It was nearly ten o'clock when Marik heard the first scratch on his window. Thinking it was only a tree branch moving against the glass due to the wind, he went on reading his book, lazily lifting potato chips to his lips.
The next scratch came at 10:02. It was louder than the first, a dull squeak. He looked up from the novel, a chip resting between his lips, glancing at his window. He was just able to see the outline of the tree outside, but he didn't see anything moving in the wind. Everything was calm. He watched the window, the reflections on the glass, until the clock changed to 10:03. Then he looked back at his book; it was a collection of ghost stories he'd borrowed from Ryou. The one he was reading now was about a haunted house that would come alive at night and creak, groan, and shuffle, until the occupants became so paranoid they moved out or went mad. Looking back up when the third scratch sounded, he felt a shiver going down his spine. Maybe now would be a good stopping point, he thought to himself. He placed a bookmark between the pages and set the book on his dresser, rolling off the bed so he could change.
He pulled his shirt off, feeling the material rub against the scars on his back. He'd grown used to the feeling by now, but it still gave him a vague sense of unease. Sometimes when he let himself stop and think about it, he could still feel the tip of the knife cutting into his skin; hear his father's piercing words and smell the cheap arak on his breath. But he never let himself stop and think about that anymore. He had cried himself to sleep enough nights, and he'd done his time in therapy. His back was healed, only the scars there to remind him of that night.
Shaking his head, he dropped the dirty shirt to the floor, unbuttoning his pants next.
That was when he heard the moan. He blinked and turned around, looking around his room for the source. His TV and computer were both off, and he didn't have any music playing. He turned to his bedroom door, which was always open a little ways so he would be able to see his way to the bathroom on those kind of nights. "…Sis?" He called out, moving towards the door. Maybe Ishizu had caught another bug and was currently moping about. Or Odion… He could have hurt himself at work. "Odion?"
He was greeted with only silence.
He began to move towards the door, stopping when he heard another low moan from the opposite side of the room, accompanied by a sound that mimicked nails on a chalkboard. His blood ran cold and he slowly turned around to look at the window. Against his better judgement, he moved slowly towards the window, with each step angling himself so he could see out of it better.
And then he was in front of it.
Marik frowned suspiciously as he gazed out into the dark yard. The light from the streetlamp was barely enough to see by, but it illuminated just enough for him to study the grounds within the fence. There didn't seem to be anything, or anyone, out there. He looked right and left, before his eyebrows stitched together and he made to unlock the window.
At the click of the lock, a hand slapped onto the glass. He cried out and jumped back, ripping his hand away from the window. He stared at the hand. It was pale; yellow-white color in color, it was smeared with blood and dirt, with sharp yellowed nails. The knuckles and wrist bones stuck out prominently against the tight white flesh, and each finger looked skeletal. There were bits of flesh missing here and there, and strands of muscle and sinew hanging from the fingernails.
Blood ran down the glass.
Two empty white eyes became visible in the darkness, blood shot and unseeing. A grotesque hole of a mouth lined with sharp yellow teeth opened and closed, a dirty red tongue hanging from the side. The entire face was covered in blood, and the thing's left cheek bitten off. Its cheek bone was poking through the muscle.
The fingers on the glass moved, forming a fist on the glass. Marik swallowed hard and bit down his scream, frozen to the spot in fear. W-what?
The fist raised from the glass, then moved back down to gently pound against the glass; a parroting of knocking on a door. Marik looked from the fist to the lock to the face that seemed to be trained on him, the blank white eyes staring into his soul. The fist knocked again. And again.
Shaking his head to get over his fear, Marik moved forward and raised his hand to lock the window, watching the thing outside warily.
His fingers touched the lock.
The monster outside stiffened.
The next moment, glass shattered, nails dug into warm, soft flesh, and a loud scream ripped through the night.
Marik stumbled away from the window, choking back another scream as he tripped over his tote bag. He landed hard, elbows sliding against the carpet. He winced, then slowly raised his arm to examine it. There were three long gashes along the side, and blood was pouring out to dribble onto his floor. He swallowed hard and looked up at the remains of the window; the monster's hand slowly pulled back through the hole in the glass, rubbing against a jagged edge and cutting itself. Black, tar like liquid poured out. Marik watched a glob of it fall as the hand disappeared back into the night. He heard slurping sounds for a few seconds. Then more silence.
He shakily got to his feet, holding his arm to himself. Odion had taught him some simple first aid a few years back, so he had enough sense to press down on the wound to lessen the blood flow. He stared at the window, his entire body shaking with fear. What the hell was that thing? And more importantly, was it still there?
As if to answer his question, the creature's face came back into view, looking through the window at him. He make a shocked noise; the monster opened its mouth and let out a long, windy sigh that slowly turned into a moan. It pressed its face through the hole, the glass digging into its sickly skin, thick black blood staining the flesh. Marik let out a moan and took another step back. The monster continued to push in through the hole it had made, the glass soon breaking against the pressure. It slowly wriggled around, moving forward, like a worm searching for a patch of dirt to borrow through. Marik made a sickened choking sound and turned, running quickly from the room. He slammed the door hard. Then he paused there and leaned his back against the door, listening to the sounds of the creature moving about. He glanced back at the door, locking it quickly before racing down the hall.
"SISTER!" He screamed, throwing himself against Ishizu's door to open it quickly. He looked around the dark room, flicking on the lights. No one was there. "ODION!" He turned and did the same to Odion's room.
Eyes widening in disbelief, he raced down stairs, screaming for his two siblings the whole way, hardly feeling the pain in his arm due to fear and adrenaline. He searched the entire house, but found no one.
He was alone.
He took a deep breath before letting it out. Okay... No big deal. They were just at work, like always. He forgot they both worked late tonight. He'd just... Hang out here until they got home. He'd-
His own thoughts were interrupted when something crashed upstairs. He shrieked and ran into the kitchen, grabbing the phone off the wall before yanking open a drawer and grabbing their biggest and longest knife. He punched in the number for the police, holding the phone to his ear as he listened to it ring. It rang. And rang. And just kept rining.
Just as he was about give up and call back when a frazzeled-sounding secretary answered. "911, what is your emergency?" She said it so fast it came out as "Nine one whazzer mergeny".
Marik stuttered, but then found his voice- for the most part- and shouted, "Th- there's someone...something in my house!"
The operator's voice sounded pained. "Sir, I'm sorry, but we're doing the best we can to stop them."
Marik almost scoffed in disbelief. "Them? There's only one! And it attacked me! You have to send someone over right away! Please!"
There was a muffled sound on the other end, like she had switched the reciver to her other ear. "Hun, just stay calm. We're doing everything we can right now, but we're all out of men. They've all been sent out to stop the invasion. We'll-"
Marik cut her off. "Invasion? What are you talking about?"
The operator tisked, but she sounded worried when he spoke. "You haven't been watching the news, have you hun?" Marik stuttered a no; he never watched the news unless Ishizu or Odion told him to. Besides that he had been getting ready for bed. But now, he raced into the TV room, thankful the phone was cordless, and dived for the remote. As the operator told him quick notes about what was happening, he flipped through the channels, passing the news station before backtracking. A pretty redheaded woman sat at a curvy, futueristic looking desk. She was staring into the camera with wide, fearful eyes.
"-tuning in. Police are still unsure of the cause of violence on main street. Earlier reports speculated a terrorist attack, racial violence or a gang war. But the attackers aren't armed with anything, and witness reports show that most wounds appear to be bites and gashes, as with an animal. They are said to attack anyone within reach, and there is an estimate of hundreds injured, and at least fifty deaths."
Marik's eyes widened in horror, and he gripped the phone tight. The plastic body creaked under the strain. Main street... Ishizu worked at the museum on main street! Oh no... He moaned softly and turned up the volume.
"Uncomfirmed witness reports also say that the attackers have no distinct features that mark them as a gang, nor are they just one race. Attackers are said to resemble rotting corpses covered in blood and appear to be rabid. We now go live to Harvey McKinny, our eye in the sky."
The picture changed from the woman to a man inside a helicopter, holding the microphone close to his mouth, a hand on his ear piece. His face was strained and red. The helicopter's door was open, and the man was seated close to it, but there were straps around his waist and shoulders to keep him from falling out.
"Harvey, you are looking over the violence at this very moment. Tell us what you see."
There was a pause as he listened for her voice in his earpiece. Then he took a deep breath.
"Well, Sarah, the only way I can describe it is like a scene from a zombie movie!"
"Zombies? Please explain."
"Well, rotting corpses are running around, biting people, and hardly react to being shot!"
The camera panned down to look at the streets. Just as Harvey had said, there were a few dozen people who looked like they'd been killed and then brought back to life- their skin was dead looking and hung from their bones like baggy clothes, though some looked fresher. Chunks were missing from their limbs or faces, like their skin was rotting and falling away. Others looked like they had bite marks as well.
"Harvey, what are police doing to stop this bloodshed?"
The camera turned to a handful of men behind cars, guns raised, shooting at the lumbering bodies. Harvey explained the scene, also telling viewers that the officials say to stay indoors at the present time. The police operator had long hung up, and the dial tone played in Marik's ear. But he didn't hear any of it. He only saw. His eyes were wide and glassy as they stared at one of the men in uniform; a tall, broad man with serious eyes and a bald head, save for the dark pony tail he kept. His mouth was in a tight line as he popped his gun, brows furrowed.
Marik stared at the image, shaking his head, mouthing the word "No" over and over again. No, please, don't let that be his brother. Please don't let that be Odion. Please.
Grabbing either side of the TV, Marik sent prayer after pray up that the man he was staring at was not Odion. It was just some man that looked exactly like them. Maybe some stalker who wanted to be him, so he got surgery and shaved his head and joined the force to be exactly like Odion. Yeah...That was it.
But no, the pain in that man's face as his bullet sunk into a teenage girl around the same age as Marik... That could never come from anyone but Odion. Marik felt fear and something else rise at the back of his throat, suffocating him.
As he watched, the scene suddenly changed. It was now just rolling over the scene, moving away from the police and just hovering over the zombies and their victims. Bodies covered the streets. Some were unattended, laying there, being trampled, but others...
Others were being devoured on live TV.
Marik covered his mouth with his hands, a foul taste swimming into his mouth. What the hell kind of news station was this? They were actually zooming in on the dead who had become zombie chow. Did they have no respect for the dead? And why weren't they doing anything about the people still alive and being attacked all around them?
His vomit sat quietly at the back of his throat, waiting for an oppertunity to be hacked up. And finally, there was one.
Two of the so-called undead were fighting over a Middle Eastern looking woman, tugging at her arms which were being ripped to pieces by their claw-like nails. They were hissing, spitting, growling at each other, every now and then biting into the woman as if trying to stake a claim. Because of that, large pieces of her were missing, and some of her internal organs were falling out a large hole in her side. If that wasn't bad enough, she was quite obviously alive, by the way she thrashed and screamed and wiggled in her cannibalistic captors' grips.
Even worse, it was Ishizu.
She was crying hard, and her face was contorted in pain. Her usually well kept hair was dishelved and wet with blood, hanging in her face. A large piece near her hair line had been ripped from her scalp, leaving the skin there red and bloody. She couldn't have been aware of the camera above her with the zombies ripping her to pieces, but her eyes seemed to focus on it. Even from so far away, the camera caught every ounce of fear in her wide blue eyes, every heave of her chest, every tear slipping down her face. It even captured her last scream as he zombies finally pulled her arms from thier sockets and she fell to the ground, the zombies falling on top of her to feast.
Marik's puking wasn't particularly violent or heavy; since he'd skipped lunch and dinner that day, all that came up was stomach acid. But there was a lot of it, and he gagged for several minutes afterwards, sobbing in between each hack. No, this wasn't happening. This seriously wasn't happening! It was all just a dream. A nightmare. He'd fallen asleep reading, and soon he would be awakened for school. Ishizu would see the book and scold him for reading such things before bed, but he'd laugh it off and lie about his nightmares. Then he would ride with Odion to school because he loved riding in the cop car, and Odion let him play with the sirens every so often. Everything would go on as normal and soon he'd forget this nightmare.
He had almost convinced himself when the zombie upstairs let out a bone-chilling wail and assumingly through himself at the door. From the dull thud after the crash, Marik knew the door had been flung open. Dream or not, he wouldn't die by the same monsters that killed his sister.
Jumping up, he ran over to the ottoman and flipped the hinged lid open, grabbing the .45 caliber pistol from underneath the magazines. One of the perks of having a cop as an older brother was that it made him obsessed with safety, especially in the home. Both Odion and Ishizu worked- had worked- so many hours during their shifts, Marik was usually home alone. They didn't live in the best of neighborhoods, and one of their neighbors was attacked in their home and then robbed. So, as a precaution, Odion had shown Marik how to fire a gun and left one in every other room. Marik had thought it was stupid of him at the time, but now he silently thanked Odion for being paranoid.
In the next room, he heard the quick shuffling of undead feet. Labored breathing bounced around the silence.
Taking a deep breath, Marik cocked the gun, said a quick prayer, and slowly made his way towards the monster.