Author’s note: If you’ve read The Z Word, there was a little confusion over names and there were two women named Kathy in the story. One, a sixteen-year-old, lived with her parents and ran away during the apocalypse. This is not her origin. This is Kathy, the bad-ass late-teens gal who eventually met and teamed up with Zachary. Enjoy!
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Kathy hit the punching bag over and over as the song Bad Reputation by Joan Jett blasted in the background. She took a break from her workout to play some air guitar. She resembled the old Joan Jett poster she had hung on the workout room wall behind her; her dark brown hair was even cut in a similar fashion. After a few more chords on her invisible instrument, she hit the bag until the song ended and then walked over to the stereo and hit stop as she heard the front door slam.
Sid entered the workout room and smiled. “Quite a sweat you’ve got going on…tough workout?”
She shook her head and smiled. “If you’re asking if I’m too tired to spar a little, I’m up for it.”
He grinned and tried to look at the back of his arm. That’s when she noticed the blood and grew concerned.
“What happened there?”
He saw the rips in the shirt he was wearing and tore off the blood-splattered sleeve. “Nothing, some crazy guy bit me on the way home. It kind of burns a little.”
“I’ll get some peroxide.” She walked down the hall towards the bathroom and yelled over her shoulder, “But don’t think you can use this as an excuse for losing when we spar!”
She returned with the peroxide and a towel and dabbed his arm. “Oh you big baby, there’s just a few teeth marks. You’re fine. Just barely broke the skin. Ready?” she said, smacking the cuts.
“Ow! Jerk. Just for that I’m not holding back!” he said as he put on the gloves. She just laughed at him.
“Yeah…like you ever hold back.”
He walked up to her and put his hands out, which she bumped with her own. “Ready?”
He nodded and she punched him in the jaw faster than he could react. He backed up and shook his head, then laughed. “That all you got?”
Punches were thrown, most were blocked on both sides, and each worked up a sweat as they switched between punches and banter until Sid seemed to slow down a bit and was hit a few more times.
Kathy became worried. “You okay? It’s not usually this easy. And you’re looking a little green.”
He pulled off the gloves. “Yeah, I’m not feeling so hot. I think we’d better stop for now.” She nodded and took off her gloves.
She smiled at him. “Guess I’ll take a shower. Go lie down and I’ll make dinner when I get out! Maybe some soup for you…something light since you’re looking so sick.”
Kathy got undressed and slid the glass door shut on the shower, letting the cold water run over her sweaty body. As she washed the soap off, she noticed a shadow through the glass. She finished up and turned off the water.
“Feeling better already, Sid? Trying to catch a glimpse?” she said with a laugh as she reached out for her towel. He walked toward the door and she slammed it on him. “Oh no, you have to work for it if you want some!” she laughed as she dried off with the towel and wrapped it around her. Sid approached the foggy glass and then slammed a hand against it, scaring her.
“Sid? What the hell?” she said with anger as she opened the glass door. He turned to look at her and she noticed a different look in his eyes, almost cloudy. “Sid?”
He lunged at her and she dove across the bathroom, all while keeping the towel wrapped around her body. He fell through the door of the shower, shattering glass everywhere. “What the hell, Sid?” she asked as he jumped up, glass sticking out of his chest and face. He growled a little and went for her again. This time she was better prepared and threw a right uppercut, hitting him square in the jaw and knocking him off his feet. She slammed the bathroom door and shoved a chair under the knob so he was trapped.
She ran to their bedroom and threw on a vintage Runaways tee, skipping the bra and underwear to throw on a pair of black skinny jeans. She heard slamming against the bathroom door and then a scream from outside their studio apartment. She ran to the window to see two little kids being chased by a man covered in blood.
She thought about what she saw outside and what was in her bathroom, the man she loved turned into something else, and knew what was going on. She’d seen the movies. It was zombies. She grabbed Sid’s aluminum baseball bat and jumped onto the ancient fire escape. The ladder, rusted stuck, wouldn’t give so she jumped with her full weight onto it and as it clanged loose held on until it jerked to a stop, almost flinging her from it. She jumped the last four feet and landed as the kids ran by her.
The zombie stopped, looked from the children to her, and let out a piercing sound almost like a scream as it started in her direction. One swift swing of the bat to its head took it down and she turned to the kids. “Are you two okay?”
They nodded without making a sound until one pointed behind Kathy and screamed. She turned to find two more monsters right on top of her. She screamed to the kids “Run home and don’t stop for anything! Lock yourselves in!” The two monsters pushed her into the glass behind her, shattering it as she dropped the bat and held both creatures at the throat so they couldn’t bite her. They pushed and clawed at her, one scratching at her arm as she put a foot into each of the monsters’ chests and pushed with all her strength. They both toppled backward and fell as she reached around for a weapon in the window display. The window belonged to an old army-navy surplus store and lucky for her had a crossbow under the splintered glass on the display floor. She grabbed it just as the zombies stood and let loose with an arrow, shooting one in the head. She loaded as the second walked in her direction, firing as it got close but only hitting the shoulder. She quickly reloaded and this time hit the target.
She stood in the display, brushing glass from her body and looking around. The cut on her arm was more of a scratch and hadn’t drawn blood, but she knew she would need more protection, and that’s when she saw the dummy in the window wearing a long, black leather coat. She snagged that and went into the store to see what else she could find for protection. The dark building had the usual stuff, camouflage clothing, camping gear, old army surplus items, but nothing really lethal until she noticed the curtain covering a doorway to a back room.
“Jackpot,” she said as she pulled the curtain back. Guns, swords and all kinds of illegal weapons garnered the walls. She took what she wanted.
Back at her apartment, Kathy used the hidden key to get in the front door. She looked toward the bathroom door, which was now splintered, half of the remnants hanging from the hinges and the rest in small pieces on the floor. She reached into the backpack she now carried and grabbed the handle of the shotgun she’d taken from the store. A scratching sound came from the kitchen and she turned in time to see Sid, or what used to be Sid, coming at her slowly.
She aimed the shotgun at her boyfriend’s head and fired.