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The first creature pushed its face against the kitchen door, its flesh turning gray right before her eyes. Rosemarie stifled a scream and rushed away from where they were standing.

Jace immediately turned around and took in the creature.

“That’s one of them!” Rosemarie shouted, trying to put as much distance between herself and the creature as she could. Jace made a dash for her and pulled her to the door beside the kitchen.

“No, no, I can’t go over there!” She tried pulling away from him but he was much stronger.

“We’re going to the bus now,” he said, not looking back at her. Despite her struggling, he managed to get her through the door and onto the bus.

“What about everyone else?” Rosemarie asked when he boarded the bus behind her. He gave her a look.

“Did you see the same thing that I saw? It was in the kitchen, Rosemarie. Do you know how much food we’ve been feeding these people? Thank God I haven’t eaten any food in days.” Jace felt for the keys in his lab coat and started the engine of the long, yellow school bus. “Who knows how many people are infected in there.” He pointed to the first row of seats by the door. “Why don’t you take a seat, Rosemarie? We’re getting out of here.”

More screams from inside the church forced her onto a seat. Rosemarie never thought she’d see one of those creatures ever again. But, if she was honest, she was glad she had seen it with someone else. What with the way the police talked on the phone, it seemed as though she had made the creatures up, or her kidnappers had put her on some drugs that were starting to wear off. Now that Jace had seen it as well, as sick as it sounded, she knew that this really was happening.

“Are you going to be able to drive through the streets like this?” Rosemarie asked. She hadn’t thought of it before, but the streets were crowded with people, and now that this was happening in the church, more people were probably going to flood it soon, just to escape whatever “it” was.

Or they would die.

The severity of it all was hitting Rosemarie hard.

What is all this, God? What is going on here?

“This vehicle is enormous,” said Jace, making eye contact with her through the large rear view mirror. “If there are any people on the street, they are going to be parting around us like the Red Sea…”

He jumped up from his seat. “Rosemarie keep your head down!”

But she couldn’t keep her head down.

Someone had grabbed her from behind and was beginning to strangle her.


Lyn was covered in dust. The wall had crumbled under the weight of the crash, and had sent whole chunks flying across the room. Thankfully, the cribs lined against the room had absorbed most of the debris, leaving trails of brick dust to cloud their vision and stain their clothing. She stood up and reached for her husband, who was also reaching for her. He helped her keep her balance.

“What just happened, Toby?”

He didn’t answer.

“All right, everyone move away from the wall!” Brian shouted, lifting his weapon and making for the nursery door. He pointed to Toby and Lincoln. “I need the two of you to come with me. We’re going to check out what this is.” As Brian turned to hug his wife, Lyn pulled on Toby’s arm.

“Toby —”

“It’s going to be fine,” said Toby, his calm voice indicating that he was, indeed, very much afraid. She’d learned a few things about Toby, and one of the most confusing was his sense of calm when he himself was most frightened. But, at the very least, she knew that despite the fear, he would be able to rationally make a wise decision. She let him embrace her and made her way over to the Elder’s wife, son, and the little girl they’d saved.

“It sounded like a car.” Lyn sat on the ground next to the boy, who was sulking. “Did they not let you go?” Lyn asked, nodding in the direction of the crash.

The boy clenched his fist. “They never let me do anything,” he said through his teeth. “Ever since my brother left, they’ve never let me do anything!”

“That’s enough, Seth,” the boy’s mother said, putting her hand on his shoulder. “Your father and I are acting for your protection. Going out there is not the best thing for you right now. Please, understand that we do this for your own good.”

“Well, it didn’t do anything to stop him from leaving, did it?” The boy mumbled under his breath, and Lyn was sure she was the only one who had heard it.

Him? There was more to this family than she realized, and not just an additional family member. Beneath their little facade of happiness and ideals, there was something dark hidden, and Lyn was satisfied. If even the good looking families were messed up, that meant all their family drama was, at the very least, a sign that they weren’t all that abnormal.

You are terrible, Lyn. Did you know that?


The car was a dark green Ford Expedition, probably a few years old. It seemed very well taken care of, other than the fact that the hood was smashed into the side of the church building. Lincoln followed closely behind his brother-in-law and the elder, wondering who, in their right mind, would crash into a church.

Well, they might not have known it was a church. It could’ve been an accident. They could have been drunk. There’s a whole lot of reasons that might explain this thing away.

Brian held up his hand, and they stopped moving. He pointed to the driver’s side.

“Lincoln, you stay with me on this side. Toby, go around to the passenger’s side, in case he tries to make a break from there.”

Toby moved without a word.

“Open your door!” Brian shouted, moving closer to the vehicle. He reached for the handle and pulled on it, but it wouldn’t budge. “Unlock the door, son.”

A loud grunt came from inside the vehicle.

“This side is open!” Toby called out. Lincoln heard him open the door, then grow silent. “He’s hurt bad.”

“Unlock those doors, and let’s get him out of there,” Brian replied, lowering his gun. The automatic locks reversed themselves and Brian pulled open the door.

A middle aged, bearded man tumbled out, blood streaming from his face. The air bag had done its job of saving his life, but had left him in bad shape. Lincoln examined the car while Brian and Toby hauled the man away from it. Other than the hood, this car was in pretty good shape. He sat inside, pushing aside the deflated air bag, and turned off the ignition.

“Lincoln, why don’t you try getting that car out of there?” Brian said, before they disappeared in the nursery with the man.

“All right.” He turned on the car again and put it in reverse. After a few tries, he managed to wedge the car out from the wall and parked it near their own car.

It hit him right then and there. Even if it had a few scratches on it, this car was still fully functional, and powerful. He could just start driving to Homestead and search for Rosemarie himself. He didn’t have to wait until Toby came up with a plan. He could do this for himself.

Lincoln turned on the car’s ignition.

I’m going to find you, sister.


She didn’t have time to scream. Rosemarie tried to pull the arms away from her neck to no avail. Her fingers clawed at graying flesh and she froze. There was a creature on the bus. And it was attacking her. Why was she always attracting them? Why had she, in the past two hours seen at least three of them? All those thoughts found a place in her mind as Jace ran over to her. She struggled to find a breath as Jace began to hit the creature over the top of the head with his bare hands. Twice he slipped and smacked her in the face, but when the creature let go of its grip, she forgot all about it.

Rosemarie fell onto the seat next to her, choking and gasping for air. She barely noticed Jace dragging the decaying body to the door and tossing it out. She closed her eyes and heard him walking up and down the aisles, checking for any other stowaways.

Oh, God, save me, please!

Rosemarie felt his hand on her back. The gesture took her back in her memories, when she had fallen off her back at seven years old, and her father had helped her up. He had left his comforting hand on her back, and she had leaned on it to regain her balance after the spill.

“Are you okay?”

“I…” She opened her eyes, pulling herself from the memory. Jace was a mess. His face and lab coat were splattered with thick black liquid, and his hair was disheveled. He was breathing about as heavy as her, trying to gather himself after —

“Did you kill it?” Rosemarie managed.

There was a pause.

“It’s gone.”

That was all Jace would say. He stood up and returned to the driver’s seat. “We have to get moving.”

Rosemarie closed her eyes again. This was all too much excitement for one day. Even though she had managed to get most of her breath back, she felt herself slipping into darkness. For the first time in her life, she welcomed it.

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