I wrote this for my Creative Writing class and forgot to share it on Halloween. Whoops! Better late than never, I guess. Here’s a free short story for my loyal followers!
The Beginning of the End – A Zombie Apocalypse Story
by Haley Despard (all rights reserved)
“Fifteen minutes to close,” Krista said as she counted twenties in her hand. “Friday night, baby. I’m partyin’ hard.”
Jennifer laughed. Krista had been her best “work friend” since her first day at the bank, and they always went out for drinks together on Friday nights. “Guess we’ll have to get James to be our designated driver, ‘cause I don’t plan on holding back, either. You okay with that, James?”
James, the assistant branch manager, didn’t say a word from his place at his desk inside his glass-encased office. Jennifer had noticed him looking a little pale that day, but there was a stomach flu going around the office, so she didn’t think anything of it. He leaned forward limply, like his abdominal muscles weren’t holding him up very well, and his mouth dropped open slightly. He stared blankly at his computer screen, as if in a trance.
After thirty seconds with no response, Jennifer repeated her question. “You coming tonight, James?” Still no response. His jaw dropped even further, and drool started coming out—no, not drool. This was darker in color, like a sickening charcoal sludge. His skin had lightened beyond the word “pale,” and it was becoming bluish-grey in hue. Jennifer’s heart jumped in alarm. “Hey, Krista, I think James might not be feeling so great. You mind if I—”
“Go on, I got this,” Krista said, flashing her a slightly-irritated smile and turning back to the customer at the desk. There was always that one customer near the end of the day that held up the entire line and made them stay an extra five minutes.
Jennifer entered James’s office, closed the door behind her, and approached James slowly, only noticing when she came up behind his desk that a section of his crisp white sleeve had been torn off. “Oh, my God, what happened to your shirt?”
A guttural groan escaped his mouth, and his head swung in her direction. His eyes seemed to bulge from their sockets, and then Jennifer watched in horror as the skin around his mouth that had been touched by the liquid rapidly decayed and gave way to raw, rotten flesh.
“Must…feed…” James growled at her, and Jennifer took two steps backward in horror, meeting with the cold glass behind her.
“James…James, what’s going on? What’s happening to you?” Jennifer asked pointlessly as he staggered up from the chair and shuffled in her direction. “James, it’s Jennifer. I’m your friend. Why are you looking at me like that?” His blue-grey eyes were intent on her with a hunger that could only be satisfied with one thing.
Jennifer’s head snapped in the direction of the counter, and her breath caught in her throat. That customer who was taking too long had grabbed hold of Krista’s arm as she reached it over the counter, and the monster was poised to bite.
“Krista! Pull away!” Jennifer yelled, but her voice was muffled by the glass cubicle and Krista didn’t hear her in time. Jennifer heard a heart-wrenching shriek from her friend as her head whirled around to find James mere inches from her. He lurched forward for her neck, but Jennifer bolted away from him. She ducked under his arms to grab the briefcase that was sitting by his desk. She swung it up and hit him right in the jaw, screaming when his jaw severed from his face with a sickening rip and thudded against the glass behind him.
Jennifer gave Zombie James one last mighty whack with the briefcase, and then she opened the door of the cubicle and darted out into the lobby of the bank. The straggler zombie made its slow approach, but she dodged him and grabbed her purse from behind the counter. She turned to head for the glass double doors, but then her breath caught in her throat. There was a mob of zombies clustered right in front of the doors, preventing her from escaping.
Jennifer’s gaze darted to and fro as she searched desperately for a way out. Zombie James and Straggler were headed right for her. At that moment, another coworker, Mark, called to her from behind the counter.
“This way, Jen! Hop the counter!”
Jennifer grabbed the counter and hoisted herself over it, landing right in front of Mark. She looked into his handsome face, trying to judge whether or not he’d been bitten. He had already locked Zombie Krista in the safe. Jennifer knew because she could hear her banging on the inside of the door.
“What now?” Jennifer asked, her breath coming in gasps.
“Wait a second,” Mark said. He took the fire extinguisher from the wall and started banging on the teller window, smashing against it until it began to splinter and crack into a spider web-like shape. Finally, the glass shattered and fell to the ground, and Mark reached for Jennifer’s hand. “Come on!”
The two of them climbed out the broken window, and Jennifer winced when a shard of glass caught her leg and made a shallow cut. Mark led Jennifer past the horde of zombies to his car, and they sped away from the bank at breakneck speed.
As they passed through the little town of Walterboro, Jennifer was horrified at the sheer number of zombies who were trudging down the sidewalks and wreaking mass havoc and panic. She unlocked her phone and searched “zombie outbreak,” and nothing came up. The epidemic must have just erupted. Mark and Jennifer exchanged worried looks, and then Mark turned the radio on. They finally got their answer while listening to a newscast.
“Multiple reports confirm that an outbreak of the zombie virus has surfaced in the little town of Walterboro, South Carolina. The town’s close proximity to a military base is said to be the cause of the outbreak. Allegedly, one of the soldiers was infected, and he brought the virus home to his family, where it spread at an alarming rate. There is no known cure, and no way to escape the virus except to…oh, God. Run! Allister, run!”
The transmission clipped off, resulting in the cold buzz of static.
Jennifer began to hyperventilate in her seat with tears burning her eyes. “What are we going to do now?”
Mark’s eyes were just as stricken with fear, but he took Jennifer’s hand and squeezed it. “We’ll stick together and do our best to survive.”
Two Years Later…
Mark and Jennifer gazed out at the empty expanse before them. Their new farmland beckoned them with the promise of a brand new life. He laid his hand over Jennifer’s swollen belly and pressed his fingertips in. Their baby rewarded him with a kick, and Mark smiled. They might not have much, but this baby was a new start for them.
Two years of battling zombies had passed—two years of groans and sludge and the sickening stench of rotting flesh. Mark and Jennifer had stuck through it all and found love in the midst of an apocalypse. Only a small colony of humans remained, but it was just enough to start life over anew. Happiness seemed within reach again, and people were even beginning to smile.
Their neighbor, Mrs. Gibb, approached them on the driveway. Her frizzled white head seemed too bright against the green grass. Jennifer waved happily, thankful for the baskets full of goodies Mrs. Gibb always brought. Mark kissed Jennifer and went inside to sign the deed so they could take it to the town council.
Jennifer tried to talk to the sweet old lady, but she wouldn’t respond with even a word. After only a few seconds, Jennifer noticed something was off. Mrs. Gibb’s eyes were glazed over, and her mouth hung open even more than usual. Her posture was gaunt and hunched, unlike her usual straight-backed self. Her dentures fell out, and Jennifer gasped in horror at the black sludge that laced her false teeth. She started to run, but she wasn’t fast enough. Mrs. Gibb lunged at her, and with one swift bite to the neck, she undid two years of agonizing torment and hard work.
Jennifer wept and fell to the ground as Mrs. Gibb gnawed on her neck, unable to find the will to fight back. As the darkness crept in, she realized James’s sickness back at the bank that day was the beginning of the end all along.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for big DORK news! Cover reveal on Nov. 9th!