Today was exactly like every other day I’ve lived through since I turned 18 and got the fuck out of my parent’s house. Except the part that wasn’t.
I woke up, stumbling and grouching all the way to the living room where I lit up my first of many cigarettes, and turned on the TV – all while barely opening my eyes. The sleeping dragon that lived in my stomach decided that now was the time to perk up and demand its tribute, so I wandered over to the kitchen and began the preparations required to enjoy a breakfast of champions – bacon and eggs with a heaping glass of orange juice. While I was cracking five eggs into a bowl, I finally listened to what the news reporter was saying. Something about a virus spreading throughout the US like wildfire, infecting a huge percentage of citizens overnight in all major cities and the majority of suburbs.
Now, I’m not some pussy-assed fairy and I’ve lived through some tough times, but I was so shocked by the videos and pictures of the the ‘infected’ that I actually dropped the bowl full of eggs all over the kitchen floor. The voice coming from my speakers was monotone and blank, and I felt vaguely ill at the thought of the cheery woman I knew would reappear on my screen in a few moments. It wasn’t right, her being so bright and cheery in her little news world when everything was for shit in the real fucking world.
“Citizens are encouraged to stay indoors, lock their windows and doors, and avoid any contact with the infected. No not attempt to establish contact with loved ones, secure yourselves in your homes and wait for further instruction from our government.” The woman continues, managing to sound bored despite the horrific specters being projected on every TV set in the nation. I think briefly that maybe this is just a fantastically realistic new movie, but I somehow know it isn’t. This is real and I am about to throw up.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
I grab my cordless off the counter without thought and answer curtly. “What?”
“Are you watching the fucking news?” K barks frantically. I can practically see the frazzled look on her face as she clutches the phone manically.
“Yeah. Is this for real?” I ask, hoping despite all evidence to the contrary that this really is a movie or a prank or some equally unrealistic possibility.
“Fuck yeah! They’ve been showing footage all morning and the numbers of infected are growing by the fucking minute!” K shrieked, and I can tell that my best friend is about to loose it completely.
Shit. This is actually happening. The shots of Time Square are still playing and I can’t focus on K’s voice any more… because this is real.
Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, and double shit. I dropped my phone I don’t even know if K was still talking to me or not. I have to assume she was. I run to the door to make sure the door was locked and I look out the peephole. I don’t see anything that’s overtly menacing, but even if I did it wouldn’t be anything I haven’t seen before at this complex. Most people here don’t wake up before noon though.
Still forgetting about the phone, I go back up the stairs and, like most of the population that actually know what a USB drive is, I go to my computer. All the news sites are abuzz with this raging sickness taking over and how the President has been taking to an undisclosed location ‘for his continued safety’. Fucking coward.
Oh man oh man I have got to get out of here. I rush back down to the stairs and I see that the cordless has broken where I dropped it. Figured that would happen. I look at the table and see my cell phone. I pick it up and see I have missed a lot of texts. I open it and look for the one name that matters. Common K.
”Where the fuck are you, dumbass?”
I smirked at the phone. She was worried. I quickly texted her back
”On my way, dear,” I text back, hoping the cell reception lasts long enough for me to get where I need to go.
Shoving the phone into my pocket I go back upstairs and start shoving things into my backpack. The little things I could need including my Macbook. Other things consisted of my butterfly knife, photo album, phone and laptop charger. At the last minute, I shove in the remains of my carton of smokes and a lighter.
I decided I may need to change though, not to safe to be running around in my PJ pants. I grabbed my cargo pants and a t-shirt. If I had to run better be as mobile as I knew how to be. I laced up my boots and grabbed my favorite hoodie from my old college. I had been out of school for years but who doesn’t like to remember the good times?
Stomping back down my stairs I stopped at the fridge and grabbed some water, pop and my poptarts. Seeing my jean jacket on the counter I put that on quickly as well. Just in case, you always need your armour (who knew how right I would be).
K had a car, I didn’t. She lived across town and I just knew that the buses would not be running right now. Well looks like I’m walking. As I zipped up my backpack I look at the TV one more time. That nice reporter looks like she is about to puke all over my screen. She looks scared.
”Do not leave your homes! Victims that have been attacked by the infected are showing signs of infection themselves. We are unaware at this time how to control the infection, or even how it is spread. Avoid all contact with the deceased, as it seems that the dead are a carrier of the infection.”
Well, that will make things a lot more complicated then I thought. I went to the closet and saw my baseball bat. I always kept it in the closet for home protection or in case T ( a friend of ours) and I thought to play baseball in the house again. This could work.
I looked around my apartment one more time in a silent goodbye. It looks like I’m leaving home again. This is going to be an adventure, I just know it.
I opened the door slowly, the sun was brighter then I remember it being. It seemed like fates way of telling me to stay inside.
Either way, I took the steps to go outside. I looked around just to make sure I didn’t see anything strange. No creatures, that’s a good sign. I closed the door slowly behind me, making sure to not make a sound. I started to creep down the stairs. I kept looking around, I don’t know what these ‘infected’ look like and I really don’t want to find out.
The parking lot is empty. There are a lot of cars in the parking lot but no people which is very odd for an apartment complex. Usually by now there are kids running around playing and people walking to and from their parking spaces. I am getting to the edge of the parking lot I look down the street and still see no signs of anything. It must not be as bad as all that, just the news networks working people into an undo state of panic. Bastards. I pull out my cell phone again, no new text messages. I sent K a new text.
“Still on my way.”
I don’t want her to worry too much about me. Turning out of the parking lot, I start to walk down the street.
Man, I could use a smoke. I pulled out a Marlboro and light it up. I must look like a tourist, puffing and walking down the street. I keep looking and looking, expecting the boogie man to show up and attack. All this stress cannot be good for me.
The parking lot comes to a fork, and I have the option of turning right and going straight out to the main road, or left towards a back road into a residential neighbourhood. My eyes flit right and in the process, I sweep across the devastation cluttering the street. There are cars on fire and people screaming all down the street and I instinctively flinch towards the back road. I have never wanted to NOT go somewhere as much as I don’t want to step foot on that road. The most logical option is obviously the side road where no one is burning alive. I get halfway down the street and I see a shadow in front of me. That can’t be good.
“Hey buddy.” I said, waving my arm above my head.
He doesn’t say a word back, he just stood there and looked right at me. I stopped where I stood. I couldn’t see more then just a shadowed figure in front of me. But that does not mean I wanted to stick around. I started to back up. That’s where things got weirder.
I moved back and the figure shuffled forward. Slowly, its hands rose up, almost like a twisted hug. That’s when I heard it moan – scream and start to shuffle faster, that’s when I decided to haul ass out and run.
Now, smokers have never been known as the most athletic bunch or the most willing to run but when I saw this thing chasing me, the fire street didn’t seem like such a bad idea. It very well was the absolute best option as long as I didn’t have to stick around and let that thing catch me.
I got to my original fork and that thing was still behind me. I had to stop to catch my breath but I knew that was going to give that freak a chance to grab me and… do whatever it wanted to do to me. So I kept going, despite the protestations of my screaming lungs, and I look over towards the main road with a silent prayer that the fires had magically gone out and the world had returned to being the place I recognised.
The screaming had stopped but I now saw the same shuffling bastards crawling and staggering all over the fucking place. I look and see a parking lot looming right out in front of me. Maybe I could cut through there. Damn K for living in the middle of a city while I lived on the outskirts.
I sprinted towards the parking lot as fast as I could. Maybe, if I ran fast enough, I could just cut right through it, past the fires, and lose the shuffling thing, and its friends that would certainly show up.
I got to the lot and cars are littered all over the place. Man, those places are creepy when absolutely NO people are actually in them. Guess most people listened to the reporters on the TV, unlike me. I took a second to catch my breath and look at my phone. The text message alert had shown up and I open up my messages.
“I’m waiting, slow-ass.” K sent another message. I had to smile. Don’t worry K, I’m on my way.
I already knew that this was a stupid decision when I decided to plop my ass down on the concrete using an old VW Bus to shield me. I just needed to think. Whatever that boogie was, well, it’s just not good. My bat is clutched in one hand and I can feel how tight I am holding onto it. Leaving the house was really not a good idea at all, was it?
I reached into my pocket and pulled out another cigarette. Taking the first drag was just a small inhalation of normalcy and heaven wrapped in a toxic package. I loved every second of it.
Looking around before I stood up I looked inside the car. I really needed some fucking luck, and for once I really think god may exist, because when I looked into the window of the bus, there were keys in the ignition.
I swear, I must of looked as giddy as a school girl. I reached for the handle and what a surprise… the door was actually locked. Who the hell locks their keys in their car?
“Most likely the type of person who leaves their keys in their car to begin with.” I say out loud to no one in particular.
I felt like a spy, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, checking every car door to see if any of them were open.
I looked up at the sky and thought that god must be a real big practical joker to be playing this sort of game with me. I grabbed my baseball bat and looked at the windows.
This is when I had to weigh my options completely. The boogies could be around, and anyone could and would hear the sound of glass breaking. I look at the ground; this is not an easy choice.
Fuck it, it’s either break the glass, walk/run, or die. I swung my bat with everything I had and just smashed the drivers side window. Awesome. I reach in and unlock the door and, man, I heard a lot of those groans coming from everywhere.
I slammed the door behind me and turn the keys, oh thank god there is still gas in the damn thing, I look in front of me and, oh fuck, there are a lot of those things, I look behind me and, of course there are yet more, and I refuse to look to the sides because that would just make me even more nervous. I put the bus into drive and peel out of the space as fast as the old hunker can go. There is a crunching, grinding, screeching sound coming from under the tires as I just plough through the hoard trying to grab at me through the broken window and I cant even dredge up the tiniest bit of pity for those damned creatures. It was either me or them….right?
I speed out as fast as this boat of a car can go. I feel the breeze hit my face and it feels nice, I feel the glass stab into my ass and back — not so nice. Either way, I am driving down the streets now and I see these creatures everywhere. They are shuffling around and moaning and screaming. This is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. Where are the people? Are they all… like these things?
I am driving down the street and I pull out my phone, I need to let K know we have a ride now. Heh, I think she is going to yell at me. Although, drastic times call for desperate measures.
“K. I got us a ride. Be ready! We are getting the fuck out of here!”
I hope she gets it and is actually on time for once. I look back up at the road and I feel the car slam into something. Or was it someone? I don’t think I can consider it a person anymore.
It’s lying on the hood of the car and the eyes are glassed over like a drunk or someone who has one to many concussions. It’s still fucking moving like nothing happened. I speed up now, hoping to get it the hell off the car and it eventually falls off but it was looking at me like I look at a cheeseburger.
K’s place isn’t to far off. I stop the car. If these things are everywhere (like they seem), I need to get out of the car instead of lead a huge swarm back to K’s apartment. K and I can ninja our way back here. We can’t really hide a car pulling up and honking the horn like I used to do when she lived with her parents.
I pull the car over and grab my backpack, bat, and unlike the original owner of my new ride, I grabbed the keys. I open the car door and look ahead. 4 blocks. I am sure I can make it 4 blocks. I made it this far right?
So here I am, staring up the street. Man, I’m getting nervous. I saw one of those things up close. I saw it. I guess with driving over here, it really didn’t hit me till I left the car. I think I really did kill them. I think I might have killed someone…or something.
I’ve always talked a big game, even under certain circumstances I would put up a nice front, make them all believe that nothing could touch me… but I have never killed anything. Never even wanted to.
I shook my head trying to get the ideas out of my head. I am 4 blocks away. Just 4 more to go. Why can’t I get my legs to move faster?
A noise startles me from behind and I clench the bat in my hand. This is it, first contact. Time to prove myself and the only way to do that is to lay the fucker down with my inadequate baseball bat. I turn around, with the bat over my head, seconds from bringing it down from over my head.
“Yo! Calm down! I’m not one of them!” The stranger yelled wearing a ski mask and placing his hands on the back of his head in supplication.
I kept the bat over my head anyway, just in case he’s infected. I have had reality flipped and turned on me today I was not looking for it to happen again. No need to get eaten alive while I try to play nice with some guy I don’t even know.
“Seriously. Not one of them,” he repeated, and I can see a nervous smile tugging on his lips.
“Alright, I believe you,” I say lowering the bat slowly as we stared at each other. I think we were the first humans the other has seen all day.
“Shit! Whoever you are, we gotta get out of here, quick,” he said grabbing my arm and pointing behind me desperately.
I look and I see the boogies shambling toward us steadily. I look and I let him pull me down this alley and through a door. The building was dark and chilled, filled with a sent that clawed up my throat like clove smoke and no matter how shallowly I breathed, I couldn’t escape the stench of death.
Almost, there’s no light and it fucking stinks in here and all I really want is to be able to grab K and get the fucking hell out of here. All I could see was the blond hair of the guy who dragged me and hear his haggard voice as he kept saying, “common, common, hurry up, watch out for the stairs.”
We kept going and going, but in the dark, the concept of time is pretty askew so I have no idea how long we were encased in the darkness, but I did see what looked like a door ahead of us. He pulled open the door and slamed it shut behind us.
We were on the roof of an apartment complex. I could see so much of the city. Normally that would be awesome… if it wasn’t for the constant fear of dying.
“You must have a death wish,” he spits out the minute the door is closed.
“What?” I pant, doubled over in an attempt to catch my breath.
“Did you see those things? You were driving down the street in a POS from the 1970’s, and every ghoul in the city was crawling out of the woodwork to get a taste of you. It looks and sounds like it’s about to explode. If I could hear you so could they… and they aren’t nearly as nice as I am.”
“I have to pick up a friend.” I said as my only defence, almost embarrassed but not really giving enough of a shit to be much of anything but tired and worried right about now.
“A friend huh?”
“How far from here?”
“’Bout 4 blocks”
“Hmm, we can pull it off,” he smirks, knocking me genially on the back.
“We?” I asked, raising an eyebrow incredulously.
“Safety in numbers, although numbers won’t get you far if you’re a dumb twat.”
“Who the fuck are you?”
“Call me T.”
He took off his ski mask and I saw one of the most pleasant surprises I could think of. It was one of the best friends and partner-in-crime I could have asked for.
“Well, T, nice to meet you again! We thought you were dead” I said with a laugh.
“Naw, not yet,” was his short response.
From there we just stood there. I think we were both a little shocked by the idea of finding another human that wasn’t one of the boogies let alone a friend we’ve known for close to ten years. I took out my cell phone and looked at my screen. 1 new message.
“Hurry up. We need to get out of here before we’re SOL.”
Leave it to her to be this ready to get out of this city. I looked a T, tall and lanky, freshly shaved head, couldn’t be much older then 20 by now and he had saved my ass. I quickly texted back, “Almost there bringing a friend.”
“Well, ready to get out of here?” I asked T, waving my cell phone in the space between us. “The Queen is getting impatient.”
“Lets do this, grab the lady and SPLIT. Now, where is she?”
I looked around and pointed at one of the buildings.
“There. On the 20th floor.”
“Now, this is going to be good.”
“Oh, you bet your ass it will be.”
T and I grinned at each other. He grabbed his backpack and a hockey stick and pointed at the next roof.
“Think you can jump that?”
“I know I can.”
“Alright, let’s get moving.”
I had to laugh and I could tell T was just as eager as I was and we sprinted across the rooftop, exhilarated, and as we jumped, I had to hold my breath… and hope all this doesn’t end with my brain splattered on the pavement.
I couldn’t fucking believe my eyes when I turned on the news this morning. There was Brenda Artwin (the plaster-faced anchor on channel 5 every day since dinosaurs roamed the earth), looking desperately confused as she read poorly from the teleprompter as though she couldn’t believe what she was being asked to say. I couldn’t either.
Despite numerous essays turned in during nursing school regarding the wide-spread possibilities of a vector born illness (infections caused by transmission with other infected’s bodily fluids – like the way mosquitoes spread West Nile Virus), I never thought I would live to see the day when fucking zombies were crawling all over the major cities in the world. I didn’t even think before I grabbed the phone and called my best friend.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that B was impulsive and prone to self-sacrifice, but for him to be wandering around the city while fucking zombies ate everyone in sight made me vaguely uncomfortable… so I did the only thing I could think of. I texted him constantly, hoping each time I hit send that I would get a response just one more time.
Rationally, I knew that I should get in my car and drive to get him instead of making him walk all the way here, I just couldn’t bring myself to face the famished hoard that could strip the flesh from my bones faster than you can say ‘fuck’. Rationally, I knew that I should probably be doing something other than packing a bag and waiting impatiently by the door for the knock that would mean my best friend in the whole world was still alive. But, at this juncture, I really wasn’t too rational.
So, an hour after getting off the phone with B, when someone banged loudly on the door, I rushed to look through the peep hole as fast as I could get my legs to move. It wasn’t B.
It was my elderly neighbour, Mrs. Clark, looking uncommonly harried and… bloodstained. I nearly fell over trying to get away from the door, scrambling towards the hiding place behind the couch without even having to tell my body to do so. It was the most frightening experience I have ever lived through until that point. She just kept knocking herself against my door as though she could smell me on the other side and just couldn’t understand why the door wouldn’t magically disappear and allow her entrance. I couldn’t feel my body, but somehow during the trip behind the couch, I had grabbed a meat cleaver and was clutching it so tightly that my knuckles turned white. Atleast I might take a piece of poor Mrs. Clark with me when she finally succeeds in banging down my door.
And that’s when it stopped. The noise, my breath, my heart, the growling I could faintly hear through the tiny crack under my front door. Everything just stopped. And I knew that if I didn’t get out from behind my couch and find out with the fucking hell was going on, that I could never live with myself. So I got up, moved almost silently to the door and looked out the peep hole.
Mrs. Clark was ambling down the stairs and out into the parking lot, her bloody hands leaving a gory trail behind her. I shuddered.
Clang Smash Thud Scrape BANG BANG BANG
Someone had just vaulted up the stairs at an alarming speed and was knocking furiously at my door. I sighed in relief… B was finally here.
It felt like we where super heroes. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop. It took longer then we thought but man all those impact landings REALLY hurt after a while. No wonder super heroes don’t live to be old. When we got to her roof we ran through the door and as quick as we could down the stairs.
That alone could of hurt us. She was on the 20th of 25 floors. The stair cases didn’t connect. The 25th floor seemed to have a few stragglers. I had my bat, T his hockey stick. We both just stood there for a second.
“You know how to use that thing?” I said
“Do you?” he retorted with.
We charged toward the few there and swung our respective weapons. The boogies fell but didn’t stop moving. We heard one coming from behind us and I swung at the head and it cracked like and egg and dropped to the ground. T looked at me as I stood there staring as it stopped moving.
“We didn’t learn this in school, huh?” he smirked like always.
We charged back down the hall way to the next stair case. I saw K’s old neighbour and she charged me and I pushed her towards the wall out of our way.
“Just go ahead, man. I’ll take care of her. Go get mom.” T said so I charged back down the stairs and up to her door. We had made it. Like officially, I pounded on the door for just a few moments. At least I did in my head. I very well could have sounded like a nutcase drunk. From the look K gave me when the door was finally open that’s the look she gave me as well. I smiled the minute I saw her, she smiled to.
“Your late.” she said.
“Fuck you.” I said laughing
I turned my head and saw T making his way up the stairs. I waved to him and he smiled and started walking over. His hockey stick was bloody. I think he dropped the neighbour. When we came barging our way up the stairs she heard and charged I pushed her off and he told me to head up here he would follow. Took him a while. Maybe too long, if this was 24 hours ago.
We both made our way into her apartment and her jaw dropped.
“T!” she grabbed him into a hug
“Hi Mom” hugging her back and smiled
We’d all be friends for years. T just always had a habit of disappearing then showing back up on our doorsteps eventually and we would always pick back up wherever we left off. He seemed to see us as his wayward parents. Leave and come back and he always had a home with either one of us.
“T” I said and nodded towards the door
He had closed the door and I walked into the kitchen and started pulling on the fridge. T came over and quickly helped as we started to drag the giant metal coffin towards the door and dropped it in front of the doorway.
“Wait! What the fuck are you doing?!” K shrieked at us, hands planted firmly on her hips
“You didn’t see what we did” I stated firmly
“Mom, its bad.”
“We came from the roof.” I laughed a bit as I said that.
T laughed as well. It was a fun ride. She just glared at us.
“Well, how do you think we’ll get out?! You blocked the door!”
We pointed at the window and she looked at us.
“Well, that could work.” she laughed a little
“Got a weapon K?” I ask concerned
“Umm I should,” she went to her closet, puttering about for a bit.
“It has to be strong, headshots work wonders,” T added
I go to her closet, she is tearing it apart and I figure she has nothing, me and T could surround her till we get to the car. Then she pulled out her first of so many surprises. She pulled out a sword. Not one of those cheap novelties you can find in the mall but a real fucking samurai sword!
“I bought it years ago. Wanted to learn how, but after a few lessons, I got bored.” She shrugged and put the strap over her shoulder.
T just stared for a moment and shook his head muttering about how she has a sword as I handed her backpack on the floor. She smiled at us I could tell she was happy and surprised we both got there. And I knew she would never say thank you either but it was just understood. She was looking around her apartment.
“Ready to go, K?” I ask
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” she responded.
T had opened up the window and had a cigarette in his mouth already while sitting on the fire escape.
“Hurry up before we get eaten!” he said
“Coming” K and I both said.
We walked towards the window and I held her bag while she crawled through. I looked at her door and heard noises coming from the other end. Seems like her other neighbors may have heard us and well may have learned how to use the door now.
“T, we’re coming down, be careful!” I look at him.
“Got it, lets go!”
I crawled out the window, ready to bolt down the escape. This adventure is getting a lot bigger then I thought it would.
We where sprinting down the stairs as carefully as possible. We had risked it all, and it would have been a horrible time to break our necks.
T was in the lead, K in the middle, and me at the end. This would be the beginning of our formation. It’s a trend that would last for as long as we ran together.
We were making a lot of noise as we tore ass down the fire escape, but that was to be completely expected. When you really think about it, those fire escapes are made of metal. The sound of us sprinting down them had to alert things that we were on our way. Finally we were almost to the ground and I felt freedom. We were close. Only 4 blocks to the car.
We could make it, I am sure of it. Soon we will be there and be out of the city. We could camp out, and soon this problem would be over with… right? The government knew this was happening. They wouldn’t let this continue.
We made it to the ground and right as I turned around I saw a swarm. A Big one.
“Fuck.” I yelled.
T turned and I saw his eyes widen. We each grabbed one of K’s arms and ran. The alleyways weren’t the biggest but enough for us to know if we go down the wrong way we would be lucky if one of us survived.
We were breathing so hard while sprinting and taking lessons out of the 80′s slasher classics and knocking down everything and pushing empty dumpsters. It may make more noise but, Jesus, it may have helped our chances.
Finally we saw daylight ahead of us. Keep going… common legs, we need to keep going. We got this far. One of those things were right ahead of us. Please god. I dropped K’s arm and started to sprint ahead. T knew what I was going to do and just held onto K. I grabbed my bat and I swung like I thought I was Babe Ruth and smashed that thing in the head. I wasn’t hesitant anymore. I still don’t know if that was a good thing.
As it crumbled to the ground, I stopped for a split second and looked at T and K. She looked a little shocked. T was just smiling.
“Dad, home run,” he smirked
I laughed a little (how weird is to laugh at that type of comment?). I grabbed K’s arm again and we ran again. I saw the car just a few feet ahead.
Reaching in my pockets I pull out the keys. I threw T the keys. He caught them without a second though and sprinted off ahead of us and right to the driver’s side.
K and I were not far behind him. When he had the car started K was in shotgun and I was in the back seat. We had made it. Pulling down the street we saw a swarm of them materializing behind and a hundred feet in front of us.
“Well, I hope these things are made as good as they said they where.” T laughed again.
He gunned it as fast as he could (70 mph at the best). He broke a hole in the middle of the swarm and we were on our way. But to where?
We had a small benefit of where we lived. We lived in a desert state and honestly it had the lovelyness of when we got out of the city, hundreds of miles of absolute nothingness. It gave us the advantage as well as seeing them and no real hiding places. That could also be seen as a major weakness for us as well.
We stopped the car at the side of the rode. We were about 40 miles out of the city and into the wild stretch of nothing between one city and another. After moments of no one saying a thing I started laughing and I couldn’t stop. K was looking at me like I was completely insane.
“B, what’s so funny?” she shrieked at me
“K, we went to bed last night, you most likely watching some stupid ass tv show, me playing a video game, and T most likely smoking a bowl. We all woke up and now we’re all fucked!” I said between laughing.
K just stared at me. T just nodded.
“It was a blunt” he added.
He got the death stare as well. I finally could stop laughing and I reached into my bag and pulled out my cigarettes and lit one up. The drag tasted like heaven had reached my lungs completely. All that existed at the time was that beautiful cancer stick and me. And I can say I didn’t even care. I closed my eyes and rested my head.
Everyone was quite. It was the strangest thing. Since the day all three of us had become friends almost none of us had ever had a moment around each other where not one of us was saying a joke or having fun. This was not something any of us where used to.
“So where should we go?” T asked almost innocently.
“I don’t know.” I said
“The news said they are making some bases.” K stated matter of frankly
“News?” T and I both asked.
My head shot up. I had forgotten her TV was on when we had finally gotten there.
“Yeah, I was watching it while I was waiting for you.” she added.
“Well, what the hell is going on! What are those things?” I spouted out a mile a minute.
K sighed at us. She, like all of us, had a very long day. As a nurse, she was used to seeing horrors up close and personal. I heard so many stories from her about what she had seen, enough blood to cause nightmares. She was never skittish nor was she ever prone to be quite in the slightest. I had never seen her like this.
“Zombies.” was all she said
“Somehow, some way, we have fucking zombies. They think that it might have come from a terrorist attack of some kind, but nobody knows for sure. Everything just went to shit overnight and now this thing is everywhere. There is nowhere safe… nowhere at all.”
“Damn, aint that the fuckin’ shit?” T said as he pulled out a cigarette from his jacket.
I handed K over a smoke as well and lit myself up another. It didn’t seem like we needed to worry about cancer right now considering that we had a much bigger problem. Where do we go now?
We sat in silence. Well, almost silence. You could hear each of us taking drags off those Marlboro’s like they held the answer to the world’s oldest questions. I kept looking around, expecting to see boogies, wait…I mean zombies, all around us. I could see smoke in the distance behind us. I still have no idea why we didn’t see anyone else trying to get out of the city.
I looked towards the sky. Normally you would be hearing or seeing planes flying overhead. The noise was so obnoxious. I kept listening hoping that we could -would hear it soon. No answer came to me.
“So,” T started.
K and I both looked towards him.
“I don’t got a thing,” he said and slumped his shoulders
I smirked I knew that one was coming. I look at K and she doesn’t seem to be all there yet.
“K. What did the news say?” I ask
“Did they mention anything? For safety? You mentioned bases,” I didn’t want to sound desperate. I doubt I succeeded.
“They said some city’s have them but I really don’t think it’s wise to barely escape one city and then just run right to another one.” she sounded pretty pissed.
“Nevermind! It’s not like it matters.” I lay down in the back seat
I didn’t want to deal with well…anything. I had to steal the car without a DVD player didn’t I? I turn to my side and see T just zoning out like he always did. He finally took off his hat again. Its still so weird seeing him without hair. I looked over at K and she was sifting threw my backpack.
“Yes?” I asked
“Cigarettes.” she stated blankly
“Here.” I handed her the rest of my pack
Suddenly we hear noise. T has turned on the radio. We heard nothing but static. He kept tuning into other stations. K and I where silent and still. Staring at the ratio just hoping upon hope we would hear a voice, some message telling us what to do.
“Nothing! FUCK.” he yelled hitting the steering wheel.
I think we were all just a little heartbroken at the idea that nothing was out there.
“Try A.M.” I added
He looked back at me.
“Sure why not.”
He started to check through all the AM stations and we got nothing once again.
“Damn.” I said flatly.
“There’s never anything on, anyway,” K said, biting her lower lip and keeping her eyes on her own lap.
I think I knew in the back of my mind that nothing would be there. It was worth a shot but still. I doubted anything would materialize, still disappointing. I heard a stomach growl (mine included).
“I guess we are all hungry huh?” I asked
Both of my friends nodded at me. I reached into my bag and grabbed some of the pop tarts and threw them at my friends. T pulled the car over and we all began to feast on them like they where a Thanksgiving Day turkey. Suddenly, K looked up at me and she squinted at me fiercely.
“You left your apartment and the only food you thought to bring where pop tarts?” She tried her best to look angry at me.
At that moment I knew exactly that she would be okay. She was starting to become the K that I knew. I looked out the window and I saw the sun was beginning to set. The road ahead of us looked like it literally would go on forever. Combine that with the static on the ratio. I opened the car door slowly.
“What are you doing?” K asked
“Going outside.” I said as calm as possible
“I need to see something.”
I made my way outside and smelt the air. It was the first time since I walked outside this morning I felt the ability the breath calmly. Something I guess we as an entire species take for granted. I leaned up against the back of the car looking at the city. The smoke is still filling the skies. It’s getting darker out so it was harder to make out some of the objects in the far distance. I felt something grab my shoulder. I think I jumped 12 feet in the air.
“Jumpy much, pussy?” K had leaned on the car next to me as she cackled.
“Heh. I guess it’s natural right now.”
“Yeah I guess so” she said.
We stood there in silence and T had left the car too. We just stood there for a moment and K handed me another cigarette. T already had one hanging out of his mouth and we stood in complete silence watching as our former city seemed to fade to black like in those classic movie moments while hearing static come through the speakers.
It was almost sad to see city kind of disappear into darkness and smoke. While taking a long drag off my cigarette. This was a horrible and beautiful moment for all of us. All of a sudden we all heard something that made all 3 of us jump.
A voice, loud and filled with static came barrelling out of the car speakers.
“Hello? Is anyone out there?”
“Hello? Is anyone out there?”
Frozen. Still. The only movement was the creeping shadows gliding towards us with the rising of the moon. We were fixed, completely stagnant. The air was wheezing out of our open mouths like buzzing insects. It grated my already raw nerves.
“We are stranded inside an abandoned radio tower just outside Prescott. There are twelve of us, some are children, some are sick. We need help. Please, if you can hear this, we need a doctor. There’s a fever passing through the survivors like wild fire. Please, help us.”
B was starting to fidget with the nick knacks in his pockets and T was fingering the strap of his messenger mag. I felt sick. They were infected, I could just feel it. They were infected and in just a few hours the entire group of survivors would be dead, taking god knows how many would-be-rescuers with them.
“Should we go?” T asked, looking pale in the washed out light of the moon. Maybe he was going into shock.
B was opening his mouth to reply but I beat him to it. “No. They’re infected. It’d be suicide.”
“But they said people are sick. Kids could be sick. We can’t just leave them,” B exclaimed, looking a bit green.
“Yes, we can. We have no idea how many people got to safety before things really started to go to shit. I’m sure someone else heard the transmission and is headed out there as we speak. I don’t want to risk it,” I growl. I was sure that I was going to hell. I mean, what sort of person would just leave sick children to be infected? ‘A smart person’ a little voice tells me. I can’t help but agree with it.
“Kitty’s right. We can’t take the chance. We need to get somewhere safe for the night and stick together,” T mutters sadly, pleading with his eyes for B to understand.
B is silent for several moments, squeezing his eyes shut and swallowing thickly. “OK,” he whispers finally.
“Good,” I state firmly, rubbing his forearm. “For all we know, they could have already turned into Zombies.”
“God, don’t fucking say that!” B hissed with a grimace.
“What?” I ask incredulously.
“That! The ‘Z’ word!”
“Whatever. That’s what they are,” I sigh, rolling my eyes.
“Doesn’t mean we have to fucking talk about it,” B said, throwing his hands up in the air.
“Can we please stop bickering and get back in the car?! I’ll feel better with two tons of metal rage under my hands,” T interjects.
“Good idea,” I soothe, grabbing B’s arm and walking him back to the van. “How’s our gas situation? I can probably find somewhere for us to camp for the night, but I need to know how far we can go.”
T looked are the tank gauge, pulling his lips into his mouth. “We have a little over a half tank.”
“That’s good, right?” B asked.
“Yeah. We can probably make it to the reservation. There won’t be people for miles up there,” I say, smiling a bit. My first since I turned on the news this morning.
We all pile in the van and take off. The radio is back to just white noise, but it’s something to listen to besides our own breaths so we leave it on. Silence seems to be stalking us, riding in the van with us and making us all uneasy. I can only hope that we can hold on to ourselves through all this. It would be so easy for one or all of us to break under the pressure.
The exit for the reservation was about forty miles from where we stopped the van, so the half-hour ride was made quickly with T breaking every major traffic law he knew. Not that it mattered right now anyway. When we turned off the highway, we drove for about twenty minutes looking for somewhere to park for the night. We were all pretty exhausted and the sooner we all got some sleep, the better.
“How about here?” T asked, pointing to an abandoned gas station. It was an old building; family owned and bound to have some food and supplies inside. I nodded in agreement and braced myself for first contact.
Parking, we spilled out of the van and attached the gas pump to the van for tomorrow morning. To my great surprise, the gas flowed freely into the tank and in no time, we were set for the morning. It was one of the old pumps. You know, the kind that pumps the gas and you pay for it later, inside. We really lucked out.
Timidly, I started to walk inside the store. I gripped my sword in front of me, trying to stop my heart from racing and my breath from whooshing from my nostrils. The store was dark and musty with dust curling in the light from the streetlight on the road. It was silent again and I could distantly hear B and T calling for me but my attention was riveted to the far right corner. There, propped against the cooler, was the disemboweled body of a young man.
Blood was everywhere, spread by struggling legs and grasping hands that had long since stilled. Feeling foolish, I checked for a pulse and found none. I moved the arm and found Rigor Mortis had already passed, which meant the body had been there at least a day. I gulped.
It was dead, but I had no way of knowing how long it would stay that way or even if it would reanimate at all. But, my mother always told me to be prepared… so with a mighty swing, I lodged my sword deep into it’s neck, successfully severing the spinal chord and the brain stem.
Hopefully the news was right about that part. Hopefully the thing wouldn’t ‘wake up’ in the middle of the night and eat us all.
T and B almost break the door down as they rushed in. “Are you alright?!” “Jesus, is that thing dead?!” “Are you bitten?” “What happened?”
“I’m fine! It was down when I got in here and I just made sure it wouldn’t get back up,” I shout, waving my sword around.
“Thank god,” B gushed, rushing forward and hugging the breath from me. T soon joined the embrace and for the first time since all of this happened, I felt like we might just be alright.
Breaking away from the doggie pile, I smile at them both. “Lets load some shit in the van before we crash for the night… just in case the shit hits the fan and we need to shit ‘n get.”
“Cool,” T agrees.
We all grab armfuls of food and drinks and stuff it in the back of the van. We would probably have enough food for a couple days and enough liquid to keep us from dehydrating.
Wearily, we trudge in the store and pile a few travel blankets on the floor in the back. With the door locked and secured as much as possible, the van prepped for the morning and all three of us safely tucked into the makeshift bed, I allowed myself to close my eyes and pray we make it to daylight.