Chapter 4: Superhero

Peeking over the edge of the roof Buffy observed a dozen of the walking dead shambling by and muffled a curse. Really to look at the things you'd never guess how lively they could be when they spotted potential food. When you wanted them to take their time they sprinted like athletes and when you wanted them to get out of your way so you could sneak? Well, then they strolled along like invalids. Still keeping her eye on them she saw the group perk up and suddenly run off down a side street as if the dinner bell had been rung and she felt an involuntary twinge of pity for whoever had garnered their attention. Taking one last quick look around the dusk-lit intersection she slithered over the edge of the roof and dropped down from the top of the record store. When her feet hit the ground she let her self keep falling into a shoulder roll to lessen the impact and came out of the maneuver in a sprint while trying to keep her foot steps as soft as she could manage on the hot asphalt. Reaching the convenience store across the street she didn't even consider braving the interior and instead scaled right up the side of the wall, the momentum with which she threw herself at and up it getting her past the first floor to the bottom of a window for what she assumed was an apartment above. From there she took only a moment to lift her feet to the window still and steady herself in the precarious position before launching herself high enough to grab the edge of the roof. Once safely over the edge she flattened herself to the rough surface and waited, listening for the moans and shrieks of the dead.

Getting to L.A. had turned out to be the easy part. The highway had been barren, abandoned by all but the occasional group of survivors fleeing the large metropolis in hopes of finding someplace rural and zombie free. A few had caught her eye as she drove past and every single one of them had a look, a look that said they thought Buffy was completely insane and headed in a very wrong direction. Even the highway inside the city itself wasn't too bad with the occasional easily avoided zombie wandering around on its own. It was when she reached the exit that she found herself beset on by the first not so insignificant group of mobile corpses. She'd had to drive right through them and into the edges of the commercial district she'd been looking for in order to avoid getting mobbed. Unfortunately that was as far as she'd gotten. The rumbling of the bike's engine had acted like a clarion call and the dead had teemed forth from every direction to devour her, far more of them than she could possibly deal with and thickest in the direction she'd needed to travel. She'd been forced to abandon her shiny new vehicle beside a Starbuck's as she scaled to the roof and hid herself, hoping they'd lose interest when the hoard arrived and found nothing of immediate nutritional value. At this point she'd learned a valuable lesson about the recently deceased. They were horribly, inconveniently, inconsiderately stubborn. After an hour on the roof they were still milling around on the ground, waiting for her to show her face or make a run for it. Eventually she'd forced herself to abandon her ride and jump to the next building, thankful that the district was an older one mostly made up of close buildings with flat roofs. She sent a silent promise to her bike that she would be coming back for it.

That was how it had started. She'd hurdle the gap from one building to the next, occasionally scale up one side of a building or down another. It was an insane way to travel, and her progress was glacial, but every time she considered dropping to the pavement and continuing her trip at a quicker pace she'd note one or two undead wandering aimlessly near by. She could imagine how it would happen. They'd see her, or hear her, and moan. Then they'd begin running after her only to find themselves dispatched in short order. A few walking corpses were in no way a match for an experienced slayer. But it wouldn't be the first few that would finish her because those moans would attract the corpses down the street, and the ones in the buildings not yet motivated to break their way free, and soon after she'd be dealing with a mob pressing in on her until one of them got a solid grip on her and pulled her down.

She shuddered, the image of teeth sinking into her throat once again motivation to stay high and stay quiet as she let her right hand rest over the already fading bruises on her arm from her earlier folly. It was very un-slayer-like and the idea of cowering so they wouldn't see her was quickly becoming far more disgusting than the walking corpses themselves. But any alternative would break the first rule – don't die. You couldn't accomplish anything when you were dead. Going over the top of buildings may seem slow, not to mention tiring, but she would undeniably arrive at her destination sooner if she didn't get herself killed during transit.

None of this logic buried the urge to just drop to the ground and announce herself, prove that they didn't scare her even one little bit. The desire to show them what a slayer really was even if they didn't have enough life left in them to care. She wondered how long forcibly reminding herself of the inevitable death that would follow would stem the strange urge and scared herself all over again when she realized she didn't have an answer to the question.

Focusing on the more immediate problem she decided that her brief foray to the ground to get across the intersection hadn't drawn undesired attention. She then began moving in a crouch towards the next building. Four blocks down, seven more to go, and she was still debating whether to continue after dark or find someplace to bunk down until morning. She wasn't sure who the lack of light would hinder more, herself or the zombies. As a slayer she had pretty good night vision but she only had to miss seeing one zombie for everything to go wrong. Several roof tops away there she could see what looked like an apartment building towering over its neighbors. It was nine, maybe ten stories high and looked slightly rundown but in no way slummish. It occurred to her that she could check the windows, find an apartment that was empty, and barricade herself in for the night. Maybe she could even find a phone and call home. If she was lucky there'd even be a stocked kitchen – the idea of hot food set her stomach to rumbling and settled the matter for her. Food won hands down.

The first window she looked in made her glad she was being stealthy as she found herself observing the zombie of a slightly overweight woman wearing an apron continually walking towards the closed apartment door only to bounce off and try again. Buffy idly wondered if it would ever think to try the fire escape before moving onward and upward to the next floor, leaving the trapped zombie to its fate. The next apartment didn't show signs of anything dangerous, none of the living impaired greeted her sneak peek, but unfortunately neither did anything useful like couches, chairs, or phones. What the apartment was full of looked suspiciously like refuse and she wrinkled her nose in disgust only a little bit curious as to why the place had been turned into a garbage dump. Mostly she was just thinking 'ew'. Onward and upward, the third time would surely be the charm.

What greeted her view through the final window was a relief - a clean cozy looking living room that showed all indications of being unoccupied. She briefly considered banging on the window just in case something was hiding out of view but dismissed the idea. Better to clear the apartment quietly than draw notice from something beyond the front door. Wrenching the window open she slithered inside, slid two of her daggers into her hands and waited for a challenge. After several minutes of standing still where nothing responded to her entrance she carefully closed the window before scoping out the kitchen. It was small, and just like the living room looked friendly and lived in. Her stomach reminded her that she was hungry, making growling noises she was sure would attract zombies from blocks away but she shushed it and moved on. It would have to wait – she wasn't safe yet and she wasn't taking any chances this time.

A short hall way led off from the living room and was home to three doors, two on one side and one on the other. She listened carefully at each before opening it, going so far as to knock lightly to see if something inside would respond to the sound. The first was a washroom, something almost as welcome as food though she wasn't sure how safe it would be to run the water or flush the toilet. The second door, on the opposite side of the hallway led to a bedroom with definite feminine overtones given the pale pastel blues and the frilly queen sized bed that she immediately decided had her name on it. The closet was open and filled with casual clothes as well as several summer dresses. Buffy was feeling just paranoid enough that she stopped before leaving to check for a monster under the bed – despite what generations of parents had told their children she wasn't about to assume one wouldn't be there.

Finally she moved to the last door and once again listened carefully and after hearing nothing tapped on it gently. When still nothing responded she twisted the knob and gave it a slight push before stepping back at the ready while the door swung slowly open. The small bedroom it revealed had obviously belonged to a child. Posters of sports teams and super heroes covered the walls making it almost impossible to discern the green paint hidden beneath. A small bed which she imagined was too big for a five year old and too small for a teenager was pushed against one wall and several sets of shelves were covered mostly with toys and games rather than books. She didn't want to think about what had undoubtedly happened to the kid who'd lived there – anymore than she wanted to acknowledge that a significant portion of the zombies she'd seen outside over the course of the day had been suspiciously short. They hadn't been children, they'd been midgets. She was completely and undeniably sure of this and no other option or opinion was required. It wouldn't accomplish anything. Once again she checked under the bed, judging monsters far more likely to set up shop under a child's bed than a parent's, but again found nothing. She'd actually relaxed a bit by the time she reached for the closet door already knowing what she was going to find.

She was quite surprised when amidst the clothes and expected sports paraphernalia she found a screaming body, one of her daggers was about to slide under the creatures jaw before she realized that it wasn't trying to eat her but was instead cringing away in fear. Clenching the muscles in her arm she stopped its motion with the blade only a few inches away from piercing the skull of what she suddenly realized was a living, breathing, and terrified young boy who couldn't be more than 10 years old – a living breathing young boy whom she'd almost killed. The image of a dark alley filled with adrenalin and excitement and horror flashed through her memory, the dark eyes of a shocked friend turned killer staring into her own, passed through her mind before she got a grip on herself. She dropped the daggers from her suddenly shaking hands before reaching out to the child.

"Quiet. Please be quiet." She murmured as he stared at her with wet eyes. He had scraggly brown hair in desperate need of washing combined with delicate features fitting his young age and he just looked at her in shock, blue eyes calming when she sunk to her knees to avoid towering over him as much as her own disappointing stature would allow. He also stopped hollering which was a good thing, though she figured that by now the damage had already been done. When the thumping began on the apartment door she knew she'd been right and the poor kid looked just about ready to piss himself. Sniffing she realized that he'd been in the closet for quite a while and that if he did, it probably wouldn't be the first time. Wrinkling her nose she slowly stood up. "Ok. I know you don't know me but I need you t…."

"Where's my Mom? Who are you? Did she send you to come get me? I knew she was ok but why didn't she..." The boy asked in rapid succession and she winced. She doubted it would be a good idea to tell him that odds were his mother was dead. He'd figure it out eventually but it wasn't the time to present him with absolutes.

"My name's Buffy." She interrupted him. "We can talk in a minute but for now I need to make sure we're safe. Do you hear that thumping outside?"

"The Zombies." The boy stated matter-of-factly making Buffy wonder just what his mother had been letting him watch on the television.

"Right. The zombies. I need you to stay right here while I go make sure they can't get inside. So just, do that, stay here I mean, and then I'll be right back." Nodding to herself she turned and headed for the living room pausing long enough to put away her dropped daggers. She was pretty sure you weren't supposed to leave anything quite so sharp where a kid could get their hands on them.

"Ok. Cheap thin door. Hungry persistent zombies. This really bites." She mumbled to herself as she evaluated the furniture. She HAD intended to use the couch to sit on but it looked like it would serve far better as a barricade so, regretfully, she sacrificed it to a greater purpose. Rather than noisily pushing it across the floor she simply picked it up, which wasn't as easy as it had looked in her head given that it didn't balance well, and moved it across the room to brace against the door. Following this she added some book shelves, the coffee table and an entertainment unit complete with television and DVD player after she'd ripped the cables out of the back. By that point she had what she considered a fairly respectable barricade. That the noises beyond the door were now muffled and almost inaudible now was an added bonus. Turning around to go find the boy she was quite surprised to find him standing in the hall staring at her with a look of awe on his face.

"You're a super hero!" He exclaimed excitedly.

"Shhh." She quickly responded. "Not so loud. Evil dead outside, remember? And I'm so not a super hero."

"Are too! You picked up the couch and lifted it over your head, I saw you! You looked like you could have THROWN it!" He grinned at her, obviously quite convinced of his conclusions and she sighed. Secret identity. Sure. She supposed that it didn't even matter anymore.

"Ok, I'm a bit of a super hero, don't tell anyone." She admitted. Maybe he'd be so fascinated with the idea of a real live superhero that he wouldn't ask her where his mother was again. There was one conversation she desperately wanted to avoid.

"Cool." He replied, ignoring her admonishment, "Can you fly?"

"What?" She spluttered. "No, I can't fly."

The boy frowned at this instance where she obviously failed to live up to his quickly risen expectations. "Are you bullet proof?"

"Unfortunately, no, because I have to admit that would be pretty useful." She replied patiently, watching as he formulated his next question.

"Well what good are you?" He finished with a scowl.

Apparently being able to throw a couch didn't get her much credit when compared to a fictional Superman. "Hopefully I'm good enough to get you out of here alive. How's that? But first, how long have you been hiding in that closet for?"

The boy just shrugged, and she really needed to find out what his name was so she could stop thinking of him as 'boy'. "The zombies were all over the news, mom kept telling me to stop watching and wouldn't believe me."

"Believe you about what?" She asked.

"That they were zombies." He replied sagely.


"She left. Mrs. Flannery from down the hall started screaming and I told her not to go because in the movie me and Bobby watched the screaming always meant the zombies were there but she wouldn't listen!" The last part was yelled and the zombies outside the apartment moaned their approval as they continued to bang on the door ineffectually.

"So you hid."

"Yah." He whispered. It was then that she realized he already knew his mother was dead, asking Buffy about her had been nothing more than childish optimism. It could very well be her outside, beating on the door and trying to get into what used to be her home. She felt the brief urge to give him a hug but restrained herself. First, he didn't know her and second he really needed a bath.

"Listen. I want you to go get cleaned up. Take a shower; we've already gathered enough zombie attention that a little more won't hurt."

"And then?" He asked apparently unsatisfied with the lack of a long term goal. Apparently he wanted her to be general Buffy.

"And then I'll find us food, to eat." She stumbled.

"And then?"

"We sleep." She replied briefly, stifling her frustration.

"And then?"

"How about we figure that out in the morning all right? Now go grab some fresh clothes and get cleaned up."

"Fine." He pouted before shuffling off to his bedroom. It wasn't until after she heard the shower come on and was rooting around in the cupboard for something that hopefully came in a can that she realized she still didn't know what his name was. Cute kid, a brat but still a cute kid, she was thankful she didn't have a younger sibling if they were all so pest-like. The very thought of living with that kind of questioning day in and out for years on end so thoroughly traumatized her that she stopped to give a brief prayer of thanks to the cow god, her new deity of choice, that she was an only child.

Several hours later she lay in bed, the young boy she now knew was named Steven clean, fed, and curled up in a ball in front of her fast asleep. She could still hear the faint muffled moans of the zombies outside, apparently they simply didn't understand the concept of giving up. From the sounds of it they'd made enough or a racket to bring more of their fellows from the area and she could now hear a chorus of low pitched wailing through the glass of the closed windows. Before settling down for the night she'd added to the barricade just to be safe, which now included Steven's bed and the kitchen table. She was fairly confident by that point that no one was getting through the door. As long as the zombies didn't learn to pull down and climb the ladder to the fire escape she was fairly confidant they were safe for the night.

None of this did anything to help her sleep however. She was too busy mulling over what to do with Steven when she left the next morning, that and she was worried about the unanswered phone call she'd made home. She'd phoned and phoned until Steven had asked her what she was doing and no one had ever answered. Of course that was because the phone lines weren't working. There was no other explanation for it. She didn't know anything about how phones worked of course, and the world was falling apart, so the fact that the number had been accepted and she'd heard the familiar ringing sound meant absolutely nothing. She'd get the stupid key and head back to Sunnydale and everything would be fine.

Steven mumbled something about monsters in his sleep and began moving restlessly. Putting aside her fears for later she wrapped one arm around him and snuggled close. He wasn't Mr. Gordo but he'd do for the moment, and with that thought clear in her head she closed her eyes and dozed off, her sleep filled with unseeing eyes and rotting flesh.

"You're leaving me here?" Steven's incredulous voice made her wince; it wasn't the kind of sound someone wanted to hear first thing in the morning. She hated leaving him alone but what other choice did she have?

"I'm coming back, tonight at the earliest. A couple of days at the most if I run into problems." She offered.

"There are zombies outside the front door!" He screamed.

"Something which your yelling is not going to improve." She responded forcibly before lowering her voice. Grasping for straws she continued "Listen to me Steven – you asked me if I was a super hero, remember?"

"Yes." He replied sullenly. "But…"

"No buts. Sometimes super heroes have to make hard choices because they have a duty. A sacred duty. That's why I have to go do something before I can take you away from here." She tried to reason with him.

"Can't someone else do it?" He pleaded.

"There isn't anyone else. Listen in Sunnydale, where I came from, we have a book, and this book is the only thing we've got that might tell us how to stop the zombies while there are still some people left in the world, before everyone is dead."

"Really?" He brightened. "What does it say?"

"That's just it. No one knows. To make sure no one who shouldn't read it did, some very stuffy old monks made it so you couldn't read the book without the right key." She continued.

"So you're trying to get the key." He stated. Starting to get the idea.

"Which is hopefully about seven blocks away from here in a small occult shop." She agreed. "And being the super hero it is my job to go get it. Unfortunately I can't fly there so I have to go the slow route, up and over every building between here and there so I can stay out of the Zombie's reach. So what I need you to do is just stay here and stay quiet. There's plenty of food in the kitchen, though please don't eat so much you make yourself sick…"

"I'm not a little kid you know. I don't do stupid stuff like that." He interrupted petulantly.

"Sure right. Anyway there's plenty to drink and do you really think any zombie is going to make its way through THAT door?" She looked pointedly at the mound of furniture behind which, hidden somewhere, was the apartment door.

"Not likely." He replied.

"Exactly. Not very likely at all. So stay here, stay safe, and I'll come back after I have the key." She finished.

"Do you Promise, Superhero's honor?" The poor kid sounded worried and who could blame him? As far as he could tell the world was now made up of him, her, and the zombies, and he'd only met her the previous night. It probably didn't help that she'd nearly killed him, not the best kind of first impression to make. She was fairly sure he didn't realize quite how close he'd come to dying but she wasn't about to point it out to him.

"I Promise." She didn't mention that if she didn't come back it would undoubtedly mean she'd messed up and died a horrible death. That wouldn't give him the right kind of encouragement at all and really, in that case, he'd be as good as dead anyway. There was no reason to dwell on the possibility though because she WOULD be coming back.

She began gathering her things and dawning what she could now only think of as her armor. Steven, as was apparently typical of a ten year old boy, had been absolutely fascinated once he'd gotten a good look at her swords. Thankfully he'd dwelt more on the cool dangerous and sharp objects rather than their purpose or what she'd been doing with them. Strapping the harness over the jacket she made sure it was on tightt before giving Steven a quick hug. She then quietly opened the window and peeked out, the crowd of zombies gathered below her now fairly daunting.

"Wait!" Steven yelled as she was about to step onto the fire escape and she turned back with a raised eyebrow.

"What?" She asked in a hushed voice, looking down and eyeing the array of milky white eyes below her, all of which were now firmly turned in her direction. Not an auspicious beginning.

"You never told me your name!" He stated, as if she'd offended him. Given that he was wrong she couldn't imagine how. Maybe he had a medical condition. Alzheimer's? Then again, he wasn't exactly old enough for that yet.

"Yes I did. Buffy Summers. Remember?" She asked concerned.

"No. Not that name. Your superhero name." He responded, rolling his eyes as if it was the most obvious lapse in the world.

"Oh. Right. That. Well. I suppose that would be Slayer."

He wrinkled his brow "What kind of name is that?"

"Everyone's a critic." She sighed then decided to humor him, maybe it would make him more optimistic about her likelihood of returning. Taking a brief moment to find her inner Giles she sat down on the window sill and began in a strong and sure voice. She almost included an English accent but stopped herself in time though, really, she firmly believed Slayer lore lost something without the British context?

"Ok. It goes something like this. Contrary to popular belief the world didn't not begin as a paradise. It began in darkness. Demons and dark gods walked the earth and made it their home. But after a time they lost their hold on this reality until most of them were forced to leave making way for lesser animals… and for man. One of the last true demons before it left mixed its blood with a mortal, creating the first vampire. They were like a plague on mankind, multiplying and killing without fear or opposition. So some old mystics - because mystics are always old - got together and created the slayer by taking a young girl, Sineya, and giving her the strength and skill to fight the demons." Images of the dark aboriginal creature that had tried to kill them in their dreams flashed through her mind taking over her thoughts for a moment. "She was primal, she lived in the cry of the hunt and the blood of the kill..." Shaking herself free of the memory she focused again on telling Steven a motivational story. "...and the Vampire's finally had something to fear. But she wasn't immortal and one day she died. But these were smart mystics, if somewhat sadistic, and they knew that their champion wouldn't be invincible so they made sure that when she died the part of her that made her a vampire slayer would pass on and it did - seeking out another girl to follow and giving her the strength and skill that Sineya had once possessed. So it's been ever since. I believe the watcher line goes something like this. Into every generation a slayer is born, a chosen one, one girl in all the world with the strength and skill to fight the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness and stem the swell of their number. She is the Slayer."

By this point Steven had returned to his initial wide eyed awe, which had vanished the previous night, shortly after he learned that she couldn't fly.

"So when I say I'm coming back to save you. I mean it. I WILL be coming back. I've beaten demons, a Frankenstein monster, and more vampires than you could possibly count. I even killed Dracula himself, which was really pretty cool. So when I say I'm coming back for you I mean it, I'm coming back."

Steven just nodded, staring at her with a new respect bordering on hero worship that she found just a bit disturbing. If it gave him enough confidence to last until she came back though it was worth it… she just hoped that the speech never got back to Giles, she'd never live it down. Admitting she DID pay attention when he talked would firmly ruin her ability to skimp on future research sessions.

Leaving the gob smacked boy to his, well, gob smacking she supposed, she slipped out of the window, closed it behind her, and quickly scaled to the fire escape as high as it would go jumping from there to the lip of the roof and pulling herself up and over. Laying there and sucking in deep breaths she reminded herself that she had seven more blocks to go and that it was far too soon to take a break. While she was busy doing this a zombie tried to eat her. Still on the ground she was caught completely by surprise as the fairly well preserved handyman tried to pounce on her, worse yet he'd obviously been a fitness nut while alive and he was nothing but solid muscle which looked very intimidating from her position flat on her back. Without thinking about it she rolled backwards.

It was only after she found herself falling through the air that she remembered she was on the edge of a roof. One of her hands latched on to the passing fire escape with a mind of its own and she winced as her arm tried to separate itself from her shoulder. It stayed firmly attached, no thanks to her latest act of stupidity, but on the bright side the body building handy man had apparently followed her right off the roof and unlike her hadn't had the reflexes to stop his fall. Hanging from one complaining arm she still couldn't suppress a certain amount of morbid curiosity and turned to watch as the zombie tumbled to the ground below. Several of the dead observers helpfully tried to break his fall, or at least they weren't smart enough to move out of the way, and by the time he hit the ground at least four zombies were never going to walk again, though whether they were still able to sit around biting at anything that wandered too close she couldn't say.

Reaching up with her other hand she pulled herself onto the fire escape and climbed back up the three floors she'd fallen before halting her descent. This time, when she jumped to the top of the roof she wasn't lazy about it. She didn't lie down and congratulate herself for an Olympic worthy act of athletics. Instead she took out her swords, surveyed the roof, and made damn good and sure that nothing else was about to try and kill her. She was tired, despite a night of rest, and worn out and depressed and she intended to stay that way thank you very much to whoever was listening.

Over the course of the next three hours she moved from rooftop to rooftop, 'cautious' her new watchword, encountering seven more isolated zombies and crossing three suspenseful intersections before she felt compelled to take a break. After a brief rest complimented by a bag of pretzels and some bottled water she continued on, whispering to herself that there were only four more blocks to go.

When she reached the next intersection and peaked over the edge of the roof she groaned quietly and swore. Maybe that would work… just walking down the street and groaning like she was one of them - maybe with the addition of some milky white contact lenses for added authenticity. Of course given that this was real life she highly doubted it though that did raise the question of why the zombies only attacked the living but seemed to leave each other alone. Either way none of her speculation was going to get her through the crowd that had congregated around a liquor store, apparently with their taste buds set on someone hiding inside and probably getting as drunk as humanly possible. Whoever it was had probably decided that drinking themselves to death was a better way to go than as zombie chowder but that didn't help her out one bit. From what she could see she'd have to go a block out of her way to avoid the mob of somewhere between fifty and a hundred zombies. It was either that or wade right through them.

She considered that idea for the moment. Alarms in the back of her head went off and she once again pointed out to herself just how suicidal such an act would be - but for once her frustration matched her fear and she ignored found the common sense arguments held little weight. She'd lose a good two hours going around them, two hours that would guarantee she wouldn't make it back to Steven that night which was something she'd hoped to avoid. While the gathering below was impressive it wasn't as disturbingly dense as the one that had amassed below the apartment the night before. Maybe she could handle them? On top of that, despite the stupidity of what she was considering, there were people inside the liquor store who were as good as dead if she didn't intervene. The only thing she didn't understand was why there weren't more zombies around, the only explanation she could think of being that they'd all been drawn elsewhere by far more vocal survivors. Like Steven. So, her options were to go two hours out of her way, or to kill a hundred zombies and hope more didn't follow in an effort to save the life someone with such a strong sense of self preservation that their first instinct at a sign of the apocalypse was to get sloshed.

Self preservation and fear warred with duty and the long building frustration she'd felt at hiding in her home while the town, her town, had fallen to an army of the dead. It had been her place to protect them and she'd failed. It was the sense of duty that finally tipped the scales, or so she told herself. Someone could be alive in there, and she was tired of letting people die.

The milling crowd was focused on the building across the way so dropping to the ground unnoticed was simplicity itself. The first couple of zombies were slain nice and quietly, she slid a dagger into their brainstems and lowered them to the ground gently and silently. It was the third that fell with a soft thump on the asphalt that drew empty eyes away from the liquor store to focus on the intruder in their gathering. As one they screamed and with all reason for subtlety gone she unsheathed her swords and began cutting down anything that came within arms length of her, maneuvering around the outside of the crowd to try and keep them from surrounding her. If she hadn't been a slayer it would have been suicide – even as a slayer the sudden onslaught made her begin to wonder if she had a hidden death wish her subconscious had kept to itself. At first she only had to deal with one or two zombies at a time, easily dispatched even as the crowd began to flow towards her with a single purpose. A swing of her sword severed yet another head, a jab of a spike impaled a skull only to fling it lose as the same sword decapitated another undead monster. But then they started to close in on her, undeterred by the deaths of those before them, each charging corpse now nearer to its neighbor and despite her best efforts she found herself with enemies in every direction. When she positioned herself so three zombies running towards her were to her front only to hear two more moaning from behind her she had to stifle a brief urge to panic. Instead she pivoted, her swords sweeping quickly to either side as she turned and, for a moment, acted almost as the blades of a fan. It would never work of course. In the next moment she'd be pulled to the ground by whichever of the corpses slipped past her guard. Recklessly she used the same strength with which she'd raised a couch over her head and the blades sliced the air so quickly that if they hadn't found purchase she'd have sent herself spinning like a top but her aim was perfect and the zombies had no sense of self preservation. To her complete surprise five partially decapitated heads went flying and without hesitating she followed through by turning the blades to impale the heads of two zombies who had at the same time been racing in from either side.

It was then that she realized she could do this. These weren't demons, covered in thick hide or heavy scales. They weren't even the often quick and agile vampires, even the stupidest of which knew when to duck. They were corpses. Dead humans with less intelligence than animals and no defense against strength meant to protect man from far sturdier creatures of darkness than they. It was a monumental shift in her thought process, instinct if not training told her that certain uses of a sword were suicidal and left her completely vulnerable to an intelligent or cautious opponent, or even one that just had a sense of self preservation. Rushing at a group of four zombies to make sure she reached them before the three following her became a problem she felled them all with a single swing, human skulls little impedance to a demonic sword sharper than any steel wielded with the strength of a slayer. Somersaulting over their still standing torso's she spun in mid air, swords reaching out and felling the zombies that had been following behind them, now charging by underneath her with too much momentum to turn and track her unexpected flight above.

So with new understanding of her enemy she embraced her calling, to be the slayer, and her original goal long forgotten she moved with new purpose as she cut down every feral corpse that came within reach of her swords - moving with speed and purpose she'd lost to the hopelessness that had embraced both her and her family and friends. Surrounded by slavering corpses she took every ounce of fear, horror, and anger that had built up in the face of the overwhelming devastation sweeping the earth and let it loose in a dance of violence. Her blades became a blur - severing the air itself and as if rejoicing in the carnage they took up voice. They sang for her and she lost herself in their song.

It was later, though she had no true sense of the time and couldn't say how long, that she came back to herself, standing on a pile of headless corpses that the last of the zombies called from blocks around by the commotion had in the end been forced to scale to try and reach her. Her leather jacket and pants were covered in black ichor and her hair was soaked with fluids she didn't want to even think about, her boots were completely beyond hope of saving, and yet her swords, having slain hundreds over the unknown course of time still gleamed brightly and she had the vague sensation, felt somewhere in the back of her head, that they were laughing. She shook the sensation off wondering when she'd developed such an imagination.

She'd really have to name them. If mister pointy was deserving of a name then these two beauties had more than earned titles of their own. Of course that would also require finding a way to tell them apart from each other. Slicer and Dicer maybe.… it had a certain ring to it, on the other hand they might be mistaken for reindeer.

Casually she wandered over to the liquor shop only to find that the businessman inside had obviously drunk himself to death at least a day before and done a very thorough job of it. Thankfully it looked like he'd stayed dead afterwards and she saw nothing to suggest he planned to get up and go for a walk in the near future. Disappointed with what she'd found, but unsurprised, she turned and began making her way down the next block humming to herself something catchy which she vaguely remembered hearing on the radio. Avril maybe? Or possibly Michelle Branch. Still humming she kept her eyes open and observant while at the same time trying to recall the triviality which she knew would bother her for days if she didn't figure it out.

This time, she walked in the middle of the road, a sword resting on each shoulder.