How long had it been, she wondered, since the world got shot straight to hell? She was scouring one of the many empty homes, looking for anything of use. Canned food, bottled water, shoes, clothes, medicine, cooking supplies, batteries. They had all swiftly become precious commodities and they were swiftly running out.
Using the blood-stained Louisville Slugger, she pulled out the contents of the last cabinet in the kitchen. Spice filled mason jars came crashing down to the grey-tiled floor. The glass shattered, spraying small shards across the tiles. She crouched down, and began sifting through the debris. The smell of the spices filled her nostrils, a welcomed change from the usual stench of rotting flesh.
She looked through the glass pieces for anything that had been hidden away in the jars; not that she was seriously expecting to find anything. Whoever had been here before her cleaned everything out of this entire block, and she was getting desperate. She eyed the spice pile. “Damn it,” she muttered and stood back up. She wiped the back of her hand across her forehead to catch the sweat before it rolled into her dark eyes. It was mid October in North Carolina and even though they resided in the beach town of Nags Head, there was no comforting breeze to be found. Wracking her brain, she found it difficult to even recall the last time they had a decent rain and the last time the temperature was under 97 degrees was three weeks ago. The heat was unseasonably warm and approaching unbearable, and that fact made her even more aware of the lack of supplies.
The dark grey military backpack she wore was perilously light. Inside it were only two bottles of well water, one packet of water purification tables, a can of corn, two boxes of cigarettes which she would never smoke, a bag of dried hiking food, two small boxes of ammo for her .45 and half a bottle of sunscreen. It just wasn’t enough. She strode over to the open cabinet and peered inside, hoping for a miracle. From the back corner, a shimmering piece of silver plastic greeted her. With great anticipation, she reached inside and pulled the plastic into the light.
Chocolate. Dear sweet Jesus Christ, it was actual, real, Swiss chocolate. Someone must have hidden it away to eat later, but never quite got the chance to consume it. Pity… Without hesitation, she swung the backpack off, unzipped the flap and tossed the sweet, delicious treat inside. She zipped it closed before she was too tempted to eat it even if it was melted beyond comprehension. By memory alone, the delightfully sinful flavours of chocolate still lingered on her tongue. Nothing more than a useless memory. One of many, she scoffed and pulled the pack back into place.
The chocolate was the first usable item they found today. Maybe today would get better, she thought. With one final glance around the kitchen, she walked out of the room. Her black, steel-toed boots crunched across the broken glass as she walked.
Right outside of the kitchen door, she saw the stairs. The gorgeous dark railing looking perfect against the light yellow paint of the walls. She was sure that it used to be beautiful before everyone got sick. It was quite clear that this wasn’t just another rented-out vacation house like many of the island homes. Very few of the islanders had their homes decorated this nicely and even fewer had kitchens as large.
She saw a thick streak of blood start about three quarters of the way up the stairs and it wove the entire way to the top of the staircase before dropping off suddenly. There were bloody, child-sized hand prints that peppered the walls. Smears of dark crimson, running down the butter-cream walls and pooling down onto the white carpet. He murdered his little girls with a hatchet, his wife with a shotgun, and himself the same way. Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Chapter 1, page 60.
It was eerie. She needed to get out of here.
“Mac, you find anything?” she called up the stairs. There was no response. “Mac, let’s get out of here.”
“You’re never going to believe what I just found, Kris,” finally came her reply. Kris heard jogging down the upstairs hallway. Mac poked her head around the corner with a broad smile on her face. There were two blue, translucent bottles in her hands. “It’s shampoo. Fucking shampoo!”
“You’re kidding.” Kris hadn’t seen shampoo in a bottle in three weeks.
Mac held her hands up triumphantly, “Believe it.” She laughed as she bounded down the stairs, her dirty blond hair swaying with each step. Half way down the stairs, she tossed one of the bottles. Kris caught it with ease, flipped open the cap and inhaled deeply. The sweet scent of the Caribbean washed over her. Pineapples, mangoes, coconuts and Bahama Mamma’s. Pure paradise. A vague memory of a commercial crept over her. White, sandy beaches played against pure blue waters. There were smiling faces and beautiful, tanned bodies were everywhere as a couple sat in cream coloured beach chairs, looking at the ocean. Was it a beer commercial? Kris would give her right tit for a—a blood curdling scream tore her from the memory. The two women looked at each other.
“The hell was that?” Mac murmured, her green eyes widening.
“Not sure. But that sounded…human.” Kris reached back to pull the pack off of her and laid their newest treasures inside. In one smooth motion, she zipped the bag shut and threw it back over her shoulder.
Kris kept her Kimber 1911 .45 caliber tucked into the waistband of her stolen army-surplus camo pants. It was a gentle reminder that she could take care of things, and even though everything had changed, she could still rely on herself. She also kept a machete strapped to her left thigh for when the Louisville Slugger didn’t pack enough punch. Two extra magazines for the .45 rested in one of her cargo pockets. Always be prepared. If you weren’t prepared, you were dead – or worse. But to be honest, you were better off dead these days.
It had only been three months, she suddenly remembered, since everything changed. Christ, it felt like a lifetime. When every moment was the same, it became difficult to consciously keep track of days, weeks and now months. The only thing she could remember, regardless of what else happened, was how long it was since she got bitten. That’s the sort of thing that was hard to forget.
Since the disease broke out, she had expected to wake up as one of them. As far as she knew, once you were bitten, you joined their ranks. So why the hell was she still quite alive and quite human? It didn’t make sense. They had encountered some of the inflected that were…different than the others. They were the ones that didn’t shamble around and made you think twice before you relieved them of their heads. The terrifying part about it was that Kris had virtually become one of them without the added inconvenience of losing her mind.
She recalled the bite came swiftly and painfully, tearing out the fleshy part of her right shoulder. Kris screamed in pain as the teeth sank in, ripping through skin and muscle. The outer edge of her vision blurred red as she struggled to remain conscious. Blood gushed out of the gaping wound, running hot down her now-exposed skin. This is it, she recalled thinking. This is how it all ends. Getting eaten alive by some fucking moron that couldn’t take the hint. The long list of people she had wronged and the things she most regretted sprawled through her mind, followed by a very cynical Kristina Thompson – server of food, shitty bartender and failure at life, before her world slowly went black.