Authors: Ryan Casey
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can be read
as a standalone series. However, if you are reading the
series, the following reading order is highly recommended.
Chloë: A New World
sure how long she’d been running, and she wasn’t sure how much further she’d be physically—or mentally—able to keep on running.
The late spring sun shone down from above. It was the middle of the afternoon. Clouds were forming. The sun was making its descent that always seemed to slow down rapidly after the early nights of winter and spring. Demi preferred summer, but she didn’t want to think about what’d happen when summer passed and eventually autumn and winter arrived again. She’d survived one winter in this new world already. It wasn’t something to look back at with any sort of pride.
She looked ahead at the derelict streets in this derelict town. Water beside her, the sea crashing against the shore. Houses—empty houses, all to her right. Cars with smashed windows, but pulled up onto the pavements like nothing major was happening at all. Like people were still just at home.
She knew that wasn’t true. Not anymore. Nobody was home in this world.
Even if you were locked behind the doors of the house you’d grown up in as a kid, you still weren’t truly home.
Not after all the death.
The street was silent. It’d been that way for a good few miles now. Silence was supposed to be a good sign. A sign that nobody, or no thing, was around to stalk you. But Demi didn’t like the silence. It reminded her too much of her loneliness. Since Paul, who used to have trouble shutting up, passed away—to put it moderately—she’d taken to talking to herself just to make up for the missing noise. Just to make up for the fact that everything, everyone around her was gone.
Everyone except for the baby inside her.
Demi looked down at the round lump on her abdomen. She looked fit to burst. It’d been nine months since she figured the date she must’ve got pregnant was—back in August before the world collapsed. It seemed like forever ago. Seemed like a whole other lifetime. But she had to face the facts. Any day now, she’d give birth.
She wanted to be happy. It was her first child, after all. Her and Paul’s first child. Demi was convinced all along they’d have a girl first. Paul was never too sure.
But since losing Paul, Demi felt a strange detachment to her baby. Not to say the baby didn’t matter, nothing as awful as that.
She was just afraid.
Afraid of losing her child.
Afraid of losing her child after carrying them for so, so long.
She felt a bitter taste in her mouth. The taste of vomit that hit her in large doses every single day. Pregnancy itself had been difficult. Manageable, but difficult. She thought back to the old world. The world where friends of hers used to complain about their aches and pains while lying back satiating their cravings and having every damned thing done for them.
Not her. She didn’t want to hear anyone tell her they’d had a troublesome pregnancy when the world got back to the way it was.
If it ever did get back to the way it was.
Demi kept on walking along the promenade. She knew she was in Holyhead. She wasn’t sure what exactly brought her here. A combination of the masses of undead in the woods, the bandits in the smaller towns. She just figured she’d better find somewhere. Find somewhere to shack herself up in until the baby was born.
Until the baby was born.
The thought made her muscles tense. She still didn’t like accepting her impending responsibilities. Not because she was mean, or didn’t want to be a mother. Not because of anything like that.
Just because she was scared for her baby.
Scared she couldn’t be the mother she wanted to be.
She was about to take another step when a splitting pain seared through her belly.
She fell down to her knees. Grabbed her belly. Shit. That wasn’t normal. She’d felt pain before, but not like that. Not like—
And then she felt it again. A strange feeling. Like something was crawling around inside her. Except it was. That’s exactly what this was.
Nine months carrying.
Any day now, as she kept on telling herself.
She smelled something sweet. Felt a dampness spreading from between her legs.
She didn’t understand what it was at first.
Not until she remembered the scenes on the soap operas, in the movies.
Her waters had broken.
She was going to have the baby.
A tingling ran up the back of her neck. She looked up. Looked around the street. She was in the middle of a road. A middle of an abandoned road in an abandoned town. But she couldn’t have her kid here. It wasn’t safe. What if one of the undead came along while she was mid-birth? Or a bandit? It wasn’t worth the risk.
No. The only risk worth taking right now was getting into one of these houses. Fast.
She hobbled across the street. The pain—more a squeezing sensation than a direct form of pain like any she’d ever felt—kept on throbbing inside her. She tried the handle of the first door. Nothing. Shit. Moved to another door. Wouldn’t open. Something behind it. Fuck.
She tried to take steadying breaths as she walked alongside the houses, remembering what Paul used to tell her; stuff he learned on his guided meditation course. “Just focus on the breathing. No matter what, no matter how bad you feel, bring it right back to the breathing.”
She tried bringing it right back to the breathing.
Fast realised that Paul was speaking from the perspective of a man, who’d never been forced into frigging pregnancy before.
Try your steady breathing when you’ve got another human inside you, Paul. Just try it.
Demi turned the handle of the next door. Another one that didn’t budge. Shit. Why were all the doors shut around here? Why couldn’t one of them just open up?
She turned the handle of the next door.
It started to open.
But before Demi could step inside, she tumbled to the road.
She lay flat on her belly. Tried to spin her body around, finding it difficult to shift her weight. Her breathing was raspy. She had no idea when she’d last eaten something substantial.
God. God no. Something couldn’t be happening to the baby. Not her baby. Not after everything.
She backed up against the door. Pushed it open with what little strength she had. She pulled herself along the dusty floor. Disregarded the little shards of glass wedging into her legs as she moved.
She just wanted to keep her little baby safe.
She didn’t care about herself. She didn’t matter. Not anymore. She’d lived a life.
She wanted her baby to have a chance at living a life.
Even if it was just the smallest chance.
She sat up against the wall. Steadied her breathing again. Closed her eyes. She squeezed her hands together and cried as the tension built down below. She knew what she had to do. She had to push. She had to get this baby out of her.
And then she had to…
Well. She couldn’t think about the next step. Not yet.
Right now, all that mattered was her baby.
“You just stay calm, Demi. You’re doing good, hun. Doing really good.”
Demi screamed as she pushed. As she forced the pressure out of her body. She had no idea whether she was doing this right; or even if there was a right way to do it.
But she just kept on squeezing her hands.
Kept on imagining Paul was right there beside her. Speaking to her.
Demi wasn’t sure how long she pushed. How long she kept on sitting there, crying, screaming, doing everything she could to give this baby a shot.
But she felt the pain searing on her right arm. Burning. And it reminded her of what’d happened. Of why this was so important to her.
She felt the pressure subside. Just for a second, she felt the pressure subside.
When she opened her tired, exhausted eyes for what she knew would be the final time, Demi saw the most beautiful creature in front of her.
A little girl.
Her little baby girl.
“Angel,” she said. “My… my angel.”
The baby rolled over onto Demi’s belly. Demi lay there and held her. Smiled. Cried, as her muscles grew ever weaker.
“I love you, baby,” she said. “Mummy loves… Mummy loves you so much.”
Demi reached into her back pocket with her shaky hand.
Put the gun to the side of her own head.
“I love you, my angel.”
She pulled the trigger.
he three men
stared down at the woman in front of them.
At the baby lying in her arms.
“What do we do?”
Nobody said a word. Not at first. They just kept on staring at the mess of blood, the mash of brains and tried to figure out how they were going to explain this one to anybody.
“We take her back,” one of them said.
They picked the baby up. Cut the umbilical cord away with a dirty knife.
And then they stepped out of the door and headed outside.
In the distance, across the sea, Bardsey Island loomed.