Home > Soulless (Soulless #1)(2)

Soulless (Soulless #1)(2)
Author: Cerys du Lys

Reaching my hand out, I grab the hem of a pretty red dress and feel it between my fingers. It's soft and comforting and I want to try it on. Walking to the door, I try to pull it open, but it's locked. I could go through the window, but the broken glass might cut me.

Not everyone cares. Looking around, I can see the shattered fragments of people's lives on their bodies. A dark-blue skinned man has cuts all along his arms, probably from grabbing things out of broken-windowed shops or digging through the trash. A child nearby, motherless, stumbles through the streets with bruises all along her legs from falling too much. She almost looks like any other little girl except these bruises are large and angry, a thick purplish-blue color.

A woman stares off into the horizon. I imagine she's the mother to the child, letting her little girl play before they go home for the day and sit down to a nice family meal in their cozy dining room. I don't actually think that's going to happen, but it's nice to think it.

I used to attend college nearby, so I decide to walk there. A quick, brisk pace, no shambling or stumbling. One foot in front of the other, watching myself walk, forgetting about anything else. I walk with a purpose, with determined strides. At the front of the college, I stop for a moment and peer into the front gates.

The gates are chained shut to keep the students in and unwanted intruders out. That's how it's supposed to be, anyways. Maybe I wasn't the best example of a student, but we used to slip out of our dorm rooms late at night and climb over the campus walls. It wasn't very safe, nor was it a great idea, but we did it anyways. Making my way alongside the walled off college campus, I head through an alleyway leading to the back of the building. Who knows why, but there's a small park here with a couple of trees and a bench, hidden away in between houses and society.

I stand on the bench and reach for the lowest branches of the tree, pulling myself up. It takes awhile, but I manage, and in a moment more I have my leg up and over the wall. Then the other, pulling myself up higher, sitting, and...

I jump down and land inside the college campus grounds. No one else is here since the gates are locked. I don't think anyone knows how to get in here, but I wonder about that. It honestly shouldn't be too difficult to break the chain or the lock since they aren't the best quality, but I suppose no one really cares. Why should anyone want to go to college now?

Because, I think, it's nice. Quiet and alone, I walk down the pathways winding through the different enclosed buildings. I used to sit outside on nice days and pretend to study while watching cute boys walk by. And if I actually needed to study, the library was close to my dorm room. We had an elevator, but I liked to use the stairs, so I could just skip down them, out into the open fresh air, take a short walk, and there the library was.

Through the large glass windows of the library, I see someone sitting at one of the tables reading a book. My feet stop, frozen in place. Is that really a person? What are they doing in there? Why would someone else come here besides me? The windows are tinted and I can't see through them clearly, but this man doesn't look like the others I'm used to seeing.


Evan knew Alex wouldn't appreciate him leaving like this. He knew he shouldn't do it, either, but he needed to. Just for a little while, and after that he'd go hunting for deer and bring back something for the camp to eat. Alex was a bit difficult to deal with sometimes since he was ex-military, but he knew what he was doing. If not for him, Evan probably wouldn't have survived this long.

Or, actually, he knew he could survive on his own, but the social interaction really saved him. You never realize how much you miss talking with people until there's no one to talk with. He only had to deal with that for a few days before joining up with the survivor's group, but those few days were some of the worst of his life. Confusion and chaos, hoping everything would calm down and return to normal, except it never did. Situations escalated, people panicked, droves upon droves of craziness.

In the movies you always saw zombie situations dealt with using extreme force. Bombs and military blockades and things like that. Except this wasn't that. Would anyone expect the military to go around shooting hospitalized plague victims? He doubted it, and he sure wouldn't, though a lot of people he talked with now wished for that very thing.

Anyways, better not to dwell on it, he thought. He needed to study fast. Sticking his nose into the copy of Robbins Pathologic Basis for Disease he found in the library stacks, he continued reading as much as he could as fast as he could.

Something caught his eye outside, though. Looking out the window, he saw a woman standing in the courtyard. She looked back at him, blinking, eyebrows crinkled with a slight smile on her face; the sort of look that asks something like "What exactly are you doing here?" The glass was tinted, so he couldn't see her too well, but she looked nice. A little ragged, but everyone looked like that now.

Evan waved to her and gestured for her to join him if she wanted. Would she? He didn't know. The offer was there, though. Smiling bright, wondering what kind of person besides him would come to a college campus during a zombie apocalypse, he set himself back to his studies.


The man in the building waves to me and gestures me inside. I don't know what he's doing there, but he seems different. Maybe I'm dreaming, and I don't think it'd be the first time. If I came here for a reason, maybe he's it, though. I do need to go to the doctor's and I forgot my keys, so I should ask him for a ride. Is that weird to do? No one else is here, though. The worst he can say is no.

I stumble on a rugged piece of the sidewalk while making my way to the front door of the library. It must be a nice day outside because someone's propped the door open with a rock, letting the fresh air inside. The light wind brushes against my cheeks and sends my hair aflutter. Sighing, wistful, I step inside.

I feel very cold, but I think it's just the air conditioning they keep on in the library most of the time. It's funny because sometimes during the winter the central air system would kick on by accident and chill the place to near freezing. It never happened for too long because the librarians called up the maintenance man in a huff, but whenever it happened it made me laugh.

Is it winter now? It is very cold, but I don't see any snow on the ground so I doubt it is. Autumn, probably, or a chilly summer day.

I believe the man I saw must be a medical student; he was sitting in the health sciences section at any rate. No one's sitting behind the front desk which is a little odd. No one is anywhere, though, I remind myself. I walk through the turnstile into the library, holding onto the railing for support, and notice the pale blue color of my hands.

Everything changes.

No, I can't. The turnstile clinks behind me as I walk through and I pause at the other side, fearful and frozen in time. I don't belong here, not with him. I belong outside with the others, somewhere far away. If he sees me, he'll scream and panic. If he sees me, he'll run, and if he can't run fast enough they'll catch him.

Or maybe he isn't as fearful as that. Maybe he'll see me and become angry. Does he have a gun or a knife? I have no idea. All I saw was a book, but who knows what he had under the table. And, even a book hurts when someone repeatedly slams it against you. It's hard to feel pain sometimes now, but I still know it's there. I have little cuts and scrapes, scars, from when I first became like this and I don't want to feel that way again. I don't want to look at myself and know that I'm like this. I don't want reminders of how horrible a situation I'm in.

I want to go home. I want to eat something warm and steaming and lay in bed for my half hour of warmth while reading my book. I want to cry and know what happens to Ally and Noah and I want them to be happy and live together forever. Is that too much to want?

Just as I'm about to turn and leave, the man approaches me. He left the book at the library table and it's just him. He smiles, sees me, and then stops smiling. Face contorted, confused, lips pursed, he stares at me.

I don't know what to say. I try to leave, try to turn away from him, but the world is such a mess and I can't seem to figure out which way is which.

I fall. My foot catches on the edge of the turnstile and I begin to topple backwards.

This is going to hurt. I don't know how much I'll feel, but I know it'll happen. I look up, somber, watching the ceiling as my body seems to crash backwards in slow motion. Everything seems slow when you don't want it to happen. Slow, but that doesn't mean you can change anything. You have to watch it, wait for it, feel anxiety and fear in the pit of your stomach as your heart races and you worry.

I fall, but he catches me.


Evan didn't expect the woman to be a zombie. He didn't even want to call her that, but he didn't know what other word to use. It seemed like a type of racism to him, though. If he said something like that would she be offended?

Casual, Evan, he told himself. Act casual. She wasn't trying to eat him, which was good. He didn't actually know how that worked, since he tried to never to put himself in that kind of situation, but the stories people told back at his camp were never good. Vicious, vile things, creatures of death and anger, chasing people through the streets, and if they caught you...

Everyone knew what happened if they caught you. It was no secret. Evan disliked it, didn't want to believe it, but he knew, too. He'd seen it happen once from far away. But why?

This woman didn't do that, though. She wasn't chasing him and she had no horde of followers intent on trapping him in the library. She was just herself and he'd asked her to come inside. He'd waved, friendly, gestured her in, then went back to reading. He'd invited her here, and she came. There was nothing wrong with that.

She looked so uncomfortable, though. Pale, blue skin and a worried look on her face. Grabbing the turnstile at the entrance to the library, she tried to turn around, maybe to leave, but she slipped.

Fuck! Evan ran. He had time, they weren't too far apart, and he just barely made it. Jumping the last few feet, he caught her in his arms and fell with her, softening her fall with his body. They lay in a heap on the floor.

Evan laughed. "Sorry about that," he said. "I didn't mean to startle you."

His hand touched the side of her arm and she was soft to the touch. And cold. Not too cold, but noticeably cool. He eased her off of him slowly and stood up, reaching a hand out to help her up. She stared at him from the ground, looking at him funny.


I fell but he caught me.

So tight and close, he must have jumped to reach me in time. He looked athletic from afar, more than capable of dashing forward and catching someone, but I honestly didn't know why he did it. I was so grateful, though. I wanted to cry for another reason now, but it felt so silly and inconsequential.

He touched me, too.

It sounded bad in my head when I thought of it like that, but that was exactly what he did. His gentle, warm hands held onto the side of my arms, rubbing up and down, relaxing me. His heat was like a blazing furnace to my cool body. I felt alive and warm under his touch, so wonderful and amazing. I knew this was how the others felt, why they rushed towards people in a frenzy when they saw them, but I'd never felt it before myself.

He helped me off of him and stood at my side, smiling at me. Reaching out his hand, he wanted to help me up. I stared at him, still feeling his warmth, curious and contented.

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