Mr. D'Orazio is the author of Comes the Dark, Into the Dark, and Beyond the Dark, all of which are scheduled to be re-released by Permuted Press . The kindle version of the first novel is available now. In the meantime, you can read the first three chapters of Comes the Dark on D'Orazio's blog, Tomes of Darkness.
Jed’s eyes popped open after a fitful nap, and he dragged himself up from the bedroom floor. He patted Susie on the head and forced his aching legs to carry him down the stairs. Digging in his ears, he removed the ear plugs and stuffed them in his pocket. Relentless pounding and wailing flooded his senses.
“You keep a-knockin’, but you can’t come in …” Jed sang tunelessly as he checked the barricaded doors and windows for the umpteenth time. He could barely hear the padding of Susie’s paws as she followed him into the kitchen with the hope of being fed.
“Sorry, girl. No dice.”
They were down to five full gallon jugs of water. The food had run out three days ago.
Jed’s Labrador looked as lousy as he felt. She’d stopped barking at the moans of the undead weeks ago, but the endless desperation of the monsters had worn on her. Her gorgeous coat was falling out in clumps as her ribcage grew ever more visible.
“Were gonna starve in here, baby, but at least those bastards won’t eat us.”
Being eaten alive was Jed’s biggest fear. Blackened teeth sinking into your flesh and blood-scabbed fingers tearing into your muscles and organs was the worst possible way to go. Starving would hurt, but Jed hoped his senses would grow dull and he would pass away in his sleep.
Susie gave a low, throaty growl as Jed took a swig of water. Looking down, he could see her raised hackles and her lips pulled back, revealing sharp doggy teeth.
Jed dropped the jug and raised his arm just in time to prevent his pup from sinking her teeth into his throat. Instead, Susie latched on to his forearm as Jed’s back slammed into a cabinet. Jed’s legs crumpled and he collapsed to the floor, howling in pain.
Susie relinquished her hold and scrambled out of the way of Jed’s falling body. He landed face-up and felt lukewarm water from the jug he’d dropped seeping through his clothes. He couldn’t move.
“Susie? Wha- what didja do to me?”
A trickle of blood darkened the puddle of water beneath Jed’s arm. He could still feel his extremities but could only move his neck. As he struggled, he heard Susie growl again.
Jed shifted his head to watch as she inched closer.
“Susie, sweetie, I think you really hurt daddy. I can’t move. Calm down, baby.”
Susie drooled with hunger. Jed had never seen such a look of desperation on his sweet puppy’s face before, and it chilled his blood.
Susie nuzzled the arm she had already torn open, lapping at the blood before sinking her teeth into the open wound. She ignored Jed’s screams as she tore off a hunk of meat.
He’d lost some weight during his time trapped inside the house, but Jed suspected there was more than enough meat for Susie to survive on for a long time to come.