My left side and chest was numb, I couldn’t feel anything and I couldn’t even tell if my left arm and leg were moving without watching them myself. It was better than the constant pain but the numbness was much more concerning, I wasn’t a doctor and didn’t have any more than a basic understanding of anatomy from a few AP courses but even I knew this wasn’t a good sign. Pain was important, it was a sign that a person’s nerves were functioning correctly and now that half of my body couldn’t feel anything at all…
I let out a small sigh. I told Connor I was fine, but… Is this numbness a part of zombification? I guess it’s either that or a sign that I got infected with some other virus or bacteria that’s slowly killing me… Great… I glanced over at Samantha, she was watching the road and didn’t seem to be paying any attention to me. Good, she hasn’t noticed yet… I glanced at my left sleeve, under that was a secret that would probably get me killed by anyone I came across who had ever seen a zombie movie. I’ll keep this under wraps until I meet up with the others, then I’ll find a way to slip away… I leaned back and let my head rest against the window appreciating the cool sensation it brought. Then I guess I find something to fill the rest of my life with… Maybe hunting zombies? One man living on the edge, infected by the same monsters who ruined his life, now he hunts them… It would make a good story, maybe even a decent game. But then again how long do I really even have? I might not even last a few more hours let alone long enough for a compelling life of revenge and angst… I turned to glance back at Samantha and tried to think of why she would help me.
I had known Samantha for a long time, she was the girl who lived next door after all, but we had never really been all that close. We would talk when we saw each other at community events and we used to play together a bit when we were little but that was it. We were more acquaintances than friends, yet she had risked her life to save mine. I honestly couldn’t say I’d do the same, actually knowing myself like I do I would have probably just driven past as the zombie ate her. I was just glad that she wasn’t as selfish as I was.
I don’t know why but before I realized it I found myself opening my mouth. “Hey Samantha, did you know… My mom and sister died today. They were dead by the time I got home.” I couldn’t look at her as I spoke, I just needed to talk right now and I didn’t want to see how she would react to what I said. “Mom was being eaten when I got there, Laura was on the ground in front of the door like she was trying to get away before she…” I took a deep breath. “So yeah, the last of my family is gone and now everything I cared about was left in my bag back there on the zombie infested street…” I looked over and ended up staring into Samantha’s pale green eyes. “I’m completely alone now…”
“You’re not alone Alex, there’s still your friends right? Connor, Claire, Cynthia, Jared, and… well, me…” She said carefully.
I looked down as the weight of my reality began to crush down on me. “But I can’t stay with them.”
I glanced again at my left arm. I could just tell her, sure it would probably mean having to walk the rest of the way to the station but she does deserve to know that the person she saved is essentially a ticking zombie time-bomb… “Because I just can’t be around them right now…” I leaned my head back against the window and shut my eyes as I let the conversation die out.
In that moment I learned just what type of person I was, for my friends I would struggle in constant pain on a zombie ridden street but for a girl I was merely aquatinted with, a girl who saved my life, I would keep her in the dark about something that, according to every zombie flick I’d ever seen, could very easily get her killed. I had always known I was selfish and self-centered, but this decision had shown me that my nature was far more self-oriented than I had previously thought. I didn’t even feel bad about hiding the truth, my mind understood and my conscience was clear. I had chosen to protect myself even at the cost of her safety, I didn’t even really hesitate. I guess deep down I’m not a good person… But then again I’m sure given the way the world is now, soon there won’t be many good people left at all…
I’d known Alex for as long as I could remember, but I couldn’t say when it was I actually started to have feelings for him beyond friendship. It might have been around the time when his father died, when Alex went from that goofy kid who took nothing seriously and couldn’t hit a pitched ball to save his life to a quiet boy who suffered in silence and retreated from the rest of the world. I grew up without one of my parents so a part of me could understand some of what he must’ve been going through, at that time I started to watch Alex out of concern. I wanted to make sure that he was ok, but I just didn’t have the courage to actually ask him about it. But as time passed the reason I watched him changed from concern to genuine interest, and then as more time passed I tried to find ways to get closer to him. I ended up picking up VR gaming just to play alongside him in a few games, though I did feel more than a little stalker-ish when I asked around to find out his avatar name. My plan was to eventually work my way closer to him both in games and reality until we were close enough for me to ask him out, or better yet for him to ask me out first. Unfortunately life had taken that little plan and tossed it right into the trash while it pulled a zombie apocalypse out of its box of fun surprises.
I knew that Alex didn’t like me in the same way I liked him, he and Claire had feelings for each other and that was blatantly clear to everyone except somehow the both of them. I had convinced myself that they would get over each other and that would be my shot, but a part of my always wanted to show him how I felt and begin steeling his heart away from Claire before the two discovered the obvious. But in the end I was never able to work up the courage to do it, instead I resigned myself to just watching over him from afar. In reality Alex barely even knew who I was, we didn’t talk much and I kept my in-game avatar persona very separate from my actual identity. I knew almost everything about Alex that another person could possibly know without reading his mind, but he knew next to nothing about me. In some ways that was comforting, after all I could never be hurt by him if he didn’t even notice me, but it was also incredibly frustrating and depressing.
I understood all that, I had even begun to accept that things may never change, yet here he was opening up to me. He was talking about things I knew were haunting him, something that would be hard on him to share with anyone, and maybe it was only because I was the one who was here at the time he needed to get all this out and off his chest but it still made me feel special. It was a bittersweet moment, I was glad about Alex opening up like this to me but at the same time I felt horrible for what he had gone through. And as I struggled with those conflicting feelings the moment was over and Alex stopped talking altogether.
I looked over to see him leaning his head against the window with his eyes shut, it was clear enough that he was done talking now. But that’s fine, we’ll have plenty of time later… Heck, even if he never wants to bring this up again we could just talk about something else…
“Get her to the capital…”
“Now! I’ll lead the men to stay behind to deal with the deadies…”
“Ugh, wha…” I woke up to shouting and movement. I opened my eyes to see something that didn’t make any sense. There were men around me holding bows and swords while wearing some sort of armor, one was crouching in front of me, he was younger than the others and looked to be around my age, and holding a glowing crystal.
“Sir she’s coming around!” The man in front of me shouted.
“Good, now get going… And Kalm, you have to keep her safe now, get the champion to her majesty…” I looked over to see a grizzled middle-aged man holding a huge sword that was glowing with blinding white light. He was in armor that looked like it was made from pure white stone and left his bulging arms bare. “The rest of us old dogs have some bones to bury, one last time…”
The man, apparently called Kalm, picked me up and carried me as he began to run. I looked back still utterly confused as to what was happening, there were a dozen or so men in various forms of that same white stone armor standing around the strange circle of silver metal covered in squiggles that I had apparently just been laying on.
As Kalm ran far faster than I thought any human should be able to, especially considering the hard and heavy looking armor he was wearing, with me bouncing up and down in his arms I tried to put my mind into order. What is going on! I was in my truck with Alex heading to the station, how the heck did I end up in a forest with random dudes in armor!?
“Don’t worry miss, I won’t let anything happen to you. I’ll keep you safe, I promised the commander I would…” Kalm interrupted my thoughts as he looked down at me and gave a tired smile.
For a moment I just stared at him, his face was shockingly symmetrical and his features looked like they were carved out as the finest work of some master artisan. Well… There are worse things than being princess carried by a hunky white knight who says he’ll protect me… But still, what the heck happened to me? And where is Alex, better yet where is my truck!?
I was perched on the edge of the satellite tower building clutching my rifle in an iron grip as I watched them come. I guess a part of me had always known that this day would come, ever since the apocalypse started twelve years ago a part of me knew that there was no escaping it. And now that part of me had been proven right, I lined up my sights with a zombies rotting head before pulling the trigger and watching the corpse go down now permanently dead.
It made sense really, zombies were dead creatures so they didn’t need to breathe and weren’t nearly dense enough to sink too deep in water. Some of the experts had even predicted that one day a zombie horde would be able to invade the fleet, we had even implemented a few countermeasures as a precaution against just that eventuality, but now watching those countermeasures be so easily thwarted under wave after endless wave of zombies it seemed laughable we had thought they could ever protect us.
“Connor, only three other positions are holding now, the rest are FUBAR…” Claire’s voice sounded from behind me as I lined up my next shot.
“The evacuation?” I asked as my shot brought down another of the monsters.
“Compromised, there hasn’t been a report for the last ten minutes so we have to assume the evacuation plan has failed.” Claire sighed as she moved to lay prone beside me and picked up her own rifle.
“How many got out?”
“Out of the whole fleet? Less than half the choppers…”
“Did Commander Stone stay behind?”
“Think so, I couldn’t imagine him leaving the carrier behind. He’s probably down there in that mess killing as many as he can before…”
I lined up my sights with a man being eaten alive by a crowd of zombies before pulling the trigger end ending his suffering. “Yeah” I let out a tired sign as my rifle ejected it’s empty magazine and I reached for a new one from the pile beside me. “I could see the old bastard doing that…”
For a long time after that we just worked in silence, each of us drowning in a sea of our own thoughts. I think I was better off than my sister though, at least I knew that my daughter had made it out safely on one of the first Evac choppers. That was all that really mattered to me, but Claire was different. Ever since the first day of the apocalypse when we lost Alex and J.J. she had changed, I think it was because she couldn’t shake off the grief and regret. For a long time after that Claire and I had been depressed, but she had been worse off than me and was even a bit suicidal for a long time. Back then where I had Cyn to help me in my darkest moments Claire had lost the love of her life, I hadn’t truly understood what that meant until seven years ago but after I lost Cyn I got it. There were just some things you never got over, you just had to find a way to cope. Our way of coping was to fight back against the monsters who took our loved ones away, and that was why we were both here sniping away at monsters instead of in a chopper with dad and Olivia flying away from this hell.
“Connor, I’m out” I glanced over at my sister seeing that the pile of magazines beside here were all empty of bullets.
“The ammo cases are back there…” I glanced away from the sights of my rifle and saw that I only had two loaded magazines left myself. “Oh and while you’re back there could you reload a few of my mags too sis?”
“Yeah sure…” As Claire moved back to refit us for the next stretch of our final stand I patted the pistol secured in the holster at my hip, it only had one bullet loaded.
I’ll be with you soon Cyn… With that one thought I focused back on the deck bellow, any trace of human resistance had disappeared and the shambling hordes had begun to cluster more heavily around the towers base. But for now we still have six more cases and two other rifles to burn through before I can be together with you again baby… Snapping a fresh magazine into my rifle I once again looked through its sights and began to pick out my targets, these damn things had taken so much from me that I refused to die before I took as many of them to hell with me as I could…