When my eyes peel open again, the scenery has changed.
I know where I am. The observation room at the top of what was once a water tower in Volunteer Park, near my parents’ house. Also near the apartment I’d lived in since taking a job as an animator for a boutique game company — She Games (for women, by women) — in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Suddenly I remember the last thing I remember, and I jump to my feet.
Then I remember the thing that happened before that, and I glance down at my body in astonishment. It’s a sign of just how astonished I am that I don’t look around first to make sure I’m not about to become a flesh-eater snack.
My body is healed. I don’t hurt anywhere. Not even the shoulder I torqued falling down the stairs in my apartment building The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Instinct kicks in again and I reach for my blade — only to find it’s gone. The hot flash of panic makes my vision swim, and I groan out loud.
I glance at arguably the best view in Seattle without seeing it. My gaze works over the room, seeking threats. I have to get out of here — this water tower has one way in, one way out.
Then I see him. Lying on the concrete floor next to one of the arched windows, light tattooing him with the grid pattern created by the weird combo of bars and fencing that prevents tourists from falling to their deaths. He’s asleep. Or dead.
I approach cautiously, noting the steady rise and fall of his chest. My eyes move over his body, searching. I see the hilt of my knife sticking out of the waistband of his jeans. His T-shirt has lifted to his short ribs, revealing well-developed abdominals. I become momentarily transfixed by the coppery hairs that create a delicate tracery between his navel and the button of his jeans.
I take slow steps, crouching as I draw up beside him. I reach my hand out slowly, eyes moving between the hilt of my blade and his face. Not a twitch.
My fingertips touch metal, and suddenly my wrist is in his hand.
I yelp in surprise and punch at him with my weaker fist. I manage to connect with his jaw and he groans, but I think it probably hurt me more than him.
“You can’t have my knife!” I shout, trying to twist my wrist out of his grip.
“You’ll get it back,” he says, capturing my other wrist with his other hand. He yanks my wrists to his chest, forcing me to crouch over him, and we eye each over crossed and locked arms. “And unless you’re ready for company,” he adds, “think about keeping your voice down.”
I tug at my arms, but I might as well be wearing cuffs. “Let me go,” I demand, lowering the volume.
“My strength will give out in a minute, and you can do as you like. I only took your knife so I could sleep without worrying you’d cut my throat. You can have it back now if you promise not to do that.”
I scowl at him. “I promise.”
He raises a red eyebrow.
“I don’t kill anyone but flesh-eaters. And rapists. And people who steal shit from me that I need to survive, but I’ll give you a pass this time cuz we didn’t establish ground rules.” His face doesn’t move or change, and I add grudgingly, “And you saved my life and all.”
He releases my wrists and in less than a second my knife is back in my hand. “Don’t ever do that again,” I mutter, backing a few feet away from him.
He closes his eyes. Five seconds later I’m feeling pretty sure he’s gone back to sleep when he murmurs, “How do you feel?”
Right. That. “I feel great, and it’s sort of creeping me out. You wouldn’t happen to have any idea why would you? It’d be good to know if I’m going crazy.”
YOU ARE READING
RED: Love in the Time of Flesh-eatersScience Fiction
(WATTPAD EXCLUSIVE) Three lonely years of battling flesh-eaters have come to a predictable end. Or at least it seems so to Mila, until in walks a flame-haired champion who knows more about her than he should. Mila's survived by traveling light and a...