Ok guys I started posting a revised version of my original story on the BB forums. Their is only a small difference between that story and the story i posted on these forums: They are currently at a outpost based around their old highschool. Read the last few parts over again and you will be completely caught up.
The Dead Walked the Earth
He didn't usually take such long showers, but he'd been so cold that afternoon, it was the only way to warm up. Finally, he shut off the water and snatched a towel from just beyond the curtain. Cool air blew through the tiny window near the ceiling.
He made sure to avoid the cold tiles when he stepped out of the shower and onto the rug. He at himself in the mirror. He had an average face. Round chin, brown hair, green eyes and a pimple or two. Nothing to be proud or ashamed of. He opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out a toothbrush and squeezed some toothpaste onto it. He scrubbed his teeth while he opened the door.
He stepped into a cold puddle, and startled, he jumped back. It was a pool of milk with cereal floating within it. Next to it was a plastic bowl and a metal spoon. "Sweetheart, you gonna clean this up?" He asked, stepping over it and going to his room to change into some pajamas. He closed the door behind himself.
He was quiet while he pulled on some flannel pants and a sweater, listening for a response from his girl friend. The one thing he was most proud of in his life. He slipped back into the bathroom to spit out his mouth full of toothpaste and then hung up the toothbrush.
"Rachael?" he called into the house, that now, seemed mysteriously quiet. He walked into the living room and a cold draft passed over him. The front door was hanging open. He walked over to it and looked outside. The sun was going down and the sky was red. Wind whispered in the maple tree in the front yard. "Rachael?"
When he heard no response, he closed the door and locked it. Confused, he went to the kitchen to grab a towel to clean up the mess and that's when he saw her, sprawled out on the floor. Her robe torn from her shoulders, blood had run down from her neck and onto her breasts.
"Oh my God!" Tom shouted, pressing his hands on both sides of his head. For a moment he just stood there, repeating this prayer over and over and then ran to her. He knelt down, and in disbelief, he could see that she was not breathing nor did she seem to respond to his touch. Emotions rushed over him but he held them at bay for the moment, too confused to accept anything he was seeing.
He picked up the phone and dialed 911, backing away from his girlfriend, who was now a corpse in their kitchen. It rang once and then a voice came over the line.
"My girlfriend is hurt... she's lying in the middle of our kitchen.. she's bleeding.." he forced himself to describe what he could barely force himself to see.
"What happened to her sir? It's very important. Has she been bitten?"
"BITTEN sir, has she been BITTEN?"
Tom looked at the source of the blood. A gash in her neck. "I'm not sure, maybe... Why? what am I supposed to do? Help me, PLEASE!"
"Sir you need to get out of your house."
"Sir listen to me..."
Rachael sat up with a sudden twitch. She started to wheeze and a hiss escaped her lips. "Rachael, oh my God, Rachael, are you ok? Rachael, you're bleeding oh my God..."
"SIR! DO NOT go near her! SIR GET OUT OF THERE!"
To be continued
The love of his life rose from her shallow grave that was the kitchen floor. Rachael stood in the middle of the room, swaying a bit but facing away from him. Her arms dangled at her sides strangely.
Tom dropped the phone receiver in disbelief. The batteries shot out of it and rolled across the linoleum. Rachael turned sluggishly to face him. Her eyes were open now, wide open, racing around the room and then locking on him. "Rachael?"
The name seemed to spark no recognition. She began to approach him, clumsily stumbling across the room. She was snarling, teeth and gums bared, and she reached out a hand to touch him.
"Rachael, sit down," Tom urged, backing out of the kitchen and out of reach of her fingers as they clawed at him. "Rachael, what's going on?"
She didn't answer him. Rachael stumbled forward and hissed at him as she drew nearer. Tom stepped back into the hall, stepping in the puddle of milk and slipping. He fell hard onto his back, splattering cereal all over himself, but he continued to scrape backwards, crawling into the bedroom and shutting the door. He layed on the floor, listening to Rachael's sluggish footsteps on the other side. She moaned.
"Rachael, ANSWER ME!" He screamed under the door. His throat was tightening as she made no response. Rachael was something else now. "Rachael, please!"
He laid there for an hour, listening to her pace back and forth. Occasionally she would knock against the door, but never made an attempt to use the door handle. Tom stood up and went to the closet; he took out some jeans and put them on. He grabbed his wallet too. Even though he was already wearing a hooded sweater, he pulled on a jacket as well. A shotgun his father has passed down to him was leaning against the back wall of the closet and he looked at it for a moment, but then decided to leave it alone.
His cell phone was charging on the nightstand beside their bed. He unplugged it and turned it on. He called the police again.
"What's going on?" Tom asked. He returned to the closet and took out the Ithica 12 gauge. "My girlfriend is..." he could't bring himself to say dead. He bit his lip.
"Sir, you need to get in a car and drive away. Just go. We've locked up the police station. We're not letting anyone else in."
"What? Drive away? What's going on?"
"They'll kill you. Everyone is turning into... monsters. Zombies, the undead, we don't know what they are. Don't let them bite you. Was you're girlfriend bitten?"
"We don't know."
"Where can I go?"
"Arm yourself if possible... find a safe place with food and water and other people. Find somewhere bright, I don't know."
Tom ended the call and pocketed the cell phone. He had two boxes of shells for the shotgun. Each box contained 16 Remington shells. He threw them into a backpack, but not before loading 8.
It wasn't a long way down from the bedroom window. He slipped out and stumbled onto the front lawn. He hadn’t gotten around to cutting it that week. There was no way he could go back in and kill whatever his girlfriend had become. He loved her so much. Perhaps there was a cure. He tried to put her out of his mind. The house was locked up and he hoped she would be there when he returned. If he returned.
He looked around cautiously. A breeze swirled down the road and brought with it the faint sound of sirens and the unmistakable pop of gunfire. He crossed the lawn and took one last look at the house before he ducked into the little red 2door they had. He placed the shotgun across the back seat and the backpack in the passenger seat.
Rachael was standing at the front door, naked and disgusting, pawing helplessly at the glass. Tom looked away in agony, stabbing the keys into the ignition and bringing the tiny car to life. He backed out of the drive way and before he pulled away, looked at her one last time. What she had once been was gone. He could see it in her dead eyes.
He drove three streets down. Tom decided he would go and see his friend Nick from high school. There were no cars driving on the road.
"What happened? How did I not hear anything about this?"
His thoughts were interrupted as a man stumbled into the street far ahead. Tom slowed the car and watched as he changed direction and slowly shuffled towards the car.
Tom rolled down the window "Buddy, get out of the road!" but the man was obviously beyond reason like Rachael had been. Infected, or something. No longer a man but something else. Tom carefully drove around it. It tried to follow the car but lost interest as the car rounded the next corner.
The evening had started clear, but as time went on, rain clouds began to move in. The apartment building that his friend resided in came into view, Tom noticed that it was beginning to rain. It gathered on his windshield and contorted the images of the buildings around him. The rain was like uncertainty, only adding to a situation that was already impossible to understand.
It was just that evening he had been watching a TV show with the love of his life. Since highschool. That life was gone now.
Now he was some sort of shotgun toting renegade? He didn't understand, but how could he? This wasn't some stupid movie. He was real.
As Tom parked in front of Nick's apartment door, he looked around through the rain. There were figures off in the distance, walking slowly through wet grass in wet clothes. Everything was soaked already. Wet with confusion. Wet like the milk on his back.
Tom didn't want to get wet but he didn’t have a choice. He contemplated honking the horn, but he didn’t want to risk drawing the attention of anyone else but his friend. The area was relatively clear, the nearest person being a hundred yards away, but he remained cautious anyway. He opened the door and grabbed the 12 gauge Ithica, leaning over it so that he could shield his weapon from the rain.
He hurriedly made his way to Nick apartment door. He knocked 3 times and while he waited he looked around nervously. Noise came from within and then he heard Nick's voice, "Who is it?"
He opened the door quickly without question and pulled Tom inside. As soon as Tom was in, Nick shut the door and bolted it.
"Great to see you man, can you believe this?" asked Nick. The TV could be heard in the background. An anchorman was reporting on mass violence and infection. Suggesting the public stay at home and away from the bitten. "They think it might be a terrorist attack. An engineered virus or something." Tom stared blankly at the screen. He didn't answer. They stood in silence for a few minutes.
Rain coursed down the windows of Nick's tidy apartment. The sky was darkening quickly. He noticed Tom was carrying a shotgun but didn't bother asking about it. He knew the answer just by looking at his solemn expression, but felt obligated to ask anyway: "Tom... Where's Rachael?"
"I left her in the house," Tom said finally, after they'd been sitting together a while, watching the news warn again and again of a disease that was sweeping the nation. "She's one of them."
"You left her there? How…” he started, but decided against asking his friend to relive the experience. “Maybe there's a cure,” he added carefully.
"Maybe." Tom’s face was without emotion.
At a moment like this Nick would have hoped to be able to depend on Tom for strength, rather than see him so devastated, but this was not the case. Instead he looked to the TV again. In one live report, a reporter was talking in front of a scene of carnage. Cars were burning and garbage was littered everywhere, and then from out of the rolling smoke came a group of the infected. The news crew ran out in front of the camera and yanked the reporter into a van, saying hurriedly, “Ok that’s good enough. We need to get out of here.” That was the end of that particular report. They sat for an hour watching the television with slight interest and then Nick stood up. "Let's go upstairs and look out the window. See what we can see."
Nick's apartment was clean. He lived alone, had no pets and didn't keep garbage. His bedroom was neat as well. They crossed the carpeted floor and Nick opened the window, ducking his head out. The doors to the adjacent apartments were all closed and it was quiet outside. One man shuffled clumsily by a tree about a hundred yards out.
"Nick, look at that tree," Tom said, putting one hand on the window sill and pointing with the other.
"Yeah you think that guy is infected?"
"No, look! I think there's someone in the tree!" He was right. "Nick you have any binoculars up here?"
"Yeah somewhere," he replied, leaving the window and searching the room.
"HEY!" Tom yelled out the window, calling to the helpless survivor. Had the situation not been so dire, it may have been amusing. Nick came back to the window looking through the binoculars. It was a woman with brown hair, her face red from crying. She looked up at the window and called something back but they couldn't hear. She resumed watching the man as he continued to circle the single tree.
"We gotta do something.."
Nick grabbed a jacket from his closet as Tom went back down the stairs. Thinking he might need some protection, he grabbed a baseball bat from beneath the bed. A Louisville slugger. He used to enjoy baseball a lot.
Tom had turned off the TV by the time Nick came down the stairs, carrying the wooden. "So what are we gonna do? Kill the guy and grab the girl?"
Tom ran his fingers through his short brown hair, sighing. He still felt no emotion. A part of him wanted to give up. "I guess... You think I'll have to shoot him?"
"I don't know. I could club him, I guess, maybe knock him out?"
"That sounds like a better idea. It would save ammo too."
Tom unbolted the front door and poked his head outside. Raindrops fell softly on him and on the parking lot, but nobody was in sight. The tree was around the left side of the building, so they quickly ran around. They jogged about three-quarters of the way to the tree and then slowed down.
"Are you ok?" Tom shouted, and the woman looked up, shaking her head.
"It's my husband!" She cried. "Something's happened to him! Just like the rest!"
The man who was apparently her husband didn't seem to notice the presence of Tom and Nick, even as they drew nearer. His movements were slow and labored, they couldn't see his face, but the back of his neck was pale. He clawed with lazy persistence at the trunk of the tree, reaching for his wife. His clothes were completely dark with wetness. She could see in her husband’s eyes no facet of what they once were.
"Don't hurt him! Please!" She shouted, even though they were close enough to talk normally. "Oh God, what's happening?" she asked.
"Nick, just give him a whack," said Tom. He readied the shotgun just in case, but aimed for the legs. If he had to shoot the guy, he didn't want to hit the girl too. The tree wasn't very big. Her feet were just out of reach of the man's fingers.
"You think I should?"
"I don't know, ask her."
"Uhh, hey, were gonna hit him in the head. Hopefully it'll knock him out, ok?"
She looked at them for a while, a tear running down her cheek. She was pretty. Dressed in a conservative green turtleneck and jeans. Her hair was long and curled, but it was ruffled. Everything was damp and clung to her. Finally, she sighed and put her forehead against the trunk of the tree, closing her eyes. "Just hit him. Please dont hurt him."
Nick stepped up slowly and the man stood stock still, apparently waiting for his wife to come down. Nick had no idea how hard to hit someone in the head with any desired effect, so he aimed right for the middle of his skull. He drew the bat back and brought it forward with an unpleasant -thwack!-. The woman shrieked at the sound.
"Oh!” groaned Nick, as he felt brittle bone crack beneath his swing. He had to hold on to the bat tight for it to come out of the head as her husband fell lifelessly to the ground. "Oh my God..."
She screamed at the top of her lungs as she saw the back of her husbands head, the flesh sunken inward over a split skull. She jumped out of the tree and ran past Tom and Nick, crying hysterically.
Nick dropped the bat.
They stood over the corpse while in the distance, the woman heaved sobs into her hands. She’d made it half way to the apartments before collapsing in the wet grass.
"Jesus, I didn't know how hard to hit him! I didn't hit him THAT hard!"
"You cracked his skull…"
"Yeah, but, it was soft... maybe the disease does that or something... makes your bones rot."
Tom knew Nick was a cautious man. He knew that he wouldn’t have used excessive force against any foe. He believed him. "He looked really pale... Maybe he'd been dead for a while. Maybe the longer you're infected, the slower and weaker you are."
"I don't know. What are we going to tell that lady?" asked Nick, picking the slugger back up from the moist ground. The tip had a little blood on it. "I can't just say I'm sorry."
The rain started to come down harder. The sun had finally set and the lights went on in the parking lot, casting a glow on Tom's car. Thunder rumbled like a warning in the distance, warning that the worst was yet to come. They walked back through the grass to the apartment. She had gotten up and made it to the tiny porch, sitting on the wet cement, crying into her hands.
"Look, lady, I'm sorry. I don't think he could be helped. How long had he been infected?"
She continued crying for a few moments and then settled down enough to say, "We go in a fight two days ago... he went out drinking and didn't come back. He was gone all yesterday too."
They stood out in the rain listening. Tom hunched over the shotgun to keep it as dry as he could, but the rain came down mercilessly.
"I was going to go to his parents house tonight and see if he was there... he was standing right outside the apartment... and then..." she was over come by a fresh wave of sobs. Nick felt obligated to help her stand and to get her inside, so they made their way back in.
The woman sniffled and shivered as Nick took her to his bathroom to dry her off. She whimpered like a child. Hands shaking, Nick took a dry towel that had been hanging on the door and wrapped it around her. He had no idea what to say to this women, especially after what he'd done.
"Look..." he said, wiping rain water off of his face with his hand, "I'm going to get you something hot to drink. Dry off in here. I'm sorry..."
She looked at him with blue eyes that were red from crying. Her lip trembled but she said nothing. Nick left and closed the door behind him, and then went into the kitchen. Tom was there, peering out the window that provided a view of the parking lot.
"Nick, you need to see this," Tom said, stepping away from the window.
"What?" Nick asked, looking out for himself. "What the hell?"
The parking lot had been empty when they let the girl into Nick's apartment, but now, it was full of the infected. Men, women and even children moved around the parking lot, some walking in circles, others standing stupidly, looking up into the rain as it fell on their cold bodies. Some moved faster than others. One sprinted full speed across the parking lot and into the darkness, causing a startled response from both Tom and Nick.
"So they're not all slow?" asked Nick, without taking is eyes off of the parking lot.
"What if some of them are smarter than others? What if they get in? Nick they're everywhere..."
Across the parking lot there was another complex of two story apartments. Many of the infected had gathered on the porch of one of them, hands pawing at the door. "You think there's people in that apartment?"
"I dont know, man," Tom answered. "What if they can smell us, or hear us?"
The question was answered by a soft, sliding sound against the front door. Tom shuddered as it reminded him of Rachael, sliding against the bedroom door. They wanted to come in. Tom and Nick slowly moved into the living room and stood looking at the door and listening. First they could hear soft groans which rose to a constant moaning, but soon the sounds grew more persistent. They began to growl, snarl, hiss, their sounds were haunting and without intelligence. One of the infected let out a full fledged scream at the top of it's lungs, and began to bang it's fists against the door.
"Oh my God," Nick said, wiping his hands on his shirt compulsively.
The woman in the bathroom began to feel strangely exhausted. Her clothes clung to her skin, cold and soaking wet. Her nose was running profusely and she assumed she would probably get sick from spending so long outside in the cold. She looked at her face in the mirror. Her skin was pale. She felt horrible. Sounds were coming from outside and she wanted to get back to the men that had saved her, even though one killed her husband.
She sat down on the toilet. Her legs felt wobbly.
Someone knocked on the door. "Umm... Tom and I are going upstairs to get some stuff together. We're gonna need to get out of here, ok?"
She took a deep breath and then looked at the bite mark on her arm that had begun to throb. She had no idea why it still hurt so bad. "Ok..." she answered, but consciousness was escaping her.
"God, I've seen this exact same thing happen in like.. a hundred movies, you know?" said Tom, rifling through Nick's closet, throwing useless items aside. He grabbed a backpack and threw it on the bed. "I can’t believe this is real."
Nick rose up from underneath the bed with one more pack. He threw his binoculars into it and some gum too. "I guess ill put as much as I can into them..."
"Pack some warm clothes. Who knows where we'll end up, you know?"
Nick crammed two hooded sweaters, one green and one blue into a backpack along with a pair of sweats. Those alone nearly filled one pack. "What else?"
"As much crap as we can get outta your fridge. Water. Maybe some cereal? I don't know. Stuff we can eat easy."
The woman they had rescued appeared in the doorway of Nick's room. She was clutching the gash she had never shown them. "Guys, I appreciate what you tried to do for me," she started, they both stopped what they were doing and listened. "My husband bit me. I didn't say anything before, but... I think I'm turning into one of them."
"You're going with us," Nick insisted, grabbing both backpacks and walking past her. Tom followed. The fridge was near empty. A jar of pickles, jelly, some eggs. There were three bottled waters and Nick grabbed them and placed them in the near empty backpack. He closed the fridge and grabbed two boxes of cereal.
"Nick...?" shouted Tom from the front hall.
No answer was necessary. The sound of the front door giving way could be heard through out the house. Tom stared in horror as the door freed itself of its hinges and the infected poured in. A mass of writhing hands and grotesque faces moved into the house, brining with it the rancid smell of bad breath and rotting flesh. They moaned as if the infection tormented their bodies, slowly eating away at them from the inside.
"Oh my god..." Nick said, grabbing the Slugger from the counter-top.
Tom had gone shooting with his dad before he died a long time ago. He knew how to use the Ithaca, but it had been a long time. It wasn't necessary to aim because the wall of rotting flesh was nearly on top of him. Tom squeezed the trigger and the shotgun barked loudly, taking down three people at once. Their bodies flopped backwards and fell beneath he feet of the crowd. Tom racked the shotgun with a satisfying click-click. This time he aimed higher and took down four. Two heads completely dissapeared, splattering themselves against the white walls of Nick's apartment.
"Tom! RUN!" Nick screamed from across the room. Several people turned to look at him and he clamored up the stairway back to his room, frantically taking two steps at a time.
Tom had never shot anything besides clay pigeons before, but in the heat of the moment and the sight of so many hostile people coming towards him, he did not hesitate. He racked the shotgun again, ejecting the second expended shell and then fired into the left side of the crowd, three zombies buckled beneath the buckshot, shrieking in pain and Tom sprinted through the gap and up the stairs after Nick.
"We have to do something fast!" Tom screamed. It was necessary to scream. The infected were shouting in agony below them. "We have to get out of here." Tom stopped for a second when he saw the woman they’d saved lying on the floor. There was more blood on Nick’s bat. Tom ran past Nick and to the window. It was only a six or seven foot drop if he hung from the window sill before letting go. "Nick, get over here, you go first!"
Nick was entranced by the sounds rising from his living room. Moans and shouts of agony. He could have sworn he heard a voice saying 'kill me', but he wasn't sure. A small boy suddenly appeared at the botttom of the stairs and looked up at Nick. Nick thought the boy was grinning, but as the child started bounding up the stairs, he realized he had no lips. They had been torn from him. His eyes were wild and red. Nick raised the slugger and then smacked the boy square in the face, smashing his nose and knocking several teeth into it's mouth. The boy's eyes fluttered and his arms flailed and then he went over backwards, tumbling wildly back down the steep stairway. Adults were beginning to ascend the steps. They trampled the boy without notice.
Nick ran over to the window and threw both of the backpacks out. "I've got the gun but ill throw it down to you before I come out," Tom said, watching the door.
Nick stuck his leg out of the window and then the rest of his body, then dropped the six feet down to the ground, rolling into the soft grass. He quickly regained his footing and looked up at the window, waiting for the shotgun and his friend to appear.
The infected managed to worm their way up the stairs just as Tom let the shotgun fall into Nick's hands. Tom looked back from the window, cursing loudly and sliding through the window. He hung for a second, long enough to feel a cold hand brush over his own, and then he let go. He landed on grass and fell backwards, almost wanting to vomit after feeling the ice cold hand that had touched his own.
"Let's get to your car," Nick said.
The crowd of the infected didn't notice Tom and Nick slipping behind them and into the car. They’d been able to find them hiding in the apartment, but they had no idea how.
"Why didn't they notice us?" Tom asked, sliding the key into the ignition, but hesitating to turn it on, "we're ready to go right?"
"Yeah, I guess we should go. I don't know why they don't notice us. How'd they find us in the first place? Smell?"
Tom turned the key and the engine rumbled to life. Heads turned. "Crap, they know now," Tom said, looking over his shoulder to back up.
"Tom, GO!" shouted Nick suddenly. A teenager with blood covering his face and shirt sprinted out of the crowd and tore towards the car. Tom floored the vehicle and it lurched backwards, smashing into a parked sedan. The young man flung himself onto the hood with no regard for his well being, clawing at the windshield savagely. Tom put it in drive and the tires squealed, attracting the attention of the rest of the infected. The person on the hood slid off the side and hit the ground with a grunt.
Tom watched in his rear view mirror as they pulled away from the apartment. A crowd of hungry corpses tried in vain to make chase.
The main road was completely deserted. Occasionaly there would be a car pulled over on the side of the road, hazard lights blinking silently, but other than that, nothing. They had expected to see fires and people running around screaming, like in the movies, but there wasn't. No fires. No explosions.
Nick leaned forward and turned on the radio. A surprisingly light-hearted broadcast was going. "Yes the crowd outside has grown lately... I didn't realize we had so many listeners!" Tom and Nick both chuckled, despite the circumstances. "Anyways, if you're just tuning in, we're broadcasting to tell you, that yes, there's still people alive. Not everyone is a zombie. There's about twenty of us in this station. All hope is not lost! About five of these twenty are women so if it comes down to it, we could repopulate the earth no problem." The broadcast continued as Tom drove, carefully avoiding any debris that occasionally was found in the street: "Let's take some callers!" The guy on the radio said. "Hello?"
"Please somebody help us! We're at the Home Depot at Farren Street and Oak! Please! We're in an office or something..." cried an urgent voice over the phone. "Oh christ, they heard us... GET AWAY FROM THE DOOR!" then it sounded like she dropped the reciever. Glass shattered in the background. Someone let out a scream that turned into a gurgle as she was apparently overcome by the infected. The receiver scraped around for a moment and then another voice came over the line, a desperate female voice. She managed two words before the familiar groaning of the diseased overcame her: “It’s everywhere…”
The DJ disconnected the call after about five minutes of random crashing and shouting. Tom continued driving. "Well dammit, I was just cheering up..." he said, his carefree mood a little offset by the drama so suddenly played out over the phone line, "Here’s another caller… You're on the radio."
"This is Doug out in Gurland, listen people, just board up your windows and doors and keep quiet! I bet this will all blow over."
"Tom?" Nick said, turning down the radio, "we need some sort of plan..."
“No kidding,” Tom sighed. “We’re just going to waste gas doing this.”
They weaved through town for an hour, looking out the windows at dark storefronts. The streetlights were on as were the traffic lights, but there were few people to be seen. All of them appeared to be equally incoherent. An old woman appeared in the headlights at a cross walk and for a moment, Nick thought she was alive, but as she turned to look into the bright headlights, she revealed that the skin had been removed from half of her head.
Tom drove around her. One of their old haunts, a coffee shop, passed on the right. Both of them peered with interest only to find that a slaughter had taken place within. The doors were held open by bodies. The sidewalk glistened with blood. Whether or not these bodies would rise again was unknown to them.
“I’ve never seen anything…” started Nick, but he found it difficult to continue. He’d killed two people that day and he hadn’t even thought about it since. Their blood was on his bat.
He remember bounding up the steps and reentering his room. Nick had already decided on going out the window first and then helping her down, but before he could even say a word, she lunged at him. Her mouth had been open, her fingers spread wide, like some over dramatic actor in a haunted house she made ridiculous sounds and gestures. Without a moments hesitation he’d hit her. Like he hit the boy. Smacked her in the face and when she fell, he hit her again and again until she stopped biting and scraping in his direction. Her head broke like a pumpkin would have. He hated the memory.
“Tom, what’s happening?”
“I’ve just been thinking about Rachael…” he admitted even though he wanted to lie. “About our house, the people we knew…”
Their conversation was discontinued on account of a distant sound, the distinct ‘thumpathumpathumpa’ of a helicopter. It came into view directly ahead of them and then slowed in the air. “What the hell?” asked Tom. He slowed the car down.
He rolled down the window as the helicopter lowered itself to almost level with a few of the buildings. Trash swirled in the draft caused by its blades and the engine roared loudly. “Turn around!” said a voice over the loudspeaker. “Turn around and take Elk down to the highschool! This is a transport helicopter. We’re making civilian evacuations.”
With the, the helicopter rose up and then pitched forward, going towards the highschool. Tom turned the car around without question.
When they drew nearer to the highschool, back through the littered streets, an enormous police blockade came into view. In front of a police wall was an enormous collection of squad cars and police vans. The street was covered in corpses. Searchlights immediately blinded them both, casting their rays directly on the car.
"Stop right there!" came a demanding voice over a loud speaker. "In the red vehicle, come out with your hands up!"
Nick shot a glance at Tom and they sat for a minute. "Well, I guess we better do what they say," said Tom, removing the keys from the ignition and opening his door. He stepped out onto a slick corpse and cringed. He stepped over it and stood with his hands stretched upwards. Nick did the same.
Men who looked like SWAT team members moved quickly and efficiently from behind the walls that were marked with bold white lettering "RCPD". They had weapons drawn, the men leading aimed at Tom and Nick. The men who followed the leader pointed their weapons everywhere else, scanning the area for hostiles with gun-mounted flashlights tracing the darkness.
"Have either of you been bitten?" yelled a SWAT member into Tom's face. He didn't need to yell because the street was almost silent.
"No," Tom answered quickly. The wrong answer may have killed them both. "Ive got a shotgun in the car," Tom added. One of the SWAT members moved past him and grabbed it from the back seat. He also grabbed the backpacks.
"Alright follow us. You hold on to my vest." he instructed, and feeling a little childish, Tom complied. They told Nick to do the same. They ran back together, covering the two survivors with over-dramatic caution, weaving though the corpses and a few parked cars, towards the brightly lit barricade. The lights and guns instilled a hope in them so false, it was only a matter of time until things went wrong.
Beyond the police line was a wall of sandbags and a few tents scattered in front of the high school they’d once attended. Lights and people were scattered thoughout the makeshift camp, walking aimlessly, sharing stories, crying and comforting one another. It was like being in the eye of the storm, a calm within the swirling walls of a hurricane. The man who had yelled into Tom's face instructed the team to return to their posts at the perimeter. "You boys ok?"
"Yeah we're fine," answered Nick.
"You two should consider yourselves lucky. If you would have come a few hours ago, you might have been shot. We just fended off all those zombies you see out there." he said this with a slight grin.
'Zombies'. It was the first time either of them had heard someone refer to the infected with a simple b-movie title such as that. Tom almost cringed at the term. The SWAT officer (or whatever he was) obviously hadn't seen someone he loved change before his very eyes, rise from the kitchen floor, disgusting and violent. Tom had. It was disrespectful.
"We've got all the survivors going through those tents and then into the school. Choppers are coming by on a regular basis to take survivors back to a base they got somewhere up state. The medical team is gonna check you boys out and then you just go wait inside. You probably wont be leaving until morning." A man at the wall fired a single shot that rang out in the still air. They glanced over to see the shooter smiling and giving a few of the other guys a 'thumbs-up'. "I'd better get back to the line," said the officer and with that, he left them.
"Nick you think we're safe?" Tom asked, turning towards the medical tents.
"I hope so," Nick answered, scratching his head. "They took all of our stuff."
"I'm sure they have more," Tom assured him. "Let's go get this over with."
They entered a large medical tent together. The inside was well lit. There were about twenty people inside, not including the doctors. It was packed. "People!" someone yelled over the bustle of the crowd. It was a doctor who pulled away his medical mask as he spoke "You need to form a line outside of the tent. Someone could be infected in here and with a huge crowd like this, it can spread easily!"
A murmur rose from the crowd and Tom and Nick stood in the doorway. People began to form a line behind them, even though they'd just arrived. It was a small victory. Since they were next in line they looked in on the medical staff. The tent had many gurneys in it and further into the back there were plastic-enclosed beds for the more serious patients. The doctors wore white coats, some had blood on them, but most didn't. The crudeness of the tent suggested they didn't plan on staying forever. That, or this was one of many outposts and they simply didn't have the resources.
Another shot popped in the distance. The barricade was about fifty yards behind them now, but they could still faintly hear the laughter following the gunshot from the soldiers.
“I don’t like this at all,” said Nick, looking around. “I think we might have been better off on our own.”
“How do you figure?”
“There are so many people here close together. If one guy lied about getting bit, everyone is in trouble.”
Tom looked down the line. Most of the people were soaking wet and wearing long sleeved jackets and pants. It was true that anyone of them could be bitten on the arm or the leg, selfishly hiding their infectious battle-wounds. At least the rain had stopped.
Soon they were ushered in and the doctors only looked at them briefly, asking them to lift up their shirts and drop their pants, just to be sure there were no bites or open wounds on them. Then they sent both Tom and Nick through the other end of the tent, which led to the steps of the school.
“RC High,” Tom observed. “Some good times here.”
They ascended the concrete steps and went inside. The front hall was very dark, but there were lights that appeared to have been provided by the military lighting as best they could. There were a lot of people inside, but it was relatively quiet. Some of them had flashlights, probably brought from home.
“Where should we go?” asked Nick. He felt naked without his slugger.
“Hell if I know. Let’s check out the cafeteria.”
They weaved through people who milled aimlessly about the crowd. Tom picked up pieces of conversations as he passed “My only son…” someone said but then could not continue. “God ~~~~ monsters tore my house apart looking for me,” recalled an old man. The further they went into the school though, the quieter the crowd became. The conversations were much more whispered. Someone said nervously “Yeah I heard something like that too. I saw one of the helicopters landing and I thought, ‘what the hell?’ why would it be landing there?” The voices came out of darkness.
“Tom,” Nick said, grabbing his arm, “hold on.” Nick approached the whispering group talking about the helicopter. “What are you guys talking about?”
A flashlight switched on and rudely pointed into his eyes. The holder said quickly “Go away. We weren’t talking about anything. Go.”
Nick brought up a hand to shield his eyes, and replied with apprehension “Alright, Christ cut the light.”
As they walked away Tom heard one last snippet “He could be one of them.”