Once again, thank you for the kind comments. ^ ^ Here's the next chapter! I felt like the second chapter was too short and maybe a little lacking. So this third chapter hopefully makes up for it.

"Nick, you sure you ain't lost your mind?" Coach panted loudly, hauling a severed leg on to one of the collapsable tables within the safe room. It had been a struggle to bring such a thing back to the safe room. He had been vomited on and even grabbed by a smoker before even picking up the damned leg. And even then, it had taken some convincing by Nick to get Coach to pick it up, as the conman had conviniently picked up pain killers, a med kit and an axe. So he couldn't carry the leg.

"This don't feel right," the elder man complained as Rochelle examined the limb.

Taking a seat beside one of the grocery bags, Coach began to rummage through it in hopes of finding something sweet to calm his nerves and take his mind off the fact he had just walked through a city holding a severed leg like a baseball bat. Whilst he and Nick had been trying to pry the severed leg out from underneath a car, Rochelle had been in one of the near by stores. From the looks of it, she had found quite a few things that would be of some use to them. But no candy. This caused Coach's face to drop in to a childish pout.

"This is pretty gross," Rochelle sighed as she hacked in to the leg with her machete, splinters of bone and specks of blood flicked on to her shirt.

There had been a point in time where she would've vomited at such a nasty and bloody sight. But those were the days where the only thing she had to worry about was paying bills on time. Not having her head ripped off by zombies. Everyone had to adjust at a time like this; that was what humans were apparently good at, right? Could've fooled her.

"Stop complaining. I don't see you two coming up with anything else." Nick snorted, popping open the extra bottle of pills.

Secretly, he couldn't help but agree that this was a step beyond inhumane as he pulled back some of the dead flesh, trying to ignore the slight squleaching sounds as he slipped a countless amount of pills underneath the meaty surface. He had seen zoo keepers do this kind of thing to lions, not that Nick was a avid fan of animals. They were smelly and annoying. But one of his ex wives was a sucker for them.

After all of the shit he had been through, he was sure that slipping a few pills in to some dead guys leg and feeding it to Ellis in attempts to knock him out was going to seem like a pretty normal thing. Running a few fingers through his thick hair, Nick let out a faint and ragged sigh. Hell, who was he trying to kid? Himself? Yeah, he needed more practice when it came to that. The smell of blood had caused Ellis to stir from within his corner of the room. His claws scraped along the concrete floor as his fingers were flexed. A low hum passed through the back of his throat as he eyed the others up, his face tensing in to a unwelcoming sneer. "You hungry El?" Nick asked aloud, turning to look at the boy. Ellis didn't reply, not registering the name that passed through Nicks lips. Instead, his gaze travelled over the uneven chunks of human flesh that sat upon the table. Rochelle hadn't cared for neatness, she just wanted to cut through the leg as quickly as she could before bleaching her hands and staying as far away from the table as the tiny safe room could make possible. Glancing at the hacking work of Rochelle, Nick made a mental note to not piss her off when she's holding a machete.

"Go on Nick, you give it to him." Coach began, gesturing to one of the meaty chunks and their pill filled center.

Nick was about to open his mouth to argue when Rochelle added to the gesture; "It was your idea."

"I hate you two." The conman sneered whilst ignoring their little chuckles.

He hesitated a little before picking up one of the pieces of meat and slinging it towards Ellis. Wincing as it hit the ground with a splat before the boy edged closely to inspect it.

Ellis only took a few moments to look it over before sinking his teeth in to it. His strong jaws crushing the bone as both of his clawed hands grasped on to the chunk like a child eating a sandwich. A grotesque and bloody sandwich. Rochelle looked a way, her stomach was strong, but it wasn't steel clad like Nicks or Coach's. Both of whom were watching Ellis devour the meat.

"That's just nasty." Coach slurred, an eyebrow raised as his eyes remained attached to the boys feeding form.

Waiting until Ellis had finished the first piece, Nick tossed him another. The sound of the boys growls and snarls etched in to the meat as his eyes seemed focused on Nick. Who wouldn't be shocked if Ellis was pretending that the meat was his corpse, considering how he had tore in to the conman prior to this. Rubbing his wounded stomach, Nick quietly urged the boy to become sleepy already. Too many of those damned pain killers could knock out a horse, so Ellis shouldn't be too much of a problem. Heh.. Ellis loved horses. Catching on to himself, Nick frowned for a moment. Why was he even thinking about things like that? Up until now, he had told himself that Ellis was some back water simpleton with the IQ of a rock. And now, now the conman was dwelling on the things that kid claimed to like. What happened to pretending to hate Ellis? he couldn't help but ask himself this as he continued to watch the boy. He never thought he'd see the day where he'd actually miss hearing a Keith story. Nick didn't want to admit that to himself, let alone anyone else.

It wasn't soon after Ellis was half way through the final piece of meat that the hunter began to slow down. His eyes half open as he fought to stay awake. Letting out a weary but confused groan, Ellis dropped the meat from his blood stained lips before he slumped on to the floor, his face pressing against the cold concrete as Nick and the others edged closer. Letting out a warning growl, Ellis tried to push himself back on to all fours, but his arms and legs simply crumbled beneath him once more.

"Sorry kid." Nick mumbled as he watched Ellis's eyes slowly fold shut.

Rochelle had done more than a little shopping whilst they had been hunting for something to feed Ellis. The store she had visited didn't just sell food, it had a pet section too. She had surprised Nick and Coach by pulling out a few chained leashes, a collar and a muzzle. "What the hell did you get a squeaky toy for?" Nick growled as Rochelle pressed her fingers against the rubber made ball, a slightly amused smile upon her lips as it let out a sharp squeak. "I thought it was cute." She replied honestly before setting everything down beside the unconscious Ellis. She pulled up his shirt, trying to hide the slight blush upon her face as she began to clean and tend to Ellis's wound. Nick on the other hand, was slightly impressed with the kids washboard abdomen. Though, he should've guessed that Ellis had a strong build before now. Though he had never really thought of it... much.

It was almost like Ellis's body was magnetic, the way it pulled Nicks eyes in and forced them to look. He wanted to complain to himself about it out of sheer jealousy, but he didn't, he was enjoying the view. Shit. You're old enough to be his dad, Nick. What the fuck are you doing?

Forcing himself to look away, Nick pretended to be interested in whatever Coach was doing; which happened to be cooking. He watched as the larger and older man placed a few slabs of frozen meat on to a home made fire. Humming hymns to himself as he cooked. Probably pretending he was at a barbecue with Nick, Ellis and Rochelle. For a moment, Nick envied Coach for that. To have such a great imagination that could convince him for a few moments that none of this was real. Nick didn't have that luxury. His mind was constantly focused on the hellish reality that they lived in.

"There we go, all cleaned up."

Nick snapped his head towards the direction of Rochelle. Who was pulling down Ellis's shirt.

"Nick, help me put this on Ellis." She added in a soft tone, gently lifting the younger boys head on to her lap before pointing to the muzzle.

It looked like something you'd put on a pitbull, the wire mesh thick and undoubtebly strong, the straps cut out from a thick leather. But would it be strong enough to keep Ellis's razor like teeth away from Nicks nice suit? He toyed with the straps for a moment, uncertanty within his eyes.

"We can't leave him behind." Coach broke in to the awkward silence, causing Rochelle and Nick to look up at him.

Running a hand over his stubble covered chin, the older man let out a weary sigh.

"We can't stay here forever, but we can't just take the chains off him. He'll kill us."

"So we're going to treat him like a rabid dog instead?" Nick asked aloud, his forehead creased as his eyes narrowed dissaprovingly.

"What else can we do? Kill him?"

Nick paused. His lips pursed together as the muscles of his jaw twitched. None of them had the balls to kill Ellis. Even despite the fact Coach had shot him out of sheer panic; it was evident that the older man couldn't raise his shotgun to Ellis for a second time. This was their only option, it seemed.

Unclipping the muzzle, Nick began to fascen the contraption to Ellis's face, the wire mesh now hovering over the boys mouth. Nick had to hurry when it came to fascening on the collar and helping Rochelle chain Ellis's clawed hands together. As the boy had began to stir, a loud gutral growl echoing throughout the air as Ellis's eyes began to peel open once more.

Backing away, Nick and Rochelle watched on as Coach fished the cooked beef on to a plate. Trying to ignore the whines and growls of Ellis as the boy woke. The chains clinking wildly as the hunter noticed their presence. Letting out an angry snarl, Ellis thrashed about wildly upon the floor, attempting to free himself. His strong legs kicking wildly like a child throwing a tantrum before rolling on to his stomach, panting loudly and glaring up at the survivors. Fury evident within this sickly eyes.

The meal they had was eaten in a awkward and stale silence. The only sound passing through the safe room was Ellis's constant growls and sneers as he watched the survivors eat. Nick glanced towards the boy, who was still lay on his stomach. "El, get up." He chewed on his fork. "You look even more stupid lay on the floor like that." The conman added, causing Rochelle to tut in disapproval at Nicks poor choice of words. Ellis simply snarled in reply. Tossing his fork on to the plate out of irritation, Nick climbed from his seat and approached Ellis.

"Coach, give me a hand." He called, the older man eyeing him curiously for a moment before following suit.

Ellis seemed to tremble faintly as he got all the more worked up. His lips dry and cracked as he beared his teeth through the wire of the muzzle. Snapping them angrily as Nick and Coach grabbed a hold of the boys bound arms, lifting him on to his feet. Throwing back his head for a moment, Ellis hissed and growled, his legs like jelly as they wiggled and squirmed beneath him, trying to adjust to the change in posture.

"Damnit Ellis, stand up properly." Nick snapped, his harsh tone causing Ellis to roar in reply and almost throw himself at the conman.

Reaching for one of the leashes, Nick clipped it on to Ellis's collar, tugging on it faintly as Coach let go of the boy. Ellis was hunched over, his legs firmly planted on to the floor, but his poor posture was far from elegant. He swayed for a moment, glaring at Nick. "See, that wasn't too hard sweetie." Rochelle found the courage to speak, offering the infected boy a friendly smile that she hoped might calm him down.

Clawing at the chains, Ellis simply sat down once more. A resigned growl leaving his lips as he closed his eyes. Wanting to ignore all of them.

Nick returned to Rochelle and Coach, finishing off his meal. Tomorrow, they were going to leave the safe room for the last time and progress to the north. With Ellis. He wasn't sure if he was looking forward to that.