TITLE: Hound in Blood and Black
Kumari the Hound is a zombie wrangler; she catches undead and turns them into gladiators, whose triumphs in the arena mean food and water for those she loves. It's dangerous, but what isn't in a world filled with monsters? A dead brother and father are proof of that.
When Kumari saves a child named Heaven from slavery, she discovers the unexpected: hope. Now that she has found something worth living for, Kumari will do anything to protect it - even if it means becoming one of the monsters herself.
Last tank of gas, Kumari thought. The Jeep engine spit out a black cloud before picking up speed. Last chance to make a catch. Last chance to keep the people she cared about alive.
"Harder!" Kumari called over the battered engine's howl. She adjusted the bandana across the lower half of her face as her partner Bastion punched the gas, pebbles spraying the old army Jeep in peppered graffiti. She focused on her target and ignored her racing heart.
Looked like a man. About five-foot-ten, maybe two hundred pounds. No shoes, denim jacket. Bald. Dirty.
"Left!" she shouted. The Jeep veered hard, tires skidding over the rocky desert. Kumari caught herself with a hard foot to the wheel well, maintaining her balance as the vehicle sped across the uneven plain. The undead stumbled as the Jeep cut in front of it. "Damn it, Bastion! Don't run it over."
The Jeep jerked again, right, spewing more dust into the air. Kumari swallowed. Only daybreak, and already hot as hell. Best to finish the hunt and get home before noon.
No pressure. People would only die if she didn't.
She shook her head; now wasn't the time for distractions. Kumari flexed her hand around the collar, the most important part of her arsenal. A wrangler's prime tool, the seven-foot pole's horseshoe-shaped tip was the best way to pin an undead; at arm's length and with minimal damage to the future gladiator.