Staying Alive

012/365

The frigid frost doesn’t bother Alexander. Gun shots from down the street echo off the tall buildings. The moans of infected ghouls are drowned out by the loud bangs. Fully automatic micro-explosions. Lead whizzes by his ears, like hearing a bee for a split second.

It’s getting closer. Alex knows more or less what’s heading his way. People avoiding the infection. Doing their best to not get bitten by rumbler ghouls or torn to pieces by screamers. But ghouls have endless stamina. They’re inhumanly strong. In their mind there is no fear. No remorse. No worry. They’ve got no conscious thought what so ever. This is what has him petrified. These monstrous freaks eat any and all non-infected meat. He’s seen what they do. How they tear the flesh and meat from those unfortunate enough to get caught. Women, children, the elderly. If it is not infected it is lunch.

In the midst of the frozen shock his eyes survey the area. It reveals a large green dumpster in an alley across the street. Alex leaves a cartoon cloud of lifted dust as he jets over, opens it and hops in. The landing is on old rotting food from three days back, before the outbreak. It smells putrid. Worms squirm rampant in the dumpster. Focus keeps Alex’s mind off of the stench.

He flips the dumpster’s plastic hinged black lid shut. Then the lid is pushed up with the top of his head. He peeks outside through the small crack.

Each gunshot is closer than the last. It starts to sound like they’re directly ahead, but he doesn’t see anything, yet.

“Going live!” a shout from out of sight says. A large earth shaking explosion rattled the dumpster. Glass rains down on its lid, on the street, in the alley.

Finally in view, a small military unit and several civilians back up past the alley. Alex debates coming out and joining them, but before he could decide to do so they’re out of sight on the other side of the alley. Following them is a horde of ghouls. Some rumbler, Others, the more dangerous screamer. Hundreds deep. He figures keeping his silence is the safest bet. In all probability they’re going to die in a few short moments.

In the last two days Alexander watched ghouls attract more of their kind. They travel in packs. The assumption is that the same situation is taking place now. He devises a plan to creep away in the opposite direction of the horde. If done with good timing it might be clear enough to move unnoticed. To escape the area undetected. He’d be the ghost of the apocalypse.

It’s risky to interact with uninfected individuals. Normal people have become hostile. They’re fearful. A danger to themselves and those around them. In its attempt to remain alive, humanity has devolved into a monster nearly as vicious as the ghouls. In just these two days Alex witnessed chaos unmatched by any event in memory. Looting and stealing food.

Murders.

Beatings.

Stabbings.

Shootings.

Suicides.

Both the innocent and the guilty. The powerful abuse the weak in the name of their survival.

Alex isn’t like them. He spends his time alone. Survival from this point of view is lonely, but safe.

The moment the street sounds clear he jumps out. Pop goes the weasel and he’s a cheetah full speed the opposite direction. Further away from the madness. The gunshots shrink into firecrackers and become inaudible.

All but the gentle rubbery smacking sound of sneakers landing on asphalt remain. A single screamer drowned out by the gunshots and moans could be heard now. Alex can’t help it. He keeps looking back. Terrified, but incapable of stopping. It’s a man in a blue suit, black tie. Knowing the ghoul's distance gives him a confidence boost. But running isn’t enough. He can’t shake it. And his lungs are about to collapse. He has to stop eventually. If he hasn’t gotten away by the time his body give out, it’s over.

He makes a sharp right between two buildings. Starts to knock down trashcans. Pipes and bricks he passes by, he tosses back. The ghoul slows briefly, but picks his pace right back up.

Near the exit of the alley Alex trips forward. He breaks the fall with his knees, but too much time is wasted. Before he knows it the crazed ghoul is on top of him.

Alex scrambles and kicks maniacally. He grabs the ghoul by the throat to stop him from getting close enough to bite.

He kicks and kicks, but nothing. Nothing stops the mad ghoul.

But Alex tripped on something pretty hard. And he’s right where he fell. Quick thinking, he rubs his hand on the asphalt. His eyes never leave the screamer's. He can’t. He’s too scared to look away.

Before he knows it, lead pipe is in his hand. Enough to stop Alex cold in his tracks. Definitely enough to stop this ghoul.

Alex swings for the head. He hits the ghoul once. It's stunned for some short moments before continuing.

Another swing. This time the ghoul falls to his side. He screams, loud and crazy. He flips over and starts to get up. Seeing no other way out Alex hits the screamer ghoul over the head with the two foot long lead pipe again. And then again.

And again.

Until there are chunks of his brains splattered across like broken raw meatloaf. Even the building walls have his blood on them.

Alex’s face is wet. Cold drops fall from his chin. His heart is pounding like a drunk man who lost his keys to the door. It’s nearly a heart attack.

He knows standing around isn’t a good idea and focuses on recomposing. And he continues on his route out of the city. The plan is to find a cabin or farmhouse in the woods. Far from large groups of people.

Fortify.

Stock.

Protect.

Live.

This encounter is foreshadowing of how large hordes can get. And it shows the fact that others have guns and he does not. With all hopes, he plans to teach himself to farm and survive alone. He plans to find a gun and learn how to use it.