Surprise Release: Silent World is now available!

Surprise! Book Seven in the Broken World series is available!

Get Silent World on Amazon NOW

When Jim ran out of that farmhouse in Forgotten World, not only did he leave the promise of safety behind, but he was sure he was about to meet a horrible end.

Amira has lived most of her life surrounded by silence, and this new world has dangers lurking around every corner that could mean the end for her.

When two survivors, never meant to meet, find each other in the middle of an apocalypse, it will mean the difference between life and death. With silence as their constant companion, and the threat of death always hanging over their heads, Jim and Amira will learn not only what it means to trust another person, but how to let go of the past so they can survive this new world of violence.

New Book in the Broken World Series!

Yes, you read that right!

I’m working on yet another book in the Broken World series, this one will fill readers in on what happened to Jim after he got separated from the group in Forgotten World.

Silent World

Heading your way soon! (Date TBD)

Broken Stories Has Gotten a Makeover

It’s recently occurred to me that not every fan of the Broken World series knows about Broken Stories and that part of the reason might be the original cover. While all the other books in the series have covers that easily identify them as being a part of the same series, Broken Stories didn’t. Which was my fault. I made the cover myself, it was the first one I did on my own, and it never occurred to me to make sure the appearance was similar to the other books. So, in an attempt to boost the sales of Broken Stories, I’ve given it a makeover AND dropped the price to $0.99. 

Broken Stories is a compilation of Short Stories and Novelettes that accompany the Broken World Series. From California to Oklahoma, South Carolina and Colorado, readers will get a glimpse at what other people went through before, during and after the zombie virus outbreak.

Some of the characters featured in these stories have close ties to the main characters in the Broken World series, while others are brand new. It’s an emotional, intense, and exciting look at how the zombie apocalypse has changed the world.

 

Get Now on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Pre-Order books for Utopia Con!

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tickets

Are you coming to Utopia Con this June? Do you want a signed book? If so, you can fill out this handy pre-order form to ensure that I have a book ready and waiting for you!

Just click on the book images below to get to the form, fill in the correct information, and you are set!

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Forgotten World is Live

The sixth book in the Broken World series is finally here!

Get FORGOTTEN WORLD for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited now!

You can also order a signed paperback of FORGOTTEN WORLD from me by sending me a message on my Facebook Page!

New World, book six in the Broken World series, continues following a group of survivors after a super-virus has decimated the human race and the dead have come back to claim it as their own…

After the longest winter of her life, Vivian is thrilled to have Ginny back at her side. But joy soon turns to shock when the group learns that not only is Hope Springs in contact with other survivors, but that the CDC is working on a vaccine. And Angus could be the last hope for the human race.

With an armed escort, the group sets out on a mission to get Angus to Atlanta. But the world proves to be more dangerous than the people of Hope Springs believed, and their lack of preparation ends in deadly results. Vivian knows they must get Angus to Atlanta if they want to save the human race, but it doesn’t take long to discover that this might be the most dangerous journey they have ever made. With trouble around every corner and their losses piling up, the stakes are higher than ever before.

New World is LIVE

The long awaited fifth book in the Broken World series is finally here!

Get NEW WORLD for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited now!

You can also order a signed paperback of NEW WORLD from me by sending me a message on my Facebook Page!

And don’t forget to Pre-Order Forgotten World, coming December 22nd!

New World, book five in the Broken World series, continues following a group of survivors after a super-virus has decimated the human race and the dead have come back to claim it as their own…

After weeks on the road and devastating losses, the survivors have finally found safety. But as winter falls on Colorado, it brings with it both new challenges, and new hope.

Axl and Vivian

With supplies running low and animals scarce, not even the freezing zombies do much to make the future look bright for Axl’s group. As the snow grows deeper, Vivian’s concern for Hadley and Jon only becomes more intense. Each day seems to bring more challenges, and every week that passes with no sign of their friends makes it more difficult for the group to believe life can ever return to normal.

Jon and Ginny

Hope Springs is an opportunity to start over for Ginny and Jon. Even though their worries for their lost friends are never completely gone, the couple throws themselves into building a new world for their baby. But as Jon works to clean out the city, Ginny struggles to find herself and embrace the second chance she’s been given. But with the ever-present threat of both man and the undead surrounding them, optimism is a difficult thing to hold onto…

Utopia Con 2016

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This year I will be attending Utopia Con 2016 in Nashville, TN!

Join us June 22-26, 2016 in gorgeous Nashville, Tennessee to celebrate 5 years of connecting writers of Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult and Adult paranormal and contemporary fiction to the resources and fans who love them!

Book signing will be held June 23 & 24!

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Get your ticket for this amazing event NOW!

Book Signing in Oklahoma City!

I’m excited to announce another author event! If you live in or near the Oklahoma City area, you can join me on October 31st at Full Circle Bookstore where I’ll be signing all my self-published books from 2-4pm! Does that include the books in the Broken World series? Yes, as well as the other books show here:

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What about The List and No Regrets?! 

Well, those books are through my publisher, Kensington, and I plan to have a second book signing sometime next spring for those. It takes longer to plan for that kind of an event because the bookstore has to order the books from Kensington. Plus, if I wait until spring book three in the series, Moving On, will be out. So it just makes sense. 

 

Mark your calendar for October 31st

and

stop by Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City!

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New World is available for Pre-Order!

Everyone has been dying to find out when NEW WORLD will be available, and I have good news and bad news.

Good news: I have a release date.

Bad news: It’s not until December 1st

I know people are going to be disappointed to hear that, especially since I was hoping to get it out much sooner, but after a lot of debate I decided that pushing the date back to December 1st was what would benefit all of us. Why? Because even though everyone is excited to read the book – and I’m excited to get it out – I want to make sure I put a book out that matches the others. I don’t want the story to feel rushed or incomplete, or the characters to to get lost in the shuffle. I want to make sure I give you the story you’ve been waiting for, which means that I need to take a little more time on it. I need to revise it more throughly and give myself time to sit on the story so I’m sure it is exactly the way I want it to be. If I happen to get it ready earlier, I can always move the date up, but for the meantime I think December 1st will give me the time I need to put out a quality book.

I hope everyone understands!

In the meantime, you can pre-order New World on Amazon by following this link.

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Special Price Drop for BROKEN WORLD

BrokenWorldSeries_5_PerspectiveFor the first time EVER, I am doing a temporary price drop on ALL the books in the Broken World series!

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Do I have your attention? Do you want to know more?

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I know what you’re thinking:

How much are they going to be?

AND

When is this happening?

The answers:

$0.99 EACH

AND

September 10th-16th

Sale

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So what are you waiting for! Hurry over to Amazon and get them for Kindle NOW!!

MY AMAZON PAGE SO YOU CAN GET ALL 5 BOOKS

Gifs courtesy of Giphy.com

Broken Stories is here!

July 4th is Independence Day in the U.S., but it also happens to be the anniversary of the day I released Broken World! To celebrate the one year anniversary, I’ve released a book of stories and novelettes.

You can Buy it on Amazon now!

Add it on Goodreads!

Stories Createspace Cover Brighter

Broken Stories is a compilation of Short Stories and Novelettes that accompanies the Broken World Series. From California to Oklahoma, South Carolina and Colorado, readers will get a glimpse at what other people went through before, during and after the zombie virus outbreak.

Some of the characters featured in these stories have close to ties to the main characters in the Broken World series, while others are brand new. It’s an emotional, intense and exciting look at how the zombie apocalypse has changed the world.

Thanks everyone for all your support over the last year!

Audiobooks!!

I am beyond thrilled to announce that my Broken World series will soon be available on audiobook, from Tantor Media! I got the offer, via my awesome agent, and have been bursting to share the news. The contract is signed and the announcement is up on Publisher’s Marketplace, so now I get too!

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Mad World Release

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Mad World
(#3
, Broken World series)

by Kate L. Mary

Post-Apocalyptic/Zombie Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

╣Synopsis╠

 

Mad World is the third book in the Broken World series, which follows a group of survivors after a super-virus has destroyed the world and the dead have come back to claim it as their own…

Vivian didn’t think things could get any worse than losing Emily, and getting to the shelter should have been their salvation. But once again their hopes where shattered when they found out things weren’t as safe as promised, forcing them to head into Vegas in search of supplies.

 

Vivian

But now Vivian and Hadley find themselves in a situation more threatening than even the dead walking the Earth. Kidnapped by armed men and taken deep into Vegas, they’re cut-off from anyone who cares about them and thrust into a world so sick and twisted it can only be described as madness. Knowing that Axl has no idea where they are and little hope of finding them, Vivian and Hadley must team up with one of the very men who abducted them if they have any hope of escaping their new nightmare.

 

Axl

Watching Vivian get thrown into the back of a van almost tears Axl apart, and he’s determined to find her no matter what it takes. With the growing tension between him and Angus, Axl finds himself wondering if the price will be his relationship with his brother. Putting both old and new wounds aside, Axl and Angus must infiltrate the group holding Vivian and Hadley, and make their escape through a zombie-ridden Vegas.

But the men in charge of Vegas aren’t the type to easily forget, and the group soon discovers that getting the girls out alive very well could mean the end for them all…


 

╣Excerpts╠

 

_______________

Axl

     I push my way through the group of people gathered ‘round ‘til I find a face I don’t recognize. He’s a preppy-lookin’ bastard. Older than me, but probably not more than thirty. He’s clean. Obviously he ain’t been sleepin’ in no abandoned buildings, which means he’s with the bastards that took Vivian and Hadley.

     I slam him against the wall and push the barrel of my gun right between his eyes, pressin’ it into his skull. “Where the hell is she?”

     The guy swallows. His eyes are so big they look like they’re gonna pop outta his head. “You shoot me and you’ll never know,” he says in a surprisingly calm voice.

     My entire body shakes, and my finger’s just itchn’ to pull the trigger. But he’s right. I can’t shoot him. Not if I wanna find Vivian.

     But I could shoot his balls off.

     I jam my arm against his throat and press as hard as I can before movin’ my gun to his crotch. “I ain’t gonna kill you, but if you don’t tell me where she is, I guarantee that by the time I’m done with you, you’ll wish you had.”

     "The Monte Carlo! The Monte Carlo!” His voice ain’t calm no more.

     “I told ya!” Darla’s shrill voice screams out behind me.

     “Shut the fuck up,” I say, not takin’ my eyes off the tremblin’ guy in front of me. “She better be okay.”

     He nods as hard as he can with my arm pressed against his throat. “She’s fine. So is Hadley.”

     I wince. Damn. I shoulda asked ‘bout Hadley.

     Winston steps forward and puts his hand on my back. “Let him go, Axl. We need to let him talk if we’re going to figure out what’s going on."

     The muscles in my neck are stretched tight, and my arm twitches as I press it against the guy’s neck. I don’t wanna let him go. I wanna bash his damn face in.

_________________

 

Vivian

     I look back and forth between Axl and the fence. Between the zombies and my reason for life. “What about you?”

     The helicopter’s engine dies, and the moans of the dead break through the night sky. They’re louder than the roar of a hurricane. More menacing than a tornado. I can’t leave Axl.

     “I’ll cover you,” he yells. He spins to face the zombies. They round the corner. Fifteen feet away at the most.

     I grab his arm and pull him to the fence. “Come with me!”

     He shakes me off and looks down at my bare feet and legs. “You ain’t protected. Go!”

     There’s no way to convince him, plus he’s right. I’m much too exposed. I turn to the fence and climb. The metal digs into my hands and feet. The moans grow louder, and my legs shake, threatening to give out. I keep my head up so I won’t look back. Axl will be more focused if I’m safe. He can take care of himself. He will be okay. My heart races even faster.

     The fence is high. Maybe ten feet. My arms ache as they slowly pull my body up. I’m not even halfway there and already I’m shaky.

     A shot rings out behind me, and I scream.

     Keep moving. Don’t look down.

     The wind blows, showering me with bits of sand. My eyes sting and tear up. I blink, but it doesn’t help. A few tears slide down my cheeks. I hang onto the fence with one hand and use my free one to rub my eyes. They burn, but there’s no time to worry about that. I squint as more tears fall and pull myself up a little more. Halfway there.

     Axl grunts and Jon curses. Something slams against the fence, and the whole thing shakes. I grip the metal tighter. Fingers claw at my foot, and I scream. Kicking at them. They wrap around my ankle. I kick harder, and the fence sways. I can’t get away!

     My fingers curl around the metal links, and I glance down. What was once a man—his face now half-rotten—grips my ankle. His foul teeth chomp, and he moans like he’s in pain. Jon is on the ground, struggling with a zombie. Another one has Axl pinned against the fence. His knife is on the ground.

 


 

╣About the Author╠

Kate L. Mary is a stay-at-home mother of four and an Air Force wife. She spent most of her life in a small town just north of imageDayton, Ohio where she and her husband met at the age of twelve. Since their marriage in 2002, they have lived in Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and California.

Kate enjoys any post-apocalyptic story – especially if zombies are involved – as long as there is a romantic twist to give the story hope. Kate prefers nerdy, non-traditional heroes that can make you laugh to hunky pieces of man-meat, and her love of wine and chocolate is legendary among her friends and family. She currently resides in Oklahoma with her husband and children.


 

╣Social Media╠

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+TsūGoodreadsAmazon

 

 


 

╣Other Books╠

Broken World (Broken World #1)

When a deadly virus sweeps the country, Vivian Thomas sets out for California in hopes of seeing the daughter she gave up for adoption. Then her car breaks down and she’s faced with a choice. Give up, or accept a ride from redneck brothers, Angus and Axl. Vivian knows the offer has more to do with her double D’sBrokenWorldCover than kindness, but she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to reach her daughter.

The virus is spreading, and by the time the group makes it to California, most of the population has been wiped out. When the dead start coming back, Vivian and the others realize that no electricity or running water are the least of their concerns. Now Vivian has to figure out how to be a mother under the most frightening circumstances, cope with Angus’s aggressive mood swings, and sort out her growing attraction to his brooding younger brother, Axl.

While searching for a safe place to go, they pick up a pompous billionaire who may be the answer to all their problems. Trusting him means going into the middle of the Mojave Desert and possibly risking their lives, but with the streets overrun and nowhere else to turn, it seems he might be their only chance for survival.

Buy on Amazon

 

Shattered World (Broken World #2)

***Warning: Contains Spoilers for Broken World***

Stranded in the middle of the Mojave Desert, surrounded by zombies, Vivian and Axl are sure they’reShattered World Cover facing the end. The dead are closing in and the shelter they were promised is sealed tight. Just when they think they’ve run out of time, the doors are thrown open. Five years underground with all the provisions there for the taking. It’s almost too good to be true. With the promise of security, Vivian hopes she’ll finally able to deal with the loss of Emily, her growing feelings for Axl, and the terrifying new world they’re facing.

But their sense of security is soon shattered when they discover the shelter isn’t the utopia they thought it would be. It seems the company that built the shelter decided to solve their financial problems by selling off provisions, which means the group has to find a way to get supplies. Or face starvation.

And Vegas is the closest city.

With her feelings for Axl stronger than ever, Vivian volunteers to accompany him and a few others on a trip into one of the biggest tourist cities in the world. Vegas is overrun with the dead, but there are other survivors as well. Only not everyone they meet is a welcome sight. As the emotional baggage piles up, Vivian and Axl’s bond grows stronger, but it doesn’t take long to realize that zombies aren’t the only thing they have to fear.

Buy on Amazon

Pre-order Mad World on Amazon!

It’s a bit later than I wanted to get it out there, but with the holidays and family stuff, plus facing a deadline for my New Adult contemporary series, I’ve been scrambling like crazy. Better late than never, right?

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Only 27 days to go, and Mad World is up for pre-order on Amazon!

Official Blurb for Mad World

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Mad World
Book #3 in the Broken World series

Kate L. Mary

Coming January 3, 2015


The release for Mad World is now less than two months away, so I guess it’s time to share the blurb!


Mad World is the third book in the Broken World series, which follows a group of survivors after a super-virus has destroyed the world and the dead have come back to claim it as their own…

Vivian didn’t think things could get any worse than losing Emily, and getting to the shelter should have been their salvation. But once again their hopes were shattered when they discovered things weren’t safe as promised, forcing them to head into Vegas in search of supplies.

Vivian

But now she and Hadley find themselves in a situation more threatening than even the dead walking the Earth. Kidnapped by armed men and taken deep into Vegas, they’re cut-off from anyone who cares about them and thrust into a world so sick and twisted it can only be described as madness. Knowing that Axl has no idea where they are and little hope of finding them, Vivian and Hadley must team up with one of the very men who abducted them if they have any hope of escaping their new nightmare.

Axl

Watching Vivian get thrown into the back of a van almost tears him apart, but he’s determined to find her no matter what it takes. With the growing tension between him and Angus, Axl finds himself wondering if the price will be his relationship with his brother. Putting both old and new wounds aside, Axl and Angus must infiltrate the group holding Vivian and Hadley, and make their escape through a zombie-ridden Vegas.

But the men in charge of Vegas aren’t the type to easily forget, and the group soon discovers that getting the girls out alive very well could mean the end for them all…


 

Be sure to add Mad World to your Goodreads to-read list!

Zombie Crawl Blog Party!


 

Happy Halloween

And

Welcome to

Zombie Crawl Blog Party 2014!


Be sure to head on over to BandofDystopian.com and enter to win the grand prize!

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Scroll down to read my zombie short story and enter the giveaway!


 

Zombie Crawl Blog Party Schedule

Party Host & Grand Prize: Band of Dystopian

October 22

Hope To Read | Author Jamie Canosa

October 23

Author E.R. Arroyo

October 24

Author Christy Sloat | Author N.W. Harris

October 25

Author David Moon

October 26

Two Girls & A Book

October 27

Secret Life of a Townie | The Writer’s Roadtrip

Author Michael Halliday | Author Aria Michaels

Imagine, Create, Share, Repeat!

October 29

Precious Monsters | Author Kate L. Mary

Z Plan – Zombie Book Series | Author Michelle Muckley

October 30

Author Rhiannon Frater | Author Cameo Renae

Author Angela Cavanaugh

October 31

Author Jessica Meigs

I Feel the Need, the Need to Read

 

 


zombie cover

Image courtesy of David Cowan and freeimages.com

 


 

King and Sarah

Charleston, South Carolina

 

      I have to squint against the brilliant sunlight when I peer through the small break in the curtains. The once busy streets of Charleston are deserted. Trash blows down the sidewalk, and in the distance I catch sight of a horse. Trotting down Market Street like he’s in his glory days, pulling a carriage full of tourists through the city. I can't help wondering who let him out. Maybe it was the owner of the tour company. It's possible they let the poor creature out when they realized the end was near. Or maybe some good Samaritan did it when they passed by the stables and saw the animal trapped. I'll never know for sure of course, but either way the horse is screwed now. What was probably done as a kind gesture is a death sentence for the animal.
      “See anything, Sarah?” King says from behind me.
      I step back and pull the curtains across the window, taking a second to make sure the fabric is secure before turning to face King. His dark hair is so long now it touches the collar of his sweatshirt. I’ve never seen it this shaggy, and we’ve known each other since we were two five-year-olds, digging through the dirt in our backyards. Passing mud pies through the chain link fence that kept us apart. He’s thinner now, and his brown eyes don’t twinkle. There used to be more life in King. Probably in me too, if I'm being honest.
      “No,” I say, shaking my head. “The streets are empty.”
      King swipes his hand through his hair and chews on his bottom lip. He glances toward the window a couple times like he's considering looking out, but he doesn't. Probably doesn't want to start another fight. There have been too many lately. "Where the hell did they all go?” His voice shakes, but I can’t blame him for being scared. King isn’t a coward. Fear is inevitable when you’re facing the dead.
      “My guess? Out of the city to find food." I kick at an empty can on the floor as if to point out the fact that we've run out. Like King doesn't already know. "You and I have to be the only two idiots left downtown. Everyone else got smart and got out.”
      King’s whole body jerks at my harsh words, and regret twists inside me. As if there's a rope coiled around my stomach. King and I have had this argument so many times it’s lost all meaning. There's no point in rehashing the whole thing. The decision was made and we can’t go back in time and undo what was done. We have to move forward. Work together as a team. That’s what will keep us alive. And it’s what we promised to do only two short months ago.
      “I’m sorry,” I say, putting my hand on his arm. “I didn’t mean it.”
      King’s brown eyes move to where my hand rests on his arm. The tips of my fingers brush against his firm bicep, and the muscles flex under my touch. There was a time when the contact would have set us both on fire. Before the virus, before the death, before the bodies rose. Back when things were simple and being together was out of want, not necessity.
      Those days feel like a dream now.
      He flicks his arm just enough to make my hand fall away, then takes a step back. The space between us has grown so much over the last few weeks that it feels wider than the Grand Canyon now. 
      King grabs his backpack off the ground and throws it over his shoulder. “We should move out while the coast is clear.”
      He doesn’t meet my gaze, and I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t feel like a knife in my heart. After everything we’ve been through over the past two months, I can’t be shocked that so much damage was done. Too much. I’m afraid things will never be the way they were again.
      “Yeah.” I sigh, just to let him know it all still hurts. That the pain of our rift hasn’t faded and I haven’t lost all hope of repairing the damage. He still doesn’t look my way.
      Can I really blame him? No. I can't.
       He heads to the door while I rake my fingers through my auburn hair. I twist it into a knot, then secure it with a hair tie. It’s tangled and probably not pretty, but it will keep the curls out of my face. I don’t want anything obstructing my view while we’re out there. It’s too dangerous.
      “Come on, Sarah,” King snaps. “We have a very limited window here.”
      I swallow down my anger and silently count to five, just like I remember my mom doing when I was little and she was annoyed. The promise I made to myself rings in my ears: I will make everything up to King. All of it.
      “I’m coming,” I say, working to keep my tone even and calm. Non-confrontational. 
      When I turn to face King, his eyebrows are raised. Almost like he’s shocked I didn’t bite his head off. Again, I can't blame him. I've been too much of a bitch over the last few weeks to expect anything else.
       “Okay,” he whispers.
      King grabs the aluminum baseball bat leaning against the wall, then cracks the door. He sticks his head out, checking to be sure the coast is clear before pushing the door open the rest of the way. He nods in my direction without really looking at me, and heads out. I’m right behind him, carrying the only weapon I have. A butcher knife taken from the kitchen. It doesn’t make me feel very secure.
      I’m right on King’s heels when we head down the stairs. They're rickety and creek under our feet, and even though it isn’t very loud it still sends my heart into overdrive. The sooner we can get out of the city the better. It makes me too jumpy.
      We pause at the bottom so we can check the street once again, but it’s still clear of the dead. It doesn’t ease my worry, though. I hate not knowing where they are. It reminds me of the feeling I used to get when I watched horror movies. Knowing the killer lurked somewhere in the shadows, but having no idea when he would jump out. Only I wasn’t really in danger then. Not like now.
      “It’s clear,” King says, even though I can see the street too and he knows it. It makes me feel a little better. We’ve barely spoken the past week and it's starting to get to me. He’s hurt and pissed and so am I, but I don’t like things being this way between the two of us. It feels more like the end of the world than even the killer virus and zombies.
      He doesn’t give me a chance to respond. He shoves the door open, gripping the bat tightly in his hands. Then he steps out and I’m only a second behind him. The air is cooler than I expected, and there’s a slight bite to the wind as it whips down the street. The sun is bright though, making me squint. I shield my eyes with my hand—the one not holding the knife—but it only helps a little. We haven’t been outside for weeks and the apartment we were hiding in had poor lighting. It’s going to take some time before my eyes are fully adjusted.
      “Ready?” King says in front of me.
      I nod because my throat is so tight it makes talking impossible. King takes off and I do my best to pry my eyes open so I can follow him. He trots down the sidewalk in front of me, almost on his toes. He’s doing it to make his footsteps as light as possible, but for some reason it makes me think of a ballet I saw when I was little. The Nutcracker. My mom took me at Christmas time when I was only seven, and at the time I was positive it was the most magical thing I’d ever see. I’m not sure I was wrong. 
       In the distance a dog barks, and I’m pretty sure I can hear the clopping of the horse’s hooves on the road. Otherwise, the world is deathly silent. My eyes slowly adjust as I follow King through the deserted city, making it possible for me to really take in the full extent of the destruction. The stores we pass are empty shells, with shattered windows and bare walls. The looting started around the time the virus got really bad. When police were too sick or overworked to keep up with it. Then the world died and the people who came out scavenged what they could, not caring how much they broke in the process. We were among them. King and I, along with the rest of our group. Other survivors we had banded together with once we realized we were not going to die a horrible death from the virus. We thought we’d been through the worst of it, but we were so wrong.
      If only we had left the city then.
      “Pst,” King says, grabbing my attention.
      He jerks his head to the left, then darts across the street. I follow with my heart beating so fast it threatens to explode. I was so lost in my memories that I wasn’t paying attention, and I can’t do that again. It will get me killed. I need to stay alert. Keep my eyes and ears open. Always be on the lookout.
      Once we’ve crossed the road, King turns onto Calumet Street and picks up the pace. The parking garage we left our rental car in is only a short distance away now. All we have to do is get there and we’ll be okay. No. Not okay, but better off. I’m not sure okay is something we’ll ever be again.
      We reach the concrete building and King pauses. He’s panting and his bat is up, ready just in case, but his eyes are big and I can tell just by looking at him he’s listening. For trouble or any indication someone else is around—living or otherwise. I hold my breath and wait, scanning the streets. We’ve yet to see a single zombie and my nerves are on-edge.
      “It sounds good,” King whispers. “Stay close. We only have to make it up to the second floor. That’s it.”
      I swallow and try to force words out, but they won’t come. So I just nod and follow King into the dark building.
      Every step we take echoes across the open space. There are cars lined up as far as the eye can see, but the corners are so dark I’m positive something evil has to lurk in them. King heads for the stairs, and I strain my ears. Somewhere in the distance there’s a constant dripping, like someone has left a faucet running. A cricket chirps and the scurrying of tiny feet alerts me to the presence of rats, but there’s nothing else. Nothing that sounds otherworldly.
      We charge straight into the darkness of the stairwell, and I suck in a deep breath. The stench of urine is strong enough to turn my stomach, but the usual rot that comes with the dead is absent. Meaning we should be in the clear.
      King doesn’t say a word. He barely even makes a sound as he rushes up the stairs in front of me. I’m certain my own steps are louder than a stampeded of elephants, though. Every pump of my legs causes my pulse speed up, but I can’t make my steps lighter. My legs feel heavier than lead. It’s been so long since I did anything other than sit in that damn apartment.
      When we make it to the second floor, King barely pauses before rushing out. I don’t know why. He’s usually so careful. But I don’t hesitate to follow him even though I’m pretty sure my hair is about to turn gray from stress. He’s someone I trust with my life, so if King thinks the coast is clear, then it is.
      “This way!” he hisses, moving to the right.
      He runs faster now, and I have to struggle to keep up. My eyes dart around the dark parking garage like a ball in a ping pong machine, but I still don’t see a thing. Then the car comes into view and I have the urge to jump with joy. The little silver Honda we rented when we flew into Charleston two months ago is the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. That is, until King shoves his hand in his pocket and pulls out the keys.
      We reach the car and he presses the button to unlock the door. The beep echoes through the garage and I crane my neck, searching for the horde that will most certainly come charging at the sound. There’s nothing, though. Not a single zombie.
      “Get in!” King says, louder than he should.
      He pulls the back door open and throws his bag in, and I do the same. Then I head for the passenger side while King climbs into the driver’s seat. Two seconds and we’re both in. Doors shut. Locked. A bead of sweat runs down the side of my face while I try to catch my breath, and I look toward King. He finally meets my gaze. He’s breathing just as heavily as I am, but he smiles. Then we both let out nervous chuckles that remind me of the good times. Back when I was sure he loved me and I thought we’d be together forever.
      “We’re going to be okay, Sarah.” He grins again, then shoves the key in the ignition.
      I let out a deep breath and lean my head back, closing my eyes while I wait for the beautiful purr of the car’s engine. I don’t have to wait long. King gets the car started and backs out of the space, and I open my eyes just as he puts it in drive. He moves slowly through the darkness, carefully taking the turns as we wind our way out of the parking garage. The exit signs are hard to find with no lights, but we do our best to follow the arrows. Taking our time.
      It isn’t until we reach the first floor that we spot the first one. A zombie wearing a bathrobe so stained and ripped it’s impossible to tell what color it used to be. Underneath the robe, the creature wears only a pair of torn underwear. His skin is rotten and covered in jagged tears that ooze black goo. When he reaches out to us with decaying hands, I notice he has a couple fingers missing.
      “Don’t look,” King says, tightening his grip on the steering wheel. “We’re okay. We’re going to be okay.”
      “I know.” I have the urge to put my hand on his leg, but I resist. He doesn’t want me touching him anymore.
    We turn the final corner and come face to face with a horde so large that for a brief second I’m sure the entire population of Charleston has converged on us. Dozens upon dozens of rotten bodies block our way. 
    King slams on the breaks, then puts the car in reverse, swearing the whole time. I grip the door like I’m considering jumping out so I can run away. A stupid thought unless I wanted to commit suicide. 
    I keep my eyes focused on the horde in front of us while King does his best to make his way through the garage, but driving backward through the maze of cars is slow-going. He won’t stop swearing, and it gets louder as the seconds tick by. The bodies keep coming, following us like a group of teenage girls hot on the trail of Justin Bieber. They reach out for us, clawing at the air as they chomp their decaying jaws in our direction. As if they’re trying to take a bite out of us from ten feet away. 
    Nine feet. 
    Eight feet. 
    It feels like they’re moving faster than we are. 
    “Hurry!” I yell, unable to keep my mouth shut another second. 
    King lets out a particularly colorful string of profanities and glares my way. “You think you could do better? Yeah, of course you do. Sarah will save the day while idiot King leads the whole group off to be killed. That’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it?” 
    “That’s not what this is about!” I yell, pointing out the front window. The zombies are now so close I can see how many teeth they’re missing. Not enough. 
    “Right. I know what you—” 
    The car comes to an abrupt stop and the sound of crunching metal and breaking glass fills the air. I jerk forward, then slam back against the seat and let out a scream. When I look over my shoulder, I see the big, black SUV we slammed into. Hanging half out of a spot that was most likely made for compact cars. 
    King is back to swearing. He slams the car into drive, then hits the gas. We lurch forward maybe an inch, then a grinding sound echoes through the car. King doesn’t let up on the gas, and the smell of burning rubber stings my nostrils. 
    “Shit!” he screams, pushing harder on the accelerator. 
    The car groans and moves a little, but all that does is take us further into the horde. They surround us, banging on the hood. The doors. The windows. Even through the metal and glass I can hear their screams. I ball my hands into fists and dig my nails into my palms while my whole body shakes. 
    King finally gives up trying to get the car to obey. His hands drop to his lap and he doesn’t even bother putting the car in park. When he turns to look at me, his bottom lip quivers. “You going to blame me for this too?”
    A sob shakes my whole body. “I’m sorry, King. I’m so sorry! I’ve told you over and over again. So many times that I feel like that damn recording they had playing on the TV when all this first started. I can’t say it anymore.” 
    “You said it enough.” The coldness in his words drowns out the screams of the dead. 
    Despite the panic building inside me, I don’t move. Neither does King. All he does is sit there staring at me with bitterness in his eyes. 
    The windshield fractures, bringing me back to the present, and my whole body jerks. King and I watch in silence as cracks spread across the glass, forming a spiderweb pattern on the windshield. It won’t be long now. 
    I twist my whole body to face King and take in a deep breath, trying to force myself to stay calm. Trying to block out the screaming and pounding. I take his hand, and even though he tries to pull away I hold onto it. 
    “Don’t let us go out this way,” I say. “We’ve been through too much.” 
    “I could take it from everyone but you, Sarah. You were supposed to have my back. You were supposed to be the one who stood by me no matter what.” His lip trembles and a single tear falls down his cheek. “I loved you. Love you still, but you destroyed me.” 
     My heart constricts and the pain spreads through me until it reaches my eyes. My vision blurs and I try to scoot closer, but there isn’t a lot of room. I take King's face between my hands, forcing him to meet my gaze. “If I could take it all back I would. I was angry and hurt and scared, and I needed someone to blame so I didn’t blame myself. I hate that I did that you, and I want you to forgive me. Please. Let the last few moments we have together be something amazing. We’ve had fifteen years of wonderful times. Playing in the dirt, going trick or treating, homecoming, prom, graduation—” My voice catches, making it impossible to get the last one out. The final amazing moment we had only two short months ago. “Please. Tell me you forgive me.” 
    The window behind King shatters and the stink of death fills the car. King’s eyes move toward the back, but my hands are still on his face. I won’t let him go until he says what I need to hear. I can’t watch him die thinking he hates me. 
    “King,” I say, pleadingly. 
    His eyes move back to mine and he covers my hands with his. In the back, a zombie tries to pull himself in through the window. King and I don’t even blink. We don’t look, and even though my heart is going a million miles a minute, there’s a peacefulness about this moment I didn’t expect. King has been with me for every significant moment in my life, it only makes sense he’d be with me when I faced the end. 
    “I forgive you,” he finally says, “and I love you.” 
    He pulls me against him and I squeeze my eyes shut. His lips touch my head as I twist the ring on my left hand. My fingertip brushes the smooth surface of the diamond, and even though I know I’m about to be eaten alive, I smile. 
    “Until death do us part,” I whisper, not even trying to hold back the tears. They run down my cheeks, burning my cool skin with their heat. 
    King’s whole body jerks and he cries out, but I don’t open my eyes. I grip him tighter as tears stream down my face and my body shakes. My fingers dig into his back so he can’t leave me. His screams ring in my ears and he tries to push me away, but I won’t let him go. 
    The window at my back explodes, raining glass down around me. When the first set of teeth sink into my flesh, the pain that rushes through me is blinding. More bites follow as I scream and writhe against King, trying to pull him closer. My own cries of agony mix with his until there’s nothing left in the world but pain and screaming and the rotten stink of death.

 


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