Revision of the first few chapters has been very labor-intensive but rewarding. I only hope the manuscript require less editing as I go along, because the first part has been taking a long time. I kind of expected this, though, because the beginning chapters were the first I’d ever written, and I knew they were really rough and overly detailed. I just hope I got better as I went along, and the chapters to come don’t need as much work.
I am a lot happier with my revised chapter one than my first draft version, so now I’m ready to share it.
Without further ado, here is the preface and Chapter One:
(Warning: there is a bit of gore at the end, so please do not read if you are totally against reading any type of gore or can’t stomach it.)
MY UNDYING LOVE
By Valerie Grosjean
My roommate is trying to kill me.
Not because I hold the keys to his Mustang GT convertible. Although, normally Adam would commit homicide to prevent the grand theft auto of his most cherished earthly possession. His motivation has less to do now with protecting the ruby red ’Stang he nicknamed Veronica and more to do with obtaining my nutritional value in protein.
This attempt to steal his car goes way beyond a motive of survival and my need for transportation. I have to reach her, or my love will die unspoken and forever unrequited.
Adam tackled me, ripping the doorknob from my hand and plowing my body into the hard, thinly-carpeted floor.
“What gives?” I shoved him off my chest, stood, and reached again for the door connecting our dorm room to the hallway. “Save the takedowns for practice. This is so not the time for a surprise, wrestling match. Didn’t you hear the screaming? I’m going out there.”
“Christian, stop!” Scrambling to his knees, Adam clamped his hands around my ankles and yanked.
My legs jerked out from under me. I threw my hands up to meet the floor and narrowly avoided a face plant. When I rolled over, Adam was standing over me and extended a hand.
I shot him my nastiest scowl, but I took the offering, gripping his wrist. As he helped me up, I noticed what could only be a bite mark, right above where I was holding. Deep purple bruising surrounded red tears in the clear shape of human teeth on his forearm.
I’d never seen a bite like that in my life.
The marks on Adam’s arm had been made by an adult, clamping down as hard as possible, and they were way too severe to have been a prank or an accident.
Seeing me gape, Adam explained, “I saw you go for the door, I just freaked, and I had to stop you.” He shoved his injured forearm under my nose. “I got this from Kelly—”
“The little blonde at the end of the hall?” I asked in disbelief, pointing in the direction of her room.
“I’d call her a ginger, but that’s the one. I went out to see what the screaming was about, and she charged me with this weird, intense look in her eyes. When I said her name, it was like she didn’t hear. She jumped me from a dead sprint, it would’ve knocked me over if she didn’t weigh ninety-some pounds, and then she bit me,” he said, bringing his bleeding forearm closer, so I could smell the tinny scent of blood and see the weeping indent of each individual tooth.
If the wicked bite hadn’t been right in my face, almost touching my eyeballs, I would’ve been sure Adam was just messing with me. Even with this proof, his story was so unbelievable that I stood silenced by shock.
Getting no response from me, he continued, “I could see the door to her room open down the hall. Her roommate Ashley was on the floor, she wasn’t moving, and there was all this blood around her. It looked like Kelly had been eating her.”
“Are you out of your mind?” I questioned. “Kelly? Not possible. She’s a normal college student, who waves ‘hi’ to me in the hallways, not a whacked-out, Hannibal Lector wannabe.”
“It’s true. I swear,” he asserted. “She’s got to be tripping on bath salts or something. Let’s just call the police like I was about to do before you distracted me.” He glared accusingly and spread a well-muscled arm across the doorframe to bar my exit.
I flicked the light switch beside the door, but nothing happened. The bulb in the kitchen failed to come on.
Darting to the living room, I tried that switch. Nothing.
When I checked out the living room window, there was no new snowfall on the ground. The weatherman must’ve biffed yesterday’s forecast of an overnight snowstorm. That meant no weather-related excuse for a power outage.
I backed away from the window. My gut twisted as I remembered Ashley, hurt and at the mercy of a girl whose mind had been fried by drugs.
Returning to the door, I told Adam, “We’ll call the police, but first we have to help Ashley.”
“Are you kidding!?” He waved his wounded arm back and forth in front me as if I hadn’t already seen it. “I’m not going out there. I need to get this bandaged.”
“It can wait a minute,” I said. “You’re not going to die from that bite, and Ashley needs us now. Don’t wuss out on me. You’re a two hundred pound wrestler, Kelly is a tiny girl, and I’m going with you. Between the two of us, we can take her down.”
“All right,” he agreed, “but she’s not getting another taste of this grade A bod. I’ll bring something to smack her with if she gets snappy.” He swung an invisible bat, arms flexed, to demonstrate. Then he threw his hands up in the air with the palms opened toward me in a gesture of self-absolution. “The rules against hitting a girl don’t apply to bath salt zombies.”
“I don’t know if I’d hit a girl, even if she was a lady cannibal,” I retorted, “but whatever it takes to get you out there, man.”
“Easy for you to say. You weren’t the one who was bitten,” he pointed out. “I’m not going until I’m armed. Hold up a sec.”
Adam stared at the ceiling for a long moment of intense concentration, pondering what he could use as an effectual weapon from the contents of our dorm. When he brought his eyes back down to mine, he raised his hand to chin level, signaling with his index finger for me to wait.
He took a slow step backward to be sure I wasn’t going to move before he was ready. Then he did a quick 180 and made a mad dash for the storage closet. Rushing inside, he noisily ripped the lightweight vacuum stick off its charging stand.
The vacuum head came swinging through the closet door, followed by Adam, who was clutching the handle in one fist. It continued in an upward arc until the bristles pointed at the ceiling. Then his other hand gripped down beside the first to cock the device like a baseball bat before the pitch.
“Let’s do this,” he declared, striding forward with grim determination.
I reached for the doorknob but hesitated. “Adam, since you’re the one brandishing the vacuum, why don’t you lead the way?” Mentally, I wasn’t prepared to hit a girl, but I wasn’t excited to earn a bite mark like Adam’s, either.
Emboldened by his makeshift weapon, he nodded and pushed past me. Opening the door, he burst into the hallway with his vacuum at the ready, like he expected Kelly to instantly jump out and attack him.
I followed, halfway expecting the same thing, but was greeted by an empty corridor. A quick scan revealed nothing amiss besides the power outage. Things seemed normal, other than the lack of lighting from the fluorescent fixtures on the ceiling, but then I caught sight of Adam. His face was turned to the side, and his eyes held a look of horror.
Following his gaze, I saw the light spilling from the open room at the end of the hallway. On the floor just inside the door, the still outline of a girl was illuminated by the beams coming through the large window in each living room of the apartment-style dorms.
Ashley was surrounded by pools of her own blood. Her shirt was shredded from the middle of her ribcage to her lower abdomen. All the skin on her stomach was missing, leaving an uneven surface partially obscured by leaking blood and bodily fluids.
Any hesitation was gone. Without waiting for Adam, I tore down the hall.
As I came closer, I could see that the craters on her stomach were bite marks, where fat hunks of flesh had been removed.
Adam was right.
Kelly had been devouring her roommate.