Taking the snare pole in both hands, he took several steps into the room. Habit made him double-check the corners for signs of another one of those things. A good trapper had to keep an extra pair of eyes in the back of his head if he wanted to live long enough to spend his money.
Glancing back at the girl, Byron saw she had gotten to her feet, but she remained where she was. If he didn’t know any better, he would swear she wasn’t in any hurry to attack him.
"What’s the matter? Why won’t you come over here and take a bite? Huh?" He held out an arm in invitation. "Come on. Here it is. All nice and warm and juicy. Bet you’d love to take a chunk out of it, wouldn’t you? Well, come on!" He gave his arm a little wiggle. "Come one and try."
The creature looked at his arm, then back at him. She took a tentative step toward him. Byron took an identical step backwards.
"That’s right. Come and get it. It’s full of warm blood, and I bet you’re hungry, aren’t you?"
She took a second step, which he echoed in reverse, but her gaze wasn’t on the tempting arm he was baiting her with. She was watching him. As ridiculous as it appeared, it was like she was wary or something. Byron shook his head. No way, man. No fucking way.
He grabbed the snare pole with both hands and played out more of the wire. The creature stopped. One of her hands reached for her throat, and he nearly dropped his jaw.
It was starting to be too goddamn freaky.
"What’s with you, for Christ’s sake? What’s with the hesitation? You’re acting like you have intelligence, and we both know that can’t be true. You’ve been dead now for, what? A few days at the most. Not more than a week. You’re fresh. I gotta hand you that, but your brain’s been rotting inside your skull all that time. There’s no way you could be thinking, much less anticipating me."
He took another step, and this time the girl took a step backwards.
Enough of this bullshit, Shales! Get her!
Determined to end this imaginary stalemate, Byron strode over and slipped the noose over the thing’s head, pulling it tight as he gripped the end of the pole.
She didn’t struggle.
She didn’t howl.
She didn’t fight him or the noose.
Byron stared in shock at the creature. He had been hunting zombies for nearly four years, and nothing had prepared him for this. No other undead had acted this way, and those dead things were as predictable as night and day.
He tugged on the pole. The creature didn’t react one way or another. Byron frowned. Maybe her attack button was missing. That, or she never had one. Or it had rotted away.
Something flashed at the corner of his eye. The setting sun reflected off something like a window in the distance. The distraction reminded him he was wasting time. Plus it was a good three miles to the compound if he wanted to get there before the gates were closed for the night.
Pulling on the pole, he watched as the girl reluctantly took a step forward. Then another. Gradually, she followed him outside and to the truck. The entire time her hands remained dangling by her sides.
Once they reached the pickup, he debated whether to slam her up against the board of nails so he could cuff her. To his shock, he saw the creature’s eyes look over at the thirteen-by-seventeen piece of wood attached to the side of the vehicle before she glanced up at him. Warning bells were going off in his head, but at that moment he was totally dumbfounded.
"Shit. Don’t tell me you don’t want to be pinned. Is that it?"
Christ, why was he even asking her? She was dead! She had no brain function anymore. Therefore she couldn’t think, and she damn sure couldn’t be dreading what was about to happen to her! She was already dead, for fuck’s sake! What could be worse?
"Fuck this," he muttered, dragging her to the tailgate. He grabbed a pair of cuffs out of the toolbox and jammed the end of the snare pole underneath the ramp. "All right, girlie. Let’s see if you fight me now."