When Alyssa was born, the world had already gone to hell in a hand basket. The virus, known to the medical community as Z-914, was responsible for starting the apocalypse that everyone feared; the age of the zombie. When the first outbreak started in China, the world had no idea what was going on until it was too late. The state had blocked the media from finding out about the new disease, telling other nations that it was a new outbreak of the swine flu and something they were capable of taking over. When the undead become overwhelming to the point where the Chinese government was overrun, that when things got terribly ugly. In an act of strategic brilliance or possibly irrational fear, the former Soviet Union launched a barrage of tactical nuclear weapons at China in an effort to end the Zombie outbreak before it could get any worse. While many people tried to stop them, their close proximity made it hard to warn anyone what was about to happen. The Russians specifically slammed the areas that would protect their border, hoping that if the blast didn't eradicate them all, the fallout would take the rest of them out. The world held its collective breath, hopeful the extreme measures, while very drastic, was enough to stop the undead. It wasn't.
The disease has spread to the Middle East before the nukes had landed, and they continued to spread into Africa and Europe. The Nations of North America did their best to stop the epidemic from crossing the oceans but it was a futile effort. Despite the blockades and shooting down any plane that attempted to enter their airspace, the zombies crossed the north-pole from Russia and infest Canada on their way to infecting the rest of the Americas. The U.S. military did their best to fight the Zombies, but there were too many of them and governments fell, people scattered desperate to find shelter and stay safe. In anticipation of the worst, American cities had started making moves to protect themselves the moment the outbreak was first reported in China. Cities used whatever cash they had and started to build walls, big ones. It took the Zombies almost a decade to successful cross the poles and by the time that was accomplished, most of the biggest cities in North America had walls that were close to a hundred feet tall and were twenty to thirty feet thick, most filled with concrete. While the cities were fighting to fortify themselves, the rest of the country was on their own. Suburbs and small towns were overrun and slaughtered. It was the cities that were located next to bodies of water that managed to survive. They used the ocean to their advantage as the Zombies were not able to swim. Cities such as New York, San Francisco and even New Orleans were the three that managed to fend off the dead more successfully than the others. Yet there was the odd scattered town that managed to make their own walls and defend themselves. They were few and far between but there were always a few holdouts that managed to ride the wave and survive.
Alyssa was born in one of those towns and because they didn't live near a body of water, it was always necessary to travel out into the land of the undead and search and scavenge for supplies. Alyssa could remember each time her father went out with groups to look for more food and water. Sometimes everyone would come back and then there were times when not everyone would return. She could still remember the day when it was her Dad that didn't come back from the trip. They had been overrun by the undead trying to find something inside an abandoned Walmart. It was the saddest day of her life. She had never known her mother, who died giving birth to her so losing her father was more tragic because he was the only parent she ever had.
Over the next ten years living in town, Alyssa learned how to kill the infected. Despite her distaste for violence, she was rather good at killing the undead. It wasn't something she enjoyed doing and she often volunteered to do anything to avoid wall duty. Yet the town kept her up on that wall because no one's aim was better than hers. It was only a matter of time before someone would ask Alyssa to do the one job she swore she'd never do. She was in the kitchen, washing dishes when that day came.
"Alyssa." A voice called out from the other side of the kitchen.
She was expecting to see the waiter there with more dishes for her to clean, but it wasn't him. Instead it was the last person she wanted to speak with. His name was Maxwell Davies, but everyone called him either Major, or Max.
"I'm actually very busy at the moment." Alyssa said, trying to walk away.
"I need to speak with you." Max insisted, "It's very important."
It wasn't every day the mayor wanted to speak with her but she knew better. Alyssa knew exactly what he wanted to talk to her about. She had been avoiding him for months since she impressed everyone at the gun range.
"I'm not going out there," she told him, "That's how my father died."
"I know," Max said, stepping closer. "But we're getting desperate."
"I have a sister," Alyssa reminded him. "I'm all Diane has left. Who will take care of her if I don't come back from a run?"
"I would." He replied, "And so would the rest of the town."
"Just because I'm good at shooting," Alyssa said as she resumed cleaning dishes. "That doesn't mean I'd be any good out there."
"You are one of the highest rated citizens we have here." The Mayor protested, "Your zone scores are one of the highest. Sending anyone else out only risks more lives, not less."
"That doesn't mean I'll be good out there!" Alyssa called back, still afraid.
"We'll start you off with an easy run." Max said, refusing to take no for an answer. "An area we know is low and would be an ideal place for you to get your feet wet."
"What's in it for me?" Alyssa then asked.
"Fair enough," The mayor said, pausing for a second. "How about we set up a place just for you and your sister so you can stop living with the Wilsons?"
That was a big offer. Despite her fears, Alyssa knew it was too good to pass up. The mayor could tell that she was mulling it over.
"A light run to start, just to get my feet wet?" she repeated.
"Yes, of course!" The mayor confirmed. "We're not going to toss you into the deep end before you learn how to swim. I promise we'll give you a light run, and ease you into it. If you keep an eye out for the odd undead, you'll be fine. We have a list of things we need your group to look for, supplies that people in town badly needed. We need your help."
Alyssa stopped doing her dishes and then tossed the sponge back into the water. "All right, I'll do it."
She could remember hugging her sister that morning. Diane had cried because she was afraid that her sister would die out there just like their father did. Alyssa was determined to make sure that didn't happen again, but that guaranteed anything out there in the land of the undead. They hadn't been out there more than half a day when Alyssa realized that the mayor had lied to Alyssa about her about going easy on her first run. Her group was overrun by close to a hundred of Zombies, and they were trapped in a massive grocery store with no way to escape. The last thing she remembered before passing out was the screams of the others in her groups as they were being killed.