Dusk had settled over the city when I woke, drawn from an uneasy sleep by instinct alone.
Yawning, I listened to the sounds of another day ending as it gave way to the darkness. In the distance a dog howled mournfully and a lone crow cawed.
Then there was silence.
An eerie silence than seemed to echo sombrely through the shadows that haunted the desolate streets.
Despite the comfortable warmth of the bedcovers, and the reassuring weight of my lovers arm wrapped tightly around my waist, I shivered. Lazy shadows danced across the pale ceiling, given life by the dying gasps of the sun as it disappeared behind the horizon. This was our time now.
Only when the sun went down did our days begin.
Careful not to wake my lover, still sleeping peacefully, I eased carefully out of bed and wrapped one of his flannel shirts around my naked frame. It still carried his scent.
I walked across the cold hardwood floor of the hotel room to the full length window, pulling the curtain back to peer down at the empty streets six storeys below.
There was no sign of life. No remnants of civilization save for the skeletal remains of the city that had been plunged into the deepest pits of Hell by the virus known only as Croatoan. An unforgiving infection that stripped its victims of everything but the primal urge to kill. Spread through blood contact it had swept the nation in days, turning those who were infected into savage killers who no longer suffered a conscience as they maimed and murdered innocent victims. In a matter of weeks it had spread across the World, destroying everything in its wake. The entire World's population had been decimated inside of a month.
That was six months ago. And we had no way of knowing if there were any other survivors out there, eking out a pitiful excuse of an existence like we had been fighting to do since society had come tumbling down around us.
The nights were our only reprieve from the constant threat of the vicious Infected. Turned into nothing more than primitive monsters, they had lost all but the basic of instincts. They still ate regularly, picking at the scraps that rotted in the stores and hunting animals with handmade weapons, and when the sun began to set they retired to whatever served as their homes or hovels, where they stayed until the new day dawned. These were the only human traits that remained, but there was no trace of humanity in their feral eyes.
I gazed down at the darkening streets, no longer recognisable in their Post Apocalyptic state, letting out a long, weary breath. We had been fighting for so long, fighting every day to see the next, and I was so tired. We had set up our home, our Haven, in an abandoned Hilton Hotel. It was sturdy, and luxurious, and it was safe.
Suddenly, I caught movement from the corner of my eye.
On the street below, a lone figure staggered from the shadows, displaying the erratic, jerking movements of the Infected.
Startled, I glanced up at the sky. It was a dark grey, shot with vibrant colours of pink and purple, the orange sun nothing more than a bright spark on the horizon.
Night had fallen, and yet an Infected we still up and about. The sight of him sent a shiver of dread up the length of my spine.
They weren't supposed to be out this late.
This was our time.
A shot rang out across the night and the figure fell.
At the sound of my lovers voice, heavy with fear and concern, I turned to find him sitting up, the covers bunched around his waist.
My Love. My Soul. My Hero. So devastatingly handsome he stole my breath and broke my heart all in the one instant.
"I'm here" I said softly as I walked back to the bed, crawling beneath the covers and into his warm embrace.
Wrapping his arms around me tightly, he pressed his lips to my forehead. It was hard to be scared in this World when I had him.
"Is everything OK?" he asked.
"There was an Infected…"
He glanced across at the window, the World beyond it almost pitch dark.
"Infected?" he said incredulously. "This late?"
"Maybe they're adapting… Or evolving" I said, terrified at the thought of these abominations taking more of the World than they already had.
"Oh, that's just sensational" he sighed, propping himself up on an elbow and looking down at me. The love and worry in his eyes were dizzying. "You know I don't like waking up without you next to me" he said softly, his fingers tracing nonsense patterns down the length of my arm.
"I'm sorry" I apologised with a smile, pressing my hands to his broad chest. I could feel the steady 'bomp-bomp-bomp' of his heart beat. We had promised long ago, when the destruction of mankind had brought us together, that we would never fall asleep or wake up with out the other by our side. We had both lost so many loved ones and we could not bear losing each other. Even if we'd had a really shitty day, or had just fought with each other until we were both blue in the face, neither of us could sleep without the other by our side.
"Promise you'll never do it again" he demanded, a hint of a smile in his eyes. And I could never deny him anything.
"I promise" I grinned, wrapping my arms around his neck and pulling him in for a kiss that made my loins quiver. From the feel of his excitement straining against my thigh, I could tell it had the same effect on him.
"That's my girl" he smiled, and I was at his mercy.