Love & the Zombie Apocalypse (Book 1, Zombie Apocalypse Trilogy)

 

LOVE & THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

By

Chelsea Bellingeri

 

 

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express written permission of the author.

Copyright ©
October 2013 by Chelsea Bellingeri

Cover art created by Rahul Philip (http://www.rahulphilip.com)

 

First Paperback Edition:
October 2013

 

This book is a work of fiction.  The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real.  Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

For more information, please visit: http://www.chelseabellingeri.com

http://www.facebook.com/ChelseaBellingeri

Follow me on Twitter: @C_Bellingeri

 

 

 

BOOKS

by

Chelsea Bellingeri:

 

 

 

Zombie Apocalypse Trilogy (Young Adult)

 

Love & the Zombie Apocalypse
(Book 1)

Death & the Zombie Apocalypse
(Book 2) – Coming 2014

 

 

The New
England Witch Chronicles Series (Young Adult)

 

New England Witch Chronicles
(Book 1)

Conjured
(Book 2)

Wicked Betrayal
(Book 3)

All Hallows Eve
(Book 4)

 

 

Monster
Club Series (Middle Grade)

 

Monster Club: Case of the Ivy Hollow Werewolf
– Coming Winter 2013

 

 

 

 

To my brother, Chano,

the only other person in the world who shares

my love for t
hings that go bump in the night.

We finally
made our zombie book!

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Rachel Cole
lived in a crap hole.  Literally.

She checked the bottom of her
sneaker, but there was no need.  She’d heard the nasty squish the moment she stepped on the pile.  Sure enough, brownish-green muck covered the bottom of her Nikes. She sighed.  “Valerie, the dog pooped in your hallway.  Again.”

“Clean it up!”

Rachel ignored her foster mother and poked her head into the bedroom she shared with her eleven-year old sister.  “Morgan, are you ready?”

“I’ve been ready for hours.  C
an we go?”

“Sure, w
atch out for the poop on the carpet.” 

Morgan
handed her a pink duffle bag full of clothes. She wore a neon yellow t-shirt that read:
Summer Science Fun
. Rachel guided Morgan down the hallway and into the kitchen, but it was a mistake.  They should’ve gone out the front door.


Did you pick up the poop?”  Valerie’s cigarette dangled from red painted lips. 

“Yes,” Rachel lied.  She shielded
Morgan with her body as they walked past Gene, their fat freak of a foster father.  Try saying that quickly three times. 

“Wher
e are you two going?”  Gene’s thick neck rolled in their direction.

“I’m dropping Morgan off at
school.  She’s leaving for science camp today.”

Gene moved with the quickness of a
cheetah, which was remarkable, because he weighed closer to an elephant.  Before Rachel could react, his meaty hand closed around her neck.  He slammed her against the refrigerator.   “Do you have any money on you?”

“No,
I already gave you the money from my paycheck.  Yesterday.” She pushed Morgan aside with her free hand. 

Gene groped Rachel’s
pockets until he found a crumbled ten-dollar bill.  “Tsk, tsk.  Holding out on me.  I know you paid for Morgan’s science camp, too.  I’m not an idiot.”


She won a scholarship,” Rachel lied again.  She had absolutely paid for her sister’s science camp.  She would sell her soul if it got Morgan out of this house for the next six weeks. 

Gene
reached for Morgan, but Rachel dug her nails into his hand.  “Let go of me!”  She pushed him off and pulled Morgan out of the kitchen.  The screen door snapped shut behind them.  

“That was close,” Morgan said.

Rachel squeezed her little hand, eternally grateful that Erik, Gene and Valerie’s biological son, had let Rachel borrow his car.  If not, she’d have to beg Gene to drive his GMC Jimmy and begging her foster father for anything never ended well.  Rachel unlocked the passenger door for Morgan and slid inside the driver’s seat of Erik’s old clunker.  Fast food wrappers covered the floor and white stuffing poked out of the cloth seats.

She locked the doors
before putting on her seatbelt.  They lived in Flint, Michigan, which had a high crime rate, but she believed the city had gotten a bad rap.  Flint was the birthplace of General Motors, for crying out loud.  It didn’t matter what people said about Flint, this was her home and she loved every square inch of the city.

“I do
n’t want to leave you here for six weeks.” Tears spilled down Morgan’s chubby cheeks.

Rachel
wiped her sister’s tears away.  “Don’t worry about me.  I’ll work so much that I’ll hardly be home.”

“Really?”

“Really.”  Rachel reached into her sock for the hidden cash.  The money was the result of working nonstop at her summer job as a hostess at the Italian restaurant,
Bellissimo.
  “Here you go.”

“N
o.”  Morgan pushed it away.  “I’m not taking anymore.  You already paid for camp.”

“They gave me a bonus at work,” Rachel lied.  “
Take it.  Buy some sodas and junk food and tons of science stuff.”

Morgan eyed the money.

“Take it.” Rachel pushed the cash into her hand. 

“Thank you.”  Morgan leaned
over the stick shift and hugged her.  “I love you.” 

“Love you
, too.  Now, let’s get you the heck out of here.”  Erik’s old clunker groaned out of the driveway. 

Morgan twisted the end of her long
blonde braid.  “They’re taking us to the museum in Detroit this weekend.”

“That sounds like fun.”

“Did you know there’s a gigantic museum in New York City?  The one from the movie with Ben Stiller.  It’s a real place.”


It’s called the Museum of Natural History.”

“That’s so cool,”
Morgan said.  “We should go there some day.”


Definitely.”  Rachel slowed at the red light and, out of habit, checked both ways down the street.  It was a good thing she looked, because two men were running in their direction.

No,
not just running.  One man was clearly chasing the other.  The chaser looked like a teenager.  He wore a sweatshirt with the hood pulled forward, despite the ninety degree June heat. 

The man being chased dashe
d into the street.  He wore a navy blue mechanic’s shirt with the name “Dave” stitched over his heart.  Rings of sweat stained his collar and armpits.  Dave the Mechanic slid to a stop in front of them and locked eyes with Rachel.  He was bleeding from a wound in his arm.  A few drops of blood splashed onto the hood of Erik’s car.

“Rachel,” Morgan whispered.

“Don’t move,” she said. 

Dave t
he Mechanic’s eyes were wild.  Was it fear?  Drugs? Rachel’s foot hovered over the gas pedal. 
Don’t test me.

Th
e light turned green and the hooded teen darted into the street without checking for oncoming traffic. Dave the Mechanic swore and took off in the opposite direction. 

Rachel
couldn’t see the teenager’s face because of the hood, but he had an odd running style.  Not that she was a champion sprinter herself, but the teenager’s stride was jerky.  Despite the weirdness of his running, he was fast - much quicker than Dave the Mechanic.  The teenager would catch Dave by the end of the next block.   

Once the teen
ager cleared Erik’s car, Rachel slammed her foot down on the gas.  The car peeled out, leaving tire marks on the concrete. 

Mo
rgan twisted in her seat.  “What was that?” 

“Don’t look.  They’re probably going to fight.”

“Why?”


I don’t know.” She eased her foot off the gas once they were a few blocks away.

“The guy in the blue
shirt was hurt,” Morgan said.  “Should we call the cops?”

“I’ll call when I get home.  I
don’t want you to miss the bus.”

W
hat could Rachel really do?  She didn’t own a cell phone like every other person on the planet.  Payphones were rare these days and at least twenty other cars saw what happened, too.  Surely, someone had called the police. Besides, it was best not to get involved. Rachel didn’t want to attract any unwanted attention to themselves. 

T
he elementary school was at the end of the street.  A crowd of parents and fourth graders gathered near the yellow school bus.  Morgan practically squealed in her seat.  All thoughts of the two men were gone, immediately replaced by microscopes and experiments. 

The
All-Star Summer Science Camp was a six-week overnight camp held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  The camp was by invitation only for academically successful fourth graders on the eastern side of the state.  When Morgan’s invitation arrived in the mail this past February, there was no way in hell she wasn’t going. 

Rachel
picked up extra shifts at
Bellissimo
to pay the camp’s tuition and to make sure Morgan had enough spending money.  Her little sister would have a fantastic summer and Rachel would work a thousand hours to make sure that happened. 

“You’r
e rooming with Annabelle?”

“Yes,” Morgan said.

“Did you leave me her mom’s number?”

“On your night stand.”

“And you’re staying at Peabody Dorm?”

“Yes,” Morgan said. 

They pulled into the parking lot.  “Do you have the number where you can reach me at the restaurant?”

“Yes,” Morgan said
again.  “I’ll be fine, Rachel.  Don’t worry.  There will be tons of chaperones and I’ll call the house to talk to you every night.  I promise.”

Rachel
exhaled.  “Sorry.  I’m being neurotic.”

T
his would mark the first time they’d ever been apart.  Morgan and Rachel had been to hell and back together. Druggie mother.  Never met their fathers.  Several different foster homes.  But they’d survived.  Letting Morgan go to camp for six weeks was going to be harder than Rachel expected. 

She
helped Morgan with her bag and met the program instructor.  Morgan and her friend Annabelle both wore the neon yellow science camp T-shirts over their clothes.  Rachel hugged her little sister one last time before she boarded the bus.  “Bye Rachel!  I love you.”

And then Morgan
was gone.  The bus jam-packed with eleven year olds turned the corner and drove out of sight. 
She’ll be okay.  Anywhere away from Gene and Valerie was safe. 

The
drive home was uneventful.  Rachel didn’t see Dave the Mechanic or the hooded teenager.  A skirmish erupted in front of a liquor store on Dort Highway, but she was driving too fast to see anything.  When she got home, her foster brother, Erik, was in the kitchen tipping back a milk carton.  She dangled his car keys in the air.  “Thanks for the ride.” 

“No problem.”  Erik
caught the keys with one hand and chugged more milk.  “Is Morgan on her way to Detroit?”

“Ann Arbor.”

“Cool.”  He burped.  “My dad says you need to mow the lawn.”

“Why can’t you do it
?”  Rachel didn’t mind her foster brother.  Erik was decent.  He treated Rachel and Morgan like actual human beings, which was more than she could say about Valerie and Gene.  Despite Erik’s likeability, he was the laziest person she’d ever met. 

Erik
tossed the milk carton in the trashcan.  “I have to take a nap before my shift tonight.”

Rachel rolled her
eyes.  Erik worked third shift at the General Motors plant. On days that he went to work, he slept all day long.  “Didn’t you just wake up?”

He shrugged. 

Cigarette smoke floated into the kitchen.  Valerie and Gene were watching the
Jerry Springer Show
in the living room


Fine.  I’d rather be outside anyway,” Rachel said as she walked out the back door.

The sun
blazed high in the sky.  It was hot and humid.  She twirled her blonde hair into a knot on top of her head.  Her hair was too long – it hung down to her waist – but she couldn’t afford to pay someone at a salon to cut it.

She
rolled the ancient lawn mower down the shed’s wooden ramp.  It took four attempts to start the mower, but on the last pull, the creaky old engine sputtered to life. 

Rachel pulled off her
t-shirt, revealing a gray tank top.  She had on jeans shorts and black and white Nikes.  She should’ve changed her shoes before she did lawn work, but she’d have to go inside and walk by Gene and Valerie. 

The
Nikes would do. 

She
didn’t mind mowing the lawn, but it was hard work in the sticky heat. Rachel pushed the lawn mower against the back chain length fence.  The drone of the engine was loud, but she still heard the scream float across the thick air. 

The
Monroe’s. 

She
pivoted and pushed the mower in the opposite direction, careful to keep close to the line.  Gene would beat her if she left tall patches in his grass.  A clatter sounded from the Monroe’s house again, followed by a crash of breaking glass.

T
he husband always beat the crap out of his wife.  Mrs. Monroe had fresh bruises covering her arms and face every other week.  Despite the regular beatings, she never called the cops and she never left her husband. 

Rachel
ignored the cries and finished the lawn.  She wasn’t getting involved again.  A year and a half ago, not six weeks after being placed with Gene and Valerie, she heard the wife’s cries in the middle of the night.  Rachel watched the awful scene from the kitchen window as the neighbor hammered away at his wife.  So she did what any sensible red-blooded American would do - she called the police.  Naturally, the woman denied that she was the victim of an UFC-styled smack down and told the police that she tripped over the dog. 

The dog

It was m
ore like she tripped into her husband’s left hook.  To make matters worse, Mrs. Monroe told the police that Rachel had made up the entire story.  As the woman so eloquently pointed out, who was going to believe a teenage foster kid?  Gene had a field day with Rachel that night for causing a scene and she should’ve called the cops on him, but she couldn’t bear for Morgan to deal with social services again.

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