Authors: C.J. Crowley
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Trying to Survive
By C.J. Crowley
he night it began, all we could do was listen to the chaos.
The sirens, car crashes, gunshots and never ending cries for help resonated throughout the neighborhood like a symphony of evil – rising up from hell itself.
My brother Walter and I sat against the wall by the front window in my living room, holding our rifles tightly to our chests. Waiting for them to break down the door or smash through the windows and tear us apart.
My heart raced to such an extent that it brought about disorientation and slightly blurred vision. A war was taking place within my own mind as I desperately fought to cast away the intensely graphic images of being eaten alive.
We both knew our father’s old, bolt-action hunting rifles wouldn’t do us any good. Judging by what I’ve already witnessed, they’d be no more useful than lighting a match during a hurricane.
Every time one of us found the courage to look outside, what we saw immediately caused us to turn away and become paralyzed by fear. It was far worse than any hell I could have conjured up with my own imagination. Even making the infamous descriptions of the underworld by Dante Alighieri seem welcoming.
The most difficult moments were those when we heard the screams of children and had to experience the unrivaled pain of knowing we were unable to help them. I had to stop Walt from opening the front door more than a few times.
We just listened… My whole body trembled and grew weaker as the minutes passed. My palms were sweating to the point where I kept feeling the rifle start to slip from my hands. I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to react if they made it inside the house.
We spoke, but barely found the words to form full sentences. We were far too preoccupied with trying to understand what was happening, to accept it as reality instead of a bad dream.
There was no question that we were both in a state of extreme shock.
There was no warning.
t’s been approximately twenty hours since people started to turn. Since their eyes transformed into a glowing and piercing amber, void of any soul or conscience, gleaming with the intensity of a nova-like rage that would frighten even the bravest of people to the core.
They growl and snarl like wild animals fighting over the innards of gutted prey. Their teeth tear away flesh and break bone with ease. Some are so erratic and impulsive, they can’t help but turn on one another instead of focusing on consuming whoever the pack had just run down.
At first we thought about trying to escape, but there was no escape. They can run twice the speed of a normal person and possess a ferocious strength that would cause anyone to lose all hope for survival. We’ve watched enough people being ripped apart as they tried to make it down their driveways and jump into their cars. Attempting to leave my house was nothing short of suicide.
We considered firing from the windows so we could try to save those being pursued, but we quickly realized that all it would do is get us killed along with them. There was no helping anyone. In fact, it was starting to become painfully clear that we wouldn’t even be able to help ourselves.
At this point, when I
hear the screams it’s even more frightening. It means they’re on the hunt, no longer distracted and liable to discover us. All it takes is for them to hear any loud noises coming from inside a house and they go pouring in through the windows.
They seem to have maintained the intellect to work together and strategize when hunting someone down. Once a group of them gives chase, some break away and attack from the right and left to ensure there’s no escape…
Not that anyone could actually outrun them.
Whenever they made a kill, I could see an immediate change take place that suggested they were running on nothing but animalistic instincts. The sight and smell of blood seems to drive their insanity to even greater heights…
Neither of us had moved from beside the front window for more than a few minutes since it started. We both had uneaten food and full bottles of water sitting next to us. I could only assume Walt felt the same way I did – too nervous and afraid to have any kind of appetite.
When we heard the cries of a woman break the short-lived silence, we both carefully inched in front of the window and spread sections of the blinds. I was just in time to see her limping toward the front door of the house across the street, desperately trying to seek refuge. Her left leg was badly injured and leaving a thick trail of blood behind her.
Within seconds, one of them ran on top of the car in the driveway, launched through the air with shocking accuracy and took her down to the ground. All the others in the area swarmed almost immediately.
I couldn’t help but watch as they began biting into her – slinging blood in every direction as they whipped their heads to the sides in order to pull away her flesh.
It wasn’t long before they were taking off in different directions with parts of her, attempting to protect their portions from the others. Nothing was left behind but a massive pool of blood – not even a single piece of her. They worked frighteningly fast, and the ones that weren’t able to get there in time frantically licked up the blood from the ground.
When it first started, I didn’t have the stomach to look through the window for more than a few moments. Now I couldn’t make myself stop observing as one of them sat there with the young woman’s head in its hands. It was happily eating the flesh away from her skull while the others struggled to lap up every last speck of blood dripping from her neck.
After no more than thirty seconds, the skull was almost completely white. It began trying to chew through the bone around the eye socket, but quickly gave up and smashed it against the concrete to break it apart and get to everything on the inside.
For some odd reason, I was starting to find that the horror of it all was actually mesmerizing... I could swear they were all smiling and letting out groans and gasps of ecstasy as they ate…
Walt had gone back to sitting against the wall and staring off into nothing. To my relief, he finally drew my attention away from the scene. He shook his head and lightly laughed before he said “Why the fuck couldn’t it be like it is in the movies?”
He adjusted himself and looked over the aged and tarnished rifle that was resting across his lap. “They’re supposed to be slow and stupid… brain-dead… It’s only a matter of time before one of them figures out we’re in here and alerts the others.”
I didn’t really know what to say, and I wasn’t exactly brimming with optimism, so I harshly responded “That’s why they’re called movies instead of documentaries.”
Walt shot me a frustrated glance and frowned heavily. He obviously didn’t appreciate my sarcasm. “What the hell are we gonna do, James?”
“I don’t know… For now, just be glad you happened to come over last night and that we’re together. We have a much better chance of surviving this way.”
He leaned toward me and momentarily raised his voice. “Have you looked outside!?” Then realized how foolish it was and began to speak softly. “If we open that front door, it’s all over. They’re gonna hear it and get to us before we make it to the car – just like they got to everyone else.”
Walt’s eyes suddenly widened, he put his hand up to his face and whispered “Alex… I can’t believe I didn’t think of her until just now.”
I sighed and let my head fall back. “You can’t worry about her right now. She’s either stuck in her house like we are, or… Either way, it doesn’t matter. You’ll just get killed trying to reach her.”
It felt horrible to take such a cold stance on the subject, but they’d only met a few weeks ago.
He never answered back, and the few minutes of silence that followed brought me just a little closer to regaining clarity. “We have to create a distraction – it’s the only way we can get to the car. They’re so fast that we need them at least fifty feet away from the front of the driveway. No, a hundred.”
“But there’re so many of them” Walt said before he let out a long sigh. “You saw what happened to the guy across the street. He actually made it inside the car, but when he tried to drive away they just smashed through the window and ripped him out like it was nothing... How the fuck can they be so strong?”
I looked at him as if to say –
How the hell should I know?
“Do you think it’s a virus like on The Walking Dead?”
Walt began slowly shaking his head. “I doesn’t seem like it… These people didn’t turn after they died – they just suddenly turned like they were all infected at once. And they don’t leave enough of anyone behind for them to come back as one of those things. This is something totally different.”
“Yeah… I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway. Not like we can do anything about it.”
“So, seriously, what are we gonna do? How much food is in the house? How many gallons of water do you have?”
“Two and a half… I think. Got enough food for at least a week.”
“What about bullets?”
“I don’t know. Whatever dad had when he died. You know I don’t go hunting anymore. It’s just not the same without him – if anything, it’s kind of depressing now… I just hang on to all the stuff because it reminds me of him.” I glanced over to Walt. “We’re lucky to have any weapons at all.”
Walt jumped up and started to leave the room, tightly gripping his rifle, surrounded by an aura of fear, anger and desperation. “Where’s the trunk? I want to know exactly what we have. We really need to start thinkin about shit like this.”
“The closet in the hall… Walt, I’m gonna go ahead and say guns are just about useless at the moment. We need to think about finding a way to lead them away from the house first. If we fire even a single shot, we’ll have fifty of them on us within three seconds. We can’t make any noise at all.”
Walt ignored me and slowly left the room, doing his best to step softly. As he disappeared into the hall, I suddenly remembered I had something stashed away that might be useful. I got to my feet and caught up with him. “I have fireworks.”
He came to a stop and turned back to me with a spark of excitement in his eyes. As if my words gave him the slightest bit of hope. “Fireworks?”
“Yeah, and I’m gonna bet they’ll work perfectly. Go gather up the bullets, the water and some food. You’re right - we gotta get the fuck outta here. Maybe the police or the military have some kind of safe zone set up nearby.”
Walt gave me a half-smile, lightly punched me in the arm and then we split up.
I slowly walked across the noisy, wood flooring and made my way to the spare bedroom. In the dead silence, I discovered that the aging hinges of the door presented a life-threatening challenge. As I eased it open, I pushed up on the handle to take pressure off of the hinges and dull the high-pitched squeal.
The walls were covered in shadows from them lingering around outside the window. When one of them began to growl, I felt myself stop breathing. Even after it suddenly ran away, I was still unable to move for quite some time.
I had to take several deep breaths before I approached the closet and reached out to the handle. Just to be safe, I checked the window one more time before I began digging around in the closet for the plastic bag I’d put away last 4
One sound… all it takes is one sound…
Once I was back by the front window in the living-room, I sat down and emptied the firecrackers onto the floor. Walt came in soon after, saw the surprisingly large pile and said “That’s right, it rained all week and we never got to use any of them.”
“Yeah, who knew the Florida tradition of storms on the 4
would end up saving our asses one day? So, how many bullets do we have?”
“Twenty-seven – and there aren’t any extras for the shotgun, but it has two in it.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out one of my father’s large hunting knives and threw it to me. “Might need this too.”
I caught it at the last second before it hit my chest and then continued to sift through the plastic bag. “Okay… We’ll go upstairs and throw some of these little ones across the street. Once they gather around, I’ll throw some of the roman candles as far down the road as I can – they’ll go off for a while and give us plenty of time.” I looked up to him. “Hopefully, they’re dumb enough to fall for it.”
As Walt hastily packed a duffle bag with the little supplies we had, he said “How much gas is in your car?”
“If I remember right – close to half a tank.”
“Let’s not forget to check the radio. We might be able to pick up an emergency broadcast giving directions to a safe-zone or something. I tried my phone a little while ago – still no service.”
“That’s not a good sign, Walt… Why would the phone service just cut out? We still have electricity.”
“We’ll worry about shit like that once we get somewhere safe.”
If there is such a thing as “safe” anymore…
I got to my feet and gently cracked a small space in the blinds so I could look outside.
All of them were just aimlessly wandering around. They seemed jittery and hyper, almost as if they didn’t have the ability to stay still. Every ten seconds or so, they would have a sudden burst of energy and just run around or lunge back forth – frantically scanning their surroundings and seemingly sniffing the air. I could see their veins protruding, and that the ones who weren’t covered in blood were pouring sweat.
I watched a man as he paced around the front yard of the house across the street. His face and clothing were entirely drenched in blood. Even his hair was soaked to the point where it was dripping as if he’d been swimming in a slaughterhouse drainage vat. I could see long, blonde strands of a woman’s hair that were caught in his teeth and hanging from his mouth.
He would periodically twitch and writhe, twisting and contorting as if he was in agonizing pain. It seemed to be fueling the rage. His eyes were bulging out of his head, and his breathing was elevated to the point where it would make a normal person’s heart explode.
When two of them came in close contact, they would back away, take an aggressive stance and then growl and show their teeth. Seldom attacking one another, but giving the appearance that they could at any moment. Their attention spans were short, so the confrontations never lasted very long.
As usual, Walt’s voice was the only thing that could break me away from staring. “So, are we gonna do this or what?”
I shook my head. “Not yet. I think we should wait another twenty minutes or so. Let it get as dark as possible. The darker it is, the brighter they’ll be… Let’s take the time to calm down and really think this through... One fuck-up, and we’re dead.”
Walt agreed and we sat down. As he began to speak, I found myself blocking out his words and thinking of our parents.
When I looked in the mirror, I was always reminded of our mother. I had our father’s dark brown hair, but her softer features and kind, green eyes carried on to me. Whereas Walt looked almost exactly like all the old pictures of our father when he was in his early-twenties.