This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
When times were easy
[June 28th, 2018]
[Athens, Ohio, Lancaster Ave]
It is that time of the year when the flies pop up. I hate flies. I'm not the biggest fan of summer as it is, it is so much harder without a roof over your head. Plus, it is hard enough only having the daylight to find food by, but now it is like the world has decided to place an extra bug filled time limit on my time for gathering food. Now I have to find enough that isn't already covered in the little fuckers.
Of course, if I wanted to avoid the flies I could stop by the college campus nearby, place is so messed up even the bugs don't go there. There's a chance that some of the buildings might have food, but the risk might just outweigh that very possibility. There was an explosion there a few weeks back. I never did hear what caused it or anything.
I was too busy getting the hell out of there when it all went south. It's most likely crawling with Vultures anyway. I don't mean the birds, it's what I call these kinds of looters, because they've made a sort of home-base on campus, pecking at the corpse of that campus for their own gain. They aren't really human, at least, not anymore. I think they were survivors of the explosion. Something's fucked up in their heads to where they can stand being there for an extended period of time.
I know I couldn't last there longer than an hour, maybe two near the ground zero of sorts. I think it was in the science labs. I'm sweating right through my shirt and I smell absolutely awful. The thought of a nice shower is tempting me to reconsider. I know I'll get used to my smell eventually, I usually do, and smelling bad is better than being killed by a few Vultures.
Plus, the place was going downhill anyway, most are with our country so fucked up. All the bigwigs in D.C. got some sort of sickness that completely wiped them out, we've been on our own for a while, few years at this point, and things don't like they're going to be getting better anytime soon.
[ | ]
And it really is quite muggy outside.
[ | ]
I must apologize for that, you see, I've got this thing with me. There was this doctor at the orphanage I used to visit, this was before I went to the college, and they did all sorts of tests and such. I can't remember the name of it off of the top of my head. I was around that age, you know, where anything adults say goes in one ear and out the other. Anyway, they said I had a high rate of survival, so it wasn't anything like...bad I guess. I guess that's why I didn't stick to remembering what they said it was. I just know what it does to me. Sometimes my mind likes to create side-tangents of thought that run alongside my main one. That's the best I can really explain it, I'm not used to telling other people it, really. I've pretty much got it under control anyway to the point where it isn't running multiple conversations simultaneously. That was a real headache-inducer.
[ | ]
[ | ]
You know...I think I might head to the campus after all. If I'm quick enough I can snag enough for a good meal. I could use some time away from smelling like a plumber's handkerchief, anyway.
Oh, I almost forgot to introduce myself, my bad.
My name's Gavin and I absolutely love long walks on the beach. That should be enough for you to know, right? I'm not too good at this, I know, and I'm sorry. People aren't really my forte.
I guess that's another deciding factor on why I'm going to the school, because my last ditch effort here in the street was stopped because of people. There's this bar that has this large food pantry in its basement which would have been totally sweet to dig into, but currently there is a group of pricks hiding out inside. They've gone and locked themselves in, most likely drinking themselves away. I'm not a fan of alcoholics either, by the way. So you can check that off on my eharmony profile.
[ | ]
But a nice drink wouldn't be terrible right now-
[ | ]
Sadly, I have to accept this loss of the bar, I'm much too little of one man to take on five brutes who are possibly more aggressive if they're drunk. I hike up the straps on my backpack and begin the walk down the street. I keep very little with me...I have very little, rather, since I had to ditch most of my stuff when I left school, but I do keep this backpack close to me, not for the sack itself, of course, it's essentially just a means to an end.
Across the street from the bar is when the air begins to change. It seems to become heavier, pungent in taste. If I had anything in my stomach I'm sure I'd hurl it up. So it's good I don't, I guess. It doesn't stop the dry heaving, but I'd rather that then burning my throat out. Life's all about thinking about the positives, you see?
[ | ]
-nice shower, it would certainly be nice to have a nice shower, it would-
[ | ]
I reach the fence, it is almost three times my height. You might think it is a normal fence, but then again, you aren't native to these parts, not like the few around here, not like me. Everybody around here knows to stay away.
This is what separates us normies from the Vultures. It's almost a blessing that they haven't figured out how to climb yet, it must have not clicked yet, to be able to grasp solid objects and pull up. Well, whatever is keeping them on that side doesn't really matter now, I'm going over.
I toss the backpack over the side of the fence, it lands doubled over itself. I grasp the wires of the fence and stick my feet through the holes, letting my toes wrap themselves around as I reach up and grab at a higher point. I'm up halfway and grip into the metal, reaching my hand now over the top of the bar, and then my elbow, and then using that to balance my weight as I pull myself over the fence.
[ | ]
I used to be so much better looking. I don't mean to brag, but now I feel like any stray gust of wind could pick me up and blow me away, far away from this place, from this life.
[ | ]
Once I'm clear I drop down and tumble right next to my bag. The landing hurts my feet a bit, I think I may have landed on a rock or something, but I stand up and grab my pack and sling it across my back and begin walking. It's going to be a lot more quiet as I continue. I'm not going to be seeing that creepy kid whose been killing rats or the woman who digs through the garbage to keep her and her enlarged stomach satisfied.
Those are the only two people I've been in contact the past few weeks, at least, that I haven't seen as a threat and avoided. I'm betting absolutely everything right now on the levels of radiation are low enough around my dorm. I'm sure I'm the first to come through here, since nobody really wants to be the guinea pig to throw their life away.
[ | ]
I really don't care either way. That's why I'm entertaining the thought of your presence.
[ | ]
I see the library first, I recognize it even now after the top floors were scarred by fires. I spent much of last year in those walls, reading was an important hobby of mine. I mean, it still is. I'd love to pop open a good book if I didn't have to go out and search for food all days out of the week. Maybe I should stop by and see if I can't pick anything up. Then again, that adds to the buildings I have to enter.
I walk past the library, deciding against going in.
I duck around the back, walking on the tiled walkway leading through the perimeter of the campus. I peek through the slits of the alleys into the quad, a large open field where the students would usually sit and study or play games. Now it is just empty, nothing to be gained as even the trees have been picked clean.
[ | ]
I remember on the large tree in the center we would all gang up on Halloween and completely cover the branches of the tree with toilet paper. It was some tradition that was started eons ago that continued up until the very end, but it seems all of the excess toilet paper has been recycled for some other use.
[ | ]
Things seem to be okay so far, I'm quite a ways from the science building, and I haven't started retching from the air as much as I thought I would be, so I have high hopes for the chances of me stocking up.
[ | ]
It really kind of sucks, you know? Like, I worked tons of summer jobs since I was sixteen, all so I could make it to college and do something with my life. I don't think I'm going to be getting a refund on any of it.
[ | ]
I find my old dorm.
My stuff, or what remains of it should still be in my room. Of course, that's with extremely positive thinking and assuming no Vultures have made it into the building yet. This dorm specifically was outfitted with fiberglass windows and can only be opened from the outside with a student or faculty ID. The other buildings were going to get the upgrade soon enough, but it just wasn't in the cards it seemed. They wanted to instill a sense of security in the freshman so they'd stay and continue to pay tuition. They didn't give a shit about upperclassmen, those were hollow promises.
I race to the front door, sliding my backpack to my front as I open up the front zipper. I grab at the plastic card with my face plastered across the front, my blue eyes staring back at me with the stupidest smile I'd ever seen.
“God I need a haircut,” I say, looking at the blond bush on my head.
[ | ]
And when I get one I want to grow it out. It almost makes me want a drink.
[ | ]
I hear a scream behind me, I turn to see the naked body of a Vulture. She's got a crooked hook in her stride. Dirt, grime, and what looks like blood cakes her wicked form, she looks at me with an obsessive glare, she begins drooling as she walks closer.
[ | ]
No no no no no! This is so not going down this way! Hurry just have to scan the card-
[ | ]
I turn and practically smash the card against the scanner. The light goes green and I make a mad dash inside, turning to pull the door shut as quickly as I can.
[ | ]
These monsters...just what could have set them off? What was in that explosion that turned them from normal people into these absolute feral creatures? Something's happened, something big and nobody wants to talk about it. Well, not nobody, I hear whispers that it isn't happening just here. There are people that come here from other cities that have it way worse, like Buffalo or San Diego. Those places have it real rough.
[ | ]
I slide down against the door, catching my breath, looking out onto the lounge I'd been so used to just a year ago, a place I called home if not just for a while. And now it has gone to shit.
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