(Chapter 1) *DYING TO LIVE*
I slammed the breaks. The headlights landed on a young girl darting in front of the truck. Her hands frantically pounded the hood as she hurtles her way around to the passenger door. Slapping both of her bloody wet hands on the window she shrieked illegible howls for help. Her terrified eyes met with mine, begging me to save her. Ribbons of runny mascara gushed from her eyes and streamed over her puffy red cheeks before disappearing into the corners of her mouth.
"Help me." She wailed and looked over her shoulder at what was hurdling after her. Her body flung against door, trying to get in. A beast was barreling right towards her.
It was too late.
She looked into my eyes one last time before she stilled herself and braced for what was to come.
It pounced on her like a hungry cat to a rat.
She was just a stranger but I felt a huge amount of feelings for her in the moment. I knew she wanted me to do something and she knew there was nothing I could do.
Sitting behind the windshield of my car, our eyes locked again for just a moment. I could do nothing but watch the terrifying scene unfolding before me. Locked in its grasp, she struggled to get free, her feet dragged and kicked ferociously. I thought it was going to drag her off to some dark corner somewhere but instead, it abruptly stopped a few feet nearly in front of the truck and readied itself for the feast.
It twisted her thin arm into the air and pulled her to the ground while the other arm squeezed around her neck.
" NO!" I screamed again.
Most of the street lights were out so the streets were darker and eerier than I expected. Its hunched body looked dehydrated and skinny. As deceiving as it seems I know that the power these things possess is shocking. Its undead form had become much stronger than its prior human form. From what I've witnessed its driving force only has one primary purpose; to devour human flesh. Its soul was ripped from its body, the moment it turned, along with any other human thoughts or instincts.
I was so close and yet so far away. My throat felt numb. I wept and gagged down a mouth full of saliva and tears.
In one smooth motion, it dug its four fingers into her soft white cheek ripping the skin away, taking half her mouth with it.
Kneeling onto her body, its head tilted towards the sky and shoved the wad of tissue into its mouth. Almost like a trophy for the others to see.
There she lied face up on the asphalt expressing pain and anguish in the side of her face that remained unmarked and beautiful, the other side mangled and missing. The pure white teeth of her skeletal face were fully exposed as she screamed and pleaded in agony.
Its hands moved their way down her body snatching pieces of skin and muscle like a kid gone wild in a candy store. While it pulled slimy stringy chunks of flesh from her neck and body...
"NO!" I yelled in anger as if it would listen.
Pieces hung and dangled from its chin. With 2 hands it ravaged her body over and over. Only stopping for moments to pick up droppings that fell.
I cried and moaned and gripped the hammer that was laying across my lap. I wanted to help her so badly, but there was nothing that I could do.
My eyes were darting frantically back and forth, initially, I don't see them but I know they're there.
I keep seeing movement from the corners of my eyes so no telling how many of them are out there.
She was dead the moment she got caught. If she hadn't slowed to wave down my car, maybe she could have got away. All there is to do now is watch this gruesome act from inside my car, which goes against every ounce of my being.
It slowly wrapped its hanging jaws around the front of her neck. Her head bobbed and shook with the control of its mouth. Like a pit bull with a cat.
Pieces of sandy blond hair weaved and twined with wet blood-soaked strands making a matted sticky mess around what was left of her face.
I could hear her blood-curdling screams sink through my windows and pierce my ears and if she was calling for me.
The creature torqued its body in a way that I could now see her eyes again just over its shoulder. The terrified look on her face was diminishing to a surrender. Tears streamed and burned my cheeks. I quickly whisked them away with the sleeve of my dirty sweatshirt and re-centered my hands on the steering wheel.
Once you're bitten, you turn. Just like a zombie in a movie. I can't believe this is happening. It feels like a never-ending nightmare. I was trying to decide what to do next when I turned to Addy who was sitting in the passenger seat. She was rocking back and forth with her head down and wailing uncontrollably.
"Go Cali Go!!" My husband Jesse screeched from behind me.
My head darted meeting his eyes with mine.
"Stop!!" I pleaded.
"You can't help her Cali!" Addy belted out while grabbing my arm.
The blood-curdling screams of the girl had turned to gurgling chokes! I just want it to be over.
"Go! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" Jesse screamed while smacking the shoulder of my seat.
I screamed a sound that didn't match the response I meant to send. I felt like the air was being squeezed out of me from sheer panic.
He punched the back of my seat at least 5 times. I could tell it hurt, but I didn't feel it.
"MOVE I'LL FUCKING DRIVE! He screamed again. I could hear him trying to scoot forward.
"No! How? You can't!" I said, wishing that he could.
He leaned back into the seat remembering he had a broken ankle. He broke it while at work, just 2 weeks before the outbreak started. Not able to be completely independent was torture for him. He hated it. He is a very independent strong man that has always insisted on doing for himself. He also always has to drive. And I mean always. So in this situation, he was helpless and had to depend on me to get us out of here.
I was doing my best to keep it together but I felt myself beginning to lose control. Every now and then I'd tune in to my body when it got so bad I couldn't ignore it. Like right now, my head throbbed like a sledgehammer hacking at my skull. The Shaking and crying caused me to keep re-swallowing hot vomit. My stomach ached and burned with every beat of my heart.
I could barely feel the steering wheel underneath my tingly palms. Sucking cold air in through my nose and pushing hot air out of my mouth, I gripped the wheel tighter even though it felt like the wheel was going to burst through my knuckles. I steadied myself.
"You can't do anything just go!" Jesse said in a shaky but calmer voice.
I caught eyes peering in at me from the front passenger window. I quickly looked around Noticed a huge group of zombies forming a wide circle around us on each side of the street. I took one more deep breath and said
"Wait a fucking second!"
I focused in on the creatures surrounding us.
They were panting and snorting. Their gaping mouths drooped open longer than humanly possible. The rage and hunger inside them caused them to dislocate their jaws when they eat, like a snake. It's hard to imagine they were once human. They are now grotesque slimy pussing bags of meat. Their chest rose and fell in unison. They looked like a row of monstrous nutcrackers about to pounce. The cold air snatched their breath and made puffs of white smoke pressed through their snarling teeth. A mixture of saliva and blood poured from their mouths and cascaded down their chests. The syrupy strings of sludge that ran down their mouths dripped disappearing into the ground. Their mostly naked bodies looked dehydrated, shriveled, and contorted. Every inch of their skin has a dark purple and brown bruised hue. They have finger deep gashes of missing skin and bites peppered from their necks to their knees.
"Oh shit! We gotta get the fuck outta here!" a scream released from my body like a rocket.
I closed my eyes and honked the horn and flashed my headlights over and over.
The horn and my screams competed with one another. The thing jumped off the poor defenseless girl and scurried away on all fours. As powerful and terrifying as these creatures are they seemed to despise the horn and lights.
I stopped for a moment to look left and right.
The one that was eating the girl crept over and began eating again.
A calm came over me like a trance.
"Yes, I can!" I said matter of factly
"Can what?!" Jesse asked then grabbed my shoulder. I knew he was worried about what I'd say next.
"Help her." I answered at the same moment I slammed the gas pedal down.
The creature darted to the left as the car pummelled over the girl.
We heard a pop and a crunch as the truck lifted and lowered simultaneously over her body.
Her screams came to a halt. As brutal as it is, I helped her the only way I could by ending the horror with my front tire.
Driving as fast as I could I weaved around abandoned cars and debris.
We hadn't traveled more than 2 blocks when suddenly we came to an abrupt stop, again.
There was a beat-up minivan blocking the two-lane city street. It had huge body-sized indents all over it. You can tell it was attacked and from the driver's door being left open, I can only imagine the driver tried to make a run for it.
Next to it, a small sedan. It was still running and pulled halfway onto the sidewalk, just to the right of the van. It looked like there was just enough room to squeeze our midsize truck between them.
Errrrr.....Errrrr......The truck scraped.
"SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! WE CANT FIT!"
I backed up and tried again. We scraped and halted while one side of the minivan started to lift off the ground.
" Back up!" Jesse commanded while looking out the back window.
A shiver coursed through my body as I slammed the gearshift into reverse. A single thought flashed in my mind of Where these drivers ended up while doing exactly what I'm doing right now. Why do I think of things like this at a time like this?
I threw the gearshift into drive and tried again.
The tires squealed and again we screeched and scraped in between the two cars until coming to a stop.
We made it further this time but now we were stuck.
"We're stuck!" Jesse screamed
I threw it reverse and the tires spun.
Tried again and again
Reverse, drive, reverse, drive.
Addy and Jesse were screaming in sync. I caught a glimpse into the rearview mirror and saw dark cryptic silhouettes nearing closer. My brake lights flashed red onto their bodies and I could tell they were tightening their circle.
I honked the horn and flashed the lights caused them to crouch and from moving closer.
I was shaking so bad I could barely hold my hands on the steering wheel. The things are all around us waiting for the right moment to attack.
Patters of rain began slapping onto the windshield. It started slow but quickly turned to an all-out downpour.
I looked at Jesse then Addy, I could see they were shrieking and begging for me to save them, but I couldn't make out what was being said. A wringing in both of my ears had drowned out all sound.
I steadied my hand on the gearshift and slid it into reverse once more.
"Come on you BITCH!" I screamed.
The truck popped loose and we torpedoed backward. I kept my foot on the gas until we smashed into a parked car behind us.
I popped it into drive again and gassed it. The tires spun in the slimy rain before catching and we were off.
I managed to get the truck turned around and headed in the same direction we came.
The rain splattered and smeared and gooped down the windows of the truck. The rain and my headlights made it almost impossible to see. This rain is not the normal rain of water. It was thick and viscous, it slid into each other forming a slime that dribbled and oozed. This was not the first time this type of rain came. It rained several times like this in the last few days. In fact, the first time it rained like this was hours after the explosion in China. Its also when people started mutating into these creatures. Our president had enacted marshall law and warned everyone to stay indoors just before this rain came but he has been silent since. We were never warned about the rain. The people that didn't listen and went outside, turned into these mutated monsters.
For the first time silence had rung through the truck. Addy had her head down in her lap holding her legs for comfort. Jesse had his head rested against the window with his eyes shut.
"We're ok, we're ok." I muttered not believing a word of it.
Nobody said a word.