Pretty When She Dies

Page 59

Gagging, Samantha whirled around in time to see the first woman staggering toward her. Her head was falling over on her shoulder and her body was struggling to move.

“They're still moving!” she screamed

Sergio dove back into the truck and shifted into reverse. Gunning the engine, he drove backward at a fast clip and slammed into the advancing woman. Her body fell back and the big wheels of the truck rolled over her.

Innocente backed away from Jeff as he finished off the woman in the high heels and turned to see the two battered forms of the male corpses crawling toward her.

“Why won't they die!” she cried.

Sergio left the truck parked on the struggling blond woman and jumped out. He ran full force into the first man, tackling him to the ground. His big fist began to beat the man's face into a bloody pulp.

Samantha shook herself out of her daze and lifted the bat over her head. Running toward the second man, she let out a scream that would make Xena proud. The first strike missed his head and bounced off his shoulder. He reached for her and she rammed the end of the bat into his mouth, shattering his teeth and nose. Not even noticing, he kept reaching for her throat, but only managed to grab her shoulder. Beside her she could hear Sergio slamming his fist over and over again into the other dead creature.

Trying to break free from the man's terrible grip, Samantha kept ramming the end of the bat into his face. Innocente began to hack at the man's arm. Samantha tried to keep distance between her and the swinging blade as she tried to break free.

“Destroy them so he can't use them,” Jeff ordered. He came up behind the dead man that was trying to get a better grip on Samantha and began to hack at the back of his neck like he was a giant tree.

Managing to finally squirm free, Samantha staggered away. Jeff and Innocente continued to hack away at the dead man, who was still trying to grab them.

Sergio climbed off the man who's head he had pulverized and looked toward the house. He looked at Samantha and she nodded.

Together, they entered.

The barren house was falling apart and as they walked over the rotting floor, Samantha feared falling through. She was grateful she had worn her cowboy boots and jeans and nothing silly and frilly. Holding the baseball bat at the ready, she followed Sergio through the apparently empty house. She didn't immediately realize he had his gun out, but when she did, she wondered if it would stop The Summoner's minions.

The house did not seem very safe for vampires. The roof had completely rotted away and the sun poured through multiple holes. The walls were so decayed, daylight streamed through the cracks. But the wood was old and thick. It would probably stand a few more years before finally giving into the elements and collapsing.

It was in what looked like a bedroom that Sergio found the hidden vampires. He tried to open a door only to find it firmly shut. He strained to open it to no avail. Finally, he managed to get a peek into the closet through a thick crack in the door.

“I think they're in there,” he said.

“What?” Samantha rushed to his side and slid onto her tippy toes to look inside. She could barely make out what looked like a large lump with a satin cover on it. It was hard to see with the limited light, but the sunlight coming through the broken roof was enough to dimly see the sheen of the satin.

“I think they locked the door,” Sergio said, and got down on his knees to try to see through a keyhole. Fumbling with his belt, he pulled off a small flashlight. It took some maneuvering, but he finally managed to get a view inside. “She's holding it shut. I can see her wrist.”

“Is Cian in there?”

“I don't know,” Sergio answered, and handed her the flashlight.

She tried to see through the keyhole, but she couldn't manage it. Giving up, she handed it back to him.

Jeff and Innocente entered the room, both of them looking weary and blood splattered.

“They're in there.” Samantha pointed to the closet.

“Then we get them and get out of here,” Jeff answered.

Innocente hurried to the closet and laid her hands on it.

“Amaliya,” the old woman whispered. “We're here, Amaliya.”

Her voice was full of emotion. Samantha reached out and laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. Despite their rocky start, Samantha couldn't help but like the old lady. She was tough.

Sergio looked somber and said, “We should get the blanket and the tarp. We need to hurry before the sun moves any further overhead and we end up with more light in here.”

“Agreed,” Jeff said and moved to peer through the crack in the door.

“She's holding the door shut,” Samantha said.

“But she's asleep,” Sergio added.

“Amaliya, it's Grandmama,” Innocente said again. “Wake up, Amaliya. Let us get you out.”

“Go get the stuff from the vehicle and be careful,” Jeff said to Samantha. “We need to get out of here right away.”

Samantha nodded and lifted her bat again. “I'm on it.”

“Coming with you.” Sergio followed her out into the hallway.

“I just want to get the hell out of here,” Samantha said to him as they moved quickly to the front door. “Before anything else crazy happens.”

“I'm so with you on that,” Sergio answered.

Samantha heaved the door open and stared into the gnarled, decayed, dried husks of the dead people standing on the porch. She had only a second to realize that the corpses were all around the house and truck before the one nearest her lifted its masticated arm.

“Sergio,” Samantha screamed.

Then the thing stabbed her through and she fell back into Sergio's arms.


In his darkened room, The Summoner smiled as his eyes glowed with white light.

“Don't kill them,” he whispered softly. “Wound them, keep them in the house, but do not kill them. Save them for me.”

How nice of Amaliya and Cian to take refuge in the farmhouse that sat on the edge of the old cemetery. So convenient for him to call on the dead once his four more robust minions were downed. And how lovely of Amaliya's grandmother and cousin to come and provide ample fodder for him to use against her.

His smile broadened.

The situation was increasingly to his liking.

Chapter Twenty-Three

Sergio looked out the window and sighed. “They're not moving.”

Jeff looked up from where he sat on the floor cradling Samantha in his arms. He had used his jacket to staunch the blood flow from her wound and now it was being used as a makeshift bandage. He could see the pain etched in her face and she looked very pale. As soon as she had been stabbed through a sword, Sergio had yanked her back into the house and slammed the door shut.

The dead remained outside in terrible silence. They were just standing there, emaciated, gnarled dead things, waiting for the night to come. The Summoner's power infused them with unnatural resilience and the four times the mortals had tried to shove through them to the truck, the living had been pushed back by the dead. The four humans all bore wounds now. They were bloodied, dirty, and trapped.

No matter how many of the dead they hacked apart, The Summoner's minions kept coming in a great wall of dead, dry flesh. The Summoner's own black magic infused the corpses and it was his will that had the dead pushing the living back into the house. The four humans had all felt the dark power within their opponents.

The Summoner wanted them here.

He wanted them trapped.

“It's like night of the fucking living dead,” Sergio said grumpily.

His grandmother was in the other room, sitting next to the closet door, talking to Amaliya, trying to reach her through the vampire sleep.

“At least they are not trying to get in and eat us,” Samantha said in a raspy voice.

“No, they just stab us with swords from the freakin' Civil War,” Sergio responded with frustration.

They were all hungry, they were tired, and they were scared. Jeff couldn't hold Sergio's moodiness against him.

“You would have thought we would have noticed the graveyard in the back of the house,” Sergio said after a long moment of silence.

“It is behind that line of trees. How could we know?” Jeff answered, but they had been foolish and they knew it. They had been so desperate to rescue the vampires and escape they had not been thorough enough. They had all overlooked the overgrown graveyard tucked behind the house.

Sergio sighed and stepped away from the window. “And no one can see the dead from the road because of that line of the trees. Plus who the hell would be out here anyway. It's so off the map.”

“That's why he chose it.” Jeff looked down at Samantha. She looked so frail and pale. He had no idea how bad the internal damage was, but the sword had gone through her upper chest. His fingers lightly stroked her fevered brow and he sighed softly. Her breathing sounded very wrong.

“He'll come as soon as the sun goes down, won't he,” Sergio said in a sad voice.


Sergio sat down on the rotted floor and let out a long sigh. “Man, this sucks.”

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