The three Reapers weren’t supposed to have been out of the safe zone, but Haus had taken it in his head to go exploring for survivors, and since there wasn’t a soul crazy enough to try stop the big, ugly bastard, the Old ‘Un and Bullhauler tooled up to follow him into the deadlands. Haus’s fellow Reapers weren’t worried the zed would get him, but feared what the simple ox would try to bring back with him into New Dixie.
Crazy as he was, Haus did have a knack for finding live ones, and sure enough, after several days roaming dead Earth, he led them to a breather hid out in a boarded up old cabin in the back country. Once the gal figured the hulking mass wasn’t trying to eat her, she threw herself at her sizable savior like a hungry dog at a bone.
Just like that, Haus fell in love.
The Reapers battened down the cabin, having decided to take some downtime before heading back for the zone. Haus’s appreciative refugee, Mary Lee, took him off to a backroom to show her knight in kevlar armour her gratitude, while the remaining pair of Reapers surveyed the ramshackled camp, Bullhauler searching for anything of use worth scavenging, as the Old ‘Un conjured up a stew for when the new couple decided to rejoin them.
Disheveled, hanging off one another, Haus later lead his plague bride back to the kitchen to join the others.
“Anybody hungry?” the Old Un asked as he dished out shares of stew and hard tack to the silent room. The girl dove in like she was starved, maybe that’s what made her cough. The Reapers studied her while Haus attempted to play it off. Patting her between her shoulders, he comforted the girl.
“Slow down there, Honey! Can’t get you to town if you choke y’all self to death!” Placing his stew on the hard used wooden table, the big ugly continued petting her back, then hugged her from behind. It didn’t matter, her feaverish pallor confirmed the Reapers’ rude diagnosis.
“There, there, little miss!” Haus consoled her. The girl melted into the rank giant, who soothed her as she shivered. As she buried herself deeper into his massive chest, Haus raised his eyes to his fellow Reapers, and covertly shook his head.
Although the cabin was buried way out in the woods, before long the small concentration of stagnant living bodies began attracting the zed. It was time to abandon the camp. Inside the crude refuge, Bullhauler restlessly paced, bitching.
“Damn! It startin’ to stink out there and it’s startin’ to stink in here!” he ranted, slamming his first into the couple’s bedroom door. Neither had come out for some hours.
“Fuck it, dawg, we gots to GO!” He barked.
As he raised his fist to bang again, the door was tugged from within to reveal Haus’s tear stained face. Muscling his way past Bullhauler, every step revealing his misery, he sobbed.
“I’ll never find another like that one” Haus lamented, heading out the cabin’s door. Old Un turned to follow the wretched fool when Bullhauler stopped him with a tug on his arm.
Leaning into their leader, he whispered, “That sick fuck didn’t off her til she turned. And he fucked her after she turned.”
What were they going to do? She had had the zed flu when they found her, they could all see it, that was a Reapers trade, exterminating zombies and those infected with the Resurrection Plague. Mary Lou had been nibbled on by a hungry corpse, but she’d been eaten away by loneliness having been left companionless in the little cabin in the woods, and it wasn’t the first time the Old ‘Un had recognized a gore whore. The plague was a grim way to die, but to take your last breath alone was the cruelest sort of ending.
The Old un tugged free of Bullhauler’s grasp, perhaps thinking of his own wife, safe back in the zone. In a hushed tone, he sympathized, “The things we do for love.”