Beauty. Courage. Valor. Vigor. The will to live. She was a survivor of the highest grade. Smart – she kept her hair short and clothes tight, and wore comfortable shoes and always kept dry. After more than two years of suffering in the hellhole called Malton, she had not yet known an injury. No sprained ankle, no stubbed toe. No scrapes, no bruises, no painful, infected bites (though the zombies, it seemed, for the most part, were not contagious). She was a quick little thing, and had no affiliations with the many survivor groups in town. Perhaps some would call this irresponsible; her one flaw. Yet he respected her as a loner. She was like him. So much like him. Perhaps that was why he liked her so much.

And yet, he could not bring himself to hold her closer. She faced away from him, her gleaming features facing the cool winter moonlight. She slept in full dress. Not only did this keep out the cold, but in the event of a late-night raid, it was vastly preferable to be able to get up and run as opposed to stumble around nude and vulnerable, feeling the flush of human shamefulness at your nakedness. Her finger was lightly pressed against the trigger guard of what could only be the infamous Sig Sauer P226. He had seen many of them around. He only wished she hadn't brought it to bed. It was a scary thing, and the city was full of enough scary things as it was.

He lay next to her clothed body in the same fashion. He was turned on his right side; his eyes stared longingly into the bulbous moon and fell on the woman's white flesh every now and then. And he knew that if she were awake, her blue eyes would shine in the ethereal glow from outside. But she was not awake. Her chest rose and fell rhythmically, the short breaths of a tired veteran. Alertness. Another virtue of hers. No one could get close to her in her sleep. He had seen it happen; a lone zombie shambling through the front doors of a building she had chosen for the night. A lone zombie lurching through her bedroom door, his arms outstretched in front of him. A lone zombie with a hole between his eyes, collapsing into a heap on the floor, and she with a warm gun in her hand, the soft noises of a zombie's footsteps having broken her sleeping veil.

"You are so beautiful," he whispered in her ear, tracing his cold fingers along her shoulder, his cold, sharp fingers. He loved her so very much. She had such power, such grace. Such passion for survival. She had helped so many in the past, and requested no thanks. She accepted no gifts. The mere idea of helping others fueled her, and it carried over into her daily livelihood. She never stayed in one place for more than a day. To do so would risk attracting the horde to her spot. And if she happened to be in a spot with others, then all the worse. She never did that, though. She was always concealed, safe and inside – alive within her own hidden safehouses.

A moan escaped her lips. Or maybe – a gasp? Yes, yes, most certainly a gasp, for a moan would not fit her character in the least. Something short, trite, passionate – such a thing would represent her in a way that a moan could not. She could now feel his icy finger moving up her spine. His icy, sharp finger; like the edge of a knife.

"Now, now, my love," he whispered, pushing her hair aside with his free hand and whispering lovingly in her ear, "don't be scared."

"You," she choked, for the man's hand had gone from her ear, along her jaw to her throat. She could feel her windpipe constricting beneath his firm, dead grasp and she twisted underneath him, pulling the gun out from under her pillow and aiming at his head, her finger tightening on the trigger, but when the inevitable bang arose, she could see that he was unharmed. A sharp pain pulsed from within her abdomen, and over the course of a few seconds, she felt his hand leave hers, carrying with it a certain metal weight; he ejected the gun's magazine over the edge of the bed, now on top of her, his blue eyes boring into hers.

"Now, now, love, we've no need for violence," he crooned and she started to sob, thrashing uncontrollably beneath him, the moon laughing at her sinisterly. The man smiled and she felt his hand reach around her back, the cold edge of a blade digging deep into her spine, and she cried out with such a sharp shriek that the man recoiled. She would have fought him off then and there, but all feeling below her neck had ceased. She could not move.

"Quiet, doll, this will only hurt for a moment," he said, rising up onto his knees, straddling her. On his back, she saw the blunt shaft of something fierce. He gripped it tight and held it high over his head. And she cried. She cried as the dull end crushed her face, busting her nose and spilling blood onto the white sheets. She cried as the chipped, broken edge of the axe sliced a jagged cut across her soft throat. She cried as a pounding, pain-induced migraine emerged from within her forehead and retreated quickly with the next hammer-like blow.

Finally, she stopped crying.