Her red hair blows in the wind like a slick and tangled plume from refinery pipes, her music resounds in the desert. Route 66 is a ribbon of steaming black at six AM in the morning, and she, blasting AC/DC, rolls up in a white Mustang as the dawn comes up over the distant mountains, blowing grit and sand into my eyes like a cloud of cigarette smoke. The top is down, the seat is back, and she's got a rifle leaned against one knee like some kind of insane pinup from the beforegone days.

"Going west?" Fuck, her voice is like Grace Jones, and out of a woman that insanely petite and bony, it's like everything that should be wrong and sounding alarms in my head. I should be pointing my rifle at her and telling her I'll wait for the next car, living dead or no out in this barren land.

But out of Romeroland, and without much water, and as insanely striking/beautiful as she is, I just mumble something and get in, staring at her. She just grins, cranks the old tape deck all the way back up, and blasts off with an impossibly clean black pump, toe-down, all the way on the gas. Zero to sixty in three point five, and I'm not even bothering with the seat belt. Something feels alive about her, and my hands feel dirty, sweaty, nervous. The gun's between my knees, I'm rock hard, and she's weaving across the broken land like all the dead and rotting cops in America are on her tail in Crown Vics. Mother wouldn't just warn me about this girl, she'd disown me.

We pull into Big Table at noon, and she's all swagger through the last of the great American towns, all the townies with their rifles and their makeshift watchtowers keeping their eyes on her ass, not on the desert. She orders three shots of whiskey, pays in magazines out of the trunk, and we drink and eat burgers on the hood, grinning at the locals who are staring at the car and her tits. She leans over me, kisses me thoroughly, tosses the whiskey glass at the nearest building, and says "Taking a piss. Watch the car, Romeo."

"I'm Mike."

"Romeo." Another kiss, and it feels goddamn good. You want to talk about apocalypse? Let me tell you about all the women who lay there like living corpses, groaning like the zombies outside as you fuck them and leave something on the nightstand. Post-postmodern whores without even bottle bleach or makeup.

She tastes like dust and brimstone and alcohol, and when she gets back, she trails her fingers along the wall. I swear I see smoke, swear I see blood running under her heels, and somewhere, something goes up like a firework, and there's screams and yelling. She doesn't even care, she just pushes me back on the hood, pours a bottle of Stolichnaya down my throat, and fucks me like a storm. Everything's explosions and fire and pressure, and her hands are talons on my chest, like she's got those ruby-red fingernails around my heart.

Guess I'm in a daze when we blast out of the burning wreckage and leave them dead in the dust, but she's got her hands all over me, and I'm swerving down the road with her still in my lap. Can't think, can't see, nothing but days ahead, and she's blowing my mind with the way she feels, how slick and cool her skin is, how much she tastes like Camels. When I finally get a taste of her in a broken down hotel room on the edge of Phoenix, swear to god she's blowing out the brains of zombies as I'm down there drinking her in. I can't even look up, can't think, can't do shit but feel her quivering and moaning. When I blow her mind, she screams like a banshee straight out of hell, and I swear I scream with her, all the way up from between her thighs.

We scream all the way out to the Mustang, me running, and she's just walking with her Glock, pause, stance, fire, cool as shit with the walking dead trying to get a hand on her bloody hair and the slick black secret-agent pants of hers. We get back on the interstate, and it's so cold and sweet out here that the stars begin coming out.

She lights up, hell if I know from where, and when I look over, bitch has wings like black ice, eyes like amber, and she's got a serpent's tongue, and for a moment, there's clarity, and I've got my own pistol up against her forehead.

Bitch fellates it, and I'm gone right there. When I bend her over the hood, she's screaming right along with me, and it's even better than before. I don't even think about putting another bullet inside her skull from there on out.

We make it out to the edge, where California used to be, and she just swerves that Mustang right up to the edge, pushes me out, kisses me long and hard. "Gotta go, sweetheart, she says." I can't think, I'm just too hot, feels like I'm burning up, like something's eating me. I can't even think, I'm still naked as shit from the backseat, a pair of scarves, and her fingernails carving up and down my back, writing the names of God on my skin.

I sit down there, in the dust, long after she's gone, feet hanging out over the edge of the world, looking out at the blue-glowing, Cherenkov wrecks of submarines pushed up on the acid and oil-slick beaches of Los Angeles. Right before I strike a match, I smell gasoline, and feel an itching there, right under my breastbone.

The world goes red before it goes white.

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