The night passed with us unscathed this time. We exit the inner most room of the run down house we stayed in for the night, exhausted beyond belief. It’s been a month since the fall of man, but it hasn’t gotten any easier. I turned to look at the house we just exited. Half of the roof was gone, all four of the outer walls have been torn down, and shattered glass lay across the overgrown grass. We had stayed in the bathroom last night. One of the only remaining in tact rooms. Places like this are getting harder to find, and that makes things even harder. As a rule we adopted the habit of staying in the inner most room of any house we come across at night. As much as it could be a death trap, it’s ironically the safest place to hide from the dead.
I take a minute to scan the yard for any supplies. All I see is a car, which is useless. It would be way to loud. If there were any stragglers of the horde last night, they’d come after us. Looking to the east of the house across the fields of overgrown grass I see smoke rising into the air. This catches my attention, as we haven’t seen any other humans in quite some time. However, humans are also a threat. I look at my husband, and daughter seeing that they’ve noticed it as well. Silently we decide to scope it out, and head in the direction of the smoke.
When we get close enough I take a knife out of my boot and hand it to my daughter. She’s only five, but we taught her how to handle a weapon in case she needs it. Her light teal eyes look at me with concern as I put my finger to my lips asking her to remain quite. Taking out another knife from my other boot I keep low moving through the grass until I get to the side of a barn. I raise my head up just enough to see where the smoke is coming from. It’s a fire in what’s left of an old farm house. It’s starting to smolder out, which tells me it was going all night. This automatically makes me concerned. These people probably aren’t alive anymore, but their supplies may still be in tact.
I let out two short high pitched whistles, and wait for my husband to return them. Once he does I wait for them to get to my hiding spot, still observing the area. I feel his hand on my shoulder, while my daughter grasps my hand. That’s when I see what I was most concerned about. Two stragglers of the horde stumbling around the inner most part of the yard. Two is enough to kill all of us, and Our weapons are useless against them. I slide down the barn until all three of us are hidden in the grass. We’ve only got a small bit of time before the smolder dissipates and our scents are unmasked.
Looking to my husband I speak in a wispier, “two stragglers in the inner most part of the yard, and approximately ten minutes until the smolder dies out.”
He nods understanding. Right now covering me or making a distraction safely is nearly impossible. We don’t have the right equipment for it, and it would put our daughter in even more danger. Neither of us are ready to leave her alone either. I kiss them both gently because I don’t know if I’ll make it out of this alive. Leaving him to protect our daughter I move around the side of the barn trying my hardest to keep low and quite. I see a rocky foot path to my right, but it’s to loud to take. I do grab a couple of the bigger rocks I see though. Making sure they’re each about palm size, weighing around a pound each. I hold onto them after putting my knife back in my boot, and I move closer to the house until I’m nearing the back porch.
That’s when I stop and take a minute to scout the area. To the left of me on some concrete I see an old tractor. It’s about thirty feet from the house. It’s not much but it’s all I have to go on for a distraction. I take one of the rocks, and stand quickly chunking it at the tractor. It hits with a loud clang and this catches the dead’s attention. They half walk, half run toward the sound. One of their mouths is unhinged at the bottom making for a goofy looking walk. Almost like a cartoon character but way deadlier.
Pushing off of the thick grass with my feet I run forward to the cover of the house as quickly, and quietly as I can. Leaning against the side of the house I look into the area the fire is at. There’s blood, and body parts everywhere. The dead didn’t even give them the chance to turn last night. I look more to the left, and notice a trunk intact, and from the looks of it, locked. How was I going to open that without alerting the dead?
That’s when I heard it. A slight moan from my right. Slowly I take my eyes off of the dead on the other side of the house and look toward the noise. It’s right up on me, and I freeze in fear. It’s another straggler. One I failed to see while I was scouting. My mind fills with the question of where it was hiding as it hobbles closer to me. It’s hair drenched in blood, skin peeling off like paper in the sun. I look right into it’s eyes unable to stop myself. It stares into my soul, unfeeling, and unrelenting. I’m out of options and ideas by time it reaches me. It snarls grabbing my arm. Then it stops and glances up at me. For a moment I see a hint of intelligence, and humanity in its eyes. It almost smiles as it takes a bite out of my arm. Biting my lip to keep from screaming I hold my bleeding arm as the dead one walks away leaving a trail of blood behind it. Quickly I wrap my arm in my shirt completely removing it from my body for a multi layered bandage. I have to get into the grass before I’m spotted or smelled, but as I stand the blood loss causes my vision to start to fail. Struggling to keep my breathing under control I run into the grass, until I see the barn. I let out a high whistle as my vision goes black and I hit the ground. This is the moment I pray to the god I don’t believe in to protect my family. This is the moment I feel fear consuming my mind and body before everything fades. I can’t hear or see anything. I no longer know if I’m dead or alive. What happens now? ns126.96.36.199da2