Her name had been Eve, which she thought fitting.
She loved watching football as a kid with her dad in Upstate New York. Dad was a Giants fan so she’d begun rooting for the rival Jets. Now, she wished she hadn’t been such a bad daughter.
“I need her to shut up,” Eve said quietly to the terrified man in chains.
The woman had been screaming for hours. At first Eve thought it amusing. How long could someone yell when they were slowly tortured?
“Should we take her off the table?” the man in chains asked.
Eve moved with lightning speed and slapped the man across the face, driving his nose into his skull and killing him. Eve smiled and licked the trace of blood on her hand.
She no longer needed the blood or the violence but it came with the power. She needed more power. As a teen she’d read a book about Countess Bathory and thought it was very cool. Now Eve wanted to be the new Bathory. She needed a new subject to do her bidding now, too.
“Unchain this dead man and get his pitiful body out of my stadium,” Eve said.
Two servants ran and did her bidding as quickly as possible, never making eye contact.
Eve pointed at the woman, stretched on the table on the sideline below.
“I grow weary of her screams. If she isn’t going to tell what I need to know, hang her in the parking lot with the others,” Eve said.
Humans were so problematic but necessary right now. As much as she wished she could wipe them off the face of her earth, she needed them as she grew in power. She needed them to keep others away from this stadium, and rebuild it in her image.
The markings of the football team formerly housed here were now gone, a pile of broken teal, black and gold standards and banners either burned or piled on the practice field away from this spot. Eve didn’t want to see another jaguar or dumb football slogan, although the giant screens needed to be fixed and the markings taken from them at some point. She’d lost three humans climbing to the top of the stadium already without finishing the job.
Through the tunnel she could see two small eyes watching. It was the little girl, so inquisitive and curious despite its mother’s fear Eve would eat her.
“Come, little one,” Eve called out from across the stadium. She smiled and motioned with her hands.
The girl got six steps before her mother ran out and grabbed her roughly by the shoulders, steering her back.
“Let her go,” Eve yelled.
The woman took another step back, ignoring the command.
“I will not say it again,” she said. Eve was moving, already down the steps and onto the field.
The mother stopped, back rigid as she stood between Eve and her precious daughter, not looking back.
Eve lightly pushed the woman away, not even bothering to look at her. She wasn’t important. The mother was just another female to birth more children who would someday grow to help build an empire.
“What’s your name?” Eve asked, bending down and smiling.
“Are you a monster?” the little girl, maybe six years old, asked.
Eve laughed. “Is that what your mother’s been telling you?”
“No, ma’am,” the mother answered quickly. “I just… we need to get back inside. It is your law we don’t come out unless you call for us.”
“Maybe I did call for her. You didn’t tell me your name, honey,” Eve said. She smiled at the little girl again.
“Amber,” she said.
She laughed. “Amber is a fat girl name.” She had such pretty red hair.
The mother opened her mouth to say something really stupid but wisely turned away without a sound.
Eve put his hand out. “Come, Amber, we have much to discuss.”
The woman tried to step between her daughter and Eve again.
“You’re dismissed,” Eve said.
“No harm will come to the child. I just want to talk to someone so innocent for awhile. I grow so bored with adults who think they know what I want them to say.” Eve looked down at Amber. She was a skinny little thing. Unlike anyone she’d ever known named Amber. Including her own sister, Amber.
When the woman didn’t immediately back down, Eve grinned and leaned forward. The mother stared into her gray eyes, frightened but her maternal instinct overpowering reason and survival.
“Don’t let me slice your throat in front of your daughter. You cannot win this battle. The only thing you can do is put your trust in a monster like me and pray to your God I don’t do anything bad to your precious child,” Eve said. She patted Amber on the head and pointed. “Go run across the field as quickly as you can. I’ll wait for you on the other side.”
When Amber began to run, crossing the football field, Eve turned back to the mother.
“Are you not fed?”
Eve raised her hands. “Do I not protect you from the zombies? Do I not get you food and drink, a bed to sleep in, and entertainment? Am I a bad ruler?”
The mother shook her head quickly.
“Then it makes me curious why you don’t trust me with Amber. Have I ever touched one of the children or said something inappropriate? Have you heard rumors from others in your group?”
“No.” The woman stared at Eve and she could see she was trying to keep her thoughts as hidden as she could, even though it wasn’t working.
“You’re worried about me hurting her. You should be more worried about yourself, especially if you can’t offer me what I want,” Eve said. “If I were you, I’d take this time alone and realize it’s a gift. Go back and find a mate, because barren females aren’t anything more than zombie bait.”
Eve was about to threaten her further when the images in her mind startled her.
She turned back to see Amber standing on the other sideline.
“Amber, I want you to run around the field. Play. Have fun. I’ll be right back. I’m going to talk with your mother and then you and I will eat M&M’s and drink soda,” Eve said.
She turned back to the mother and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Take me to the men who are forcing themselves on the women. These men will be dealt with severely so this doesn’t happen again,” she said.
The mother shook her head. “No. Please don’t do anything. I can handle it.”
Eve looked at Amber as she started running. “Eventually, once you’re all broken, they’ll start on the children. This is what men do. This is why I am here now. To cull the herd so we can find only the ones worth living.” She grabbed the woman roughly by the chin. “I am not asking you to tell me. I will eviscerate you in front of the flock to prove a point, do you understand? I am not your friend. I am not going to rip these men apart brutally because I love my followers and want to show them justice. I am doing it because you are my property and every dead woman means one less baby for me. I need a population to continue my work. Take me to them.”
She nodded her head slowly.
Eve grinned. She hadn’t had to kill anyone and make an example in too many weeks.
The Chosen One was coming right to her, drawn to the power, and she needed to stay sharp.
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com