I woke up to an explosion out my double-glazed window, it was like a real life horror movie. People ran down the street, I had no idea why. It seemed like they were running from something, or maybe even multiple somethings? Not knowing what was going on, it ate at me. People's screams and cries corrupted my mind as I ran into the living room to get Nadine. My stomach hurt horribly, but I cared more about her. I found her on the floor crying. She stared out the window as tears fell.
“Nadine?” I said as I ran over and hugged her, “What’s going on? Where’s Rafeal? Why do I feel so... so... nauseous?”
“The military… they are shooting people left and right in the roads… the government is blowing up all of Chicago… it’s the end of civilization, Jake."
"You've been asleep for days. Sheriff Benson found you lying with a shot wound in your stomach, you were shot at the café.” Nadine began crying again, quietly.
"So why am I here and not in a hospital?!"
"They sent everyone home after everything began to go down."
"How long has this been going on, and what even is going on? How long was I out?"
"You have been asleep for about a month, people are dying left and right."
"I've been asleep for a month?!"
“Nadine, where is Rafeal!”
“Keep your voice down, Jake! If they hear you, we are dead.”
“If who hears me?” She grabbed my hand and scooted over to the window.
“Them…” She pointed outside. There were these… things. They were almost green, but had human-like skin and clothes on their backs. They walked with a sort of limp, like their legs were broken. They were tearing people limb from limb. Ripping their organs out like a pinata. They moaned and groaned as they strutted down the street killing and eating everything in their path.
“Dad!” Rafeal exclaimed as he ran down the stairs.
“Rafeal, keep your voice down dammit!”
“Sorry, mom. Dad, those are zombies...”.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“I’ve read plenty of comic books. Zombies are basically people that when bitten, they die and come back from the dead. They are dangerous and try to eat people. When killing one, you go for the brain, it’s very important.”
“We won’t be killing anything!”
"Jake, we will have to kill. We were waiting for you to awaken so we could leave the house."
"No we can't leave. We have to wait for everything to die down, I ain't killing anyone."
"It never will die down, and those aren't people anymore."
"Yes, it will! And we won't be killing anything, person or not."
“Jake, it’s a part of life now.”
“No, Nadine. Civilization may be falling but I’m not letting it take us down with it!”
“Jake! Civilization is dead! People are dying and coming back! They are getting eaten and going ballistic! You may have been asleep for a month with no medication or fancy machines but I know you don't have brain damage. The only way to survive is to get some weapons, food, and kill. We have to leave our home in the process. It’s not safe.”
“We aren’t leaving our home like this! I just woke up! The street is filled with herds of those… things! We have to stay.”
“Jake, we have to wait till the road dies down, then we can go.”
“Dad, mom has a point. If we go out like this we have a target on our backs. We can’t be willing to risk that, we got to go.”
“Please, Jake. We need to leave. Our city is overrun by zombies."
"I wish you would stop calling them that. 'Zombies'. That sounds like a term from a stupid kids show. This is real life!"
"Jake, you are tired... I know that.”
“I’m not! I just don’t like the word zombie!”
“What do you suppose we refer to them as, Jake?"
"I don't know. Roamers?"
"Roamers?" Rafeal scratched his head.
"Fine. The city is overrun by roamers. We need to wait until the city dies down, then we will make an escape."
"How are we going to find weapons? We are gonna need guns, knives, and-".
"You hold the phone young man. You aren't getting any of those weapons. Your mom and I are."
"Dad, I'm 13! I deserve one. What happens if we are trailing through the woods and a roamer attacks me! Am I just gonna sit around and let it?"
"No, you're gonna wait till your mom or I can kill it."
"Things are bad now and only going to get worse. We have been in the house for almost a month, we were lucky we didn't run out of food or water, or get killed. When we leave, it'll be even worse, with more challenges and obstacles to come. I'm gonna need a knife and gun."
"Jake, he's gonna need a knife and gun." Nadine said.
"Nadine, you can't agree with this!"
"I'm sorry but, Rafeal has a point. He's gonna need a weapon."
"I just don't think it's important."
"Jake, your kidding! It is important. We need these to survive now! We aren't safe without them, hell we aren't even safe in our own home."
"N-no! Someone will save us, maybe this will only last one more week!"
"Dad, it's a plague. Everyone on this street is dead, except us. I ain't dying today, tomorrow, or any other day."
“Well, I suppose, if you guys insist that it’s important.”
“Thank you, Dad! You won’t regret this!”
“Nadine, where should we even go to get the weapons?”
“Well, we could go to the police station and get some there.”
“You mean stealing?” I asked angrily.
“Well, it’s not really stealing if they are all dead. We can’t get arrested anymore, Jake. It’s the-”.
“The end of civilization. Yes. I know.”
“Well, it’ll be night in a couple of hours. We should try and keep track of time while we can. Once it’s night, we will leave,” Nadine tied up her hair and rolled up her sleeves, “I’m ready when you are.”
My thoughts and feelings during this time were bizarre. I woke up that morning to my wife telling me I had been shot and in a coma for a month. Also, it’s the end of the world as we know it. My son was educating me on survival tactics during the apocalypse, meanwhile I was taking pain killers like candy in the bathroom.
Night finally came. We packed up only the things we desperately needed. Some water bottles, medication, pillows, clothes, sleeping bags, food. We decided just to take our car.
“Before we do this, what’s our plan?” I asked.
“Go to the police station, take as many guns and ammo as we can, then get the hell out of Chicago before its overrun.”
“Now, can we please go? The road seems very clear at the moment.”
“Yes, Rafeal. Let’s go.” We grabbed all of our supplies and loaded them into the car swiftly, we also got a giant bag to put the guns in. We had knives to our sides just in case a roamer attempted to attack. We were locked and loaded.
“Let me drive, Jake.”
“You were never fast enough on the highway, won’t you just let me drive so we could get to the station as fast as possible.”
“What if we get attacked? Are you gonna go 40 mph and barely make us down the road? I’ll go fast!"
“Then we will get a ticket!”
“Dad! It’s the end of the world! There are no more traffic laws, tickets, half of the police officers were killed. I watched it!” Nadine and I looked at each other, we didn’t want our 13 year old son exposed to those things so early in his life! But there was nothing we could possibly do.
“Fine, Nadine you can drive. Let's just get the hell out of here.” The 3 of us ran to the car quickly. Nadine stepped on the gas. As we drove down the vacant streets of Chicago, I realized where we were at in our lives: We were alive. That was all that mattered, though I had a shot wound and could barely walk. Hopefully, we would make it in this mess.
“Yes! Finally, the station.”
"Let’s grab the stuff and get out of Chicago before we become roamers too.” We all jumped out of the car, knives to our sides. Ready to stab a roamer at any moment.
“Get the gun bag, Rafeal.” He reached in the car and pulled it out.
“Jake, you're the strongest, try and get the door.” Nadine pointed to the police station main entrance. It was dead-bolt locked.
“Nadine. It’s dead-bolt locked. How are we supposed to get in?”
“We could break the windows?”
“No, Rafeal. That would attract every roamer within a 100 mile radius.”
“What about those bolt cutters?” I pointed to them. They were laying flat on a picnic table.
“That’s convenient.” Nadine walked over and picked them up. A note flew out from under them and landed below Rafael's feet.
“A note!” He exclaimed.
“What does it say, Rafeal?”
“It says… ‘Be grateful you made it this far. Take whatever you need- Sheriff Benson Claire'... Sheriff Benson wrote this.”
“He must not have made it.” Nadine looked to her feet.
“Though we need time to mourn, we should probably get the guns.”
“Your right, Jake.” She handed me the bolt cutters. I began cutting. The dead-bolt eventually fell off, as did the chain.
“Yes! Let’s get in now!” We ran into the police station.
“But, where is the gun room?” Rafeal asked.
“I don’t know. Look for it.” We all ran around the police station like lost puppies, looking for the gun room.
“I found it!” Nadine quietly exclaimed.
“Nice-” before I could finish, I was astounded by the sight of the gun room. There were over 100 guns and 1,000's of rounds of ammo. We were blessed with a miracle.
“Take small guns. Only a couple big ones. We only have so much room in the gun bag.” We all ran around smiling, taking all the nice guns, and practically all the ammo. This would last us weeks, maybe even months.
“Dad, this is amazing-” all the sudden, we were hearing moans and groans coming from the gun room entrance. That could only mean one thing.
“Roamers!” They came in by the dozen. Nadine loaded 3 guns swiftly and passed them to Rafeal and I.
“H-how do we shoot!?”
“Your grandfather taught me how to shoot a gun, watch!” Nadine displayed how to shoot one, she shot a roamer in the chest and it kept coming.
“Mom, go for the brain!”
“I-I’ll try!” She shot again and got one in the head. It fell below her.
“Keep shooting!” Rafeal and I shot in vigorously at the roamers. Our aim wasn’t that great, we shot towards the legs to slow them down. Nadine did most of the… well, killing. She is the toughest woman in the world in my opinion, or what's left of it.
“Nadine! Grab the guns and go!” She picked up the bag of guns and grabbed Rafeal’s arm. We pushed through the roamers as she shot them one by one. We pushed through the entrance and ran to the car.
“Jake, open the truck. Those shots probably attracted every roamer in Chicago.”
“Yeah. Guy’s we have to get the hell out of here.” I opened the truck and quickly shoved the gun bag in.
“Dad! Roamer behind you!” I turned around. It put its hands on my shoulders. It’s blank eyes stared at me as it pushed and tried to chomp at me. I struggled to get it off, but eventually, my hand made its way to my knife. I moved my hand up and stabbed its head. My shirt was covered in blood. The roamer dropped down as its head smashed onto the hard pavement. I thought to myself, ‘those 5 seconds could have been my last’. It was truly dreadful.
“Jake… are you okay.” Nadine asked me. I turned to her, covered in blood.
“I’m fine now.”
We have been driving for about 6 days. I think we are somewhere in Wisconsin? I really cannot be sure. Nadine and Rafeal have been on edge since leaving home, Nadine seemed sad. Lost? Broken? Whatever you'd call it.
Every gas station we stopped at has been filled with roamers. We had to kill them all. It felt awful.
“Where do you guys think we are?” Rafeal asked.
“Wisconsin. I think.”
“Ha, Wisconsin. Cheese state of the USA.” Rafeal chuckled.
“Not anymore.” Nadine said. Our car went silent. Roamers passed by our car. They saw us driving by and attempted to chase us, but roamers are relatively slow and cannot run, which was a fortunate advantage for us.
“Maybe we could try and make it to Florida? Maybe it’s nicer there.”
“Rafeal, don’t be stupid.” Nadine snarked.
“Nadine. What’s your problem?”
“Nothings my problem.”
“Clearly something is. You’ve been freaking out and being vague all week. What’s going on.” She stepped on the breaks.
“What’s going on?!”
“Civilization is dead! We are the dead living! When you woke up from your coma I knew we were all going to die!”
“No! I’ve been holding in my anger and frustration all week! I need to let it out! I can't do this anymore! I just want to-”.
“Mom… think you can hold it in a bit longer…” we looked behind him. There was a giant herd of roamers inching towards our car.
“Nadine, step on it!” She stared out the window, “Nadine!”
“I’m sorry. I love you both.”
“Nadine wha-” She jumped out of the car and ran towards the roamers.
“Rafeal stay put!” I jumped out of the car.
“Nadine, don’t!” I grabbed her hand to try and stop her.
“Jake, let me go!” She tried to pry her hands out of mine, but I kept her in my grasp. I was fearful for both of our lives.
“Nadine, I’m never letting go!”
“Till death do us part, right?” She had her hand in mine, then it slipped out fastly.
“Nadine!” I couldn’t save her. Roamers tore her apart. I managed to get her wedding ring in my hand as hers slipped out of mine. I ran to the car to get Rafeal. He cried as roamers tried to get inside the car. I quickly stepped on the gas.
“Mom! Mom!” Rafeal looked back at her as the roamers devoured her. She screamed and cried and we couldn’t save her.
“Rafael. Just don’t look.” I cried as we got further down the street. I held her ring in my hand, our wedding day came to mind. We got married in Alaska. We always loved the cold air, mostly because we met at a ski lodge in Wyoming. I proposed to her in Aomori, Japan. She was going to propose there too. That’s how I knew she was my one and only true love.
Rafeal and I drove for 6 hours. He did not stop crying for a second. He held his sleeping bag in his arms as he curled up in a ball. He was always close with Nadine.
“Rafael…” I said hesitantly.
“It’s going to be okay.”
“No. It n-never will be.” He wiped tears as he stared out the plexy-glass car window.
“Yes, Rafeal. It will.”
“M-maybe mom had the right idea.”
“Rafeal. You can’t mean that.”
“I do! She died with no thought in her mind but getting out. In these past six hours, I realize: That was a selfish thing to do. But, sometimes, it’s okay to be selfish. She’s gone now, she’s happy. I’m miserable.”
“Rafeal, we are only 6 days in!”
“No, dad. YOU are only 6 days in. I'm a month and 6 days in. It’s only going to get worse.”
“Dad, I used to appreciate you always being on the happy side of things, but you can’t mean that. We are going to die. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in 7 years. But I will be ready. I’ll be ready to see mom again.”
“Rafeal. You aren’t leaving me too.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Then look at me!” I went silent.
“Please.” I teared up, I couldn’t look at him, “Fine. Just keep driving.” We both stayed silent for 5 days. I had nothing to say to him, he had nothing to say to me. I couldn’t blame him though. He lost his mother. I lost my wife. I had to break the silence though, it was killing me.
“So.” I didn’t know what to say next.
“U-uhm. Want to try and get to Florida, safely?” I asked.
“Nothing in this world is safe anymore, Dad.”
“Still," He had a valid point, “We could at least try. They have lots of land and homes there, it’s also hot.”
“Thought you preferred the cold?”
“Then why don’t we go to Alaska?”
“Cause you wanted to go to Florida.”
“So now you wanna go to Alaska.” We shared a chuckle, the first in a while.
“Since we can’t make up our minds, why don’t we just meet in the middle.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“Nope, too close to Florida.”
“How about… California?”
“Too populated, Dad. To many roamers.”
“Fine, New Hampshire? Seasonal changes, lowly populated. Forests.”
“Sounds… pretty perfect actually.”
“So that’s our final decision?”
“Okay then. New Hampshire, we are coming your way.” Just like that, we were leaving the past behind us. We will never fully recover from Nadine’s dreadful death, but we have each other at the least. Always and forever.