"Now it's your turn, everyone else has had theirs."
"Yeah, what's your story Nine?"
"Well It's a long one but I figure we've got all the time in the world now, so here it goes."
My actual name is Brandon Watts and surprisingly I had a fairly normal upbringing.
We lived in the middle of the woods, outside of a town around the outskirts of Austin, in an old house built by my grandfather. Growing up as a lively little sprout in that isolated part of the world was boring, I won't lie. Often for entertainment I'd find myself staying up late and peering through the banisters of the stairs, watching horror films that my parents seemed obsessed with, through that I suppose I inherited their obsession. With my discovery of the Internet and its subsequent wonders this obsession grew, I was watching films and scouring stories of a genre of horror that just seemed to grip me the most, funnily enough, it was zombie horror.
Now, being stuck in the middle of a quiet forest next to a small town, I often found myself pining for something more. That being an apocalypse, as morbid as that sounds after everything. I thought maybe it'd be better than being stuck in the company of hundreds of trees. It wasn't just a fleeting feeling though, I'd just wither my time away in class and any spare time I had at home just quietly sitting in a world entirely my own, thinking through my plans, picking carefully the friends that I would take with me, where we would hole up and the people that we could meet, all while slaughtering masses of the undead, and hey, if a few people I just didn't like happened to stray in front of my weapon, then they'd just have to die too.
Considering I wasn't well versed in the world of literature I had even surprisingly read several books on the matter, by those who had done research similar to my own. That being said, what I call research was really just sitting with my eyes wired to my computer screen, either watching films online or playing any game I could get my hands on that had undead of some description in it somewhere. I often found what I read a lacked realism however, which it would considering nobody had experienced a true wide-scale outbreak, as there had never been one, much to my dismay. For most people the experience would be traumatizing and to some, maddening. I however, found the thought almost tantalising and It would also occupy my dreams as well as my waking hours.
My first experience of a live attack is forever etched into my memory, even today, after everything, I remember it as if it just happened
The moon was unusually bright and hung low in the sky, casting shadows of the trees that surrounded my house onto the front garden. I was awake in the early hours of the morning, a frequent occurrence for me. Something struck me as out of the ordinary on that night of all nights. I had rolled myself from my cozy computer chair to my unrelentingly uncomfortable bed pulling the sheets half-heartedly over myself, as per the usual for a Friday night spent on the computer.
I slowly began to slip into unconsciousness, ready to let my mind play out another grotesque fantasy, when I began to sweat, uncomfortable amounts I might add.
I surmised that my father had set the thermostat too high, as he sometimes did. Effectively I was roasting in my own living quarters.
I, for once in my life, reached for the window to free myself from being cooked through by morning.
Sliding the latch and turned the handle, I opened it as far as it would yield. It hadn't been opened in months being the recluse that I am, plus the harsh weather from months passed had simply rusted and stiffened any metal it met, including the slide on the window. Considering it was February and snow had blessed my woodland home it was extremely cold outside, so I had to deal with two extremes on either side of me.
I wasn't wonderfully pleased about it either, the snow I mean, as It meant I couldn't go to school, which in turn meant I had a completely non-existent social life. I leaned out of the window and an ice-cold wind pelted my face. It didn't phase me though, for the sight I beheld I could scarcely believe. A figure, black in the night, shuffled its way along the path from the woods and came stumbling toward the house. The being was jittery in movement, it was rigid in composure and moved unlike a normal person would. All the while I examined this silhouetted creature, one thought was on my mind: could this truly have been the start of what I had been waiting for?
My hopes were dashed rather quickly as a loud belch and a slur of words came from the mouth of this bleak figure. After stepping out into the full beam of the moonlight, I came to the realization that it was a merely a friend of mine, drunk and dilapidated. I say he was a friend, the only reason I really recognised him was because of the repugnant visage that he bestowed upon the world. He was the resident tough guy, the "Alpha male" at our school. How he had managed to walk the path and keep his composure defied all belief, however there he stood, worsening my opinion of him by urinating on my mother's garden plants. I'd have stopped him, however she paid more attention to those plants than I ever received, so I figured the screams that would follow her heartbreaking discovery in the morning would be rather delightful, I actually cared more that he was relieving himself in my vicinity.
It was then, as the poor fool was almost collapsed on the snow laden path that I spotted another black shadow, a little deeper into the woods. Figuring it was probably one of his friends come to drag him home I was about ready to withdraw myself from the outside world once more.
I proceeded to draw my window to a close, yet as I did so I heard probably the most stomach-turning of noises ever to be heard by mortal ears. It was the unmistakable squelch of teeth against flesh, the crunch of molars through bone, the ripping of tendons and the tearing of skin under the bite of a jaw. I hesitated. Not through cowardice but through the thought of my dream becoming reality if I looked up.
I dared not. Instead pelting down the staircase and winding up on the windowsill, on which I perched myself. I looked through the two large panes of glass that separated me from the outside world and there it was, A creature I thought magnificent stood against the moonlight, flesh hanging from its mouth and a crimson tide flowing down its body. Its victim had perished instantly, in his drunken state he had no time to scream or shout, the pain, alcohol and exertion had the poor fool's heart give out. He laid there, a gaping wound in his neck, lifeless and growing cold.
I had never been so excited In my entire life.
The feeling that overwhelmed me was intense, all of my senses focused on this terrific scene outside of my house, The streaks of sticky crimson on gleaming white snow, the sounds of limbs cracking under pressure from the monster's barely human jaw, I could even smell the iron in that bastard's blood. Reality soon consumed me however and I was sent into a state of shock by what I was truly witnessing. The life had been sapped from this poor soul and yet I found myself fixated. I took a step down from the window ledge and held my jaw shut. I headed straight for the kitchen and knelt down, pulling open a wooden board under the cupboards.
I felt around until my hand reached the cold metal grip of my father's Colt pistol. It was my first time holding a gun, despite living in America, even my dad had only fired it once or twice for practice. It felt how I imagined it would but at the same time gave me a dangerous sense of overconfidence. I was about to end a life, well unlife anyway, for sake of my family's safety. That's what I was telling myself. I could have let it slip away into the night and have it ravage another unsuspecting night dweller. Alas, I decided to take its fate into my own hands, saying to myself it was out of utter curiosity.
I slipped the only thing on my feet I could find, pink, fluffy bunny slippers, they didn't belong to me, although they were damn comfortable If i say so myself. I stepped into the snowy footprints left early by my parents and trod the same path, trying not to engulf my foot in untouched snow. I looked at the living corpse, filling its sanguine addiction, engorging on flesh without the feeling of ever being content. I was cautious in my movements, however being the unlucky soul that I am eventually my balance failed me and I slid on an icy patch in the path. I fell in what seemed like slow motion, but I hit the ground at what felt like breakneck speed. Being only human, my reflexes kicked in and my hand squeezed the trigger. I unwittingly had lodged a bullet in the meal of my would-be prey. His neck swivelled to what was almost 180 degrees and his eyes fastened on my body, ripe for the picking.
The last thing I had heard was a thundering down the wooden stairs of the house, as I slipped into unconsciousness.
I stood In a middle of a field on a warm summer's day. There was nothing but wheat as far as my eyes could see and the sky above me was completely barren of clouds. I had never been so bewildered in my life, not because of my location however but because of how I felt. It was visibly warm, yet I felt cold, the day was bright and somehow I felt darkened. It was as I turned around I came to realized I was standing in the shadow of a large wheat-covered hill . Even though it was rather gargantuan in size it wasn't the hill that blocked out the sun, but the person that stood atop it.
There, as my only form of company in that never-ending field was a girl. Now, in my short life I had few encounters with those of the opposite gender, so I was rather surprised with what happened next. She ran to me. It was like a reuniting of lost lovers in a cheesy French 50's film but she was indeed running toward me. She slowed and held her arms out in an attempt to embrace me, yet being me I stood there stiff as a fiddle. Her embrace felt oddly familiar and the breeze that followed her carried her scent. Violets. Not knowing who she was that is the name I gave her, Violet. My feet lifted from the floor as we fell together and in a split second my head rushed with immense pain. I hit the floor with a tremendous crash, only to open my eyes to see blurry white dots that eventually revealed to be stars after my eyes had focused. A black shadow loomed over me and offered me a hand to which I curiously obliged.
It was my father, coated in blood with tears running down his face and the pistol in his grasp. Before I could say anything he slumped himself on my shoulder.
"I tried, I really did Brandon, but I just couldn't get him away from her fast enough." he uttered through his tears.
"Slow down dad, what do you mean?" I said.
"Your mother, she ran out here to make sure you were okay and ... well that thing it ... it grabbed hold of her an-"
His sentence broke under the heavy weight of his heart.
I peered over his shoulder at the floor behind him. It was there I saw her, sprawled out on a blanket of snow, with dim eyes and pale cheeks, looking peaceful and silent. She sacrificed herself, just for me. My own mother.
- "That's rough man,"
"Yeah? Well it doesn't get much better, besides I don't think any of us have had what i'd like to call a happy story,"
"Yeah, no you're right, sorry"
"Forget it, anyway..." -
We didn't sleep that night. We just got in the car and we drove for miles. We went straight through our town first, there was nothing. No sign of anyone, living or dead. The same for the next town. Nobody at all. We didn't know how many we'd have to go before we hit civilisation so we decided to keep going until we hit the state border. All that time there were no signs of live people. We only saw hundreds of the undead, just shambling by the side of the road, they barely paid any attention to us besides a glance and the odd one that tried to follow us. If you've ever been on a highway and just for a second you can't see any other cars, it feels weird, but when that weird feeling lasts for hours it turns eerie and frightening.I tried talking to my dad, about anything, but he wouldn't respond, he was pale and seemed dead behind the eyes. I gave up my futile attempts and sat there, waiting for something to happen.
We eventually crept up on the state border and we were greeted by a dim glow on the horizon. It started out faint and I thought It might be sunrise, but it grew quickly and the light was white, gleaming out in all directions. Before we knew it we'd hit a tire trap and had met a shaky stop in the middle of the road. I looked up and was dazed by the light, I could barely see past The last thing I heard was the marching of feet and the cocking of guns, followed by a dull thud, after which everything went black.
That was the second time I blacked out in the space of a few hours, only this time I regained consciousness to find myself in a white tent, strapped to a metal operating table. Even my head was strapped down, I couldn't move at all, save for my toes, but they weren't about to cut me loose. I laid there with my mind deciding to remind me how vulnerable I was in this position and thinking about all the bad things that could happen to me, all the while I hadn't noticed a man approaching. He was in an all white plastic hazard suit, with a gas mask on underneath that, I had no idea how serious this was but by the way he was dressed I could gauge that this was far beyond the realms of my imagination.
He unbuckled me and I just stared at him, not knowing where I was or why I was here and especially wondering why I was almost naked.
He returned my stare, even though i couldn't see his eyes I knew.
He managed to muffle some words from under his mask "You're clean kid, don't look so nervous." .
It took me awhile to register, I sat there blankly, this was the first time I'd had to take everything in, we'd been rushing around all over the place and I just didn't have time to collect myself. Everything just hit me all at once but I had to swallow the lump in my throat and just push everything to the back of my mind once more. I got up and walked out, followed by the man in white, who handed me my clothes and a bag of belongings I had brought with me before I left the house.
After I'd been dressed I got escorted around this facility that had seemingly been built overnight. I had no idea if this was the CDC, FBI, CIA or a different organization altogether, but whoever it was they certainly worked fast. We eventually ended up at a huge marquee, it was the biggest I'd ever seen at least. There were hundreds of people here all lined up toward an exit, where more men in hazard suits were doing checks on everyone. As soon as I got in there I tried shouting for my dad, but I ended up like everyone else, unheard and unseen. There were dozens of people doing the same as I was, so my cries were just lost amongst the others.
I was finally nearing the end of the line after almost an hour and I could see the sun just rearing its head over the horizon. I didn't realize I'd been up the whole night, after everything that had happened I'd lost track of time pretty easily. That initial euphoria I felt in those first moments was gone. It had left me as soon as I woke up with a bloodied head and my mother laying in front of me. I decided now was not the time to mourn, I couldn't let her death take control of me.
Apart from my first encounter, another event that happened in that first twenty four hours also stuck in my mind. A woman, no more than 30, was in the line in front of me. She had short blonde hair tied up in a ponytail of sorts. She was slender and wore gray jeans and a figure hugging top. Her skin was immaculate and her eyes were bright green, they stood out so vividly against her plain attire. She spoke to me briefly, asking if I'd seen her sister, describing her to me. I told her I'd seen someone similar. I was lying of course, I hadn't seen anyone like her. I just wanted to give her hope, even if it was false, it's what everyone needs right now.
Hearing how soft and almost innocent her voice sounded, made me feel somewhat guilty, but I couldn't be just another person telling her that her sister was probably dead or that there was no use trying.
The guards did the same with her as they did with everyone else, they put her through some scanning machines, patted her down and sent her on her way. After she disappeared out of sight behind the plastic sheeting of the tents everything went quiet, everyone stopped talking and panicking, The world around me just seemed to stop for a moment. Complete and utter silence had fallen. It was bliss from the hectic and tiring world that I'd been thrown into overnight. I closed my eyes and thought to myself "this is it, this is when I wake up from a nightmare."
But through that blissful silence came a scream.