The cruiser was unlocked, but the keys were gone. Of course.
I rested my head on the steering wheel, completely spent. This was the shittiest day of my life, and someone upstairs kept flushing the toilet. Hobbling back to the RV and sleeping in it for the next three days was the best idea I could come up with.
Head still on the wheel, I fumbled out my phone. I was not going to call my boyfriend for help. He did not ever need to know about this.
I finally raised my head and clicked on the phone’s flashlight feature. Then I tilted the rearview mirror and got a look at the horror show that was my face. The flashlight showed me dried blood, most of it on the right side of my face, which I’d figured, and that my right eye was covered by a milky blue film. The pupil was visible, barely, and it was pinned. I ran a hand over my head. My hair was crusty with dried blood, and just the light touch of my hand made my head throb harder. I felt nauseous.
I opened the cruiser door and spun around in the seat, thinking I might throw up, but nothing happened. The throbbing faded to a manageable drum beat, and the nausea dissipated.
I needed those keys. I looked up at the trailer. The side I could see, all its lights were on behind cheap pull-down shades. The door to the trailer–the front door, I supposed–had a sheet of crinkled aluminum foil pasted over its diamond-shaped window. The front of the trailer had a bay window covered by a Confederate flag blanket. If I knew my trailers (and growing up in this part of Texas, I did), that was a kitchen.
I looked down at my hands. Closed my eyes. Took a deep breath. I was going to change. I was going to wolf out and knock down that door and get my keys. Open the throats of the two idiots who’d tried to kill me, while I was at it. Then I was going to hop in my car and get the hell out of here.
Okay. Change in three, two, one . . .
One . . . one . . . one . . .
Nothing was happening. No jostling of the teeth as they extended from the gums. No cracking of bones. The engine was turning, but it wasn’t catching. It was like . . . being constipated. Or something.
I clenched my hands. I was still too badly injured to effect the change. It involved the breaking of bones, after all. Too much for my poor beleaguered body to handle right now.
Okay, new plan.
I got out of the car, softly shut the door, and walked to the trailer. Three concrete steps led to a tilting wooden porch. I found a board to stand on that didn’t seem likely to break in two, took a quick sniff to confirm I was only going to have to deal with the two idiots, and then I knocked on the door.
Stomping noises. Murmurs. Then the door was yanked open, and there was Will Harris, the guy who’d unloaded his handgun at me. His bloodshot eyes widened.
I half-smiled. “Morning. I’d like my car keys back, please.”
He uttered an odd strangled sound–gurrk–and then slammed the thin aluminum door in my face, which was damned rude.
I was about to knock again–my fist was an inch from the door–when I distinctly heard Harris say, “There’s a fucking zombie out there!”
I dropped my hand. Shit.
The door opened again, and this time, a double-barreled shotgun greeted me.