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“Alec!” I screamed as they encircled him, leaving no chance of escape. For a fleeting moment I saw his eyes. They weren’t begging for help, or full of fear. His eyes, locked with mine only translated one thing: Run.
There was a sharp screech, and then all was silent except for the sound of the monsters as they ripped my best friend to pieces.
I felt the stinging tears escape from my eyes. The trail of blood from where the monsters were standing, hunched over Alec’s dead body was gruesome.
I grabbed my gun.
I shot them all, straight in the chest. Blue liquid spewing where blood should have.
I tried so hard to keep myself from breaking down. Tears fell from my eyes, but my face remained blank. Angrily I kicked the monsters bodies away, and stared horrified at Alec’s remains. I heard myself sob, my body shaking with the power of sheer anguish. I bent down and examined his bloody and disfigured body. I knew what I had to do, before the infection got into his blood stream and he became one of them. The monsters that killed him were dead for now, but they were going to wake up. I could see their wounds healing already. I put all of the bodies in a pile, and then struck a match. The venom that was coursing through the monsters veins, and infecting Alec, was highly flammable. The bodies were on fire before the match even touched them. As I watched my best friend and his murderers slowly burn, I cried. I cried for all of the times that Alec had saved my life, and how I had failed to save his. I cried because I knew that Alec was never coming back. And I cried selfishly, because I was alone.
My world is very different from yours. My world one where human beings are scarce. And where every day is a fight for survival.
Ten years ago to date, a government experiment went wrong. An experiment to in a sense, bring back the dead. The purpose of the experiments was to gather classified information, from deceased world leaders. It might have been a good idea, had it not destroyed civilization, as you know it. The initial experiment worked, and they were able to draw certain information from dead people. But we weren’t satisfied. Wealthy government families wanted them to being back their dead grandparents, uncles, and children. One man Simon Reynolds, paid the government $2 Billion dollars, to bring back his dead wife so he could tell her that he will always love her. Well, while bringing Margaret Reynolds back to life, something went wrong. Too bad we didn’t catch it until Mrs. Reynolds had infected Mr. Reynolds, and the government biologists whom brought her to life. Mr. Reynolds infected his children, and his children infected their schoolmates, and so on and so forth. It spread faster than mononucleosis in a seventh grade class. Four years after Mr. Reynolds was infected, so was more than half the country. Six more years after that, more than half the world. Today, the United States is deserted. A barren and horrible place. Human beings are going extinct. Only to be replace by something that I can only describe to you as…a zombie.
After the bodies were burned, I wondered if I should even bother going home. I dreaded having to tell them that I had failed. That I’m the one who let him die.
I wouldn’t really know how being suicidal feels, but it has to be something like the way I felt at that moment. I wanted it all to stop. I wanted to snow to stop falling, the world to stop moving, I wanted the world to recognize my pain. But it didn’t. Life somehow was going to go on. Whether I was going with it or not.
I began to slowly walk out of the forest that Alec and me had entered together, not even two hours ago.
The sidewalks of Salem Oregon were cracked from tree roots. Neat lawns became small forests in themselves. Me, Alec, Amelia, and Jacob were living in a small one-floor house towards the western borders of Salem. We had successfully barred the windows and doors with scrap metal, but living like we did was like being homeless. We had to move frequently, as the monsters; Chasers as we now call them now, follow.
Once at home I forced myself to raise my hand and do the secret knock.
Knock three times, wait two seconds knock five times count to four knock one time.
It was Jacob who came to the door. “Hey Caraâ€”where’s Alec?” I didn’t answer him. I just stared. I let the tears and anguish in my eyes h=give him the answer.
“Cara, oh my god. Oh my god Iâ€”I” he just stood there in the doorway unable to comprehend. “Jacob, I'm so sorry! I tried, I tried so hard!” I sobbed. His face was blank as he took in my words. “Its okay. Were going to be okay.” He said. I wasn’t sure if he was comforting himself, or trying to calm me down.
All of the anger and frustration with myself came out right then. “No Jacob its not fine! I was right there! I could have saved him, I could have done something!”
The outburst just made my cry more. Just to make things worse, Amelia came into the room. “Cara? Jacob? Where’s my brother?” I broke down again at the sight of her. She looked just like Alec, being his identical twin.
Jacob took Amelia by the hand and led her away. I could hear Jacobs blank voice as he explained to Amelia that her brother was dead. And I could hear Amelia’s broken sobs as she took it in. I let the tears fall silently from my face. I wanted to die, because it was my fault that Alec want here with us right now. I wanted to scream because they refused to lay the rightful blame on me.
I didn’t know which was worse.
That night my mind was plagued by nightmares. In my dreams, everyone was gone. Jacob, Amelia, Alec, everyone I loved and cared about. Even my parents came back, only to leave me again. My dreams made me remember the most horrid and terrible parts of my life.
They made me remember day my parents became Chasers. It was three years ago, and I was 12. Mom had gone out to buy some food, because back then there were still stores, however few. The man next door had been infected by his daughter that same day. He bit and infected my mom on her way home.
That was the first time Alec saved my life. If it weren’t for him, I would have been at home waiting for my mom. And when she came home, I would have become a Chaser. I had been at Alec and Amelia’s house for the day. When their mom took me home that night, we found only two Chasers standing in the doorway. It wasn’t long after that when Alec’s parents were killed. We set out on our own, living in abandoned apartments, and houses. That’s where we met Jacob, and he’s been with us ever since. Some times I wonder if we are the only ones left. I wonder if there are other people who have banded together to create a sense of family. But I can’t let my mind dwell on those things. When you live in a world like mine, you can only think for yourself and your family. You can only think of your struggle.
No one spoke the next morning. We all woke up at different times of the day. Jacob, at sunrise, me at noon, and Amelia sometime in between then. After a while I went back to bed. I couldn’t stand having to get up and move around, while Alec was dead. I just couldn’t. But I still had to pee.
It was already dark when I got up to go to the bathroom. I walked past the living room, and saw Amelia sitting there with a photo album on her lap. “Hey.” I said, slowly entering the room. Amelia looked up at me with red blotchy eyes. “Hey.” I walked over and sat down next to her. She was looking at a photo album that we had saved, from her old house. “These areâ€”“ She cut me off “Pictures of Alec, I know.” She had lowered her head, but I could still see the tears that fell from her eyes. “I just miss him so much. Iâ€”I want him to come home. I want my brother!” She was full of sobbing by now. I felt tears come to my eyes as well. “I miss him too Amelia. I miss him too.”
The next few weeks went by in a blur. I spent the majority of my time sleeping, and crying. We were all grieving. Jacob just sat in the kitchen staring through the window most of the time.
They came three weeks after Alec died.
It was late at night, probably after four o’ clock.
It started as a small scratching sound. A sound that a raccoon or a stray cat could have made. But as the night progressed it got louder and louder. Until it became the unmistakable sound of Chasers trying to break down your door. I shot straight up, in bed and picked up my pistol from the bedside table. Whenever we move, we never settle down. We don’t unpack our things from backpacks, or put clothes in our closets. I pulled on my coat, grabbed my backpack and crept to Amelia’s room. She was already up, pulling on her clothes. “Hurry up.” I whispered, and went off to get Jacob.
The Chasers were getting louder. We were already by the back door by the time they broke in. The Hinges popped off the door with a terrible metallic shriek. I guess I can use this time to describe what chasers look like. They faintly resemble people. A head two arms, and two legs. They have no hair, and their eyes are all red. Though they resemble a slow moving zombie, they can run extremely fast. The sound that they make when they breathe will forever haunt my dreams. It is a wheezy growl that sends shivers up and down your spine. “Lets go!” I screamed, as the Chasers made their way towards us. Jacob yanked open the back door and we started running. After years of being chased, you get good at running away. We ran fast, but the Chasers were gaining. It wasn’t until the chasers were less than a yard behind us when Amelia cocked back her gun. She didn’t even stop running she just turned half around and:
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Three chasers down. I know that taking down chasers seems easy, but the sad fact is that Chasers don’t die. Ever. Shooting them can only buy us time. We’ve found that the most effective way to stall them is to shoot them and strike a match. Their blood/poison is flammable and it can burn the Chasers from the inside out. But that wont keep them from getting back up.
We didn’t have time to be thorough right now, the Chasers that we just shot would be up and running again in a matter of hours. We needed to get away from here.
We must have kept running for the next ten miles or so. Then we stopped. We were deep in the center of the Oregon forests. When humans started dying away, so did their impact on nature. Now trees grow in the middle of sidewalks, and entire cities become forest. We sat down for a while in the thick snow. “So where are we going now?” Amelia wheezed. “I really don’t know.” I replied. I knew that we weren’t in Salem anymore, but I had no idea what direction we had gone. We walked aimlessly for the next few days, only resting occasionally. It was early in the morning when I began to see a break in the trees. “Guys,” I said absently as I veered towards the break. As I got closer I smelled salt, I listened heard and could make out the crashing of waves. “Oh my god! It’s the ocean!” Amelia yelled. We walked out of the forest and found ourselves on a cliff, facing the Pacific Ocean. “Its beautiful.” Jacob muttered. It was the first thing that he had said since we left the house in Salem. We stood there on the cliff, staring at the water. Each of us silently mourning our lost friend. And grieving our situation.
I am going to conclude this small memoir here, though my story is far from over. We will keep fighting. Each our own war. We will survive, for the ones who did not. This isn’t the last that you’ll hear of me, or of the Chasers.