Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Genre: Horror (Zombies)

Daniel Skye


            Day Five.
            Four of them–Carson Ryder, Damien Albright, Kenny Sudrow, and Arnold Vesti–braved the surface. The others remained locked away in the underground shelter, left to await their hopeful return.
            Today’s mission was simple. Gather as much food and supplies as they could carry on their backs and with their hands.
            The streets were filled with an ominous silence that brought an unsettling chill among the four men. It was an unspoken feeling, but it was a feeling that registered with all of them. No Biters seemed to be lurking about.
            The only Biters that remained were the dead ones that littered the streets. In some areas, as they quickly discovered, the slain Biters had been stacked into piles and torched to ensure they would not return again.
            Arnold made a clothespin with two fingers, pinching his nose to block the scent of burnt flesh that still lingered heavy in the air. It was an offensive, unimaginable smell.
            Everyone has singed their hair at one point or another. We know what that smells like. Burnt skin, seared flesh, if you try hard enough, you might be able to get an idea of what it could smell like. But boiled blood…you have no clue what that smells like until you get a whiff of it.
            “Remember when you were a kid and you’d pretend the floor was lava,” Kenny said to no one in particular. He was just trying to keep his mind occupied, distract himself from the death and destruction that encompassed him. “So you’d jump around on beds or couches, climb up on the counters, anything to avoid touching that floor.”
            “You must’ve been pretty bored as a kid,” Carson chuckled, still wondering if he had a kid of his own. The wedding ring tan line had yet to fade from his finger. The absence of the ring was still perplexing.
            “My family didn’t have a whole lot of money,” Kenny said frankly. “When you’re poor, you gotta make your own fun. But my parents loved me. It didn’t matter how much money we had. All that mattered was we were happy as a family. Well…they’re gone now. Biters got them. They didn’t last more than two days.”
            “No sense crying over it now,” Damien said without an ounce of sympathy.
            “Jeez, man,” Kenny said, shaking his head. “Doesn’t family mean anything to you?”
            “Nope. You can’t miss what you never had.”
            “How long were you in the service?” Vesti inquired. His question was directed at Carson.
            “Beg your pardon?”
            “I never mentioned it before but when you changed your shirt, I saw the USMC tattoo under your shoulder blade.”
            “I have a tattoo?” Carson said in wonder.
            “You mean, you didn’t know?”
            “I don’t know much of anything. I know my name and address because of my driver’s license. That’s all I can remember. It was Damien who saved my ass and I’ve been with him ever since.”
            “Retrograde amnesia,” Arnold said, repeating the phrase Damien had told him in the record store. “Don’t worry. Your memories will return eventually. Speaking of memories…” Arnold trailed off as they reached the McDonald’s on Cherrywood Avenue. About fifteen or twenty Biters were pressed up against the glass. And there wasn’t even anybody inside.
            “I have a theory about this,” Arnold continued. “I think these zombies, these Biters as you’ve called them, still retain certain memory. I’ve noticed they tend to flock to fast food chains, gas stations, shopping malls, restaurants, and cafés. It’s as if their impulses are drawing them to these places.”
            “Well, let’s make quick work of them before they have a chance to act on their impulses,” Damien said, drawing his pistol. Carson did likewise and Arnold pumped the mechanism of his Remington shotgun. Kenny removed the handgun that was tucked into his waistband. The gun was a present from Damien.
            He never fired a gun before in his life. But he was about to become a fast learner.
            Kenny missed the first two shots. The third time was a charm as he raised the gun, squeezed the trigger, and blasted one of the Biters above the eyes.
            Carson and Damien fired with extreme accuracy, not wasting a single bullet. It was starting to come together for Carson. The USMC tattoo, his knack for firearms, his survival skills. He was slowly starting to put the pieces together.
            As Vesti reloaded his Remington shotgun, a stray Biter crept up from behind, its black teeth sinking into his shoulder, tearing away the flesh. Vesti collapsed and Damien put the Biter down with a single bullet.
            Carson applied pressure to the wound to slow the blood, which was spurting out in jets. “Guys, I’m not going to make it. You know by now what happens when you get bit by one of those things. The humane thing to do is put me down.”
            “No,” Kenny shook his head vehemently. “We can’t do that, Mr. Vesti.”
            “You have to. And I want you to know, there’s a van in my garage. It’ll fit eight of you and as much supplies as you can carry. Keys are in the glove compartment. You can’t stay in that shelter forever. You’ll have to move on eventually.”
            They waited with Arnold and let him experience his final moments. When he passed, Damien granted his request. He put a bullet in Arnold’s head to make sure he would never return.

            “We’ve got a problem,” Trevor Virden informed them when they returned to the shelter. They had returned with food, water, gasoline, and more ammunition they rounded up at T&T Gunnery.
            They noticed the jars of preservatives smashed across the floor and the cot that had been torn to shreds. In the far corner of the shelter, Devin Morris was writhing and twitching on floor. “Withdrawals,” Trevor whispered. “He’s been like this for hours.”
            “What about the preacher?” Damien asked, referencing Chase Crawford who was stretched out on his cot, hands behind his head.
            “Hasn’t said much. Just reads his Bible.”
            “Good. I hope he stays that way.”
            “Where’s Arnold?” Chase asked, sitting up from his cot.
            “He didn’t make it,” Kenny sighed. “Sorry to be the one to tell you.”

            Before they ate that night, they all said a prayer and had a moment of silence for Arnold Vesti. Everyone with the exception of Devin Morris, who was still suffering from heroin withdrawals. He was curled up on the floor with a wool blanket, muttering about how he was hot one minute and cold the next.
            They didn’t have a solution for Devin. They just figured it would be best to let the withdrawals runs their course and let him get better on his own. But someone had different plans for Devin.
They found him the next morning, strangled in his sleep.

Willard Pickman was curled up on a display bed in Marcy’s when Officer Brent Blaze barged in. “We’ve got company.”
“You mean trouble?”
“Not exactly,” Brent said, stepping aside for him to see the three survivors that Blaze had stumbled upon in a shoe store of the mall.
Not only were they friendly, they had supplies. And food.

            FIVE DAYS AGO:
            Washington, D.C.
            “What do we know?” the vice president asked in a private meeting with the secretary of defense.
            “The Department of Defense has been working their asses off to try and find the source. We’ve confirmed that the virus is both blood-borne and airborne, but that doesn’t explain how rapidly it spreads. We could be looking at biological warfare. A terrorist attack the likes of which we’ve never experienced.”
            “So the source is undetermined?” the V.P. asked.
            “At the moment, Mr. Vice President,” the S.O.D. answered. “But we’ve determined these test subjects are neither dead nor alive. It’s as if they’re caught between the dead and the living.”
            “God help us all.”
            The secretary of defense dismissed himself, trying to conceal his smirk. There were many factors the vice president wasn’t aware of. He wasn’t aware of the SCT-3 pathogen the S.O.D. had engineered. He didn’t know like Willard Pickman knew that death is only the beginning.
            And he had no idea how much a virus like this was worth on the open market.

To be continued with Part Five: Hope for a Cure

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