Thursday, December 5, 2013

Child of the Apocalypse, Part Three

Opening the medicine cabinet, I grab anything that looks remotely helpful, such as “-icillin” or “Pain-killer” into my side satchel, pausing to read the side effects of one bottle.

“May cause drowsiness, nausea, double vision… who the hell would take this?” I ask aloud as I chuck the bottle behind me. I close the mirror and look at my face, the brown ace bandages covering the deep gouges in the lower half of the right side of my face and neck. I’d gotten careless while looting and a young girl, practically a preschooler, had come padding out of a room, silent as the grave.
I’d turned just in time for her tiny hands to tear at my face and neck, spilling a spray of red blood over the grey-skinned girl. She’d growled, her mouth writhing with a mass of worms and tendrils as she prepared to fire the slime into my open wound, until my knife went through her lower jaw and into her palate, closing her mouth with a squish.
I’d stumbled back, clutching at my neck as I pressed down on it to try and stem the blood flow. Over the next ten dizzying minutes, I vaguely remember wrapping my throat in bandages, before taking a clean shucking knife from my pack and “cleaning” the strips of skin dangling from my cheek and chin.
By cleaning I mean cutting them off.
My first taste of alcohol was while it was burning a hole into my exposed cheek, the Everclear soaking through the bandages as I liberally poured it over me, as I did every night since. My knowledge of how to keep a wound from getting infected is pretty much based on some of the stories my Dad told me of when he was a kid… and man, do they suck as guides on how to keep a cut clean.
I mean, yeah, no infection… but that shit burns! And I let it soak into the bandages I change every day so that it keeps the wound clean while I move from room to room, avoiding the walking dead as I go. I move into the living room, fishing a bottle of water from my satchel and taking a swig from it, wiping my mouth gingerly afterwards. I pull the handkerchief back over my face, and begin looting the apartment in earnest.
An hour is wasted looking for anything good as all I find are a few cans of dried goods I can stand, an extra three bottles of water, and a pair of aviator sunglasses I can use in place of my goggles should I ever need to. Turns out Granny had little in reserve for the end of the world.
Go figure.
I move back into the living room, stepping over the still-snapping head of the old woman, her beady black eyes following my every movement. I look at her for a moment before picking her up by her hair, opening the window, and tossing her out past the ledge. To hell with the odds of me accidentally stepping on her and ruining my footwear on her nasty old teeth; these boots were the only ones I’d come across that even remotely fit me.
I move into the kitchen, tossing aside pots and pans as I look for a knife sharpener, crying loudly in triumph when I find it wedged beneath a heavy cutting board. Spending the next twenty minutes, I sharpen my knives to a fine edge before slipping them back into my boots.
Pulling the goggles up to the top of my head I blow out a sigh, looking around the wrecked apartment for anything else of value.
“I suppose I could tie some sheets together, lower me to the next floor…” I muse as I listen to the dead wail on the other side of the wall. “I wonder what this old broad had in the way of sheets?”
Digging through her linen closet, I find enough floral printed sheets to create a sturdy rope (tied off on the leg of the sofa), one long enough to trail past the floor below me. I chew thoughtfully on some cold ravioli from a can as I try and muster up the will to test my plan of action. I have no clue what is in the apartment below me, or if the doors are sealed. I could be lowering myself into the jaws of the damned without even realizing it.
“Have to take the chance if I want to get anywhere…” I grumble, trying to justify my plan of action to myself.
Finishing off the can and making use of the facilities (which have lost all water and electrical support as of fifty five days ago), I open the window and fasten the makeshift rope to one of the sofa legs. Tossing the rolled up bundle of cloth clear out the window, I take a firm grip of it and crawl out onto the ledge, taking a chance and peering over the edge at the scene below me.
Dozens of the dead have gathered where I threw grandma’s head, arms stretched high to the sky as if pleading with some divine being for salvation.
“No saving you lot…” I mutter as I prepare to rappel down the side of the building, saying a silent prayer to a God I don’t believe in that my knots will hold. Sliding off the edge, I plant my feet on the wall and slowly begin edging my way down the side of the building, keeping a watchful eye on the window below me, my preferred target. So far I haven’t felt any give in the sheets, but my arms are already screaming at me from this exercise, the misuse of certain muscle groups before the apocalypse becoming more and more clear to me as the days pass.
I stop just above the window, before bringing my foot down to tap on the glass.
The window pane shudders with each blow from my boot, but no guttural roar comes from within. Sliding down a little further, I take a peek inside the apartment, and do my best to keep down my ravioli.
The entire apartment looks like a razor edge tornado blew through, tearing through a family of six in the process. Bodies lie strewn across the disheveled apartment, a larger body draped over a flipped over couch telling the tale of a man defending his family from the dead. The desiccated look to the bodies, with their leathery hides and swarms of flies buzzing about them, makes me think they died long before I even got inside this building. I slide down to the ledge outside the window and let go of my sheet rope, instead choosing to peer through the looking glass at the nightmare I’m about to enter.
The door to the apartment is wide open, with a bloody handprint smeared down the white face, the body of what I can only guess to be that of a woman blocking the door from being closed. She’s missing an arm, while her other arm has been torn free from the socket and hangs on by a few strands of grey, rotting muscle. Her near-skeletal hand is clutching a knife in a grip not even death was able to undo.
It’s caked with dried black goo, telling me she had little luck against the dead when the burst into the apartment. This probably happened the first few nights, when the government was broadcasting for all of us to stay indoors and lock up tight, assuring us that the military would handle the “Rabid” humans.
Yeah, right.
I pull out a knife and wedge it into the gap between the window and the window frame, cracking the glass fixture open with a slight snap, the sickly sweet scent of rot filtering from the opened slit. I pull up my bandanna over my nose and lower my goggles, if only to protect from the possible germs one could get from being around six dead bodies.
Wedging the window open as far as I could, I slip in and land on the plush carpeting, kicking up a cloud of dust as I move. An errant twitch from my left is my only warning, having me tuck and roll to my right as one of the other four bodies, one slightly larger than me, lunged from its position on the ground.
Whipping my knife from my boot, I scan the room and scowl as I see the other five begin to reanimate as well, groaning as they crack and pop out of their state of rigor mortis, gasping for breath with parched throats and dry lips for the first time in what was probably months.
“Clever girl…” I mutter, quoting an old movie I always loved. Flipping the knife so I could hold it deftly in a forward stabbing arc, I dart beneath the teen corpses outstretched arms and ram the blade into the chest, using my strength to push the body towards the window, and through it. A sick shlunk! echoes in my ears as my blade slides free from the zombies chest as it tumbles to the streets below, a sound I can’t dwell on for too long as I have other zombies waking up from their eternal slumber.
Moving towards the large form laying prone over the coach, I take a few seconds to slice through the back of his legs and arms, effectively crippling him for the most part. Another teenage zombie rises bonelessly from the ground before I can finish off the bigger one, forcing me to go on the defensive as it vomits a torrent of black sludge at me.
The majority of the sludge splatters to the ground around me, but a good deal is on my ceramic wrapped body, the tiny parasitic worms writhing against the plastic in vain as they try and find a bit of warm flesh to burrow into. I wipe them off with my gloved hand before rushing forward, plunging my knife into the head of the zombie before it could vomit again. Caving in the upper portion of its skull, it feebly paws at me as I pull the blade back and slam it home once more, shattering the entire top half of the skull. Blind and without an upper jaw allowing him to bite, the zombie stumbles away from me, rasping as black goo bubbles up from the neck, dribbling out and over the floor around it.
I can only relish my victory for so long as I get tackled from the side by a third, much larger zombie. This one is bulky, heavier than the rest, and wearing a faded football jersey. On his grey hands I can see a High School or College class ring, though I don’t even bother to try and determine the details as the creature tries to bodily slam me against the wall with a savage growl.
I crumple instantly, rolling into a ball as I land at his feet, lashing out with my leg to catch it in the side of the knee, an action I immediately regret as the abomination drops on top of me, knocking the wind from my lungs as I greet its sudden appearance on me by wedging a knife in its ribs.
Both of my hands reach up and grab the zombie by the head, pointing its mouth away as it begins to pour forth a deluge of ebon slime, splattering to the side of me in a rancid pile of wriggling worms. I pull back a hand and punch it as hard as I can, dislocating it’s jaw, but accomplishing little else.
Goddammit, how the hell am I going to get out of this?

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