1700 word short by Dale Eldon
The lifeless body hung from a thin sting as Jacob Loomis swung the action figure back and forth from the staircase railing.
“NOOOO!!!!!” Jacob yelled as another action figure in his other hand came running to the scene.
“Jacob Allan!” His father made sure to use his son's first and middle name to drive the point.
“What did I tell about playing on the steps?”
“But dad, I promise I won't leave my toys on the stairs again.”
“Pick them up. In ten minutes we have to get going.”
“Why do we have to go?”
“You know why Jake. The virus is spreading quickly, just like we knew it would. This is what we have been preparing for.”
“I didn't think it would actually happen.”
“No one ever does. If wasn't a virus, then it would be an earthquake. Or a nuclear bomb. There is always something or someone threatening to end our existence. But we are smarter than most people.”
“Randall Fuller from school called us “crazy survivalists”.”
“No doubt he heard that from his parents. They are those rich yuppies who right now are probably at the grocery store cramming through a hoard of hungry people only to find empty shelves. They will see soon enough who is crazy.”
“Dad, did you really know all along this would happen? Is that why you made me go through those survival drills since I was little?”
“No, I didn't know exactly what would happen or how. I just knew, based on facts, that something could destroy the basic functions of the world and everyone-including us-would be left in the dark fighting over moldy food just to survive.” Michael Loomis finished filling his “Bug Out Bag”.
“Nancy, are you ready?” He yelled up to his wife.
“Yeah, in other words another fifteen minutes. Hey kiddo, hurry up with your toys. You need to grab your BOB.”
“I know, I know.”
Jacob quickly ran up the stairs with an arm full of action figures, and dropped them into a toy box. He snatched his Bug Out Bag from under his bed. His parents made him keep it prepacked. He threw on his jacket, and swung a strap over his shoulder. As he was about to leave, he picked up one of his ninja action figures in case he would get bored.
“JACOB!” His father called from down stairs.
The three of them ran out the door with their book bags filled tight with survival gear. Mostly prepackage food with medical supplies, flashlights, batteries, and Michael carried a bag of three gas masks in case they needed them. Since Jacob was four, his parents made him do dress rehearsals in survival clothing, taught him how survive in the wild, now his upbringing just might come in handy.
As they hurried to their car, military Humvees and tanks rolled by. Behind them, were trucks with armed troops. They jumped off and began forcing the residents back into their houses.
“Oh fuck.” Michael stopped before the troops headed towards them. “We are going to have to leave through the backdoor. If we cross the woods and pass the crick bed, then we should make it out alive.”
Michael took his wife and boy, and headed back into the house. They ran to the backdoor and headed towards the woods. Gunfire erupted from behind them. Most likely some residents that didn't cooperate.
They passed the treeline and now were completely hidden by the foliage.
“Okay—” Michael stopped in mid-sentence. “according to the compass, we need to go that way.” He motioned with a finger. “Remember our back up bug out plan? Well this is it.”
Michael picked Jacob up and continued on. His wife led the way. The weight of his ten year old son took its toll. Though Michael worked out, the continuing pace of the winding and contorting landscape along with the weight made it almost impossible to keep up.
“Wait, Holly, wait.” He said raggedly.
She didn't hear him and in her rush she slipped down a huge embankment. She screamed from the surprise and Michael sat Jacob down.
“HOLLY?” He yelled after her in some silly attempt to save her with his voice alone. Holly landed at the bottom of a shallow creek bed. The bottom was a shingled rock floor. When she hit, there was a snap that echoed up to Michael.
“What was that?” Jacob asked with fear.
“Just a twig.” Michael lied. “Holly, don't move. I am coming down to get you. Stay here Jake.”
Michael took a less steep route and slid on his ass to the bottom. After a few minutes he made it to his wife. As he pulled her over checking to see if she was okay, Jacob could see several people walking along the creek bed. They walked stiffly and had strange expressions on their faces. It freaked Jacob out. Maybe they were running from the town too. But they acted weird. They were walking towards his parents. Maybe to help?
Michael picked Holly up in his arms wrapping her arm around the back of his neck. He turned and saw the hoard of people. From his front row view he could tell they had been infected. He didn't know all of the details of the virus since the CDC and the military kept it hushed up, but he knew well enough that these people weren't doing well.
Michael jogged slowly in the opposite direction hoping to find an easier path back up to his son. As he went along, the embankment became steeper. Too late to turn around now. Jacob could see the top of Michael's head. He wondered why his father ran from other survivors? Were they sick? That would explain why they acted weird.
Then he saw his father stop abruptly. His father started to run back looking at the embankment, probably for a way up to Jacob. Then the tops of heads from more infected people appeared. Jacob wanted to scream, but he knew it wouldn't do any good.
From the way they came into the woods, Jacob could hear a massive explosion as a jet flew over head. The two hoards below were now close to his parents, coming from both sides of the creek. Jacob could make out blood on their faces, and gashes. Wounds of various sizes.
They looked dead.
Then one of the people from the first group grabbed a hold of Michael -and bit him. Jacob gasped. This was not normal at all. One after another grabbed and gnawed on his parents as they screamed. Michael yelled up to Jacob. “RUN! JACOB, RUN!”
He was frozen. Unable to move. Breathless. Then the moans from the weird people below started to resonate in his ears. Jacob took off running.
He ran along the ridge of the embankment, avoiding the winding slope. As slow as they moved, he should have no problem of out running them. Tears didn't wait for him to stop. He cried the whole way. The absence of his parents weighed on him to the point that he felt like falling to the ground. But he knew if he did, those weirdos might eat him to. The virus must make people cannibals. That has to be it.
Almost out of breathe, Jacob could feel his sides cramp. He was not used to running this much. He had been for long time now. At least that is what it felt like.
He stopped and held his hands against the aching sides, as muscles tightened. As he stood in the middle of the woods, lost and exhausted, he spotted a house.
He slowly walked up limping as the spasmed clutched the muscles in his leg.
“HELP! ANYONE HOME? PLEASE, I NEED HELP!”
No one yelled back. He walked up to the door and pounded as hard as he could. No sounds from inside. No one coming to the door.
His eyes glazed over as shock sat in. He stared off into space until something finally caught his attention. Holes in the wood door. In a buck shot pattern.
Jacob wiggled the doorknob and it opened. He walked in slowly, looking over every doorway. He almost slipped on something wet. Bracing himself against the wall, blood covered his shoes. No body, just blood.
He walked over to a bay window that overlooked another ravine. He stood staring down, thinking about his parents, crying. Then the moans. Again.
He turned around and saw a gray, dead hand clasp the door to a different room. It was more than one moan he heard.
Jacob took off once again. He ran up the stairs and through the bedroom. He stopped only long enough to notice two dead bodies on the bed. Each had a gun held to their heads.
Jacob ran into the bathroom and slammed the door shut. There was no way to lock it. He sat against the door, and waited. The moans got louder. One of them sounded like it stopped at the bed. He could hear it eating. Then another joined in. Tearing and slicing, squishing sounds. Then the moans that grew louder as they approached the door.
Tap... tap... tap...
One of the things somehow knew there was fresh food behind the door. Then another blow to the door.
It sounded like several of them were descending onto the door. Jacob screamed while the door shook. The things outside of the door stopped and released loud moans. Then Jacob could hear footsteps coming up the stairs.
They were followed by gunfire.
Jacob jumped into the bathtub and plugged his ears. Bullets punched through the door as they left black bloody trails that ran down the wood. Jacob screamed holding his ears tight. His eyes clamped shut.
After several minutes, a hand tapped on his shoulder. Jacob's eyes shot open and men dressed in military garb stood over him.
“Hey kid, lets go! Time to get you out of this town.”
“T-the zom-zombies are everywhere.”
“Zombies? I guess you can call them that.” The man in charge said as he helped the kid out of the tub. “It's just this area that is infected. Would have been just the town if the damn residents would have listened. But the situation is contained. You are lucky, most survivors have been shot to be sure they weren't infected. Good thing we found you and not one of the other units.”
Author Dale Eldon lives in a Macomb, Illinois, and takes care of a sick mother while working overnights at McDonald's. He spends his free time with loved ones and writing his butt off. Between blogging and writing anthology submission calls, he is currently working on a zombie trilogy for a series of novellas and a novel.
His Google+ profile.