As she stepped back into the darkness, the moonlight behind them wavered slightly. When she paused, she felt him bump into her from behind and mutter an exasperated obscenity, “For fucks sake, don’t slow down.” She kept sliding her hand across the sickeningly slick wall as she continued on, ignoring the lurch in her stomach and the irritation that she couldn’t convey how annoyed she was at him in the dark without sounding ungrateful.
“What is up there?” She asked in a whisper, glancing behind her by habit but unable to see anything but the dark red dead end they had left behind.
“Darkness.” He murmured, still uncomfortably close behind her. She stopped again to shudder and wipe her hand on her jeans and when she did, he bumped into her again and she heard another curse.
“Obviously. I meant what is in the darkness.” She tried to keep the sarcasm out of her voice but it was one of her many flaws. Even if faced with someone that she wanted to impress, which he was not; either her ridiculously lame sense of humor would come out or her ungrateful litany of sarcasm. They were at the end of the alley and just as she started to step into the light, she felt his hand on her arm pulling her back.
“This is not your world.” He whispered and stepped around her to examine the street himself, which she found oddly comforting. Maybe he wasn’t using her as a shield after all. “The darkness here is tangible. It moves on its own. It wanted you to find me and that is suspicious. That’s why I thought you were another trial for me, but I can tell you’re too stupid to lie.”
Her moment of fancy wasn’t dimmed by his anything but charming speech, but it was interrupted when he jerked her out of the alley and into the light. That's it. “Do you have to drag or shove me everywhere?”
"I could let you walk on your own and wave as you are carried off." he said wryly, but he let go of her arm. "Which way did you come from?"
She pointed to the left and he started in that direction. "Keep up or I'll drag you."
"What about the zombies?"
He snorted, but didn’t slow. "What zombies?"
"The flesh dangling bodies with no eyes that are standing in all the buildings. One of them shattered my hotel's front windows and came running after me like it was trying to win a race."
Something she said must have been important because he stopped and turned around to respond. "It broke the windows? Where did it go?"
"It got eaten by this…thing. Wait a minute. You just talked as if you didn't know there were zombies and now you're asking where one went. Which is it?"
"There’s no such thing as zombies. In life they were the hungry. That thing was probably the Gorger; it’s his job to eat them."
"So it’s a sin to be hungry?" If so, she may already be condemned to hell and she’s not even dead yet.
His eyes rolled at her question and he started walking again as he talked. She had no choice but to follow. "They aren't punished because they are hungry and need food. It’s not even about food. It's a degree of hunger that surpasses need and delves into greed. Even that has its tolerance, but these people have all gone too far and their hunger has affected the lives of others. Some have killed, some have maimed, all serious in degree or they wouldn't be here. The Gorger is their punishment. He likes a nice tasty snack, but don't imagine he wouldn't eat you if it were convenient."
"This is it." She’s stated the obvious. It was hard to miss the shattered glass all over the street and the building with the whole front up to the third floor blown out of it. "Wait, where are you going?"
He was walking into it! "Don't stop, Sunshine. You've finally been useful. Since the seal is broken, the Hungry will have cleared out. The Gorger isn't inhibited by light… just the seals on each building. The seals keep the Hungry in and the Gorger out. He's probably having a great time hunting right now and he won't bother with us while they are free."
He didn’t wait for her reply so he was already at the elevators and she had to run to catch up. So much for him being hurt. "So where are we going?"
He holds up a card. "To shower."
"You don't have to, but I haven't had a nice hot shower since...well, it’s been a while.” He said and looking at him, she couldn’t deny it. God, he was dirty but kind of… attractive. Which was all wrong. She’d never really been into the rugged look and he was so rugged that parts of him, his back mainly, looked like they were dragged from a truck down a gravel road but under the dirt his chest looked… solid. Suddenly she noticed the elevator music. Kenny G’s Songbird seemed less humorous and just plain inappropriate.
“Are you coming?” She looked up and he had a hand on the rim of the elevator doors and a frown on his face aimed at her.
“Sorry,” is all she could say as she followed him. Kenny G followed her all the way down the hall and to the door.