Different is bad.


The road was deserted.

It stayed deserted for the quarter-mile the group shadowed it, and stubbornly remained empty when they finally stepped up into the roadbed. This particular stretch had been metcalfed, so it was a slight rise from the drainage ditch up to the top. Not enough to call getting up there a ‘climb,’ but certainly dangerous in a world where the walking dead waited to swarm the clumsy.

But there were no shamblers wandering the gravel-and-stone road. No corpses, either: just a few patient weeds, and a number of weathering bones. Witherby knelt to look at one pile of scattered ribs and femurs.

“Regular victims, not shamblers,” he said. “See here? Human teeth would not make these marks. Not even the rotting ones of a shambler’s mouth.”

“Aye, I see that, Lieutenant,” said Jimmy. “Didn’t expect you’d know the difference right away, I admit. Nicely scouted.”

“Thank you, Mister Jimmy. But we saw a lot of worried corpses on our retreat to the Castle, and even more poor bas— fellows who had taken bites. After a while, you learned what to look for. But I don’t know what animals did these.”

“Crows and rats, I reckon. Although that one over there was set on by a dog or wolf pack.” Jimmy looked grim at the thought. “It’s bad, when they learn to eat human meat. You can’t ever bring a dog back from that.”