As we walked along the deathly quiet streets I couldn’t help but run parallels to the life I had used to live. Right now we would be getting close to the holiday season and I would be up at all times of night doing last minute shopping and sewing the latest of my daughters costumes for the inevitable Christmas play, though in recent years they had taken to calling it a “Holiday” Play. Now the streets were filled with the refuse of the fleeing remnants of humanity, a stuffed animal stained in blood that I had to make myself believe was not from its former owner lay discarded by an idling van. The only thing missing from the otherwise cluttered streets was the infected themselves. Something in the back of my mind clicked that this was wrong but my relief to have a moment’s thought over ruled it.
The man and woman kept mostly to themselves as we walked farther into the city, the women quietly breaking down as we got closer to the horrific destination. The man, Russell said his name was Tom, on the other hand was the definition of stoic his steely gaze locked on the path before him. I cleared my throat and announced, “their just around this corner up ahead.” Tina nodded her eyes distant already preparing herself for the scene ahead of her and Toms hand strayed closer to the pistol at his side, the only weapon visible although I was certain he carried more. As we drew up to the corner we discovered the reason for the previously cleared streets, surrounding the truck was a mob of infected 40 deep, their hands searching for an entrance into the treats inside. The occupant was curled up inside his knees pulled up to his chest, his face covered in blood from a cut over his eye. I turned my head to Tom struggling by my side and I saw Tina pulling from him trying with every ounce of her strength to get to the truck. I knew then who the man in the truck was, her son had somehow managed to survive the previous fight and had made his way back to the truck. The mob hearing the protests started to turn towards us and some were beginning to approach, but they were not alone. In a last minute act of heroism the man seeing his mother about to be ran down began to press wildly down on the horn and opened the door to the truck, ensuring his own end as hands pulled him from the vehicle before disappearing in a sea of bodies.
None of us could tear our eyes from the scene before us, Tina had fallen to her knees her shoulders shaking from abject disbelief. Finally my mind began to bring me back to the events around us and dropping my metal rod, it would only slow me down now, I began to help Tom both of us grabbing Tina to help her stand for the wound that was surely as devastating as a physical one. Half running half carrying we began to gain distance between ourselves and the chasing horde. The vacant streets now filled around every corner that lingering thought in the back of my mind coming back to the forefront now that they were here in front of me. We ran through the city for hours turning every now and again in an attempt to lose our pursuers but like a pack of hounds they stayed with us the entire way. Finally we came across an old government building and locked ourselves in barricading the door with a heavy couch from the lobby.
At this point Tina was a mess her eyes bloodshot and her arms covered with bruises from fighting to get free of our grip. Tom was sitting next to her on the remaining couch in the lobby quietly consoling her, because of this neither of them saw the women in the nurse’s outfit crawling along the floor her arms caked in blood. I yelled out but too late her teeth sank into Tom’s thigh as he jumped to his feet placing himself between the nurse and Tina. Tina stumbled backwards as Tom wrestled with the women already he was beginning to lose control but he managed to get his pistol free and with his last ounce of strength he pulled the trigger showering the room in brain matter. Hurrying forward I grabbed Tina and made like to go but she resisted and when I turned to question her I saw why. Held tightly to her chest her right hand was now gushing blood where she had managed to get bitten, her eyes flat she lunged at me already turned and hungry for my life. I jumped back pushing her into the wall and away from me scrounging to pull my pistol from my pocket, finally pulling it free I brought it up in front of me but Tina had managed to right herself as well and the gun was knocked free as she tackled me to the ground. I held back my forearm locked under her chin as my other hand searched desperately for the weapon. Struggling I heard the distinct sound of wood splintering in the background and I knew that more infected would be upon me in moments. As my hand finally brushed the barrel of my gun and I began to grab it so too did Tina succeed in getting past my arm, her teeth sank into my shoulder as I pulled the trigger sending her to her eternal slumber. I sat there for what seemed like days but knew that it was only seconds and the events of the last few days became clear for the first time, and as my mind faded I saw in front of me my daughter breaking the illusion I had made for myself in order to survive, back on that day when this had all begun, and with a smile on her face she turned the pistol on herself and pulled the trigger with her last bullet.
Two days later,
Russell sat down next to the child he had promised to protect, Anna had said her name was Claire. He had managed to find some crayons underneath the sink the day earlier and she now sat drawing on a discarded piece of paper. They had waited a day before leaving port finally admitting to themselves that the Anna, Tina, and Tom were not returning. Russell couldn’t help but feel responsible as he looked down at the latest in a series of drawings Claire had made since they had found the crayons. Ever since they had left the girl had closed herself in not talking to anyone barely eating unless forced. He placed his hand on her shoulder in support as she did something she had never done before down in the lower corner of the drawing she signed her name in broken print, Amanda.