One Day at a Time
He scanned the darkened room, his eyes taking in everything in the immediate area. But his eyes always coming back to rest on the lighter coloured rectangle that was the door.
He sighted down the barrel of his weapon confident that, for the moment at least, he was as safe as he could be.
Why the door?
What was the significance of doors in general?
As he watched the door his mind started to wander.
It was simple really...if you need to get into somewhere, you used a door. If you needed to get out of somewhere, another door.
Doors were made to be opened that was their purpose...their function.
They were not made to be boarded up, to be barricaded.
But today that was this particular doors function...its purpose.
The figure took a step closer to the door, its intention unclear, its mind in turmoil.
A hand left the underside of the weapon that it held and the fingers reached forwards. Questing, stretching for the handle that would open the door just ahead.
But they stopped mere inches short of the task. The man shaking his head in the gloom in an effort to clear his mind. He was about to do something insanely stupid...something that he should not, could not do.
He pulled his arm back and grasped the rifle once more, the step forward that he had just taken now reversed.
He took a further two steps back, his ass hitting the wall behind him.
A deep shuddering sigh escaping from between clenched teeth.
The door was hit from the other side with enough force to rattle it in its frame, the wooden planks nailed across it holding firm. Although with enough blows or enough force (or both) it would not hold indefinitely.
He thought about wasting a round and firing through the door at head height. That would certainly take care of his immediate situation. But he discounted the thought almost as soon as it had surfaced. Although the...person, thing...on the other side would be dealt with, the sound of the shot in such a confined space would most certainly be heard for quite some distance. If one was bad enough he would hate to see what a group would do.
Lowering his rifle to the floor he carefully, and as quietly as he could manage, sat on the floor. He placed the gun across his crossed legs and stared at the door once again.
Without taking his eyes from it he stretched out a hand and grasped the jar that held the last of his water. It wet the inside of his dry mouth but that was all. The last food he had eaten had been several days earlier; a meal of half a chocolate bar and a bag of crisps. He could still taste the sweet chocolate on his tongue, the ghost taste driving him mad. He was sure that although he himself was staying still and quiet the growling of his stomach was the thing keeping his pursuer where they were outside his refuge.
He could feel his eyes starting to droop and forced himself awake. He should sleep, get what strength he could get back. And he would rather be asleep when they came for him than awake and able to feel everything.
But no, he had to stay awake...had to stay awake...had...to...stay...
The first sensation was light and heat on his skin.
I'm home he thought.
It was all a dream.
He smiled as he opened his eyes, confusion replacing the joy that he felt as he realised he was still where he hoped he wasn't, his situation unchanged. The light and heat spearing through the high barred window set into the narrow wall to his left.
His stomach let out a rumble demanding his attention. He pulled up the rifle and pointed it at the door in front of him waiting for the tell tale sign of occupancy from the other side.
And waited some more...
After a full ten minutes he forced his body to stand and approached the door still not believing that he could be alone.
He placed an ear against the cool wood and held his breath listening for the smallest sound, the slightest sign that he was still screwed.
Placing the rifle on the floor he reached up and grasped the board that was highest on the doors frame. He wrapped his fingers around both ends and started a slow countdown from ten. At one he wrenched the board from the wall pulling the nails out as well. He waited for the pounding to start again. After a full five minutes had passed he started on the other planks pulling each in turn, every squeal of tortured wood and freed nails grinding against every nerve he had left. He was sure that at any moment, just as he tore the last board lose knowing his luck, the door would come crashing open, startling him and knocking him to the floor. He would die helpless on the floor, nails and teeth ripping him apart.
Still nothing happened.
There was nothing to stop him now, nothing in the way of opening that final barrier to the outside world (well, closer to the outside world than he was at the moment) but still he hesitated.
After several deep shuddering breaths he took the plunge and grasped the door handle. With one swift and decisive motion he yanked the handle down and threw the door wide open.
The door thudded against the wall as he dropped to a crouch bringing his rifle up and trying to take in the whole room at once.
It was empty, as far as he could tell anyway.
He stood and took a shaky step out into the bedroom he found himself in.
With the rifle out in front of him he advanced slowly but steadily towards where the front door would be. He rounded the corner to the bedroom and flattened himself against the wall expecting at any moment to be swamped with foul-smelling rotten bodies.
Nothing stood ready to greet him in the hallway. He moved further into the connecting rooms. As he neared the kitchen he heard something. At first he wasn't sure what he heard, it sounded like something being dragged across the floor.
He poked his head around the bend in the wall and peered into the room there.
The kitchen was modern, all concessions available to the people who had lived there before all this had happened. Although the small figure staring back at him didn't belong.
His rifle started to swing down pointing at the floor.
She was, or rather had been, around twelve years of age, hair blonde and long. She may have been very pretty once.
But that was a lifetime ago now.
The creature that stood before him was barefoot, blood smeared as it walked from dozens of cuts on the bottom of its feet. Broken glass littered the floor all around. One side of her, its, face was simply gone, the musculature visible glistening wet and raw. The eyes where dead soulless holes in a face that was grey and lifeless. Fat, bloodless worm-like veins under the skin.
It opened its hands and the half eaten remnants of a small arm thudded to the floor at its feet. It took a step towards where he stood, arms raising, seemingly reaching out to him. In his eyes she was still a child even with the disfigurement. He took a step towards her, his arm reaching to her. She, it, snarled as the head snapped forward, the teeth snapping shut with the force of a bear trap. He reacted just in time to save his fingers from becoming a next meal. He stumbled back and fell to the floor the rifle held tightly in both hands. He lifted it and pointed it at her as she advanced. He curled his finger through the guard and put pressure on the trigger.
'I'm sorry...I'm so sorry.'
The creature lunged for him where he lay on the floor. The sound of the shot was far louder than he imagined.
He actually made it all the way to the front door before his nerve gave out.
It hung open, the corridor beyond open and inviting just waiting for him to walk through. He reached out and pushed the door closed, engaging the lock and throwing the two bolts that he could see attached.
He backed away from it and fell into the first chair that he found.
Well, that's just great he thought, another damn door.