The shotgun shell burst through the back of the zombie’s half rotted skull, spilling it’s mutated brains all over the hot pavement. Before the zombie could hit the ground Alisha’s arm was already in full swing, bringing down her spiked bat onto the head of a second undead attacker. Thick, cold blood splattered over her. She closed her eyes and mouth tight and tilted her head down with each blow. She had seen what happens to a person that gets blood in their eyes or mouth. It’s much slower than being bitten. Death takes twice as long because the fever doesn’t set in as quickly as with a bite. So Alisha wraps herself up like a mummy to protect any cuts or scratches she may have, and is mindful of the splatter. She drops to her knees as three zombies come at her at once. Her bat swings in a complete circle, catching the zombie’s ankles and knocking them to the ground. With the same speed she dropped, she sprang back to her feet and out of the way of the falling zombies. They didn’t bother to try and get back to their feet, but rather crawled towards her on hand and knee like animals. She spun herself around them, bringing down the full force of her bat on their heads, one after the other, until there was nothing but a pile of bloody brain pieces lying at her feet. Alisha paused a few moments, listening carefully for the moans of more walkers. She heard and saw nothing else around her so she slung her empty shotgun over her shoulder and took off running. She knew she had to get away from downtown. The stock of supplies she had hoped would be there for her wasn’t. It seemed that all the stores had already been raided completely. After searching three different convenience stores all she had was a single bottle of Canada Dry tonic water and two packets of expired thin mints. She couldn’t find any water that looked safe enough to drink. That was another thing Alisha was careful of. Before she’d gone out on her own she’d heard rumours of people drinking water that’d been contaminated. Since she had no proper means of filtering water, she decided not to chance it, and stayed away from the few half empty water bottles she came across.
Alisha stayed to the alleyways. Moving carefully from dumpster to dumpster, hoping to cover most of her smell by staying near garbage. It worked for the most part, but she did have to knock a few skulls open as she made her way through the dim alleyways. Once the things got close enough, there was no disguising herself from them. Everything about them existed to find human flesh and devour it. In this case the old saying was undeniably true, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” So she ran on, making her way as fast as she quietly could through the alleys and backstreets. The main streets of the city were crowded with the zombies, aimlessly roaming around, waiting for the slightest indication of a fresh meal. When she was close to the edge of the city, she jumped up onto a fire escape and climbed to the roof of an apartment complex. Alisha was careful passing each window for fear of alerting anything inside the building to her presence. From the roof she could see the streets below. The dead staggered with void expressions, bumping into one another and dragging useless limbs at their sides. She saw some of them walking on broken ankles, their feet bent completely sideways, their shin bone protruding through the skin and scraping on the pavement as they walked. The visuals never really bothered her much, she had always been a fan of horror films, but the sounds drove her insane. All the unnatural sounds of the undead. The moaning of the walkers, the screams of the victims, the horrible gurgling gnaw of flesh being eaten, and especially the scraping of broken limbs against pavement. That sound in particular was like nails on a chalkboard. It made her stomach cringe and turn, and her teeth clench. She felt sick whenever she heard the sound.
Alisha focused her gaze away from that zombie and towards the long, crowded highway. That was her only way out and she knew it. The highway lead straight into the countryside, where there would be far less people and possibly some salvation. She had heard of some Amish communities that had held their own through the initial outbreak and had been taking in survivors from the city. It was a long shot that the stories were true and even more doubtful that if they were, the communities were still safe, but she had no other options. The other direction lead to the medical district of the city, which was this areas ground zero. Being the place the first victims were taken when the virus hit the city, the medical district fell to madness in less than a few hours. The rest of the city followed. As Alisha sat up on the roof, peering out over the chaos of the city, she recalled her first encounter with the plague.
It was Sunday, late in the morning, Alisha and her family had just left church and were headed to their ritual Sunday brunch at the little diner across the street from their church. Lots of families went to eat there after service and Alisha and her sister often sat with their friends and discussed the latest gossip and such. Alisha never liked church very much. She didn’t understand her religion and no one was ever able to explain it to her in a way that made it believable, but she kept it to herself to make her parents happy and went to church with them every Sunday. Alisha and her sister, Beth, sat at a booth with their friends from school, Jessica and Kari. Jessica gossiped on about a boy from their school who’d asked her on a date. Her and Beth were in their senior year of high school, while Alisha and Kari were only sophomores.
“No B, I’m serious. He totally wants to talk to you.” Jessica told Beth.
“Yeah, he’s just shy, you know?” Kari added with a sympathetic expression.
“He is really cute.” Beth said, breaking out in a girly smile. The three girls giggled. Alisha rolled her eyes.
“Do you want me to talk to him for you?” Jessica asked Beth.
Beth blushed, and Alisha laughed, “You should talk to him Jessica.” she said, “Tell him to grow some balls and ask out my sister.”
“Alisha!” Beth exclaimed, pretending to be offended. Beth really loved when Alisha said things like that. She was proud and slightly envious of how easily Alisha spoke her mind.
The girls laughed and chatted away while their parents talked about politics and other adult conversation topics. It was a Sunday like any other Sunday.
“Alisha!” Beth teased, “When are you going to start dating? I know a few guys that are in to you.”
Alisha shook her head annoyed. Her older sister liked to tease her about boys, among everything else. “I’ll start dating when one of these mystery “few guys” asks me on a date. So, never.”
“Don’t be so sure Ali.” Kari commented, sharing a laugh with Beth and Jessica.
“What do you know?” Alisha asked, further annoyed, but curious.
Kari glanced from Jessica to Beth, then looked back at Alisha. “OK,” She said to Alisha, “Well, I heard……”
BANG BANG BANG
The sound echo into the diner from outside. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked towards the front window. The front of the diner had a giant window. You could see everything going on outside.
More shots were fired and someone let out a horrible, frightening scream. Everyone in the diner was frozen with fear and curiosity. Around the corner came a group of people that looked sick, beaten even. There were five or six of them, and they growled and spat, lunging at anyone who passed. One of them took down an older woman who was riding on a scooter. They knocked her off the little scooter and piled on top of her, right in front of the diner window. Blood splattered on the glass and several people in the diner screamed, horrified at the site. Three police cars came whizzing down the street, sirens blaring. They came to a screeching stop at the end of the block and jumped out of their cars, positioning themselves, guns aimed, behind the doors of their vehicles. The police yelled warnings at the sick people, but all the attackers did was turn their aggression on the officers. They abandoned what remained of the mutilated old woman and sprinted towards the police cars. The officers fired several shots but the attackers didn’t seem to notice. They kept pace towards the cars and eventually came face to face with the utterly stupefied police officers.
Bullets sailed through the bodies of the obviously undead attackers as they descended upon the police. The officers backed away from the oncoming attack but had little time to reevaluate the situation before the group of zombies were upon them. The zombies pounced on the officers one after the other. The people on the street, already horrified by the sight of the crazed sick people, had now completely sucumb to panic and shock. One unlucky man who’d been attempting to get a newspaper from a dispenser, when the zombies came around the corner, now was trying desperately to fight one of the sick bastards off. The zombie had him pinned to the ground. The man, who looked to be in his sixties, held the zombie’s face away from him with both hands. The zombie’s dirty, blood clotted arms flailed wildly, scratching the man all over his face and arms. The old man finally got a foot under the zombie, who looked like it had once been just a young girl, and kicked it away with all his might. The zombie girl fell backwards onto the ground, but quickly spun around onto her belly and started crawling back towards the old man. He stumbled to his feet and further away from the attacker, but another zombie was already making it’s way towards him. He regained his footing completely and made a dash into the diner. Falling to the floor as he slammed the swinging door shut behind him, the man scrambled to the counter and started yelling about locking the door. The owner/main cook of the diner seemed to snap out of his shock and ran to the back of the restaurant. He returned momentarily with a large metal pole. He went to the door and jammed the pole through the handle just as a particularly angry zombie ran, head first, into the glass of the door. The glass reverberated but did not crack.
Everyone in the diner jumped and gasped. The zombie ran again and again into the glass door, catching the attention of other walkers, who readily joined in ramming their heads into the glass. After only a few moments, there were five or six zombies going at the glass, and it eventually cracked and finally shattered. The walkers charged through the opening where the glass had been, slicing and scrapping their skin against the pieces of glass still stuck in the doorframe. The entire restaurant panicked. Alisha’s father grabbed both her and Beth’s hands and, with mother following, sprinted towards the back door. The owner yelled for them to stop but Alisha’s father was already yanking open the back door. Three zombies fell over each other onto Alisha’s father. Alisha, Beth, and their mother jumped back as their father hit the ground. He screamed at them to run. Their mother grabbed their hands and ran back towards the front. A massacre was in full swing in the dinning room. Blood covered everything, people lay on the floor being eaten alive. A loud smash and someone broke the large front window. Families were ripping themselves up scrambling to get through the window and out of the restaurant. Alisha’s mother ran for the window, dragging her daughters behind her. A zombie lying on the ground caught Beth by her ankle and she fell, nearly bring Alisha and their mother with her. Their mother immediately grabbed Beth under her arms and pulled her out of the grasp of the zombie. With almost superhuman strength, she threw Beth out of the way as another zombie came at them.
Just like their father, their mother screamed at them to run as the zombie attacked her, tackling her to the ground. Beth and Alisha screamed and Beth tried to run back towards their mother. Alisha grabbed her arm and pulled her the other way.
“We have to get out of here!” Alisha screamed at Beth, still pulling her towards the window. Beth sobbed as she turned and pulled herself out of the window behind Alisha. The scene out on the street was no better than that in the restaurant. Alisha and Beth ran as fast as they could towards their house, twelve blocks away. They dodged piles of zombies making gory meals of unfortunate people as they ran. On and on, they didn’t slow down a bit, adrenaline coursing through their veins. Each new block revealing new horrors. It was practically a miracle that they made it around the last corner to the block their house was on. Alisha screamed at Beth to run faster and they finally made it to their house, only a few zombies on their tail. They raced up to the door and Alisha turned the handle frantically. The door was locked of course, the family had been out.
“Shit!” Alisha yelled, “The door’s locked!”
“Get the spare key!” Beth answered, throwing a wicker chair that sat on their porch to the side.
Beth grabbed a small key that was under the chair and shoved it in the dead bolt. The key turned and the door open. The girls rushed inside and slammed the door behind them, locking it up tight. Beth slide into a seated position against the locked door while Alisha leaned over against the staircase, both of them covered in sweat and out of breath.
After a moment Beth spoke, “What the hell happened?” She said, tears welling up in her already red eyes.
Alisha took another deep breath, sniffing her own tears back, “I don’t know, Beth, I don’t know.”
Alisha collected her thoughts as she did a quick check of her equipment. There would be some opportunity to scavenge through all the abandoned cars on the highway, but Alisha knew she didn’t want to stay on the highway any longer than she had to, so she wanted to know exactly what she already had. She packed her bag back up tight and took a look down at the ground around her. It was as clear as it would get. Only five or six zombies staggering around on the street below. She could take them, and then she’s run straight for the highway. She took a deep breath, tightened her bags straps, and started descending the fire escape.
—— To be continued………