Distant thunder and the gentle tapping of rain on the abandoned cars that littered the streets of Independence, Missouri echoed through the once busy city. The only other sounds are that of the infected. Wild, vicious shrieking can be heard 24 hours a day, however unseen in daylight hours, most likely wandering beneath the streets. Though at night, we try our hardest not to listen. At night, they roam freely, in stumbling herds of at least 20. Their senses somehow much stronger than ours, they can hear the slightest of noises, smell the weakest of odors. Sleeping at night, or at all, is an activity of the past. The infected smear their bodies on every surface, searching for another host to pass the virus onto. We live in constant worry that our basement fortifications won't be enough, though we've lived through these last two months down here since the initial outbreak. In the stairwell leading into the basement where we reside is piles and piles of boxes, miscellaneous furniture, and anything we could find in the basement to clog up the way down to us, which has worked thus far. All windows have been painted black and boarded up, the only way in or out is through our steel basement door that we lock down as tight as we possibly can anytime I leave or come back from my weekly supply run.
The first day of the outbreak was utter chaos, we tried leaving like everyone else but the streets were filled with cars honking and smashing into each other. Distressed citizens pulling their guns out on other distressed citizens, anarchy. No police in sight, not one ambulance, and not a helpful soul was seen. We thought our lives were over when a man pointed his AR-15 directly at my face and yelled, “Get the fuck out of the car! Now!” My body trembled and I froze. He fired a shot into the side of the car causing my ears to ring and yelled “NOW!” again.
I looked over at Samantha who was crying and I shouted, “Get out get out get out!” I reached over her to open her door and we both exited on her side, we flopped out onto the ground, our dog quickly following us out and the man squealed off ramming into the cars in front of him with his gun out the window shooting into the air and honking madly. We ran as fast as we could back home and immediately began taking everything we could carry from upstairs to downstairs, blankets, food, our dog. Our back door didn't lock so we did the best we could to block the entrance to the basement. Soon we heard the tornado sirens blaring, and decided then that we should board up the windows, as to prevent possible break-ins.
After the fortifications were made in the basement I pulled Samantha and our dog Lilith close to me, holding them tightly. Storm sirens, honking, yelling, smashing, chaos flooded our eardrums. I thought of my family in Arizona, and when I reached for my phone in my pocket, it wasn't there. I then realized it was in the car, stolen from us at gunpoint.
“Oh my God…” I said, completely lost for any other words.
“What?..” Samantha blankly replied, still in shock from what had just happened, a near death experience. Chaos from an unknown source.
“My phone was in the car…”
Her head sank lower into my arms and sobs expelled from her body. She dropped her phone into a puddle of water a couple weeks ago, it didn't survive.
The day turned to night and madness still filled the town, sounds of windows breaking, people screaming and shouting, gunshots blasting. Samantha had passed out in my lap, her mind and body drained by the terror. Lilith lied next to us on our bed, awake with me listening intently, her ears perked up. I let pet her soft big head and whispered to her letting her know everything will be okay. She looked at me as if she knew what I said and closed her eyes, putting her head down next to Samantha's legs.
About a half hour passed with no noises of havoc, Lilith and Samantha were both snoring and I hadn't even realized the power went out, I was so focused on trying to hear what was going on outside. It was silent outside, eerily silent. I waited a little longer before I felt it might be okay to try to sleep. Sleep overcame me immediately as I laid down and closed my eyes.
Though it felt almost instantly I was woke up from a bloodcurdling shriek outside the window front of us, but it had to be hours later because dim sunlight could be seen through the streaks of black paint on the glass. All three us jumped up and Samantha and I quickly grabbed Lilith and her snout to keep her from barking. I carefully walked to the window to try to see through some of the paint. I regretted doing that as soon as I did it.
I watched three bloodied naked men aimlessly wandering in the street, twitching madly, itching and scratching sores into their skin. I watched long enough to see them all hobble unstably into the creek where the storm drain pipes are.
I pushed away from the window trying to comprehend what I had just witnessed. Samantha asked me what I saw, I took a deep breath to gather my thoughts.
“There's umm...bloody naked men outside, they just went into the creek.”
Her eyes opened wide, bewilderment slated across her face, “Dylan what the fuck is going on?”
Unable to respond intelligently I shook my head and shrugged, “I'm gonna go outside and check. Stay by the door but lock it when I leave.” I grabbed my Viking axe, the only substantial weapon I owned, I hugged Samantha, “Please be careful.”She said, tears welling up in her eyes.
“I'll be right back, I love you.” After giving her a kiss I opened the door slowly, peeking my head out first, no one in sight. I gave Samantha a nod letting her know the coast was clear and I walked out, shutting the door behind me and hearing the deadbolt click.
The warm humid morning air filled my lungs, sweat beading on my forehead. I listed for anything but only heard the sound of birds chirping, no train horn, no sirens or cars. Nothing. I looked across the street and over to the small road closed off due to heavy flooding and erosion and to the side of that road which was the creek where I saw the men go. Eyes peeled I carefully made my way over across the street. A few cars were left abandoned and dented, doors left wide open, windows smashed. Walking by my neighbors house I peered through the window, no movement or signs of life, maybe they made it out. Their back door was ajar, so I couldn't be sure what happened to them. As I made my way closer to the creek I began to smell something horribly rancid, like a pit filled with animal carcasses. I gagged and had to cover my nose with my shirt, I knew then that I was about to see something truly disgusting but I wasn't sure yet, with about 20 more feet to go before I got to the creek I prepared myself to run back home. I stopped for a second to stretch my ankles and legs, took a few deep breaths and finished walking to the creek. Stopping at the edge I looked down and was met by a swarm of flies covering hundreds of articles of wet clothing littered with blood and feces down on the creek bed. I controlled my urge to get out of there before I vomited and listened closely. Raspy, heavy breathing and gurgling coughs faintly echoed out of pipe that led under the streets. My heart skipped a beat and I ran as fast as I could back home and rapidly knocked on the door until Samantha answered, just as we hear a loud scream from behind me. Our bodies were suddenly frozen; Samantha facing away from me strategically placed inside the basement, myself still outside with my back facing whoever just screamed. Samantha and I looked at each other, wide eyed, and terrified. I slowly glance over my shoulder but before I could turn around I already saw the figure sprinting at me in my peripheral vision. I snapped out of it just in time to push Samantha farther inside the basement and slam the door shut. Keeping it shut against the slapping, scratching and banging while trying to lock each of the three locks with shaky, sweating hands was something I never thought would be necessary.