To understand the purpose to this post, please check my post here about the challenge.
The world had changed in a very short amount of time. It has only been four years since the plague that wiped out more than half of the population spread through civilization like wildfire. Only those that were miraculously immune or lived away from those infected managed to live, but the damage done was enough to change the entire world, and I don’t mean for the better.
Without anyone to run the factories, the only forms of electricity that continue to run is solar power, and technology is a thing of the past. Where there was once a world connected and united through media and multiple ways of contact on the internet, now everyone was left in the dark about what was going on all over the rest of the world. If not for the fact it was known the world was crashing down all around us before all the lines finally got cut, we would be in search of cities that could have survived the devastation.
But it was well known that we were in an apocalyptic era. The plague had wiped out world leaders, company gurus, scientists, geniuses, and many others that could have kept the world thriving. This was no longer the society we once knew. There was no longer rich and poor, working class and those living on welfare. Now, there was only strong and the weak – those who had the will to survive versus those who had now decided to just give up.
I’ve always considered myself to be part of the survivors. I had the will to live, and despite the fact all my family and friends fell to the plague, I was checked as immune to the virus. I was incredibly lucky, but I suffered through extreme bouts of depression and loneliness for the first year. Holed up in my house after I buried the bodies of my loved ones in my back yard, I cried and yearned for death.
Unable to do the deed myself, I prayed for the angel of death to come take me, but he never did. Over time, I grew stronger. I pushed through the depression, realizing I was kept alive for a reason. I went from the weak to becoming one of the strong, a survivor ready to finally face the world for what it had become. If only I knew then what I know now.
My feet pound the ground, the empty streets echoing as my broken soles slapped against the wet ground. The knee high grass around me wasn’t thick enough to quiet the sound, but it didn’t matter. My heaving breaths in between my sobs were loud enough to let everyone in the vicinity know where I was. I was scared that the gangs in the area would find me and kill me for entering what they considered to be theirs, but I was even more terrified of what I was running from.
I never would have believed I’d ever witness such an event, but here I was. For the past three years, barely anything had frightened me, my heart long ago steeled to the normal fears of man. You had to be hard in this new world, for if you were weak, you would be eaten alive and spit back out. Territorial gangs hoarded their land, and anyone who stumbled in uninvited were torn apart. The heads I passed on spikes a few blocks back told me I was in one such territories, but I didn’t care. I had to get away from them.
They had seen me.
I’ve been a wanderer since the day I left my old home, the house that I had grown up in. The house I was in when I witnessed the plague take my parents.
Their skin broke out in the rash just a few weeks after it was on the news of this terrifying new virus, the virus that had already killed hundreds in North America. The rash took over their entire body, and soon their limbs were swelling. Two days later, they were gasping for breath, reaching out to me from their bedroom floor. Their eyes were bloodshot red, blood pouring from all of their orifices and their screams hoarse from the rash that spread through their innards. It was a horrifying sight.
When I had decided to finally leave that house after the first year, I was in for a rude awakening. A gang had taken over my neighborhood, but they never finished looting all the houses and didn’t know about my existence. They chased me out, waving axes and bats at me, objects that I didn’t want to come into personal contact with. It wasn’t until I passed a blue spray painted line a mile away from my house that they stopped chasing me, but I kept running anyway. I ran for another mile at least before I collapsed to the ground.
Without a home to return to, I wandered the barren and broken world that was once the USA in North America. I’d gone from the west coast to the east coast, constantly on the move in search for anything that could possibly be considered normal. I never found it. Sure, people had come together, but they were all weary of strangers and it was near impossible for me to get close. It wasn’t long before I had also begun to distrust others. I’d been robbed one too many times by those who pretended to be friendly with me, just for me to wake no longer having any possessions.
I pushed in one final sprint into my tired legs, running up to a boarded up building. It seemed uninhabited, the perfect place for my to catch my breath before finding my way out of this territory. Slowly walking up to the door, I pushed my back against the wall as I peaked in through the window. From the crack I could see through, it seemed my initial assessment was correct, and I checked the handle. A small sigh of relief escaped my lips as I realized it was unlocked.
I quietly opened the door and slid through it as quickly as I could without making a sound. Once inside, I closed the door and looked around the empty building.
It seemed to have been a workshop once upon a time, with tables splayed out throughout the large, empty room. Tools were all over the tables and floor, along with glass from the broken windows. There were stairs on the opposite side, both sides lined with metal rails that led up to another, smaller room. It seemed like a surveillance room and the perfect place to make for a hide out.
Despite being sure I was alone, I quietly tip toed through the building, turning this way and that with wide, alert eyes. When I accidentally kicked a wrench, I stopped and held in my breath, looking all around me as I listened for the sound of anyone else. I was still alone, and I let my breath out.
Once I reached the stairs, I got the feeling that I needed to run up those stairs and dive into that room, so I did. As soon as I was in that room, I closed the door as silently as I could quickly, and I leaned my back up against it. My breathing picked back up, but I slammed my hand against my mouth as soon as I heard the growls.
It was an inhuman growl, and it was the same sound I had heard a few miles back. The same sound I was stupid enough to go investigate, and the same sound I was now regretting with all my being. I squeezed my eyes shut and suppressed a sob, trying not to think how they could have followed me here. If they had followed my scent…
I was just walking along to find a place to camp for the night when I had heard the growling in the woods. I had never heard such a thing, and my curiosity had gotten the better of me. So, I went in search of the disturbance.
What I saw would scar me for life: in a clearing of the woods I was walking through, I saw a group of the most disgusting, horrifying humanoid creatures I’d ever seen. They appeared to once have been people, but they had been mutilated. It was like something I had once seen in the zombie video games I used to play before the plague, and I did something incredibly stupid: I screamed.
They all stopped and turned to look at me, their sightless faces glaring in my direction. They were taller than normal people, at least 7 feet in height. Their hands were clawed with five-inch long claws, and when I looked, I saw their feet were as well. Their skin was browning like it had been rotting, though horribly caked in grime and dirt. But they were also covered in blood, and it was when I noticed that that I saw the bodies lying on the ground in between them.
Dear God, they had been eating people. And it was obvious that they hadn’t been dead for long, after making the travels I had, I knew what a fresh corpse looked like. They all bared sharp fang-like teeth at me and growled that inhuman growl of theirs. They turned my direction, and fell down onto all fours, as if they were about to charge at me. That was all I needed before I turned and ran.
I had hoped I put enough distance in between myself and these creatures, but as the growling got closer, I knew I hadn’t. They had followed me all this way, and now I was trapped in this room with no way to escape. But wait, that wasn’t true! I looked up at the windows leading outside and gulped. I had no other choice.
Jumping up, I leaped for the window, hearing the growls intensify behind me as if they knew where I was, and that I was on the move. Without looking back, I took off my backpack and threw it out the window, breaking the panes with ease before grabbing onto the ledge. I only had seconds to panic.
The last thing I ever saw was five pairs of clawed hands and wide-gaping fanged mouths.