They exited the car and stepped into the madness of mingling with zombies in the dead of night.

* * *

Moving through the undead was easier than expected. For reasons Jack couldn’t fathom, the zombies’ main focus seemed to be only on getting inside the ballpark. They killed the few that came after them, splitting their skulls with razor-sharp knives. But for the most part, it was easy going at first.

As they made their way down some exterior stairs, Brice and Jack took turns writing down which gates were open, where the zombies were heavily gathered. They figured they would make it back within the prescribed twenty-five minutes. So far, Brice kept up. If all went well, they’d meet Joe and Jared outside of center field.

They were just getting into the rhythm, near third base, when the stadium lights suddenly flashed on. Jack gasped in surprise and blinked to adjust his eyes to the brightness. He and Brice appeared stunned by how many of the undead were on the field, dragging themselves up the stairs. There were thousands of them.

“Holy mother of Christ,” Brice whispered.

Jack’s heart raced when he saw Carla, standing atop the SUV Cole had stolen. It was parked in center field. She wasn’t tied up, and he thought he saw a knife in her hand. At least the fucker gave her a fighting chance. She was completely still, obviously not wanting to attract attention.

Jack and Brice barely had time to take it all in when the music started. The hair on Jack’s neck prickled at the guitar riff of “Welcome to the Jungle” blasting from the speakers.

It brought back good memories, of how it was when fifty thousand Dodger fans would gather here. Jack recalled the goose bumps he felt years ago, every time “The Jungle” introduced the Dodger’s closing pitcher, Eric Gagné.

Now, the music brought only horror, and was even more amplified. Axl Rose’s voice screamed in that high-pitch of his, causing the infected to shudder. Then the frenzy began.

From atop the SUV, Carla turned slowly, watching the insanity. The music deafening, it drove the infected berserk.

“Mike!” Jack hollered into his radio. He couldn’t hear anything, but prayed his brother’s pal could hear him. “I see Carla! We’re going in.”

Brice was sweating. His grim expression said all Jack needed to know. He didn’t think they’d survive.

“We use the rifles first,” Jack told him. “Until we’re in the midst of it. Then the 45’s. Try to use a knife if you can.”

Brice had been in Vietnam, he knew. But he wasn’t sure whether that experience would help or hinder him, with all the chaos going on. They would both know in a moment. The pair burst through the gate and started shooting.

Chapter Twenty

Anna crouched in the closet corner, biding her time and planning how to kill the asshole named Cole.

The pillowcase still covered the top half of her body. The cloth made her feel as if she were suffocating. Still, she didn’t dare move unless she heard something. Then maybe she could shift positions.

Cole had unceremoniously tossed her down and closed the door. Anna could tell that he had no idea she was coming back to her senses.

She had started to feel better in the car. Her memory was still hazy, yes, but she perceived she’d been left alone with Carla. Too frightened to speak, this was when she realized her thoughts were becoming clearer.

Ana didn’t know where they were. But when the despicable agent had separated her from Carla, Anna had pretended she was still in a thoughtless, miserable state. For once in your life, keep your mouth shut, she kept repeating in her mind as he led her down an echo-y hallway and into a room. Anna smelled food. Her hunger and thirst were insatiable, yet at the same time her body seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.

She was, she knew, in phase two of the infection: massive strength, clear thoughts, hunger and thirst.

Anna wandered alone blind in the room, hands still tied behind her back. She soon discovered it was some kind of kitchen. She wished for water, prayed for water. But she now was at Cole’s mercy, and had never felt more defenseless in her life.

It felt like days before he came back for her. When she heard his approach, she dropped to the floor as quietly as possible, hopefully close to where he had left her.

He opened the door cautiously. She wanted to kill him. But Anna was going to play this smart. She needed to learn where she was, what was happening outside the room. Anna made growling sounds, and fumbled her hands inside the pillowcase like she was still out of her mind. Admittedly, it felt nice to growl. So primal, natural, and very real.

“Anna?” he whispered. Anna’s only response was to tilt her head in his direction. She could smell him... his sweat, blood, and meat. Her senses increasingly heightened, she watched his shadow through the cloth, but didn’t let on that anything was visible.

The agent stepped away. He whistled for her like a dog. Fighting tears of rage, she found her feet and moved toward him, careful to keep her feet dragging on the floor as if she was completely zombified.

Cole led her down the echoing hall again, protecting her from what she sensed were other zombies. Finally, they entered a carpeted room. Anna instantly smelled Carla’s presence. Carla cried out her name and rushed to her. Anna didn’t dare change character. She was an actor, she told herself. And this had to be an Academy Award performance.

The asshole cackled. “Yes, go to her, Officer. Stay close for as long as you want. But be careful, you don’t want the same fate as she has coming.”

Indeed, Carla backed off before reaching her. The agent chuckled again. He busied himself cooking something in the microwave. Carla didn’t come too near... her blood flow increased—Anna could sense Carla was very much afraid. Anna didn’t blame her. Even so, Carla moved to Anna’s back and carefully guided her to the floor. Anna made some gurgling sounds for his sake. All she could do at this point was listen and wait for an opportunity to strike. If she could figure out where they were and what was going on outside, she could plan accordingly.

Carla was a cop, Anna knew. She was tough. But she suspected Cole had far more training and experience. He was cold, so frigid. Anna could almost taste his heartless cunning and indifference to their predicament.

“I wonder what’s taking them so long,” he whispered to himself. “Let’s get this fucking show on the road!”

What show is he talking about? Anna worried.

Cole snickered, as if he was privy to her thoughts.

Anna resolved to live. She felt strong, she felt invincible. And, at this still-early stage, she was still mostly human. She knew this, and fought to hold on to it.