Here’s a brief scene I cut from the final, streamlined version of Hellforged. In it, Vicky tries to get through one of the checkpoints that separate Deadtown from the New Combat Zone:
“Hi, Ms. Vaughn. Didn’t you come through here a little while ago?” It must’ve been the same half-nosed zombie I’d encountered on my way home, although it was hard to tell. Now that it was daylight, the guard was all bundled up: sunglasses, ski mask, hat, scarf, jacket, not a single inch of zombie flesh exposed. Zombies didn’t feel the cold—now, coatless and jogging in place, I envied that—but all those clothes kept sunlight off the skin.
“Yeah, but I left my watch at Creature Comforts. So I’m just going to run over there and get it. I won’t be two minutes.”
The gate didn’t rise. Okay, I’d go around the end of it. I started forward, but a gloved hand grabbed my arm and yanked me back. I could feel five finger-shaped bruises form.
“I need to see your ID card,” he said.
Damn. I knew I should’ve run upstairs for my jacket. I could picture it now, draped over the arm of the sofa.
“Oh, come on,” I said. “You know me. You said, ‘Hi, Ms. Vaughn’ a second ago.”
He shrugged. “Rules are rules. I can’t let you through unless I see your ID. The gate won’t go up unless I swipe it.”
“I can walk around the gate.”
His grip tightened. “Not if I don’t let you.”
“Come on,” I said through chattering teeth. “Nobody will ever know. I’ll run straight to Creature Comforts and then run right back.”
“They’ll know.” He jutted his chin at a video camera pointed at the booth. “They always know. They watch everything.”
I shivered, the cold slicing through my clothes. Instead of standing here arguing, I could’ve sprinted home and been back by now with my ID. But encountering an officious jerk made me stubborn. Besides, the bad feeling I’d had since I woke up kept growing. Once I had my watch back, I’d know Difethwr’s appearance had been a dream.
My fingers were turning blue. I stuck my hands in the pockets of my jeans in hopes of staving off frostbite. My fingers touched plastic. I pulled out my ID card.
“Here.” I handed it over.
“That wasn’t so hard, was it? Why didn’t you just give me your ID in the first place?” He paused mid-swipe. “Hey. Are you some kind of government worker checking up on me?”
“No. Honest. All I want is to get my watch, go home, and crawl back into my nice, warm bed.” He didn’t know how true that was.
He gave me a long, appraising once-over. At least I think that’s what he was doing the way he pointed his bundled-up face in my direction. Then he swiped the card with a swift, smooth motion.
“Okay, Ms. Vaughn, you’re clear to go. Have a nice day.”
I snatched my card, crammed it back into my pocket, and raced under the rising gate.