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I glare at the man before me in both fear and curiosity, he has a dirty smile – he obviously didn’t take much care of his teeth even before this all began – and his face is covered in a rough black stubble. His eyes are narrowed and they are slightly sunk backwards into his head. His nose is long and crooked and looks as though it has been broken at least once in the man’s lifetime.

The man walks right up to me, and strokes my face with his hand. I recoil away from him and he frowns. ‘’ Something wrong?’’

‘’ Who are you?’’ I finally question after a few moments in which I am too scared to utter a word.

‘’ Who wants to know?’’ He smirks, removing his hand from my face and moving past me to stare at Ferrah.

‘’ I asked you first,’’ I reply and he stops and stares back at me.

He chuckles fakely; there is no humour in his tone, ‘’ Well aren’t you a cheeky one. I’m Laurence.’’

‘’ Denise,’’ I spit, glaring into the man’s eyes angrily.

‘’ And what about this pretty lady?’’ He smirks, staring at Ferrah.

Much to my surprise – yet delight! – Ferrah spits at his feet. His eyes flare with anger, and he swings at her with the backside of his hand. It wallops her and the sound it omits reminds me of a single clap of the hands, or even a spark from a fire popping. Ferrah cries out in pain and is thrown to the ground with the force of the blow. Little Tina screams in shock as Ferrah falls to the ground at her feet.

‘’ Let’s try that again, shall we? What. Is. Your. Name?’’

Ferrah picks herself up off the ground, her face has rouged in either embarrassment or simply because of the force of the blow – perhaps even both. She glowers at the man before her with a twinkle in her eye. One that – unfortunately – I recognise. This is the same glint I have seen in her numerous times back before the world went to shit. It was the look she gave her foe before she started bad mouthing them, a verbal bitch fight. Luckily I was never on the receiving end of one of these, but I’ve witnessed enough of them in my lifetime to know that Ferrah really doesn’t hold back.

‘’ Her names Ferrah,’’ I blurt out, before she can saying anything that these men will make her regret. She frowns at me, obviously annoyed. She’ll understand later, if we’re alive then!

‘’ Ferrah, huh?’’ He repeats slowly, staring at us.

‘’ What do you want from us?’’ I question, trying to sound confident however my voice cracks halfway through the sentence and the group of men standing before me burst into laughter.

‘’ If you haven’t figured that out yet darling, I worry for you,’’ He smirks and his goons chuckle behind him.

‘’ I have a few ideas…I’m just not sure,’’ I say and he cocks an eyebrow.

‘’ And they are…?’’

‘’ Well I don’t see any other women here, so perhaps you want us here to help with cooking or whatever other pathetic stereotypes you want to come up with. Or perhaps you just want to increase morale here among your fellow survivors by mocking us for your own amusement,’’ I suggest.

‘’ Neither of them are right, you’re not as smart as you think you are doll face,’’ He explains and laughs again, as do the other men.

‘’ I wasn’t finished,’’ I explain and again, he cocks his eyebrow in curiosity.

‘’ There’s also the slim chance that you think we’d have sex with you, either to help repopulate in a few years, or for your sick, perverted entertainment.’’ I continue and Ferrah gives me a shocked look, as if I could be giving the men ideas if they had not thought of this previously. Although it is evident that’s why we’re here, from the moments they captured us they have been eying us up like we are fresh slabs of meat.

‘’ Ding, ding, ding! We have our winner,’’ Laughs Laurence, clapping his hands mockingly in my face.

‘’ If you think any of us are going to have sex with a sexist oaf like you, you have another thing coming,’’ I spit furiously, despising this man more and more with each passing second.

‘’ Oh that’s where you are wrong, you’ll do what we say or we’ll slowly torture you until you aren’t strong enough to stop us from getting what we want.’’ He explains with a cruel smirk and I feel bile forcing its way up my throat but I swallow it. ‘’ Gentlemen, tonight is going to be fun! Take them to the stores for now.’’

Upon Laurence’s command, five of the men behind him step forward and grab onto us – two with both myself and Ferrah, with just one with Tina. They drag us through the shop as we wriggle in their grasp and try to break free from their grasp. I stifle a scream as one of the men kicks me as I am shoved along but he clamps his hand over my mouth.

‘’ Shut it deary,’’ He laughs and places a hand on my breast.

I try to scream for him to get off me, but his hand muffles my words.

We are dragged into the back store room of the grocery store and we approach a giant walk-in freezer. One of the men opens it, and the three of us are tossed inside. The door slams shut behind us, and the footsteps of the men fade away slowly as they return to Laurence. Much to my relief, the freezer is not working – so it is not that cold, just slightly cooler than room temperature.

It takes me no more than a few seconds to notice we are not alone; there are two other women sitting huddled closely in a corner of the freezer. They stare at us, and one of them begins to cry.

Both of the women look well over twenty, maybe even just shy of early thirties. They look as though they could be sisters, with an identical head of blonde hair – now knotted and soaked in sweat. They have the same fair skin, and long, slender bodies. Their clothes are torn, and permeated with dirt, blood and semen. They are also coated in bruises and cuts, one has a black eye from where she has been punched – and it appears to be fairly recent.

‘’ Oh God. This is bad,’’ Utters Ferrah finally, breaking the silence that was otherwise only filled by the woman’s gentle sobbing.

‘’ We have to get out of here,’’ I reply, ‘’ We can’t stay here.’’

‘’ There is no way out,’’ Explains one of the women, her voice hoarse; Was it from crying or screaming? ‘’ The last person that tried is now dead.’’

I glance at Ferrah, and she catches my eye. We exchange a nervous and fearful glance and then our eyes turn on Tina.

‘’ What are we going to do?’’ I ask.

Before Ferrah can respond, the sound of approaching footsteps sounds and the door to the freezer opens. A large burley black man enters the freezer with a gun in his hand and ushers one of the women to her feet.

‘’ C’mon Ashley,’’ He grins.

‘’ Please,’’ Begins the woman, the taller of the two – Ashley as he drags her to her feet roughly.

‘’ What have I told you about pleading?’’ He roars and smacks her across the face with the butt of his gun.

She roars in pain and a fresh cut opens on the poor woman’s face, blood begins to trickle. When the man drags her as far as the door, he pauses and turns back to face the second woman, now sobbing quite loudly.

‘’ Now that we have new girls, we won’t hesitate to kill you. We have fresher, virgin replacements that we’ll have more fun with. So you better watch your tongues.’’

The woman gulps, and avoids eye contact with the man by staring at the floor. He drags the shaking woman out and slams the door shut behind him. As the door shuts, their footsteps slowly fade out of earshot and we sit in silence. The reality of what is happening hits me like a ton of bricks and I burst into tears. Nobody tries to comfort me, everyone is well aware that nothing can be done for us now. We truly are screwed.

After about thirty more minutes, Ashley is returned to the store room and the second woman is taken out. Ashley doesn’t say a thing; she simply sits on the floor with her back against the wall and cries. She has even more wounds now, including a bloody nose which she has plugged with the end of her sleeve. When the second woman is finally returned to us, she too sits and sobs.

The minutes of silence and fear stretch into what must be hours, and then Laurence enters the store room.

‘’ Hello girls,’’ He smiles maliciously. ‘’ How are you all?’’

‘’Go to Hell,’’ replies Ferrah in disgust and Laurence laughs aloud.

‘’ Leave us alone. Just let us go,’’ I plead, pride no longer a priority of mine.

‘’ Why would we do that now doll?’’ He smirks and grabs me by the wrist.

I scream and try to pull myself loose but his hand is gripped around me like a vice. He pulls me closer to him and clamps his free hand around my head, pulling me towards his lips.

‘’ Get off of me!’’ I roar and wriggle and squirm but his lips meet mine and he forces himself on me.

Suddenly though, he let’s go, pushing me to the floor in the process. Tina stands beside him, and he turns to glare at her.

‘’ You little bitch! You bit me!’’ He roars angrily and pushes Tina against the wall.

As she is being pushed backwards, she stumbles and her shirt gets caught on something and the entire left arm of her shirt is torn off – revealing something that causes each of us to gasp in shock, a zombie bite.

‘’ You’re infected!’’ gasps Laurence, taking a cautious step back from her.

‘’ No, I…I…I-‘’ Stutters Tina, unsure of what to say.

I look at the wound on her arm, it looks a few days old as a thin scab has began to cover the bite marks indenting the poor girls arm. The area around it isn’t black though, which is the norm for other bites. That makes no sense.

‘’ Tina, what happened?’’ gasps Ferrah, staring at the girl in shock.

‘’ The other day,’’ She begins, and then bursts into tears, unable to continue speaking.

I stare at Laurence; he is just gawking at the little girl in shock.

‘’ Surely you should have changed by now,’’ Begins Ferrah and I nod my head.

‘’ Then could that mean that…’’ I begin and stop, do I really want to give anyone a reason to hope is I am not one hundred percent certain?

‘’ What? Mean what?’’ Questions Laurence impatiently.

‘’ Tina’s immune,’’ I utter.

‘’ Nice try girly,’’ Laughs Laurence and calls for his men to come in.

Tina is taken from the store. They grab myself and Ferrah as well, leaving the other two other women behind to sob.

‘’ What are you doing?’’ I question Laurence as we are forced back to the centre of the store.

‘’ Well first, we are going to take care of this one outside,’’ He begins, nodding his head towards Tina who he is shoving along, ‘’ Then we’ll have some fun with the two of you.’’

I glare at him in shock. There’s a possibility that Tina could hold the answer to this whole virus, and he is going to kill her? I don’t even think of the different possibilities that await myself and Ferrah after they ‘take care of’ Tina, because I am so wound up on the fact that they would even consider killing a child, let alone one that could hold the key to restoring normality to the world.

‘’ You can’t do this,’’ I plead, fresh tears forming in my swollen red eyes, ‘’Please.’’

‘’ Of course I can, who’s going to stop me?’’ He chuckles as Tina wriggles in his grip.

‘’ Please, you don’t know what you’re doing. Do what you want to us, but leave Tina alone. If she’s immune, she could be the answer. Please,’’ I beg.

‘’ Will you ever shut up and get your clothes off while we deal with her?’’ He replies and they lift Tina off the ground and begin to carry her out of the store.

‘’ No please!’’ I yell.

‘’ Stop this!’’ cries Ferrah just as loud.

I can’t believe this is happening.

Suddenly, every person in the room completely silences as the noise of a car horn begins to sound from somewhere close outside the store.

‘’ What is-‘’ begins Laurence, but before he can finish his sentence, the noise of the car gets deafeningly louder and then it crashes through the shop window and knocks over a huge shelf.

The car skids into the shop, causing the men to dive for cove, leaving the three of us unprotected. My jaw drops as I see Rory behind the wheel of the car, but more so because the car he just crashed into the shop is being very closely trailed by a horde of at least fifty zombies.

I grab Tina’s hand and lead her across the shop, hiding behind the shelves as the zombies sprint into the shop. Rory dives from the car with the hunting rifle in his hand and joins up with us. It is obvious that the car would not be recoverable. Laurence and his men are too busy dealing with the more dangerous zombie threat than to worry for our escape.

We follow Rory along through the shop past the store room. As we pass, I open the door and quickly tell the two women what is going on. Then we leave them to make their own way. Whether they chose to try and escape, or simply let the zombies finish them off, I don’t know. Rory smashes a window with the hilt of his rifle and we crawl out, leaving the dying and the dead behind us.

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