The Zombie Squad

David stood before the young woman, his eyes fixed on the two wicked looking weapons. She was dressed in a simple halter, skirt and sturdy boots; all dyed a deep reddish brown color and decorated with beads of varying hues. Her short hair was a golden blond and her eyes were deep, ferocious and green. She looked like a lioness, ready to spring.

David kept his hands up. "Just take it easy," he said calmly.

"Man," Derek said from behind him. "Just get out the way."

"Put the gun away," David said over his shoulder. Then he turned back to the girl before him. "We both know you won't use it."

"Hey man, she's throwing down on us first." Derek noted. "You better believe I'll pop a cap in her ass if she tries something!"

David took another slow step towards her. "My friend is getting nervous," he continued. "Just put the knives down."

Suddenly she blurted something in a foreign tongue. David's dark eyes fixed on her in wonder and surprise.

"What?" he asked excitedly. He stood still and gesticulated. "Speak again! Anything! What did you just say?"

"This is a waste of time, amigo," Derek put in. "Just leave her be and let's get out of here."

"Derek," David said harshly. "Just shut the hell up. She doesn't understand you!"

"What are you talking about?" Derek blurted.

The woman before him began speaking again, her eyes flicking to Derek and Dusty in turn as she spoke. David listened for a few moments, not certain of what he was hearing, and then a smile began to spread over his face. As it did, the young woman's voice lost some of its intensity and slowed to silence. A frown creased her brow. Then she spoke sharply, shaking her weapons at David emphatically.

David only chuckled out loud, in spite of the threat the girl presented.

He said something to her in her language. She replied and David turned back to Derek and laughed in surprise.

"Holy shit," he exclaimed. He gestured to his friend. "Put it away, Derek."

"What the hell was that?" Derek asked, still reluctant to put down his nine millimeter security blanket.

David turned back to the woman again and spoke haltingly. She replied, her posture easing slightly. David turned back.

"That is Greek," he said. "Mostly."

"How in the hell do you know that?" Dusty asked, folding his arms across his chest.

"Remember those four years I wasn't around?" David said.

Dusty nodded.

"Classical education," David tapped his temple and smiled. Then he turned back and muttered to himself. "Now I just need to remember it all."

He looked back at Derek again. "Put the damned gun away, will you!" he barked.

Reluctantly, Derek did as instructed and David turned back to face the young woman.

He held up his hand, begging patience and then haltingly began to speak to her again.

The five other figures on the bikes behind her simply waited. They were tense and ready to fight, if it came to that.

The young woman listened carefully to David's halting speech. After several moments, her face began to break into an amused grin as David fumbled for the correct pronunciations. Finally she laughed out loud and lowered her weapons.

Behind her, Tommy, a man of massive proportions cocked his head as he listened to the exchange. He could hear the easing of the tension between his friend and the stranger. Finally he could bear it no longer.

"Hey, Shakespeare," he said. "Ask her why she was standing in the middle of the damned road?"

David snapped out of his focus on the girl and looked over to his friend.

"I'm working on it," he replied. "I haven't spoken greek for nearly two years.! I'm a little rusty!"

"Well," added Freddie, a thin, tan man with long straight dark hair and distinctive American Indian features. "Can we work on it somewhere else?"

"Yeah," Another man, Brian added, slighter in build than Tommy, but still large in his own right. He rubbed his balding head. "It ain't getting no warmer out here."

"It's not like we're sitting in the middle of the road or anything," Steve added. He was a slim, middle sized man with a long gray ponytail and flinty gray eyes. In spite of the warning, he seemed aloof and unconcerned by the potential hazard of having a conference in the middle of the road.

Several of the others chuckled in response, also showing a complete lack of concern.


Gabrielle looked back and forth between the stranger and his companions as they spoke. She was feeling more relaxed, now that the language barrier had been bridged, though she thought his dialect somewhat strange, at least the two of them could communicate.

Now the stranger was holding a quick conference with several others in his band. Then he turned back to the one holding the strange object in his hand and said something in a tone that conveyed annoyance. Reluctantly, the olive skinned man slid the strange object back into his coat.

The man turned back to her and held his hands out in gesture of apology.

"Uh, sorry," he said. "We're not accustomed to finding, uh, strangers, in the middle of the road at night. Not armed ones anyway?" he gestured to the sais in her hands. She glanced down at them and then back up into his eyes.

There was confusion there, and understandable curiosity, as well as a few other hints of emotion, but nothing malevolent or deceptive.

"Sorry," she said, and she slid the two weapons back into her boots. Then she looked at him again. "Where am I?"

The stranger shrugged. "On Fairfield Road, in Northern Lake County, Illinois," he offered. It was immediately apparent that the names meant nothing to her.

"Where is that in relation to Athens?" Gabrielle asked.

"Athens? Georgia or Greece?" the man repeated in surprise. "No where near, in either case, I'm afraid."

"I'm in a different country?" she asked.

"Or different continent," the man responded his own confusion growing as he spoke to her.


"Shakes! Tommy blurted again. "Road-cold, clubhouse - warm!"

"Beer!" Steve also added.

"Besides, you still owe me a bout from the other day," Dusty added, grinning.

"Okay, okay," David replied. "Look, you guys want to go ahead, then fine. I'll meet you there in a little while."

"Fine by me," Said Brian, or Oddball, as his friends called him. His black Buehl shone in the moonlight. He hit the start switched and the engine rumbled to life.

The woman jumped at the sound of the engine, her hand instinctively reaching for her weapon, but she stopped when she saw the relaxed look on the mans' face.

"I'll keep the beer cold for ya," Oddball said sarcastically, and then he put the bike in gear, coasted up past Derek and Dusty, stood the front end up with a roar of the engine, and rode a wheelie at least a quarter mile before letting it settle down again. The headlight flashed through the tree branches overhead.

One by one, the others followed suit with the exception of Tommy. He merely sat astride his maroon Yamaha. He folded his massive arms over his barrel chest and stared at the strange girl.

"What's the problem?" David asked.

"I don't like it," Tommy replied in his smooth southern drawl. "I don't care what you think; I've worked too many doors not to notice how someone carries themselves. I been watching the way she moves. Now, I'm not saying she could kick your ass or anything, but I know she could do some damage. I'll go when you do. If she wants to come along, that's fine." He shrugged.

David looked at the young lady again and back at Tommy, now duck walking his bike to the side of the road. He planted his feet, crossed his arms and resumed his pose of a moment before, his eyes never leaving her.


Gabrielle looked over at the massive man. He was easily twice her width at the shoulders and a head taller. His arms had to be as large around as her thighs.

"What's wrong with him?" she asked nervously, not liking the look this walking wall was giving her.

"He doesn't trust you," The man replied haltingly. Then he placed a hand over his heart and gave a small bow.

"My name is David," he said and then he gestured to the big man. "And this is Tommy."

The girl nodded. "Gabrielle," she said.

David turned to Tommy. "Her name's Gabrielle." He said.

"Pretty name for a pretty lady," Tommy acknowledged with a nod, but his eyes stayed fixed on her. "She coming with us, or not?"

"Right," David said. "I was getting to that part." He looked back at Gabrielle and smiled nervously.

"It's getting a bit cold out, and my friend would like to know if you would be interested in joining us for a drink?" David offered. He realized as soon as he had said it that the offer sounded terribly lame. "At least it would be somewhere warm?" he finished.

Gabrielle seemed a bit uncertain. She glanced over at Tommy, still motionless as a frozen Titan, watching her. She suddenly realized that he was merely gauging her, to see if she represented a threat. He would not do anything unless she provoked him.

She looked back at David, his deep eyes filled with patience and expectation.

"Well?" he asked.

She shivered suddenly, as if noticing the cold for the first time. She considered the two men for a moment, realizing that she might very well be able to defeat them in a fight if it came down to that, but it would not be easy. Besides, the man before her, David, was the man she had seen in the vision. She knew that Alti was the enemy in the vision, so she assumed that meant this David might be her potential ally, or at the very least, one who could help her find this Valkyrie, or the mysterious sword.

"Alright," she finally said. "But I don't have my, um," she pointed at David's vehicle.

David shrugged out of his heavy jacket and handed it over to her.

"You can ride with me," he offered. "But you might want to put this on. As I said, it's a bit chilly."

Beneath the jacket, Gabrielle noted his lean athletic build. He wore a long sleeved thick shirt of some kind, and a dark hide vest clustered with gold and silver buttons.

She took the jacket from his outstretched hand and was shocked at the weight of it. It was of thick leather, lined in a quilted fabric that she had never seen before. She noticed the colorful artwork on the back as she turned it to pull it on. It was of a dark knight, astride a midnight steed. The knight was galloping across a field, followed by a horde of skeletal mounted warriors. At the bottom corner was the image of a scroll, with various characters written on it in a language she couldn't decipher. The garment was also several sizes (at least) too large for her, and hung down past her hip.

David smiled genuinely and gestured to the vehicle.

"Come with me," he offered.

She followed him over to the conveyance and studied the gleaming silver shining from it. Whatever this thing was, it was beautifully and intricately crafted.

David straddled the vehicle, settling down on a black cushion. Then he reached behind him and flipped two small pegs down from the sides.

"Put your feet here and here," he instructed. "Just climb on."

Gabrielle followed his instruction and climbed aboard, settling down behind him.

He turned a small knob and pressed an orange button, and the vehicle rumbled to life. She stiffened in alarm. She did not know what the sound was, but it conveyed a feeling of power as it vibrated beneath her. She looked down and realized that her skirt was riding a bit higher than it should, and nervously attempted to adjust it.

David's hands reached behind and grasped hers gently. He pulled her forward against his back and pulled her hands together about his waist.

"Better hang on," he suggested. Then he squeezed a lever with his left hand and kicked another lever with his left foot. Gabrielle looked behind her at Tommy. His vehicle coasted forward just as David's began to move with a gentle lurch.

Suddenly, they were moving faster than anything she could ever remember seeing. The cold wind whipped through her hair and sent chills up her legs and spine.

The dark red vehicle ridden by Tommy coasted up alongside and the two of them rolled down the road into the deepening night.

Gabrielle gazed at the landscape flying by in the shadowy night, and she smiled suddenly.

"This is amazing," she said in spite of the frigid air.

"What?" David asked. "This? We're barely moving?"

She frowned nervously at that. They were travelling along at a pace that was faster than her horse ever could have maintained. She clasped her hands tighter about David's waist.

"Relax," David said, feeling the grip tighten about him. "We aren't going that fast! Haven't you ever ridden a motorcycle before?"

"A what?" Gabrielle asked, unsure of the new word.

"Christ, lady," David laughed. "Where the hell are you from?"

"Poditea," Gabrielle answered, thinking it was a legitimate question.

"Podi-what?" David replied. "I thought you were from Athens?"

"Near Athens, yes." Gabrielle replied. "My home is about two days' journey from there."

"Two days!" David said in surprise. He looked back at her in confusion. She shrugged.

David was suddenly concerned that he might have a crazy foreign woman on his bike.

"What's with your Greek, by the way?" He asked. "You have a strange way of speaking it."

"I speak just fine, thank you," Gabrielle retorted. "But yours could use some work."

Again David frowned. Granted, he had not had need to use the language since college, but he thought it had come back rather well, given the circumstances. His professors at University had been impressed with his ability to master Greek, Latin and some French in a relatively short time. They had said he was more fluent in them than most. Now this stranger said his Greek needed work?

"What's on your mind, Shakes?" Tommy shouted from beside him.

David smiled to himself.

"Nothing," He shouted back. "Just considering a theory."

"Want to share with the uneducated among us?" Tommy continued.

"The Law of Consonantal Shift," David replied.

"The law of what?" Tommy asked, and for the first time, Gabrielle actually saw levity touch the big man's face. "Never mind, tell me about it over a beer!"

The two motorcycles continued down the main road for several miles before turning off into a small narrow dirt road. They crunched and bounced deeper into the woods until they came to a large dark building.

David tapped a button with his left hand, and Gabrielle heard several short, loud beeps from the vehicle.

As if in answer, a large door slid to one side and the two motorcycles coasted within.

The garish white light flooding the room caused Gabrielle to blink, and the warm air caressed her frozen legs and fingers. The two vehicles coasted past several more motorcycles and a few other, larger vehicles covered by thick tarps. David backed his motorcycle into a small space between two others and killed the engine.

"Watch the pipe," David cautioned, gesturing down at the silver tube just beneath her right foot. She could feel the heat from it radiating through her boots.

Cautiously she swung her leg over and stepped off, looking about the place in wonder.

Many glowing rods hung from the ceiling, creating the pale light, and she could hear a quiet buzz coming from them. In the garish light, she got a better look at the vehicle that David had brought her on. It was a deep crimson, almost black color, and sparkled like billion tiny metallic stars. As she listened, she could hear a ticking sound coming from within the thing.

"What's that?" she asked, indicating the sound.

"What's what?" David replied. Then he realized. "Oh, just the motor cooling down." Again he looked at her confused.

Off to one side, the other one – Dusty? Was rummaging through a large metallic cabinet. When he emerged, he was holding a bundle of white cloth, a strange looking helmet and a long, narrow bladed sword. He shook his head at Tommy. "Don't park it there, big guy. Shakes and I have a score to settle." He grinned a wide toothy grin.

"I think I'll get something to drink first," David shot back as he backed his bike into a gap between two other vehicles.

Gabrielle stepped out into the middle of the room, hugging the heavy jacket to her. Her eyes passed over several of the 'motorcycles' some obviously in various states of disrepair. Her eyes fell on another of them, larger than the one she had arrived on. She caught her breath in surprise.

It was a gleaming thing of deep blue and white, accented with chrome, beautiful to behold, but that was not what had caught her attention. Hanging from a small trunk at the back of the thing was a sword hilt. It shone a dull gray against the silver. She saw the other end of the black leather scabbard protruding from the rear of the trunk, just behind it.

"Seek the Valkyrie. It carries the Sword of the Dispossessed One."

"What's that?" she asked, pointing at the machine.

"What?" David asked again, then he looked where she indicated. "Oh that. That's mine. Come on."

Gabrielle looked at David as he stepped away heading for a set of wooden stairs.

"Do you know the Valkyrie?" Gabrielle asked with a sudden earnest.

David and Tommy both turned to stare at her.

Though Tommy didn't speak her language, he recognized the word "Valkyrie."

Tommy looked at David, his eyebrows rose questioningly.

"I don't know The Valkyrie," David offered. "But I know of a Valkyrie."

"You do?" Gabrielle was getting excited by this.

Tommy said a few words to David and then shambled up the steps. They creaked under his immense weight. He vanished through the door.

"Which Valkyrie do you know?" Gabrielle asked quickly, her eyes gleaming with nervous energy.

David gestured to the big machine. "You're looking at it." He offered. "It's called a Valkyrie."

Gabrielle looked at the machine again, then back at David, then at the machine again.

"Hey," David said gently. "You look like you've seen a ghost, or something. What's up?"

Gabrielle's heart was pounding in her chest. She stepped over to the massive blue motorcycle and let her hand fall gently on the hand grip.

David watched her, his entire face a question.

Gabrielle tried to calm her heart. She looked up at him.

"Where are your parents?" she asked suddenly.

She saw the reaction in his face. A sudden twinge of pain that was there and then gone just as quickly.

"You're getting a bit personal all of a sudden," he said. He saw the nearly desperate pleading in her fiery green eyes and sighed. "If you must know, they're both dead. They died a long time ago."

Gabrielle's hand rose to her mouth in shock. "You're the one," she gasped.

"The one?" David asked, suddenly becoming nervous in his own right. "The one what? What are you, some kind of nut?"

"I know this is going to sound strange," Gabriele said. "But I think I was told you would be here when I arrived."

"Lady," David said, his mood beginning to darken. "Finding you on the side of the road as strange. Everything you've said since I met you has been strange. Now you're going to tell me that I'm someone special because my parents died and I have a bike called a Valkyrie? I don't know where your information comes from, but I suggest trying to get a refund." He turned and began to climb up towards the door. After a few steps he paused.

"Come on up and get something to eat," he said without looking back. "There's a spare room for you to sleep, if you like. You can be on your way tomorrow." He looked past her at Dusty, who was organizing his gear. "I'll be down in a few minutes."

"I'll be waiting," Dusty grinned.

He finished the climb and vanished.

Gabrielle turned back to face the big motorcycle and stared at it. Her mind was still trying to absorb everything she had experienced in this past hour.

She was suddenly aware of a presence behind her. She turned and sighed in resignation, or perhaps disappointment.

Leaning against a gray metallic bench, his thumbs twiddling absently, wearing his characteristic black leather, and wry smile, was Ares.

"My," he said in a sarcastic tone. "Things are going just perfect, aren't they?"

Gabrielle looked over at Dusty, seemingly frozen where he stood, his eyes unblinking, his hands stopped in mid motion as he unfolded a large coat. It was as if Time itself had stopped. She folded her arms and returned his amused look with a contemptuous one of her own.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

Ares pushed himself from the bench and strode over, his fingers every now and again brushing over one of the parked machines. He seemed to be considering them.

"Despite what you might have thought about the Twilight, some of us are still around," he said. "Oh, sure, we aren't as busy as we used to be. Humanity has done a bit of growing up over the last two thousand years." He stopped and spread his arms out in a gesture of welcome. "But one thing these humans can still do is create a good war. And where there's a war, there's me."

"Swell," Gabrielle muttered.

"Oh, I know you're happy to see me," Ares said, his hand caressing her cheek. "At least on the inside."

Gabrielle lifted her face away, and stared defiantly into his dark eyes.

"What do you want?" She asked.

"Whether you believe it or not," Ares smiled. "I'm actually here to help you."

"Oh, that's a new one," Gabrielle shot back. "What's the price?"

Ares looked honestly hurt by that statement. "Gabrielle," he cooed. "That hurts. While I may have, on occasion, asked for something in return for my aid. I really only did it because it was in your best interest."

"On occasion?" Gabrielle repeated. "Best interest?"

Ares merely shrugged and smiled that interminable smile.

"Can we get to a point at some time?" Gabrielle asked, hoping to be rid of him as quickly as possible.

"Okay," Ares sighed and settled down on the Valkyrie. He drew out the sword and studied its weather beaten blade critically before sliding it back into its place.

"You've been sent here to reclaim the Chronos Stone and return it to your time where it will cause no further mischief." He explained. "Nice job handling the Stygian Witches by the way, shows a lot of potential."

Gabrielle fixed him with a dark look.

Ares held his hands up in a gesture of surrender. He was clearly enjoying having the floor. "What you may not know is that someone else is also here, looking for the stone."

"Alti?" Gabrielle said.

"Alti," Ares replied with a nod. "Now, while I admire her thirst for power and conquest, let me just say that she doesn't really fit the mold for what I had in mind as a world leader. You need to get the stone before Alti's current incarnation does. If she gets it first, the current incarnation and the spirit of Alti from the past could come together into one body. Let's just say, that it would be a bad thing."

He rose from the motorcycle and stood before her again, looking down at her with unabashed desire.

"Now," he said. "I can't interfere directly, but I can help you along. First, by helping fix this little language barrier, and filling in a few historical points. After that, you're pretty much going to be on your own."

"And now we get to the part where you tell me what you want in return, right?" Gabrielle retorted.

Ares stepped away, as if considering, his thumb and forefinger stroking his goatee thoughtfully.

"Right now," Ares said. "I don't want anything. But I might need something earlier." He looked at her with a mischievous grin.

"Earlier?" Gabrielle asked.

"Yeah, when you get back to your time."

"And what would that be?"

Ares smiled and came back towards her. "We can discuss the finer points later. In the mean time," he raised his hand and pointed at her. "We'll just call this a little down payment." A soft reddish tendril of energy stretched from his hand and flowed over Gabrielle. She felt the energy tingle in her mind and body. When it ended, she breathed in sharply.

Ares looked at her and chuckled. "Have fun." He held his thumb and forefinger up, waggling it next to his ear. "Call me if you need anything."

There was a soft puff of smoke and he was gone.

Gabrielle let a sigh of relief flow from her as she began to take another look about.

"Hey," Dusty said. "you alright?"

"I'm fine," She replied automatically. Suddenly, she realized something extraordinary.

She stepped up to the Valkyrie and realized she could read the silver plate on the side of the bike. She looked around at the others. Names, like Harley Davidson, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda. Signs hanging on the walls read. Zombie Squad HQ, Snap-On, Craftsman, Vance and Hines.

She began flipping through several books on a shelf. They were all manuals of some kind. She didn't understand the concepts, but she could read the words. She had understood Dusty when he had spoken to her!

She let the heavy coat fall from her shoulders and looked at the back again. There was the dark knight, and the small painted scroll. She grinned in excitement as she read the words.

"I know no beast that has but some touch of pity, yet I have none, and therefore am no beast."


A short laugh escaped her lips. She folded the jacket over one arm and stared up at the closed door at the top of the stairs. Her sudden levity was replaced by anxiety.

Well, there was nothing to do but go up and try once again, to speak with him.

Tentatively she mounted the steps. She paused when she heard voices on the other side, some laughing, others in hushed conversation. Taking a deep breath, and bracing herself for the unknown, she turned the knob and swung the door open.

At one time, all eight of the occupants in the room ceased their various activities and looked over at her.

The room was large and comfortably furnished, with a long row of padded chairs wrapping around a table in one corner. Several smaller tables and chairs were scattered about the open floor. A large, green table rested further back and two more sofas's sat opposite a second small table, just in front of a functional hearth.

The main feature of the room was a long bar, dominating the right wall. One large mirror covered the central mass of the back wall, flanked on either side by dark wooden shelves stocked with bottles of various sizes, shapes and colors. Strange music floated through the air and smoke wafted through the room from various smoking implements in the hands of some of the occupants.

Two men stood at the green table, holding long sticks. One of them was bent over the table, getting ready to strike a small white ceramic ball when she entered. His long brown hair draped over the stick as he turned his pale eyes on her. His companion was the dark haired Indian. His gray eyes also fixed on her intently.

Two more men sat at a small table, staring at her, obviously pausing in the middle of some conversation, while the remaining four were at the bar. David stood behind it, while Tommy and two others sat on stools.

David handed Tommy a brown bottle and wiped his hands, a smile fading from his lips when she entered.

Ignoring the sudden silence from everyone but a strange box in the nearby corner, she strode over and laid the coat on the bar.

"I think we should start over," Gabrielle said to David. She was mildly surprised when none of the men in the room reacted to her speaking in their language. Another tidbit from Ares, perhaps? She took it as a small blessing and looked down at the next empty stool.

"May I?" she asked. David nodded and gestured for her to sit. Then he turned and adjusted a knob on the wall. The strange music faded slightly in volume.

"Thirsty?" he asked.

Gabrielle looked at the bottle in Tommy's meaty hand.

"I'll have one of those," she replied.

David reached down and produced an identical bottle. She read the large silver letters, 'MGD' and smiled in spite of herself. Then she took a drink.

It was instantly apparent to the four men that the beverage was not to her liking. She winced and tried to force a pleasant expression, but to no avail.

"Perhaps you'd like something else?" Tommy offered.

"No, thanks," Gabrielle lied. "This is fine."

"Oookay," David turned back to the shelves behind him and drew down a different bottle, pouring a thick amber liquid into a short glass of ice. Then he leaned down on the bar, took a sip and gestured to the others.

"You already met Tommy," he introduced her. "The fine man beside him that pulled a gun on you tonight is Derek."

She nodded to the olive skinned man, not sure what a 'gun' was.

"And next is Jeff," David continued.

Jeff was a man of medium build and height with a handsome, if somewhat cherubic face. He smiled and raised a bottle in greeting.

"Guys," David finished. "This is Gabrielle. She was about to tell us what the hell she was doing in the middle of a deserted road at eleven thirty at night?" He looked at her expectantly.

"Yes," Gabrielle started, suddenly at a loss for words under David's inquisitive stare. "It's, uh, complicated."

When she looked up at David, she saw Ares' reflection in the mirror. He was obviously enjoying her discomfort. She started for just a moment, but composed herself quickly. At the same time, she noted that David's eyes flicked to one side, in Ares direction, and he momentarily went stiff. He also recovered quickly.

He turned with the bottle in his hand, ostensibly to put the bottle back, but his head paused, staring at Ares in the mirror before he finished his task.

"So," he asked. "Did someone ditch you out there, or something?"

"Uh," Gabrielle stammered uncomfortably. Her eyes looked quickly up at Ares again. He was rolling one hand forward, indicating that she should say something. "Something like that, yeah."

Tommy's gaze showed that he wasn't convinced.

"I've just had a really bad night," Gabrielle finished suddenly and choked down another swallow of the drink.

"It looks like someone tagged you," Tommy said, and he pointed to the spot above his left ear. Gabrielle instinctively put her hand to the bump on her head. "Got yourself walloped?" he finished.

Ares laughed silently from within the mirror and faded away.

"You could say that," Gabrielle answered. She knew she should say something, but she wasn't sure what she could say. She needed to speak with David alone. At least one on one she could open up a little bit more about what she was doing there. She doubted that any of them would believe her as a group. One unconvinced person would be enough to persuade the rest into thinking she was mentally ill.

She sighed and let her fingers wrap around the cool glass.

"Look," David said suddenly. His eyes glanced at her knowingly. "She obviously doesn't want to talk, so let's just leave it for now."

"Well," Derek said suddenly. "I wanna know why she threw down on us out there when we showed up?"

"Derek," David said. "Give it a rest for now. I'm sure she'll explain herself when she's good and ready."

The men beside her grumbled a bit but let the subject drop.

"So," Gabrielle fumbled to change the conversation. "Why don't you tell me who you are and what this place is all about?" She forced a smile in spite of a sudden weariness.

She remembered very little of the conversation from that point. She learned that this was something called a clubhouse, and it belonged to David, though it was open to everyone in the Zombie Squad. It was a place for them to gather whenever they wished. The Zombie Squad was a group of friends, all who rode motorcycles. The proper term was club, though they were more like a loose knit family than an organization. The motorcycles and other vehicles in the large garage below were the property of members. They stored the vehicles there during the winter months. It also doubled as a repair shop if one of the motorcycles, or 'bikes' as they referred to them, would break down.

After several hours of conversation, and more alcohol, the men in the place began to loosen up and relax. All except for Tommy and David, who watched everything with a keen eye.

Finally, the members of the Zombie Squad began filtering out, heading for their respective homes until only Tommy and David were left with a yawning Gabrielle.

David smiled understandingly. A quick glance and a nod from Tommy and David shrugged.

"I think you've had enough for one night," David offered. "Come on, I'll show you the guest room."

The door leading downstairs opened and Dusty stood there, wearing a thick white coat that covered hims body from neck to waist. His hands were covered by a pair of sturdy gloves. "Yo! Shakes!" he blurted. "What's up?"

David held his hands up in honest apology. "Sorry man, I'll be right there! I promise!"

He led her to the opposite end of the room and down a short hall with three doors set in the wall. He opened the first one and hit the light switch. Instantly a small lamp next to a comfortable bed, lit up the room.

The space was simply furnished. A bed, night table, and short dresser stood in the tiny room.

On the wall was a picture of a silver gray motorcycle set against a backdrop of hundreds of multicolored lights forming a cityscape. A curtained window was on the opposite wall.

"It's not much, but you can sleep here." He pointed down the hall to another closed door. "Bathroom's right there."

He stepped back to the door. "Let me know if you need anything," he finished and he closed the door behind him.

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