Josephine looked around at the men, who in turn were looking back at her. They had a hungry look in their eye. She smiled and set the plate of cookies down in front of them.
Their leader, Trent, cleared his throat and reached for the one on top, the extra big one with extra chocolate chips. The one she had known he would take.
"Ma'am," he said, "I don't mind telling you, those cookies bring back some good memories of my mother. Of course my mother didn't look as pretty as you."
"You haven't seen many women lately," Josephine said, "and it's Josephine ... Or Joe. Ma'am makes me think of my mother." The way she said it made it clear she didn't have fond memories.
The other men, taking their cue from Trent, dug into the cookies, moaning their pleasure at the sweet chocolate. It was a rarity. In this world the the dead came back to life and ate you.
"You don't like remembering your mother?"
"No. She was a weak woman. My father beat her on a daily basis. And when he wasn't beating her, he was fucking me. We could have been free when he died, but she replaced him with another man who also beat her."
"That sounds horrid. But what a relief it must have been for you, if only briefly. How did your father die?" Trent asked the question automatically. He didn't really care about the answer, he just wanted to get to know this woman a little better. She was new to his community, having shown up the week before with her daughter. He put the last of the cookie in his mouth and closed his eyes, savoring it. The fact that she could bake made her a welcome addition to the community ... that and her daughter's cute ass.
"I killed him."
Trent choked on the cookie and Josephine hurried to pour him some milk.
"How old were you?" He asked when he could finally speak.
"Thirteen. Someone had to do it. My mother wouldn't, and he would have eventually killed her. Of course I killed her too, but not until a few years later."
"Damn," a red head named Robert said, "wouldn't want to get on your bad side."
"No you wouldn't," Josephine said sweetly.
"What did your mother do to deserve your ire?" Trent asked. He looked at the empty plate and wished there were more cookies. She'd only made just enough.
"She let her boyfriend rape me. I killed him too."
"How did you do it?" Robert asked.
"The same way I killed my dad. I baked them some cookies and put rat poison in them."
Josephine sat down then and smiled at the men who were now looking a little unsure of themselves.
"Oh don't worry," Josephine said to Trent when he pushed back his chair to stand up, "I didn't poison you."
"That's good to know," Trent said, a little wary now.
"Your men on the other hand ..."
Next to him, Robert chuckled. She was joking of course. Wasn't she? His chuckle turned into a cough, followed by a gurgling sound as blood began to come out of his mouth, along with a few bits of cookie. Trent's other men also began to vomit blood and before long they were all on the ground, dying.
Josephine pulled a gun out from where she'd hidden it beneath her shirt and pointed it at Trent.
"Why?" He asked. "I let you in. You and your kid would have died out there if I hadn't."
"Because I know you."
"I've never seen you before last week."
"I don't mean I know you, as in I know you. I mean I know what kind of a man you are. I see the dead look in the eyes of the women here ... In the eyes of the children. I've seen the way you look at my daughter. So I asked around. Found out just what kind of a man you are. So then I did what I do best. I baked some cookies"
"But I'm still alive. Mine wasn't poisoned? You poisoned all the cookies but one?"
"Yeah. As I said, I know you. You would take the biggest and the best looking cookie."
"Why would you kill my men and leave me alive ... Unless you plan to shoot me with that gun, and I don't think you will."
"Your not sure though, are you? I mean, leaving you alive would be stupid, you'd just kill me the first chance you got."
She smiled at the uncertainty in Trent's eyes.
"To answer your question, they're crime is worse than yours. You kept them safe from this world, locked up behind this fence. Away from the horrors out there, they turned a blind eye to the horrors in here. They should have put you down. It's really the only way to deal with what's wrong with you. There is no cure for what ails you."
"My husband, it turned out he had the same sickness. I suppose maybe I gravitate towards that kind of man. Maybe it's hereditary, I don't know. He tried to rape my baby girl and I stopped him. I'm not weak, the way my mother was. He bled to death. I cut off his dick and stuffed it in his mouth. Imagine my surprise when he came back to life and I had to kill him again. Not before he bit my daughter.
Josephine nodded toward the door. That girl waiting for me out there isn't my daughter. Not really, but her parents didn't make it and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure she does."
"You could have just left. I never force anyone to stay."
"If I left, I would have been no better than your men who let you do whatever you wanted. Besides, as you said, it's dangerous out there. Here there's safety, such as it is."
On the floor, the bodies began to twitch. A low, hungry moan emanated from deep in their throats as they began to stir.
"And your men ... Well, they wouldn't take care of you before. Now they will."
Josephine walked out the door, closing it behind her. Trent heard the click of a lock. There were no windows, no other way out.