My heart slammed frantically against my chest as I huddled in the closet, trying my best to be as soundless as possible. I trembled, clutched the steak knife in my right hand hard until my knuckles flushed white. The tears slid uncontrollably down my cheeks as if I were a broken faucet. I couldn't sob, I couldn't sob. Could not make any noise at all. If I shuffled slightly, moved a centimeter, let the fabric of my pajamas rustle, it'd all be over. My position would be heard and I'd be good as dead.
I closed my eyes, bit my lower lip to keep from letting all the sadness, all the confusion from erupting out of my vocal cords. If only this had never happened. If only this had never happened…How was this happening? How was this real? I hoped that maybe if I fell asleep everyone would be back to normal. That this was just some awful nightmare that I could escape and then return to a comforting reality. But this wasn't a nightmare. This was real. The wetness smothering my clothes and face were from real tears, and the terror throbbing, wracking my entire body was definitely, undoubtedly real.
Every sound was like an enormous explosion to my ears. I could hear the continuous ticking of the clock, the birds fluttering and singing outside as if today was just another ordinary day, just another frame of time to survive. And it was, in a way. I wished that I could switch places with the birds and imagined how peaceful it would be to have such a simple state of mind, to not be afraid of dying or seeing those around you die. To live to keep on going, to aid my species further on until my time came, a time I would never even fathom in my ignorant little bird brain. Why did I have to suffer so much while those accursed birds kept on singing blissfully in their safe, high nests?
The floorboards creaked eerily, uneven and painfully slow footsteps making their way closer and closer to my room. I had always complained to mom about the absence of locks on the doors. I had wanted a lock for my room, but she refused to have locks because she believed we 'didn't need any'. Oh, how wrong she had been! If only I could've locked the door…if only-
The approaching footsteps became louder, louder, and my heart threatened to burst from my chest as the door swung open and I held my breath. I swear that I closed the door. I closed the door. I swear! Did it open it? Did I underestimate it's intelligence in my moment of fear and panic?
The footsteps were so close, so absurdly close. In the corner of my eye I could see my older brother through the slit between the door and hinge. Nate was dressed in his purple sheep pajama pants and red night robe. His mouth was coated with blood, his once bright blue eyes dull, lifeless, and sunken in like prunes. There was a large chunk of flesh missing from his chest, his ribs and heart semi-exposed. Various sets of bite marks covered his hands and neck. A few of his fingers had been ripped off and some dangled, connected only by a shredded thread of tissue and flesh. His left ear was just a bloody gaping hole where it had been torn off and his skin, his clothes, were splattered in blood and organs and other bodily fluids.
He opened his lips and let out a high, pitiful moan. I couldn't stand seeing him like this. The sad, sorrowful moan that fluctuated from his throat made me cry out of the horror and compassion that seized me at that second. The person in front of me was no longer my beloved older brother, my Natey-Nate. His body was but a lifeless shell that hungered for the living, a mindless monster driven only by a primal instinct to devour the flesh of humans.
That one sound made his head whip in my direction and triggered another moan from his lips. Driven by an unstoppable force, my dead brother staggered toward the closet. His nostrils flared as he sucked in my scent, his moans growing louder with excitement. I had to do something. I had to do something now or it would be too late.
Mustering all my courage I jerked to my feet, opened the door, and lunged at my brother with all my strength, thrust the knife straight into his neck. I was repulsed at how deep I pushed in, how solid but soft the substance of his neck felt. He peered down at me, his face void of emotion, and let out another moan that was interceded with a gurgle. His few remaining fingers curled around my arms and he snapped his jaw fiercely like some wild beast. I yanked the knife from his neck and quickly, intuitively stepped behind him and stabbed the base of the neck and severed the spinal cord. His whole body convulsed and then instantly collapsed to the floor. I fell to my knees and let myself sob, let the ocean of emotions sweep over and envelop me.
Over my crying I heard the car pull into the driveway outside. My parents were back! They were here and I laughed inwardly at the thought of being wrapped in their arms, away from everything, away from my dead brother, the blood, the powerful tide of emotions that threatened to drown me at any moment. They had left 4 hours earlier saying they were going to get food and supplies for the house while we waited for a cure to be found for the epidemic. They had left Nate and I at 4 when the sun was beginning to descend in the sky. Now it was only a few minutes before complete darkness overtook the sky and the thin sliver of the moon would be fully visible high overhead.
None of us knew Nate had been infected the day before. Nate hadn't even known himself. He admitted to having shared a drink with his friends the previous night. It wasn't even an hour after Mom and Dad left that he started to feel nauseous and sick. He had complained of feeling cold, freezing cold and numb. He said his head ached and he was vomiting blood. I didn't believe him at the time- or maybe I didn't want to believe him. He decided to take a walk to his friend Matt's house and ask him if he knew what was going on. After an hour I became increasingly worried, and went over to see if everything was alright. That was when I witnessed my brother being-being eaten by Matt. I'm still angry at myself for screaming at that time, but Nate was barely hanging onto consciousness and used the rest of his strength to bash Matt's head in with a lamp. I lead him out of the house, not knowing what else to do. When we got outside his whole body shook violently, he shrieked in pain, and fell down onto the grass. I went beside his limp body and examined him. Nate was a ragged mess, as if he had gotten into a fight with a bear. When he got up and walked toward me, I ran into the house, knowing full well that my dead brother was on my trail.
Not much was known about the virus that was rapidly spreading across the nation. The only information from the news was that it was transferred by ingestion of bodily fluid containing the virus, and it could take days until someone would know they were infected depending on the person and how they contracted the virus. It was also stated that the virus appeared to kill the host and then reanimate the body with a craving for the living. Nothing was known about where it came from or how it worked-at least not the general public, anyway.
I wiped the tears from my face, grateful that I only got blood on my sleeves and pants. I raced out of my room and hurried to the front door. Relief flooded through me as I ran to the car in delight at the thought of seeing my parents.
I eagerly pulled the driver's door open and spread my arms so I could hug my dad. "Dad!" I called joyfully. Just as I was leaning down into the car, my parents latched onto my arms, yanked me inside, and so fast, so sudden, bore their teeth into my neck and started to consume me.