It all begun
He knew it was too early in the morning, even if there were no windows downstairs. But he couldn’t get back to sleep. So he got up, using his cane, and went to the improvised bathroom. He took a shower to fully awake himself. He got dressed and put his prosthetic leg before getting into his pick-up truck and driving downtown. Like every other morning, he needed a strong coffee to start his day in a good way. When he entered the coffee shop, he found out he wasn’t the only one who needed a good coffee. It was very unusual for a Sunday morning. He patiently waited in line with the others. He has a faint smile on his lips while looking at the lovely lady who stood behind the cash register.
“May I take your order?” she asked him.
He took a quick glance at her identification tag on the left side of her shirt: Hannah. He shook his head, ordering the same thing as usual.
“Is that all?”
He shook his head again. She hastily gave him his coffee so he could leave. She barely smiled back, looking behind him for the next customer in line and waiting to be served. He took his coffee and left the shop.
He went back to his pick-up truck in the parking lot. He had plenty of time before opening the little shop he now owned for more than ten years. He bought the place after the sudden death of both of his parents. He inherited their money – a lovely amount to cover his loss – and finally decided to do something with his life. He bought one of the eldest buildings in town and restored it to give it back all its old glory and style. During the restoration, he found a secret stair inside a massive wardrobe in the main office, leading under the building. It used to be a respectable place where people could see a great show. It was also a clandestine bar during the prohibition. The secret place became his little paradise as well as his storage place. There was a heavy door at the far end of the cellar where he could receive his merchandise. But behind the wall of big boxes, near the secret entrance, there was a comfortable bed on the corner where the bar used to be. On the table against the wall, he put a microwave and a little coffee machine. Near the table stood the bathroom with a basic shower. After he went downstairs for the first time, he also discovered at the far corner an entrance for the town sewers. Like a secret exit in case the prohibition police arrived by surprise. He liked it. When the restoration was over, he sold the family house and decided to live in the hiding place of his new store. He got himself a PO Box somewhere near an apartment complex so the IRS will leave him alone. But basically, he was living under his store.
His shop offered army stuff for adventurers and survival materials. Everything needed, he has it: guns, ammunitions, backpacks, sharp knives… It was his way to give back the experience he has.
He had a little accident with his entire squad during the war and he couldn’t protect everyone. As a decorated sniper, he went back home with shame in his heart. Not only because of his injured knee which caught a fragment of a bomb and had to be cut off afterwards. The bomb exploded while he was running away from it. But he killed several enemies and he didn’t get shot to death like the rest of his squad.
Only two men survived after the accident: him and another guy who’s blind for the rest of his miserable life because of that bomb. Nobody else could remember he was fleeing from his squad. When the bomb exploded and hit his knee, he only had one option: kill or being killed. He took this crucial decision and got back to his country like a hero. But he knew he wasn’t. And his injured knee never got better. Somehow, bacteria went inside the open wound before he could be transferred to a real hospital. Doctors had to cut off his leg just above the knee. That was how he got away from military duty after. Now he limped because of his prosthesis.
He passed by the gas station to buy a breakfast sandwich and the newspaper before getting back to his store. He entered his office at the back of the store and went directly downstairs. He put his improvised breakfast on the little table next to his couch. He heavily fell on it with a deep sigh.
“Life’s a real bitch,” he said aloud to himself.
He took a quick glance on his big white board telling him about his entire store inventory. He opened the newspaper and started to read. He was a bit stunned to know about a huge plane crash over the night.
He drank a long sip of hot coffee, shaking his head. The world had gone crazy and the newspaper was the proof.
“The world is sick and it needs a good cure.”
The streets were too packed for a Sunday late afternoon. A quick glance at her watch told her she was in big trouble. She was now two hours late to drop her daughter to her ex-husband’s house, which used to be her house. Maggie couldn’t get to work, calling sick. So her boss phoned her up instead. She had to get there as quickly as possible, leaving her daughter with her neighbor for the day. She had to work to pay her bills, even if she’d prefer to stay home with her daughter Macy. Since the divorce, she spent most of her time working double shifts at Starbucks so she could pay for Macy’s ballet and music classes. She needed the money for both of them.
“Can I stay with you for the week?” Macy asked her. “I won’t bother you, I promise! Why don’t you want to be with me?”
“Why don’t you want to go back to your father’s place?”
“He’s always at his computer, working or whatever. I hatred to be there and I hate him.”
“Macy! Don’t you dare say that again. Understood?”
The young girl just nodded, looking away. Hannah felt even sadder now that she knew how Macy felt. Her daughter needed her more than anything and the judge simply refused to see it. Because this scum bag was just focusing on her last job, the one she lost a little before the divorce. Financial problems closed the company where she was working for the last ten years. Her ex-husband Bryan took advantage of the situation to exaggerate in court. He almost accused her of being an irresponsible mother!
“He loves you, sweetie. Whatever you might think.”
“I don’t want to go back there, mom. Even if he’s never with me, the house is very sad since you left.”
“Honey, you know perfectly that it wasn’t a romantic love story between your father and I. We tolerated this situation as long as we could. It was too hard for me.”
The young girl lowered her head before looking by the window. She could see action outside the car. On her right, a street was totally blocked with police cars, ambulances and civil crashed cars. It seemed to be a very bad car crash. A lot of cars were involved, she was sure of that. She suddenly frowned. On the paved floor, there were several body bags. But one of them was moving. Like the body inside was twitching and moving to get out. She was about to tell her mother about it when Hannah’s cellphone began to ring inside her purse. Hannah sighed.
“It must be your father.”
“You want me to answer it?”
Hannah shook her head, saying he’ll scream anyway if either of them picked it up. Getting her mind back on the road, they finally made it. Bryan promptly opened the front door. Macy crossed her arms on her chest, biting her lower lip. She didn’t make any gesture to open the door.
“Get inside,” he said with a strict voice. “Your mother and I have to talk.”
Macy took her backpack from the backseat and turned to her father.
“Don’t scream at her, dad. It wasn’t her fault.”
Then she walked toward the house, taking her time. As usual, they waited for her to be out of sight before yelling at each other. Hannah finally got out of the car.
“What is she talking about?”
“I had to work today and…”
“I thought it was your weekend off. How could you leave our daughter alone?”
“My neighbor spent the day with her…”
“You left her with a stranger! You’re such a lousy mother, Hannah!”
Biting her lower lip to stay calm, Hannah let him yell at her like she used to do when they were still married. From the corner of her eye, she could see Macy staring at them by the window. Bryan took her arm, shaking her.
“Listen to me when I’m talking to you!”
“What do you think I’m doing? You’re the one who’s not listening. It was my weekend off, but my boss asked me to replace one of the girls who called sick today. That’s why we’re late.”
Her explanation seemed to calm him down a bit. He stepped back a little. She frowned. She asked him what was wrong. He simply said more than five persons at the bank where he works were sick last Friday. He remembered his coworkers mentioned something about high fever.
“My boss didn’t tell me. Why?”
He tried to comfort her, saying it was nothing serious. He asked her to call him if she needed anything. Hannah sighed, looking at Macy who was still by the window. She waved at her before getting back into her car. She knew Bryan was following her. At least he wasn’t shouting at her anymore.
She went straight back home.
“The pizza has arrived!” Peter shouted, showing the box to his friends.
He put it on the coffee table before letting himself fall on the couch next to Clark. Ted swore while Clark was laughing at him.
“Your turn,” Ted said before jumping on the pizza.
Peter took the controller and entered the game against Clark. The three of them were playing a very popular combat game against each other since the night before. Peter was the only one who went outside. Neither of them has money to order food and they were hungry. So he went out and brought back cash in case of emergency. Now they were okay for more hours in front of their precious fifty inches flat screen TV.
“You guys should have seen the guy at the pizza place,” Peter said. “He looked sick.”
“Did you buy something to drink?” Ted asked.
“There’s Pepsi in the fridge,” Clark answered, looking at the screen.
“How’s the world outside this place?” Ted said before biting a big slice of pizza.
“Same shit, different day, man,” Peter alleged, kicking Clark’s avatar. “I haven’t seen any of our friends, if it was your question. I think everyone’s gone for summer.”
“That’s the beauty of living in a big apartment near campus but not on campus,” Ted added, smiling proudly.
In front of the mirror, he managed to shave his cheeks without looking at his own face. He looked terrible, he knew it. He didn’t sleep well last night, tossing and turning in his bed. He kept thinking about the sick people around him. He didn’t know what were the symptoms of the disease and wished he could learn a bit more about it so he could stop being afraid of it. Macy passed by the bathroom and frowned.
“You look like a zombie, dad.”
He wiped his face with a towel to take off the shaving cream before following his daughter in the kitchen. She barely looked at him as she usually did, eating her cereals. Macy pumped the volume of the radio standing on the counter. There was no music, just flash news. They were talking about the car accident she saw the other day. She stopped eating; listening about the details she was unable to see from the car. She suddenly shivered, remembering the twitching body bag. If it was one of the victims from the crash, why was it moving?
“Your mother was working last Saturday?”
His daughter didn’t answer him. Bryan didn’t mind her reaction. He took a sip of his coffee, observing her. Then he repeated his question with a very soft voice, asking her to answer him. This time, Macy shrugged before saying:
“No. They only called her on Sunday.”
“What about Friday?”
“I stayed with her at the coffee shop until she finished.”
How many more in this town did the same thing last Friday? He was suddenly aware of what the news was about. The number of cars involved in a crash, the body count… He shut the radio even if his daughter vividly protested. He answered he didn’t want his young daughter to imagine horrible crash scenes. She finished her cereals, avoiding her father’s gaze. She put her bowl in the sink. Before she could run away out of the kitchen, Bryan asked her how she was feeling today. She frowned.
He asked her if Hannah was supposed to work today. Macy didn’t know but was pretty sure she wasn’t. With a very serious tone, he ordered her to call her mother if anything strange happens at school. She got out of the house to catch the school bus. He sure hoped Macy will do as he told her. He preferred to know she was with Hannah instead alone among strangers. Even though his daughter didn’t believe him, he loved her so much. He made a lot of mistakes in the past that made Hannah running away from him. He didn’t want to lose his daughter also.
On Monday morning, Hannah was biting her nails, very anxious since last night. People had gone crazy in just few hours! According to the local news, several persons have been savagely attacked without any apparent reason. After she went back to her apartment on Sunday, she tried to reach Maggie but nobody answered. She just left a message on her voicemail, hoping she felt better now. She picked up the phone. The phone was out of service.
She took her keys and her purse, going straight to her car. She went directly to the bank where her ex-husband was currently working. By the time she arrived, the traffic got a bit jammed. People around her seemed frightened. An old lady pushed her to enter the bank first. Hannah let her pass, surprised. She went toward the security desk where Bryan stood. She opened her mouth but was distracted by a commotion behind her.
The old lady pushed a middle-aged woman who fell hard on the tiled floor, shaking. The director of the bank was passing by and saw her. He got on one knee to help her when she suddenly growled. The woman lifted her face and Hannah saw the blank gaze in her eyes, bit of saliva dropping on the tiled floor. There were drops of blood in it. She grabbed the director’s face and bit his cheek after she let go a loud screech.
Blood spilled out of the wound while the director struggled to get rid of the middle-aged woman who seemed very strong now. A guy standing in line went to help him but got bitten as well. Another one tried to run away and the woman literally jumped on him, attacking him with rage. Everyone started panicking in the bank. Bryan took Hannah by the arm. They ran straight to his car in the parking lot without exchanging a single word. The strong smell of smoke came to their nostrils, coming from a car crash near the bank. A man was on fire while a woman was attacking another person on the sidewalk. A police car passed by on the street, lights flashing on the roof, and brutally hit some people who just wanted to get away from the horror inside the bank. While lying on the concrete floor, they were savagely slaughtered. Bryan managed to start the car.
“Let’s get our daughter.”
She just shook her head. Everything was so surreal to her. Around the car, people were screaming in horror and pain. The road leading them to Macy’s school was pretty much packed with people and cars, but Bryan was a great driver. Hannah let out a faint cry when she saw teenagers attacking each other like animals in front of the school’s main entrance. But it seemed so real. A small group of teens was running after a teacher before catching him in the front yard and ripping off into bloody pieces.
Bryan and Hannah got out of the car, holding each other’s hand. Inside the school, a putrid smell of decomposed flesh floated around them. They went directly into the administration and discovered the principal lying on a pool of blood, her throat wide opened. They got back to the main hall, surrounded by screaming teenagers and panicking adults. Hannah was so horrified when she recognized her daughter’s best friend ripping off another student’s flesh with her teeth. Bryan pushed her away from it, focusing on where Macy could be hiding. Did Hannah remember what class she was supposed to be in this morning? Her ex-husband tried to make her think. Macy had science class first, and then it was gym. Bryan took her hand and led her through the main hall before taking the left corridor.
When they arrived in the big gymnasium, the scene before their eyes was outstanding. The floor was an immense pool of blood with guts everywhere and dismembered body parts mixed with it. It was too much for Bryan. He simply vomited next to the main door while Hannah knew where the locker rooms were: at the far right corner of the gym. She went directly there. She approached, listening at the door if she could hear anything. Slowly, she opened the door. The girls’ locker room was stained with blood everywhere. The door showed the main corridor of the room with heavy benches on each side of the room and rows of lockers. There was a bench between each row of lockers.
“Macy? Are you in there?”
It wasn’t a great idea. Somewhere around the showers, something growled. Hannah was petrified. Bryan was standing behind her. He put one hand on her shoulder, pushing her a little backward. Then she saw the ax he found near the gym doors. They heard sobs coming from near them. Someone was crying. They walked toward the first row of lockers. Bryan saw something moving inside one locker. Brown hair was falling on a young girl’s face and she was covered with blood. Bryan brushed her hair away and backed up in horror. The lower lip of the girl has been shredded, leaving a hideous skull grin. Her eyes were vacant, totally foggy blank. She suddenly shrieked, trying to catch his hand with her bloody fingers. With the blade of the ax, he immediately shut the locker’s door very hard and pushed on it with all his strength so it won’t open again.
Hannah hurried toward the door, Bryan behind her. He was still holding the ax. They heard footsteps following them from the showers. They went back in the gym and got out as fast as they could. They ran right in front of a young boy with a missing left arm. Pieces of his neck have been chewed out like his remaining right arm. Bryan took a firm grip of the ax and hit him at the base of his neck, near the lower jaw. Hannah watched her ex-husband trying to take the ax off the young boy’s body but his fingers slipped on the handle covered with warm blood. Another kid came toward them, screaming. Bryan swung the ax with the boy still stuck to it and hit the other kid very hard right in the head, freeing the blade of the ax. The two boys were thrown directly into the school trophies display. The glass shattered all around them.
Of course the little commotion attracted others. They went through the first door at their right and hid behind a massive oak counter. Bryan kept his eyes on the door while Hannah looked around them. They were inside the school library. There was a door in front of her. She went to check it out, staying near the carpeted floor. She gently turned the doorknob and got away from it in case of someone would jump out of there. Looking inside, she recognized a storage room. There was a pile of old books on a massive oak desk at her left, with big steel bookshelves and filing cabinets. Behind the old desk stood tons of restoration materials. Taking a deep breath, she asked with a low voice:
“Is anyone here? Macy? Are you in there?”
Hannah’s heart stopped pounding in her chest. Tears went down her cheeks as Macy got out of her hiding place behind a massive filing cabinet. The young girl ran directly into her arms. Bryan crawled toward them and kissed his daughter’s forehead.
“We’ve got to go now.”
He looked around them. They were other people hiding in the restoration room. Five in total. The old librarian was among the young students, a frightened look on his wrinkled face. Bryan asked him if there was another way out, but there wasn’t.
“We have to get out of here,” Hannah said, holding her daughter’s hand very tightly. “The school is not safe.”
“How bad is it outside?” a dark haired girl asked them.
Hannah could see hope in her eyes. She wasn’t sure what she could tell them about the condition outside their school. She opened her mouth to answer when a very loud shriek stopped her. Macy looked at her mother, wondering what caused that horrible noise.
The shriek came to them from a very close distance. Hannah gazed at her ex-husband, wanting him to hurry. She led her daughter near the main entrance of the library. The dark haired girl followed them. Bryan was still holding the ax with a firm hand.
“I’m scared…” the dark haired girl whispered.
“Don’t worry,” Hannah said with a calm voice, “we’ll be fine.”
“I have to find my mother. She’s the principal.”
The dark haired girl stopped walking, looking at them and waiting for an answer. Bryan opened his mouth to say something when a very loud shriek echoed near them. A tall woman ran toward them, growling. Her throat has been ripped off and a big part of her left upper arm was missing as well.
“Mom!” the young girl screamed in horror.
She backed up before what used to be her mother jumped on her and bit off her right cheek while the dark haired girl tried to push her away. The noise attracted others who wanted to join the improvised feast. Macy began to cry. Hannah pushed her toward the main entrance and Bryan followed them, holding the ax in case he has to fight for their lives. They got into the car.
With an evil grin, Ted managed the controller like a real pro. He kept his eyes focused on the screen. He didn’t want to miss the action. On the seat next to him, his friend Clark also moved the joystick so his character on the screen turned the corner while shouting with rage, asking where his coward friend was hiding. Peter started laughing while his friends were trying to kill each other in the videogame they were playing for the last twenty-four hours. They got bored of the combat game last night so they just found another game. For them, it was a wonderful Monday evening!
“Why don’t you guys play online instead of beating the crap out of each other?” Peter asked them. “It’ll be more fun!”
“The network’s dead,” Clark replied.
“Early this morning, I guess. Don’t know how long it’s going to take to fix this problem this time!”
“Our network distributor sucks, man!” Ted laughed, still looking at the screen.
“We should change for a better one before the semester starts,” Peter said, a little annoyed.
He took one of the controllers who stood on the coffee table and joined the game. He got shot several times before he could finally hide himself. He swore, preparing his weapon. He couldn’t do much more since everyone was firing around him. Clark began laughing very hard before getting shot too.
“Where are you, guys?” Peter muttered. “I can’t find you at all.”
“You’re such a lousy player,” Clark replied, “so why are you trying to play with us?”
“I’m as good as you, asshole.”
They suddenly fell silent, concentrating themselves on the game. Apparently this videogame was very serious for them. The sound was so loud it was like being inside it for real. Clark finally managed to find where Ted was hiding all this time, but before he could kill him, Peter arrived and shot him in the back. He was laughing while running after Ted’s character that had time to flee. Still furious, Clark put the controller on the coffee table before walking toward the bathroom. His friends kept playing, shooting at each other. When Clark came back, he was tapping his belly, saying he was starving. Peter frowned, replying he could grab a sandwich in the fridge.
“Really?” he said, returning to his game. “No food whatsoever?”
“I haven’t checked everywhere,” Clark replied, letting his body fall on the couch, “but I’m up for pizza again. What about you?”
“Okay,” Ted said, “but since you’re out of the game, here’s the phone.”
Clark took the phone, trying to remember the number for the pizza place. He dialed the number, hoping it was the right one. When he put the phone to his ear, he frowned, looking strangely at it.
“Dude! Did you pay the phone bill?”
“Sure I did it!” Ted answered.
“It’s not working. It’s dead.”
He checked his pockets to find his cellphone and was surprised to find out this network wasn’t working either. He opened his mouth to mention it to his friends when the electric power went out suddenly.
They walked toward the door leading outside their apartment building. Once they were out, the horrible stench hit them hard. Clark almost lost conscience while looking at what was happening before his eyes. A car crashed against an electric pole and caught fire when the wired pole fell on it, probably killing the driver since he barely moved inside. The smell of burning flesh finally made Peter sick in the bush next to the door of their building. The sunset was the same color as the fire consuming the car. Ted walked near the car, checking on the driver.
From the corner of his eyes, he noticed movement coming his way. When he turned, he felt his guts twirling in his belly. Another smell was in the air. The putrid smell of rotten flesh… There were some people down the street, but they were walking very slowly. Also they were growling. A little group had kneeled down on top of something. Ted couldn’t see what it was. On the paved street, he saw a severed hand near the group. He began backing up when Clark shouted at him to look out. The rotten smell hit him before he turned his head. A tall guy was showing his teeth, blood around his nose and lips. Ted looked at him, horrified while the guy got closer.
The back of that thing’s football jacket was torn opened, showing some bones from its rib cage. A couple of fingers were also missing and a part of its neck had been bitten and apparently chewed off. Except for the blood dripping from its lips, Justin-thing wasn’t bleeding despite all the open wounds.
“What happen to him?” Ted asked while backing up.
He could see that underneath his football jacket, its belly have been ripped open and a part of its guts eaten as well as one cheek. The Justin-thing jumped on him, still growling. It fiercely plunged its teeth in the soft fabric of Ted’s shirt. Hopefully for him, he was wearing a long sleeves shirt. But before it could dig its way to his flesh, Ted pushed it as hard as he could. The thing lost its balance and fell on the concrete, still holding the sleeve between its teeth. Ted fell with it and his arm hit the lower jaw of the thing, violently banging its head against the sidewalk. It let go of the sleeve. Ted got back on his feet, furious.
He kicked its head on the sidewalk, again and again, until the skull shattered into pieces on the paved street. Peter barfed once more in the bush. Clark slowly approached his friend, wanting to know if the bag guy was really dead.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked Ted, bending over the thing on the floor.
“It’s like hell went loose in this town.”
“I saw a lot of movies about that,” Clark answered, suddenly excited, “and the survivors are always looking for other survivors.”
“Are you talking about those horror flicks with flesh-eating zombies?”
“Don’t say that!”
“What? That’s what it is, man!”
“It’s just ridiculous!”
“So how would you call it, them?”
“Guys!” Peter shouted. “There’s a bunch coming your way!”
Inside the so-called group Peter was talking about, the three of them recognized popular girls from their college. Most of them used to be cheerleaders. Mandy Dawson was approaching very slowly with Kelly Belafonte, who used to be the leader of this so-called group. Mandy was one armed now and Kelly had a big part of her left leg missing. Sally-Sue Peters was a little far behind, part of her lower jaw gone. Gwyneth Randall completed the little group, half of her scalp ripped off. She had a lot of blood on her face.
They both looked at each other before running toward their apartment building. They locked themselves inside, hoping they won’t find out they were hiding. Unfortunately, they knew better. The things saw them getting inside the building and they follow them. Peter tried to pull something across the door so they couldn’t get in, sweating like a jogger.
“We have to survive,” Clark said, trying to stay reasonable. “I know what are they and they’re really dangerous.”
Peter shook his head while Clark smiled, looking at his friends. He tried to contain his joy, but the situation made him very happy. He told them they had to do something to protect themselves like in those movies he saw so many times. Peter looked at him blankly. Ted asked him not to compare their situation with movies.
“It’s our chance to become heroes!”
“We’re not inside one of those stupid movies you kept watching.”
“If we want to survive, we need to prepare ourselves. They saw us and now I’m sure they’re coming our way.”
Clark went to check the window near the main door, still smiling. He remembered all the movies he ever saw over the years and he tried to make a plan. He also thought about food they didn’t have here anymore. According to what he was able to see outside, they were walking very slowly. He clapped in his hands, saying they didn’t have many time.
“We can’t stay here anymore,” he said to his friends. “We need to find another shelter with food and water. And powerful weapons like guns. I know a place not too far from college, at the end of the city. I’ve been there once or twice. The guy’s a bit crazy but he got all the stuff we need to survive.”
“Are they far enough so we can get out?” Ted asked, walking by the window. “They seemed very slow.”
“Even if they’re slow,” Clark replied, “it doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous.”
Peter just nodded, trying to get back on his feet. They went back to their apartment and barricade themselves there. They agreed to go to the kitchen to find out what kind of supplies they still had in their place. Clark took his backpack from his room and began to fill it up with important stuff for him. He suggested to his friends do to the same thing. They needed to have a plan before getting back outside. It was too dangerous not knowing exactly where to go or what to do. They went back to the living room.
“How all this happened?” Ted asked before sitting on the couch. “I know we’re not inside one of those stupid movies but how it happens in them?”
“Usually it’s a virus, a massive contagion all around the world.”
“You mean it might happen somewhere else too?” Peter said with a squeaky voice.
“You guys never watched a zombie movie in your entire life?”
They both shook their head, looking at him. Clark explained to them that in those movies, the survivors always seek for other survivors before they barricade themselves somewhere secured. This building wasn’t secure anymore. The things knew perfectly where they were and their food supply was almost nonexistent. They needed a more secured place to hide for a while.
“Do you think help will come to rescue us?” Peter asked with hope.
“It never really happens in those movies.”
They went as far as they could with the car, but the city streets were packed with cars and those things that seemed to be more and more around as the sun got down. Bryan killed the engine and looked behind them. The things didn’t notice them for the moment, too busy with the other survivors who were screaming and running everywhere. Hannah hold her daughter more tightly in her arms like she was about to lose her again. She went further down on the backseat, hoping not to be surrounded. Bryan joined them as slowly as he could, not catching the things’ attention.
“Don’t worry,” he said with a faint smile. “We’ll wait for the morning. We need to get some rest.”
They tried to make themselves as comfortable as they could. Macy finally stopped crying and fell asleep into her mother’s arms. Bryan got closer to them, closing his eyes. Even in their situation, he was happy to have his little family with him. He dozed for a while, not knowing he was so tired. When he opened his eyes again, it was almost dawn.
“Girls,” he whispered, “it’s time to go. Wake up, girls.”
“We have to leave the city so stop crying, please honey,” Bryan asked her. “Crying won’t help anything.”
The young girl tried very hard to calm down and after a minute or two, her sobs completely stopped. Bryan looked around the car. Now the sun was a little brighter in the sky. He could see the streets were empty from living people, but congested with cars. They could go out. But he was hoping they were safe. They got out of the car, doing as less noise as they can before beginning to run. Once again, they were hit by the putrid smell of decomposed flesh, the smell of death. They’re still around. But where are they? Holding the ax with a firm grip, Bryan was in front, wanting to be sure nothing was coming toward them. Hannah put their daughter between them to protect her.
They started to walk slowly, listening to every sound around them. There was a park near them and they could see few of those things in there. They didn’t pay any attention to them. Hannah carefully watched their back. Yesterday’s chaos was even bigger now. There was the smell of putrid flesh mixed with burnt flesh. It was awful to even breathe.
“Mom,” Macy said. “Where are we going? Were we attacked by another country?”
All they were able to say was that something terrible happened yesterday and a lot of people got killed. They kept it quiet for a while, still walking among cars. Neither of them wanted to attract the attention of those things. Suddenly they stopped, frozen by fear. They quickly hid behind a car, looking around them. They heard gun shots. Who was shooting? Bryan motioned toward a snack-bar, his family walking behind him. Once inside, they went directly to the window pane. Nobody followed them. They could breathe fresh air in the little snack-bar. Hannah stepped to the counter. She wanted to find food for them. They needed to rest for a while, but they also had to eat something to get strength. They were not out of the city yet. Somebody was lying behind the counter. The way she was dressed, she used to work there before hell went loose. Hannah avoided the body to peek inside the kitchen. She heard a low growl before she felt a horrible pain on her ankle. Something got hold of her leg, hurting her even more. She looked down and saw the lady dressed as a waitress biting her flesh. She tried to kick her and when the thing finally lost her grip, Hannah collapsed on the floor, grimacing from the pain.
Macy screamed before kneeling near her mother. She saw the thing that attacked her. She called for her father to help them. Bryan took the ax and attacked the thing that crawled toward Hannah. There was a pool of blood underneath the waitress. Her guts were showing from her body. Bryan lowered his weapon and stroked it directly at the base of the thing’s skull. He did it several times. Hannah wiped her cheeks, shaking with pain. Macy tried to find a piece of cloth, hoping to stop the bleeding.
Macy looked at her father, covered with blood. He grabbed the dead body and thrown it away from them. He gazed at his daughter and simply nodded. He was incapable of talking, but he killed that thing who bitten his ex-wife. He kneeled down next to Hannah and took her hand, kissing her fingers. He asked her if she could walk. She tried to smile to reassure both of them. She shook her head but her whole body was shivering with shock and pain. Bryan found a first aid kit under the counter and put a bandage around her wound after cleaning it. He helped her to get back on her feet.
They went through the back door of the snack-bar, not hearing any gun shots because of the commotion inside the building. Bryan put his right arm around Hannah’s waist while Macy was carrying the ax. It was very quiet around them. No noise, no growl. Only the wind was blowing, driving to them the putrid smell of the things. Macy tried to get a firm grip on the ax’s handle in case she had to use it. They walked a big part of the day, stopping from time to time to get some rest. They found another shelter in an abandon restaurant near the tunnel. This time, they checked it before getting inside. No more bad surprise. Bryan took another first aid kit and changed his ex-wife bandage. She didn’t look too good. Her eyes were injected with blood and her entire skin was very pale, almost turning into a light gray. The skin around the wound was bright red and inside it turned into something blackish. Bryan tried not to panic when he took off the old bandage from her leg. A putrid smell got into his nostrils. He looked at his ex-wife. She was shivering from fever but her whole body was covered with sweat.
Macy went by herself to find something to eat. She got back with potato chips, chocolate bars and some eatable veggies. She gave an apple to her mother but instead of enjoying it, Hannah got sick. When she went sick for the second time, a ghastly combination of green and black gooey thing dribble out of her mouth. When she rose again, the sticky liquid was still dripping from her lower lip. She tried to speak to her ex-husband. He gestured to keep it quiet until their daughter will be out of sight.
“Go find some water, honey,” he asked Macy.
She nodded, saying she’ll find enough for all of them. She went directly through the kitchen, leaving her parents alone inside the main dining room. Hannah clutched her fingers around Bryan’s wrist. He looked at her.
“We’ve been walking for hours and I’m just slowing you down. I’m too tired to continue. Are you going to take good care of our daughter when I’m gone?”
He frowned. Before he could say anything, their daughter got back in the main room, out of breath. She warned them about the things that were coming their way. Macy looked terrified. She went to help her mother getting back on her feet. Bryan did his best not to say anything and gave her a hand. His daughter took the ax with her free hand. They got back into the street. The sunset was now visible. Soon they began to be surrounded by those things.
“We have to go through this tunnel to make it out of the city,” Bryan said.
“Will you keep your promise?” Hannah whispered.
She stopped walking, looking at her daughter and her ex-husband. She was till shivering with fever. Her eyes lost their natural color, getting a bit foggy white. She stood on her feet, able to put some weight on her wounded leg.
“You are going through this tunnel,” she said with a shaky voice, “and I’ll make sure they won’t come after you.”
She pushed them away from her before backing up. She ordered them to start running as quickly as they could before those things got closer. At first, Macy refused to listen to her mother. Bryan took her arm and pulled her back, telling her they had to go. He looked behind his ex-wife and saw those creatures moving toward them.
“I love you both…” Hannah whispered, tears in her eyes.
She began to run in the other direction, screaming and distracting the things. Macy started crying. They had to leave before they caught them. Their feet moved very fast in the street, running for their lives. They got inside the tunnel. It was very dark inside. Bryan was so afraid of what could happen now. Since they barely could see around them, it was pretty difficult to know who or what was coming their way. He was still holding his daughter’s hand very tight, refusing to let her go. He pushed her behind him, taking the ax back. He wanted to protect his daughter, to keep his promise. So Hannah will not die for nothing. Some creatures were still trapped inside their cars, trying to catch them by taping on the windows. They scratched the glass with their fingers, growling. Macy screamed when one of those things tried to catch her by her hair. Bryan pushed her on the side and smashed the thing right in the face with the ax. Blood spilled everywhere but it kept fighting. Another one got a grip of Macy, pushing her against a car. She lost her balance and fell on the paved floor with the roaring creature.
Her father turned to her, holding the thing by the hair. Another one came from behind him and grabbed him by the throat. The young girl punched its legs of the creature that attacked her father so he could get rid of the one behind him. Macy smashed the skull on the paved floor as hard as she could with her feet. Bryan threw it away from him before clenching his daughter’s hand. They started running, holding each other’s hand so they will not lose track of each other in the dark tunnel.
Suddenly they saw a dim light in front of them.
They finally got out, happy to be outside again and alive.
The sun was very high in the sky. They were sweating like never before under the heat. Clark was walking in front, checking for upcoming threats. He had a solid grip on a big butcher knife. Ted stayed last in line, holding a baseball bat. Peter tried his best to cover both sides. He didn’t have any weapon. He almost hit one of his friends with the baseball bat ant cut his own throat with a simple kitchen knife. He was too nervous and it was too dangerous for all of them. They waited until the next morning to leave their building. They wanted to take some supplies from the store at the end of the city and found a secured place to hide. Even though it seemed very quiet around them, they watched every step they were making. They wanted to avoid any kind of surprises. A little breeze was softly blowing. No “walkers” were on sight, like Clark liked to call those creatures. He imagined himself being the main character in one of those horror flicks, getting on his friends’ nerves. Ted turned his back from his friends, covering what could come his way from behind. He was acting like one of those mercenaries in his favorite action videogames. He has no armor or gun, but in his imaginary world, he has all the equipment he needed to survive and be the deadliest warrior around. Peter was afraid of being caught off guard, like a jack-in-a-box could jump on them from behind a wrecked car.
They were near the college’s stadium. On the football field stood the rest of an apparent ruined party. They got a bit closer to peek at it. They wanted to be sure no threat was there anymore. A bunch of bodies were lying on the grass. There was blood everywhere. But Peter wasn’t looking at the football field. He was amazed by a big Hummer truck in the parking lot. Slowly, he walked toward it. He could see dried blood on the driver’s door.
“Hey guys!” he called. “I think I just find a way to be a little more secured while we’re looking for a new shelter.”
He pointed the Hummer, a big smile on his lips. Ted got near him first. He bent down; looking under the car to be sure there was nothing underneath. Clark checked inside. He found nothing of interest except for the key chain hanging from the ignition. He smiled and continued his inspection. He saw the owner’s papers. It used to be Justin Patterson’s car. His smile grew bigger. Nothing was wrong with it. They were very lucky to have the key. They got inside, Peter behind the wheel. He was the best driver. He started the engine and his smile got wider. He liked the sound produced by the engine. He got out of the parking lot, feeling safer. On the football field, he could see the bodies getting up. But everything was okay now. They were in a secure place. Clark sat on the backseat and Ted was on the passenger seat.
“I know exactly how to get to the store,” Clark said. “I’m sure we’ll find all the food and water supplies we need.”
“And we need better weapons too,” Ted added, a quick glance at his baseball bat. “Those things can break it easily.”
The Hummer moved slowly among the debris on the road. Peter didn’t want to smash the car for nothing. He heard a deep growling to his right. He looked and saw Kelly coming toward them. She didn’t look great now. Peter never liked her anyway. Even when she was “normal”. She used to be such a bitch back then, and the leader of a group of sluts. Grinning, he drove right into her and crashed her skull on the rack in front of the Hummer. He started laughing while his friends looked at him, stunned.
“Yahoo! Five easy points for me, bitch!”
Peter nodded, keeping his eyes on the road. He seemed to enjoy himself and Ted found it funny. Peter wasn’t exactly the heroic type most of the time. Clark frowned, putting his butcher knife down next to him.
“And how do you know the points you got when you hit someone?”
“You never played that game before? So when you hit a pedestrian, it’s five points. Ten if it’s a cyclist, fifteen points for a guy on a scooter and twenty for a motorcycle.”
“That’s a good way to clear our path,” Clark replied, smiling. “I’ve seen it in…”
“Enough with your damn movies!” Ted shouted. “We’re not in your fucking movies, okay? We’re in the middle of a crisis here and we need to keep ourselves focused. Thinking wisely.”
“Are you calling me sick because it’s the only way I found not to lose my mind?” Peter asked his friend. “So let ME handle this situation the way I want it, okay?”
A heavy silence fell upon them. Ted crossed his arms over his chest, looking outside the window. He sighed before frowning. A little to their right, he could see his history of western philosophy teacher. He never liked that bastard. Always telling his students how great it used to be before their generation arrived… Another of his teachers walked next to it. Ted pointed them.
“If you run over them, it’ll give ten points for two pedestrians?”
Peter nodded. He suddenly turned the wheel to their right and the truck violently crashed the two creatures that were just walking slowly nearby. Blood splashed all around them, making them laugh with joy. Ted clapped in his hands, proudly shouting he just got himself ten very easy points. This little game amused them.
“If we’re riding with style,” Peter said, “we should live with style as well.”
“Let’s see the dean’s house first!” Ted added with curiosity. “I always wanted to know what he was doing with all the money he earns without really working.”
The three of them agreed to find where the dean used to live, hoping he was dead like the rest of the people who came across their path. Clark said he knew exactly where they should go, but in fact, he didn’t know it at all. He just wanted to look confident in front of his friends. He still craved to be a great hero. They found themselves on the main road, filled with “walkers”. Peter stopped the Hummer, stunned to see all those creatures there. He asked his friends if they were ready to earn lots of points. Clark firmly gripped both front seats, smiling. Ted advanced his hands to hold the recessed handle on the dashboard of the truck. They both nodded before Peter took a deep breath and pressed the acceleration pedal harder. The Hummer jumped forward, hitting the first creature right in the mid-section. The impact severed the creature in two, guts flying everywhere around them. The three friends were just laughing while Peter managed to drive back and forth to kill every one of those things.
They were having so much fun that Peter was barely looking in front of them. The windshield was totally covered with blood and guts and he couldn’t find the switch to activate the wipers to wash everything up. When he finally found it, he activated them to clean the windshield. What was ahead of them froze them in terror. There was a young girl crying in the middle of the street. A man came out of the tunnel and took her in his arms but it was too late. Peter tried his best to brake. The Hummer hit them hard. The scream of pain filled the silence while Peter managed to turn the wheel to their left. Once again, it was too late. Their truck crashed into the back of a van from a telephone company. The scale on top of it swung directly into their windshield, smashing Peter’s skull against the headrest while Clark flew through it. The shatter glass decapitated the body. Ted broke his right wrist and knocked his forehead on the dashboard. He looked around him and saw all the blood. Clark’s body was half outside the Hummer. His hand slipped on the handle a couple of times before he could open the door. He got out, still in shock. His two best friends were dead. He turned his head, seeing some movement from the corner of his eye. The man’s body was a bit twisted in a horrible angle. But he looked normal. They weren’t dead before we hit them with the truck. Oh my God! We killed them both! He began to shiver. They killed two survivors who just got out of the tunnel.
Then everything went dark.
He slowly opened his eyes. Despite the darkness which reigned all around him, he knew that the sun had not yet set. He took his cane and went to the bathroom. He splashed his face before entering the shower. He rubbed his body under the cold water, his shoulder resting against the wall of the shower to keep his balance. He felt much more awake now. The electricity was still working on this part of the city but he needed to be alert. It was the only reason he used cold water. He got dressed. He set his prosthetic leg and made some strong black coffee. He waited next to the coffee machine before raising his eyes to the whiteboard. He had to make an inventory of his remaining provisions and know exactly what he would need soon. He still got water so it was easy for the moment to keep what he got. He stored a bunch of big plastic bottles inside his bunker. For the canned food, it was another story. He never had a big appetite and it was a very good thing for him. He has an abundant storage of those cans, always buying them when the grocery store was selling them for cheap. He got that habit from his late mother. For the ammunitions, it wasn’t so bad either. He could use his own merchandise. Most of it was now downstairs with him. Upstairs, he made a real mess so survivors will think the store has already been robbed.
Sitting on the couch, his coffee mug on the little table next to him, he took another board, a faint smile on his lips. Now that he had done his routine, he could play his little game. He grabbed two dices and rolled them on the board. He watched those creatures a lot since they suddenly appeared. He wanted to know what he was dealing with. He already knew they were very aggressive, especially when they were more than just one. And they were more active when the sun was down. And then he came with the idea of a little game of his own. On one dice, he glued drawings he found in magazines. They represented two children, a group of teenagers, a mid-aged couple and a bunch of oldies sitting on a bench park. The drawings were very small but he was satisfied with his work. On the other dice, there were regular numbers from on to six. What he got on the dices represented what he should kill while he was awake. He rolled those three times. It was a great way to clear the area close to his bunker. After, he simply wrote down what has been shot on his board. He found this game very relaxing.
He looked at the first result: a mid-aged man or woman. He rolled again and got a teen boy or a girl. The third time he has to shoot and old man. That was so easy. And also he needed to bring back a couple of canned food. He preferred to have more of these cans than being caught without anything left. And he could use other kind of food. The outbreak hasn’t been out for very long. His refrigerator was still functioning for now. He could save the canned food for later. He walked toward the unloading door instead of taking the sewer tunnel. Lately, he heard gun shots and people entered his store. There were survivors outside and he didn’t want to meet them. While walking, he put on his backpack and got a better hold of his sniper rifle on his shoulder. Let’s have some fun!
The sun was now very high in the sky. He moved through the narrow streets, making as little noise as possible. He could see the main streets were not empty. He climbed on the roof of a building two blocks away from his shop. From there, he had a good view of the tunnel between the two parts of the city. He was at the far end of the city. There were a lot of creatures near the tunnel. They moved very slowly but they became very agitated when they spotted a survivor. By the sight of his rifle, he could see a young man running to escape as fast as possible a very large number of those creatures. As expected, the young man eventually stumbled against the sidewalk and fell on the pavement. The creatures quickly rushed to him, slaughtered him into several pieces while growling.
He could move again. The creatures devoured their feast without giving him a single glance. He got into the building, seeking for food. He put everything in his backpack. Suddenly he heard the engine of a big truck. Frowning, he walked to the window. A big Hummer truck was running back and forth on those creatures. He got back on the roof to have a better look. As far as he could see, there were three guys inside the truck. The Hummer abruptly swerved and crashed into a van nearby. The rest of the picture wasn’t very pretty to look at.
The crash killed one by expulsing him by the windshield, head first. By his sniper rifle, he could see the twisted neck with shades of glass stuck in it. The other one was still sitting behind the wheel of the driver’s seat, his head crushed under the scale that fell through the windshield. He saw one of them getting out of the big Hummer, covered with blood. He looked at the survivor of the crash, wanting to know which direction the thing will take. It wondered around for a minute or two.
“Enough with this bullshit. I’ll decide for you.”
He aimed his rifle and shot the creature right between the eyes. He smiled, so proud of himself. That was a very nice shot! He saw some movement near the tunnel. He aimed his sniper rifle again and waited. A creature came out. It used to be a woman. He looked carefully and could recognize the pretty lady from Starbucks. He felt pity for her. In fact, he has to put her down; the dices had spoken earlier. He shot her in the eye. Only the old man or woman remained to kill
“Let’s cure the world.”