Your vision slowly clears as you steady yourself. You need to grab Brian’s bag. Even if it doesn’t help you, there could be something in there that could put an end to this. The swarm slowly closes in on you. You take a deep breath and run to your right but nearly fall after your first step. Your legs are like rubber but you push through the crowd. You quickly draw the attention of the monsters feeding around you and they join the others, leaving behind the nearly devoured corpses of your friends.
You grab the bag from the floor and secure it under your arm like a football. Your stomach churns as the side-effects of the drugs hit you again.You do your best to ignore it and push your way towards the stairs. Moans fill the room at a deafening level as you reach the stairs and climb them with your rapidly diminishing strength. You collapse to your knees at the top and more thick vomit spews from your lips and onto the carpet. You look back to see your pursuers struggling with the stairs. They topple over each other and fall to the dirt floor. You close your eyes and wait for the nausea and dizziness to pass.
After a few moments, your stomach unclenches and you slowly open your eyes. The house is a mess. The windows are broken and glass litters the floor. You push yourself to your feet and turn towards the front entrance. The door is cracked and barely hanging from its hinges. You slowly walk into the daylight with Brian’s bag in your hand.
The truck still sits parked in front of the house. The driver’s door hangs open and a small group of zombies crouch next to it. You walk over and see Derek laying beneath them. The band of monsters pay you no attention as you approach them. His eyes are open wide and his face is frozen in a silent scream.
You notice the truck’s keys laying on the seat. The leather seat is covered in blood and scratches that appear to have been caused by dragging fingernails. You slowly creep around the feeding zombies, climb into the seat and turn the keys in the ignition. The engine roars to life and the creatures near you raise their heads simultaneously. You slam the door shut as they reach for you. You switch the truck into gear and speed off south towards the radio broadcast, praying to whatever god willing to listen to you, that someone there will be able to help.
The drive takes longer than you imagined. Every few minutes you’re forced to pull over and vomit onto the road. Finally a small compound comes into view in front of you. You can see over a dozen green pup tents in orderly rows. Military tents. The compound is surrounded by a chain-link fence.
You park the truck, leaving nearly 30 feet between you and the compound. You feel both relieved and terrified. There’s nobody guarding the opened gate and you can’t see anyone in the area. You lean over to grab the bag from the passenger’s seat but you pause as you catch your reflection in the mirror. Your eyes have gone completely white and your skin is extremely pale.
You stare in awe at the monster in the mirror. The thought that’s been nagging at the back of your mind pushes its way forward. They’re never going to let you in. If you show up looking like this, they will kill you in an instant. You think about looking through the bag and injecting yourself with anything you can find but you can’t afford to get any sicker. You sigh and grab the bag as you climb out of the truck.
As your feet hit the ground, a rush of fiery pain shoots through your body. You scream as it forces you to your knees. Something’s happening. All of the muscles in your body tighten and you wrap your arms around your stomach. A constant stream of thick purple vomit flows from you and tears stream down your face. You can’t breathe and spots blur your vision as you collapse onto the ground.
You have no idea how long you were out but you wake up on your back, staring at the sky. The sun is long gone and the moon and stars have taken its place. The world is quiet aside from the constant moans in the distance. You quickly push yourself to your feet, preparing for the usual pain in your side. The pain doesn’t come. You lift your shirt and check your side but your blood-stained skin is the only sign of the crippling wound that you’ve been fighting for days. You undo the bandage on your leg and see that the scrape is gone as well. Your head feels completely clear and your stomach is at ease.
Turning to the truck, you peer at your reflection in the window. You heart sinks as two white eyes stare back at you. You aren’t sure what’s happening but you know you haven’t been cured. With a sigh, you pick your bag up from the puddle of vomit and walk towards the compound. Whatever you are, it isn’t a mindless zombie. There could still be hope for you.
You step through the gate but the only thing that greets you is the smell of death. Bodies lay piled on top of each other and covered in their own blood – each one with pale, white eyes. Zombies. As you look closer, you realize that every one of them has a bullet-sized hole in their forehead.
You listen carefully and hear a voice coming from a nearby tent. As you walk towards it, you recognize it as the radio broadcast. The man’s voice repeats the same announcement that you had heard in the hunting store. You stand in the tent’s doorway and look around.
On the table is a toppled microphone along with a laptop computer. The table is covered in blood and four bodies stare at you from the floor. Two of them are covered in bite marks and open wounds while the heads of the other two are bashed in and their white eyes stare up at the ceiling.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
You turn your head towards towards the voice and see the white eyes of a young boy staring back at you. You recognize him as the boy from the house. Images of him screaming in his mother’s arms while his father is torn to pieces flood into your head. You try to answer but nothing comes out.
“You’re like me,” he says to you. His voice shakes as he speaks and his eyes never blink. “My sister. My mom. They were like the other ones. Not like us. They were monsters.” He wipes a tear from his cheek. “We aren’t monsters.”
A loud bang echoes through the air and thick, purple blood sprays from the boy’s forehead. You watch him drop silently to the ground. You run towards him just as you hear another bang and a bullet whizzes by you and into the tent behind you. You hear the voice of a young man nearby.
“Fuck,” he shouts.
You look up to see two men in military uniforms step out of the shadows. One is short, athletic and appears the be in his mid-twenties. The other is older, well over six feet tall, built like a tank and has short grey hair. They both carry rifles and the older man points his at you and stares down the sights.
Without hesitating you run to your left just as the gun goes off. The bullet misses you and pierces the cloth of the tent once again. You have no idea where you’re going, you just know you have to get away.
“He’s a runner,” you hear one of them scream. “Get backup.”
Tents fly past you as you sprint through the compound, trying to find the gate. You can hear the pounding of feet behind you as one of the soldiers chases you. You take a quick right between two rows of tents, avoiding another bullet. Your breathing and heart-rate are calm and steady. You feel as though you could run forever. You take a sharp, left turn and stop when you see what’s in front of you.
A dozen swaying bodies block your path, their white eyes staring into yours. Low moans come from their opened mouths but they make no move to attack you. They just watch you as if waiting for something.
You hear the sound of boots scuffing against the dirt behind you. You turn around just as the older man pulls the trigger on his gun. Brian’s bag flies from your hands as a bullet slams into your chest, sending you onto your back. Pain shoots through your entire body but only for a moment. As quickly as it came, the pain begins to fade away and you can feel the skin on your chest stretching as if to cover the bullet wound.
The small group of zombies shuffle past you. You push yourself to a seated position and watch as they move towards your attacker. He slowly backs away and yells for backup. Panic flashes across his face. He fires bullets into the crowd, tearing the flesh from their bodies. You notice white eyes hovering in the darkness behind him. In his panicked state, he fires recklessly into the crowd, hitting his attackers in the chest and stomach. They continue to shuffle towards him, forcing him backward into the shadows. Outstretched arms reach for him through the darkness. His screams fill the compound. You stand up and see them tear his organs from his stomach.
You aren’t standing for long before you hear the sounds of several gunshots to your left. You scream as bullets pierce your torso and you drop to the ground once again. You can feel your wounds immediately begin to heal but there are too many of them. You can’t move.
Boots thump against the ground as six soldiers, led by the younger one, step into your view. The young man is carrying Brian’s bag and searches through it.
“Fuck me,” he says to himself. He tosses the bag to one of the other men. “Get that to the doc,” he says.
You watch helplessly as he pulls his pistol from its holster and aims it at your head.
“I hate runners,” he says as he pulls the trigger. Your death is instant as the bullet pushes its way through your brain.