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Rated: E · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2273818
A writing exercise about contrasts
Chloe ran up the stairs with James hot on her heels as the front door gave way with a crash. The old wood was no match for two dozen hungry undead following the scent of living flesh. The groaning of the zombie horde filled the old farmhouse along with the awful stench of death and decay that had accompanied the worst moments of Chloe's life for the last six months. Her throat was raw with her panicking breath as they threw themselves into the master bedroom and slammed the door, leaning all of their weight against it. They both breathed heavily, and the sound of the undead filling the ground floor made her stomach turn and she gripped her sweaty palms tighter on the handle of her axe. The farmhouse had seemed too good to be true when they found it the night before, and now Chloe knew she was right not to believe their luck.

James nodded at the dark, antique dresser along the wall and she helped him to drag it in front of the door. The dust on top of it was thick and it danced in the streaks of late evening sunlight coming through the window.

"We've got a few minutes before the dumb sons of bitches master the stairs," James said in the drawl she had secretly grown to adore in the last few days. He gestured at the open window on the other side of the room. "But then the only way is out and down."

Outside, there were still zombies trailing out of the woods to join the horde. James's van was parked in front of the house, and it wasn't a huge drop from the bedroom to the porch and then the ground but there were still zombies shambling in the space between the house and the van. Daylight was fading, the sky was violet and once the sun finally dropped beneath the horizon they would have no option but to fight in the dark. The horde's footsteps on the stairs was like thunder and already some of them were scratching and banging at the door. It was now or never, and it was the worst possible time for Chloe to freeze, but she did. Her heart hammered in her ears and her throat constricted and her knees locked. James threw the strap of his shotgun over his shoulder and grabbed her by the arms.

"Hey, we've got this," he said, soft and reassuring in that strange way of his that had made her trust him when their paths first crossed days ago. His forehead was creased and his eyes were wide and he pinned her with his gaze. "We jump, we run straight for the van. Swing that axe at anything that gets close but don't stop moving."

Chloe nodded, regaining control. She hadn't survived six months alone in the zombie apocalypse by panicking and had always prided herself on facing her fears. But the problem with letting someone get close was then having to worry about what might happen to them, and even though she had only known him for a few days she didn't think she could bear the thought of going back to being alone. His dark eyes roamed her face. In defiance of her panic, she acted on an urge she had been fighting for days and kissed him.

As first kisses went, it was rough and imperfect, a clash of teeth and dry, closed lips. The angle was wrong and she had to balance on her toes because James was a head taller than her and she couldn't use her hands because they were holding the handle of the axe between their bodies. He smelled of sweat and gasoline and her hair was greasy and it was somehow the most and least romantic moment of her life all at once. The world around them disappeared as if she had stuck her head under water, the sounds muffled and distant. The undead wouldn't reach her here as long as she kept kissing him. She absorbed every detail and committed it all to memory. If she lost him she would have this at least, and if she died escaping this house it would be with his kiss on her lips. She could feel the pounding of her own heart in her ears and the warmth of his solid frame where he pressed close against her. They pulled apart and the awful groaning and scratching and banging of the horde came back even louder than before. They were attacking the door in earnest now and the old dresser rattled with each impact. Her blood ran hot as James stared at her. He ran a thumb over her cheek. Not a goodbye, she thought, not if either of them could help it when they had only just found each other in this hell.

"Time to go," she said. She was first to climb out the window.
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