The stillness of the early morning was deafening. Cold and brittle as the morning before, it was shattered by hurried footsteps and the sound of frantic panting. A red-haired man in sweats jogged with a limping gait, taking cold, wet, terrified breaths. He choked as much of the damp morning air down as he could to keep his limbs moving. Lactic acid seeped into every joint and muscle as he tried frantically to make his body work as it was supposed to.
A bright light pierced the mist of the ambivalent early morning, accompanied by an obnoxiously loud and tinny Harley continental engine tearing into life. A black-gloved hand revved it for the pleasure of the vibration in his gut. He grabbed his leather-clad crotch with his gloved hand to rearrange the furniture. The sound and smell of creaking leather brought a smile to his greasy, stubbly face.
“Let’s go fuck shit up.”
He pulled his denim waistcoat tighter across his skinny frame. The name “Lamchop” was embossed above the left breast pocket. The biker dragged a chain across his lap, the end of which had a barbed hook that he hung over the side of the bike. He nudged the kickstand with his leather boot and screeched off down the suburban street.
The town was so still, dead and dying. The red-headed jogger could’ve heard the engine on the other side of town, but he was sure it was closer. His eyes widened and his pupils shrank as he loped into the mist. He doubled his pace, his muscles crying out in pain with every terrified step.
The biker let out some slack in the chain, one hand on the handles of his bike. He let it swing idly at his side as he drove. Noticing a shape form in the mist, he took control of its swinging motion. With the strength of his wrist alone he began to spin the chain, building up speed, keeping full control of the bike as he did so.
The swinging chain reached terminal velocity. The shape was within striking distance. The biker released the chain as if launching a dog at an unsuspecting rabbit from the barrel of a gun. All the force from his wrist snapped it at the shape coming at him from the mist.
The chain struck with snake-like, snapping precision. It tangled around the feet of its victim, locking into place at the ankle. The savage, biting barbs rent flesh from the bone and stuck stalwart in the calf of the bait.
No noise was heard over the thunderous engine, no screams, no pleas for help. The chain stopped for a brief moment, slack as it was, then it took on life once again as the bike pulled away. The chain snaked up with a vicious, snapping sound, yanking its victim off their feet and dragging them across the neatly tarmacked suburban roadway.
The meat sack hit the ground with a sad, wet trumping sound. Bones in a bag of wet flour collided awkwardly as they were wrenched out of the mist with a hiss and a slick grinding sound. The biker stopped and, lifting his goggles, he looked back at the zombie he’d caught on the hook. A proud fisherman, the biker smiled and pulled his goggles back down. The creature writhed, ground down teeth falling from its mouth like popcorn. Its face was hot and slick from its date with the smooth tarmac, most of its features worn down. It reached its arm up, reminding him of the canteen scene from “Oliver Twist.”
“More? OK, well, why didn’t you say?” He laughed to himself and revved his engine once more.
The red-haired man in sweats reached his front door, his breath burning his lungs. The air felt like sandpaper, going in and coming out. His sweats were drenched and the cold tugged at him as he propped himself up against the door. He tapped on it.
“Sheila, it’s me. Let me in! They’re coming! For God’s sake, lemme’ in!”. He whispered in a low, raspy voice as he tapped the window of the door.
He looked back into the mist as he heard the engine’s noises carried by the empty streets. “Sheila, open the fucking door, or God help me, I wil- “An abrupt unlatching noise cut him off. His wife opened the door a crack and he slipped through it, as if by osmosis.
“Will, are you OK? Did you find any?” A slight woman with mousey brown hair stood in front of him, bunching up a plaid dress in her two skinny fists.
“I couldn’t. They were on me, these guys. They were staking out the pharmacy. They knew people would come for supplies. It was a trap; I barely got away!” His voice was hoarse. He took in large, gulping breaths as he spoke. Feelings of shame and guilt and terror fought for space in his brain. All thoughts were barged out of the way though by his singular desire for all the stale oxygen on the landing.
“I can’t last much longer without my insulin,” she said, whispering into her dress, a maudlin expression on her pale face. “If you were a real man, you’d get it.”
“Yeah, and if you weren’t a total retard you’d have stocked up before the zombie apocalypse. But we can’t all be perfect!”
“It’s not the apocalypse. The army’ll come. They will. We just have to last a little longer. I don’t know how much longer I can- “
“It’ll be OK, I promise,” he said softly as he collapsed on the stairs. “We’ll find a way.”
Just as he got a little comfortable and the air particles started forming an orderly queue into his lungs, a sharp tapping taxman knock set the couple’s teeth on edge.
“Who… who is it?” Sheila said
“Shhhh.” Will’s panic and anger flared into a harsh, sharp shushing noise.
“I’ve come to read tha meeta,” the voice beyond the door said in a faux, mocking English accent.
“Shhhhhhh,” Will said again, sharper and louder.
“Yeah I can definitely hear a leak. You betta let me in or-”
A dead silence fell as the couple inside tried to stop breathing for moment. “Or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.” The voice became lower and more caustic. All the humour drained out of it, sending a chill down the couple’s spines.
Will’s breath creaked out of his mouth. Then a jostling of the door handle sent him reeling up the stairs, fumbling for the banister.
“Where are you going?” Sheila screeched as he fled.
“Little pigs, let me in!”
Sheila froze, her blood stuck in her veins. “If I have to break down the door, it’ll make a lot of noise and then zombies will come and you’ve got no door to keep them out. And then my friends here will be tired and angry and they’ll take it out on you. You don’t want that. Just open the door.”
Sheila shook as she reached out for the latch, just wanting it all to be over. She unlatched the door and stepped back as it fell open. The stranger stepped through. The sound of engines followed him as a couple of bikes pulled up outside the house. Hushed, lascivious voices could be heard behind him as he entered.
“Well, what a lovely home you have here!” he said as he wiped a hand, covered in axle grease, on a pair of old jeans already caked in it. “Sorry about the mess, I’ve been riding all day.” His face was youthful; he smiled a boyish smile and looked a little cheeky as he scraped the bottom of his lip with his upper teeth. He had curly black hair, as dark as the grease on his trousers. His face was round, but he had angular nose.
“What d’ya want?” she said as she looked him over. He smiled and thumbed the handle of a Latin machete on his hip.
“That’s a little complicated.”
“How did you find me? Get the fuck outta my house!” Will said as he came down the stairs, brandishing a small, snub-nose thirty-eight, meant for ‘personal defence.’ He held it in both hands, as if he was Dirty Harry, and payed close attention to each step he took. “You let him in?” he said as he noticed the door hadn’t been tampered with and the stranger stood in the hallway like an old friend from college, a big, shit-eating grin on his face. He couldn’t have been more than twenty-six or twenty-seven: a beer gut, a rash of uneven stubble and a beat-up leather jacket made him look a little older.
Will was leaner. He went to the gym when he wasn’t at work, sculpting a body fit for filing other people’s taxes. But a fall, escaping the pharmacy, had left him with a limp that made it hard to descend the stairs and keep the gun on the stranger with the grin.
“One of my friends saw you in the street. Eh, we got off on the wrong foot. My name’s Bernie. What’s yours?” The stranger stretched out a hand.
Will cocked the revolver.
“You deaf?” He glanced out the door, saw the other empty bikes and his blood ran cold.
Bernie saw his opening. When Will took his eyes off him, Bernie yanked the man’s feet from under him and pulled him down the last few stairs.
Will’s grip on the gun was tight, despite the sweat and the fear. He’d shot it at this range a few times, had taught a few cans a lesson in the backyard when his boss had called him a ‘ginger ninja’. Dazed as he was by the fall and his head coming in contact with numerous steps, he raised the gun and aimed it at Bernie.
Bernie smiled like a kid who’d caught a bug. He pinned Will’s arm down on the stairs with a heavy leather boot, drew his machete with the satisfying noise of leather against stainless steel, and lopped Will’s arm off at the root.
Sheila screamed and lunged at Bernie, but hearing the noise, Bernie’s back up entered. A larger Hispanic man tugged at the collar of Sheila’s dress. She spun around and saw the small crowd of bikers, four or five of them. She looked away, all hope draining out of her as she became limp.
Will writhed on the steps, making a dazed croaking sound, like Robocop before he became Robocop. Only Will wasn’t about to become Robocop.
“Take her,” Bernie said.
“What about him?” one of the amorphous block of bikers said.
“He can stay here.”
“OK, but Mojang said we gotta get everyone we can find.”
“He also told us to have fun.”
“OK, whatever you say, Amigo.”
With that, they hauled Sheila off, a burbling shell. She was broken. Her words came out without thought and she stared blankly as they dragged her out of the door.
Will gasped like a fish out of its tank, his eyes wide and empty.
“Just you and me now,” Bernie said before stomping down on Will’s head between the second and third step. His skull cracked like the china head of a Punch and Judy doll. With his face caved in he didn’t look like a person anymore. His brains and red hair worked themselves into a paste across the lacquer board of his staircase.
Bernie stepped back and smiled. He put his hands over his face, like a movie producer, making a rectangular box over his eyes, as if to view the scene through the lens of a camera. “Beautiful”.
TJ woke up alone.
A dull humming in his head. He had dreamed about nothing. A sweet scent hung in the air. He looked up at his unmade bed from the floor and felt an odd sensation.
He launched himself off the ground too fast and got a head rush. He leaned against the dipped roof of his corner bedroom and looked outside but saw nothing save for trees and smoke in the distance.
He stumbled down the stairs, aching from bruises in places he couldn’t scratch. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, he felt like a cat with casts on all of its legs, stiff and grumpy.
Lured to the kitchen with the smell of fried foods and instant coffee, he poked his pudgy head around the door and there she was, still wearing his XXXL ‘Walking Dead’ T-shirt, a pair of green socks and not a lot else. She held a mug of coffee with a picture of an owl on it and stared out of the window. She hummed raspily to herself. Perched on the kitchen table, her skinny legs were crossed at a jaunty angle.
Something was sizzling on the stove and TJ’s mom was nowhere to be found. Upon noticing him, Sunday smiled behind her cup and took another sip.
“Err, no thanks. I’ll just have some, err, orange juice, I guess.”
“I made French toast. What is your mom, like, a vegan or something? No bacon or nothing,” Sunday said with a tart smirk on her face.
“She’s into that health food thing: green smoothies and that shit, you know?”
Sunday sniggered into her coffee cup. TJ smiled and sighed.
“Where is my mom?” he asked, trying not to sound like a three-year-old boy.
“She’s upstairs. I told her I’d call her when breakfast was ready.”
“Looks ready to me.”
“I need something from you first,” Sunday said, uncrossing her legs and getting up from the kitchen table.
TJ recoiled a little, noticing now that he hadn’t fully entered the room but was instead talking to her from the hallway.
She slithered over to him. Casually he tried to keep his shirt from riding up. TJ felt a tightness as all the aching muscles he rarely used knotted at once. Maybe a tightness in his pants too. Sunday got close enough to whisper, “I need your help.”
“Put some clothes on and I’ll show you, and not those ‘Dora the Explorer’ slippers again. Some real fucking shoes this time.”
TJ grimaced and almost jumped the entire staircase.
A few moments later Sunday stood at TJ’s front door. Her bat rested by the doorframe, clean now. All that was left from the night before were imprints of teeth and bone, and scrapes and nicks in the metal.
TJ was wearing a regular pair of black jeans and a grey ‘Dawn of the Dead’ hoody with a picture of Tom Savinni on it. To top it off, he wore a ratty pair of actual shoes and a samurai sword in a ramshackle sheathe strangled between his belt and his fupa.
Sunday was dressed to kill again, wearing a little sun dress beneath an almost see-through raincoat. She had her Converse shoes on again with some thigh high socks. “I found the dress and the raincoat in a closet. Your mom said I could borrow them. They were going to goodwill anyway”.
“I haven’t seen her all morning. I-“
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
“See for yourself.”
Sunday opened the door a crack and TJ squinted out at his front lawn. It was a bright, crisp morning juxtaposed with blood drying in the gutters. The brightness of the sun made it hard for him to make out the slim, black profile of a ‘person’ shambling around aimlessly in his front yard.
“A zombie?” TJ said with an unwarranted level of surprise.
“Well, half a zombie,” Sunday said wryly as she re-inspected the specimen ambling among the weeds of his unkempt front lawn. “And we don’t call them zombies.”
“Well, what do you call them?”
“Seriously?” TJ exclaimed.
“No, I’m fucking with you. That would be retarded; they’re zombies. Everyone knows what a zombie is.”
“So? Are you gonna? Or what?”
“’Or what?’” Sunday said dryly.
“Are you gonna kill it or what?”
“No,” she said in a drawn out way, looking at TJ and tilting her head like an owl, a disarmingly sweet smile on her face.
“What? I can’t. I can’t kill one.”
“What is all this shit? The sword, the zombie posters, the T-shirts? You got a real zombie in your garden and you can’t kill it?”
“I just want my mom.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake! You wanna survive? You wanna be like me? You don’t wanna see your ‘mommy’ eaten alive by undead cannibals? You need to realise this isn’t a game.”
“But last night you said it was a game.”
“…” Sunday frowned and shoved TJ out his own front door.
TJ shook as he heard his front door close behind him with an obnoxious bang followed by a vicious bolting sound as she locked it behind him. He gulped like a cartoon character and his sword rattled as he unsheathed it.
The sun ducked behind a cloud for a moment. With the sun out of his eyes, TJ got a good look at the thing in his yard. It was a woman, mid to late thirties, blonde hair. But its most notable feature was that she was missing almost half of her body. She looked like she’d been dragged by something. Her right arm was missing and half her face had been sheared off, leaving behind polished bone beneath. Her clothes were torn. They resembled the remnants of a lab coat and matching white pants, covered in soot, maybe from a fire or just axle grease. Half her torso was missing, and as she shambled around the garden, organs seemed to tumble out willy nilly. All the fluids holding them together were drying, allowing them to sag and fall apart.
“Err.” TJ wasn’t sure how to get its attention. It seemed quite happy to just rock back and forth, scattering its putrid organs all over his crappy lawn. His heart pumped greasily away, almost loud enough to be heard outside his chest. “Hey!” TJ said, gripping the handle of his sword. He gripped it a little tighter, making a semi-confident rattling blade noise. His voice shook. He felt eyes on his back from the lounge window. His senses were heightened and he could hear the curtains moving as she watched from the window. “Hey, you! Yeah, I’m talking to you!” TJ yelled at the shambling corpse who was still happily minding its own business at the end of his lawn. It seemed that it was leaving, moving towards the sidewalk. His breath caught in his throat. “HEY!” TJ’s heart began to grow hotter. He could feel his chest heating up. His own voice seemed distant and detached. He tried to stand firm, but the ground kept shaking and moving under his feet, like the deck of a nineteenth century whaler. After some persuasion the zombie turned its half a head in TJ’s general direction. Without warning, a vice tightened on TJ’s heart.
He fell shakily to his knees, the sword flopping to the ground, like a shiny metal fish. He swallowed hard, gulping down a viscous liquid that must have been his own spit. His breath burnt in his lungs, all the power bleeding out of his limbs and into the ground. He felt it opening up and pulling him down. The creature lumbered towards this three-course TV dinner. With each step it took, it looked like it was falling and catching itself over and over. Half of its body was now vestigial, disconnected from the rest of it. It wasn’t covering much ground.
TJ gripped the grass weakly in his chubby mitts and cursed himself under his breath. Then out loud he said, “Why?... Why? WHY CAN’T I DO THIS?” His throat creaked as he spoke, angry tears elbowing each other to get out of their puckered ducts. “Why? What’s wrong with me? I just wanted, to…”. A shiver went up his spine as he realised the truth and he felt the cold gaze of the corpse that would, eventually, take his pathetic, short life. “It was all a joke. All of it, a big fat joke, and I’m the punchline. This is where I die.”
TJ’s tears forced their way out of his face, burning his soft pores, mixing with snot and bile. His whole face burned with self-loathing, red and taut. “Fuck this world! Fuck it and everyone in it! I don’t wanna be like them. I’ll never be like them.” He rambled to himself, crying bitterly. His eyes were purging all the emotional silt from the bottom of his tortured being, churning up his rage as his executioner approached.
The zombie still hadn’t made it onto the grass, but TJ hadn’t even noticed. He was still huddled up, blowing his nose onto his front lawn. He was crying like a little baby, tearing up lumps of turf and coughing. His own personal, internal cacophony blocked out all external sound.
The zombie finally reached the edge of his lawn, having travelled a whole foot in twenty minutes. It licked its chops gleefully before its whole head was minced by a chain swinging through the air.
It happened so fast. It took its body a few seconds to get the message. Then it slumped to the ground like a broom stick in a plastic bag. The biker screeched to a stop, admiring his handiwork. He lifted his goggles, grinned and reeled the chain back in.
“Boy howdy! Took her whole head clean off!” He then noticed the weeping, fat kid on the lawn. TJ hadn’t noticed the sound of the motorcycle and was still in his own world of self-loathing. “Hey, Tubby! What are ya doin?”
TJ looked up, and did a quick one-eighty. “Err, me? I was just… er, gardening?”
Before he could say any more, they were both interrupted by the sound of TJ’s front door slamming.
Sunday strode up the garden path towards the biker.
“Well, hello there, Darling.”
She swanned right past TJ. He looked up, dejected. Then he saw the bat narrowly concealed behind her back. Her hips swayed back and forth as she moved towards the greasy biker. He leaned forward and turned off the engine of his Harley Continental.
“What’s your name, little lady? My friends call me Lamchop,” the biker said, smiling broadly. He leant across his wide handlebars, stroking a bushy, shit-kicker moustache, a moustache which stretched all across his face, meeting a large pair of equally bushy sideburns. His face was haggard and he had unsightly moles on his cheek, moles which he tried to cover with a set of large goggles and a black leather cowboy hat. His hair was long and black and looked greasy as a freshly laid black goose egg. He wore a denim waistcoat over a black Motorhead T-shirt. His wiry, bare arms were weighed down with leather bands and bangles.
Sunday glided towards him with the speed and grace of a manta ray. TJ didn’t even see her raise the bat, her voice was slow and low and offset by the brutality of her movements.
“Hey Lamchop, I’m Sunday, nice to MEAT YOU!” she cried as she swung her bat, popping his head like a balloon full of paint. It was almost cartoonish, his cowboy hat flying off into the air in a spray of pink mist. TJ could barely believe the speed and efficiency of her brutality. The fact that she could kill without thought drilled holes in his gut and he felt even smaller. He felt like he was sinking, like he was an insect, like he didn’t exist: a walking corpse; a baby, compared to her, just trying to stay in her warm embrace. “HEY! You coming or not?” she said, without even looking at TJ, as she mounted the dead man’s Harley Continental.
He felt a swelling inside his chest and the burning turned to warmth. A tear rolled down his cheek, but it was different from the tears he’d previously shed. He picked his sword up off the grass and sheathed it, steadying himself by pressing the scabbard into the soft ground. The strength came back into his legs and he stood, wiping the snot from his face with his sleeve. He climbed onto the back of the bike as Sunday began to start it up.
“Wait, what about my mom?”
“We need to move; he won’t be alone. We have to lead them away from here.”
“Wait, I need to warn my mom.”
“She’ll be fine. I tied her up and gagged her in her room.”
“She was asking me too many questions; I had to do something. She’ll be safer this way; nothing will bother her if she stays still and quiet.”
“You can’t just tie my mom up.”
“I locked her in the closet; she’ll be fine. I told her it was yogalates with ropes. We need to get the fuck outta here,” she said, starting up the engine. Her voice trailed off as she lost interest in the conversation. It wasn’t like TJ could argue. He hung on for dear life to the back of the bike.
The sound of the Harley Davidson Continental engine obscured the subtle drone of the camera flying over their heads. Its lens flitted over the town with an ambivalent sun glare. It watched as the couple drove away.
Its feed changed on the monitor as someone flipped through the various drones and cameras around the town.
A large man in an abandoned nursery was talking to himself. The building showed signs of recent fire damage and had large holes in the walls and a partially caved-in roof, which allowed the drone to zoom in on the giant man.
“You have to eat, Lamby,” Jeff said.
The giant had a zombie pinned down on a small plastic rug decorated with friendly looking jungle animals and letters of the alphabet. The zombie was completely immobilized by the weight of the colossal man and was only able to flail its limbs like a bug in a glass jar. “I have a tasty treat for you, Lamby, you just wait. Jeffy will get it for you.”
Jeff put more pressure on the zombified nursery school teacher: an older woman with bent wire frame glasses and blue hair, wearing a half-burned cardigan. The woman was completely crushed by the giant’s weight and a pinkish foam was leaking from her mouth.
The camera zoomed in. There was a stuffed animal in Jeff’s fanny pack.
He reached down, with as much care as a gardener pruning a rose bush, and took hold of the woman’s neck to stop her head moving. With the other hand, he forced his sausage-like fingers into her eyes, as if he was picking up a bowling ball. Her sockets offered little resistance to his monstrous strength and he levered the top of her skull open as if it was the ring pull off a can of soda, although it didn’t offer the same satisfying sound.
Just a wet popping, cracking.
He scooped out the soft brain matter with two enormous fingers, as if trying to eat strawberry pudding without a spoon. “Here you go, Lamby, eat up,” Jeff said. He delicately removed the stuffed lamb from his fanny pack and tried to feed it a fistful of zombie brain matter. “Lamby, why don’t you eat? Are you sick?”
The camera cut to the roof of the town gun store. A scope glinted and a silent arrow pierced the skulls of two zombies with one strike. The camera zoomed in on the roof just in time to see a gleeful high five between the two men there, before the feed cut again.
The camera cut away to a panning shot of large patch of road in the centre of town. Bikers were circling, their engines blaringly loud even to the drone flying a mile overhead. They’d taken over the local sheriff’s station and were proceeding to set it alight. The remains of the sheriff and the deputies were chained to the front of the building in varying states of not being alive.
The drone feed cut again to a large auto-body garage on the edge of town.
The building was decorated with half-dead corpses. Zombies’ heads, stuck on pikes, surrounded the building. The camera tried to zoom in before it was interrupted by a handful of bikers approaching from the south.
The small group of bikers stopped short of the building. One of the bikers, a middle-aged, Hispanic man, took a sickly looking girl off the back of his bike and began to drag her towards the net around the building, which the camera now revealed was mounted to the winch on the back of a repo truck.
The drone hovered zoomed in to get a better look. On closer inspection, the net contained a mixture of half-alive people jostling rhythmically with comatose corpses feeding silently. Unable to get the leverage they needed to really dig in, due to being suspended in a net, they nibbled patiently while the victims still lived.
Evergreen watched the monitors in one of the disguised portable command centre trucks he’d made to look like a chemical tanker. It was one of the many tankers blocking off entry to the town.
“What are they doing?” the tech controlling the drone asked.
“Collecting” Evergreen said, sporting a ghoulish grin.
They watched as the girl was unceremoniously fed into the net, her silent screams sending a shiver up the tech’s back as her face twisted in bone-clinching terror. She was consumed by the writhing bodies in the net.
The lack of leverage made it difficult for them, but they made do, tearing small chunks off of her small frame. They would continue for hours until she was one of them or torn to pieces.
“DON’T FORGET TO TAKE A HEADCOUNT!” a pudgy biker with black curly hair said as the drone hovered overhead.
“Remind me why we’re doing this again” a skinner biker said as he wound the wince on the truck.
“Hey, you wanna go into every house and kill them like that, be my guest!” The lens of the drone camera twitched, zooming in and out, trying to get a cleaner sound.
“We’re zombie farming: make our own, kill them here - easy points. If we need to, we use the truck to draw them out like bait. Draw stragglers to us in a line and wack’em. Easy money,” Bernie said.
“Fuck, Bernie, why can’t we just shoot’em?”
“Cos we’re in the middle of bumfuck nowhere. We gotta conserve ammo. Even the sheriff station only had one-gun rack with a couple of shotguns and a fistful of ammo a pop. Why d’you think it was so easy for us to kill’em all? We gotta play it smart until day three; don’t want it to be like last time.”
“What about the gun store?”
“I sent some scouts. They never came back. Fuck it, we don’t need it. We got enough to last til tomorrow, trust me. Our man is gonna hook us up.”
“Mojang’s gonna be pissed about the sheriff station though, right?”
“You let me worry about him, OK?” Bernie said, before entering the building and cutting off the drone’s view.
Evergreen grinned as he admired their sadistic efficiency. He rested his elbow in the crook of his other arm and rubbed his chin as he mused.
“Sir, we have something that may be of interest to you,” a voice over his shoulder said.
“What is it, Malcolm?” Evergreen said, without taking his eyes off the monitor.
A black glove passed a metallic object, wrapped in a white cloth, over Evergreen’s shoulder.
He took his hand from under his chin and pinched the edges of the object with two bony fingers, never taking his attention off the monitors.
He finally uncrossed his arms and began unwrapping the cloth. He looked down at it, grinned mirthlessly and let out a surprised little chuckle.
“Is that… a cheese grater?”