Holden opened his eyes and looked around at his surroundings. There were soup cans littered around the ground, spider webs in the corners of the room, dust mites everywhere, and the old red couches were lined with filth. The floorboards were broken and what was left of them was creaky and unstable. The windows didn’t even exist anymore, aside from the shards of broken glass scattered across the floor.
The smell of rotting flesh and chemicals flooded the room. It mixed with the already existing aroma of barf and horse dung. Humans nowadays smelled like that -- crap. Why shower or comb your hair when there is a horde of zombies chasing you? People’s priorities seem to change when life gets tougher.
The sun shone through the hole where the window should have been and spread warmth throughout Holden’s body. He stopped shivering and embraced this sunlight. Lately, it hadn’t been very warm in Manhattan, New York as the skies were almost always cloudy and the weather rainy.
“Holden?” a squeaky voice said from the opposite end of the room. Holden arose from his sleeping bag and walked over to the small boy.
“Yeah, Nico?” Holden asked, crouching down to flatten his little brother’s messy brown hair. Nico was only eight years old, four years younger than Holden. He had been six years old when the first wave of the zombie virus had broken out.
“We’re heading to Jax and Dorothy’s today right?” Nico wondered, scratching a bug bite on his leg.
“Yeah, in about an hour,” Holden responded, grabbing Nico’s hand so that he couldn't scratch the bite. “He’ll give us a new map while we’re there since ours broke last Tuesday.” Nico nodded, losing interest in the conversation.
“I’m hungry,” he complained, tugging on Holden’s sleeve. “Where are the beans?”
“We ate ’em all last night,” Holden explained, flopping down onto the old red couch. “Jax should have a couple extra cans we can take.”
Jax and Dorothy were an older couple who had helped the two boys out a lot over the past two years. The boys’ parents had been sent to go help contain the virus, but had gone missing during their service. Typically when that happened, the people had become zombies. Thankfully, Jax and Dorothy had stepped in to take care of the brothers. They supplied them with food, water, and new clothes. The couple had protected Holden and Nico with their lives.
Someone started hitting their fist against the rickety door of the abandoned house. That would most likely be Lucy, the seventeen year old girl who was inhabiting the house across the street from the boys. She sometimes came over to share news of impending zombie hordes. Whenever she pounded her fist against the door, it was never a good thing.
“Come in!” Holden shouted, too lazy to go let her in. Lucy appeared in the doorway with recently cut blonde hair. She seemed to have cut it with her pocket knife that she carries in her back pocket.
“Bad news, boys,” she warned. “I’ve just heard news over the walkie talkie that there is a flash horde of zombies gathering on the block next to us. We’d better pack up and get out.” Holden immediately jumped to his feet, almost losing his balance and face planting on the floor.
“How many are there?” he asked, motioning for Nico to gather his belongings.
“As of five minutes ago, there were hundreds of them.”
“Where’d they all come from?” Nico cried in panic as he rushed to stuff everything into a black duffel bag.
“Who knows?” Lucy replied, unsure. She grabbed the crowbar from behind the front door and handed it to Holden. He took it and grasped it tightly, turning to grab the duffel bag from Nico.
“Wait!” Nico shouted before Holden turned to evacuate the house. He ran and grabbed a black wooden picture frame with the picture of Holden, Nico, and their parents before the virus outbreak. He shoved it inside of the duffel bag and zipped it back up. “Okay, now I’m ready.”
“Let’s move out!” Holden ordered, running through the doorway of the house. The sounds of the zombies moaning and groaning were growing louder and Holden could just make out the outline of the giant flash horde. The group quickly turned to the right and sprinted across the deserted street, which would have been crowded and busy two years ago. The tall buildings towered over them, casting ominous shadows across the ground. Trash blew through the wind and the smell of rotting flesh grew stronger.
“Hey, you sure this is a good route to take?” Holden asked Lucy, who was holding a map in one hand, and walkie talkie in the other.
“I’ve heard no news from our lookout, so we should be all good,” Lucy told him. The silence on the other end of the walkie talkie was unnerving. Even if there was nothing to be worried about, both Holden and Lucy knew that the lookout should be still updating. Beside them, Nico screamed and pointed ahead.
“Zombies ahead!” he wailed. Holden whipped around and sure enough, there was another horde of zombies heading their way. Behind them, the other zombie horde was closing in. The group was surrounded.