“The Dead Rule the Day”
Copyright 2010 Rebecca Carter
Original Cover Image: Billy Frank Alexander http://www.rgbstock.com/downloads/ba1969
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Thinking back on the last five hours, I should
have known something was wrong long before the first attack on the
complex hit. I was pissed when my channels went out on the TV. I
finally decided I was getting rid of that cheap satellite company
while logging into my computer. Great, my Internet was down; that was
all I needed today. At least I could curl up with my Kindle and enjoy
the silence. After about fifteen minutes my lights had went off and
the neighbors came over to use my fireplace for warmth.
There were ten of us then. Now there are three; Chris, Beau and Myself. Normally I would make a joke about three being a crowd, but I can't say I have ever wanted company more. This warehouse smells like rotten eggs and I think it’s the only thing that smells worse than the rotting flesh roaming the city. We are huddled together in the attic. The monsters outside can't move fast or well enough to reach the pull chain in the office ceiling, they have tried...it would lead them to what is likely the last meal in the city.
The sound of them shuffling is floating up from beneath us, hundreds trying to fit in the tiny room. The dead walking is a lot more terrifying that I would have thought, you can’t just 'walk past them'. They are uncoordinated and slow, some of them nothing more than flesh dangling on bones, but the newer dead are a little faster. Those who were taken in the attacks can almost go as fast as I can walk, though if we run we can beat them. The problem is that we get tired and they don't.
There are just so many of them. Surrounded by two hundred years of our dead coming back to life, I find myself being thankful I have almost become accustomed to the smell of death. Chris is still trying to use his cell phone to make contact and Beau is frantically trying to find a station on the radio. It has been only two hours since we ate, but the amounts we rationed are so small I can hear the others stomachs growling. Even at these small portions we only have enough food to last for two days, but we have a week’s worth of water if we each get a bottle.
I am not sure if I should but the thought hits me that if I offered them a piece of chocolate it would make us all feel better. The chocolate bar had been on the counter when I was grabbing food and I knew it would come in handy at some point. Breaking the candy bar into three pieces, I passed it around the room. Sugar would keep us going for another hour or so.
Beau has given up on the radio and started scribbling in his own notepad; Chris is still playing with his cell phone. Playing, I mused, it seems like a weird word to use right now. Before I could start to get more depressed over our situation Beau shot up from his seat and yelled "Listen!". As hard as I strained I couldn't hear anything. Then I realized what he meant, I couldn't hear anything. The scuffles and groans had gone from underneath us. I dropped the ladder and descended down the stairs with a flashlight. Attached to the office was a small break room and I was hoping there were some vending machines and snacks. To my relief there was a fridge that was miraculously still closed, holding the cold air in. Disappointment hit me once I opened it. There seemed to be only a bag of grapes and a half pint of milk, I grabbed them anyway.
The cupboards were bare except a couple disposable cups, which I hoped we could find a use for. The food vending machine was easy enough to get into, the glass front made it breakable. I shoveled packs of snacks into a garbage bag I had found. The soda machine was not as easy, but I wanted into it badly enough that I became rabid. The drinks would give us high calories and sugar, things we normally would want to avoid needed now. Passing the bag up to the men in the attic I decided to walk down into the warehouse.
In the open it truly looked abandoned. There was a well placed crowbar at the bottom of the stairs and I felt lucky for a second. When I turned around that feeling left me, there was one of those creatures at the end of the building. It was standing still, watching me. I had watched a lot of zombie movies, but nothing really prepares you to have death literally in your face. I ran up the stairs and prayed that it wasn't able to catch up, that they hadn't somehow developed speed beyond what I could accomplish. I reached the office and locked the door, screaming "BEAU! CHRIS! GET DOWN HERE!" while trying to drag the heavy office furniture in front of the door.
They helped me barricade the door and we stacked things in front of the window. I wasn't taking any chances even if the creatures were not very strong. My lucky feeling came back when a generator kicked in. I used the crowbar to bust off the front of the soda machine. While I stacked drinks in the now running fridge, Beau grabbed coins from the machine. He must be able to see the confused look on my face because he shrugged and mumbled "It’s easier than breaking the fronts off of the next one."
'The next one', the words made me sigh internally. We can’t stay here forever, its winter so the attic isn't unbearable but we are close to spring and once the temperatures rise we can't be here. I place the milk back in the fridge after giving us each a cup. There was enough for one more round.
With provisions a little loosened, we relaxed and split a pack of sunflower seeds. There was a small TV in here with a VHS player (who still uses VHS?). The only tapes there were training tapes but it could have been worse, we could have sat in silence. "I think we should stay down here until we are ready to go to sleep." It was the first thing Chris had said in hours. "I don't know if that's safe", the words left my mouth before I could consider the benefits of being anywhere but the attic.
We had already been down here for three hours, watching old training videos on VHS and finishing off the grapes like they were the last fresh thing we would ever eat. Thinking harder on it I realized that they really may turn out to be the last fresh thing I ever get to taste. The thought made the grapes bitter on my tongue. We fell to awkward silence again until a loud bang on the office door jolted us. I almost ran for the stairs but a voice called out from behind the glass "Is anyone in there?!? We have food and water, but we need shelter!"
Pausing for only a moment before moving the furniture just enough to let the two people outside in, I wondered why I was doing it. They wheeled in two suitcases and confusion set in until they opened it to reveal food. Three gallons of water filled one of the suitcases, the one provision we were short on. The other was much larger and was filled with crackers, peanut butter, bread, nuts, dried fruit and candy. We dragged the suitcases upstairs after the door was barricaded again. "What kind of sleep watch are you guys on?" the boy asked. I paused for a minute, wondering why we hadn’t thought of that. "We aren't, the attic is safe. The dead can't get up there. Do you have any news from out there?" The boy just shook his head and dropped into the office chair.
The morning came and the shuffling was back below us, they had broken our barricade. If they knew we were here, why had they left in the first place?
Relieved we had bought everything except the milk and a few sodas up from downstairs I started looking for something to eat. The boy and girl were already moving around and trying to wake Chris and Beau with promises of food. Silently chewing my handful of cashews and dried bananas I couldn’t help but let questions run through my head. I didn't know these people, why did we trust them? Why do they trust us? We could just take their food and leave them in the night. I wouldn't do that, but I am sure there are those out there who would.
My old fashioned watch had come in handy, with no other way to tell time. It was almost four in the afternoon; the whole day had been wasted sleeping. I chuckled to myself, what else was I supposed to do? There was nowhere to go and the only thing to keep my mind off the rotten people downstairs was down there with them.
Two hours had passed and the boy and girl admitted that things were bad outside, that they only made it here because the zombies had left where they were camped out right before sun down. The noises below us slowly died out and I suddenly realized that the only times they walked among us was in the day! As soon as the sun went down they disappeared, it’s how the boy and girl escaped, and I remembered the creature didn't attack me last night. They seemed to disappear but where did they go? We tepidly walked down to the broken a torn room below, the fridge was somehow still intact. I grabbed a cold soda and the others followed me.
"I'm going grocery shopping!" Even though the words came out choked, my voice showed a bit of hope. The others looked at me like I was insane, but we had already discussed the seeming trend for the dead to disappear at night. We were only half a mile away from a megastore, no reason to live on snacks when we could stock up. While I gathered a list of what we had and what the others wanted, Beau checked the generator.
He thinks it may have 10 full days of gas left in it. If we turned it off before the sun came up and slept during the day, only to turn it back on at night we could make it last almost 3 weeks. By then we should have scouted out a better place to stay or found more gas.
The streets outside were barren except ripped chunks of flesh and abandoned vehicles. It took me about fifteen minutes to find one that had keys and gas. The megastore was still in pristine shape. It looked like no one had dared enter it, could we really be the last survivors? Once I pried the doors open, I quickly ran to grab a cart. The first thing I picked up was underwear in all our sizes and a couple bras for us girls. Our clothes were so dirty and worn from two days of hell, you would have thought we had been shipwrecked for months.
My mind screamed at me to take all of the clothes but I settled for three changes a person. I grabbed deodorant, shampoo and body wash. We didn't have a place to shower now but we would find one tomorrow night when the zombies left us again. I wheeled out the first basket and shoved them in the trunk. My teeth were still on edge, even though there were no signs of the creature around me. Before the food I ran to the sports section and took the three rifles they had on display and ammo to fit. I grabbed every hunting knife in sight and anything else that could be used for a weapon. From the electronics and grabbed a DVD player and a handful of (non horror) movies and some music to play. If we had the night to ourselves, we may as well live like it. Board games, I thought, we need board games.
The store had been thoroughly raided. Thanks to the generator we could power the microwave, and hot food sounded amazing. I could barely restrain myself from filling the entire cart with microwave foods. I gathered easily transportable foods like granola bars, in case I couldn’t return to the store before we moved on. Worried our next stop may not have a generator I took one of the gas display models, but couldn't fit two in the car I had taken. I felt thoroughly pleased with myself as I headed home with our first nights bounty, until the guilt hit. I had just stolen a car and robbed a store. Does it count when you have to? When your life depends on it? The growl in my stomach pushed away any worries my conscience had brought up and I pulled the vehicle into the warehouse so no one else could take it. That night we ate hot dogs and mashed potatoes- an odd combination, but it was slightly comforting. For the next few days we stayed up with the moon and went down with the sun.
The 10th day there things changed. The shuffling didn't come in the daytime, at first I thought the dead had all returned to their graves but a quick look into the outside world showed they were still lumbering about. They seemed even slower than the last time I had seen them, I felt assured we would make it through this. When night fell we explored the nearby neighborhood and found a home with its doors and windows in one piece. It looked to have an attic from the outside so we wondered into the place looking for the access. Before we could pull the release hatch a terrified voice came from upstairs and threatened to shoot if we did so.
Their voices sounded hungry and strained, did they not know they were safe? "Please don't! Are you hungry? We have food and water!" I tried to not recoil as I realized it was the same line the boy and girl had used to get into our safe house. Another voice shouted "GO AWAY" and I did what they asked but only after telling them that the monsters were gone at night. The words probably fell on deaf ears, but at least I said it to them. Before we left Chris left a jar of peanut butter and some crackers on the table. He called up to them that we had left food and a note where to find us, but only to come out in the night...that the dead ruled the day. We left knowing we would never see them again.
The next afternoon, even less rotting corpses roamed the street. The ones left seemed to be fresh dead, there were no more skeletons dragging themselves through the streets. They may have starved because they couldn't attack the way the younger ones could. I realized the hard way that there must have been, until that point, many survivors. A pack of freshly dead (probably from starvation and not attack, from the way they looked) came at me faster than I could hide.
Their teeth and nails dug into my skin. Some of their nails broke off, one of their teeth did. This is why I am now curled up in a corner in the attic, pulling pieces of people out of my skin. Someone else has gone to get food and medical supplies. We don't think it's contagious; you just come back after you die. I am not going to die. The others are all watching me, I have no doubt that if I lose enough blood to pass out they will drag me downstairs and leave me to rot. I don't blame them, not even my friends. The strangers would expect the same of us, I believe.
Beau just walked in with the medical supplies and is being nice enough to help me bandage my wounds; he also brought me large sewing needles and string. It won’t be perfect but I can sew the one gash up. I hate needles and cringe every time I have to push the dulled point through the already bruised and battered flesh. Beau holds the two sides of my arm together so that I can move a little faster. He was the one who pulled me away from the fresh corpses that attacked me, had it not been for him I would already be gone.
We will have to be more careful in the future, all we have to do is let the dead have the day and we can own the night. I wondered why we had not met others at night, had no one else figured it out? It couldn't be that difficult of a concept, it was so obvious. It may be the sheer insanity of the dead thriving in the sun and running from the moon that has kept others away from the theory. I am OK with the moon, she seems like my protector right now and I know some part of me will miss her when I can't see her again. The girl and boy that had come to stay with us disappeared the next night. I guess I would rather them leave then throw me out. I assume that's why they left, they had been with us for so long. Is it wrong that I did not want to learn their names? Even though we didn't want to get attached if anything happened, an attachment somehow formed anyway and I missed their presence here. At least they knew how to survive. Beau and Chris are determined to help me get to a shower so I can clean my wounds, so we are headed out on another mission to find a house. Finally we came across a three story home with an attic. The bottom rooms were trashed but the top two were untouched. Must have been people looking for food.
The attic was finished with power outlets! We brought a mini-fridge upstairs so we could have some cold drinks and connected a fan up on each side of the attic. The attic entrance was large enough to pull a mattress through and we put it on the side near the small window. We brought up a small dresser and started slowly building this home to be ours.
I went to sleep on the mattress and awoke the next morning. Chris and Beau are gone and I am starting to panic. They have filled the dresser with my clothes and the fridge with food and drink. Nothing of theirs is here. There is enough food to last a day or so and I have no idea how much gas they put in the generator we brought. I am feeling weaker. Even if I can't blame them, I don't think it's fair they left me here to die alone. I don't have the strength to get back to the warehouse. I am writing our experiences here so that others can find them if they come after us, though I don't think they will.
My name is Laura and I am twenty three. I love my family and would normally never take this way out, but you know what they say about desperate times. The boys left me a bottle of pills, who knows where they got them. I am going to take them and go to sleep, so don’t hate those that abandoned me. If you find my family…let them know I loved them, but please don’t tell them how it ended.