I stood in the large supermarket, feeling rather exposed in my blue bikini top and black shorts, my tattoos on my stomach and leg in full view.
My sister, Zara, and I had made a rather huge move to the beaches of Cali.
Dammit, she was out there enjoying the rays while I stood in this godforsaken line, all for chocolates.
"Stop staring at me." I said to the guy in line next to me.
He scoffed and turned away.
Sighing, I turned back to watch the cashier chatting away, this was getting annoying.
Suddenly I could hear screaming and shouting; it sounded like a stampede.
Dropping my chocolates I made my way to the exit to find hundreds of people running, screaming in horror.
What the hell was going on?
And then I saw it.
The only way to explain it was that zombies were chasing the people, teeth and nails ripping into them.
Blood and pieces of flesh flying as the screams echoed in the streets.
"Zara." I ran.
Not away but right toward the chaos, I ran to the beach where I had left my sister only to find her towel.
"Zara?!" I spun in circles calling out her name, praying I would see her, but there was no one.
Blood and bodies lay along the beach, but none belonging to Zara.
Letting out a curse, I turned and ran, getting onto the street, I ran between people, between the creatures biting into them.
I felt nails hook at my skin, but carried on running, not wanting to risk being torn apart by these things.
I fell, my ankle suddenly shooting a sharp pain up my leg.
Once again cursing, I fell into a narrow alley way, hidden behind a large dumpster.
My heart hammered as I listened to the screams of people being torn apart.
Would I be next?
I jumped at the voice.
The voice belonged to a boy.
A child of about nine.
I frowned, "Get out of here, kid."
"I'm all alone. My mom got bit."
I glared at the child, I was quite okay sitting behind my dumpster.
I huffed, even I couldn't leave a kid to fend for himself in this.
I forced myself to my feet, "Let's go, kid."
And we ran, with every step I took, the pain jarred through my whole body, but we needed to get to safety.
I spotted a rather shabby looking apartment block and ran in, the kid never leaving my side.
Running to the second floor I forced one of the doors open and once we were in, closed the door with a chest of drawers.
I let out a breath and slid to the floor.
The kid stood in front of me, "I'm Timmy. "
I nodded, "Hope."
"What do we do now?"
I shrugged, "Find a safe place. We'll check the hospital."
Timmy shook his head, "My mom was a nurse, that's where she got bit."
"We'll figure something out. Check the fridge if you're hungry, I'm gonna look for clothes."
I got up and made my way to the small room to raid the closet.
When I found clothes, I was quite disappointed.
A biker and a fairy stripper stayed here, apparently; mens leather and size zero glittered crop tops filled the closet.
Sighing I placed a pair of black combat boots on my feet and a black leather jacket over my bikini top.
Heading back out I sat on the couch, "Kid, you take the bed. Wake me if anything goes down."
Timmy nodded and I laid down on the couch.
Opening my eyes to Timmy's panicked face reminded me of what we were in the middle of.
"Shit!" I jumped to my feet as I registered the noise.
Those infected freaks were trying to break the door down.
"Fuck! Shit, Timmy, that's a very bad word, don't you ever use it. C'mon." I grabbed his shoulder and went over to the window, "Okay, see that dumpster? You're going in there."
I all but threw him out the window, and he landed perfectly, the dirt bags cushioning him.
He was, however, taking too long to move.
"This is gonna hurt." I threw my legs over the ledge and jumped.
I of course, landed with a thud on the roof of a car.
"Motherfucker that hurts!"
I let out a breath and rolled off the car onto the ground, taking a few seconds for the air to return to my lungs before getting to my feet .
"Ow. Okay. Ow. Let's go."
And so, we started running again.
The pain from my ankle, and now my new injuries jarred with every step taken.
The sickly freaks after us were more incentive to keep going though.
There were so many of them, I wondered briefly how they got into that state.
"Hope, we gotta find a place to stop. You're bleeding."
I knew this.
I could feel my body screaming in protest.
I had to think of this kid though.
We kept at it until we reached a diner, going in I collapsed into one of the chairs.
Timmy went to the counter, "There's coffee. And bacon."
I looked up, "You offering?"
Despite the circumstances I smiled and nodded.
He seemed like a good kid, it must have been hard for him to be stuck with some strange chick with tattoos, black hair with bright pink streaks.
I sighed, wondering where Zara was, if she was safe.
Did she have her glasses? Could she see okay?
Timmy placed a cup of coffee in front of me along with a few strips of bacon and disappeared to get his before joining me.
"So, kid, I'm looking for someone. I can't keep you safe, when we find a safe place, you stay there."
Timmy frowned at me, "Why?"
"Kid, I can barely take care of myself, I can't have another life in my hands." I wasn't trying to be nasty to him, but I couldn't have him depending on me for his safety, I would screw up. Royally.
The only thing I had ever looked after was a dog.
"Hope, I don't want to leave you."
"You'll get over it." I got up and walked to the back.
How could that kid expect to stay with me?
No, I wouldn't have it.
I would not have his death on my hands.
I had fallen asleep.
I woke up with screams.
That was Timmy.
My heart hammered.
I jumped to my feet and ran to the front of the diner.
Timmy stood behind the counter with a pan in hand and a hoard of flesh eaters in front of him.
"Shit!" I grabbed a really long fork and ran to him, stabbing the closest of the flesh eaters in the head.
I pushed Timmy behind me, trying to figure out what to do.
We had no weapons.
The hoard was blocking our only escape.
Basically we were screwed.
And then I saw the doors open.
A man of about 6'2 walked in, and I will be honest, I noticed the long, curled black hair, the goatee/stubble.... And oh my those muscles!
I shook my head as he pulled a pipe from his back and started beating his way through the flesh eaters.
Timmy stuck his head out around me, "Wow."
I had to agree with Timmy... This gorgeous tanned skinned man had just taken all of the eaters down.
He looked at me, and I was surprised to see one brown eye and one light blue.
"You two okay?"
I nodded, slightly in shock still.
By his skills, or looks, I couldn't be sure.
He turned and walked back out.
I registered this and ran after him, "Hey! Wait!" I caught up with him and grabbed a hold of his arm, wow what a bicep!
"Thank you, but you can't just leave us here."
He looked at me with no emotion, "I am not a baby sitter."
Okay, now I don't care how good looking he is, no one insults me like that.
"I do not need a fucking baby sitter. Just take us with to the safest place, I'm trying to find my sister."
He glanced at Timmy.
"His mother was bitten. He appeared when all of this happened."
"Fine. But I will not be saving you. I have my own back to watch."
I nodded and followed with Timmy as the man continued walking.
He may be good looking, but he sure had issues.
We had found an old, deserted hospital and decided to use that as a camp for the night.
We set up so that the doors were barricaded with hospital beds and stretchers, you could hear Eaters in some of the rooms, but we stayed clear of those.
Timmy was asleep on a make shift bed, I sat with my back against the wall, opposite the odd man, who I discovered had a tribal tattoo down his right arm.
"So, you seem to know a lot about these flesh eaters."
He looked up at me, his face an eery shadow by the lamp we had burning, "Zombies. Infected. Biters. Different names for the same things. This was not the first place to have an outbreak."
He obviously wasn't in a very sharing mood.
"What's your name? I'm Hope. The kids-"
"Timmy. I know, we spoke while you were closing one of the doors... I'm Iosefa."
He pronounced it as "ee-oh-seh-faa" .
He smiled ever so slightly, "Its Samoan."
Well, that explained the natural tan.
He leant his head back against the wall, "Get some sleep, Hope."
I nodded, I was exhausted, and went over to one of our make shift beds to try and get some rest.
The heat in this old hospital was unbelievable.
How Hope and Timmy managed to sleep was beyond me; I sat wide awake.
I watched Hope as she slept and briefly wondered what her story was.
Her hair was dark, dyed, her skin pale, eyes a strange cross between blue and grey; no way to tell where she was from.
I would get her and the kid to a safe haven, the school nearby, and then I would continue on my way.
I refused to have people to be responsible for in a time like this.
I would not have their blood on my hands.
Hope let out a slight moan and turned, distracting me from my thoughts as the jacket she wore fell open, exposing the skin on her stomach.
I cleared my throat and looked away, I couldn't be distracted, especially not by a woman.
My eyes found her again, I couldn't help it, these days, women were scarce, yes, but, that was not it.
There was something different about Hope, something that made her stand out, like a diamond in the middle of a clump of rocks.
I shook my head; I shouldn't be thinking about this woman in any sort of way.
The only thing I owed her was to get her and the boy to safety.
Not that I owed her that, but I did agree to it and I always kept to my word.
It wouldn't be easy, almost the whole town was crawling with the Skin Eaters, and the boy made it harder to get to safety.
But I could do it.
I knew enough to keep myself alive, I could keep Hope and Timmy safe long enough to get them to safety.
I woke up to find Iosefa nowhere in sight.
I checked for Timmy and he was also gone.
I started to panic, what is Iosefa had taken him?
Walking through the hospital at a speed I found Timmy in what used to be a cafeteria.
"Timmy, don't just disappear like that. Where is Iosefa?"
Timmy shrugged, "He said he was going to check there were no Eaters around."
I pulled myself up onto the counter, "Looking for food?"
Timmy nodded, "Yeah but there's only the vending machine."
I jumped off and lifted a chair, breaking the glass, "There you go."
Timmy grabbed chocolate bars and soft drinks from the machine, but I didn't notice; my attention now on the noise coming from a locked door, I would guess a pantry.
"Timmy, get Iosefa."
I heard Timmy's sneakers slap against the floor as he ran.
Suddenly the door gave way under pressure and five Eaters tumbled from the pantry.
I let out a shriek louder than I thought possible as I jumped back as more walked out towards me.
I turned to run, only to see around ten more.
This of course warranted another shriek as I picked up a chair and started swinging madly; I was not about to become food for these freaks.
It was as if they kept coming out of nowhere, so I jumped up onto the counter, kicking any that got too close.
My ankle throbbed and I was getting tired, now surrounded by the Eaters.
I realised that Iosefa and Timmy were probably not coming back and my heart sunk, I would never know if Zara was safe.
As I kicked, my boot sunk into rotting bone and decaying skin and I fell.
Rotting hands grabbing at me, I knew this was it.
I was going to die in an old abandoned hospital, all alone, eaten by people who were once normal.