Taut and alert, she laid in bed with a cell phone in one hand and a candlestick in the other. With her eyes closed, she listened for the sounds of arrival. She listened for things signaling Jeff’s return: The rattle of his keys and the wood upon wood struggle as he displaced and replaced the shelves and drawers used to barricade the front door. She also listened for the tell-tale sounds of less welcome company. It had been two days since they’d heard from anyone at all and she was beginning to lose hope. Jeff had left for food and supplies only a couple hours ago, driving home the fact that it’d be easier for him to avoid attracting attention if he was alone, but Joseph and Laura had been gone far longer in their search for more survivors.
The cell phone was on its last bar and she realized that it’d probably die before she heard from anyone, so she tossed it the side and sat up. Her eyes were heavy, lack of sleep evident around the edges. Jeff had urged her to stay awake while he was away and her mind and body both were paying for it. The previous night’s restlessness had her tired enough as is.
After about 5 minutes of staring into the candlelight’s flame and lulling herself right into a red-orange tinted daydream, she heard the unmistakable jingle of keys. She started toward the bedroom door, but then she heard one of the shelves fall over. Jeff was extremely careful, obsessive even. She’d watched him meticulously place each piece of furniture so the setup would make the least noise possible when moved. She calmed herself down, thinking he may have simply slipped.
She froze. A million thoughts raced through her head. She couldn’t grab hold of what was going on.
She blew out the candle and grabbed the stainless .45 off the dresser. She stood away from the door, her back against the wall next to a boarded up window. She heard a low grunt, followed by the sound of wood against wood. Then footsteps started up the hall toward the bedroom. She aimed at the door, gripping the gun just loose enough, just like Jeff taught her. What could have gone wrong? Jeff wouldn’t have opened the door with the dead men after him. He would have lost them amongst the other houses like they talked about……unless he didn’t see it coming. We don’t know how fast these things really are.
I can’t get bitten by one of them.
She remembered watching from the window when all hell broke loose. The people fighting each other for their cars and the people hit by those same cars. Nothing was worse than the people getting fed upon. The things would catch them in an iron grip and bite into their flesh. Then the people would scream and topple over backwards as their life drained from them.
I don’t want to change.
She remembered those same people would clumsily stand up and fall into step inciting chaos. They’d attack the same scarred onlookers that had just watched in horror as fathers, mothers, cousins, girlfriends, and mere acquaintances were killed, only to rise up again.
I can’t die like that.
She remembered squeezing Jeff’s arm while Laura and Joseph made a pact to shoot themselves before having those monsters bite them. She slowly brought the gun to her own temple, her hand shivering uncontrollably.
I won’t die that way
The door slowly began to open.