Chapter One

Jeffery watched as the explosion of color scattered across the sky and shivered as the concussion ran through his body. It was the Fourth of July, and he was thoroughly enjoying himself. An ex military man, Jeffery Goff was used to nearby explosions, having been blown off his feet more times than he cared to count. These mortars were a child's playthings as far as he was concerned. He smiled as a second round of bursts shook the earth beneath him.

"Daddy! That was a beautiful one!" His daughter, Madeline, was sitting on his shoulders, reaching out as if she could grab hold of the colors and lights and keep them in a jar, memories she would look back upon when she needed comfort in the dark.

"Yes, it was quite beautiful." Jeffery smiled up at his

daughter.

It was the smell he noticed first. A sour, cloying odor that made him want to pass out. He warily brought Madeline down. "Maddy, do you remember what I told you about the Bad Day?"

"Yes, Daddy. Why?"

"Just show me what to do." He watched as his daughter ran off into the house and waited until he saw her wave from the basement window. She moved out of sight down into the bomb shelter he had built to protect them. He turned and watched the tree line of their property. They would be here soon. He could hear them cackling and giggling like the demented inhabitants of the old Waverly Hills.

Walking over to the tool shed, Jeffery picked up a maddox and spun it in his hand, relishing the feel of the rough wooden handle as it was lifted up to become weightless and

then brought back down by the weight of the giant pick-axe at it's head. His adrenaline picked up and the sweat began to bead on his forehead. The sun was awful hot for spring. He shifted under the uncomfortable weight of his shirt, unwilling to take it off, lest he reveal more vulnerable areas of his rough woodsman's build. The humidity was unbearable. Sweat poured freely as he tossed the maddox from hand to hand, keeping his eyes open and unblinking, searching the grounds before him.

A scream from behind him startled him and he jerked around, hearing the insane laughter. They had tricked him! They were in his house, trying to break into the safe room his daughter had sealed herself in. He screamed his own cry of rage as he charged forward, maddox swinging wildly from side to

side as he plowed his way through the unwashed bodies of giggling and cackling maniacs. Heads popped open before him, drenching him with hot, sticky, thick blood that was as black as the night that swiftly approached.

Another look around revealed that night had fallen entirely. Where was the time going? He wasn't moving fast enough! He felt slow, heavy. His breath came short to him as the weapon he still clutched to became as heavy as lead and dropped from his hands. He saw the door break in and watched as they picked up his twelve year old daughter and tied her up. He cried out as he was overwhelmed by the starved mass of undead.

"Madeline!"