Free Words Wednesday
Guest Writer: Liz Zemlicka
I don’t know where it came from, but I can tell you what happened when everything went to shit. By everything, I mean the whole world; at least it appeared to be happening everywhere before the stations went off the air for the last time.
I was one of the unfortunate ones that got stuck in the middle of the city when it all started. By some miracle, I have not been infected, but soon we will run out of food and have to make it out, or at least try.
I was at work when the screaming started, blood-curdling screaming, the kind that sends the hairs on the back of your neck to full attention. Everyone ran to the windows to see what was happening, all I could see was blood everywhere and people running in every direction. “What the hell happened out there?” someone asked. It appeared that a fight had broken out in the middle of the street, cars were stopped and honking at a man kneeling over someone who wasn’t moving, their blood pooling around him. We thought he was performing CPR, until he raised his head and looked right at us in the window, chunks of flesh dangling from his lips, blood smeared over his whole face and his eyes…oh my god his eyes, they were blank, no life in them. That’s when panic broke out. I don’t remember much of what happened next but I know that person in the road was no longer there when I got out of the building.
I ran, driving would have been pointless, by this time cars were abandoned in the street and people were herding themselves in every direction. I started seeing more people shambling aimlessly, attacking anyone in their way. When I got away from the crowd, I stopped to catch my breath, the heavy smell of copper hung thick in the air and I watched in shock as one of them limped toward me, covered in blood, the flesh on his cheek ripped clean off. He got closer and I couldn’t move, just stared at his blank, cloudy eyes and the gaping hole in his cheek, when someone grabbed my arm from behind me and pulled me back into a building.
“Are you stupid girl?” he screamed in my face once the building was secured behind us. I couldn’t speak, but looking around the room, there were three more people, all looking scared.
“I get it, we’re all scared, but you almost got yourself killed. Name’s Randy” he stuck out his hand and I slowly reached out to shake it. “Gr…Grace” I stuttered.
He was a big man, his face chiseled, and hard looking, hair buzzed neatly close to his scalp, military style. My eyes drifted to the 45 strapped to his side and he patted it lightly and smiled. “Never leave home without her” he chuckled.
“This here is Max and Abigail and that is Isaac over there” he pointed to a man in his early twenties sitting on a crate by himself with his head in his hands, he didn’t look up.
I shook hands with the young couple, which looked terrified.
“What’s happening out there?” I asked finally.
Randy stared off for a minute, then answered quietly.
“The news is saying some new drug hit the streets, and it’s making people go crazy. That don’t look like drugs to me, I saw a guy get killed in the street then get up and attack another person. That ain’t drugs”
“I think I saw that happen too, I mean I saw a guy EATING someone and the next thing I knew that person was gone and I don’t think he was eaten” I mumbled, not believing the words were even coming out of my mouth.
Randy just nodded and ran his hand over his jawline thoughtfully.
The room was silent, while outside was chaos. Just then, a woman, soaked in blood, slammed into the window, sending spiderweb cracks in every direction.
“C’mon! We gotta get outta here” Randy led the way deeper into the dark building.
We followed Randy through the building to an emergency exit, where he stopped.
“We need to find a safe place, then we need weapons and food,” he told us flatly, as he pulled his gun from its holster and checked the magazine. “Stay close to me”
He pushed open the exit door slowly and peeked out into an alleyway, then waved his hand for us to follow.
We made our way across the city streets, careful to stay away from main roads. “There’s an armory a few blocks down…” Randy said, catching his breath. “We can make it if we stick to side streets and alleys, we will be safe there. They should be setting up a safe zone for survivors”
“They? Who are THEY?” Abigail asked.
Randy looked annoyed “The military, now c’mon!” he snapped.
We made it to the armory, barely. One of them grabbed Abigail by the hair, attempting to drag her into an alley, his jaws snapping next to her ear as she screamed. Randy didn’t hesitate; he barely aimed and shot it right between the eyes.
“Who are you?” I asked, stunned. He shook his head and stood silently as Max picked Abby off the ground.
Randy approached her, putting both hands on each side of her face, he turned her head to the side.
“What the hell are you doing man?” Max screamed.
“Shut up a second!” Randy yelled back.
He was looking in Abby’s ear; finally he dropped his hands and muttered
“You’ll be fine”
“What the hell was that?” Max continued to yell at Randy’s back as he continued on to the Armory.
“Just checking to make sure she wasn’t infected,” Randy said calmly.
“If you know something about what’s going on here you need to tell us man!” Max insisted.
Randy stopped suddenly, staring directly ahead of us.
“I will tell you what I know when we get there. For now, shut up and follow me or you’re gonna get us all killed!” he snapped at Max without looking at him.
We continued on in silence. Max had his arm around Abby, who was still shaking and Isaac walked next to them, head still down.
We made it to the Armory as dusk was settling in; the sirens and shots from the main roads in the city had begun to grow silent but the screams still rang out from all directions. The Armory stood silently in front of us, dark and abandoned.
“So much for your safe zone” Max muttered bitterly.
Randy didn’t seem to hear him, he stood frozen in front of the door, his calm demeanor was starting to falter.
“Shit!” he yelled and kicked the door. “Goddammit!”
The door swung open and the coppery smell of blood hit us all, Randy went in first and waved at us to stay back as he disappeared into the dark.
After a few minutes, he reappeared, looking defeated “It’s clear, shut the door”
Max and Randy barricaded the doors and windows with wood they got from broken furniture, while the three of us sat in a small office.
“Is he ok?” I whispered to Abby and nodded toward Isaac, sitting by himself in a corner.
“Don’t bother, he hasn’t said a word since we met him, I’m not even sure how Randy got his name out of him. Maybe that’s not even his name,” she whispered back.
The guys came back in the room then, “That will have to do for now” Randy sounded tired now.
“Now tell us what the hell is going on, you know something about this” Max was still angry.
Randy pulled a chair out of a corner and sat down. “I work for the military, retired actually, I was reactivated this morning to try and contain this….thing. I guess I’m deactivated again now” he sighed.
“Thing?” I asked.
“I don’t know where it came from, if we created it or it’s some crazy supernatural…anomaly, hell from what I’ve seen today, I’d believe either. It’s a parasite, a black nasty leech looking thing that feeds on brain matter…Those THINGS out there, they aren’t people, not anymore, they are infected”
The room was silent; we stared at him in disbelief.
“That’s what you were looking for in my ear” Abby whispered. Randy nodded and hung his head.
“It spread so fast, there was nothing we could do.”
A heavy silence hung in the room.
Max wrapped his arm around Abby and she dropped her head onto his shoulder.
Isaac finally looked up from the floor; he stared at Randy, rage burning in his eyes as he slowly stood up. He never broke his stare as he stood for a few moments, hands balled into fists at his sides. Suddenly he was on top of Randy, pounding at his face and chest, screaming, “You killed her!” over and over.
A stunned Randy grabbed his arms and subdued Isaac. “You got your shots in kid, but I didn’t kill nobody”
Isaac burst into tears and Randy dropped his arms. Keeping his eyes on him he said, “Isaac’s girl got infected, I had to put her down. I’m sorry, kid, but she was going to kill you”
“Put her down?” Abby sounded disgusted “she was a person!”
“Not anymore she wasn’t” Randy was still staring at Isaac.
“You should have let her kill me!” Isaac sobbed
Randy walked away from him “Jesus Christ!” he shouted and walked out of the room.
Now here we are, silently sitting in a little office, waiting. Waiting for the silence to come outside, the silence that means everyone is gone, that means the infected have taken over the streets. Then we can make our move to leave the city, to find safety if there is any left. To survive.
Liz Zemlicka started writing as a teenager, over the years she had gone more in the genre of Blogging than storytelling, but has always stayed an avid reader. With inspiration from great writers of horror fiction like Stephen King, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe and many more, she has improved her writing style and found her niche in storytelling and entertaining. Born and raised in the Midwest, with a fascination with the unseen, because there is nothing scarier than something that can play with your mind and terrify you beyond the reach of your 5 senses.