on April 8, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Romance
Hulking shadows emerge out of the chaotic flurries of the blizzard. Something is dying, and so they come, like vultures.
After months of struggling south to escape the zombie-infested remains of New York, a snowstorm traps 23-year old artist, Emily, and her son in an abandoned gas station. Starving and desperate, they encounter Aaron, an Army medic on a mission of his own, who offers them a ride to ease the journey.
The road is a long and dangerous place to travel, and every day brings a new threat. But fear and adrenaline also drive the two closer together; they find laughter and a budding attraction that starts to thaw at their numb and deadened feelings. And that’s when the pain really starts to hit, when places long thought lost prickle back to life. Eventually, they will have to fight not just for survival, but for a future together, or their broken world will swallow them whole.
Emily stared first at him, then at the side-view mirror.
“They are fast…” she exhaled.
Rolling down the highway, Aaron was trying to avoid broken down cars and fallen trees, snow-choked drifts and holes in the road. They were slow, too slow; and the creatures had little trouble keeping up. There was no question of stopping, of course, but he couldn’t accelerate, either.
“It’s like they’re hunting…” he muttered, focus completely on the road. They were nowhere near an established town, not really, so there shouldn’t have been as many as there were. He’d counted five, now, in the last mile, and that meant, logically, there were more he wasn’t seeing. There were always more, always unpredictable. Underestimate them once and you were dead meat.
Emily clenched her hand around her thigh and glanced at Song still sleeping on the backseat. He looked as peaceful, as oblivious as she had been mere minutes ago.
“Maybe it’s because we’re moving or… or making sounds,” she whispered. Aaron couldn’t tell if she was worried about waking her boy, or whether the soft hush was her way of keeping her voice from cracking with fear, but he shook his head, distractedly.
He had to come up with a strategy, some way out of this, but it was high stakes situations like these when his army training broke through and he felt paralyzed, waiting for an order, for someone else to take over and tell him what to do. There was a sense of shame in that, and one he wasn’t eager for her to notice.
“Oh—fuck, no.” Aaron jumped and stepped on the brake pedal. Around a bend, they’d come to a downed tree, large and crushed down by the snow, and the van rolled to a stop in front of it. It had to have fallen sometime during the last storm, as the roots were still caked in soil and snow had frozen in a thick sheet of ice over the trunk.
A dizzying sensation of panic sunk through Emily’s body; she took a rattling breath.
“There’s no way we can move that,” she said still in that small voice, thin but steely.
LAILA BLAKE & L.C. SPOERING
L.C. and Laila met in 2010 on an online forum and have been inseparable ever since. Having supported each other in their individual writing projects for years, they finally decided to work more closely together in a cross-continental cooperative writing partnership. Together, they host the podcast Lilt and started their micropublishing venture Lilt Literary in 2013.
L.C. (generally known as Lorrie) lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, kids, and too many pets. Laila is a nerdy German translator, living in Cologne with her kitten and a lot of sparkly lights.