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On such a beautiful, cool fall day there was no reason for the streets to be abandoned. Children should fill the little courtyard with their games and laughter as cars passed slowly by and the neighborhood went about its daily business. Instead the sole signs of human activity were the flowerbeds full of bright yellow tulips, domesticated plants left over from a time when there were people around to appreciate them. The eyes that fell on them were few and far between now.

The latest set belonged to a dark-skinned girl, her slight frame hidden beneath tattered clothing. She entered the courtyard cautiously, ears constantly pricked for any sound of unwanted company. Zombies may be comically slow, but get a hoard together and they could very well ruin your day.

The girl stopped at a fountain in the middle of the courtyard. It had been left dry and unattended, but surrounded by the yellow flowers it resembled a stone shrine. She withdrew a tiny figurine from her pocket and placed it on the edge of the fountain. It looked stupid and out of place, but she did not care.

Mother had always told her that the little figures of the gods were good luck. Freakish, multi-armed creatures like Kali were supposed to represent order in the world, cleansing chaos and violent rebirth. Before the apocalypse she had scoffed at such views, but now she couldn't help but wonder if there could be some truth to it. What better way for a goddess of death to prepare the world to be built anew than by sending a plague of flesh-eating beasts to clean everything up?

She did not want to think about it anymore. This was a letting go, a way to say goodbye to her parents and the beliefs they held. Her only companion now was her survival instinct, and this at least was something she felt she could place full trust in.

She turned her back on the fountain, accessed the inner strength that had allowed her to get this far on her own, and prowled out of the courtyard in search of a safer location to spend the night.


"How strange. I don't think any of the hybrids have feet quite like that. Something that escaped from the zoo maybe?"

Adam Laroque stood from his crouched position, keeping a tight grip on the shotgun in his hands. Grolsch sniffed the tracks at his feet, curious but not alarmed. The little hybrid's nose was an excellent tool for detecting any lurking zombies nearby, and it looked like it would have other uses as well. Whatever the thing was, with paws that big Adam wasn't interested in confronting it.

Grolsch seemed to have a different idea in mind. He ran a little way ahead, eagerly sniffing at the air in a way that Adam recognized meant he had scented a source of food. He looked over his shoulder to check if he was following. Adam sighed.

"I hope you know what you're doing."

He trusted his friend, but the idea still left him feeling uneasy. Nonetheless he found himself following the hybrid along the trail of tracks in the snow leading past the little courtyard and in the direction of some long abandoned buildings.

Grolsch ran into an open doorway and soon the sounds of excited clicking could be heard. Adam was not far behind, but he nearly gagged when he stepped inside and saw what Grolsch had found. The hybrid stood over the body of an old man, lying on the floor hollowed out as if something had eaten away at his insides. Grolsch reached into the chest cavity and withdrew a chunk of meat, munching on it happily.

Grolsch's contented chatters suddenly grew silent, and Adam followed his line of vision as he stared at a passageway leading from deeper within the old building. He held the shotgun up, steadying it and cursing the poor lighting he had to work with. A low growl rumbled out of the passageway.

"It would be nice if you could tell your little pet to leave my meal alone."

He almost dropped the gun in surprise. The voice was human. More than that, it was distinctly feminine. He strained his eyes to locate the speaker, and was further startled when a large spotted cat slunk out of the passageway into the room. Grolsch snarled, baring his sharp little fangs. The cat looked unimpressed.

"That is mine. Go find your own."

"You... what... s-stop, or I'll shoot!"

"Why? I'm not going to hurt either of you. I just don't appreciate people barging into my home like this."

Grolsch was at his side now, prepared to protect him but overall looking less alarmed than he would have expected. Could he have already been aware of the existence of these talking cat things? Adam realized what a sad world it was that such a thought no longer seemed outright absurd.

"I'm sorry. Did the mutation do this to you?"

"No. I was born this way. I am a shapeshifter. My family moved here from India a few years before the plague hit."

The cat sat back on its haunches, tail twitching slightly but otherwise making no threatening movements. Now that Adam had a chance to get a better look at it he recognized that it was a leopard. Or was it a jaguar? He had never been able to tell the difference between the two.

"How do I know you won't hurt us? He isn't looking too good, you know."

He motioned with his head at the dead man, keeping the gun in position in case he needed to use it. The cat rolled her eyes and flicked her ears.

"I am not a murderer. He was freshly dead when I found him. Took ill and crawled in here to die. I do not let passable meat go to waste."

Adam wasn't sure if he believed her, but he decided he was in no position to argue. He reached out and touched Grolsch on the shoulder, signaling for him to follow him back out of the building. As they backed out he watched the cat closely. It drew up the corners of its mouth in what appeared to be a smile.

"You know, you are the first human to have ever seen me like this. Mother always used to tell me that your people wouldn't be able to handle the knowledge of our existence, as if finding out about us would break your brains or something. I guess there can be no better desensitization to the weird than a zombie apocalypse, huh?"

Out of the corner of his eye Adam saw Grolsch smile back at the cat. He was taking the loss of his... meal... very well. As he left the building and returned to the street he was relieved to see the hybrid follow without further distraction.

The thought continued the nag at him as he went about the business of an otherwise normal day as a survivor in the Quarantined Sector. If zombies, mutants, hybrids, and talking cat people existed, what else could he possibly run into next?
For the Crossed Adventures prompt at :iconyouasthenarrator:
Adam Laroque, the hybrid prince, belonging to :iconjohanne: [link] (also included Grolsch [link] since they are inseparable)
Hannoia Iyengar, the leopardess thief, belonging to myself [link]
A survivor of the zombie apocalypse discovers that the city holds more secrets than the undead.

My second Crossed Adventures submission, and this one was a much more difficult character to get right, I think. I’ve always wanted to write a story about werewolves or something similar just relaxing in some post-apocalyptic world since the humans are too distracted to care the same way they normally would about discovering them. :lol:
I went with Hannoia since she is a master of survival and adaptability. She wouldn’t have to compromise her principles of not hurting people to survive, but I could see her accepting something nasty like cannibalism.
The first part is kind of random, but I thought of it when I saw the detail of the little statue in Defying Medusa =p [link]
As always, hopefully this comes across as being in-character. With my morbid imagination I figured Grolsch’s flexible diet would have him interested in some fresh meat, no matter what the source. :lol:
Aaand more title fail :XD:
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ezradeacon Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hi there :wave:

Your wonderful piece has been featured here. :)
Leonca Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the feature. =D
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2010
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by DLD (Daily Literature Deviations) in a news article that can be found here [link]
Be sure to check out the other artists featured and show your support by :+fav:ing the News Article.

Keep writing and keep creating.
Kitri-du-Lac Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2010
This short story proves that good quality zombie stories do exist. It is coherent, creating realistic characters and a well developed storyline. It avoids the cliches of the genre, instead offering an original take on the classic themes. An excellent example of refreshing a tired genre to make it new again.

I have decided to suggest this to *DailyLitDeviations. If chosen your piece will feature in one of their daily newsletters. Good luck!

It would be appreciated if you would take the time to send me a note with a link to any prose pieces, by any other deviants, that you feel deserve to be featured. :)
Leonca Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. Glad to see that the characters could be understandable despite being taken somewhat out of context. =)
MeAsTheNarrator Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Wow this sets up a very wonderful interaction with all sorts of other characters lol. I really like How you have Grolsch just diving into the chest cavity of the dead human and pulling out food.. I wouldn't expect nothing less from him hahah. Hannoia really did bring about a powerful observation about humans... they tend to focus less on what they don't understand when they are forced to fend for their lives against creatures that want to kill them. You did an excellent job with this story :) I wonder what *Johanne would do if the next prompts featured Honnoia lol hmmmmm :giggle:
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you like it. =)

I don’t know, maybe she would have her become a zombie? A zombie wereleopard is a scary idea. :lol:
MeAsTheNarrator Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
That sounds like it would be a one-sided attack.. I so see her zombie body leaping through the air and attacking everything in sight.. too fast to be stopped... lol
weepingtrees Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010
Oh have no fear, Grolsch will eat anything. Anything. You can never go wrong no matter you make Grolsch eat. :giggle:

Actually I thought they were perfectly in character, and it all made total sense. It's true - how weird would it really be for a human to meet a shifter during the zombie apocalypse? Especially when that human hangs out with a grey skinned, walking trash compactor? :giggle: I didn't even know you were gonna use Adam so this is a pretty pleasant surprise. You did an amazing job! Hannoia seems really cool too, and she reminds me that I need to catch up on your recent submissions. I'm suuuch a dead beat watcher these days. :lol:

I didn't think the beginning was random at all, I think it was a nice way to introduce Hannoia into the world setting. :D
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad to hear that. =)

Hannoia is a pretty minor character, so I’m kind of using the prompts to help with character development. She only has one other story so far, so obviously she doesn’t get enough love from me. :XD:
weepingtrees Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2010
I'm sure we'll see more of her as time goes by. The prompts are a great way to work with lesser known/ less developed folks. :D
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Yay! I was hoping for more about Hannoia!

I've never read anything about a shape shifter in a post apocalyptic world (unless you count vampires---I don't.) I really enjoyed it. Now I'm curious to see how shape shifters would hold their own against the undead. I could see a pack/pride working together to clear out and reclaim a district. It's a cool idea.

I like how you describe the world and set up the characters. The pricking of Hannoia's ears as she comes into the courtyard in particular. I think the shift from Hannoia to Adam worked well. I expected a fight to break out when the hybrid started chewing on the dead man (or for the zombie plague to infect him); I'm glad it didn't! Good stuff!
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks. =D

The closest I’ve seen was one short story where some kind of radiation from the apocalypse caused werewolves to exist. To me that isn’t nearly as fun as the idea that they already have their own culture set up long ago and see the apocalypse as a unique opportunity to have an advantage over humans. =p
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Agreed! I think the whole mutation bit has been done to death in the last ten years. I'd rather read about shape shifters who have centuries of culture to draw on as opposed to a whole bunch of people just freaking out because they're suddenly a werewolf because of radiation.

Shape shifters vs zombies has never crossed my mind, but I'm really digging it.
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