The knife shone brilliantly in the sunlight. A long line of rippling silver metal, pure stainless steel. Sharp and serrated on one edge, it was able to cut through bone given half the chance. Right now, it seemed happy to flash menacingly when it caught the light. It was a foot of deadly craftmanship, a masterpiece of violence.
Riley thought it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.
She'd stumbled across the dinky souvenir store almost by accident. It was the type that sold the more exotic kind of memoir. The kind that sold knives to rich foolish tourists to hang on a wall and show off to their rich foolish friends.
In the current situation, it had so much more potential.
It even had its own sheath. Riley grabbed the other penknives on display, just in case, shoving them into the green rucksack which held all of her possessions. She lingered over the knife, admiring the naked blade once more before sheathing it and strapping it securely to her thigh. She set about searching the shop for anything else which could be useful. Ignoring the cash register, she began searching behind the cashier's desk. Money was of no use to her now.
With a triumphant grin she pulled out a six pack of chocolate bars, a first aid kit and a tattered map, raggedy around the edges. A whine disturbed her. She glanced up. A silvery Siberian Husky stood among the mess that used to be a shop.
"Loki, c'mere," Riley commanded. The dog obediently loped over, though none too quickly, his characteristic wolfish grin smiling up at her. She gave his ears an affectionate rub while she tore into a chocolate bar and turned to studying the map.
It had been approximately three weeks since Riley had saved the dog from a pack of Infected, the name she had given to the zombie-humans that now ruled the world. All Riley remembered was the flash of steal and the smell of her own fear. She had a soft spot for dogs and she hated to think of anything dying that way, being torn apart and eaten alive. She'd seen too many people and animals die that way. She'd lost count.
Since then, the dog had followed her and had alerted her to danger, saving her skin more times than she'd like to admit. Loki certainly repaid his debts. At first, she had considered scaring off the mutt who was following her. She had saved him sure, but she couldn't afford to feed two. However, the husky had managed to sneakily steal from her and when he couldn't, from elsewhere. It was the day she caught him with his head buried in her rucksack snuffling around that had changed her mind; she could remember that day clearer than any childhood memory. They had faded with all the violence and the bloodshed. She could clearly remember the sheepish guilty expression on the dog's face. And she remembered laughing, long and hard and a little crazily, for the first time since the start of this mess. That was the day she had given him his name: Loki. The Norse trickster God. They had been a team ever since.
She glanced up from her perusal of the map. She knew she was somewhere in L.A, potentially close to New Orleans. The sky was starting to look like ink, night closing its fist around the world.
"And now, the danger meter goes up to about a six," she muttered to Loki. He looked up at her with a puppyish grin, as if to say he appreciated her humour. She scanned the shop with a critical eye, her sharp apple green eyes taking in every detail. It had been pretty hard for Loki and her to get in. Squeeze through a small hole in the back door, through a store room where they were met by a locked door. It had taken her ten precious minutes to pick the lock. If not for the tantalizing promise of the glittering knife in the display window, she would have given up and moved on.
Riley nodded. The shop would do. She found a semi-secluded corner of the storeroom and dragged a few boxes in front of her chosen site. Pretty soon, there was a cosy corner protected from sight, with just enough space to make a quick escape. She pushed her short choppy black hair out of her face and tugged the thermal blanket she had swiped from a camping shop about a week ago from her battered rucksack. She folded her small, thin frame into a more comfortable position on the floor of the chilly storeroom. Fisting a hand in Loki's fur she closed her eyes and drifted into an uneasy sleep of nightmares; of shambling bodies, and screams, and blood smeared on lips.