Look what I just got back from the proofreader. Enjoy!
The helicopter behind me exploded, throwing me forward into Danton, the demon hunter who had just saved my life before I could even open my mouth to thank him. I smashed into him, and we both toppled to the ground. His body cushioned my fall as we smacked into the hard asphalt with enough force for my brain to rattle around inside my skull.
Zombies came pouring out of the helicopter Danton had blasted out of the sky moments earlier. While the creatures weren’t shooting at us with their belt fed Browning M2 machineguns anymore, they were still coming for us. Evidently, zombies don’t give up even when you blow them up and light them on fire.
I scrambled to my feet and reached for my gun as the walking corpses lumbered toward us. Panic exploded in my lizard brain as I realized I didn’t have my gun anymore. Fuck. What was I going to do?
Danton still hadn’t managed to climb to his feet. Instead, he lay flat on his back staring glassily at the night sky while blood dripped from a nasty looking cut above his right eye. Ricky, the female werewolf I’d just jumped out of a plane to save, looked even worse. She had a huge piece of metal sticking out of her chest, pinning her to the ground like a macabre butterfly.
He eyes were shut in pain as she gripped the bloody chunk of steel and tried to wrench it free with her bare hands. The sight of it sliding out of her torso inch by inch filled me with revulsion and anger. The need to look away so I wouldn’t throw up was drowned out with the sudden need to tear the zombies limb from fucking limb. Hurting Ricky was not allowed.
My heart pounded against the inside of my ribcage as I took a step toward her, desperate to help her. Intellectually, I knew she wouldn’t die from an injury like that. Once she got the metal out of her body, her innate werewolf healing ability would stitch her back together in seconds, but that might not be quick enough if the zombies reached us first. No, I had to buy her some time to recover.
The scent of their rotting flesh washed over me, pungent even over the acrid smoke rising from the burning helicopter. My stomach twisted as nausea threatened to overcome me. I pushed it down as best as I could and stepped in front of Ricky and Danton. I had to protect them, had to buy them enough time to recover.
I held out my demonic, black as night arm. Blasting zombies with concentrated hellfire hadn’t been super effective last time, especially when compared to putting a bullet in their brains, but unless a gun was going to fall in my lap, I wasn’t sure what else to do with the zombies barely ten feet away. If they got much closer, we were going to be screwed.
Unfortunately, since I’d used most of my power to keep from dying after jumping out of an airplane a few minutes ago. If I’d had more time and a decent meal, I’d have recovered enough to do some serious damage, but as it stood now, there wasn’t a lot of magic left inside me. Hopefully, it would be enough to give Ricky and Danton time to get back on their feet and help me.
A zombie crossed the distance between us and lunged at me before I could gather enough magic to blast it in its stupid face. Its jaws snapped dangerously close to my ear as I stepped past its clumsy lunge and buried my elbow into the side of its temple. The creature’s skull cracked as it wobbled sideways, dazed but not really worse for wear. There were two more only a couple feet behind it with a third a meter behind them. I didn’t have long before they turned me into an all you can eat buffet.
“I’m warning you!” I screamed, spinning on my heel and driving my left foot into the wobbling zombie’s right knee. “I’m not afraid to sweep the leg!”
An audible snap filled the air as the creature crumpled to the ground. As it swiped at me, I stepped out of its reach and backed up a couple steps to create distance between me and the two closest zombies. I sucked in a deep breath that tasted like death and decay while calling upon the remaining magic inside me. Something popped behind my eyes, and the world went hazy around the edges. There was even less power inside me than I’d thought. Not good.
“No!” I cried in frustration and pulled even harder at the last gasps of power in my spiritual gas tank. The crimson tattoos running the length of my right arm lit up like the red light district at midnight as the last two zombies hurled themselves at me, jaws opened wide.
My right fist crashed into the left one’s nose. Its skull exploded into a fine mist as I followed through with the movement. The zombie dropped to the ground lifeless, which yes, was somewhat ironic.
Unfortunately, its partner caught my arm with one preternaturally strong hand and pulled me toward it. My feet went out from under me as my shoulder crashed into the creature’s chest. Undeterred by my flailing, its teeth snapped onto my shoulder and gnawed at the tough leather of my trench coat, but thankfully, were unable to find purchase. I had no idea what would happen if one bit me, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to find out.
The heat from the flaming zombie licked at my flesh as it pulled me hungrily into its gnashing jaws. The pain awakened some dark, primal need to survive. Somehow, I got my feet under me and pushed with everything I had. We toppled backward onto the cement, and the zombie’s skull struck the pavement with a sickening crack, moments before the full weight of my shoulder came down into its mouth. Its jaw shattered under my weight, but that didn’t stop it from scratching at me with rotten, decayed fingers.
The one I’d knocked down earlier was getting closer, dragging itself toward me, while the fourth was hopping toward me because it was missing its leg. If they got me on the ground, I was as good as dead. Especially since they were both on fire. Even if they didn’t eat me, the flames leaping from their bodies would be more than enough to do me in.
“Ignis!” I screamed, blasting the struggling zombie beneath me with a handful of Hellfire. The zombie’s head exploded like a sausage in the microwave, but I didn’t have time to relish its death because spots were dancing across my vision. If I used much more power, I was going to pass out, and that wouldn’t help anyone.
The two remaining one-legged zombies came at me from both sides. The glow from my tattoos was fading, resembling little more than the last glowing embers of a hearth. I forced myself to my feet while thanking my lucky stars I hadn’t caught on fire. Not that it would matter if I didn’t take out the last two before I collapsed. I needed to move this along.
“I guess I missed the one about the one-legged zombie in the ass kicking contest,” I said, calling upon more Hellfire. My vision tunneled down the center, and I had to step back to see them both through the blackness encroaching upon my line of sight.
“What about the one where the pissed off werewolf takes off their heads with the piece of helicopter blade she pulled from her chest?” Ricky cried, stepping into my frame of vision and driving the chunk of metal that had been lodged in her torso into the back of the broken-legged zombie’s skull. It stopped moving as she jerked the metal free of its cranium and flung it at the hopping zombie in one fluid motion.
The jagged hunk caught the hopping zombie in the forehead with so much force, it didn’t kill the creature so much as it obliterated it. She turned to me as the headless zombie slumped forward onto the ground. They were all dead. Maybe this time, they’d stay that way.
“You’re hurt,” she said, giving me a once over. “We’ll have to get those burns looked at fast, or they could get infected. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I’d want is my horrible flesh wounds getting contaminated by zombie gunk.” She stuck out her tongue and made an “ick” face. I glanced down at myself and instantly agreed. My exposed skin had turned a nasty shade of blistered, and the zombie gunk clinging to me didn’t seem like the world’s best substitute for burn cream.
“Always thinking about me,” I said, looking her up and down.” The wound on her chest had vanished. In fact, barring the horrendous rip in her slutty, blood-soaked pink Princess Jasmine costume, I’d have doubted she’d gotten hurt at all. “But I’ll be fine. Besides, I’ve got shit to do.”
“Too bad, my concern comes with the territory,” she said, stepping close to me and putting her hands on my hips to keep me from swaying. “Maybe Danton has a first aid kit or something.”
“Thanks,” I said, shrugging out of my trench coat. I might not be able to walk without assistance or see past my blurry vision, but I’d be damned if I was going to let her walk around wearing the costume Pierce had put on her when he’d tried to turn her into a sex puppet. I kissed her on the forehead and wrapped the coat around her shoulders. “How’s Danton?”
“I’m okay,” the demon hunter said. He was sitting on the ground where he’d fallen. Blood dripped down his face and pooled on his chin. Crimson spatters dotted his white shirt, but he didn’t seem bothered by it. “Just let me sit here for a minute.”
“Yeah, I could do with some sitting down,” I replied, turning toward him. I must have miss-stepped because the next thing I knew I was falling. Only Ricky’s hands on my hips kept me from eating a mouthful of pavement. That was no good. I didn’t have time to collapse into a boneless heap. I had to find Todd, the backstabbing demon, and rescue my family.
“You know you’re missing a shoe, right?” Danton asked as Ricky steadied me.
I looked at him for another moment before swinging my head down to stare at my feet. He was right. I was only wearing one shoe. I’d lost one when I’d jumped out of a perfectly good plane a few thousand feet in the air. Losing the work boot had seemed inconsequential at the time, especially because afterward I’d been chased by a helicopter full of machinegun-toting zombies, but now it seemed like it might be a problem.
For reasons unknown, Danton had knocked the helicopter out of the sky with a bolt of lightning and saved us. I wasn’t sure how he’d done it, but as I stared at the demon hunter, a tingle of dread rippled down my skin.
Danton may have saved me, but I was sure the reason why wouldn’t be all puppies and sunshine. After all, he was a notorious demon hunter who had told me, in no uncertain terms, he was going to kill me. So why had he saved my life when he should have let the zombie-filled helicopter shoot me to ribbons? I needed to find out why.