In 2020, humanity was struck hard with a pandemic. A very contagious and deadly upper respiratory virus claimed the lives of 3.4 million people worldwide that year. We were not ready for something so devastating and what was worse, we had no idea how to fight this virus. Despite the number of bodies that continued to stack up each day, officials stuck with the promise that things were under control and that life before the virus would resume in time. Vaccines were being rapidly developed and distributed worldwide. As people complied with receiving the vaccines and following health guidelines, it seemed that the fatalities from the virus had stabilized. Simultaneously as the virus ravaged our world, riots between civilians and law enforcement over human rights were constantly erupting through the cities across the nation, taking a violent turn as buildings were set on fire in every city. Business fronts were destroyed, and cars were overturned. More people fighting in the streets resulted in even more deaths. What we were not told is that the bodies that sat in the hospitals, funeral homes and mass graves waiting to be returned to their families for proper goodbyes, began to rise once again. This was held from public knowledge by officials across the world until it was too late. Military units had been ordered to move to the streets to try to contain the uprising of the undead but were unsuccessful. Many brave civilians joined at the front lines to try to fight them off, while others scrambled to make attempts of loading up their cars and evacuating. With millions of people trying to escape and nowhere to escape to, families ended up abandoning their cars and belongings to try their luck on foot. Life as we knew it was for sure over and within a month of the dead beginning to rise, millions of people were torn apart and devoured by the hoards, leading us to damn near extinction. The metropolises that were once booming and full of life and determination, now left to ruins. Windows and doors of every building shattered and looted. Broken down and abandoned cars blocked the streets. Scavengers picked off the flesh of corpses that lay scattered on the roads. Hoards of the undead continue to roam in search of the next unlucky soul to run into them. For those that have survived to this point, day to day is all about scavenging for food and resources and fighting off the undead as they wander about. One valuable thing that us survivors have learned is that the most effective way at killing the undead is a direct head shot. Day to day I find myself constantly reminiscing about life before all this.
My name is Jules Mckenna. I was once married to the love of my life, Xane. We met in St Paul Minnesota, dated all throughout high school, went to the same college and built a life together. After graduating from college, we moved to the Pacific Northwest region. Xane joined the army and had worked his way up to officer while I decided that my passion would be working as a pediatric nurse. Soon we found ourselves living in a beautiful home in Portland, Oregon. We had what felt like a perfect life and we loved each other so fiercely. From the beginning we knew that we wanted a family together and we were fueled by that dream. Those dreams would become shattered in time after years of struggling to conceive. For ten years we had done everything we could to have a baby, even IVF had failed multiple times. Heartbroken, we abandoned hope of having one of our own and accepted that our chances at family would be through adoption. We started the applications, met with agencies, and we were put on a waiting list for when a baby would be available. Six months had gone by and still no word on a match when unexpectedly one day I was struck with an odd fluttery sensation in my stomach and became very nauseous. After having vomited a few times since early morning, I decided to take a chance and do a test. I sat on the bathroom floor shaking, and after what felt like the longest 5 minutes of my life, I reached for the stick that had been sitting on the counter. I was astonished to see the two lines flashing back at me. In disbelief, I ripped open two of the other packages that I had bought, just in case and decided to try the test again. The other two sticks revealed a smiley face and a plus sign confirming that I was pregnant. Finally, after all this time I was pregnant! Tears of joy came flooding down my face. I have never wanted anything more than this baby. The moment that we got to see her on the ultrasound, we were completely love struck. Eight months later, on August 14, 2012, little miss Adelaide entered the world. She was perfect. I wanted to hold this moment of bliss forever. The next three months were filled with long sleepless nights, but we were so grateful and spent each moment we could as a family. Had I known that life would change from this point on, I would have bottled it up so I could look back on it forever. Three months after Adelaide was born Xane was deported to Kuwait where he was supposed to be stationed for 6 months. A month into his deployment, his convoy had been attacked. When word of his death had reached me, I spiraled and hit rock bottom. Everything that I had interest in before that point did not matter, I quit nursing. My weekly lunch dates with my girlfriends were replaced with drowning in bottles of whatever I could find to numb myself with. My babysitter for Adelaide got fed up with my behavior and quit. The bank also was not too keen on my missed payments on the mortgage and had threatened foreclosure. After some persuasion by my mother, I finally gave in and decided that it was best to move Adelaide and I back home with her in St. Paul. I fell so far down that my mom had taken on more of the parental role with Adelaide. One afternoon, while I was laying down in my old room, she came sauntering in, rocking a seven month old Adelaide in her arms and sat at the side of the bed next to me. Without looking up at her I quietly said, “I don’t know how to carry on anymore, how do I find the strength to get up and move on?” Without wasting a moment, she replied “Come, come on, sit up.” I complied and sat up, propped the pillows up against the headboard to lean back on and looked at her. Her dark eyes peered at me over her thick black rimmed glasses. Her mostly greyed hair was casually thrown back into a ponytail, her face though slightly wrinkled and worn, was stern as she handed Adelaide to me. “You look at that little girl’s face and you do it for her. If you do not, well believe me you will miss this blessing you have been given and everything you have gone through up to this point, would be a waste” she replied as she looked down and calmly folded up the little blanket on her lap. I sighed and looked down into Adelaide’s face, her ice blue eyes looked up into mine. I studied her, from the crimson red bow tie around her sandy wavy hair, the lightly colored thin eyebrows and little button nose. I stroked the side of her cheek, even though she had been suckling on a pacifier, I saw the sides of her mouth pull into a grin as she cooed. I closed my eyes for a moment as I pulled her into a hug and squeezed her tight.
I open my eyes again and now I am staring at the same blue eyes, only now of an 8-year-old undead version of her. Her eyes are glassy and her once lively face now pale and sunken. Her sandy tousled hair was dirty and barely kept up by a loose bloodstained red headband. Her once beautiful white sundress now tattered, dirtied with a bloody tear where she had been bitten by her neck. Her black leggings accompanied by a lone red ballet shoe. Just last week, she was my bright, witty child. She loved life, loved to draw and before all this went down, she loved to be at my side in the kitchen. 6 months after the undead wiped out our city we took up shelter in an abandoned farmhouse that was far from the city. Five days ago, she had accompanied our family dog Giles, a ten year old sable German shepherd, border collie mix, outside to do his business. While she was focused on watching him, a lone straggler wandered up behind her and tore into her neck. My heart sank when I heard her scream from inside the house. I grabbed my staff and ran out the door. I saw that Giles had latched onto the straggler and pulled him off Adelaide. Its attention had been diverted and was now stumbling toward Giles. I ran up behind the undead straggler and with the jab of my staff through the back of his head, came the crack of bone and blood splatter as it pierced through the front. The corpse dropped when I pulled the staff back out. I ran over to Adelaide who was laying on the ground. I immediately acknowledged that she had sustained a massive bite to her neck and blood was spurting out from her carotid artery. Her face already turning a pale white and eyes flooding with tears as they struggled to stay open, she weakly called out “momma”. This would be her last word. Now in the barn, she stands chained to a pole, growling, clawing, and trying to reach out for me. I stand just a few feet in front of her grasping the heart shaped locket that hung onto a chain around my neck. One of the most precious Mother's Day presents that she had given me. Inside was a tiny portrait of her grinning as she laid on top of Giles. On the other side of the locket was an inscription saying, “We love you mommy.” I reached down and picked up my staff. Adelaide’s growls and clawing came to a sudden halt with a swift jab of the end of the staff through her skull, followed by a loud thud as her body fell to the ground. I picked up my duffle bag and swung it over my shoulder and with my staff in my other hand I turned to walk away. Giles, who had been lying next to me with his head resting on his front paws, sadly stared at Adelaide’s lifeless body. He let out a soft whine as he stood up and followed. At the doorway, I stopped and pulled out a book of matches. I struck a single match which immediately ignited. I looked back for one last glance at her, then tossed the match onto a nearby pile of hay. Once the pile became engulfed in flames we slipped through the doors.