All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
As soon as Jasper’s voice bounced off the deserted walls of the hospital, it ignited a flame in all of us. The hordes of the dead raced behind; a bleeding child within our party acted as sonar. I looked up at the leader of our six man pack as he raised his machete and made the signal for no-sound combat. Automatically, I tucked away my hand gun and pulled out my 12’’ stainless steel hunting knife.
“We should split up.” I heard the words from one of the new additions. The older man was from a town about 20 miles ago. We picked up him and his teenage son while rummaging through a grocery store. They help us against a mob of twenty Zombies. And as compensation, Jasper and I accepted them into our circle, or more like what was left of it after the first year of Post War Z.
In the last two years a deadly virus emerged around the world. Much like what horror films showed you and Zombie books described, the sickness was quick and spared no one; killed you and then reanimated your limbs into a soulless monster. Newspapers and NPR first reported it as a chemical attack, especially with all the activity from the Middle East. And while the top Nations acted against Arab countries, the sickness grew right underneath our noses. Eventually, doctors traced the disease back to some deserted area of Mexico.
It hit South America first and the fastest. Within two months of detection in the Southern countries, the continent went under. Asia was next, used some serious weapons to try and tame the undead, but they did more damaged to the living; they were gone after three months. Europe, Canada, and the States followed third. Each country had their own plans of attack or escape, and five months gave ample time to prepare, however when the time came, preparation was the furthest from most people’s mind.
It’s been two years since the disease landed at my doorstep. I was a starving actress and lived in a three bedroom loft in Brooklyn with nine other roommates. At the time people whispered about illegal boats cruising up to the shores and brought the sick, however in NYC rumors were as common as bedbugs, so the whole city continued on with their lives, even restaurants stayed open with the hope of blossomed profits from abandoned tourist. When the first alert from the President and Mayor rang from radio stations and tv sets, lockdown started and for two weeks prior, my bohemian friends and I took this time to drink our faces off and throw legendary parties. It was during some severe day-drinking that the Mayor confirmed the first case within the Manhattan borders.
The smash of a fallen door brought me back to reality as we hit a dead end. Double doors with two slender windows exposed a bridge packed with the undead. Red eyes and snarling mouths pressed against the glass, while their hands played with the handles. Chills spread along my body and I stared. We all waited as they tried to solve another barrier the human race had against zombies; door handles.
Adaptation…this word uttered the most during the downfall of our nation, has plagued survival. The mutated carcasses, brought back from the dead, adapted fast in post war. In months, the transition only took seconds instead of minutes. Their hunting strategies were more sophisticated. Instead of solidarity, they moved in groups; their hunting parties became more effective. Even their food source was now selective; small animals were spared for larger mammals. And while the living were afraid of everything under the sun, holing themselves up and refused to trust others, the Z’s band together and quickly took control. Cities torn apart, towns completely overrun, and all major highways were death traps. When the living smarted up and worked together, there weren’t enough people around. So you had these mix-matched groups, sneaking around during the day, welding make shift weapons out of anything, and hoped that survival was on their side, much like us now.
My hand itched for my gun. My eyes set on the door, ready when it burst open, while the others frantically looked for a way out. “Fuck…”said the teenage boy as his Doc Martins created more sounds.
“Keep still or you will give us away…” I whispered, but everyone knew it would be our latest addition that won that title.
I snuck a glance at the young mother, in her arms a child no older than three. We found her huddled over his body at the riverside two miles ago. Immediately, the old man stopped and approached her, scared we would lead the gang of Z’s following us straight into her. He begged that she come with us, kept the injured child a secret, until the hordes number doubled in minutes and we were forced to seek refuge in a hospital. Now look at us.
“We should move…” I whispered again, as the Z’s on the other side of the door became aggravated. The hinges creaked in protest of their weight.
“We need to retrace…”The woman added, by Jasper immediately interrupted.
“…what we need to do is clean up your son, and find a tightly sealed room. With his bleeding, we’ll run ourselves out. For now…” he pointed his machete toward the door of an operating room. “We’re going through there; everyone be alert, and fight back or I will leave you. Celeste…” he looked at me. “I want you at the back.” I nodded; in this world Jasper and I were to always have each other’s back.
Before the war, Jasper was a friend I met from a friend. They were associates…or more like fuck buddies. He lived in Brooklyn like me, only a couple of subway stops away, while she was one of my roommates. Like many in NYC, he traveled from Jordan alone, and only reached out to his family once a month. Quickly, my gang became his adopted family. When we first met he was the nice, sensible, smart, funny, and passionate, could cure all the chaos surrounding me. Now, he was only a shell of his former self. When the virus took hold of Manhattan and everyone boarded the bridges, Jasper ran to my apartment, filled with all the housemates, and told us we needed to escape. He was afraid that by keeping everyone out of Brooklyn, the local government would also trap us in. Which was right, but only a handful of my dearest companions and I followed him. Several weeks after we fled, a couple from Manhattan told us that in hours the city fell.
Immediately, Jasper became the strongest amongst our seven man group. He kept us tight, kept us going, and knew what to say when we gave up. He was a keystone; however even his strength could only go so far. Over our first year of traveling, we lost almost everyone. The first attack was in a bathroom stall; second attack while raiding a house, and third…well, that was when everything was lost.
I came back to the sound of glass and watched the observation window fall like rain. Jasper had the blunt end of his machete aimed toward the hole. The distinctive drumming of the Z’s filled the hallway outside the room, and the stench hit us like bricks. I ran and closed the door, made sure to bolt it shut with a loose pipe. “Move!” Jasper yelled and he jumped over the ledge. The young boy was next and then the woman. She approached and raised her child to pass him over, but Jasper just moved away. When the teenager stepped forward, Jasper hand flew out just as the old man volunteered. To have a bleeding wound was one thing, but to have someone’s blood on you was pure suicide. This we knew; the boy still needed to learn.
As the woman passed off her child, my eyes took in his lifeless face. If he wasn’t dead already, he would be within an hour. A roar exploded behind us, signaled that the bridge doorway had gave way. If we didn’t move, the undead would be in here in seconds. “We need to dump him,” Jasper yelled. “They smell him and they’re going to trap us in. We’re already going in circles.”
By facial expressions, the group realized this too. “So what should we do?” The old man asked. He was a softy, that’s his downfall. He brought the woman and child to us and we took care of them, but now she would get us killed.
“Dump him, he’s already dead.” This came from the man’s son. Eighteen, I thought. Suddenly, I remembered and the ease behind his words scared me. Hard eyes, jittery movements; this was not from adrenaline. This world would make him a psycho who killed for sport, something that would be his blessing and curse.
“I agree.” I turned to Jasper, not surprised by his words. He inched forward and placed a finger under the boy’s nose. “His breathing is minimal. He’s not going to last and they are getting closer.” Our eyes met. “Celeste, look for a way out now!” However, his cold eyes stared a little too long and I understood the message. Jasper only intended an out for two of us.
Obediently, I went straight to task, kept an ear open for the sounds of Z’s. As I walked to the edge of the room, the old man spoke. “Take my boy, I’ll stay with her. Go to the town two miles away, we’ll meet you there in a of couple hours.”
“Old man, you’re crazy to think you can get out of this alone,” Jasper responded. It would be suicide to stay here.
“Dad, just…come with us now,” the boy yelled, an inch of desperation weaved in his request.
Shadows began to sway under the door and I could make out individual growls. “We don’t have time for this.” I shouted and then looked toward the ceiling. There was a duct, ventilation system right above us. “Help me,” I shouted toward the kid, but he seemed shocked by his father. “Jasper…” I said more urgently. We were good at escaping, damn good, but this was pushing it close.
Immediately, Jasper jumped back over and dragged the operating table. With the child back in his mother’s arms, the old man stack chairs against the door. As soon as the table was in place with only a five foot gap to the ceiling, Jasper was first go up. The other three seemed impervious to what we were doing and once again, the separation appeared. It would be easy to leave them now.
Fully secured, Jasper hung from the hip and lowered his arms toward me. With one leg on the table, I glanced at the others and paused. The man and son worked hard to create an effective barrier. Their devotion, hope, or fear of reality would kill them if they kept going; they would die for a woman who was already dead.
“Celeste, now!” Jasper yelled from above just as a fist crashed against the door. Two years of fighting or fleeing and leaving others to advance myself, yet, now, I couldn’t turn away from the father and son. “Celeste, get your fucking ass on this table, or I will leave you!”
Jasper’s command jutted me from my thoughts at the same second doors burst open. The hordes bust through all the chairs with force and a scream filled the air. The son…I knew that voice belonged to the boy, but I had risked enough. Game’s over. I climbed the rest of the way as chairs were thrown and more screams continued. With one hand in Jasper’s reach, he lifted me quickly as a dead hand scrapped my shoe. Quickly, I kicked until free and flew up through the opening.
I fell inside the cramped 3’x3’ space when a voice called from below. “Please, lift me up!” This came from the woman. Sadly, I heard, but Jasper already had other plans. As soon as I was safe, he went back to the entryway and placed the screen across the opening, securing it in place with a zip tie. Jasper didn’t spare one last look at her. Instead, he picked up his machete and pointed it straight passed my head.
“Move now, Celeste.”
Thanks for sampling, hope you enjoy and want more. Next chapter coming soon.