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Prolonging the Inevitable
The icy wind whips through my hair. I am running at full speed, but I still feel extremely cold. Breathing hard, I duck behind a tree. I peek behind me as I wiggle my numb toes. The first zombie is about 20 feet behind me.
“Come on, guys, hurry up!” I murmur.
Up along the road in front of me I heat a loud screeching sound. The others must have found a car. I step out and run along the icy side of the road, clutching my bag of supplies even tighter.
“Hurry up and drive, already!” I holler recklessly, heedless of the zombies who might hear me. Once I was in the car I would be safe. We would continue driving north until we found a place where the zombies were all frozen. Then our little band of survivors could settle down and live normal, albeit cold, lives.
I run up the hill and see the car. It’s a van, with plenty of room for the six of us. I wave excitedly and see Elizabeth, the youngest member of our group, wave back from the passenger seat. She is five years old. Daniel, the driver, is the oldest at age sixteen.
The van screeches again as it tries to get over the ice. It slides a few inches to the side, then stalls. I slide down the hill towards it as the door opens, revealing the gleeful faces of the three other kids. In the front is Bernard, who is almost ten. Behind him is Gilbert, age eleven. In the back is Maggie, thirteen years old and a year younger than me. I’m filled with affection for them all as Elizabeth climbs back though give me a hug. I grin as their faces light up at the sight of the food and supplies that I brought.
“Look, Danny,” cries Bernard, “Two chocolate bars!”
A grunt comes out of the cloud of doom and gloom surrounding Daniel’s head. He was upset about the van stalling, but he would get over it. We had survived the first three years of the Zombie Apocalypse, after all. We could handle a stalled car.
In the beginning we had been part of a much larger group. The adults had been in charge then. But they became more and more suspicious of each other as time passed. They accused each other of hiding bites, stealing supplies, and even worse things. Eventually they all killed each other, leaving those of us who had managed to hide to fend for ourselves. Over the years our numbers have dwindled to just six, but we are making it all right so far. Daniel says we can’t get too cocky about it though. He’s always yelling about “Constant vigilance” (I think he got that from a book or a movie somewhere). But I know that as long as we stick together, we’ll always be okay.
That’s why I’m not worried when Gilbert mentions the zombies are getting closer. Maggie tells Daniel, who is outside fiddling with the engine, to hurry up.
“Don’t tell me how to live my life!” he grumps, but he starts rushing all the same.
“Are the zombies gonna catch us, Melanie?” Elizabeth asks, concern showing clearly in her blue eyes.
“Of course not. They’ll never get us!” I reply confidently. She smiles trustingly and climbs into my lap. The rest of the kids are also unconcerned. We sort our supplies in the backseat while Daniel yells at the engine. The next thing I know, Daniel is back in the driver’s seat, staring at us with wide, panicked eyes.
“Did you fix it?” I inquire pleasantly.
“NO! Why are you all so happy?” He asks. Seeing my puzzlement he points out the window. “THE ZOMBIES ARE COMING!” he exclaims.
We all look outside and the younger ones gasp as a zombie smashes its face against the window. I roll my eyes.
“We’re fine! The windows are strong; we’ll just sit here until they go away. There’s nothing to worry about.” I say.
Daniel stares at me “Are you crazy? We’ve seen this before. They nevergo away. More of them just gather around until they get in!”
“That won’t happen to us.” I say, not so sure of myself anymore.
Daniel raises his eyebrows. “Face it, we’re doomed.” He sighs, and Elizabeth and Gilbert begin crying.
“Look, now you’ve made them cry,” Maggie scolds him.
“Well, they should be crying!” yells Daniel. “We’re all going to die!”
Bernard, who’s a little slow on the uptake, starts crying too. “I don’t wanna die!” he moans.
Elizabeth begins wailing: “We’re all going to be zombies!”
“Shut up!” I yell. “We’re not going to die, and we’re not going to turn into zombies.”
“Why are you so stupid!?” Daniel shouts. “You’re just like the grownups, arrogant and convinced you’ll never die! We can’t stay here; we have to fight the zombies!” He begins loading one of the guns.
“Stop it, you idiot, you’re going to get yourself killed!” I grab the gun from his hand, and Daniel slaps me. I recoil in shock as he growls, “No, you’re the one who’s going to get us all killed.”
A tear trickles down my face as I raise the gun. “No,” I whisper, “You’re wrong.” Then I pull the trigger.
The bullet rips through Daniel’s skull and blood spatters onto the windshield. The zombies look at it greedily and pound the glass harder.
“Umm, Melanie? I think you are a little bit stressed. Maybe you should take a nap or something?” She sounds so uncertain, so fragile.
I turn on her, snarling, “You’re always being an annoying brat, you know? So nice to everyone!” I shoot her, too.
Bernard and Gilbert are huddled together on a seat, covered in blood. “What’s going on? I don’t think I can deal with this,” whines Bernard.
I’m getting a migraine, and his voice drills into my head. I hear myself screaming, “Shut UP!” as the world turns into a haze of red. I squeeze of a couple of shots in his direction and the voice falls silent. When the fog clears both of them are dead. In the midst of the bodies Elizabeth sits trembling. I put down the now empty gun down and go to her.
“It’s OK,” I say, stroking her back. “I’ll take care of you.
She nods numbly. “I think it’s time for me to go to sleep, too,” she says faintly. I nod and watch as she lies down on the floor. The car is silent…
“What, aren’t you going to kill her to?” inquires Daniel’s voice, somehow emanating from his corpse even though his face is almost completely blown off.
“Of course not. Stop talking, you’re dead.” I answer him grumpily.
“But you killed the rest of us!” chorus Gilbert and Bernard.
“You all deserved it, you were being annoying,” I huff.
“We were only trying to live. In this world there’s nothing else for us to hope for, besides survival, and you stole any chance of that happening,” Elizabeth murmurs sadly.
“But it’s not like we had much of a chance anyway,” Daniel adds. “We were just living in fear, trying not to die.”
“But not anymore,” says Maggie benevolently.
“Yes,” Elizabeth agrees. “Everyone is safe after they die. We don’t have to be afraid anymore.”
At this point it finally hits me that Elizabeth is dead. “No!” I groan. “Why did you have to go and die on me!?”
“Join us,” the corpses chant. The dead bodies of my friends.The friends that I have murdered.
“Come be safe. Join us. JOIN US.” Their chanting gets louder as Elizabeth comes toward me, face slack and arms outstretched. “Join me…”
I fumble behind me for the door handle. It’s slippery, but I manage to get to cooperate. The door opens and I fall into the waiting arms of the zombies. I should be terrified, but all I feel is sorrow. I’ve finally realized what Daniel had probably known already: we were all going to die; it was just a matter of how long it took. I can still hear them chanting “Join us!” as the zombies rip me apart and eat me.