see any other option. If he simply left Nate behind, the young man could prove far more deadly to him the shambling flesh-eaters if what Thorne suspected about him were even partially true. This man had to be dealt with now. There was no way around it.

Nate woke up and Thorne could tell without even touching his mind that the young man was trying to move.

“Don’t bother,” he whispered, “I’ve shut down selected portions of your brain. You’re not going anywhere soon. Oh and you’re also tied up,” Thorne added almost as an afterthought.

“What the hell are you?” Nate asked.

“I was just about to ask you the same thing,” Thorne laughed. “Are you a speedster?”

“A what?”

Thorne sighed. “That’s what they used to call characters in comic books that had superhuman speed. Are you like that? Is that how you got in here, killed the three dead, and got back to me so fast?”

“If I say yes, are you going to let me go?”

Nate’s eyes went wide. “What the hell are you doing man? I can feel you inside my head!”

“Getting ready to let you go,” Thorne told him.

Suddenly Nate could move. He sped up his atoms and vibrated through the ropes which held his hands and feet, snatched the blade he’d dropped, and froze in place as he swung it at Thorne. The blade stopped inches from Thorne’s throat. Nate couldn’t make himself finish the swing. He took a step back and glared at Thorne.

“I wouldn’t try to run off just yet either,” Thorne smiled. “I’d hate to see what happens to someone when they trip if they move as fast as you do.”

“What do you want?” Nate demanded.

“Other than your word that you’re honestly not going to try to kill me again? Let’s start with how you found me. Just what exactly are you doing here?”

“I like to get out and have some fun okay?” Nate waved the machete through the air finding he could move freely as long as he wasn’t thinking of harming Thorne. “Look dude, I just want to go home alright? Let me go and I swear I won’t chop off your head or come after you.”

“You live around here?” Thorne asked shocked that anyone could actually still have a home in the city.

“It ain’t the Ritz but we get by.”


“Yeah, we, man. What did you think you were the last one left and all that crap?” Nate mocked him. “There are four of us. We took over one of the local hospitals. We live on the tops floors, made it where the deaders can’t get up. It’s about as safe as anywhere can be these days.”

Thorne caught a glimpse of Nate’s thoughts. “The people you’re staying with, they’re like us?”

“You mean freaks? Sure man, how the hell else do you think we’ve survived?”

Thorne felt more holes or deaders as Nate had called them making their way into the warehouse. “How far is this hospital?”

“Couple a miles north of here, deeper in the city. I can take you there if you think you can make it.”

“How? The city is overrun with those things. There’s no way we can make it by them all.”

“Speak for yourself. I can get by them easy. As for you, I spotted a national guard APC abandoned just a bit down the road. I bet it still works.”

“Fine,” Thorne answered. “Let’s move. You take the lead but don’t even think about darting off without me, understood?”

Thorne and Nate crept out of the warehouse through one of its street entrances. They stood in the shadow of the building with the sun rising behind them as Thorne took in the scene. The dead milled about. He could see the APC setting in the middle of the road. There were at least three dozen of the dead between him and it and he knew there would be a lot more as soon as they saw Nate and himself.

“Hang tight.” Nate told him. With a whoosh noise and gust of wind, Nate was gone. Thorne heard the APC crank up. Its engine roared to life and its massive wheels rolled over one of the dead as it backed its way into a position to get turned toward the warehouse. Nate must have kicked it into gear because the vehicle roared its way straight at where Thorne stood waiting.

The dead were becoming excited. Dozens upon dozens more of them came out of the surrounding buildings and alleyways pouring into the street. Thorne took aim and downed one of the closer ones with a head shot from his revolver as the APC pulled up to him. Nate leaned out and waved him over. Thorne darted for the cover of the vehicle slamming its heavy metal door into the face of the creatures as he jumped inside. Nate opened up with the anti-personal machine gun on its turret cutting down the deaders around them.

“Stop playing around, damn it!” Thorne yelled at him.

“Ain’t no cause to get riled man,” Nate joked. “Just hit it already.”

Thorne slid into the driver’s seat and the APC plowed through and over the dead as it headed north. Thorne cut the engine as they pulled up to the hospital Nate claimed was his home. There were thousands of deaders in the streets. The APC rocked from the pounding of fists against its armored hide.

“Now what?” Thorne asked.

“Dude, a little faith please,” Nate remarked. “Climb out on top of this thing and I’ll get you in. Trust me.”

Thorne had no choice. He climbed up through the gun turret out onto the APC’s roof looking down into the sea of hungry faces around him. He knew the things were going to flip the APC at any moment. Wind blew over him and he felt Nate’s arms around him. The world became a blur as he was hurled upwards. Nate had darted out of the APC running down the street, dodging the dead as he built up speed then headed back like a streak of lightning taking Thorne in his arms.

He carried him up the side of the hospital and in through a window on the eighth floor. The next thing Thorne knew he was bouncing across the hospital’s tile floor as Nate dropped him and fell to his own knees panting. Nate appeared on the verge of passing out. Sweat dripped from his black hair and he glared at Thorne.

“You weigh a freakin’ ton dude,” he commented.

“One hundred and seventy pounds, actually,” Thorne replied as he started to get to his feet as a hand fell onto his shoulder. He looked up into the face of a stunningly beautiful young woman. She had short brown hair cut well above her shoulders and wore a green dress that was breathtaking. She smiled at him as electricity shot through his body and his world went black.

Thorne awoke in a hospital bed. His hands and feet were bound to the bed by leather restraints. The young woman sat next to him with her hand placed open palmed on his chest.

“Nate told us what you do. Even think about getting into my head and I’ll fry you to a crisp,” she warned him.

Nate stood off in a corner of the room. A tall blond man stood at the foot of the bed looking down at Thorne.

“Welcome to our home,” he said in a voice which was anything but friendly. “I am sorry about the restraints but even such as us can’t take chances these days. You’ve met Nate. The young lady beside you goes by the name of Arc. You may call me Victor.”

“I thought there were supposed to be four of you,” Thorne commented.

“There are,” Victor assured him as the image of a man appeared in the room. His body was transparent and shimmered as it floated above Victor. The ghost-thing waved hello and vanished into the air as quickly as it had manifested.

“Yes,” Victor nodded, “As cliche as it is, his name is Apparition. He is only with us sometimes. As I understand it, he was once like you, Thorne, but upon his death he evolved so to speak. It’s hard for us to communicate with him but I believe he claims his body is still out there on the streets somewhere, perhaps one of the creatures outside this very hospital. We do not know for sure nor does it matter. Obviously, the state he exists in keeps him from helping out much. But what of you Thorne? What you have become surely is rather pointless in a world filled with the dead.”

“I make do,” Thorne informed him coldly.

“Do your gifts work on the dead?” Victor asked. “Or are they truly mindless?”

Thorne remained silent. The girl called Arc glanced up at Victor. “Let me fry him. He’s too dangerous to keep around.”

Вы читаете Zombies II: Inhuman
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