Chapter I: Contact
The city is dying, festering with plague and chaos. The infection had attacked the very lifeblood of the region, it's citizens, and mutated them into something horrendous. In this case, death would be considered a better alternative than "turning" (the final stage of infection in which the host loses complete control of mental functions and exhibits excessive violence and rage against uninfected). It wasn't something anything had heard of, this virus, microbe, whatever, was very sophisticated and refined; a "saliva-to-blood" transmission of this contagious disease compounded by a created instinctual need to feast on the living.
Some fled, but car travel no longer became viable due to the traffic build up and amount of accidents caused by the panicky nature of the situation. The weak, the slow, and the foolish were the first to be consumed. One by one, people fell and rose up against the living, striking them down and enlisting them into their ranks with their infectious grasp. They were creatures, mutants, undead... We just called them zombies. Breaking traditional pop culture lore, these creatures were fast, very fast. Their endurance became unhindered by human limitations. Destruction of the brain or head was, cliche as it sounds, the most effective method. To realize what hell is, you need look no farther than the story I have to tell.
"In other news, the mayor's press conference today regarding the rise in crime rates has been cancelled due to an incident today regarding one of his staff. Details have not been released-"
I awoke to the sound of the news anchor, flicking the power button off. That routine feeling one gets, the one where your mind seems to go into auto-pilot as you go through the motions, that was me right now. Being in sales, I found myself from 9 to 5 sitting in my cubicle with very few differences from the day before. My cubicle had been a slow death for me, yet it provided me with a safety from change. The dreams I had of my youth were slowly beaten to death by the fists of a harsh, intensely realistic world. I cast away these happy thoughts once I had realized I'd never be in a place to support these whimsical fantasies.
As I doused my system with the usual dose of caffeine, tricking my body into being more animated about what I did, I headed down the stairs and emerged out of the apartment complex and into the city streets. The fog was complimented by a light rain which coated the sidewalk with droplets of water soaking into the ground. I rubbed the back of my head; I could feel my brain pulsate as the migraines sharpness and severity increased.
In my "auto-pilot" mode, I had forgotten momentarily, probably in the fog of tiredness, how I had got in but I was already driving for minutes. The traffic was unbearable. As I was about to make my usual right onto the next street, a spark in my brain shocked my body with adrenaline. The truck barelled directly towards my position, flipping on it's side as it desperately tried to stop. It was no use, momentum had already made it's choice. I felt the side of the car immediately cave in as I was flung across the road along with two other cars. The collision sent me rolling into a gas station.
Holy shit. I awoke to the smell of gasoline and burning rubber. A feeling of shock rippled through my body, reanimating it as I had analyzed what happened. I was afraid. The car filled with smoke and my breathing became ragged and painful. I unhooked my seatbelt, falling onto the top of the interior as I looked around.
"Oh fuck, oh fuck!"
The back of the car was on fire. It was climbing fast, burning the back seats of the automobile hastily. I kicked the glass out from the window of the passenger seat and climbed out, not without cutting myself. I took a gulp of air, choking a bit as I staggered away from the explosive wreck that was a gas station. A second small car was trapped under the cargo load of the truck and a second gas tank. Fire already began enveloping the car as leaking gas sprinkled onto the top of the car.
I headed back and shoved my fist through the window, attempting to drag the man out when suddenly the flames intensified. My hands began to shake, and I jumped back.
"Oh shit, oh shit, I can't do this!"
I panicked as I saw his body ignite, and hesitation would be his death sentence. He shrieked in agonizing horror, and I watched. I felt woozy and light headed, watching as no one else stopped to help. The rest of the station turned into an inferno; I covered my ears and I crossed the street, fell into an alley way, fainting from the stress. I lied to myself. It wasn't just stress.
I woke up. I felt my heart beat still jumping, my felt as if someone dug their hands in and clawed away at the surface of my brain. I emerged onto the street; there was no one responding to the fire. 911 lines were all busy. The roads were deserted, cars were abandoned, I couldn't find a soul for miles. My instincts forced me towards familiarity as I pushed towards my home, ignoring the aches and pains of my battered frame. I was still afraid.
I could have saved that man. A large part of me knew this for certain. The other part backwards rationalized my hesitation, I didn't abandon him, it was too late. This conflict of thought brought about a self-doubt that did nothing to soothe the guilt. Self-preservation was hardwired into my mind, and I would never be the hero so popularized in both ancient and modern civilization.
The door of my room creaked open, and the light bulb weakly illuminated the bathroom. The warm tingling sensation I felt on my head was actually blood pouring down the side of my skull. My left arm was covered in bruises and cuts, along with a few pieces of glass stuck in my forearms. After picking a few shards out of my skin, I left my world of self-absorbtion and turned on the news.
I took a breath of relief as I relaxed in my bed, focusing on the screen.
"The streets are completely flooded. Do not leave your homes. Violent criminals have been seen roaming the area in packs, assaulting, killing and... This is just in, the assailants are apparently eating their victims alive."
A flash of fear appeared on the anchor's face, preceded by shattering glass and a shrill scream. The camera fell to the ground, and then the news feed was cut. The sound of gun fire erupted out on the streets below. I threw my window up, looking out as a loan man armed with a handgun was being chased by three men. He back pedaled, shooting one in the chest. The second latched onto him, wrestling him into the front of a parked car. He threw his left fist into the zombie's temple, knocking it over as he took aim and blew it's head clean off. He put his boot on the third attacker as it rushed towards him, thrusting forward and knocking it back.
The high caliber handgun destroyed the creatures skull, sending a splash of blood in all directions. I heard shrill screams as more came rushing towards him.
"Over here!" I yelled, disengaging the lock on my fire escape ladder.
He leaped onto the third ladder rung, lifting himself up with surprising upper body strength as more creatures attempted to tear him down. He had successfully avoided them. I grabbed his hand, helping him up onto the platform when he suddenly pressed the gun against under my chin and pushed me against the railing.
"Have you been bitten?"
"No, damn it, no!" I screamed in frustration. "What does that matter anyways?"
He emerged into my home, and I followed, still awaiting that answer as he surveyed the surroundings. He was well into his middle aged life, in his fifties I'd say. His face had wrinkled, tough, lean features that followed in suit with the rest of his thin, yet muscled body.
"You got a name, son?"
"Yeah, Mark. Who the hell are you and where'd you get that gun?" I muttered.
Edited by Suspicious Bald Man, 20 June 2010 - 06:21 AM.