Since I’ve started writing about my horrific zombie nightmares, nothing has plagued my dreams. I honestly think it’s stress related. I started brainstorming last night before bed in hopes of inducing another nightmarish dream of the undead…how weird is it that I did that?…so that I could have another one to write about. Nothing came of it. My ever so odd dream was visited by the awful Z’s, but ever so briefly that it barely made an impact other than the feeling of jumping back in surprise. I have a hope that one day I can put this all together in a coherent piece, but for now it’ll just be bits and pieces. Feedback is appreciated. So here I begin to further my story on my own accord without the aid of a dream:
I have lost all concept of time at this point since it’s almost useless anymore. To keep track of the days seems pointless. It’s only the hours we care about now. We only rely on the daylight since it’s the only protector for what’s left of the human race. We’re vulnerable enough as it is in the sun. Adding night to it when our vision isn’t as keen as theirs makes matters worse. Our only defense is to put up one hell of a fight and move only during the day. We seek shelter at night, a place to lock ourselves away. One room is preferable. Any more than that and we put ourselves at a risk of the Z’s hiding, waiting, looming in a corner for us to put our defenses down.
They’re smarter than we originally assumed. Everyone figured that since they were “the undead” the only concept they could grasp was feeding themselves, but they wanted to survive. We quickly realized they had the capability to learn and shape their own communities. While still primitive, the began to grasp the idea of fighting back. They realized their vision was better at night-time and began to hunt us when the sun went down.
It was my turn to find shelter. My husband wasn’t wild about the idea of sending me into the unknown by myself, but I reassured him that with the sun still up, I would make it back in time, and everything would be okay. It’s a silly gesture to reassure a loved one in a time like this. Lord only knows what could happen between here and the three-mile walk to get back to camp. I soaked up every bit of that moment before I left. His emerald-flecked baby blue eyes, his hands clutching my arms, and the soft kiss he planted on my pink lips. I kept that thought with me…just in case.
With an assault rifle firmly in my grasp, and a hunting bow and arrows attached to my back, I make my way up the halted escalator carefully. I learned a long time ago, when I had been attacked in my old apartment complex, not to be trusting of my surrounding no matter where I happened to be. “Just because a place is familiar doesn’t mean it’s safe,” I told myself. With my weapon lowered, I make my way up the final step, still ready on the trigger. Rain s trickling down throughout the dead mall and hitting dangling lights. Sparks rain down onto the floor as I tread carefully on the tile. Abandoned malls were a gamble. They looked forgotten, but every once in a while there would be the occasional straggler, or huddle of zombies hiding in a corner, unwilling to give up their shelter. All we needed was one room. The office maybe, or a store with a gate instead of just doors. Doors were dangerous. We need more than that.
As I walk down the strips, I can hear the steady, slow patter of feet behind me, but every time I turn around, I see nothing. I continue to make my way past all the shops in search of the vacated mall office. I hear the footsteps again and turn. Nothing. I cock my rifle and glare into the emptiness. A stern look crosses my face and my heart begins to beat faster. Deep down inside of me, I know someone, or something, is following me. I begin to regret going on my own and start wishing I had taken someone with me.
“Help…me…” a staggered and small voice says. I take only two steps towards the voice in hesitation, and still say nothing. Whoever it is can hear me. “Please!” The voice sounds more pathetic this time. I turn my head in an action of curiosity and narrow my eyes. Three more steps. “Mommy?”
“Oh, fuck…” The words escape my mouth in a sigh out of pure reaction. I started to lower my rifle until something in me screamed not to render myself helpless.
“Is…is anyone there?” Four more hurried and, leap-like steps, and I am standing in front of a girl sitting on the floor behind a soda machine with my gun aimed in her face.
“Stand up,” I say to her with a bitterness behind my voice. She looks up at me with the same large, bright amber eyes they have and I jump back, ready to shoot. She obliges me and slowly comes to a standing position. She begins to walk to me. “Stay there.” She takes another step. “Damn it! I said stay put!” She comes to a halt and freezes as if someone had just pressed the pause button. I study her, taking in every bit of her appearance, hoping to come to a conclusion. Her kelly green dress shredded at the bottom, sits just below her knees. Her feet are bloodied and calloused. Her dark red hair is clumped together by mud, and dirt, and possibly vomit, dirty every visible inch of skin on her body. A piece of fabric is tied around the middle of her right forearm, dripping with blood. I ask her to turn around slowly and she does so hesitantly. “Are you hurt?”
“My arm. It…it stings. No. It feels like it’s being twisted.”
“Show me.” I lower my gun slightly as I see the presence of it is making her uneasy. She takes a cautious step towards me fumbling with the tourniquet to get it untied. When the fabric falls to the floor, she winces and turns away at the sight of her arm. A bone pokes through the infected, swollen skin on the top of her arm. I reach into the pocket of my cargo pants and pull out a piece of clean cloth. I wrap her arm up again. She flinches, and tears stream down her face but she doesn’t scream. “How did this happen?”
“I fell. I stopped my fall with my arm. Like this.” She demonstrates her fall using her unbroken arm. She had come down on the palm of her hand to stop her fall breaking the bones in her forearm.
“Are you bitten?” She shakes her head indicating she is not. “Scratched?” No, again. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, ma’am. I think…I think my mommy and daddy were though. I ran away from them. I got scared.”
“Was that when you hurt your arm?”
“Who helped you with your arm.”
“Mommy did. Right before she sat down on the floor to take a nap.”
My heart dropped. “How long ago did Mommy sit down for a nap?”
Her bottom lip quivered. “I don’t know. I saw her shivering and she felt cold. I thought I would be a big girl and help. I came out here to find a blanket.”
“Don’t be scared, sweetheart. What’s your name? How old are you?”
“Emma. I’m…I don’t know” Emma begins to sob, loudly.
Nervously, I bend down and take her by the shoulders, guiding her back over the wall. “Emma huh?” She nods her head. “Emma you have a very pretty name. I need you to be a really good girl for me now and be extra quiet.” Emma nods her head again and stifles her cries. “Emma, you’re doing awesome! Can you sit here? Just right here where I found you?”
“Yes ma’am” she manages to force out.
A sound erupts behind us. A banging on a door, and the roar I have yet to get used to. The rifle is up again, aimed, and ready to shoot. Emma sits rocking on the floor behind me, and I try to block her out of my mind. I know what’s behind that door. I know who is behind that door, but she is no long Emma’s mother. She can no longer be Mommy. She has crossed the line from being human to being an enemy. Nothing can stop me from taking this thing’s life. The door flies open and a woman drags herself out. She cocks her head and stares at me like I’m the next thing on her plate to be devoured. I can see the last bit of humanity behind her eyes disappear when she lunges at me, mouth open. The blast from the rifle explodes into the cool afternoon air and the woman stops dead in her tracks. A sizable hole in her forehead brings her to her knees and she collapses to the floor. A satisfied smirk crosses my face and I think “Damn I’m getting good at this.” The smile soon fades when I hear a gasp and a whimper behind me.
To me, this was no woman. To me, this was just another enemy. This thing was just another Z threatening my survival. To Emma, it was her mother. It sinks in and I turn around and drop to my knees to comfort Emma. She crawls over to me, cradling her arm and sits in my lap, sobbing. “Oh, Emma. I’m so sorry!” We sit there a few more minutes as she cries, when I feel a sharp pain in side. I look down to see that she had jabbed a small blade into my right side. She pulls it out slowly, all the while staring up at me. Her bright amber eyes glistening. She licks the blood from the steel blade and stands up.
I’m too stunned to think or even act. My hand shakes as I pull it away from the wound. It drips with blood. She stands over me and I look into her eyes again. Those eyes. Just like the rest of them, but she’s different. How? How is this possible? Emma, the first of a new breed, sworn to overthrow the human race with her primitive predecessors. They’re learning. They’re evolving.
I close my eyes and remember the kiss. I open them again to see her kneeling over me. She has my gun. I brace myself for a bullet, but instead, everything goes black.