And the world ended… (Fast fiction)
It was a dark night, darker than most. The moon was out and it spread light on the ground and outlining things in silver, but that didn’t fix what was happening on the street below my bedroom window. I watched as my neighbor was torn apart after leaping from his dining room window. Apparently his daughter had been bitten and he didn’t realize it. I heard him screaming and banging on his boarded up door and noticed that the local pack heard him too. I willed for him to be quiet, but he didn’t, he was screaming and sobbing and when he found a room with an unobstructed window he jumped for it. They were there waiting for him. All he had to do was to behead his girl, he’d be alive now, and the Zeds would still be in their comatose state waiting for fresh flesh.
It’s been about three weeks now since this started. It was a small and strange beginning. News of yet another pandemic striking the community. The fifth story like that this year alone! Most people just threw on their masks and carried a bottle of hand sanitizer and went about their business as normal. Others did the whole trip to the store to buy tons of perishable goods and locking themselves in the house, and select few (like myself) actually read up on what was happening. This pandemic was different than the others. Sure, the standard ‘High fever” and “Cough” were listed, but another thing added to symptoms was “falling to a comatose state” and “overly aggressive behavior.” I urged my neighbors to hit up the stores with me, seeking out ammunition, canned goods (that taste decent cold), and camping equipment. Only a few came, less bought things that mattered, and I left with all I needed until they came up with either a cure or the troops came through to clear out the infected.
It’s hard to live like this, listening to the screams of those you barbecued with. I keep my house dark and silent, moving around quietly on the top floors. I barricaded all the windows and doors downstairs and hit the power breaker to the house. No light, no sound, no heat nor air conditioning. I use the basement to cook when i have to, or to boil water. My wife took my kids to her mom’s house, telling me that I was crazy for acting like this. She called me a few days after she left, crying. I listened as her mom, our kids, and even her were ravaged. Her last words to me were, “Please, help… I’m sorry… I love you.” Something in me died that day. I don’t know why I bother waiting for someone to come rescue me. I’m lonely and I’ve started reading my wife’s magazines. It’s almost a relief to read “how to shrink your belly before summer” or “the 10 things your man WON’T tell you.” To think that less than a month ago, these things were important. As for the ten things, heck, none of it was stuff i considered, so how the heck was i supposed to share that ‘dirty little secret’ with her anyway?
There’s more noise outside now, but I need to change rooms to see. Creeping through my empty house is depressing, but the strange sounds keep me moving. I made it to my wife’s craft room without bumping anything or making any loud noises, but the moonlight threatens to give me away if i stand in the wrong place at the window. I shift, looking out the corners, staying at the edges, never standing boldly in the open.
The image that confronts me is chilling. The Zed’s have learned to climb. Lead by my neighbor’s daughter they’re scaling houses. They’re not looking here, but three separate groups are working on the houses around mine. I make sure the windows in the room are locked, and head back out, closing and locking the door with the old skeleton key that came with the house. I check all the other rooms too. My son’s room is secure, our twin girl’s room is safe, the bathroom is totally secure, and finally my bedroom.
I’m locking one window, and looking at the next, only slightly cracked. I know I need to move as fast as i can. As i’m bolting across the room i trip and smack my shin. I manage to stifle my cry, but the thump was all the Zed’s needed to hear. I hear their scrambling on my own siding, the pounding on the doors downstairs. I slam the window shut on a small hand and latch it closed, pulling the curtains tight. Dashing out of the room I grab my little supplies and lock the final door.
Glass breaks from 3 rooms. I hear the strange sounds of their attempts at communication. I lift my gun and back up against the linen closet. It’s almost over. I hear the front door shatter downstairs, a large almost booming noise of wood shrapnel hitting things in the small foyer. I offer up my last prayers and settle in. The bedroom door is buckling, and i can hear pounding on the door that leads upstairs to where i sit. Looking up in despair i notice the attic opening. It’s just a hole but I can easily use the linen cabinet to get me up there. I climb like a mad man, reaching the wooden trap door and push it open quickly and quietly. I pull myself inside and close the cabinet door and close the hatch almost all the way. The bathroom door and bedroom door splinter, then give at almost the same time and the Zeds lumber in. My neighbors little girl is looking around and i let the hatch close the rest of the way. I creep over to the small vent and look out. I see a vehicle on the street, a few well armed men quietly and efficiently beheading the Zed left in the street. More noise of breaking doors below me, the strange shrieks of the Zed, then a human voice.
“I guess there’s nothing left here after all, torch it to finish off the infected.”
I scream and begin pounding on the hatch, trying to free it, as i feel heat rising making areas of the catwalk too hot to touch. I run to the vent and pound until it’s open, but the vehicle is moving away and my house is burning strongly. I scream for them to wait, but they can’t hear me. The remaining Zed in the area can. They come into the house to investigate. I wish I was smaller so I could fit out the vent, but i’m trapped. I hear the flesh of the Zed, and the voices of those few still standing shrieking and whistling in the heat of the flames.
I place my gun to my head and say a silent prayer. I’m not going to burn to death, not like the Zed. I turn around to look at the hatch one las time and there’s my neighbor’s girl, patches of her skin blackened. She smiles at me, and I smile back. She crawls toward me and I pull the trigger. The last thing I hear as everything fades is her screams of rage.