I had always been a bit weird, I had believed that this messed up world of ours was full of endless possibilities for so long now that it feels like forever. Not in that wishy-washy ‘be all you can be’ way but in an ‘oh look aliens have come to exterminate humanity alongside the mole people’ sort of way. I acknowledged that I was weird, but after all I’ve read and learned in my life I couldn’t believe that those sorts of fantastical and crazy events were impossible. Even still that was just me acknowledging a vague and unlikely possibility, I never imagined that my mindset would one day be validated. That was probably why I was just staring forward blankly where I sat as Connor and Claire went on explaining that the nonsensical and impossible had come to our world and was killing people.
And to think all those videos getting uploaded this morning were real… Zombies… well it was less likely than aliens but I guess with all the biochemical engineering going on behind the scenes zombies were inevitable… I almost let out a string of nonsensical giggles as I thought about the fact that zombies were out there killing and eating people, and the first thing my friends Connor and Claire do is get us all together and share some classified information their dad sent to them. The twins really did do things their own way, most people would’ve hunkered down or tried to get to somewhere safe if someone high up in the government told them that zombies were popping up all over the world and across the nation but the twins just went to school and texted us to meet in the club room at lunch. I guess that whole ‘No man left behind’ mentality runs in their family… Wait would that mean that Claire and my kids would be like that too? Directing my gaze at the girl I’ve been crushing on since third grade I once again noted that I might be a little out of it, I’d been in my own little world for a while now as everyone else talked around me. Well that should be normal right? Who wouldn’t be a little out of it when they find out zombies are real and spreading everywhere faster than anyone can stop?
I heard a loud snap and refocused to see J.J.’s hand waving in front of my face. “Alex man, you back with us?” his face looked concerned but also more than a little scared.
Looking around I realized that everyone had some amount of fear in their expressions. Connor and Claire were trying to cover it up with a mask of calm, J.J. was putting on what he called his ‘Game Face’ but under that seriousness I could see the confusion and fear in his eyes, and Cynthia wasn’t even trying to hid her fear as she nervously clung to Connor. I couldn’t even compare how they looked now to when we all thought Connor and Claire were just pranking us, I think our faces started to change after the third news story and all the texts from their father the twins showed us. That was when it sunk in that this was real and that they weren’t joking or trying to prank us, I think that was also when I started to tune out and go into my own little world. “Yeah, sorry guys, I guess I went into my own little world for a while there. How long did you say we had again?” I said with a little laugh trying to reign in my nervousness.
“Dad said the phenomenon would reach us around 3pm if it maintained its current rate of spread.” Connor said calmly.
“He also said that Eric’s squad would be coming in along with a few others to help local law enforcement secure as many civilians as possible. At least that’s the official reason, dad specifically said Eric and his squads’ real mission was to extract us and a few others…” Claire said with forced cheer. “They should be arriving within the next four hours, so it probably won’t get as bad here as it had in other more remote places.”
It didn’t take too much thought to figure out that me, J.J., Cynthia, and our families were probably those “few others” that Claire was talking about, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense for her to bring it up here. At the very least I was pretty sure my family was included since the twins father and my mom had been openly dating for a while now, something that had weirded me out for months but I was now immensely grateful for considering the situation. “Ok, but unless my math is wrong that still leaves us about two hours where the zombies are here but those marine squads you were talking about aren’t. Two hours with a horde of zombies is going to be a very long time…” I said bringing up the thing I had been wondering about.
“Yeah, but we still have two hours to prepare, that gives us time to arm ourselves and get to the location outside the county police station dad sent us.” Connor spoke with a confidence that noticeably calmed everyone down. He had always had that sort of effect on people, how he could calm people down and bring them together with just his words, my best friend was something of a natural leader because of that talent of his.
“That’s good to hear man, but if the government and your pops are on this why can’t we just find a place to hide? Why do we even need to arm ourselves and take risks if we can just hole up in someplace and wait for a patrol of cops or whatever to find us?” J.J. raised a point that I hadn’t even considered yet, and it was a good point too. In a lot of zombie movies people die because they just wonder around outside like idiots instead of settling down in a defensible place to wait for help to arrive.
“Well, this is something that dad said is really classified, but…” Connor took a deep breath before looking at all off us with a serious gaze. “These zombie things are just appearing out of nowhere at random. There aren’t even records of them being present in the world before now, they don’t have any ID or any recognizable citizenship data based off their appearance or the DNA that could be recovered. Dad said that there had been multiple cases of them just appearing inside of sealed places that shouldn’t like buildings or houses, so the hiding strategy might be even more dangerous than moving around outside.”
“Wait, so they’ll just appear randomly? Even inside houses? How is that even possible?” Cynthia said voicing the question I was sure was on everyone’s mind.
“I have no idea, and dad hasn’t said so I don’t think he knows either…” After Connor said that we were all quiet for a while.
It was a lot to take in at one time, it was like the world had been turned on its head in just a few hours. Zombies weren’t just real, they were spreading throughout the world and killing thousands by the moment. Oh and to make matters worse they were going to make it to my home town in just two hours, not to mention the government is so spread thin that the only thing we can count on for assistance are the handful of police officers in town and a few commandos that’ll arrive hours after the zombies get here. What made this whole situation even more ridiculous was that there were classes going on right now with people totally unaware that the apocalypse had basically started and would be creeping up on them soon enough. It was a situation that seemed straight out of an anime or movie or something, yet it was happening and it was real. Oddly enough I really didn’t seem to be afraid, I was confused, shocked, and maybe even a little weirded out, but I wasn’t afraid.
“Ok people enough of this depressing stuff, we got work to do! So here’s the plan, we’re each going to head out and find some weapons to arm ourselves and you guys need to contact your families and loved ones…” Claire’s upbeat voice reminded me of the obvious thing I had seemingly forgotten, that I wasn’t the only one that I needed to be worried about with this.
Now I didn’t care about much, but I sure as shit cared about the few people I loved. My family and friends were my world, well them and my various hobbies, without them I doubt I would have even been able to go on this long. Screw everyone else, they could get their brains eaten for all I cared, but I would do everything in my power to ensure those I cared about would be safe through this. Connor and Claire would be fine, they both got some training from their brother and their dad so those two were more than capable of taking care of themselves. J.J. didn’t really have a family and his adoptive family was a group of abusive assholes so I kinda hopped they would get eaten by zombies, he also knew what was going on so he was in better shape than most. Cynthia was smart and I knew for sure that Connor wouldn’t let anything happen to the girl he loved, her only problem would be getting her family to believe and go along with her. My friends were in as good a shape for the zombie apocalypse as I could hope them to be right now, but my mom and little sister might not even know what’s going on.
As soon as I realized that I started to panic a little and pulled out my phone. I had thirty seven missed calls and fifteen new messages since I had last checked in third period, some were from mom and some were from Laura. It took me a moment to even process that, but then I realized that if Mr. Thomas had let his kids know what was going on he’d probably let his girlfriend, my mom, know as well. Which means mom is probably worrying her head off right now… Shit… I should have set the phone to vibrate instead of silent… I looked up and glanced around at my friends, they were all discussing what they were going to do now. “Guys I gotta go pick up my mom and Laura, where are we going to meet up again? At the school?”
“Alright, Alex you and J.J. can go and pick up Mrs. Grimm and the squirt, Claire and I will go with Cyn and convince her parents to come with us. We can meet up at the east exit shopping center, there’s gotta be stuff that we can use as decent weapons in the pawn shop there…” Connor looked at me and in that moment I knew he understood just how worried I was for my family.
“Thanks…” I nodded my head and got up from my chair clutching my phone tightly in my hand.
“No problem bud… Oh and Alex?”
“Yeah?” I looked back at my best friend as J.J. was getting up from his seat and putting on his jacket.
“Good Luck.” Connor gave me that same competitive smile that I had known for the last twelve years of my life.
“Yeah, you too.” I returned the smile before practically bolting out the door without waiting for J.J., hitting the return call button on my phone as I began to race to my car.
Sitting in my car, an old beat up Kia that guzzles more gas than it should have any right to, I let myself sag against the seat in relief. My family was ok, mom had gotten a message from Mr. Thomas about a vague incoming threat telling her to gather up her children and head for the police station by 3pm. Mom had picked up Laura from her school and they had spent the rest of the day at the house packing up and worrying about me since they couldn’t reach me by phone. Mom had been just a few moments from simply driving out to the school to pick me up as well, regardless of what Mr. Thomas’s texts had said about Connor and Claire being there to handle it.
The passenger door opened up and J.J. plopped into the seat with a sigh. “Damn man, you should’ve stuck with the track team. I didn’t even know a person could move that fast…” J.J. let out a small chuckle as he caught his breath.
“Took too much time away from gaming, now put on your seat belt.” I glanced over to him with a laugh before switching on the car.
“Alex, man, we just found out zombies are real and coming to eat our brains or whatever, and you’re worried about seatbelts?” J.J. looked at me incredulously.
“My car, my rules. Put on your Seatbelt.”
With J.J. suitably strapped in, seatbelts save lives after all, I pulled out of the school issued parking space and made my way onto the main road for the twenty minute drive home. J.J. fiddled with the radio until he found some sort of rap-rock fusion station and began popping his head to the beat. Honestly I was more of a rock and punk type of guy but I could respect his taste in music and for the moment it took my mind off of things which was something I appreciated. That distraction lasted until I got to a particularly long red light and the station went to a commercial break, turning down the radio’s volume and glancing over at J.J. I asked a question that had crossed my mind. “So what about you, are you going to warn anyone about the imminent zombie apocalypse?”
J.J. looked up from his phone and gave a small snort.
“Like who? My best friends already know and Connor seems to have a good plan for getting us all out safe, the only other people I could think of to tell would be my shitty “Family” and a few team mates who a few years ago used to bully me for no reason. Alex I plan to text a few of them and if they happen to take my warning as a prank then oh well, although I might wait on warning the Johnsons until the last minute. That’s still better than they deserve though…” J.J. said dismissively.
“Oh, ok then.” As the light turned green I focused back on driving and let the conversation die out.
“So Alex, I’ve been checking out some of these videos that are being put up online and I can honestly say it’s now literally the end of the world as we know it, when are you going to tell Claire how you feel?” J.J. looked up from his phone once again to drop a bombshell on me.
Glancing at him quickly before turning my eyes back to the road I gave the only response I could. “When you stop hiding the fact that you’re gay from everyone else.”
“Touché. Won’t bring it up again then, but I still think you should tell her.”
“I will, but not until I’m sure I actually love her.”
“Man, you’ve been ‘crushing’ on that girl for how many years now? I’m pretty sure you’re as in love with her as a person can be.”
“Maybe, but then again how can I be sure that what I’m feeling is actually love? Isn’t there supposed to be some telling sign for knowing you’re in love with someone like the world slowing down or suddenly brightening when she’s near… Wait what’s that look?” I glanced over at J.J. who was looking at me with an expression of pity.
“My god, Disney really can ruin people’s minds…”
“And what’s that supposed to mean, J.J.?”
“Nope, I’m done with you. You’re officially a lost cause…”
Glaring at my friend full on with the force of a hundred angry fans of the glove wearing mouse I almost hopped he choked on his laughter. That thought died in a moment though as the car lurched in a way that reminded me of the time I had hit a deer, returning my focus to the road in a panic I stopped the car and glanced around quickly. There was no one around, no other cars on the road besides mine and since I had taken one of the backroads home as a short cut all that was around me was woods.
“Alex what the fuck was that!?” J.J. asked as he braced himself and glared at me.
“The reason to always wear a seatbelt…” I said in a flat tone as I got out of the car to check on wait I had just hit.
Looking at what was under the hood of my car I had a moment of shock, then that shock morphed quickly into horror. I hadn’t hit a deer after all, looking over at J.J. who had gotten out of the car and gasped as he saw what I did I suppressed my urge to vomit.
“Ok, we’re just going to pretend this never happened.” I said trying to find my calm.
“You just hit someone Alex! We can’t just pretend that didn’t happen!” J.J. shouted.
“Pre-apocalypse rules, he isn’t part of our group so his fate isn’t our concern. Besides you’ve seen more of the videos being put up than I have, so you know that tons of people are dying all the time. Soon that’s going to come here, and honestly I think being hit by a car is a far cleaner and quicker death than being eaten alive. Maybe this guy just had a lucky break.” I said trying to rationalize this to both J.J. and myself.
“Alex!” J.J. just looked at me.
“What? It’s true, besides what was this guy…” I trailed off as years of watching, playing, and reading about similar scenarios like this kicked in and brought me a very unpleasant possibility. “Hey J.J., why would a guy be out in the middle of the woods like this in the afternoon? Out in the woods wearing only a shirt and shorts in forty degree weather…”
Looking at J.J. I saw the moment the possibility began to dawn in his mind as well, and at that exact moment we both heard a sound. It was a groaning sound coming from the mangled body under the hood of my car, and looking down I saw a man who had half of his body crushed and held down under my cars front tires look up at me.
“Um that guy is moving, Alex should he be moving?” J.J. said with a hint of fear in his voice.
“No, no I’m fairly sure anyone who has their head and neck forced into that angle would be dead. What time did Connor say the zombies would start appearing again?”
“Not for another hour at the least…”
Apparently the information Connor’s dad gave him was a bit off. “I think we should get back in the car…”
“Yeah, yeah I agree.” J.J. ran back around to the passenger side and practically lept back into his seat as he slammed the door shut.
Looking down at the first zombie I had ever seen I felt something warm and unpleasant settle inside my stomach, I had hit it while doing 60mph and it had its head turned all the way around backwards and its limbs at awkward angles yet it was still twitching and groaning. It was even beginning to bite my cars tire now. If this doesn’t kill them what would? Fire? Decapitation? Maybe there just wasn’t enough damage to its brain? Fuck, it can’t be that zombies are actually immortal, right? That would be bad, very bad…
Getting in the car I felt slightly numb inside, all I wanted to do was get home and see my family safe. I shut the door and just started driving, I didn’t bother with my seatbelt or with the conversation J.J. was having on his phone. I only had one goal at that point and that goal was screaming at me to get home ASAP.
I made record time, it might have something to do with my driving 30mph over the speed limit on a backroad, but that didn’t matter to me at the moment. Pulling up to my house I ignored the chaos and screaming that the suburban community had descended to, and ran to the houses front door without even shutting off the car. I could hear J.J. shouting at me from the car but I ignored him and fished for my keys to open the front door. Finding the keys and unlocking the door I took a calming breath and opened the door, inside I saw hell.
Laura, or at least what was left of my little sister, was laying on the floor in a pool of blood in front of the door. There was a grunting noise coming from the living room and there I saw a bloodied man with a kitchen knife sticking out of his shoulder eating my mom, he just hunched over her and scooped out gore from her stomach and shoved it into his bloodstained mouth. I looked at the scene and felt waves of emotions crash over me rapidly before finally rage won out against everything else.
I couldn’t hear anything over the rushing noise flooding my ears, and everything I saw began to blur as I stepped forward. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I did know one thing at that moment. I knew I only wanted one thing to happen before I died, and I sure as shit would see it done myself…