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Before, During, and Sometime After

by Epic Writer Inbound, L.J. 9 months ago in Horror
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When a zombie apocalypse happens unexpectedly...

Before, During, and Sometime After
Photo by Nathan Wright on Unsplash

Contains some dark humor and briefly mentions adult content that may be triggering for some viewers. Some character descriptions are left to the imagination.

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        Around the world, cities and towns bust with excitement; another day, another problem, such is life for everyone, rich and poor, lucky and cursed. However, in certain places across the globe, unusual occurrences are happening; strange violent outbursts and a virus of an unknown sort has been spreading.

        Everything is changing. Unfortunately, no one knows that for certain yet.

        Within an apartment complex, on the ground level, two women in their early twenties are standing inside their shared flat. One of them, a dirty-blonde in a ponytail, is standing before a mirror, getting ready for her line of work. Already, she is dressed in exotic clothing; she just needs the appropriate makeup. “Inona,” she says to her roommate, who stands just a few feet from her. “Don’t wait up too long, m’kay?” She puts on red lipstick. “And you best be careful, bitch; I don’t want you getting knocked up or gettin’ some nasty ass disease from that fat tub of lard you call your “boss”, got it?”

        Inona, leaning against the nearby wall, gives her friend a dry laugh. “Just as long as you don’t get forcefully gang banged in an alley somewhere.” She worries for Janet; her line of work, exotic dancing, tends to bring out the creeps. Even so, she understands that a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do to survive; she knows that personally, even though she’s unwilling to admit it aloud.

        Janet laughs at the dark humor. “Touché, my friend. Tou-fucking-ché.” She finishes her makeup; some eyeliner, mascara, and a little blush, the last bit to make her look a little innocent. She puts the makeup bag away and looks at her friend. “I get it, okay? Times are pretty tough right now, with you losing your job and having to...please,” she pauses briefly to make a face of disgust, “the fat lard for quick dough while you try to find another, but if you keep on allowing him to go a step further, he’s gonna get even more demanding and really push you to your limits.” She approaches Inona and lays a hand on her shoulder. “So, ya be careful, got it?”

        “I know.” Inona sighs. “I know,” she repeats, but quieter. She feels ashamed for getting a...boss, depending on him. She didn’t wanna depend on anyone, but work has been so hard to find, those discriminating bastards. “If things get bad…” She sighs again. “If things get worse with him, I’ll bail. I promise.” She manages a smile. “You better be careful, too, okay?”

        “I will, girlfriend. Catch you later!” Janet gave a small smile before walking off and out of their flat.

        Inona slides her back down the wall she’s leaning against and sits on the floor, head soon lying on her knees. Don’t think, just do what you must to continue; sacrifice your independence, as long as you get the money you need. She’s been thinking those words everyday, for three weeks, since she began seeing her “boss”. She hates it, using her body to afford her side of the rent. She hopes, prays to find a job soon; she cannot go on with this lifestyle any longer. She thought it would’ve been far more temporary than it turned out to be. She’d be wrong. She wishes she hadn’t been.

        Stalling for a time of peace will not help her, she knows this. So, she pushes herself off the floor and makes her way towards her wardrobe. Soon attired in something similar to what Janet walked out in, she leaves the flat as well, huffing out a breath of annoyance; it’s time to see the boss man himself, the bane of her existence.

Hours pass. The deed is done, easy money is willingly lost, and negative emotions kick in. Inona goes back home.

        She’s removing her clothes the second she steps into the flat, door slamming behind her. She rips and tears at them with all her might, trying to do as much damage as possible before she tosses them into the garbage can. She goes to her wardrobe; she throws out everything she’d ever worn to that man. She’s left with a few tank-tops and t-shirts, some shorts, and a pair of worn-out shoes. She feels like dropping to the floor in anguish by the time she gets rid of it all, the evidence of her time with former “boss” man, her sugar daddy. Instead, she showers, sorrowfully sitting inside the tub, letting the water cleanse her of his touch.

        She hugs her knees; they aren’t aching very much anymore, but the rope burns remain, a cruel reminder of his deception. It was never a fantasy, his words; he truly believed her to be his, an object, a slave to sex. She shakes, chills running down her spine. What if she hadn’t gained the courage to leave him? She’d be stuck in his bed months later, an unwanted child in her womb. She wishes she can be happy in this moment; she’s free from him now. But she cannot be; the issue of money is still at hand. She has no job, and now no quick access to the dough for rent. She feels like a failure, a screw-up, a useless piece of ass; there’s no way she can be happy again, truly happy, after what she’s been through these past weeks.

        His words continue to circle in her mind; she lays her head against her knees, crying silently.

        A few additional hours pass by. Inona isn’t in the shower anymore, though it looks like she’s only just gotten out of it; her hair is soaked, as is some of her clothing from not drying off. It’s around two in the morning. She sits in silence, staring blankly ahead. Her thoughts are quiet now.

        Three minutes later, when Janet comes back home from her job. She has hardly stepped into the flat when she spots Inona; she’s home earlier than usual. She sighs, gets her bitch face on, and closes the door a bit too roughly. “Alright, what the fuck happened? Do I have to bury a body?”

        Inona doesn’t respond; she doesn’t acknowledge her friend’s arrival.

        Janet’s expression sours more. She quickly approaches Inona, tossing her belongings onto the floor along the way, and crouches in front of her silent friend. “Inona…?” She holds her hands. “Look at me, Inona. I mean really look at me; come back into the present, sweetie.” It takes a few minutes but Inona’s eyes finally start focusing on what’s before her; her roommate, her friend. “Welcome back,” Janet says quietly. “Now, tell me what happened so me and my girls can kick the bastard’s ass.”

        Inona stares at her quietly for another moment, then answers in a soft tone. “You were right…” Janet immediately sighs and releases one of her hands from Inona’s, rubbing her face. Inona continues slowly, delaying the harsh words she knows will be thrown at her. “He pretty much said he has owned me since he first had me; I wanted to believe that...that it was just his fantasy coming out but he said it outside of bed, so… Yeah…”

        Janet cannot help herself; she rolls her eyes. “I fucking told you so.” She removes her other hand from Inona’s, sitting beside her on the couch. She huffs. “Can we call him your former sugar daddy now? Or are we still gonna pretend that he was just your “boss”?” she asks sarcastically, shaking her head and rolling her eyes again. “You should’ve listened to me when I told you he was bad news.”

        Her words sting, just like Inona knew they would. She knows there’s more to come. A tear manages to escape again. She glances at Janet. Janet looks back at her; she opens her mouth to speak. Inona cuts her off. “He had them watch,” she reveals. “Three men. I didn’t know; he blindfolded me on purpose, made me feel...good for once during.” More tears are shed. “They saw all of me,” she whispers. “He had me in a position where...where they could see. They could see it. All of it. Clear as day.” She looks away from Janet and pulls her legs onto the couch, hugging them again. “You were right…”

        Janet stares at her, disbelief and regret crossing her expression. “...Goddamn it…” she utters. “Me and my big, stupid mouth…” She rubs her face again, holding her jaw and covering her mouth for a second as she thinks about what to say next. “...” She reaches over and pats Inona on the head. “Water under the bridge. Lesson learned, yeah…? I’m sorry it went down like it did, but at least you’re safe from him now.” She half smiles at her. Inona just stares back in sadness. “He’ll get what’s comin’ to him, eventually. You’ll see. You just might be the one to do it, too.”

        Inona shrugs slightly, looking away, still frowning, still lightly crying. “Maybe…”

        Janet pats her shoulder this time. “I do pretty good with tips, you know. So, don’t worry about your part of the rent, okay?” Inona glances at her briefly before reaching forward; she grabs the cash off the coffee table and hands it to her. Janet’s eyes become wide. “Goddamn!” She takes it and counts it. “This is, like, 50% more dough than he usually gave you, the dirty bastard!” She looks at Inona and notices her darkening look. Janet looks back at the money. “Oh, goddamn; it’s because of… Shit. I’m sorry.”

        Inona shrugs again. “Yeah… I know you are…” She hugs her legs tighter. She pushes the recent events to the back of her mind; she doesn’t want to think about it anymore. Instead, she thinks about how she gave up her independence, and body, so easily just to get by. She didn’t like depending on others. She doesn’t wanna have to depend on her friend until she gets a decent job, but...she’d honestly rather do that than go back to him.

        Janet hums. “Right. Well, enough of this sadness; we’re independent women that don’t need no men, especially ones like him. We need to stay clear-headed, focused on the future ahead. So,” she grabs the remote off the coffee table, “let’s see what those local mosquitos are up to at this time of day.” She glances at the clock. “Night,” she corrects herself. She turns on the television.

        “More like parasites,” Inona utters, managing a half smile.

        They focus on the television, ignoring all the unpleasant talk and memories of the day they’re leaving behind them. Alas, a different sort of unpleasant ruins the rest of their night. Something’s happening; something’s wrong.

        Janet hums again, looking concerned. From one problem to another, nothing seems to stay okay. “Looks like we’ve got a lot of rioters. Lovely.” She flips to another news channel. “And something about a virus, too,” she says, glancing at the headline. “Ain’t that some shit.”

        Inona looks sad again. “I wonder why they’re rioting this time…”

        “Who knows,” Janet sighs. “People will often go mad when they think their life is over. It’s pathetic and sad, really. I hope I never get to that level of desperation.”

        “...Yeah.” Inona gazes at the ceiling, ignoring the television. “I hope not, too…”

        Little do they know, it’s just the beginning of hell, a Hell on Earth.

By Daniel Jensen on Unsplash

        By the sixth day, four since the horrible night Inona endured, she and Janet are holed up inside their apartment building, locked away safely within their flat as they attempt to wait out the rioting and the virus. Things are getting worse out there. The army, policemen, anyone with some kind of authority over civilians, they’re doing their best to deal with the situation.

        Janet has a bruised jaw; she had to fight someone to keep them from taking the food she’d been gathering for herself and Inona. She supposes that everyone and their mother have the same idea; buy everything and either run for it or hide away at home. Inona is sporting a blackened eye; she’d been with Janet and got elbowed in the face, trying to get someone off her friend.

        “Goddamn it!” Janet kicks the side of the couch in frustration. Inona leans against the nearby wall, watching silently. “What the fuck are those soldiers doing?! The police, too! Are they not even trying?!” She lets out an exhausted sigh, calming down ever-so-slightly. “These… These rioters, they just keep on coming.”

        Inona doesn’t say anything, just keeps watching. Janet eventually settles down and lays on the couch, staring at the ceiling. Inona sighs and pushes herself away from the wall; she paces around the flat for a moment before heading into the bathroom. She wets her face, then stares at the mirror.

        No one is allowed to leave the city, yet people are attempting to do just that; not very many at the moment but soon, too many folks will be crowding the highways, trapping themselves in the open instead of between four walls. She’s getting worried; both of them are. Riots and such have happened before but not this severely, not to the point where everyone wants to leave their towns and cities.

        Janet is happy to have no family; she only concerns herself with Inona’s safety, apart from her own. Inona, whilst she does have family somewhere, doesn’t plan on contacting them; they aren’t close and, though she doesn’t wish harm upon them, it’s not like they’d check on her either. She’s glad, too, that the family she did care for are already gone; her parents, taken away several years before, from cancer and a heart attack. She’s thankful they don’t have to witness this.

        Things couldn’t possibly get any worse, she silently hopes.

        But it did.

By Jen Theodore on Unsplash

        By day fourteen, it’s become clear that things will never truly be the same again. And if, somehow, things do get better again, many will not live long enough to see that day. Things are going to Hell; nothing has gotten better, nothing ever got under control.

        The “rioters”, they’ve swarmed many places around the world. Many were killed, but many had gotten away; unfortunately, most of the “rioters” weren’t put down, so more places were left in ruins, bodies scattered across the ground or, at least, what was left of them. The apartment complex has become one of these places; inside, many are being attacked and eaten.

        Janet and Inona can hear the screams from their room; they live on the ground floor, after all.

        Janet is rushing around their flat, grabbing essentials; bottles of water, canned food, two extra hunting knives, and some spare clothing. Inona is eyeing the door, tense; she’s afraid one of those...things will bust inside and get them. “We have to get the hell outta here, leave the city or, at least, find somewhere more secure from them.” Packing everything she could find into a backpack, she gives it to Inona. Inona looks at her questionably. “For safekeeping. You’d protect our things far better than I, especially if I have to fight and you have to run.”

        “...Okay,” Inona whispers. She nods. “Okay.”

        They exit their flat and soon enter the entrance area of the apartment complex; there’s a front and back exit to the building. The front is completely overrun with the “rioters”, who are feasting on dead bodies, and some alive ones. Janet and Inona cautiously begin making their way towards the back exit. They’re nearly there when a group of those things start coming from both sides, getting closer to blocking off their only exit.

        Inona makes it to the door first, as she’s faster on her feet; she gets out. Corpses are lying on the ground but the dead, the ones that walk around, they aren’t in sight out here. They can get away. Inona turns around; Janet isn’t leaving the building. She stares sadly at Inona as the growls of the dead, the ones inside with her, come closer; her plan this entire time has been to make certain Inona gets away from there. She’ll make it through this new world, I know she will, Janet thinks.

        “Janet, don’t do this. Don’t you fucking do this. Come on. They’re getting closer,” Inona angrily hisses at her, tears forming in her eyes. “Please… I won’t make it alone…”

        Janet shakes her head, smiling sadly. “You will.” She slams the door shut as the monsters reach her.

        Inona covers her mouth to keep from sobbing loudly as she hears Janet’s screams. She stares at the door; some of the monsters are banging on it. She gulps, uncovers her mouth, sniffles, nods shortly at the door where she’d last seen Janet, and takes off running the opposite direction. She doesn’t stop running, not for a while.

        Inside the bag, the two extra hunting knives sit together, shifting alongside everything else in the bag as Inona runs; they were Janet’s favorite, she liked how they felt in her hand. They are her parting gift to her roommate, someone she could’ve easily called her best-friend.

By Austin Chan on Unsplash

        Keep moving. Don’t think. Not about the loss of humanity, the loss of everything. Think only about living, about surviving and continuing one’s legacy. Ignore the bad and look forward. Keep yourself alive until you can’t.

        It’s day fifty-nine and Inona is still alive.

        She has no supplies anymore; she’s used them up already. She’s carrying only two hunting knives, Janet’s belongings. Her clothing is worn, torn, dirty; hair unwashed, face unclean. She’s been through a lot since she’s lost her only friend. She has killed a few of those monsters; she’d been scared to, but nonetheless, she did it to live, because that’s what Janet wanted, her to keep living. She hasn’t seen the living since, only the dead that roam the streets now. She figures she’s the only one left in these neighborhoods.

        She walks through the new neighborhood she has entered. She tries not to stay in the same area for long; she doesn’t wish to encounter the dead ones. She passes many homes; she knows they’re abandoned now, but she doesn’t wish to take anyone’s belongings; it doesn’t feel right. It feels...too soon to start doing something like that. She keeps moving; she hopes she’ll find something, not someone’s home but something else that can give her a variety of necessities.

        And that’s when she sees the abandoned hospital.

Horror

About the author

Epic Writer Inbound, L.J.

Inspiring others, one story at a time.

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