They were right outside the door, shuffling past in a parody of a march, purposeful stumbles towards slaughter. She was dreadfully living, breathing, sweating, all those things that usually attracted their attention. But not to her. Dead woman. Already dead, the stink of death in her pores before she’d gotten a chance to wash it out. Stayed late to help Sherlock, to try to flirt with Jim, and death had been all around them. Yes, fine, Sherlock, they might not be as compatible as all that, but he was polite and kind and didn’t dismiss her, which counted for a lot. She’d take that; at this point in her life she’d take anything she could get. Sherlock’s pet, Jim’s beard, taking whatever would fall to her. Even death. Especially death. Death was always falling to her.
And passing her by.
“Lucky,” Jim whispered, his face peering out the window next to hers. Molly shushed him, staring out the window, watching the slow march. “Not them,” Jim clarified. He refused to be silenced; thin and sharp against the wall like one of her scalpels, he gleamed in the morgue lights. “Me, you. Lucky.”
Molly repressed the urge to giggle, inappropriate as it was. So lucky that Jim had come to find her working on an autopsy, lucky they both stank of death, lucky none of her residents had decided to go for a stroll. Save one. Sherlock’s one, of course, the one he’d injected with something from a strange-colored syringe, his eyes glittering with anticipation as he’d swept out again, telling her to call him if anything happened. That had been the one who had wandered out during lunch break when Jim had been helping her organize her files, pressed tight up against her as they looked through the drawers together. Sherlock might have been right about Jim, or at least half-right, but at least Jim seemed to be like her in several regards. She’d been distracted by him enough to not have noticed the empty autopsy table until the march of the dead had started.
Jim’s hand landed on the back of her neck, soft and sudden as spider’s legs, idly climbing into her hair as she watched the dead trudge past. She could hear his grin behind her when she didn’t flinch, and turned around at his tug.
“Let’s get going. Sherlock will come back wanting results and this going to make his pointy brain explode.”
An extremely inappropriate and sick thought came to Molly’s mind, of Sherlock’s brain exploding and the zombies crowding around like pigeons being thrown breadcrumbs. It might be possible that she could be a little hysterical. She really couldn’t blame herself; Jim was being cool enough for both of them, sparing her the need. At least she wasn’t screaming.
“We should warn him off. Just in case. Not supposed to feed the zombies. It makes a mess.”
Jim looked at her curiously, as if not sure she was serious, and not sure if he should join her or leave her behind. He settled for being impressed, a wide grin splitting his face.
“If you think so, darling,” he said, the last word coming out in a peculiar drawl that struck a dangerous chord with her. (Spiders, zombies, serial killers, masterminds, sociopaths, she knew how to pick her company well, oh yes she did. She was so used to unpleasant surprises that normalcy was starting to bore her. Jim got that, too.) Jim flicked his fingers over his phone, connecting with someone else in this madness. “Sherlock, dear.” He was sing-songing, a sharp confidence in his voice she’d never heard. “Shouldn’t have gone the distance, because they will go to the ends of the earth for you. Inconsiderate for the rest of us.” A beat of silence, Sherlock’s muffled voice over the phone, and Jim rolled his eyes before hanging up. “It’s a good thing he’s so pretty, or he’d risk becoming terribly dull.”
“That’s not true!” Molly protested.
Jim tugged her closer, their faces up against the windows where the dead walked by. She recognized Anderson, one of Sherlock’s police acquaintances. Death might have been an improvement for him.
“We both want him, dearie, and this is the product of his particular little deductions, so let’s enjoy it, shall we? He’ll be along soon enough to try to track down his source.” Jim settled his face in the crook of her neck, and breathed in her perfume of disinfectant and decay. Molly gasped as Jim grabbed her hand and pulled her along to the back door. “Don’t you want to find him and figure out what genius plan he had when he ended the world?”
Molly wanted to sputter a protest, but she’d gotten too used to things not going her way. Besides, she figured only at the end of the world would someone want to hold her hand.
“I’d like to see,” she said instead, and Jim gripped her hand harder, his grin taking on a manic edge reminiscent of Sherlock.
“Perfect. Me too.” He pressed up against her, both of them alive, both still smelling of death, and waited for a gap in the march. They settled into the pace, hands still tangled together. Dead at the end of the world, both looking for their idol’s good intentions that had led them all to hell.
She shamble-stumbled into Jim and rested her head on his shoulder like her neck was broken. He let her stay, warm against the chill of dead-eye stares, and the gazes of the shambling, stumbling corpses glanced right off her. Non-judgmental. Just like always. Maybe they knew she was a friend, a long-time companion of the unliving. When Molly found Sherlock, maybe she’d thank him. It wasn’t often that the end of the world could turn out so well for a girl.
Arm around Jim, unmolested by the dead, Molly shuffled through the crowd with new-born expertise, and all the confidence of a dreamer certain she will never wake.