On December 21, 2012 at around 6:11am, the screams shattered the calm air and jolted me out of my uneasy slumber. I bolted upright, orange comforter falling from my shoulders, and immediately whacked my head on the low ceiling. I flopped back down on my bed and rubbed at the bump that had risen. "Ow," I grumbled. "I hate that ceiling."
I closed my eyes, not really wanting to get out of my warm bed to figure out who had screamed. It was probably just some crazy teenagers who had decided to have a snowball fight at six o'clock in the morning. But then the screams ripped through the air again and I knew that they weren't happy-fun screams; they were full of pain and fear.
Once more I opened my eyes and sat up, swinging my legs out from under the warm blanket and stumbling down the wooden ladder of my loft. The floor was cold beneath my feet. I shoved the curtain on my window aside and peered out, trying to see what was causing the commotion, but the alleyway was completely silent except for the bitter winter wind rustling the bare branches of the tree that sat in front of my second story vantage point. I could hear my older brother, Zach, beginning to move around down the hall. His room was situated on the front of the house, over-looking the main street. Maybe I could see what was happening from there.
I padded out of my room and turned right into his. Zach was sitting up in his bed, looking confused. "What's going on?" he mumbled blearily.
"Donno," I answered as I stood before the window, hands braced on the sill. I stared in shock at the scene before me. "Oh crap…"
Lights were flicking on in all the houses along the street, illuminating the mayhem along with a single streetlight. I'd been predicting this exact occurrence for many years, but my predictions had never come to pass and my parents had scoffed at me. Zombies. An outbreak. Here, in Iowa City. It appeared to just be a Class 1 outbreak, but I knew it would escalate quickly as people panicked if nothing was done. Someone needed to go out there and do something incredibly stupid and dangerous if we were going to solve this problem. And that someone was me. "Where's your shotgun?" I asked my brother tensely. Zach had gone through a brief hunting phase when he was about my age–fifteen. My favorite story to tell about that time was when, during pheasant season, his first question was, "What's a pheasant look like?"
"Down in Mom and Dad's room," he answered, pulling me out of the memory. "Why?"
"Stay here," I ordered instead of answering. I raced to the stairs and bounded down them three at a time. My parents were coming out of their room and I almost bowled into my father as I leapt down the last five steps. He caught me and held me up.
"What's going on? Are you okay?" he asked.
"I'm fine. Get upstairs and close the doors."
"What's going on?" my mom repeated, sounding nervous.
I grinned, taking a little too much pleasure out of this. "Guess what! I was right! Ha!"
"About what?" Dad demanded.
"The zombies are coming! The zombies are coming!" I answered in a sing-song voice, altering an old quote from the Revolutionary War.
Their faces paled. I was able to break free from my dad's grasp and shove them up the stairs, shutting the door behind them and bracing a chair under the doorknob. Dad pounded angrily on the wood. "Enia!"
"Don't worry!" I called. "Just go upstairs. I'll be back in a minute."
"Don't do anything dangerous," my mother pleaded.
"I won't," I lied.
I waited until I heard them begin to tramp up the stairs then turned and headed into their bedroom, scrounging around in their closet until I found what I needed; Zach's shotgun and a box of ammunition. I turned the gun over in my hands, trying to figure out how to load it. "Ye gods, how does it work?" I groaned. Eventually, I gave up and returned to the living room, ready to head back upstairs and rejoin my family. But then, impulsively, I turned and looked at the large window that looked out over the street. I wanted to see what was happening up close. But that would be stupid, maybe even dangerous. It'd be better just to go upstairs and wait for all this to blow over. But I wanted to see a zombie. But it made more sense just to head upstairs.
Curiosity won out over common sense.
I dashed into the living room and dropped to my knees, meaning to slide the last few feet to the window. Instead I burned my knees painfully, crashed into the wall, and smacked my head on the window sill. I lay there, dazed, and raised a hand to the throbbing bump. "Ow!"
Suddenly, something thudded wetly against the glass above me. I jumped and pressed myself into the wall. I could hear the low, distinctive moan and it chilled me to the core. I craned my neck and peered up, trying to remain as hidden as possible. A jolt went through me when I saw the leering face. It really was a zombie. There was a freaking zombie right above me, looking into my house and trying to get it. Damn, it was ugly. It was fresher, its skin not yet gray and rotting, but the pallor of death still hung over its face. Its eyes were dark and soulless above a mashed and bloody nose. A long gash ran down its cheek, splitting the skin to the bone. The wound ran almost to its snarling mouth where I could see that its teeth weren't yet worn and jagged, or filled with bits of flesh. I tried not to gag.
A gunshot cracked sharply outside the house and the zombie jerked violently, blood spraying from its mouth and splattering the window. But the zombie didn't fall; the brain hadn't been hit. Stupid non-nerds, I thought. They won't last five minutes.
As the thing turned away from the window, I darted forward to hide behind our brown leather recliner. Cautiously, I peeked over the top of the chair. The zombie was gone. I ran for the stairs, knocking the chair out of the way and slamming the door behind me.
I didn't meet up with my family right away. First, I went into my room and opened my window, popping the screen out of place. I eased out onto the roof and shivered as the brisk wind cut through my flannel pj bottoms and t-shirt. My feet slipped on the slick snow and I almost tumbled off the roof, but I managed to catch myself on the windowsill. Stupid Iowan winter.
I carefully clambered across the roof to the point that was tallest and closest to the street, directly above my brother's room. Soon my pants were soaked and my hands were bright red. I shivered violently, almost dislodging myself from my precarious perch. Bodies littered the street below me, most of them human and chewed on. The police force was hemmed in against the houses, firing ineffectively at the zombies. Idiot non-nerds. "Aim for the head!" I yelled, waving my arms above my head. Stupidly, I sat down on the roof and the snow instantly leeched through the seat of my pants.
One of the policemen looked up at me (I could only imagine what he saw; a young, tousle-haired, bare foot girl in soaking wet pjs screaming at him from onto of the roof) and decided to try it. He took careful aim and squeezed the trigger. There was a sharp crack and a puff a smoke from the gun, and a zombie collapsed like a sack of potatoes. I grinned to myself; being a nerd was finally paying off.
I started to get up to head back to my open window when my feet lost their purchase on the snow that the warmth of my body had turned to slippery slush. My body twisted as I fell and my chest slammed painfully against the roof, driving the air from my lungs. "Crap!" I screamed silently as my fingers scrabbled for purchase on the slick shingles. Finally, the very tips caught and my fall was brought to an abrupt halt. I hung in the air, my weight suspended by the last joints of my fingers. "Don't look down, don't look down," I chanted to myself.
So of course I looked down.
I had my very own entourage of rabid zombies reaching up at me, moaning endlessly. I flailed my numb, bare feet in the air, banging on the glass of my brother's window as I shrieked breathlessly, "Open the goddamn window!" An instant later, I remembered that my brother's window opened outwards, like a book. But it was too late. Someone on the inside was already cranking the window open. I was carried with it until I managed to twist away and I, once again, slammed against the side of the building. I was going to be one giant bruise the next day, but it was a wonder I didn't fall.
Hands grabbed my feet. I started to freak out because for a moment I thought they were cold and dead, and that at any moment I was going to feel teeth bite into my skin like a piece of ripe fruit. But their heat finally seeped into my numb feet and they were gently pulling me inside. Breathing a sigh of relief, I pushed off of the house with my forearms and let go, trying to swing into the room. I was halfway through when my hips struck the sill and I almost tumbled out into open air again. My parents' hands shot out and grabbed my waving arms and yanked me inside. I hit the floor with a thud and let out a long, shuddering breath. If I'd had any luck stars (which I didn't because usually I had the worst luck ever), I would've been thanking them to death.
I pushed myself to my feet shakily and moved to the window, feeling like there was something missing. And there was. "Oh crap. I dropped the gun."
There was a low thud behind me that I assumed was my dad banging his head on the wall. "Now what are we gonna use to protect ourselves?" Zach wondered.
"I'm sure the socks under your bed will do the trick," I said, turning around and heading towards the door. Zach made a disgruntled face at me and a grinned brightly back at him.
"Where are out going?" my father demanded.
"Out," I answered vaguely.
"No, you're not," he growled, reaching for me. I dodged around him and yanked the door open, slamming it behind me.
I went back to my room. There was snow on the floor and cold wind pouring through the window. I slammed it shut then crossed the room and opened my closet, sliding the wood doors back as far as they would go. My closet was a giant, jumbled mess; there was no other way to put it. The blue basket was up-ended, spilling its contents onto the floor, and most of the other smaller bins on the shelves were overflowing with crap. All the jackets and things I never wore had fallen off their hangers and were tangled together in a heap on top of everything else.
I dug through the mounds of stuff and pulled out a simple black jacket. It wouldn't do much to cut the wind, but I didn't want to wear anything bulky. Then I found a black snow hat, thin grippy gloves, and the sharpened crowbar with a leather belt wrapped around on end, knife, and tall combat boots that my parents didn't know I had. I shed my sodden clothes and exchanged them for a pair of cargo pants and a long-sleeve shirt. I put the jacket on over a sheath I had made for the knife. The hilt slanted down towards my hip. The crowbar also had a sheath, one that slung across my back so the curved end (with the leather handle) stuck out over my shoulder. I shoved the hat on my head and pulled on the gloves before tying the boots up over freshly socked feet. I was ready.
I made my way back to Zach's room. The three of them were sitting on his bed and my dad immediately got to his feet as I entered the room. "Where are you going?" he demanded suspiciously.
I smiled at them as comfortingly as I could as I moved towards the window. I glanced out; someone had kindly dealt with the zombies below the window for me. "To find my friends and put together an elite zombie hunting force to try and end this thing!"
My mother stood up and moved next to stand next to her husband. "Enia, don't. You can't do anything. You'll just end up getting yourself killed."
My jaw and fists clenched. Figures they wouldn't believe in me. "I can," I said, my voice catching.
"We're not going to let you go," Dad said.
"Try and stop me," I hissed and leapt out the open window. It was a very dramatic and heroic moment and I planned on finishing it off by landing in a graceful crouch. It didn't exactly work out the way I planned. My foot slid on the blood soaked snow and cracked my head on the sidewalk. Ow…Now, time to go find my friends.
Me: Hi! Enia here! Yes, me and my friends are the main characters, yes that is actually my house I was describing, yes, I have a brother, no his name isn't Zach. All the humans in this story have had a name change. This chapter was originally going to be longer, but as I was writing it I changed my mind.
3/6/12. Approximately two years after this story was originally published Yo! I'm rewriting this (obviously) and the next couple of chapters. All the rewritten chapters will say REWRITTEN at the top. Okey dokey smokey pokey? Leave a review?