Z: Chapter One
"We have to move quickly. We don't want any of 'them' noticing us."
Whispers dominated the incoming night.
Pieces of dried-out twigs cracked and crippled as a man, holding a baseball bat covered in blood, walks as slowly and quietly as he can through them.
He was with a girl of red hair wearing a shady green sweater covered in dirt and muck, and another man holding an ax on his right arm ready to swing against their other "companions" wearing a torn out cap that has indecipherable words.
"Any signs of them?" The girl asked as they continued trekking softly through bushes and tall silhouettes of trees. They stumbled upon a dead deer with its stomach open, carnage by the current alpha predators of the world — the same creatures these people are trying to avoid.
Looking closely, he observes the carcass. It doesn't have any foul smell, nor any flies flying around feasting on rot.
"They're close, this one's fresh." He looked at the girl and she slowly pulled out a handgun. She opened its magazine and checked out its inside.
"I still have six bullets left."
"Better save them." The man with the baseball bat said. "No matter what happens, if it's not life or death, do not shoot. These 'things' follow loud noises." The girl nodded and hid her handgun beside her waist.
They continued walking as silent as they could until they've reached a rundown forest cabin, not bigger than any residential houses found in cities.
It must've been standing there for years, and had been empty for months. They made sure that no one but them is in the area. They ran swiftly to the cottage. The man with the bat tried to shove it open.
"It's friggin' blocked!"
The man holding an ax saw a knob. He moved closer to the side of the doorway. He raised his right arm, and with a swing, the side of the doorway cracked.
Surprised, the girl with red hair and the man holding the bat scouted the surrounding. After a few seconds, they ran inside. A sturdy cabinet stood at the side of the door. They pushed it for a barricade.
"You shouldn't have done that." With a brusk voice, the man with the bat faces the man with the ax.
"I'm sorry, but breaking the windows would lead more of them to us." He whispered a little loudly. The man with the bat chose to ignore what happened.
"Ask me before doing anything."
"Alright, alright." The man with the ax said.
"Hey, open up the flashlight."
The girl with red hair pulled out a flashlight from her small backpack and opened it up. Broken pieces of furniture made from oak trees are found inside. Fur from skinned animals lays above a wooden table covered in blood. The windows were covered dried out wooden planks, some even broken or chopped down by a force. They scanned the surroundings, checked out dark corners.
"Gather anything useful, we'll need some time even if it seems it has nothing of value." The man with the bat said.
The man with the bat found a small door with red "X" painted in it. He moved closer to it to take a better look. He touched its surface and smelling what it was.
"Its blood used as paint."
He said under his cold, shuddering breath. The girl with the red hair came behind him and nodded. She pointed her flashlight towards the door. Sweat ran under his palms as he slowly turns the knob to the right. Click! He slowly pushed it forward. He raised his bat from his right arm as he went inside, inch-by-inch. The girl stood behind and grabs a skinning knife from the floor.
As they went inside, they stopped from the feet. The door was opened wide, letting every light from her flashlight to shine on someone's body lying with his back behind another door. A bite mark is seen on the side of his neck, a pretty deep one. Gallons of blood that gushed out dried on his muddy, old, blood-stained white t-shirt. He must have been 40 plus years old.
A shotgun lied above his right hand; that must have been his own way of leaving the world filled with nothing but pain and suffering — two bullets straight to the side of his head.
The two went further inside and investigated.
The girl looked down at the man's body and covered her nose. The man with the bat recovers the stranger's shotgun.
"Empty, but it would still be darn useful."
He gave it to the girl and checked the stranger's hard, cold body for more items. All he got was a piece of paper with writing, addressing someone named "Julie." He slid it inside his chest pocket.
"Let's go, this is the last one. We have to head back." He said. The girl with red hair nodded.
Lifting up from his position, they walked outside on a snail-like pace.
The two stopped and looked at the floor. The sound was loud, but not loud enough to be heard outside. The girl flashes the floor and saw what she stepped on. She removes her foot and picked the object up. The man with the bat observed the object.
"It's a locket."
"A locket? How do you know?"
"I had one of it before this whole bunch of mess star--"
Bang and bang, the door behind the dead stranger shifted. Continuously, with a minimal time of intervention, the door pounded and pounded and pounded. The man raised his bat while the girl, surprised, drops the locket and shines her flashlight towards the other door. She looked at the man, and she knows what he is going to do.
"You don't have to do it."
The man looked at her. He picks up the locket and looked inside. His eyebrows squinted roughly, his calm face was erased. He looked at the girl and she knew that there's no way she's going to stop him from doing what he seems he would need to do. She focused the light towards the other door as the man removes the body and slowly approached the other door. He looked at the girl one more time before placing his hand on the knob. It wasn't locked. He quickly turned it and left it hanging and walk swiftly back to his former position.
"You don't have to worry much."
Slowly, the other door creaked open. A foot was the first thing the flashlight beamed on. The next was half of someone's body.
Little-by-little, the flashlight beamed on the whole front of the creature — a little girl, might have been 10 to 12 years old, with gray, fiber-like eyes, bluish-green rotting skin, weak and limp arms and legs, and what seemed to be a malnourished body. She had he mark, too, like the stranger on her right upper arm.
It walked slowly but unlike how proper humans do. She growls like a dog hunting for prey. She stumbles from left to right as she took steps forward.
The man with the bat closed his eyes and exhaled deeply.
"Daddy!" He heard a little girl's voice.
As he opened his eyes, he walked towards the girl. He swings his bat on a ninety-degree angle, and with full force, bashed the top of the girl's skull. Blood and pieces of brain splattered across their position.
"Daddy!" He heard again, a cry from a little girl. The girl with red hair walked towards the man, holding the locket with a happy picture of a man, a woman, and a little girl — the girl inside the door he was blocking. The woman must've been the stranger's wife.
"Jeff, we have to go back." The girl with the red hair said to Jeff staring blankly on the little girl's dead body. He stood up and then faced her.
"Alright, Vee, call Henry and let's go."
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© 2019 Darius Razzle Paciente