A ZOMBIE-APOCALYPSE NOVEL
The citizens of America know life in a post-apocalyptic world isn’t easy and leaves little reason to rejoice. Therefore, when Samantha’s baby sister graduates from college, a trip to Liberty Island seemed like the perfect way to celebrate. Nothing could have been more wrong.
Shore Haven, a newly built, self-contained refuge, was meant to be a source of security for what was left of America’s future. The compound’s founders, Jason and his uncle, Jasper, are shocked when a second, even more destructive event arises, causing them to open the facilities doors to the populace sooner than planned.
Samantha, Jason, and those few who survive soon discover they have more to fear than the dead rising, as the rest of the planet is determined to keep the turned from reaching their shores…no matter the price.
“She’s turned,” a male voice behind me said.
My body wanted to sag in relief at hearing a human voice attached to the movement behind me that I’d been trying to ignore. It didn’t, though. It couldn’t and stay alive. I hadn’t heard any moans aside from those that were coming from the body in front of me, but that didn’t mean the dead wasn’t creeping up on me.
“I fucking know she has,” I said with a snarl.
I put a little more force behind the grip I had on the shopping cart in front of me, as my sister jerked, spasmed, and lunged for the newcomer and me from the other side of it. I’d had her pinned in the corner of the shopping center with the cart for a while, not knowing what my next move was going to be, but knowing that in that position one of the dead could easily sneak up behind me.
If I were honest, though, I’d much rather one of them kill me than my baby sister. The logical part of my brain knew she wasn’t my sister anymore, but that didn’t stop me from seeing her as such.
“Then kill her already,” the man said. His voice wasn’t as harsh as it had been at first. “Or I will.”
“The fuck you will. That’s my sister,” I said in a louder voice than I knew was wise.
The longer I stayed the way I was, the higher the chance I had of bringing more down on us, and shouting wouldn’t help matters.
“Shit,” he muttered. “Fine. Then we’re leaving you here with that thing.”
We? There was a “we.” I didn’t dare turn around to see for sure, but the mere thought that I wasn’t alone in the world was a relief.
“I can’t kill her, you asshole,” I said, surprising myself at the anger in my tone. I took a deep breath and continued. “I don’t have a weapon. I’m out of ammo, and I dropped my sword out there somewhere trying to get her away from the horde. She had a bat, but I don’t know where it is now. If I let her go, she’s going to come after me. I’m also aware of the fact that if I stay here like this one of them will find me and kill me. So, if you’ll be so kind as to hand me a weapon, I’ll put her down.”
I didn’t take my eyes off my baby sister as I spoke. Bile rose in my throat at the sight of her dead eyes and gray skin. My head spun a little at the thought of having to kill her.
Until that moment, I hadn’t encountered anyone I knew. Maddie and I had been on the island alone, playing tourists when the shit had hit the fan. She’d graduated from college in May, and the trip to the island was a graduation present from me to her. Some fucking present. If my parents were still alive whenever I made it back home, they were going to kill me for getting her eaten by a zombie.
“Don’t you dare give her a gun. She could have set a trap for us,” another male voice said from behind me. That person sounded big and young—a college football player or frat boy. The voice confirmed that the first man hadn’t been lying about the “we.”
“Yes, I’m risking my life to trap you, whoever and however many of you there are. You, whom I didn’t even know was coming,” I said. The last came out in a grunt as I shoved harder on the shopping cart to pin Maddie more firmly to the corner. The two men were distracting me, and my grip had slackened. I still didn’t dare to turn to look at them.
“Don’t be an ass, Russ. Why would she be trying to trap us? Here. Do you know how to fire a gun?” the first man asked me.
“Not well, but yeah,” I said, cutting my eyes to the man who had stepped up beside me and was handing me what I would find out later was a Ruger SR9c.
“I’ll hold the cart, and you point and shoot,” he said, placing the hand not holding the gun out to me on the handle of the cart.
I took the gun from him but didn’t trust him to hold the buggy, so I leaned forward, putting all of my weight into it. With two hands, I aimed the best I could with my sisterpushing from the other side to get to me and pulled the trigger. My arm jerked, and the shot went to the right of Maddie’s head. The bullet didn’t faze her. I took a deep breath and tried again. That time I got her in the shoulder.
“Jason, man, kill that thing and let’s go. We’ll be here all night attracting more of them if she keeps going on that way,” Russ said.
“He’s right,” Jason, who was the man who’d handed me the gun, said in my ear, and I jerked at how close he’d gotten to me. “You’ve got one more chance to take her down yourself. If you miss that time, that’s it. I’ll have to do it so that we can move on.”
I nodded, conceding their point. I took another breath, aimed, and fired. That time I hit my sister in the forehead. The second her brain matter splattered the concrete wall behind her I turned and vomited. The cart rolled a few inches away from me and toward the body.
The people behind me didn’t say a word for a long time.
Russ finally said, “Jesus, you act as if you’re new to the apocalypse. Where have you been hiding since the shit hit the fan?”
“Shut up, Russ,” Jason said.
Looking at them from around my legs, I saw the one that I hoped was Jason take a step toward me.
“I’m all right,” I said, righting myself and turning awkwardly to face them. In the adrenaline rush of trying to fend off my sister, I’d forgotten about the gash in my right thigh. I stumbled a bit in my movements from the pain, and the four people who had been standing behind me went on alert. Two women had been with the two men, but they hadn’t said a word or made any noise until they saw my wound. All four, even Jason, began shouting and pointing their guns at me.
“Fuck, man, she’s been bitten,” Russ shouted.
I shook my head and grabbed the cart for support.
“We should shoot her now before she turns,” Russ said, taking a step forward.
“I don’t have a bite,” I said, between breaths. “I cut my leg on a broken cart trying to get to my sister when one of them attacked her. The wound is fresh and hasn’t been in contact with any of them.”
“Why should we believe you?” Russ asked.
“I don’t fucking know,” I said, resigning myself to the man getting trigger-happy and shooting me.
“Stand down, Russ,” Jason said.
“But…” Russ stammered.
“I said, stand down. You and Tera, see if any of the dead have followed us in here. Kayla and I will check her wound.”
“But…” Russ said again.
“Stop being argumentative,” the woman I assumed was Tera said, placing a steadying hand on the young man’s shoulder. Tera was about my age, early thirties. She had night black hair and beautiful mocha skin. She was about my height five foot six or so, but much thinner. At that moment, a month or more—I couldn’t be sure about time anymore—into the zombie apocalypse, I probably weighed in at two hundred pounds and dropping daily. I’d been a bit heavier than that before it all started. She couldn’t have weighed more than one-twenty-five/one-thirty. Too skinny, I thought, for her height, but at the rate we were going, we were all going to be too thin soon.
Russ muttered something incoherent but followed the woman out of my line of sight.
I slumped a bit more onto the cart, slowly, second-by-second, losing my strength, as the two left the area of the store in which we resided.
“Shit,” Jason said, rushing to my side. “Kayla, push that shit out of the way so that we can lay her down away from her sister and her vomit.”
The shit he was referring to was an overturned clothes rack. Kayla drug it out of the way, looked at me, then to the items hanging from the stand. She righted it, flipped through what remained, and snatched a few garments off hangers.
“Your jeans will have to come off,” she said, showing me the pair she’d selected to replace my current pair. I didn’t dare ask her the size of the pants only prayed they’d fit.
Jason removed my shoes while Kayla helped me peel off the jeans. The gash ran from just below my hip to my knee. The cut wasn’t bone-deep, but it was disgusting, and I was losing too much blood.
“We don’t have what we’ll need to take proper care of that cut with us,” Jason said, looking from the girl to my leg. His dark brown eyes showed his worry over the situation, but he also appeared determined to do what he could for me. I was just glad the man was keeping his eyes on my leg. I’d hate to have to brain him for looking where he shouldn’t.
“Will Jasper let us bring her to the compound in this condition?” Kayla asked, helping him clean and wrap my wound.
“He won’t have a choice if we show up with her. Besides, he sent us out here to find survivors, didn’t he?”
“I don’t think this is what he meant,” Kayla said.
“I’m sure it wasn’t.”
I tuned out their conversation and tried to ignore what they were doing. I searched the area for something to take my mind off the pain. My eyes kept wandering to my sister’s body. Resignedly, I focused my attention on their appearance rather than their voices.
Kayla was young—sixteen maybe—with short, curly brown hair and tanned skin. Jason was also my age, around six foot, thick, but not overweight. He had short, cropped brown hair streaked with gray. All four of them, I realized, were dressed alike in the black and gray coverall suits that were a cross between military garb and something the C.D.C. would wear when entering a highly infectious zone. They were loaded down with weapons. They looked like professional zombie killers and as if they belonged to an organization of some kind, but not any of which I’d heard. I couldn’t see any names or any insignia on their suits, but I wasn’t caring at the moment where they were from or who sent them.
“All right, miss, you’re going to have to lift your butt so that we can pull these jeans up,” Kayla said.
“My name is Samantha,” I said and lifted my ass to pull on the jeans. To my surprise, they were a bit too big. Thank God. If they had been too small, I would have feltmortified. I know…I know, lying in the middle of a destroyed department store floor with zombies wandering around outside the building and an open wound in my leg was not the place to be self-conscious, but I couldn’t help it. Jason, being as attractive as he was, and Kayla, being as young and firm as she was, wasn’t helping me be rational.
“We gotta go, guys,” Tera said, rushing back to us. “We have a horde heading this way.”
“Shit.” Jason spat the words as he grabbed my underarm. “Can you stand?” he asked me.
“I think so,” I said, allowing him and Kayla to pull me to my feet. I was a bit wobbly. When I walked, I limped, but I could move. I would have to if I wanted to avoid what was heading our way.
“Where are we going?” I asked as they steered me toward the back of the store. I heard Russ’ boots pounding the hard floor of the store. The sound made my heart race. Kayla’s hand on me shook, but she didn’t make a noise.
“The place we’re staying at is about three blocks south,” Jason said, pulling me faster alongside him.
“If we can get into the alley around back we might be able to sneak past them,” Russ said, passing us without a look back to see if we were following him.
“My hero,” I said mockingly at his disappearing back.
“It’s an every-person-for-themselves’ type of world now,” Tera said, though I noticed that she kept pace with us.
“If that’s the case, you guys should go on without me. I’m the injured, slow one, and the one not part of your group. I don’t matter,” I said through ragged breaths.
Looking at my physical state at the time, I wasn’t the most fit person on the planet. I could walk at a good pace without losing my breath but wasn’t ready for the near running shit we’d have to do daily to survive. Honestly, I was surprised I’d lasted as long as I had.
“I’m not leaving you behind,” Jason said, “but you’re right. Tera, Kayla, go on ahead with Russ. Help him clear our way. Samantha, was it?”
“Do you still have that Ruger I gave you?” Jason asked.
I looked at him quizzically. I had no idea what a Ruger was.
“Do you still have the gun I gave you?” he asked, barely concealing his annoyance.
I nodded and held up the gun.
“I’m not leaving you,” Kayla cut in, looking scared at the suggestion.
“You have to,” he said, as we exited through the bay doors.
Tera didn’t argue with him. She grabbed Kayla and pulled her toward the sound of Russ’s gun. Reluctantly, Kayla let go of me. When she turned toward Russ, she didn’t look back.
Jason pulled me to a stop behind a row of dumpsters to allow me a breather, and so that he could check my bandages. The smell of blood would attract any stragglers not caught up in the horde.
“You don’t have to do this,” I told him.
Despite the situation, I couldn’t help but look down to where he was kneeling in front of me and wrapping more gauze around my pants leg.
“I know I don’t. But I choose to. There aren’t many of us left…the uninfected I mean. If I left even one person alone to die, I’d be helping them kill us off. You’ll live if I can get you stitched up.”
“That’s a big if. Too big of one for you to risk your life. Go. Leave me. The place my sister and I were staying at isn’t but a few blocks that way.” I pointed in the opposite direction of where Jason and his people were going.
“You can keep telling me to go, but I’m not leaving you. Now, is that too tight?” Jason asked, patting the inside thigh of the leg he’d just wrapped.
“Can you move forward for a bit? I think the others have moved the horde further south. We should be able to make it nearly to Shore Haven without much trouble if we go now.”
“Shore Haven? I’m not going to Shore Haven. They say that’s where all this shit started. Where the virus started. Why would you want to go there?”
“This didn’t start at Shore Haven. I don’t know who created the virus, but it wasn’t my uncle.”
“Never mind that for now. We have to move.”
I reached out and grabbed his hand. I was shaking—more scared of going to that monstrosity of a complex than facing the horde.
“Jason,” I said, letting my fear seep into my words. “Are you sure it’s safe?”
He reached up with his free hand, cupped my face as a lover would, and said, “I’m sure. I helped design it. Now run.”
The second the words were out of his mouth, one of the infected rounded the corner of the building, seeming to sniff the air. Jason gripped the hand I was holding a bit tighter, and we took off in the best example of a run I could manage.
We made it one block from one of the complex’s many entrances where we could see Kayla standing with a door open, picking off those that were in our way when a group ambushed us. I was able to make two kill shots before one tackled me to the ground. My head hit the concrete with a crack, and I was out, thanking God for the quick death or at the least unconsciousness so that I wouldn’t feel the bite or suffer through the change.
Sadie refuses to be trapped on a zombie-infested island for the rest of her life. Every day she leaves the safety of the hotel she’d holed up in when the outbreak began to kill the turned and to find a way off the island. Every day she finds nothing but death and destruction…until one day she doesn’t.
All Jason and his people wanted to do was get proof that they have a vaccine against the zombie virus to those threatening to destroy their world to keep the outbreak from spreading. But nothing ever works out as planned.
Contact and follow Jennifer Reynolds