It couldn’t be permitted to continue.
Look at you, a regular Jack Tar.She turned at the smoky, deep voice. The sight of Nicholas cutting a path through the dark finally popped the bubble of panic. She counted the steps between them, and he finally stopped to consider her, running a hand over his closely cropped hair. He searched her face as if wondering how to start.
Etta wasn’t the least bit ashamed of studying him back, but she was sure she wouldn’t get much from it. Nicholas seemed to guard his expression so carefully, protecting the privacy of his thoughts.Etta shifted her eyes away from his face. She’d been right before—it was his only jacket. He wore it now, brushed clean. The fit had swallowed her, but was perfect over his white shirt, emphasizing the broad span of his shoulders. His pants hugged his legs as he crossed that last distance between them. Nicholas was tall, his muscles compact and lean; everything about him seemed efficient, from the way he spoke to the way he moved with steady, easy grace, shifting with the sea.His presence was larger-than-life, bigger even than his physical body. As he stood beside her, Etta felt as warm as if he’d spread his coat over her again, wrapped her up in it.
You’ve got steady legs, he explained finally, turning his eyes up. You’ll be a seasoned sailor by the time we reach port.I don’t know about that, Etta said, following his gaze along the large, central mast, to—was that a man, working on the long beam the sail was hung from? Earlier, she’d seen the men climbing up and down the ropes like spiders sharing a web, but none had gone this high—high enough that she couldn’t make out the man’s face. He was a pale blur against a quilt of stars. It was dizzying just to look at him.
Is he going to be able to get down? Etta asked, and realized that she was clutching his arm. He went absolutely still at the same moment she did, inhaling softly. The wool was rough against her fingertips, and the sensation lingered even after she let go and stepped back.
He’ll be fine, Nicholas said gently. Most of us have been climbing the rigging since we were boys. The wind’s picking up, so Marsden is reefing the sails—reducing their size to keep the ship stable.We drove near enough where the headlights hit more than their eyes, and we could see them lurching forward. They weren’t at their usual manic speed, but they were definitely a small legion of zombies. They stood there or stumbled ahead slowly, their arms hanging disjointed, their faces clawed and drooling. Some of them looked dismembered, and all of them were old and in terrible shape.
Holy shit! Lazlo slammed on the breaks.What’s going on? Blue snapped awake, and Ripley growled in the back.
Zombies are blocking the road! Lazlo gestured to the pack in front of us. What do I do?We sat in the middle of the road in an elderly station wagon with two guns and a lion, and I didn’t know how much ammo we had left. I might already be infected with the virus, and none of us knew exactly how close or how far we were from the quarantine. An army of half-dead monsters trudged towards us, and we had to make a decision.