DECEMBER 21, 2012
Something hit my head like a sledgehammer, and bright, bloody, dripping spots exploded across the dark field of my vision. Then I was falling, tumbling for what must have been eternity as a drumbeat raged through my head, but I crash landed a second later on a soft, yielding pile.
I lay there, eyes closed, trying to figure out what the hell had just happened. I cracked my eyes open. The sky above me was a violent yellow and closer than normal, only a few feet away. Where was I? The pieces of the puzzle tumbled around in my head, bouncing off the sides of my skull and cackling like evil children as they refused to fall into place.
Finally, the first piece clicked. The yellow wasn't the sky, mutated by some catastrophe, it was my ceiling, which meant that I was lying on my loft bed and the only reason I could see the yellow color was because light from a street lamp was streaming in through the top of my window, which meant it was night time, which meant that I had been asleep, which meant that something had woken me up, and I had bolted upright, slamming my head into the ceiling which was why my skull felt like it had been shattered.
I took a deep mental breath.
But what had woken me up? I went back in time through the thoughts that were still blurry from bashing my head. I was probably concussed. I was probably going to die. Farewell cruel world! I found the answer tangled in the string of my quickly fading dream, plucked it out, and blew off the dust.
Someone had screamed.
I tossed off my fluffy blankets and threw my legs onto the ladder, gritting my teeth against the cold air that flitted easily through my pajama bottoms. Across the room, the clock read 6:11am in bright red letters. Well, technically it read 6:23am, but for some reason my clock was always twelve minutes fast.
6:11am on December 21st, 2012…wasn't that when the world was supposed to end?
I shoved the curtain out of the way and peered through the window, barely breathing so my breath wouldn't fog up the glass. I cursed quietly. The window only afforded me a view of our alley, most of which was obstructed by the bare, shaking branches of a tree, and a small sliver of the actual street.
My brother's room, though, had a view of the entire street since it was on the front of the house.
I pushed myself away from the window and hurried across my clothes strewn floor, making a left hand turn into my brother's room which was only a few feet down the hallway from mine.
My brother, Zach, was sitting up in bed, blankets puddled around his waist, blinking blearily. "What's going on?" he mumbled.
"I don't know," I answered, shrugging, as I made my way over to the window. I leaned against the sill and looked outside.
House lights flicked on one by one down the street, melding with the yellow light of the street lamp to illuminate the icy pavement and the stumbling shapes moving through the snow. A prone form lay in a snow drift on the curb, and a man crouched over it, head bowed.
My breath caught. No way…
A police car came screaming around the corner and skidded to a harsh stop, backend fishtailing. Two officers piled out, shouting for order. A women in teddy bear pajamas lunged out of the shadow of a garage and embraced the officer on the passenger side, burying her face in his neck. He screamed as she dragged him to the ground.
I spun away from the window. "Where's your shotgun at?" I asked my older brother. When he had been my age, fifteen, Zach had had a brief stint where he'd been into hunting. It had petered out quickly, though, and now the gun was just gathering dust somewhere in our house.
"In Dad's closet," he answered, face puzzled. "Why? What did you see?"
"See for yourself," I replied. I left his room, ran down the hall, and skidded around the end of the bannister, thundering down the carpeted stairs. My parents were coming around the corner out of their room when I hit the first floor. I grabbed their arms and dragged them towards the stairs. "Go to Zach's room. Close the doors. Keep the lights off and stay away from the windows."
Instantly, my father resisted. "Why?"
I sighed and tilted my head towards the ceiling. Now was not the time for my father's pig-headedness to shine. "Because zombies," I snapped and gave them a shove.
Father Dearest rolled his eyes. "Yeah, right."
"Fine," I hissed, struggling to keep my voice quiet. "Why don't you go outside and see then?" I gestured towards the front door.
The set of my father's jaw said maybe he would, but just then a gunshot thundered through the air, and the stubborn determination fled from his eyes on tattered wings.
"What are you doing down here then?" my mother demanded, reaching for my arm.
I twitched away. "I'm grabbing the shotgun."
"We can do that," she protested. "You get up the stairs."
"Mother," I sighed, exasperation dripping from each syllable. "They aren't in the house yet. I'll be okay. I'll be back upstairs in a flash. Don't worry."
I couldn't tell she didn't quite believe me. I kicked the door shut, forcing them to step back, and after a moment, their footsteps retreated up the stairs.
I jogged into my parents' room and pulled the closet door open, the scent of fabric wafting into my face. Pushing aside the shirts and coats, I found the fabric gun case propped in the corner at the back of the closet, a box of bullets sitting on the floor next to it.
I grabbed them both and backed out of the closet, tossing them on the bed. The bullets rattled in their box. I glanced at the window as I unzipped the gun case. Thank God the curtains were drawn; I really didn't want to know if anything was staring at me through the glass, eyes rolling, blood dripping. Outside, the moans still droned, punctuated by popping bullets, muffled curses, and panicked shouting.
The gun lay, gleaming, in its faux fur lining, smirking up at me. I stared down at it for a long moment, not blinking. "Shit," I muttered. "I don't know how it works?"
My dad and Zach knew how it worked; I'd just let them deal with it. I grabbed the gun by the barrel, the metal smooth and heavy in my hand, and snatched up the box of bullets, leaving my parents' room. In front of the closed door to the stairs, I paused, curiosity pinging through my brain. My head turned to peer over my shoulder at the large windows at the far end of our living room. It was too dark and too far to see outside.
I really wanted to take a look.
I should just go upstairs. Satisfying my curiosity wasn't worth attracting a zombie's attention or incurring my parents' wrath. I should be a good, smart child.
Nope. Curiosity won.
I set the gun down on the floor and ran bent over across the living room, dropping to my knees to slide like a cool action hero to the wall. My pants bunched up instantly, burning my knees and sending me tumbling forward, off balance. I almost caught myself with my hands, but they slipped at the last moment, and I crashed into the wall, smacking my already bruised head on the windowsill. I crumpled to the floor and lay there, dazed, one hand on the throbbing bump. "Ow…"
Suddenly, something thumped against the window, squelching grossly. I jumped, heart rocketing into my throat, and flattened myself against the wall. A low moan eased through the glass and slipped down the wall to my ears.
I craned my neck backwards and leaned back just enough to see what was pressing itself against the window. My heart found itself into my mouth the moment I saw face leering into my house.
It really was a zombie.
It was fresh, with yellow-white skin that still looked like there could be blood pumping through its veins, though there was an odd shadow across its cheeks. All the blood vessels in its eyes had popped, turning its eyes red to match the blood around its mouth and smeared across its skin. Its nose had been smashed to a pulp, probably when it banged against the window, and a giant gash ran from its forehead to the corner of its mouth, splitting the skin straight down to the bone. I could see its teeth through its open mouth; they were still straight and white, without a fragment of flesh sticking in the cracks.
A gunshot echoed outside the house, and the corpse jerked violently, blood spraying from its mouth to stain the window. But it didn't crumple to the ground, just turned around slowly, smearing muck across the glass, and stumbled away to attack the shooter. Dumbass. Didn't anyone know that a headshot was the only way to kill the walking dead?
No one outside was going to last another five minutes. I had to do something.
I darted away from the wall to the cover of our brown leather reclining chair. Cautiously, I peeked over the top. The window was empty; the coast was clear. I ran for the stairs, snatching up the gun and bullets on the way. I yanked the door open and shot up the stairs, my feet pounding loudly and probably attracting every walking corpse around.
I didn't head into my brother's room right away which would probably piss my parents off (but that was part of the point). I slipped into my own room and shut the door, hurrying across the floor to open the window and knock the screen out. I eased myself through the window and instantly bit my lip, almost shrieking. It. Was. Cold! I hated Iowan winters.
The wind cut through my pajamas like they didn't even exist, and I started to shiver violently as the snow soaked through my feet and into my veins.
I clambered carefully across the snow covered roof to the tallest point, the part of the roof that was closest to the street, right above my brother's room. Too soon, my pants were soaked through, and my hands had turned a bright cherry red, pale underneath. I shivered violently, almost shaking myself off the roof. Down below a few bodies littered the streets, human and chewed on. The yellow street light made the blood on the snow look black. Another police car had arrived, but a small knot of walking corpses were pushing the three officers back against a house across the street. They fired at the dead, sending them spinning in circle, blood pin wheeling in tandem, but they were only flesh wounds, incapable of stopping the monsters.
"Aim for the head!" I yelled, waving my arms above my head to get their attention. My eyes widened in shock when I realized I had sat down in a pile of snow, the cold wet instantly leeching through my pajama bottoms. My butt was probably going to turn blue and fall off, and then I'd be some weird butt-less freak. …Moving on from that thought.
A police officer glanced up at me, and I could only laugh at what she was probably seeing. A bare foot girl in pajamas with her short hair sticking up in every single direction possible. But she decided to take my advice anyways, taking careful aim. She slowly pulled the trigger. A puff of smoke burst from the barrel, accompanied by a sharp crack. The corpse crashed to the ground like its strings had been cut. I grinned to myself and silently cheered. Score!
I gathered my feet under me and started to get up, turning around to head back to my window. The slush gave way beneath my feet, and I crashed to the rooftop, my legs flying out into thin air. Gravity took over, and suddenly, I felt myself begin to fall. The corner of the roof slammed into my stomach, knocking all the air from my lungs. "Balls!" I screamed silently as I continued to slide off the roof, my fingers scrabbling for purchase on the icy shingles.
Their tips caught on the edge of the roof, and my fall came to an abrupt halt, though my inertia tried to keep moving, and my fingers almost came off the roof again. They held, barely, and I hung in the air, my weight suspended by my shaking fingers. "Don't look down, don't look down," I chanted under my breath.
So of course, I looked down.
Lucky me, I had my very own entourage of rabid, hungry fans reaching up at me with pale arms, mouths wide open as they sang their need and want for my undoubtedly delicious flesh. They had wandered over without me knowing, appearing from the darkness. Not today, bitches.
I flailed my numb feet at my brother's window, shrieking breathlessly. "Open the goddamn window! Now!"
And then I remembered that Zach's window opened outwards, like a book, not upwards.
It was too late. Someone was already cranking the window open, lifting my body up and away from the house until I finally managed to twist away, and I fell again, banging my side painfully against the wall. I let out a long breath, amazed I was still attached to the roof.
Hands grabbed my feet. I freaked out, beginning to thrash and kick, because I was certain that the fingers were cold and stiff and dead and at any moment, I was going to feel the sharp bite of teeth digging into my skin like a piece of ripe fruit, ready to tear and rip and pull me apart and crack the small bones in my feet until I screamed.
Warmth soaked through the numbness encasing my feet, and I relaxed, allowing them to guide my legs inside the house. I sighed in relief and let go of the roof, trying to swing myself through the window. Halfway in, my hips struck the sill and bounced off, almost sending me tumbling back into the open air.
Two sets of hands shot out the window and snatched at my violently waving arms as I shrieked angry curses at the sky. They yanked me inside, and I hit the floor with a thud, collapsing completely. I shuddered as I struggled to remember how to breathe. Hands patted my back and arms, trying to reassure me. I flapped at them, pushing them away.
Sheepishly, my parents back off. I sat up, head flopping forward. "What were you doing?" my mom demanded.
"Um…" I replied awkwardly, no clue what to say.
So I just didn't answer. I pushed myself upright, swaying like a drunk, and stumbled towards the window, unable to shake the feeling creeping down my spine that something was missing. I poked my head outside. Yup, something was definitely missing. The gun was lying on the front step, right in the middle of the undead pack.
Well, this was awkward.
Slowly, I turned around, biting my lip. "So…I dropped the gun," I told them.
My father thumped his face into his palm, sighing. "Don't give me that sass," I ordered.
"Great," Zach snapped. "Now what are we going to protect ourselves with?"
"I'm sure the socks under your bed will do the trick," I replied, smiling with fake sweetness. He wrinkled his nose at me, sticking out his tongue. My grin widened.
I walked purposefully towards the door, arms swinging, trying to pretend I was authoritative even though all I was wearing were soaked pajamas. My dad stuck out his arm. "Where are you going?"
"Oh, out," I answered vaguely.
"No, you're not," he growled, snatching at me. I ducked under his arm and yanked the door open, sneaking through the crack and slamming the door shut in his face.
I launched myself into my room and shut that door, wedging a folding chair under the knob. Fists pounded against the wood, but they couldn't get it opened. I shivered again, rubbing at my goose bump covered arms. My window was still open, and a light dusting of snow covered my floor, having blown in with the wind.
I shut it with a resounding thud, shivering some more, then crossed the room and opened my closet, sliding the wood doors back as far as they would go. The floor of the closet looked like a marauding army had swept through it, throwing destruction in its wake. The blue basket was upended, spilling clothes and stuffed animals over a pile of shoes and old backpacks, and on the shelves, the plastic bins were overflowing with junk. The jackets and other things I never wore had fallen off their hangers and coated the floor.
I dug through the crap, tossing it out of the closet and onto the floor of my room. Finally, I found what I was looking for and tugged it out, almost falling on my ass as it came loose unexpectedly. I dropped the black leather jacket and went back into the disaster zone, throwing a pair of jeans, black hat, and gloves over my shoulder. One hand wrapped around the cold metal of a crowbar, and the other grabbed a pair of combat boots and tossed them onto my pile of stuff.
I shed my wet clothes and quickly changed into the jeans and a black long sleeve shirt. I stuck the crowbar into a weird sheath thing I had someone managed to make for it that looked really dumb but still worked and put it on over the leather jacket so that the curved handle with duct tape wrapped around the metal poked out over my shoulder. I shoved the hat over my head, tied up the laces on my shoes, and pulled on the gloves.
I was ready.
And I looked like a total badass. Always a plus.
I sauntered back into Zach's room, and the three of them shot to their feet as soon as they saw me. My father stalked towards me, fists clenched suspiciously. "You're going somewhere?"
I smiled at them and struck a heroic pose, hands on my hips, chest thrust out slightly, and head cocked. "I'm going to find my friends and put together an elite zombie hunting force!"
"Like hell," he snarled.
My mom moved towards me, but I walked in a large circle around her, heading for the open window. I peeked outside; someone had very kindly taken care of my undead fan club for me. "Don't," she pleaded. "You can't do anything. You'll just end up getting yourself killed."
My jaw clenched, and my eyes narrowed slightly, but I caught a hold of my anger and hid it before they could see. "Naw, it'll be fine. It'll be over before you know it."
"We're not going to let you go," my father snapped and stepped towards me.
"Try and stop me," I hissed and leapt out the open window before I realized what I was doing. It was a second story window. I was so freaking dumb, even if it had been a very dramatic and heroic moment. It wasn't going to end well.
I almost stuck the landing – barely able to believe it, because a fall like that should have broken both my legs – but my feet slipped in the blood soaked snow, and I tumbled back, cracking my head against the sidewalk. Hopefully, nobody saw that.
I stood up quickly, pretending nothing happened, and moved away from my house, not looking back up at the window.
Enia: Hello new readers. I'm currently in the process of rewriting this entire story, because a lot of it is, unfortunately, shitty. So I'm going to fix that. Chapters that have been rewritten will say REWRITTEN PLUS A DATE DURING 2014.
A couple of other notes. Yes, my friends and I are the main characters, yes, that was actually my house, I actually have a brother, though his name isn't Zach. Please leave a review! And please enjoy the ride.