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Four years ago Byron Shales was a manager for a department store. Now he hunts down and captures the newly zombie-fied dead, and resells them at auction to the highest bidder. What his buyers do with them after the sale is finalized is none of his business, and frankly he couldnít care less.
His beliefs and apathy come to a sickening halt when he elects to keep one young woman for himself, and discovers that all his pre-conceived notions about these non-living creatures have been a lie. In fact, the truth about Rothsburgís Disease may be more horrifying than the flesh-eating creatures it infects.
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Taking the snare pole in both hands, he took several steps into the room. Habit made him double-check the corners for signs of another one of those things. A good trapper had to keep an extra pair of eyes in the back of his head if he wanted to live long enough to spend his money.
Glancing back at the girl, Byron saw she had gotten to her feet, but she remained where she was. If he didnít know any better, he would swear she wasnít in any hurry to attack him.
"Whatís the matter? Why wonít you come over here and take a bite? Huh?" He held out an arm in invitation. "Come on. Here it is. All nice and warm and juicy. Bet youíd love to take a chunk out of it, wouldnít you? Well, come on!" He gave his arm a little wiggle. "Come one and try."
The creature looked at his arm, then back at him. She took a tentative step toward him. Byron took an identical step backwards.
"Thatís right. Come and get it. Itís full of warm blood, and I bet youíre hungry, arenít you?"
She took a second step, which he echoed in reverse, but her gaze wasnít on the tempting arm he was baiting her with. She was watching him. As ridiculous as it appeared, it was like she was wary or something. Byron shook his head. No way, man. No fucking way.
He grabbed the snare pole with both hands and played out more of the wire. The creature stopped. One of her hands reached for her throat, and he nearly dropped his jaw.
It was starting to be too goddamn freaky.
"Whatís with you, for Christís sake? Whatís with the hesitation? Youíre acting like you have intelligence, and we both know that canít be true. Youíve been dead now for, what? A few days at the most. Not more than a week. Youíre fresh. I gotta hand you that, but your brainís been rotting inside your skull all that time. Thereís no way you could be thinking, much less anticipating me."
He took another step, and this time the girl took a step backwards.
Enough of this bullshit, Shales! Get her!
Determined to end this imaginary stalemate, Byron strode over and slipped the noose over the thingís head, pulling it tight as he gripped the end of the pole.
She didnít struggle.
She didnít howl.
She didnít fight him or the noose.
Byron stared in shock at the creature. He had been hunting zombies for nearly four years, and nothing had prepared him for this. No other undead had acted this way, and those dead things were as predictable as night and day.
He tugged on the pole. The creature didnít react one way or another. Byron frowned. Maybe her attack button was missing. That, or she never had one. Or it had rotted away.
Something flashed at the corner of his eye. The setting sun reflected off something like a window in the distance. The distraction reminded him he was wasting time. Plus it was a good three miles to the compound if he wanted to get there before the gates were closed for the night.
Pulling on the pole, he watched as the girl reluctantly took a step forward. Then another. Gradually, she followed him outside and to the truck. The entire time her hands remained dangling by her sides.
Once they reached the pickup, he debated whether to slam her up against the board of nails so he could cuff her. To his shock, he saw the creatureís eyes look over at the thirteen-by-seventeen piece of wood attached to the side of the vehicle before she glanced up at him. Warning bells were going off in his head, but at that moment he was totally dumbfounded.
"Shit. Donít tell me you donít want to be pinned. Is that it?"
Christ, why was he even asking her? She was dead! She had no brain function anymore. Therefore she couldnít think, and she damn sure couldnít be dreading what was about to happen to her! She was already dead, for fuckís sake! What could be worse?
"Fuck this," he muttered, dragging her to the tailgate. He grabbed a pair of cuffs out of the toolbox and jammed the end of the snare pole underneath the ramp. "All right, girlie. Letís see if you fight me now."