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Home > The New Hunger (Warm Bodies #2)

The New Hunger (Warm Bodies #2)
Author: Isaac Marion

A dead man lies near a river, and the forest watches him. Gold clouds drift across a warming pink sky. Crows dart through the trees—dark pines and cedars that hover over the dead man like morbid onlookers. In the deep, wild grass, small living things creep around the dead man’s face, eager to eat it and return it to the soil. Their faint clicks mingle with the rush of the wind and the screams of the birds and the roar of the river that will wash away his bones. Nature is hungry. It is ready to take back what the man stole from it by living.

But the dead man opens his eyes.

He stares at the sky. He feels an impulse: move. So he sits up. His eyes are open but he can’t see anything. Just a blur that he doesn’t know is a blur, because he has never seen clarity.

This is the world, he reasons. The world is blurry.

Hours pass. Then his eyes remember how to focus, and the world sharpens. He thinks that he liked the world better before he could see it.

Lying next to him is a woman. She is beautiful, her hair pale and silky and matted with blood, her blue eyes mirroring the sky, tears drying rapidly under the hot sun. The man tilts his head, studying the woman’s lovely face and the bullet hole in her forehead. For a brief moment he feels a sensation that he doesn’t like. His features bend downward; his eyes sting. Then it fades and he stands up. The revolver in his hand slips through his limp fingers and falls to the ground. He starts walking.

The man notices that he is tall. Branches scrape his scalp and tangle in his matted mess of hair. The tall man notices other things, too. A leather chair floating in the river. A metal suitcase hanging from a tree branch. Four more bodies with holes in their heads, sprawled out limp in the grass. These ones are not beautiful. They are pale and sunken, spattered with black blood, regarding the sky with strange, metallic grey eyes. He feels another unpleasant sensation, and he kicks one of the bodies in the head. He kicks it again and again, until his shoe sinks into the putrid mess of its brain, and then he forgets why he’s doing this and keeps walking.

The tall man does not know who he is. He does not know what he is or where he is, how he came here or why. His head is so empty it hurts; the vacuum of space is twisting it apart, so he forces a thought into it just to ease the pain:

Find someone.

He walks away from the blonde woman. He walks away from the bodies. He walks away from the column of smoke rising out of the trees behind him.

Find another person.

A girl and her kid brother are walking in the city. Her brother breaks the silence.

“I know who you like.”

“What?”

“I know who you like.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yeah I do.”

“I don’t like anybody.”

“Do too. And I know who it is.”

Nora glances back at Addis, who is such a painfully slow walker she wants to put him on a leash and drag him.

“Okay, who do I like.”

“I’m not telling.”

She laughs. “That’s not how blackmail works, dumb-ass.”

“What’s blackmail?”

“It’s when you know a secret about somebody and you threaten to tell people unless they do what you want. But it doesn’t work if you don’t say what you know.”

“Oh. Okay, you like Kevin.”

Nora fights a surprised smile. The little shit’s got eyes.

“You do!” Addis crows. “You like Kevin!”

“Maybe,” Nora says, looking straight ahead. “So what?”

“So I got you. And now I’m gonna blacknail you.”

“Blackmail. Okay, let’s hear your demands.”

“I want the rest of the cookies.”

“Deal. I don’t even like Oreos.”

“And you have to carry the water an extra day.”

“Well…fine. But only because I really don’t want anyone to know I like Kevin.”

“Yeah, because he’s ugly.”

“No, because he has a girlfriend.”

“But he is ugly.”

“I like ugly. Beauty is a trick.”

Addis snorts. “No one likes ugly.”

“I like you, don’t I?” She reaches back and grabs a handful of his woolly hair, shakes his head around. He laughs and wrestles free. “Okay, so are we good here?” she says. “Do we have a deal?”

“One more.”

“All right but only one, so you better make it good.”

Addis studies the pavement scrolling by under his feet. “I want us to look for Mom and Dad.”

Nora walks in silence for a few sidewalk squares. “No deal.”

“But I’m blackmailing you!”

“No deal.”

“Then I’m gonna tell everyone you like Kevin.”

Nora stops walking. She cups her hands to her mouth and sucks in a deep breath. “Hey everyone! I like Kevin Kenerly!”

Her voice echoes through long canyons of crumbled highrises, gutted storefronts, melted glass and scorched concrete. It rolls down mossy streets and bounces off piles of rusted cars, frightening crows out of a copse of alders that sprouts through the roof of an Urban Outfitters.

Her brother scowls at her, betrayed, but Nora is tired of this. “We were just playing a game, Addy. Kevin’s probably dead by now.”

She starts walking again. Addis hangs back a moment, then follows, still scowling. “You’re mean,” he says.

“Yeah, maybe. But I’m nicer than Mom and Dad.”

They walk in silence for five minutes before Addis looks up from his gloomy study of the sidewalk. “So what are we looking for?”

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