Julie couldn’t see his eyes behind the dark shades. But she wondered again how she could have been so easily fooled. He’d been nice enough at first. She didn’t forget—he’d reminded her more than once—that he’d saved her life back there at the base.

He’d clothed her, fed her, and even told her stories. But within the two days they’d been together, Julie began to see him as something more. A sinister man, a dark force. And she realized, gradually, that he was no one to fool around with.

Julie was just a housewife, and had been for thirty years. Once this whole thing started, and especially since her husband disappeared, she felt lost. At first, she thought she’d found a savior in Cole, but she now understood differently. The thought slowly dawned on her that the agent would keep her around for as long as he needed her. And then, she knew with certainty, he would dispose of her.

So when Julie couldn’t see his eyes, her gaze fell to his lips. Don’t disappoint me, they had just whispered. His mouth spread into a thin, icy smile.

Julie forced her hands steady. She took the gun from him and answered, “I won’t.”

Cole shoved her out into the open. They were behind a public restroom within sight of the observatory. He remained behind, waiting.

Julie knew exactly what to do, whether she liked it or not. Bring back at least two of them. Tell them someone needs help, that she needed help, whatever she could do to get two of them back to the restroom.

Cole hadn’t told her why, and by this time, she didn’t question him. She knew he had a lock on his person, to use for reasons unknown to her. Julie did notice the restroom he had brought her to had no windows, and no other exit. She knew he would lock whomever she brought back inside this place. She prayed silently she wouldn’t be locked in with them.

You won’t be, she told herself as she made her way across the long grassy field to the giant building. You already know too much. He wouldn’t want you to talk.

He told her they would most likely be watching as she approached. She held her hands in the air as she moved toward the steps. She didn’t want to be mistaken for a zombie. All the while, Julie felt certain he had a rifle trained on her back. He’d given her ten minutes to convince some strangers to leave their refuge and come with her. He didn’t have to say anymore. She’d seen his weapons. Even a sheltered housewife could tell he had enough ammunition to blow the entire hillside and observatory buildings sky-high.

Julie started crying. Something she was quite was good at; she had used tears to get almost anything from her husband in the past. She was a little sorry about that now, wasting tears on things inconsequential like a new pair of shoes or a kitchen remodel. No matter now, Julie had to be believable. Time to work herself into a frenzy, and act hysterical. Fearing the madman was helpful in that regard. She let the genuine tears from those thoughts flow freely and broke into a run up the steps to the observatory.

She knocked on the main entrance door frantically, and then struck it with the butt of her gun. She kept at it until a man appeared. He was armed, as expected. He stood a few feet from the door.

“Help!” she cried through the glass door. “Please, I need your help!”

The man didn’t seem to know what to do. Another man came to his side, then a woman. A female police officer. The first man stepped closer to her, scanned the grass and grounds behind her. “Who are you?” He said it loud enough to hear it clearly through the thick glass.

“My—my name is Julie!” she stammered in a high-pitched voice. “My friends are back there!” she turned, pointed in the general direction of the restroom. “We were in a car accident. They’re hurt. You’ve got to help us! It’s getting dark!”

Now the cop-lady came forward. “Where are they? Why are you alone? What are you doing up here?”

“I...we...” A few more tears to buy more time. She tried again, thinking hard. Cry, damn it! “We were trying to get away. It’s crazy down there! We had an accident. I think my husband’s leg is broken. My father and I got him to a restroom, but I think my father’s having a heart attack!” Julie prayed they believed her. She had to keep it up. “Please, please don’t leave us out here! I don’t know what to do... I just thank God I’ve found someone human!...”

* * *

“We have to help her,” Mike said.

“No, we don’t,” said Carla, sounding worried. “I don’t trust her.”

Both sailors stared at Carla in disbelief.

“How can we not help her?” Joe asked. “She’s the first sane person we’ve come across in a long time.”

“That’s why I don’t trust her,” Carla countered. “No one in their right mind would come up here. Not now.”

It was a good argument. The woman outside moaned and pleaded again.

“Carla...” Mike began.

She cut Mike a sharp look. Her every instinct told her there was something just plain wrong about this woman. Hell, even her acting seemed bad.

“Two of us could go,” Joe offered, ignoring Carla’s misgivings. Maybe he figured the woman was making such a ruckus that it could inspire a zombie attack.

Carla hated it, but Joe wasn’t listening. He was going to help this woman whether the female cop wanted to or not.

He stepped over to the door. “Hold on, ma’am. Calm down.... You don’t want to make too much noise.” He looked back at the small group. “Two of us could go, and the other should stay here to guard Anna, and wait for Jack and Jared.”

Carla wasn’t convinced. Her cop instincts were twisting her gut into a knot. She said as much, not caring if the woman overheard her.

“What was it Jack said?” Mike replied. “Democracy. I say let’s vote on it.”

“Not everyone is here,” Carla countered.

“We don’t have time. I see three zombies coming,” Joe answered. Sure enough, a trio of the infected could be seen at the far end of the grass. “Raise your hand if you want to help this woman, or would you rather watch her die?”

Carla folded her arms and frowned as they both raised their hands. “Oh, for crying out loud,” she conceded, angry at being forced to compromise. “All right. But since I’m the one uneasy about this, I’m going. Joe, you stay with Anna.”

Mike ran to get more bullets while Joe unlocked the door. He aimed his rifle and blew the brains out of the oncoming zombies.

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