He laid on the old beat up mattress on the floor, staring at the spot on the ceiling. It was dark brown, water maybe, or maybe even an old blood stain. The curtains hanging in the window began to rustle. The breeze brought in the putrid smell of the crowds of undead wandering the streets outside, their moans never ceasing.
How did he get here? The past few weeks had been a nightmarish blur, running for his life from masses of undead cannibals. He’d had nightmares about this very thing since he was a child, ever since he had seen Return of the Living Dead. Those zombies couldn’t be killed. The ones in the Romero movies could be though; you just had to destroy their brains.
At least he was kind of prepared for this sort of thing. He chuckled to himself, “Who knew Romero would be so accurate? Can’t stay here long, they’ll start gathering again.” He sat up and stretched, making the wound in his side sting for a moment.
Cale had become accustomed to sleeping short hours and packing lightly. He’d also gotten used to talking to himself. It was really the only thing he could do to keep from going mad.
It was like the whole world had gone insane. It started with breakouts of some new form of rabies. Mass acts of violence, murder, and suicide. Most people were calling it an End of Days, the Apocalypse, or Armageddon. Cale thought it was ridiculous what the superstitious freaks thought of. He believed it was a virus of some kind, nothing magical. Hell hadn’t filled up. Somewhere, someone fucked up. They didn’t wash their hands or something.
He put on his boots. Most of his combat uniform, with stains of dirt and blood, he kept. He discarded the top, but kept the undershirt, boots, and pants. Cale looked for the practical reasons for keeping things. He kept the boots because they were comfortable and you could run in them, the pants because they had enough pockets to hold everything he’d need, like snack foods, ammo clips, and his lucky charm. Most importantly, a green piece of cloth, cut to look like a tiny American soldier, and a red, white, and blue charm bracelet identical to the ones his wife and daughter wore.
He often wondered if they’d made it to his mother-in-law’s. They were going to visit her family in Illinois for the holidays. The last time he talked to his wife, and it seemed so long ago now, he asked her if anything was happening there. Nothing had been reported yet. The outbreaks had started somewhere in Africa. She assured him they’d be fine.
After tying his last boot he walked to the dresser for his knife. Actually it wasn’t his knife at all. It had belonged to his friend, most definitely his best friend in the war. It was a remake of a WWII British combat knife.
It was his fault that Zach was now dead. He, after all, had suggested they split up.
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