So, other authors share bits from their WiPs and I figured, “hey, I’m an author, maybe I should do that.” So that’s what I’m going to do. Rather than waiting until the end, when I’ve released it and then going back and posting this or that.

Anyway, the story is post-apocolyptic with zombies and the ragtag group of people left to deal with zombies who go bad. It’s silly and growing ever sillier as it goes along, but I hope it will be entertaining. I have a lot of ideas, an outline overflowing with plot points and future bits. All I need now is a few more hours in the day.

So, without further ado….

“With all due respect, sir. I don’t need a partner.” Detective Justice Kinkead sat back in the uncomfortable guest chair sitting before the police chief’s desk. He pushed back his shock of shaggy brown hair, dark eyes darting to his prospective new partner, a svelte blond mystery man introduced as Merlin Pride. “I get by just fine without one. Hell, I haven’t had one in weeks.”

Zombie Control and Oversight Squad (ZoCOS) Chief Authority Figure shook his head. His dark skin made the whites of his eyes look especially bright when his expression was incredulous, like it was now. “No, you haven’t had one partner, you’ve had several. That last one didn’t even last the afternoon.”

“You can’t judge me by that. That guy had one week until retirement. And who has a retirement plan during a zombie apocalypse? Frankly, I thought he was a little shifty. What could his pension possibly have been? All the canned beans he could eat?”

Chief Figure shrugged his massive shoulders. It was like watching someone juggle boulders. “The guy before that wasn’t on his way out.”

Justice appealed to Merlin, gesticulating with his arms in wide arcs. “Come on. His name was Redd Shirt.”

Merlin twirled his fine blond hair around a finger. He looked down at his tailored pinstripe suit and back up at Justice. “Red does attract zombies, I hear.”

“No it doesn’t! And Oh-eM-Gee that’s not the point.” Justice dropped his hands on top of his head, looking between the two men as if there was an invisible tennis match that only he was privy to.

“Questionable couture aside,” Merlin said, he leaned against the wall, pinning his shoulder between two framed degrees that legitimized Mr. Authority Figure as qualified to run things, “this man is clearly out of his skull.” He gestured to Justice, who jumped so fast it knocked the chair over. “No offense.”

Justice took offense. He jabbed his thin finger into Merlin’s exposed shoulder. He noted with satisfaction that he had a couple of inches on Merlin, something he couldn’t tell from sitting. “Who are you? There’s no record of any Merlin Pride in or out of law enforcement.”

Justice didn’t even see Merlin move. He just felt a sudden, searing pain in his finger. He crumpled to the floor on his knees with his finger bent back.

“Mr. Pride possesses the necessary skills to serve with ZoCOS. Perhaps if you’d been more circumspect in how you treated previous partners we wouldn’t have to resort to qualifying regular citizens to serve. As it is, everyone else with ability has either defected to the other side or works as private security.” Authority stood, fingers steepled on his desktop.

“Really…scraping…barrel…argh let go of me, jackass.”

Merlin’s smile crept slyly at one corner of his mouth as he bent Justice’s finger to the point of breaking. “Say please.”

“No…fucking…way…”

“I was hoping you’d say that.” Merlin’s cold gray eyes glimmered with a preternatural glee.

“Enough. Let him go, Pride. I didn’t bring you in to break my men.”

Merlin let go, but pouted like a toddler who lost his toy. “Your men need breaking.”

As soon as Merlin let go, Justice sprang to his feet and swung at him. “Speaking of breaking, I’m going to break your pretty little pointy face.”

Without even changing his expression, Merlin caught Justice’s fist and used the momentum to swing him around, bending his arm painfully behind his back. Shoving him forward, he forced Justice’s face into the chief’s desk, bent forward in a far-too-familiar-for-comfort position. “Manners cost nothing.”

Justice grunted. “Fuck you.”

“You wish.”

“Save it for the zombies, boys.” Chief Authority winked in what Justice thought was an incredibly smug manner. “As it happens, I already have your first assignment, so you can vent your sexual frustration there, yeah?”

Immediately Merlin let go and backed off from Justice. “Oh, gross.”

“Gross? How old are you?” Justice stood, wringing his wrist and finger, settling for verbal insults since it Merlin appeared to have incredible reflexes. He’d get the drop on him eventually.

How old are you?” Merlin mocked in a high-pitched voice.

“Seriously?” Justice swung around, holding his arms out in appeal. “Chief, really.”

“Come on kids, we’re all adults here.” Chief Authority clapped his hands like a basketball coach. Come to think of it, those degrees on the wall were for Kinesiology, not Criminal Justice. “Listen up. We’ve got a whole mess of the living holed up by zombies in a factory.”

Justice crossed his arms, keeping his back to Merlin. “Hang on. I thought most of the zombies went back to their jobs and continued to work peacefully in places like factories. And offices.”

Merlin stepped right behind him, close enough that his breath made Justice shiver. “Maybe someone slipped, cracked their skull open and one of the zombies got a taste of brain.”

Justice refused to move. He knew Merlin was doing it on purpose, to make him acknowledge that he was there. It was a battle of wills and Justice refused to lose.

Authority held up his hands to stop them. “Boys, I don’t know the whys or hows of what happened in the factory. As you know, some zombies come back angry. I know most came back and went right back to work. Didn’t even miss a day. Makes me proud to be an American.”

Merlin leaned in, practically whispering in Justice’s ear. “Is that what we’re calling them now? Undead Americans?”

“Get off of me!” Justice hated to be the one to give in, especially after his spectacular pep talk to himself two paragraphs back, but Merlin smelled really good, like bay leaves and lime. Old fashioned, classic. Too bad he was such a complete dick, because when he wasn’t talking, he wasn’t hard to look at. Maybe what that pretty mouth needed was to be fatter. Swinging around with his fist balled, he hoped he’d have the element of surprise.

Alas.

This time, Merlin caught his arm, raised it up and turned the momentum into a disco spin, which was even more embarrassing than if he’d just kicked Justice’s ass in front of God and everybody.
Merlin laughed. “You’re really shit at this, but I have to admire your stamina.”

Justice was glad that Authority spoke before he had to respond, because he had no retort.

“All right, all right, kids. Let’s go get the zombies.” Authority skirted his desk and pushed them both unceremoniously out of his office, telling them the address before slamming the door behind them.
They stood outside of the office, eyeing each other. Finally, Merlin broke the silence. “You remember earlier, when I said no offense?”

Justice fished the keys to his Official Police Vehicle out of his pocket. Was this going to be an apology? About time. Maybe they could salvage this partnership after all. “Yeah?”

“I was lying.”

Keys in hand, Justice marched toward the parking lot, shouting loud enough for the whole precinct to hear. “I hope you die and come back a zombie so I can kill you on the clock.”

Merlin mimicked him again, his voice high and shrill. “I hope you die and come back a zombie so I can kill you with my cock.”

The room dissolved into laughter. It echoed down the stone hallway that led out to the parking area. Justice threw the door open, face blazing, and headed them to his enormous red Hummer.

Merlin was hot on his heels. “Compensation much?”

Standing next to the passenger door, Merlin waited for Justice to unlock.

For a moment, Justice sat in the driver’s seat, considering whether to let him in or not. Hell, he could run him over and claim he didn’t see Merlin. After all, he was a willowy slip of a man. He’d probably just register to the car as a bump. Not even a pothole.

“Stop sitting there with that shit-eating grin and let me the fuck in, you psycho.”

Justice unlocked the door and waited for Merlin to get in. “It’s a utility vehicle. They’re very good for off-road driving and keeping zombies out when they want to get in.”

Merlin looked around the dark interior, at the seats and extra space behind. He smirked as he belted in. “Oh sure, but we both know there were no zombies when you bought this thing.”

“How would you know if I had this before the virus broke out? Looting’s rampant. Besides, this is just the sort of vehicle ZoCOS should be assigning its members to drive.” Justice shoved his key in the ignition and twisted it.

“The plates read JSTS4ALL.”

Justice shoved the not-at-all-compensation-mobile into gear. “Shut up.”

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