He groans and sits up, shoving those crimson locks out of his face. "Mila?" The panic in his voice causes my poor heart to stumble.

"Still here," I reply, sinking onto the edge of the bed to pull on my boots. Then I notice I never actually took them off.

"I didn't mean to sleep so late."

"Me neither," I say softly, "but the world hasn't ended."

He swings his legs down and begins rubbing his forehead. "I had an awful dream."

"It wasn't a dream," I mutter. Lame-ass attempt at a joke, because this morning feels awkward as hell.

"I dreamt that - "

He's interrupted by the sound of shoes striking the deck above, and Franny's barked warning.

In a second we're both on our feet, weapons drawn, headed for the stairs. It sounds like just one set of feet, but if there are more we can't afford to get trapped in this cabin.  

"Rise and shine, children!" calls a familiar voice. The cheeriness of her words is not matched by her tone.

"What's up?" I ask as we meet Theresa topside.

"Come with me." She turns toward the dock, her dark robe sweeping around her imperious figure, and Franny barks again and darts after her.

We follow as she threads between houseboats, and finally we wind up at the dock where we first arrived. It looks like the whole village has turned out to watch a single kayak paddling around in the water maybe thirty yards off starboard. The crowd makes way as Theresa leads us toward the front.

"Who's that?" asks Levi, taking a position beside Sasha, whose bow is sighted and ready.

"Meat," she mutters.

Though her report is lacking in detail, at this point it's become clear that Captain Ahab's a flesh-eater. And he's clearly confused about what to do now that he's reached us - the lion's outnumbered, and the gazelles have weapons. He digs clumsily at the water with the paddle, moving the boat in jerky little circles, head spinning first one way then the other so his sallow eyes never leave us. He keeps at this for maybe another minute, and then finally he manages to point the boat back toward land.

"T?" says Sasha.

"Go ahead," Theresa replies.

I feel the disturbance of air as the arrow bounds away. Thunk. Bullseye. Right between the shoulder blades. The flesh-eater slumps forward, paddle slipping into the water.

"Good shot," murmurs Levi.

"Can I go, Sasha? Please?" A boy shoves his way to the front. He's practically bouncing with excitement.

She reaches out and tousles his hair. "I'll go after this one, Jake."

"Awww," he whines.

"Tell you what," she continues, "we'll let him cool a little while, and then you can row me over, okay?"

Thirty seconds into trying to figure out what the hell they want with a dead zombie, I realize they're talking about the arrow. The boy grins, and he returns his attention to the victim of Sasha's archery skill - watching for signs the thing might revive, by the hopeful look on his face.  

"We used to play video games," I mumble.

"And now you live in one," observes Sasha. 

"My parents always said I should spend more time outside."

This earns a bark of laughter from the Valkyrie, and a disturbing realization pokes me in the ribs ... I'm starting to like her.

"This changes things, friends." The crowd shuffles, turning their attention to Theresa.

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