Chapter 1 - Separation
The only good thing,
about the good old days,
is they’re gone.
- Dick Gregory
- - -
I exhaled through my nose and pulled the knife out of the man’s forehead. The growls stopped, and his body dropped on the wooden floor.
I still can’t believe “it” reached Washington in just a week.
It’s been a year since the pathogen appeared in New York. Nothing has changed except for America’s decreasing population. Was it a virus that escaped a laboratory? Bioterrorism? No one knows. It doesn’t matter anyway.
I looked around and found a piece of paper placed on top of a table.
There’s an unfinished dying message written on it. I then looked behind me and stared at the guy I had just killed.
He must be the one who wrote this.
The disease ended his life and turned him into one of those walking corpses, just like what those old zombie ass movies encrypted on everyone and their great-great-grandparents’ brains.
I reached for the bag beside the paper and opened it. My eyes lay on a 9mm pistol and six bullets in the side pocket.
“Better than nothing...”
I loaded the pistol with bullets, pulled back the cocking handle, and turned the safety on.
“Rest in peace.” I said while gazing at the man’s body one last time before leaving the cabin.
“Got anything?” she asks as I walk out the door.
I tucked my hair into a bun and ignored her question.
We need to get out of here. The sun is about to set, and this cabin is not a good place to rest. The chances of them finding us are pretty likely if we stay here.
“You’re so cold, Cyra.” Isabelle uttered. I looked at her, and she was pulling at the tip of my shirt.
I sighed. “Belle, we need to move before—”
“No,” she interrupts. “Let’s go back. I’m sure they already forgave us.”
“They’ll never forgive us, Belle,” I said. She stared at the ground and hugged me afterwards.
“They were mad at me. I didn’t mean to do that. It was an accident. So why?”
The current world we’re living in isn’t suitable for her anymore. She’s already seen and experienced a lot of screwed-up things at such a young age.
“It’s getting dark. Let’s go.” I smiled. She wiped her tears and nodded in response.
I placed my bag on the front and carried her on my back. She needs some rest since we’ve been walking for days, not to mention her badly injured left foot.
After minutes of walking, Belle got my attention with her finger pointing at a unique rock formation. I can see a cave opening below an enormous tree.
Nature never ceases to amaze me.
Luckily, it’s empty, and there are no signs of animals living here. The interior is not particularly large, but two people should be able to fit comfortably.
This will do.
I cut down some shrubs nearby with my trusty knife to act as a cover for the entrance. A perfect camouflage, especially tonight when it’s dark.
After arranging them, I went inside and saw Belle looking at me with her hands on top of her belly.
“Hungry?” I gave her a bag of chips, and it brought a smile to her face. Such a precious kid.
“How about you?”
“Nah, I’m good. That’s all yours.”
“You sure? All right then,” she smiled and started eating.
Darkness began to envelop the entire forest, and moonlight peeked through the shrubs I placed at the entrance.
An hour has passed, and now I’m bored. I glanced at Isabelle, who was sleeping beside me, and brushed her hair.
“After what he did to Belle,” I clench my fist as I look at the dark skin on my right forearm. The nerves surrounding it have already turned black. “And after what they did to me,”
Suddenly, rustling leaves and murmuring men caught my attention. I peeked at the entrance and saw a couple of flashing lights scanning the area.
I knew it. They’re still searching for us.
One of them pointed the light in my direction, so I quickly stepped back, listening to the footsteps getting louder each second.
Then one of them stood on the left side of the cave, peeing.
It looks like the camouflage worked, since he didn’t notice the entrance.
I quickly grabbed a disposable syringe and one of the small glass vials I have inside my bag. I stole only three of these from that place. Better save the remaining two for emergency purposes.
I inserted the needle into the rubber top of the bottle and filled the syringe with an unknown liquid.
“Well, goodbye months of my lifetime...”
With a deep breath, I injected it into my shoulder and pressed the plunger until it was empty.
Crap, I can already feel my shoulder going numb.
I looked back at the entrance and could see the shadows slowly moving away. It looks like they’re about to leave.
“I’ll be back, Belle. This game of pursuit ends tonight.”
I crawled outside with a knife in my hand and the pistol I hid in my back pocket just in case things go south.
The last guy’s humming echoed in the woods. I followed his voice and saw him taking his sweet time walking and zipping his pants.
Meanwhile, his buddies are far ahead, scanning the bushes and trees with their flashlights.
I didn’t waste any time and ran straight at him. The sound of my boots touching the ground got his attention, but it was too late for him to even react.
A single kick to the body sent him flying towards a tree. He tried to get back up, but he’s now lying on the ground with a knife buried in his head.
I looked in front of me and counted the number of flashlights. Some of them heard the noise and are now aiming at me.
“Seven more to go.”
I quickly pulled the knife out of the guy’s head and rushed towards the remaining men without hesitation.
- - -
Six people died in just a minute. The physical changes in my body did the job.
Only three of them had guns and started firing at me. But their aim was the worst. Belle’s a better shot than these grunts.
What a waste of ammunition.
“Get up.” I muttered, threatening the last guy alive, who’s now lying on the ground after receiving a punch from me.
I took the rifle from one of his comrades’ corpses and then secretly removed the magazine.
“Don’t make me repeat myself.” I said, pointing the gun at him.
Left without a choice, he stood up, and as the moonlight struck my face, his knees started to shake. I couldn’t help but smirk while watching him slowly drop to the ground.
“W-what are you?” he stuttered. His eyes were trembling with fear after what he saw.
I’m not surprised.
“Tell that man... that we’re not going back home. Oh, wait, it was never home. It was hell.”
I threw the rifle at him, and he looked at me with a confused expression.
“What are you looking at? Take it, so you can survive on your way back to that place.”
But instead of running away, he pointed the gun at me and pulled the trigger—yet not a single bullet came out.
I then showed him the rifle’s magazine that I had removed earlier. His eyes widened.
“You really think I’ll let you live, huh?” I laughed.
He threw the gun back at me and crawled away like a newborn baby.
Annoyed, I tackled him to the ground and strangled him from behind.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
He elbowed me and chose not to answer.
“Answer me! What’s your name?”
“Jacob,” he wheezed.
“I see. Do you want to know how it feels to have a broken bone, Jacob?” I whispered.
He snarls and tries to break free. Unfortunately for him, I possess a strength that exceeds his imagination.
“I’m going to kill you!” he bickered.
I placed my hands on both sides of his head and then twisted it. I heard a crack, and the guy stopped moving.
“Not today, Jacob.”
I threw the corpse away and quickly glanced to my left after hearing growls from multiple infected.
Well, here comes our modern decomposers.
I quickly grabbed another rifle from the ground and scavenged every bullet I could find from the corpses. After that, I headed back to the cave and checked for Isabelle. But when I got there, the shrubs covering the entrance were lying on the ground, leaving the cave open to anyone who wishes to enter.
My heart raced as I ran toward the entrance. I went inside, but the only thing left was the bag of chips with the syringe and the glass vial I used earlier. Not a single trace of Isabelle or my bag was left.
Shit! Did they take her?
I sat down to calm myself, but I started hyperventilating. In just a split second, an unimaginable pain can be felt all over my body.
Crap, it’s kicking in.
I crawled, but my body refused to do so. I tried reaching my hands outside the entrance, but my eyes became misty and my vision blurred.
All I can do is mumble Belle’s name as I slowly pass out.
- - -
The pathogen caught everyone off guard. With such unknown traits and a deadly strain, not a single vaccine has succeeded in killing it.
This depressing news from the World Health Organization caused widespread panic. People lost their hopes, but everyone from the WHO never gave up on a cure.
A follow-up interview revealed classified research that’s been signed and approved by the president. But at this point, can they even produce a cure in such a short amount of time?
Soon after, the current president and vice president were found to be carriers of the unnamed pathogen. Treatments were performed, but against all efforts, both of them died.
Without a leader, the US government crumbled into dust. Nobody’s in control now.
Fear of the virus and famine sent the nation plunging into anarchy.
Day after day, thousands of people died from the disease. And when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, the pathogen once again did something inhuman.
Breaking the laws of science, the corpses of those who were once infected with the virus came back to life, thirsting for warm human and animal flesh.
The unthinkable happened, and the fictional horror that was first introduced in the books and movies eventually became reality.
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