Over three years ago, the Nero virus infected 80 percent of Britain’s population, turning otherwise normal people into biters. The biters were violent and angry creatures, only interested in one thing—eating the flesh of the uninfected.
Months after the disease broke out, society fell apart. There was no more government, no police, and no army. There was no shopping, no television, no internet, no mobile phones, and no news about what was really going on.
It was day 846, by Fi’s count. That was exactly how long Fiona Butler had lived in the abandoned Lady Luggard’s School for Girls.
The 400-year-old school had been where the wealthiest of Britain’s blue blood families battled to get their own daughter princesses a place. Most of the students were gone, the teachers were dead, and now Fi and thirty-three refugees lived here. Safe and isolated from everyone else, thanks in part to her best friend Yumi Enoki, also an ex-Luggard student, who told the convoy about the school.
So, for 845 days the dingy and dank headmistress’s room had been Fi’s home. Sitting on the antique bed with her arms wrapped around her legs, Fi looked past the fungus encrusted walls, out through the window, and over the fence.
A teenage boy staggered mindlessly outside. Clearly, he was infected.
Rushing to the window, she drew the curtains closed. Yumi would laugh at her for still being so afraid. For months, Yumi told her there were was no need to cower in the darkness from the biters, because they couldn’t see or smell that far into the compound. Plus, the school grounds already had a ten-foot wall built centuries ago.
Jack Francis, the leader of their group, theorized the mold that grew in here made it harder for the infected to detect them. The boys had set up a makeshift gate at the entrances to the compound eighteen months ago. Though it was useless to stop a swarm of biters, it kept the odd flesh eater from wandering too close.
Of course, if Fi or anyone were standing outside, that would be a different story. They’d be devoured in minutes.
This meant that no one went by the gates if they could help it. While the solitary biter wasn’t a problem, they never seemed to travel alone and once one of them caught the scent of food, then somehow they were able attract, or summon, more of them.
“Poor bloke—that biter couldn’t have been more than twelve when they got him.” Twenty-year-old Jack Francis entered the room. Marching proudly to the window he peered out, squeezing his bright blue eyes as he stroked the light brown patches of hair growing on his chin. He’d been trying to grow a beard for almost three years, but that was never going to happen. “If we weren’t so low on ammo, I’d put him out of his misery.”
“Don’t talk like that.” She shuddered. Even after three years of living with the undead, she’d never gotten used to the notion of killing them.
“You’d feel differently if you actually killed one.” He continued to study the infected boy. “They aren’t people anymore.”
“Don’t worry; I’m not going to do anything.” He smiled at her in a way that always managed to lighten her heart and make her palms sweat.
“No, if you have to—do it.” Trembling, she forced a weak smile. “If it keeps us safe.”
“It’s harmless, so there’s no point risking it.” Leaning against the windowsill, he folded his arms. “Can’t risk you getting hurt, can I?”
She felt her cheeks flush. Watching him, she couldn’t help but admire how strong he was.
Jack never seemed fazed. He had an answer for everything and saw a way out of every situation. Everyone in their group knew they’d all be dead if not for him. Well, everyone apart from Greg. Aside from his brilliant mind, physically he could take any of the guys in the school, but in truth, his body was magnificent to behold. He was about five foot nine and built, but not overly muscular. His long dark
Sammy Davis, Jane Boyar, Burt