There was a yellowish-green color to her iris. The white in her eyes wasn’t white. It was red. It was so bloodshot, Evan could only see red. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. The woman, if that’s what he could call her, stood up. Blood that had pooled in crevices of her robe poured down the creases that were left. She took a step toward Evan. He took a step back and aimed his gun as steadily as he could. As closely resembling cops he had seen on TV. He was breathing hard. Her next step was onto the foot with the ankle wrapped in a bandage. It was especially disgusting. Her entire body was a grey color. Veins everywhere and she had dents in her head. Josh put up a fight maybe? Her steps onto her foot with the wound that stretched up her leg were limp. Her mouth opened and blood poured out. She looked like she had been dead for days. Is this really happening? She looked like a freaking Maxim model a few hours ago. A strange, guttural growl emanated from her snarling lips. Evan tried to stay in the moment. He tightened his grip on the trigger.
“LADY, Stay BACK!”
She continued hobbling toward him. Even faster now.
“Lady, PLEASE, stay back, I DON’T want to shoot you!”
She kept coming. Evan pulled the trigger and blasted her in the shoulder. The hit area jerked back as if it were attached to a leash. To Evan’s horror, she didn’t stop. She didn’t seem to feel it, save for the initial jerk. Now that this was happening, Evan could go to his special place. His “Nothing box.” Not that he should go, but he could. He was in complete disbelief and expected to wake up. He wished he could wake up. His gun lowered slightly. He raised it back up by sheer memory of what he should do, not because he was paying attention.
Coming back to reality, he readied himself again on Josh’s would-be fling. Just before he fired again, a second woman came around the corner. She had the same features. Where did she even come from?? Josh really was a dog! The second woman made her way to Evan. Limping forward. She had a gash or some sort of laceration in her neck that looked worse than the rest of her. She was closer to Evan so the only natural thing to do in such an unnatural situation was blow her away. She was closer. But still, he hesitated. The woman reacted to the gun the same as the first- nothing. She just kept coming. He gritted his teeth this time although it seemed easier to tighten the trigger.
“Don’t, don’t, don’t…”
The woman snarled the same as the first and lunged as if on command, almost supernaturally fast unlike the rest of their movements, slow and unresponsive. A short-lived screech tore from her mouth before Evan fired into her face and she went backward, hitting the ground like a sack of rotten vegetables.
By this time, Karen (or Gwen) had made her way to Evan. He hadn’t been paying attention. He just shot a woman in the face. She appeared to be a woman, anyway. Her last noise was questionable, to say the least, about what she actually was. Karen took a hold of his jacket and leaned into him. He tried backing away but tripped over a chair leg, Karen falling right on top of him and knocking the gun just out of reach. Great. Death in Josh’s house. People are going to find my body and think some Satanic orgy was going on here. How embarrassing. When he saw this woman hours earlier, the last thing that would’ve went through his mind was that she would chew his head off that night. Evan’s right arm was wrapped around her head, keeping her head back by her hair as she snapped at him like wrangled crocodile. She was literally going for the jugular. Now, he came to. Yes, this is really happening. This is really happening.
With his left hand, Evan reached for the gun. It took a moment seeing as how he was so focused on this crocodile woman not eating his neck. He felt it. The gun, he finally got a hold of the gun and twirled it around on the kitchen floor to grip the handle. He directed it right at Karen’s head. Specifically her jaw. This was his first official time using it, and his adrenaline was pumping so hard he could’ve punched a hole into a brick wall. When he bought it, he didn’t expect to be using it at such a… close range. So his aim was a little….off. He pulled the trigger and with a loud ‘BANG,’ blew her jaw into a thousand pieces. Her skin, muscle, teeth and tongue sprayed over the floor, table and chairs. The table looked like it belonged in a museum, spattered in blood. One of those strange art pieces that you “get it or you don’t.” Karen was still on him. He didn’t know what she could do to him at this point since her jaw was there, but she was doing a decent job of getting a disgusting viscous fluid on his shirt and neck. By the look on her face though, she didn’t even feel it. The other woman went down in one shot, why was this one so much more durable? Evan got one more bright idea. If this didn’t work, nothing would. He jammed the barrel of the gun into her newly modeled cranial cavity, a.k.a her now extremely huge mouth, and pulled the trigger again. Brains and other matter popped through the other side of her head, onto the floor, walls and ceiling behind them including Josh. His body was already desecrated almost to the point of being unrecognizable, a little more blood wouldn’t hurt. Besides, even more fluids got on Evan again and he didn’t ask for this. So there, Josh.
Evan was in shock. He must’ve been because anybody not in shock would’ve pushed the dead body off of them by now. Evan stayed in the same spot for a moment, smoke from the gun barrel rising from the hole in the back of Karen’s head. Her body was limp. He finally did it. He had killed a woman. Two, actually. Hooray. He lifted her up a little higher and tossed her off of him at last. He laid in the same spot still. His head rested on the floor for a moment. What just happened? What the hell just happened? Evan stood up to assess the damage. Two women and Josh dead, check. Blood, brain matter and God knows what else all over my chest and face, check. Bathroom break, about to check that off.
Washing the crap off of his face was a little more difficult than expected. Evan needed to be extra careful not to get anything in his eyes and mouth. The worst part about washing it off though, was realizing how much was in his hair. He pulled out a hard, white fragment. What IS this? Part of a jaw? It’s small enough to be part of a tooth. Maybe jawbone? Whatever it is, it’s in the toilet now. Right after dropping it in there, Evan felt bad for a moment; dropping part of a woman’s face in the toilet. But she tried to kill him so it’s justified, right? Any guilt he felt was diminished when he pulled out what looked like a small strand of spaghetti impacted to the hair on top of his head. He could’ve thrown up. He started smelling stenches that weren’t there before but all of a sudden became extremely noticeable. Whatever, this place is disgusting. If he was imagining smells or just started noticing them, he had to get out of here. He zipped up his jacket. A few blood drops and smears but nothing too bad. He could still wear it. Wait, does blood wash out? Do you have to use a certain detergent? He hadn’t dealt with blood stains in a while. Either way, he looked casual with the jacket zipped up. He would take it off and then his blood stained shirt before Renee saw. No problem. Time to go.
Evan slid himself out the backdoor and around the pool as fast as humanly possible without crashing through and looking somewhat normal. He quickly walked through the backyard but started to look more and more like a guilty child as he thought about what could be lurking right around him. Screw this, I’m not walking. Evan broke into a full sprint and jumped over the pointlessly short fence separating his and Josh’s yard.
Renee was still looking out the window. It had felt like forever and she had already had two cups of coffee. She was jittery. Partly because of the situation but mostly from the coffee. She watched in confusion as Evan walked from the back door quickly and speed walk for a few feet before jumping into a full sprint and jumping over the fence. She knew he was physically capable but she didn’t think he’d be able to jump like that. He looked like a guilty child. As she saw him near the door, she ran over to unlock it. Evan still beat her to it and knocked silently and impatiently repeatedly until she answered. Renee unlocked the door and Evan slid a little more of himself inside with every inch of the door that was open. With the already tense situation, the coffee, and then seeing her husband run across the yard like a seven year old running from the neighborhood dog, she was ready to freak out.
“Why are you running? What happened?? Did Josh’s phone work??”
Evan was trying to catch his breath while simultaneously thinking of an answer that would scare her the least. This was going to be tough. “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know…”
“What? What’s wrong with you?”
Evan didn’t answer and locked the door back as though someone was right behind him trying to get in. That might’ve been the worst answer to give. What he said next furthered his repertoire of bad answers at bad times. “Help me lock all the doors.”
“They are locked. What happened over there?”
“All of them?”
“Yes!” Renee was losing patience. Coffee and an evasive-answering husband will do that.
“Well, double check. Help me turn off all the lights. We’re using as little lighting as possible. Candles or something, do we have candles?
Renee got stern. Time to break out the irritated mother routine. If he was going to act like a kid, she’d treat him like one. “EVAN- TELL ME WHAT’S WRONG.”
Evan was in state of complete disorganization. “Renee, would you please just…I don’t…”
He’d have to keep this a secret. He couldn’t actually tell her what had just happened. It wouldn’t do her any good to let her know that life just went from cautious to horrible. Killing two women and finding their neighbor eaten was bad enough, but the state of the women who did it was the strangest part. Alive and dead. Dead or dying. Dead and dying, at the same time. Of course he’d keep this a secret from her. He didn’t even see it as an option. And even if he were to tell her, he’d have to break it to her easily. As easily as possible.
“JOSH IS DEAD! Okay?? He’s DEAD, and I just KILLED two women!
Renee quickly shook her head. He knew she heard him, but would have trouble processing it. She asked, “You what?”
I just killed two women but… it’s like… they weren’t people. They weren’t normal, they were like animals.
“Evan, WHAT are you talking about? Just calm down and think about what you want to say, you’re not making any sense-“
“YES I AM! JUST-“
He paused. He didn’t mean to yell so much, especially at her, but his adrenaline was still overrunning his brain. That’s a good excuse, right? Yeah, that’s excusable. Renee’s eyes were big and she appeared altogether confused. Scared is a better word. Evan saw this and tried to make more sense. He owed it to her. But who owed it to him to make more sense?
“Look, I’m sorry okay? I don’t know what just happened to me. I don’t know how to explain this.”
“Alright, well, start at the beginning. What happened when you walked in?”
Evan started thinking more clearly. Renee was a nurse, she was good at calming people down in general. Specifically when she didn’t know what was going on, like with her patients. She didn’t have to know what was going on to ease the situation. It was better that way, so she wouldn’t freak herself out.
“Alright, right. Okay. Yeah, the door was open. So I walked in and I went to the kitchen because I heard a noise. And when I got there, he was….he was lying there. Josh was just lying there and that woman, that woman Josh was with earlier, the one who was sick, you know? Remember when I said she looked sick?”
“Well, she was…” Evan started making hand gestures toward his mouth as if he were piling food in his mouth. He needed to really “put her in the moment.”
“…over him. And she was…”
He didn’t want to finish. “…EATING him. I mean, actually eating him.”
Renee stared for a moment before letting out a heavy sigh.
“Evan, that’s not funny.”
She started walking back to the kitchen. He imagined several different reactions but for some reason, it never entered his mind that she wouldn’t take it seriously. Why would she not take this seriously?
Renee turned back around. She wasn’t done.
“You shouldn’t joke like that, you scared me! You know that report on the news scared me earlier, that is not funny! I was actually thinking we could mess around tonight.
“I am not joking, I….WHAT??” Evan collected himself. Think straight, think, think straight. But it could be so hard sometimes. That’s what she said. NO! Breathe. Think. Explain. “Will you listen to me, please??”
Renee stopped pouring another cup of coffee and crossed her arms. Her face said “whatever” and her attitude suggested she was going to hear him out but not necessarily listen.
Evan exhaled. “Thank you! Now, listen…that woman, the sick one- she was over him and her eyes were this strange color. She looked dead okay? Like the people on the news. There was blood everywhere.”
Renee rolled her eyes again but Evan didn’t see it. He was too busy putting himself back in the moment. The moment that happened five minutes ago yet already felt like it was a long time ago. “…but when she saw me, she started coming toward me, like the people on the news, you know? She kept coming toward me and I told her to stop, but she wouldn’t listen and then another woman came out-“
“Another woman? That figures.”
“Listen, she came out and they wouldn’t listen to me, so I shot them.”
“Look, I’m sorry, okay? I know what I said to you but-“
“Where is it then? Did you leave it there?
Evan gauged Renee’s attitude to see what she was getting out. Shooting Josh’s “ladies of the night” didn’t seem to be a big a deal as whether or not he actually had a gun. He quickly pulled out his now used Jericho and showed her. She gasped. She seemed a little impressed but now wasn’t the time to say “Pretty cool, huh?”
“You took it with you?”
Evan was taken aback. She evidently thought he didn’t own the gun, but used one Josh had. This works. “Well, I thought we might need it and he wasn’t going to use because you know- he’s dead, so I…”
Renee wasn’t listening anymore. She was staring down Evan’s neck and shirt, then jacket. There was blood. Not much, but she could see it. “What is this?” Renee pointed at the little droplets scattered on Evan’s jacket. He paused and took a breath. He could only say it so many times.
“It’s that woman’s blood. I told you. There were two women in Josh’s house. They attacked me. I shot them. THEY’RE dead. THIS is their blood.
Renee unzipped his jacket to see what looked like a water balloon full of blood had popped over his shirt. It didn’t seem that much to him until he saw her reaction. She touched it and felt the wetness on her fingers. “Ew, ew, EW! Take it off! Take it off now!”
Evan took off his shirt and started to change into a new one, tossing his blood stained shirt on the floor. Renee gasped. “What’re you doing??”
Evan looked up, confused. He shook his head. “What?”
“Um, HELLO, your shirt. It’s got blood on it and you put it on the carpet?? That goes in the trash.”
Evan rolled his eyes. “Renee- I do not even care about-“
A knock on the back door. Evan stopped mid-sentence. Renee stared at Evan, wide-eyed. He didn’t want to seem as startled as she was but stopping in mid-sentence had already given him away, more or less.
“Did you hear that?” He asked.
“Of course I heard that, it’s still happening!” Renee answered in a loud whisper. The couple stared at each other for a moment until they realized the sound wasn’t stopping. They slowly crept around the corner, Evan first, Renee gripping his recently dried undershirt. The knocking continued. Then, a voice. “Evan? Hey, Evan? Renee? Anybody?” Evan squinted his eyes and even in the dark, recognized their neighbor Ben and someone else but he couldn’t make them out. Renee couldn’t see as well. Her contacts were bothering her. “Who is it?”
“It’s Ben. From next door. And someone else. Should we let them in?”
It’s Ben, we know him, why wouldn’t we?” Evan paused for a second. He thought of several reasons to not let Ben in. For one, the guy was a jerk. Secondly, and more importantly, there was a terrorist attack of some kind making certain people attack each other and for all they know, Ben had it. Then again, he was ex-military. He might have a better idea of what was going on. If he knew anything, that’d be a better than what we know now. Evan went toward the door, cracking it open. Ben limped in as soon as he could, a much shorter blonde woman followed a second after. It was Lisa from three houses down. The whole neighborhood was coming over. The ones that weren’t dead anyway. Ben was in his late thirties. He had been retired from the Army but still kept his hair cut close like back in the day. He always kept a five o’clock shadow though and it was always about the same length on the hair on the top of his head. He was wearing his trademark grey “ARMY” shirt. Evan always felt like his own 5’11 stature was tall enough until he stood next to Ben. Anybody that was over 6’1 made him feel short and Ben was 6’3. His physique also did more than suggest he spent a lot of his time working on his body. Guy was ripped. He was limping though. Evan didn’t think to ask why. He didn’t really care to talk to Ben if he didn’t have to. The man only really spent time with his car. Definitely not a people person.
Lisa on the other hand, was something of a trophy wife without actually being a wife anymore. Not the kind you see with the massive fake lips and fake everything else, but the kind who seemed like she would’ve married her high school sweetheart who would’ve happened to go on to become a football sensation. Actually, that’s something similar to what did happen. But once they were married and produced a funny blonde kid named Mason, the star athlete husband was found with two other women. So Lisa took her kid and moved down here. Renee knew more about her than Evan or Ben but everybody knew the “basics.” She was wearing an oversized jacket that made it look like she wasn’t wearing pants. She was in her early thirties, only a couple years older than Evan and Renee but she seemed a lot younger. Especially with the way she dressed. Not tacky, but definitely younger than what a lot women her age were wearing. A lot like a single mom would dress. Evan didn’t know how to greet his neighbors in such a situation as this.
“Uh, hey guys. What’s up?”
Ben was the first to answer. He was always the “take charge” type. Some would mistake it for being a control freak. “Thank God, we didn’t see anyone else. We thought it was just us left. We saw you come in just now from my backdoor. “
Lisa spoke up. “Thank you, we don’t know what we woulda done if you weren’t home.”
Renee was confused, taking the words out of Evan’s mouth. “What do you mean? What’s wrong with you guys’ houses? Where’s Mason, Lisa?”
“He… I don’t know, I…” Lisa covered her mouth. Ah, crap, she was going to cry. Of course it was understandable. When Evan realized this he suddenly became quietly surprised Renee hadn’t cried yet. Then again, Renee would’ve cried if she could to make herself feel better, but she didn’t know enough about the situation to perform such an action. Maybe when she hears what’s happened to Mason, she’ll join in. Insensitive? Maybe.
Lisa continued. “He went on his field trip today and, and, I haven’t heard from anybody since. I’ve tried everything but I can’t get a hold of anybody so I don’t know what to do, I don’t who I’m supposed to talk to, I don’t know where he is…”
Ben leaned into Evan and quietly whispered “Who’s Mason?”
Renee spoke about as unsure as anyone could and said “Oh, Lisa, I’m sure he’s okay. Come in here, let’s talk or a second.”
Renee and Lisa walked into the living room, Renee’s hand on Lisa’s back. Evan stood next to Big Bad Buff Ben. On one hand, he was thankful Renee took Lisa somewhere else, Evan wouldn’t of know how to console her…but on the other hand, Evan didn’t really like Ben and now he was alone with him. Thank you, Renee! Leave me in the same room as the guy who you couldn’t PAY to have a conversation with! Evan hated being left alone in the same room with people who could make any conversation awkward but he needed to get what he could out of Ben, if anything.
“Hey man, do you have a phone on you or anything?”
Ben answered coldly and quickly. Exactly what Evan expected to hear and even in the same tone of voice he imagined. “Phones are no good. Not the house, not the cells. Have you run into any of these things they’ve been showing in the news?”
“The sick people. The infected people, come on, man.”
Evan was a little annoyed by this. There are a thousand freaking things on the news, God knows what’s been shown in the past ten minutes even if he wasn’t getting it at his house.
“Yeah, two of them. At Josh’s house.”
“The guy who lives behind us.”
Ben actually took a couple steps back. “Did they bite you?”
Evan shook his head. “One of them was trying. Why?”
“Where are those two now? The two you saw?”
“They’re dead now. They’re still in the house.”
Ben was like a machine. “Have you been watching the news?”
Evan’s eyebrows heightened. “Is it on?”
“Off and on. They’ve said to destroy the brain. That’s the only way to kill them. Otherwise, they won’t stop.”
There was a spark of recognition in Evan’s eyes. He knew this was true.
“That’s what happened! I shot one of them and she just kept coming at me! When I got her in the head, that’s when she actually died.”
Renee came in Lisa not far behind. Renee made obvious she had heard from the look on her face. She always had a seemingly supernatural ability to hear things when she wasn’t anywhere close to listening range. Her ears weren’t that big either. Funny how that works. Evan would’ve rather known a lot more on the situation before Renee were to involve herself any further. It was the leader in him. Or, in his own way, the control freak in him. Although he would never want to be compared to Ben in any way. Either way, Renee heard and was involved now.
“Wait- the news is encouraging people to shoot each other?
Ben had all the answers, apparently. “Not people. And the cannibals have started popping up everywhere.”
The word “cannibal” threw Evan off completely. Whenever he heard that word, he imagined Bugs Bunny in a boiling pot with black guy in a Tiki mask. “That’s what they are? Cannibals? No, there’s got to be more to it than that. I saw them. They’re not really even people.
Ben straightened up. For all the rest of them knew, Ben didn’t know anything. But the other three were willing to listen to anything if it meant understanding the situation better. “You’re damn right they’re not. They’re the sick people from the cruise ship and they’re getting everyone else sick too.”
Evan squinted his eyes. What kind of illness would make somebody try to eat another? “The Episcopalian or whatever? They let all those people out of quarantine?”
Ben seemed ready with all his answers as if they’d be rehearsed. “Nobody let anything happen. It’s all out of control.”
“What’s out of control?” Renee asked.
Ben hesitated. “Everything.”