Set in the same universe as “Humanity”
The sky at sunset is the sun saying goodbye. How does it know it will rise again in the morning? How do any of us know? I am the sun; uncertain of my continuation and wanting to go out in a glorious blaze of light and color.
I don’t think the color will be a problem.
I am covered in blue and red blood. Fresh, vibrant cobalt is splattered over older navy, which has dried under my fingernails so that I carry it with me. No matter how hard I scrubbed my hands, the blue clings to me like a parasite. I’ve given up trying to get it off my skin because there’s always more.
The red is mine. I am careful not to let the monsters bite me, but scratches and gashes cover me from head to toe. Their nails are what they employ while I fend off their teeth, the more deadly of the two poisons that the monsters possess. The possible infections from their nails pale in comparison to the venom in their bite. I learned the hard way what happens if you let their teeth get too close.
There used to be four of us.
I creep through the abandoned store. The monsters track by sound, primarily. But they still possess smell and sight, because why would I be lucky enough for them to have a weakness like that? I kneel down and gently grab the canned goods that have fallen on the floor, placing them in my backpack in between rags so that they don’t make noise. I have gained experience over the year and a half since I saw my first monster.
A slight snuffling behind me is my first clue that something is wrong. I freeze with my hand half in the bag, clutching a can of green beans. Slowly, I lower it onto the rags and pull my knife out, carefully zipping up my backpack and raising myself to my feet. A pit of fear opens in my stomach as I turn around.
There are two monsters there. Tattered clothes hang off their bodies, and their yellow teeth glint in the fading sunlight that filters through the dirty windows. They have me cornered in the store, and flight is no longer an option. I pull my baseball bat from my backpack, and carefully hoist it over my shoulder. There’s a moment of tense silence- and then they attack.
There’s not much room to maneuver, or swing, in this cramped aisle. I mainly use the bat to push the monsters back and to avoid their snapping jaws while I gradually shuffle backward, away from them.
I get out of the aisle and bolt. They’re slow, hindered by each other and the items I knock off the shelves as I run. I sprint over the shattered glass door that once guarded the entrance and now lies useless in front of it. Once the monsters clear it, they’re in the open street and can follow me with astonishing speed. Contrary to most zombie movies, these monsters are close to the perfect predator, graced with speed as well as heightened sense and venom. I dash past a dilapidated office building, where monsters pound on the barricaded door.
The two following me are gaining. My breath comes in short, painful bursts, and my legs burn. Vaulting over a fallen street lamp, I turn the corner of the street and nearly trip over a rent-a-scooter. I have a couple seconds before they reach me, and I take advantage of that time to hop on the scooter and go down the hill.
I breeze by the monsters and dodge a broken-down car in the middle of the street. I see a city playground at the bottom of the hill and jump off the scooter as I had no time to stop. Sparing only a second, I glance back and see them hopelessly behind. Even though the street was downhill, not even the beasts could go as fast as me. I take off running, around the playset and through a series of buildings that form a labyrinth I hope to lose them once and for all in. My base for the moment was in the ceiling of one of them- I just had to reach that before the monsters reached me.
My vision is blurry, and my lungs protest as I force my feet to go even faster. The sky darkens. Nature doesn’t care about me and my struggles. There are greater forces than my feet against the pavement and the pounding footsteps behind me. I don’t have time to pull out my flashlight.
I recognize a donut shop, the sign in front declaring a holiday sale. It signals just a block or two until I reach my haven. A hot breath touches the back of my neck, and I swing abruptly to the left. I may have lost the two from the store, but the monsters are everywhere, lurking behind corners and waiting for their next victim.
Which I’m doing my best to be sure it’s not me.
The hotel I’m staying in has a bright neon sign over the entrance. It guides me as I frantically run, and then use my last burst of energy to make it to the side door. Panting, I wave my access card in front of the reader and pull on the handle.
I make it inside just as I feel something graze my leg. I slam the door shut.
I am safe.
I am too tired to make my usual trek up the stairs, so I find the elevators. The fluorescent lights flicker as the elevator hums and buzzes its way up 3 floors. I almost don’t register the doors opening but manage to get out before they close. I stumble towards room 312, open the door, and collapse on the bed.
When I wake up, the room is fuzzy.
There’s building pressure in my chest as I shakily stand up.
The lights in the hallway illuminate the blood on the floor. It trails from the elevator to the bed, starting out a brownish-red, and then crusty purple, and then staining the white sheets a sickly blue. I look at my leg, where the monster got me before I closed the door. Blue leaks from broken skin. The sun peeks out from behind the curtains, reflected on the silver tin of spilled cans from my torn-open backpack and the teeth marks on my wound.
The realization sets in.
I am done continuing.
My thoughts get fuzzier as I lurch to the bathroom. I fruitlessly try to clean the blood from my leg.
The elevator dings as the doors open.
As my eyes meet the ones of the person in the elevator, my mouth waters.