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A Short Story: Life in the Apocalypse

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I didn’t know how it had gotten this far. Just yesterday everything was perfectly fine, but all of that was down the drain now. Nothing was fine anymore.

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning. The day started out like your normal, average Tuesday would. I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock, texted my significant other a sweet good morning message, picked out a decent outfit, and basically got ready to go about my day like I always do. Little did I know, a disaster was in the making as I did those insignificant tasks.

After all of that, I hopped in my SUV, ready to head to school. The drive went like usual, the same few turns I always took to get to my town’s local high school.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary then. Boy, was I in for a surprise. It wasn’t until halfway through the school day when I started to realize something was off. I wasn’t the only person to notice, either. Several of my classmates were on edge as the sound of sirens continued to echo loudly in the distance, ever growing closer to our location. My teacher seemed on edge as well, fidgeting and glancing nervously at the window every few moments.

It was during one of my own nervous glances that I saw it happen. A strange yell that almost sounded inhuman came from outside, and a hand hit against the window, leaving a perfect, bloody handprint on the glass.

My breath caught in my throat, and I was momentarily frozen, unable to comprehend what it was. There were several shouts of horror from my fellow students, but I couldn’t even register them. My eyes were fixed out of that window. There was a second noise from outside, and the owner of the bloody hand showed their face. The person’s figure was grotesque. I couldn’t make out their face to know if I knew them or not - it was covered in blood and wounds. If you could even call them a person. It’s eyes turned and saw the class in the room, and it completely lost it. It started banging on the window as hard as it could, yelling loudly.

At that point, several people had jumped up from their desks and run to find cover. It was a terrifying sight, and I had no clue what I was supposed to do. Should I evacuate and get away from the school with that… thing still outside, or should I stay in here and wait for the authorities to save us?

A faint rumbling in the distance answered that question for me. Still looking out the glass window, I saw the most nightmarish sight yet. Hundreds, no, thousands of the zombie-like people were running together in a horde. It looked like a wave of them, some almost climbing over the others in their hurry to move forward… and they were headed right towards the school.

Not wasting another second, I took a gulp of air to refuel my lungs and shot up from my seat. I didn’t even glance behind me as I ran out of the classroom and down the hallway towards the nearest exit. There simply wouldn’t be enough time, it would slow me down too much.

I made my way out of the school as quickly as my legs could take me. Being on the track team has its perks when you need to get somewhere fast.

Once I found my way outside, the only thing I could think of doing was running. I had to find a way to get away from that wall of people, creatures, whatever they were. And so I ran.

And that was only the beginning.

Just a few days later and radios, telephones, televisions, none of it worked anymore. Stations got destroyed by giant hordes much like the one I had run from. It was an apocalypse. More specifically, the zombie apocalypse that’s so famous with movies and games.

I don’t know how it had started originally. I can only assume it could have been a virus gone wrong. It was the least of my concerns, though. My main thoughts were only on survival.

It hadn’t taken me long to find my insignificant other’s home, as well as my siblings and close family. Together we tried to build what we could in order to form a kind of base where we could sleep safely at night. We used old metal and wood, anything we could find, and built a wall around two houses that we started using as shelter. The wall was pretty tall and sturdy, but we kept at least two people on guard at all times just to be safe.

Obviously, we wouldn’t be able to stay there forever. Once a week a small group heads out to scavenge for supplies around the once lively town we called home. It was on one of these missions that I made an unexpected encounter.

My team and I had split up, each covering a different store in the big mall in town. I had weapons on me, keeping an eye out for the infected. Of course it was when I let my guard down to stuff a few things in my satchel that one approached me from behind.

It made the mistake of stepping on a piece of broken glass, the noise alerting me to its presence. Dropping everything I was holding, I grabbed my knife I kept strapped to my leg and spun around to face it. When I saw its face, my heart dropped into my stomach.

I recognized her instantly. My best friend, Amy. I had been friends with her since elementary school. We’d always stuck by each other through thick and thin… but now she was here, covered in cuts from head to toe, her clothes torn and a terrible odor coming from her body. Blood was everywhere, and I knew it wasn’t from her own wounds.

Still, a small part of me hoped she hadn’t been turned into one of those monsters. “Amy?! Are you ok?!” I lowered my army knife slightly so I wouldn’t alarm her. If any of her was even left in there.

Amy showed no sign of responding and only stared in my direction, a dazed look in her eyes.

“Amy…?” My voice was quiet, sounding almost tired. Well, honestly I was. I was exhausted, and tired of these people I’ve known for so long trying to kill me like bloodthirsty monsters. I wanted things to go back to normal, but I knew that could never happen now.

Without warning, my old friend charged straight at me. At first I thought it might have been for a hug, but when I saw the way she bared her teeth I knew I was mistaken. I dodged to the side just in time to avoid the attack, and she stumbled and crashed into the shelf I had been looting only moments before.

There was no way this could be happening. Not Amy, of all people. She was so sweet and shy, she’d never hurt anyone. Yet she got turned into this creature with no mind of its own. “Amy stop! I know you’re in there somewhere! You have to be…” My voice broke, and I knew deep down it was terrible of me to wish she was still there, witnessing everything her body was doing to others without her being able to stop it.

She turned to me slowly, and I didn’t see even a spark of recognition, or that usual hint of energy that was usually behind her amber eyes. No, all that was there was hunger.

I felt my heart crumbling inside of me as it dawned on me what I had to do. If I didn’t, she’d just try to keep killing me over and over and might even harm someone else…

I looked around the empty store with shelves and random items strewn everywhere, hoping for a small, tiny chance I could save my friend. I don’t know what I was looking for, maybe a magical antidote to appear out of thin air. But of course nothing happened.

The air was knocked out of my lungs as Amy slammed into me with all her weight and knocked me to the ground. There had to be something I could do other than killing her. There had to be something…

Pushing her head away from me and kicking her in the stomach, I scrambled to my feet and retrieved my knife that had apparently flown out of my hand. I was in a daze, barely comprehending what was happening. It was such a hopeless feeling, the despair seeping into every inch of my body. I was powerless. I wasn’t going to be able to help her, or anyone else this cursed disease touched…

Then a small part of me that I had pushed to the back of my mind spoke. You can’t leave her like this, now can you? I made eye contact with Amy, who was breathing heavily and turning towards me, prepared to make another attack. If she is in there somewhere, it’s killing her already to see herself hurting people. You knew how Amy was. She’d want you to stop her.

Pushing some of my feelings aside, I knew what I had to do. I braved myself for what was about to happen. My zombified friend charged yet again, but instead of grabbing me, I plunged my knife deep into its chest. Blood spurted out, and I pulled the knife back out and backed away.

It didn’t even make a noise from the pain, making me assume it couldn’t feel any. The body of my friend fell to the ground, never to move again.

I blinked, realizing there were tears streaming down my cheeks. I wiped some of them away with the back of my hand and turned away. I hadn’t killed my friend. Amy had long been gone. I just put her body out of its misery.

I had to tell myself that over and over to stop myself from losing it right there in the middle of the mall. Picking up my bag and everything I had dropped, I cleaned the blood off of my knife and walked out of the store.

Sure, I may be powerless to control what is happening. But I knew there were people out there somewhere with the knowledge and technology that could help us. I just had to hope that one day they’d find a vaccine to protect us and help us get life back to as normal as it could be. It was the only thoughts keeping me sane.

With a deep breath, I turned my mind back to surviving here and now, and went to find my companions.

© 2021 L Ryder