He was abruptly awoken by a hand on his shoulder, shaking him aggressively. His vision was still blurred so he rubbed his eyes. He woke up immediately recognizing the loud cracks of gunshots coming from outside. Something was odd and he knew it. He was in his room like always, but in front of him he saw his mother, his brown haired, skinny faced mother, and fear rushed through him when he saw that tears were streaming down her face.

"Come on, get up, we have to go now." She grabbed him and forced him off of his bed. "Come on, Ethan. Something bad is happening and I don't know what but we need to get out of here."

"Mom… What?" Ethan's voice was still slurred from just waking up.

"Hurry, Ethan! We don't have a lot of time. Just get your things and meet us by the car." She stared at him for a moment, and he stared back. Her eyes seemed to fill with more tears and finally she said something. "I love you, son." She ran out of his room and left the door swinging open.

Ethan stood in the middle of his room, taken aback and panicked. A million things rushed through his head. Something bad was happening? He immediately thought of terrorists but shook it out of his mind when he realized that he should hurry. He leapt to his bed and put his head on the floor to look under it. He found a black backpack, opened it, and turned it upside down. The contents fell on the floor. Books, ripped notebook and paper, folders. His homework that he forgot to do floated to the ground. He assumed he wouldn't need it.

His room was a mess. Things were scattered across the floor and he quickly jumped through it all to get to his dresser. Panic was spreading through his body. His heart beat a hundred times faster than normal and his hands were shaking and fumbling to grab jeans, shirts, and anything else he could scavenge. He shoved it all in the backpack. He continued to grab things but his mind was racing about what was happening. Why were they leaving? Where was Dad?

It was only a moment later when his bedroom door burst open. His dad looked as scared as his mother, and the expression on his face only made it worse for Ethan.

"Are you done? Come on, we need to go, now." Ethan carried his bag through the door and followed his father out.

"Dad, what's going on?"

"I don't know. I don't think anyone does. But it's not safe and we need to leave now." Dad picked up his pace so Ethan had to jog to keep up. He looked desperately for any clues as to what was going on. The tv was nothing but black and white static.

They ran out of the house and into their driveway. He saw his mom in the passenger seat of their gray sedan. She looked as she did when she was in his room: panicked with tears running down her face.

Dad let go of him and Ethan climbed in the back seat. Everything in the car was just as he had remembered it, but everything outside was the opposite. The neighbor's houses seemed abandoned. Most of the cars that had once littered the driveways were gone, and it left an unsettling feeling in Ethan.

Dad put the car in reverse and quickly backed out of the driveway. They had only driven for a few more seconds when Mom let out an even louder wail and her hands flew over her mouth. Ethan leaned forward to get a glimpse at what it was, but immediately regretted it.
It was straight out of a nightmare. A woman burst out of the front door of the house just a few doors down from their own. She was screaming. It was a horrible noise, one of desperation and sheer terror, one Ethan had never heard before. She tried to run, but something else followed her out the door. A man was right running right behind her and he didn't seem so human. He tackled her and threw his head directly on her neck. When he looked back up flesh was in his mouth, hanging loosely and pouring blood everywhere. Ethan felt the innards of his stomach rocket their way up to his throat. He pushed it down so nothing came out. He sat back down in the seat with his eyes closed. He saw the lifeless woman in his mind and only then did he realize that he knew those two people. They had only lived a few houses away from him. But they didn't seem like it. He forced himself to take another look at the scene. The man had gotten up. The blood was everywhere, on his hands, on his shirt, in his mouth. Ethan heard his mom sobbing in the front seat. His dad was still silent. And then the man broke into a sprint. He ran at the car and Ethan felt the whole car flinch. He was extremely fast. In just a second, there was a bang on the car and the man was there, beating the car window. Ethan was horrified. The man's face was torn apart. He had no lips to cover his bloodstained teeth. The color was gone from his face except for the blue veins across it. A dark red stain of blood was left on the window. Ethan couldn't hold it in. He vomited all over the floor, and he was thrown back into his seat as his dad slammed on the gas pedal.

What was it? What is happening? He was shaking with fear. Just then, gunshots sounded once again, closer now. Ethan looked in between the front seats down the road. It was another man. Or it looked like. He was dressed in loose pants and a camouflage jacket. A hat covered his face. He was hard to see in the dark but every shot that was fired provided some light. Two of the monsters were running at him, but not for long. A few shots from a small pistol and they fell to the ground.

The man turned around but his face was still invisible. Dad had slowed to a stop. Now, the man was walking towards them.

"Mark… Floor it," Mom whispered to Dad. He did nothing. "I said go!" she said louder.

Dad began to roll down the window. Mom's face was one of pure exasperation. "We aren't going to hurt you." Dad yelled to the stranger. "We would prefer if you put down your gun. Please, we have a kid." The figure bent down and put his gun down.

"God dammit!" Ethan's dad slammed his fist on the steering wheel. "Springfield is hours away! Do they have any idea how dangerous it is out here?"

"It shouldn't be that bad right?" Mom reasoned. "We just need to keep driving..."

"What about gas? We'll have to get out then. When I went to pick up your brother, Lauren, it was hell on Earth. You haven't seen what was there…." Ethan could hear his mom start to sob softly again. "It seemed like everyone in town was there, either eating or being eaten," Dad continued. "But that's why we have to get there. Because it's safe. We'll be protected from them."

No one talked for a while. Ethan's head was spinning. The car smelled awful from the vomit. He thought about everyone else he knew. Dad mentioned his uncle. He must be dead by the way Dad said it. What about the kids from school? His friends? He remembered almost half of the class missing the previous week. It had to be related. Then, horribly, Ethan wondered if he was sick. He quickly tried to push it out of his mind.

Slowly, Ethan's eyelids became heavier and heavier to hold up, and he drifted off to sleep.

They had finally gotten out of the town. They drove for around five hours before they were forced to pulled over at a gas station on the side of a was silently hoping that they would pass someone he knew, a friend or a neighbor, but so far they had passed no survivors, only groups of corpses and infected.

The gas station seemed abandoned. The lights were off and nothing was broken. Two seemingly abandoned cars were sitting idle in the lot. Dad pulled in next to a gas pump.

"Everyone stay inside the car." Dad got out and approached the gas tank. He took out one of the nozzles and put it in the tank. "Damn," he said. "No electricity." He stood with the pump in his hand for a moment, then put it back and opened the driver side door. "Ethan, let's go. Help me find something." He looked at his wife. "Stay in here, honey, we'll be right back." He closed the door and Ethan got out of the back seat.

The station emitted a very creepy feel. The lights were off and it was obvious that it had been abandoned at the start.

"What are we looking for?" Ethan asked.

"Any kind of tubing. It has to be long, at least two feet. Also, a gas canister. We should find both inside of here." Dad opened the door with Ehan right behind him. Ethan jumped when a chime sounded. He looked up and saw the bell that went off when you opened the door.

Most of the building seemed to be in place, minus a large amount of the food and soda missing. But that's not what they were there for. To the right of them was a counter and cash register. Behind it was a door and shelves that used to hold cartons of cigarettes. Ethan hopped over and opened the door.

This is what they needed. A gray room with tools and, most importantly, gas canisters. He picked up the red container with the yellow, bent nozzle sticking out the top. He went to look for a tube, but was interrupted by loud shuffling and then a voice in the other room. It wasn't Dad's. He dropped the gas can and ran back through the door.

He couldn't see anything, but he still heard the shuffling. He hopped over the counter and ran towards the noise. And, in front of the glass freezer doors, was a stranger holding a pistol, pointing it at Dad.

"Look, I don't know you. Me and my family just want to get some gas and we'll be on our way to Springfield." Dad was facing the stranger with his hands in the air.

"Springfield?" The stranger chuckled. "You really have no idea what's goin' on, do you? Springfield isn't taking people in anymore."

Dad's eyes widened. "What the hell do you mean, 'not taking people in?'"

The stranger chuckled again. "Get over here, boy." Ethan was seen hiding behind a shelf. The stranger was pointing the gun at him. He slowly walked next to his dad.

"You had better not touch my son," threatened Dad quietly.

"Springfield can only hold so many people, friend. They started rejecting people hours ago. Anyone who was late to the show can be considered as good as dead." Then, they heard a chime from the entrance.

"Chris? Ethan? Are you guys okay?" It was Mom.

"Get back to the car, Lauren!" Dad yelled, and then a flash of the stranger's arm and the barrel of the gun was on Dad's temple. Terror erupted in Ethan. He was sure that the trigger would be pulled any second. But it wasn't.

"What?" Mom said. "What are you guys doing in here…" She appeared around the corner and her face turned into one of shock. She stopped dead in her tracks.

The stranger backed up. He was faced three against one. "I need supplies. Hand whatever you have over to me and I won't have to shoot any of you." His voice was shakier than before.

"You're not getting anything." Mom walked forward, her face of shock now transformed into a face a of anger. "And you're not touching anybody."

"Get back, lady! I swear to God, I'll shoot!" The stranger backed up against the glass, the gun still pointed at Mom. Everything happened very fast. Ethan saw Dad take a step to the left.. A second later, he darted at the stranger, grabbing him by the forehead and slamming it against the freezer door. The gun went off. Two people fell to the floor at the same time.

Ethan ran to his mother. He felt sickened, panicked. Blood was pooling out of her stomach, staining her shirt. Ethan was more scared than he's ever been in his life. He had no idea what to do. He didn't want to touch the wound because he thought it would hurt her. He looked to her face. Her eyes were wet and tears were sliding down her face. He felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness. He looked over at the stranger. He looked worse than he did before. Dad was leaned over him, and he had blood covering his face, and some of it had made its way onto Dad. Ethan looked back at Mom and realized there was nothing he could do to help her. Then, with one last look at her son, her body went limp. Misery hit Ethan like a train. Heavy sobs flooded out of him. He didn't stop crying for a long time, and at some point Dad had made it over to him.

They sat by her for a long time. Ethan had stopped crying. Dad got up silently and walked over to the stranger. He stood towering over the crumpled man. Blood was creeping it's way down the glass. He was dead. Dad bent down and picked up the gun and put it in the waist of his jeans. He came back to Ethan and picked up Mom. They walked out of the gas station and within a matter of hours they had buried Ethan's mother on the side of the road with her wedding ring and necklace resting on top.