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Pucker up! Word count: 39634

How fleeting life is. How fickle the hands of fate. At first, the person bursting onto the rooftop to surprise Zach was going to be a man. And then it was a woman. And then he was going to fall in love with her and spend the rest of the novel trying to find her and woo her. And then she became zombie food.

There’s a fine line between life and death in a world where zombies walk the streets.


Dejectedly, I walked back to the stairway door, intending to look for some previously unseen weakness in its design, or, failing that, bang my head against it repeatedly for the sake of dramatic effect. I did end up banging my head on it from the start, but just because someone opened the door right into me.

“Eeeyagh!” I said, out of shock and surprise.

“Holy fuck!” shouted the person on the other side of the door.

I took several steps back and the door flew open. An intensely nervous and frightened individual emerged from within and flew at me. The door swung closed — “Don’t let that….aw, hell!” — with a clang.

“Dammit!” I said. “That was my chance!”

Westy’s nerves — or whatever you wanted to call them; it was like “Spidey-sense” every time we got near something that excited or scared him: fire, dead bodies, other Zs — were on edge and it didn’t take a genius to figure out why: a living breathing human had just, quite literally, stumbled into our — my — arms. Her momentum had carried him right at me, taking us both down to the surface of the roof.

I lay there, looking up into the eyes of the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. They were blue — the purest blue of mountain streams, or deep oceans, or something — and piercing, intelligent, cold. Strands of her long strawberry-blonde hair fell into my face. I could smell her shampoo — she had somehow remained remarkably well-groomed in the midst of all the chaos; something I instantly admired — and it was intoxicating. I mean to say, to me, it smelled horrible, like the rotting food in the grocery store manager’s office should have smelled but didn’t. But, I figured that since it smelled bad, it must be good. It was intoxication inasmuch as it made me feel like I’d been on a three day bender, had finally crawled out of bed, and was paying reparations in the form of copious amount of vomit. That kind of intoxicating.

The moment lasted for but a moment, though it seemed as though I spent a lifetime just gazing into her eyes, seeking out her soul. Had my whole life brought me to this point? Could a zombie and a human find true love? I had to know.

“Hi there,” I said, using the sexiest voice I could muster. “How you doin’?”

“Are you kidding me?” she asked, disgusted. “At a time like this?” She rolled off me and leapt to her feet, keeping a watchful eye on the door while glancing about, looking for escape routes.

I was unfazed. “My name’s Zach Graves. What’s yours?”

“We need to barricade this door,” she replied.

I laughed. “Barricade it? Lady, I’ve been trying to get through it! That thing’s locked up tight. We don’t need to worry about it. Just you and me here.”

She cast a disgusted look in my direction. “You idiot. We need to barricade it on this side. There’s a pack of Re-Ans coming up the stairs. They’ll be out here any second.”

I sidled up next to this beautiful creature — Westy was pracitcally drooling with anticipation. I was too, but for different reasons — and placed a comforting hand on her back. She pulled away immediately.

“Sorry,” I said, thought I wasn’t particularly. Touching her, ever so briefly, awoke something in me that felt amazing. It was longing of the purest sort, passion of the most intense kind; desire, and need, and… hunger. “Oh. Shit.” I backed off.

“What is it?” she asked, turning towards the door, backing away from it, assuming I’d heard or seen something.

“Nothing. No. Nothing,” I said. I couldn’t make words very well. The voice was loud, distracting, all-consuming. “No.”

I continued backing away, and she, seemingly satisfied that the door was secure for the moment, and not at all unhappy about my sudden desire to increase the distance between us, resumed her search for something with which to bar the door.

“There’s nothing,” I managed.

She had come to the same conclusion, apparently, and gave up her search for anything to be used for defensive measures and started casting about for an escape, often looking over her shoulder at me, or at the door. The only way out (that I could see) was the way I had come, and she shortly came to that realization. She had just begun gauging the distance between the buildings, deciding whether or not she could make the leap when the door crashed open again.

There were three Zs immediately visible in the doorway. They looked pretty bad — clothes ragged, skin torn, mouths agape with hunger. They clearly hadn’t fed in a long time and — aside from a momentary glance in my direction — were desperately focused upon the tasty-looking morsel now standing at the edge of the roof with a mere 20 feet of unobstructed ground to cover. The trio burst from the doorway and made a beeline for the woman. Behind the Zs was a considerably larger pack that, due to its size and lack of coordination, was having one hell of a time trying to get through the door.

I tried to shout a warning. Something like “Look out!” or “Head’s up!” but nothing would come. Instead, I watched with a mix of horror and some sort of sick delight as the Zs leapt at her, their momentum carrying them all over the building’s edge and down to the ground below. They landed with a sickening crunch. I winced and sucked air over my teeth, as if I’d just seen a particularly brutal hit in a football game. I felt fleeting sadness at my lost opportunity for love, but more than that, there was disappointment and annoyance, not unlike how you would feel if you went to the office refirgerator and found that someone else had eaten your lunch.