I threw an empty bottle across the street. I heard the glass shatter across the broken asphalt. As I expected the groans of the undead echoed through the night sky as they shambled towards the source of the noise. The full moon revealed my path and helped me to navigate the desecrated road more easily but also revealed the undead. From a glance they looked like ordinary people but then as you got closer they would reveal their injuries. Bite marks across their bodies, pieces of flesh and bone jutted out, entire limbs barely hanging on or missing entirely. But I couldn’t focus on that.
I looked back behind me to where two small shivering figures watched me, pleading for me to save them. I didn’t know the two kids. They looked had similar features so I had guessed they were siblings but they never spoke to confirm anything. Only followed me as I escaped from Portland’s refugee camp before the undead took it all. The memories of that day began to resurface. The screams of people pleading for mercy as their loved ones dug their teeth into them. The howls of the undead that seemed to echo across the mountains attracting more of their kind. I squashed the memory as quickly as it came.
I pulled out a trench knife. It was a beautiful thing. A family heirloom of sorts. It had been in my family and helped saved my great-grandfather’s life in World War 1 more than a century ago. Now I had it. The last thing I have of my family and unexpectedly something that has helped save my life as well. With my free hand I reached out to the kids and they took it gently. We walked across the road as a brisk but silent pace. Often we would have to stop between the broken and abandoned cars which often had blood spats across them.
As we cleared the main part of the road I saw that the rest of the road was strangely free of abandoned cars and debris. Alone on the road was a slightly mangled figure. It had no arms and silently stood still without moving a muscle. I looked back at the kids and placed a finger against my lips and gestured for them to wait for my signal. I crouched and as quietly as I could I approached the strange figure holding my trench-knife out. Sweat poured down my head. I listened for any sudden movement or sound from anywhere else but the night sky was silent. My heart began to thump loudly against my chest. I knew I could just go around this zombie. But thoughts of my friends and family resurfaced. Asking me why. Why them. Why did they die. What I was doing wasn’t smart. But I pushed those thoughts away. I just wanted revenge even if it was something small like this.
I got close enough to the undead. It had no arms and the moonlight showed that its skin had turned a sickly gray. I readied my knife. I stood up ready to make the kill. I raised my knife and swung it down on its head with all my might. Right as I felt the resistance from it’s head the undead dashed forward with inhuman speed barely avoiding death. I fell forward startled from the sudden movement. I looked up as the undead turned its ugly head towards me. Its eyes were white like the rest. Blind. But somehow it knew. It knew I was there. Its mouth opened far more than anything naturally should.
To this day I don’t know what prompted me to. What instinct told me cover my ears but I did. The undead screamed. Piercing enough to shatter the glass of cars far away. When the scream stopped I knew we were standing on the brink of death. I looked towards the kids huddled against a car. They looked at me wide-eyed their little hand still covering their ears. I heard them before I saw them. The shambling horde. The running undead. All of them.
I shouted from the top of my lungs, “Run!”