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Red at Night

The ground was broken and rocks dug into my feet through my worn-down sneakers. I shoved my hands into my pockets and burrowed deeper into the mask over my face. A group of ordinary-looking people were loitering by the side of the road.
I gave them a wide berth.
I took out my cell phone and used part of my pressure minutes and battery. Cell phones were a necessity but mine was quickly heading towards death.
I called my dad but it went straight to voice-mail.
"Dad, the car broke down a little while back and Dan was infected. I can't make it to you. I hope I can speak to you again, even if it is only to your voice mail." I hung up and stared at my phone blankly before turning it off and slipping it into my hoodie pocket.
The group of people I had passed turned to me and I could see that they weren't ordinary people at all.
It was THEM. They'd found me! After all I'd done, hiding my scent, going under the cover of night; they'd found me.
There weren't many of US yet so THEY were always trying to infect us. I'd heard at the beginning that THEY had a keen sense of smell and could smell our human blood for up to two miles. I shuddered at the thought.
I picked up the pace to get away from the group of THEM - the zombies.
A science experiment gone wrong at some big science lab and suddenly people are slowly dying; their skins falling off of their bones and their senses improving drastically in their middle stages of pre-death.
The group started chasing me but I widened my strides and quickly outran them. I went into the forest and wove through trees for good measure until I came to a clearing and stopped. I took my bag off my shoulder and pulled out the moving object inside of it.
Pip yipped at me as I placed him on the ground and then wove between my feet until I finally relented and petted his wiggling back.
There was a crunch in the underbrush and I whispered "Shh" to Pip. He quiet down instantly and I didn't hear the crunch anymore. Very quietly, I reached into my bag and pulled out the compatible sleeping back in there. I shoved Pip inside and climbed in myself with all of my belongings - my bag. I fell asleep with Pip curled beside me and woke up at dawn. I quickly packed up my sleeping bag and Pip.
Pip and I would eat breakfast on the road.
"C'mon, Pip, let's go," I told him before closing my bag and heading down the road that was just outside the forest.
After about two and a half hours of an alteration between a walk and a jog, I reached a city which I walked around.
An old woman was sitting on the ground outside the wall, knitting. I was instantly reminded of back then, back when humans made up more than 5 percent of the world population. You could walk around a good neighborhood and see an old lady calmly knitting a scarf for her daughter or socks for her grandchild.
The old woman looked up when I passed so I stopped in front of her. She smiled up at me.
"Why are you bundled so tightly?" she wondered, noting my thick clothes, goggles, gloves and boots so none of my skin was exposed.
"Why are ya' wonderin'? Are you one of THEM?" I crossed my thick arms and glared at her through my thick skiing goggles that I'd gotten from raiding an abandoned shoppette.
"Are you?" Her voice was raspy but sweet.
"Would I be bundled like this if I were?" I shot back.
She stood up. "Good enough. Please, come with me, I'll get you something to eat and a bed to sleep in."
Just the thought made me lose all sanity and I found myself agreeing. We walked into that town, the one thing I'd said I'd never do since my house was overtaken by THEM.
Before I knew it, I was inside her house from the pastels and cleanness. I hadn't seen such a clean house since the change.
"Wow, very clean," I commented.
"Why, thank you," she declared. "My grandchildren could never accept that or acknowledge it."
I looked at her. Now that I knew of it, there were quite a few toys just sitting around her house. There were also army figurines on the stairs. I looked longingly at the kitchen but let my sights move on, taking it the futon and couches with tables arranged throughout the house.
She went into the kitchen I so longed to be in and started making something on the stove. After a little while I took a seat at the small table with four chairs placed around it. "Food'll be ready in a minute," she told me without looking at me.
I looked at her closely...
And gasped.
No, no! The skin on the back of her neck was slowly dropping off of her frame. She'd been infected! No.
Just being in this room with her was dangerous! If she decided to turn around and just touch my hands where I'd taken off my gloves, I wouldn't have a hope.
"I see that you know," she told me. "I'm sorry for keeping it a secret but it's been so long since I've had company and some of us do keep conscience and don't go around mindlessly hunting who we once were."
"I can't believe that," I told her, already pushing back my chair and standing up.
"I'm sorry," she told me. "This is a village of humans. All of the humans who survived made this place and have been living here comfortably since the beginning two years ago. I can't let you go telling them I'm a zombie and destroying me and my children's chance of survival."
"I won't just sit by!" I informed her. "You are a danger to everyone!"
"Then I must kill you." She sounded said as she said it and I ran out of the room. I didn't know the layout and she quickly caught up to me. She grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and hoisted me high in the air.
My whole world slowed down as her exposed hand came close to mine. "NO!" I yelled.
It was over. I felt her hand touch mine and a horrible fear over took me. My fists flew and one connected with her throat. She crumpled to the ground clutching her throat. Her face turned blue as I stared at her and my hand.
I'd been infected.
Infected.
"Dad," I sobbed. "Bye, Dad."
The woman lay still and I stood up. Pip had crawled out of my bag as I'd been on the ground and was licking my face. "Come on, Pip, it's time to go."
I walked out the back door with Pip running at my heels, my body thick with unshod, unnecessary clothes on me and the sky stained red by the setting sun.
I remembered a saying "Red in the morning, sailor's warning, red at night, sailor's delight" and I chuckled sadly thinking about how wrong it was.



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