It's been less than a week since I finished the first part, sheesh I really kept it suspenseful, eh? /end sarcasm...but idgaf. Here it is. Review if you LOVE ME! Or not. That's cool, too. But it helps, you know. It helps the quality of my writing to know whether you like/dislike (not that I'd change anything) or find any mistakes. I like ideas, too. Idea's are good. Give me some. Or if you just want to tell me I suck. I welcome all reviews.
HERE IT IS: THE SEQUEL TO WORLD WAR Z *drumroll, please* hold the applause.
My fingers twirled the pencil absentmindedly. I couldn't seem to fill in the answers on the piece of paper before me. Finals were soon. I had to do this. I knew what they were, but when I tried to read the question, the words jumbled together in an unintelligible heap.
Something was nagging my thoughts. I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something even bigger I should be worried about besides homework. Images and memories would fight their way to the surface, appearing in little things around the room that didn't strike me as odd. Suddenly the cabinets were hanging off the hinges, wooden planks replacing the drapes on the kitchen window, spilled coffee morphed into bloody handprints.
And I sat, wracking my brain for answers to this homework. It seemed so absolutely crucial, as if everything had to wait until this question was addressed.
I squinted down at the paper again, willing the jumbled letters to separate into something I could understand.
The feeling of dread washed over me. The letters faded from the paper and slowly reappeared. It felt as if I had hands around my throat, squeezing, but I didn't fight it. I re-read the question, and more materialized below it.
Why did you lie?
You could have fought it.
We could have escaped together.
Didn't you mean what you said?
It's all your fault.
You had to choose.
Do you care?
I hope you dream about what you did.
I hope you scream about what you did.
I raised a shaky hand to write, believing it could somehow get to him. I wanted him to understand. I didn't have a choice. There was nothing I could do. I only wanted to protect them both.
Instead of the pencil, there was a pistol in my hand. I looked at it quizzically, but I already knew why I was holding it. As if I were expecting it all along.
I looked up and around me. I was sitting in the kitchen of Ellis' mom's house. It was in perfect condition, I could feel the sun streaming through the window on my face.
"Zoey," A soft voice said from the doorway. I turned around to see Ellis' mother, smiling at me. "he wants to see you."
I smiled, despite myself. "He does? He isn't angry?" I stood from the table. How bad I wanted to see him.
She just continued to smile sweetly at me. She called for him over her shoulder, without taking her eyes off of mine.
I took a step forward anxiously, an expectant smile plastered on my face. "Ellis?"
There were footsteps. His mom took a step back, giving him the floor.
I froze. Ellis. Bit. Infected. Zombie. Enemy. No, he was immune! He had to be!
It was my fault this happened.
He hated me. The hate he held for me fought through the infection. Revenge. I could see the saliva dripping from his mouth at the thought. My breath escaped me.
"He's been waiting for this." His mother said from behind him.
It feels like I'm swallowing cement. "I know."
"You thought you were slick, huh. Well, no more games." Nick whispered in my ear.
And it's okay. I deserved this. I've been waiting for it. I let the pistol fall from my hand.
"I'm so sorry." I breathed.
Ellis lunged for my throat.
I thrashed in the sheets, my hands landing immediately on my pistols and aimed at something that wasn't there. It took longer than usual to calm my breathing and quiet my racing thoughts, for me to realize nothing was there, nobody was there. I massaged my temples in an attempt to ease the pounding in my skull. My hair was damp with sweat, glued to my forehead.
The clock told me it was 4 in the morning. Light rain falling against my barred windows. Just a dream, I told myself. Just another one of those dreams. It's been months and it still felt as if I ran into a brick wall head on.
I couldn't help but wish it were real.
At nine in the morning my alarm clock blared, and I lunged out of the bed defensively. An awful habit, why did I even have that fucking alarm clock? A pin hitting the floor could wake me up nowadays. I slammed my fist on the clock, shutting it off.
On the floor next to my bed was my backpack. I remembered the dream, perhaps stemming from the fact that I didn't do my homework. I groaned and kicked it across the room.
Ever since we were choppered out of Charleston, I hardly went shopping. If you could call digging through piles and racks of clothes that people had left behind or had come off of the dead themselves shopping. That left my wardrobe government-issued clothing for the most part, and a few things of my own.
And I didn't blame my aversion to shopping in general, I needed clothes. I blamed my aversion to people. It was hard for me to go out in public, to walk around this town. We were allowed to keep firearms, especially when we were first relocated, but it's been so long since an outbreak that nobody even bothers anymore. Except me. I keep my pistol in my belt, hidden beneath my shirts. I avoid large groups of people at all costs. Nobody could forget my meltdown not long after we arrived.
It was my first time walking about freely. I still crept down the sidewalk out of habit, unable to believe that this area was for the most part quarantined. There was something going on in the town square, somebody was giving a speech, standing at a podium. Everybody was gathered at the bottom of the steps. Not that many people. But enough.
Someone ushered me towards the crowd, telling me attendance was mandatory. I jumped when they touched me and ran from them, stopping in the very back, not listening to the speech, just trying not to vomit. More people showed up, closing me in. The man's voice at the podium rose, and people cheered and shouted. I tried to push my way out, but I was bumped left and right by people who were getting riled up by the speech.
"Move!" I'd shout. "Get the fuck out of my way!" I shoved people hard, feeling the sweat break out on my forehead. All these people. I was stuck, suffocating, drowning in the sea of survivors. My heart was rapid, my temples pounding. "Please, move!" I begged, nobody could hear me over their own cheers, over the echo of the words coming from the podium.
I spun around, and everybody was staring at me. I still heard their cheers and shouts, but their mouths weren't moving. Their eyes were locked on me. Their cloudy white, vacant eyes. Simultaneously their mouths spread in a blood-coated sneer. I was surrounded by them. I tore my pistol from my belt and aimed.
I heard a shout of terror. I was tackled to the ground just as I fired, and the round went straight upward.
I shuddered hard at the memory as I pulled on my shorts and a t-shirt. Needless to say I made a great first impression. I wasn't guilty of attempted murder on plea of insanity. I couldn't explain to the military therapists what happened, what I was feeling. They diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I laughed in the doctor's face. Didn't every single person here have that? I refused to believe I was the only one scarred. Until they told me that the people who lived here now were people who almost never had to face the infection firsthand. They were the rich, important people. Athletes, famous lawyers, children of business tycoons...people who were safe from the beginning, the first ones filtered out of the chaos. He wondered how I ended up here. I'd avoid the question.
They gave me pills, allowed me to keep my weapon. Scheduled me for target practice as a part of therapy. I still haven't attended one. I put the pills in my drawer and haven't touched them since. The doctor would call me once in a while, but I just let the phone ring.
I slid my pistol in the hem of my pants, pulled my shirt down over it, slung my backpack over my shoulder and walked out the front door of the house. I lived with more people, but I never paid them any mind. Group housing. People forced to share small areas of space, to tolerate each other and call it home.
I walked down the sidewalk, eyes on my feet, as always. People were out, chopping firewood or cutting the fur from their sheep. All part of the 'tools and talent' mentality implemented by the government. The country was in shambles. We didn't need stock brokers or lawyers, we needed hard labor and skills. Skills that have been long lost, dissipating with every generation. Needless to say, there was very few 'talent', and not nearly as much 'tools'. Running water was scarce, heat was nonexistent. A chimney sweeper came during the winter so we could light our fireplaces. The sweaters itched from the genuine wool freshly cut from the sheep. Farms were few, especially being behind the Rocky mountains, where the military managed to build some line of defense.
Overseas trading was abolished. Our resources were restricted to what we had within our borders. This led to a lot of conflict, and a lot of dead. War production had become our top priority, the only thing humans were good for these days, especially if we wanted to come out of this thing on top.
And I was walking to class. A pointless class that I detested. There seemed to be so many more important things to put people's time into. Afterward I had 'work'. My past-life skills included writing and procrastination. My physical build had much improved since the outbreak, granting me some purpose in this society, no matter how small. They used the immune, physically able people to run through area's freshly-considered secure to round up bodies of infected, toss them in a heap and light them on fire.
No matter how much the job disgusted me, wore me out and drenched me with sweat even despite the cold mountain breeze, I loved it.
I let my head slide further down my arm, my eyes heavy. Those nightmares haven't been helping my sleep. I'd say I was sleeping better before I was rescued. Before I ran away. Before I abandoned them all.
"Stop it, stop it, stop it." I whispered to myself, ignoring the teacher at the front of the room and the students all around me. All different ages. It was a class teaching us everything they knew about the infection, a re-educating class to turn these spoiled brats into something useful. Mainly because none of these people know nothing about anything, and knowing as much as you could to survive seemed to overshadow mathematics or marketing these days. I felt as if I, myself, could be teaching my class. I didn't think there was a single part of the undead plague I hadn't experienced. Of course, nobody knew this. They all just thought I was insane. I never shared with them if I could help it.
I tried to massage my temples, a futile calming ritual I often used to ease the pessimistic and self-loathing thoughts that all too often infiltrated my mind. "You didn't run away, you didn't abandon them. You couldn't help it. You tried, Zoey." I whispered quietly to myself. I could feel the people in the seats around me staring. I assumed they heard me talking to myself.
"Zoey?" I heard the pot-bellied, grey haired teacher repeat.
I snapped back to attention, looking around at the people staring at me, waiting for me to answer, and instead saw me mumbling to myself. "Yes?"
He smiled awkwardly. "Are you paying attention?"
I came very close to scoffing. I didn't need to pay attention. Despite myself, I couldn't help but feel superior to these people around me. Like they had no idea what it was really like to live with the infection. "Could you repeat the question?"
"How do you know if a certain person is immune to the infection?"
I cocked my head to the side. What a silly question, these people really did have no idea. "Ok, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say…maybe you know someone is immune when they get bit and don't turn into a zombie?"
A couple people around me scoffed, and my heavy dose of sarcasm didn't go unnoticed to the teacher. He was about to continue on with his re-education seminar when a student raised her hand. "Yes, Amanda?"
"I have a question for Zoey." She said, and turned towards me. I raised my eyebrows and leaned forward, mock interest in what she had to say. "If somebody got bit, why would you wait for them to turn into a zombie? You could get yourself, or the people around you killed. I think that's what Mr. Jules meant when he asked how you would know, from a physical standpoint." She said with a sneer, folding her hands triumphantly.
I dropped my pen onto my desk, chuckling to myself. "You know, it all sounds so great on paper, in theory, doesn't it? 'Oh, don't worry, we'll kill them before they turn'. Even though there's a chance they could be immune? A friend, a loved one, even a stranger-"
"I don't think times like these are the best times to take chances." She interrupted. A few people nodded.
"And what the hell do you know about 'these times' besides what your daddy tells you?" I snapped back.
She held up the manual we each had for this class, tapping it with her pen.
I shook my head, not knowing how to get it through to her. "Have you ever had to kill somebody who was bit?"
She shook her head.
"Has anybody you known personally died and came back to life right before your eyes?"
Her eyes shifted to those around her. She shook her head.
"Have you ever had to kill a zombie-version of a loved one?"
She hesitated, then shook her head.
"Have you ever even had to kill a zombie at all?" I nearly shouted.
"Now, now, let's all just-" The teacher said, trying to ease me down.
"That's what I thought." I said, a cold stare directed at Amanda. She bit her lip, smiling sheepishly at those around her. I stood from my seat, gathering together my things. "I don't even know why I'm in this class." I muttered. I turned to face the entire class on my way to the door. "You guy's really don't know a thing about what it's like out there."
I ended up sitting on a park bench outside the 'school', which was really just an old recreational center, the only thing that had remained standing when the park district burnt down in the earlier days. I watched people wandering about, and I assumed they were given their break for the day. One woman was eyeing the swing set, but not daring to approach it. This was a guess, but I assumed, judging from the look on her face, that she used to have kids.
Kids. I haven't seen one since the outbreak. I didn't really want to know what happened to most of them, how they made it or failed to make it. All I knew was, there were no kids here. And it took for almost the entire child population to disappear for me to realize I actually liked kids after all.
Still fuming about class, I tore the manual from my backpack, eyeing the cover. It was put together last-minute, a collection of data recorded by scientists and military officials. Made so recently and it was already outdated, missing crucial information on the special infected and their mindset.
They were missing so much. What were they possibly hiding from people? What couldn't they admit?
Did they honestly believe that just because it's been a few years, it can only get better and certain facts can remain hidden? One little slip-up, one secret and this entire 'safe-zone' could be compromised. I wondered idly when they even had the chance to print this. They must have known it would only be used like a schoolbook, not a survival guide for those who really needed it. If only they had warned the people when the outbreaks really started, no matter how isolated, and not months later. I couldn't imagine how many people would have survived if they really knew what to expect.
In a bout of anger I tore the book to shreds, throwing the paper and letting it scatter in the breeze. There was no way I would be going to another one of those stupid classes, for the teacher to try to tell me I was wrong about something I had lived through. There was no way.
I heard footsteps behind me, gravel crunching beneath their shoes.
"Zoey," Dr. Martin said. I didn't turn to look at him, or stand from the park bench. My eyes followed the scraps of paper that were slowly making their way to the street.
Dr. Martin liked to consider himself my therapist, but I just considered him a therapist. A therapist who wouldn't leave me alone. Probably because I was one of the few people in this place who actually had plausible reasons to need a therapist, giving him something to do, but not want one. Nothing had pissed me off more than laying down on a couch and listening to him trying to pry information from my lips. It was comical, really.
"They told me what happened in class." He said when I made no response.
"That didn't take long. Guess I'm the only point of interest around here, huh?" I said with a sneer.
Dr. Martin walked around the bench and took a seat beside me, eyeing the jacket, the only remaining piece of the manual, wearily. "What is it about that class that makes you so mad?"
I shook my head.
"You grew upset discussing the reanimation of loved ones." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small notepad, clicking his pen. He was a military doctor, dressed in the signature green pixels.
I shot him a cold look. He smiled.
"Ah, so I'm right?"
"About what?" I said through gritted teeth.
"Somebody you love was bitten, and you had to be the one to kill them. No?" He said. He sounded disgustingly proud of himself at having made a discovery.
With his words came the images. I had been so good at keeping them out, all this time. They ceased to haunt me, and he was resurrecting them.
Amy. My little teenage cousin. She was staying with our family, her parents were infected. We took her in, in time. I'll never forget when we went to pick her up. She ran to the car, crying, sobbing, her words unintelligible. My dad's face turned white. He told us to lock the car door, and he went into the house. I heard two shots from within. None of us said anything.
Amy didn't tell us they scratched her. That's why it took so long for the infection to seep into her bloodstream, it was hardly a surface wound.
I had felt her pulse, listened to her take her last breath in my arms, sobbed as her limbs fell limp beside her.
I stood over her, waiting, the pistol aimed as steadily as I could manage. I wasn't aware how long it took, time had ceased to exist, but I didn't move an inch.
Finally, her eyes re-opened. I'll never forget them. Cloudy. White. Hungry.
The veins were black beneath her skin, creeping up the sides of her face. She sat up, turning her head slowly in my direction. Her mouth opened, and just as the tell-tale howl escaped her, I had sent a bullet between her eyes.
"Zoey? Zoey!" Dr. Martin said, shaking my shoulder.
I came back to the present with a jolt, realized I must have spaced out like a complete mad woman. All I knew at that moment was that I wasn't going to give Dr. Martin the satisfaction of breaking me.
"So, is that what happened?" He repeated, referring to his previous statement.
I stared hard at him. "No." I said.
He looked taken aback. "Then what was the-"
"Dr. Martin," I said, standing from the bench and grabbing my backpack. His eyes fell on the exposed pistol in my belt, and I hurried to pull my shirt over it. "the only thing I have to say to you is, I have seen it all. And if that doesn't answer every single god damn question you're harboring, then I don't know what else you could possibly want."
"Zoey-" He stood also, attempting to stop me.
"There's nothing you can do. Just leave me alone."
Back in my room, I dropped my bag to the floor and kicked off my shoes, unlatching my pistol from my belt and putting it in its usual place on my night table. It was almost time for me to go to work. I debated with myself whether to ditch, or make an appearance. I wasn't aware of the consequences, and at that moment I couldn't find it in me to care about what may happen to me.
I sat on the edge of the bed, staring at myself in the mirror.
It was at times like these the thoughts were hardest to keep out. They were mainly about him, Ellis. My hands balled around the quilt beneath me when I thought of what could have happened to him, all because of me. I hoped and I begged with an unforeseen force that he made it, that he was alive.
When I thought about the possibility, the probability, that he didn't make it…
I began gasping for air, my hand clutching my chest. I shut my eyes tight, thinking of him alive, him well, him happy, desperately trying to compose my breathing. These panic attacks were happening too often, nearly everyday.
When my erratic breathing at returned to normal, I began wondering how long it's been. I was positive it had been at least a few months, probably more.
I thought of Nick, Rochelle, Louis and Coach. Rochelle, if anybody deserved a break it was her. Always wanting to do the right thing, take care of those around her. If anybody deserved a peaceful life it was Coach. He knew what was too much for him, yet he always pushed the limits. Looking out for everybody, even if it meant putting his own life on the line. Louis. Thinking of him still made me angry. But even at that moment, I couldn't help but worry about what happened to him. And Nick. I saw right through his façade. He cared. Despite anything he said, he cared. I missed him. I missed them all.
I thought of how warm Ellis was. How he had always made the best out of a bad situation. How he always made me laugh when the last thing I could do was smile. How soft his lips were, or how safe I had felt huddled beside him.
I thought of how I had taken him for granted. I didn't appreciate what was handed to me until it was too late. I never even had a chance to tell him how I really felt.
I treated him like shit and he loved me. He loved me and I abandoned him.
I met my own eyes in the mirror. I hated those eyes. I couldn't stand looking at them anymore. I couldn't stand looking at them and remembering everything that had happened because of them. Those eyes didn't deserve to see, the beholder didn't deserve to live.
I lurched from the bed, and in one fluid movement, my fist shot right into the mirror. It was thick glass. It cracked and my knuckles throbbed. I didn't stop there. I brought up my left fist. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Until the mirror was in pieces and my knuckles were dripping onto the floor.
I looked down at them, at the bits of glass embedded within and the blood trickling onto the wooden floor. It didn't seem to compensate for all of the blood I've spilt.
I crawled into my bed, staining the sheets with red, and curled into a ball.
I hated this place. I hated every little thing about it. I knew almost nothing about what went on here, I only knew I couldn't stand being here. I couldn't stand being safe and not knowing what happened to the ones who mattered to me.
I'd rather be out in the middle of nowhere, having to fend for myself as I was used to, than stay here. I would never fit into any semblance of society ever again. If there would ever be a semblance of society again. After all, they barely had a hold on the undead plague. It was only a matter of time before it bites them in the ass again.
Outside these reinforced walls were hordes of undead waiting to rip each and every one of their throats out. This place made me sick. This fake civilization. Fake happiness. Fake normalcy.
I had to get out.