Days had come to a crawl, ever since he had gotten out of the Army. Once upon a time, David dreamed of it becoming a lifelong career and that childish ambition had carried him through basic, selection and all the way back home when a knee injury disqualified him from service. It was bittersweet on the best of days, he returned from deployment with no welcoming arms from family or friends—having left all of his friends in the Army.
Life was never easy after that, he had fallen on hard times and found himself scrambling to keep off the streets. His particular skillset did not qualify him for much, but there was always the possibility of Law Enforcement; but after the injury and his dream being taken away, he no longer cared.
If not for his friend, Evan Nowell, getting out as well and helping him secure a job through a family friend; who knows where David might have ended up?
Rounding a street corner and dodging past the heavy flow of people scrambling about their mundane tasks, the answer came rather quickly. He would have died, maybe.
They lived in the same apartment complex, they worked at the same job and they enjoyed the same things; beer, video games and the occasional late night booty-call. Back in their old unit, they were inseparable and even now, it was hard pressed to find them not around one another.
Today being the exception, of course.
David had gotten himself an interview with a local news company, through his talent with writing he hoped to find a profession where his word could be etched on every television and computer screen.
That had turned out to be nothing more than another brittle fantasy, as though he had all the talent in the world at his fingertips, he lacked a few pieces of paper from esteemed colleges clarifying his ability. He might as well have been a laughing stock, the way they regarded him during the process, glancing over his references and resume as though he were applying for nothing more than a custodial position.
That’s all I’d really be qualified for, anyway… He thought to himself, far too lost in his self-loathing thoughts and blaring music from headphones to hear the disembodied screams of people in the streets from all around—at first it was one or two, nothing too serious; could have passed for an accident.
However, the panic spread like a wildfire and everyone around him collectively began to break off and sprint in opposite directions. They were manic, one man bumping into David so hard he almost lost his balance, headphones ripped from his ears and his phone tumbling to the ground, where a heavy boot stomped it out of commission.
Quick to anger, he whirled around on the offending party with a fist balled—only to find the man had already scurried off, along with almost everyone else.
It took him several moments to properly understand everything happening.
A car sped through a traffic light, colliding with a handful of fleeing people and slamming through a coffee shop, exploding into a ball of fire soon after.
A middle-aged woman in front of him was clutching at her chest, heaving on her knees and struggling to breathe. It took David a moment to realize that she had been shot twice, both times in the chest and one must’ve punctured a lung, given the sick, wet gurgling noise every inhale she attempted made.
He considered reaching out to her, until she stood fully upright and let out a sick, ominous laughter that made him entirely uncomfortable. She turned—her upper half was the only part of her that turned. Bones snapped and muscle tore as she performed the odd movement. Her eyes were wide, her lips spread in a smile that drew blood from the corners of her mouth.
She laughed again, then she ran at him. Or at least tried to, her stumbling backwards movement did not make for the best method of pursuit, and David’s flight instinct kicked in far too fast.
He sprinted past her, shoving a hard shoulder into her self-mangled body, sending it tumbling to the ground as he engaged in the fastest run he never knew he was capable of.
The horror was all around him and in varying shades of insanity, twisted flesh and mangled bodies that were beyond human. Some were slow and others were fast. Thankfully, they all seemed so pre-occupied with slaughtering one another, he had managed to slip through the cracks.
In minutes the city had gone from timid and mundane, to chaotic and terrifying. He could discern no pattern or reason for this to happen, all he knew was that he and few others seemed to be unaffected—the ones that were smart in the beginning, the ones that ran away.
Everything he had ever known was pushed to the back of his mind and he ran for his life, just like everyone else. He had two objectives: meet up with Evan and get the hell off of the street.
Thankfully he had already been well on his way home from a failed interview and wasn’t more than half a mile down the road, it still might as well have been the longest half mile of his life.