echo through the entire apartment.
Only when he knew he was alone did Kris sprint to the kitchen sink and vomit until he was coughing up nothing but bile.
Kris sat on the couch for a long time just thinking. He was alone in Chicago—no friends, no family, and certainly no love interest. And now Sky was alone, too. Kris was used to solitude, but for Sky to lose someone she loved in such a violent and horrific way…
Kris shook the thoughts from his head and glanced out the window. The sun had begun to sink behind the buildings, casting purples and pinks into the impending dusk. Somewhere west toward that blazing orange sphere, Mr. Trivilidis was still squirming like a wounded animal in a comic shop Kris was sure he wouldn’t see again. He looked at the street below and cursed.
A legion of the undead shuffled along the asphalt like the mindless horde it was. Kris didn’t see a single living soul in any direction. In the few minutes since they’d arrived, the entire block had become infested, and those who hadn’t escaped had been added to the zombies’ numbers. He wondered how he’d ever make it out.
Then he realized he wouldn’t.
Kris stood. He had work to do before he turned. Grabbing the zombie’s body by the ankles, he dragged it from the living room to the adjacent hallway—the one Sky hadn’t gone down. He found a bathroom and pulled it inside. He tossed it in the tub, washed his hands, relieved himself, washed his hands, threw up a second time, washed his hands again, and locked the door behind him as he left. He hoped Sky had access to another bathroom, because she wouldn’t be getting in this one anytime soon.
He did his best to clean the goop from the end of the bat in the kitchen sink. When he was satisfied, he leaned it against Sky’s door. He walked to the other end of the apartment, found an abandoned bedroom, and locked himself inside. Hopefully when he turned, his zombie-self wouldn’t be smart enough to work a doorknob.
Much to his surprise, warm light flooded the small space when Kris flicked the light switch. He couldn’t tell if he was in Shawna’s or Mariah’s room, but it definitely belonged to a woman with terrible taste and zero self-respect. Justin Bieber and One Direction posters hung from each pink, floral-patterned wall. Kris wondered if Sky’s roommates were, like her, fully grown women or simply prepubescent girls.
He found an iPod atop an ivory dresser next to cheap perfume and stacks of fuzzy diaries. Of course the music on it was trash, but for once, Kris didn’t care what he listened to. He needed a distraction from this madness. He lay on the bed, stuck the buds into his ears, and turned the iPod on shuffle. He winced as a Lady Gaga song came on before sleep overtook him.
Kris gasped as the sound of pounding woke him from his dream. The gray light of dawn pierced the crack between the purple curtains. The alarm clock beside the bed blinked twelve o’clock in an eerie green light. He groaned and swung his legs over the edge of the bed.
“Kris?” came the muffled voice of Sky from behind the door. “Are you still alive in there?” Kris unlocked the door and pulled it open. Sky recoiled but relaxed once she saw Kris was indeed still alive. “Thank God,” she whispered.
Sky wore the same gray sweatshirt and black Chucks, but she’d replaced her skirt and tights with skinny jeans with rolled cuffs. Her bloodshot eyes lacked any dark liner, which made her almost look like a different person.
“H-hi,” Kris said. “Are you…feeling okay?”
Sky swallowed hard and nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.” She looked to the floor and back at Kris. “Where is he?”
Kris pointed across the hall to the bathroom door. “I, uh, locked him in there. Just in case.”
“I wanted to see h—”
“No,” Kris interjected. He coughed. “I mean, it’s not a pretty sight. He—I mean, I just don’t… You don’t need to see that.”
“You’re probably right,” Sky agreed. She stared at the floor for several awkward seconds before changing the subject. “Well, if you haven’t turned yet, you must be hungry, huh?”
Kris grabbed his stomach and was suddenly aware of how empty it was. He hadn’t eaten for what felt like days. “Uh, yeah.”
“Here. You’ll need this.” Sky gave Kris his bat back and led him to the kitchen. “Power went out last night, but I found some frozen Hot Pockets that aren’t too soggy.”
She threw them in the microwave and poured two glasses of lukewarm orange juice, extra pulp. Kris downed his entire cup before Sky even had hers to her lips. She poured him another glass.
“Shawna and Mariah are long gone,” Sky said after the microwave beeped. She pulled the Hot Pockets out and gave one to Kris. She threw him a fork, which he fumbled and dropped. “Sorry. They took most of the food and medicine. Oh, and my curling iron. They didn’t even leave me a note.”
Kris took a bite of his food and almost spat it out. It was definitely more Hot than Pocket. “Well, maybe they thought your, uh, boyfriend would, you know…” His voice trailed off.
“Jared wasn’t even supposed to be here,” Sky grumbled. “He probably tried my cell a dozen times and came here when I didn’t answer. Thanks for the shitty reception, AT&T.” She set her fork down and buried her face in her hands. “God. He’d still be alive if I hadn’t left.”
Kris wanted to comfort her, to tell her it wasn’t her fault, to say that she couldn’t blame herself for something outside of her control. Instead, he bowed his head and stayed quiet.
They finished their Hot Pockets in peace. Sky found some granola bars and a baggied Pop-Tart. After making sure she wanted none of the remaining food, Kris wolfed it all down. He was licking his fingers when the lights flickered off.
“There they go again,” Sky complained. By now, the sun had risen enough to cast a sufficient amount of light. Being careful to step around the shattered coffee table—and Jared’s bloodstain—she threw open the living room curtains, filling the apartment with warm light. “There are so many of them,” she whispered.
Kris joined her at the window and looked down. She wasn’t wrong. Though some had dispersed since last night, dozens of the undead still filled the streets.
“What do we do?” she asked. “We can’t stay here much longer—not without food.”
“We need to get out of the city, I think,” Kris said.
“Well, we can’t go west the way we came,” Sky said. “That whole highway is sure to be crawling with zombies.” She groaned. “I can’t believe I convinced you to come here.”
Sky snapped her fingers. “Hey, how come you haven’t turned yet? Not that I want you to or anything.”
Kris stuck out his bottom lip. “I-I dunno. I guess maybe because I’m…bigger it’s taking longer, maybe?”
“I spoke to Jared only an hour before meeting you. Even if he was bit as soon as I hung up, that means he was infected only sixty minutes more than you, at the most. But when we came here, like, what, eight hours ago, he was already turned.” She stared at the wall and tapped her chin, lost in thought. In a flash she reached out and laid her palm against Kris’s forehead. “You’re not warm—or cold, for that matter. Do you feel sick?”
Besides the fact Kris had bashed a young man’s brains in only hours ago, a disgusting and morally exhausting action, he felt fine. “No.”
Sky put her hands on her hips. “Do you think you’re immune?”
Was such a thing possible? Kris certainly hoped so. He shrugged.
Sky absentmindedly waved her hand. “I guess we’ll worry about it when we have to.” Her head snapped in Kris’s direction. “If we have to,” she corrected herself. “C’mon.” She walked down the hall toward her room.
Kris had to hold back a gasp when he walked inside.
Sky’s room was full of action figures, dolls, and figurines from every Japanese fandom Kris could imagine. Crocheted Pokémon sat in a neat row atop a bookshelf full of graphic novels. Posters of famous Asian pop groups lined the walls. A mannequin in the corner wore the gothic dress of Misa Amane, the character from Death Note that Sky said she wanted to cosplay.
Kris immediately liked Sky’s room more than her roommate’s.
“I don’t have any dude’s clothes for ya, but I found an extra toothbrush and some gender-neutral socks,” Sky said as she tossed both items in Kris’s direction. They bounced off his chest and fell to the floor before he could grab them. “We’ll find more along the way, okay?”
“Um, alright.” Kris picked the items up. “Where are we going again?”
She didn’t answer right away. Sky left her room, grabbed one of the drooping flowers from the kitchen vase, and stopped in front of the bathroom door. Kris watched from a respectable distance as she closed her eyes, mumbled something to herself, kissed the flower, and slid it under the door.
She dabbed at her eyes with her massive sleeves and sniffed as she joined Kris in the kitchen. “We’re going to the roof, and we’re getting out of this city.”