As I lie on my bed reading, I hear a strange sound outside. Setting down my book, I push aside the curtains, but as I move to lift the blinds, the lights go off and stay off for five seconds before flickering back to life. I get a clear view out the window as they regain their steady glow, illuminating a sticky note on the glass. There’s one sloppily written word, edged with and dripping crimson: “RUN.”
I let the blinds fall in horror before a gurgling, choking noise drifts in through the window, accompanied by a small thump against the wall. I scramble off my bed, fear making my heart beat fast, the blood thrumming in my veins, rushing in my ears, and run for my bedroom door, grabbing my phone as I flip off the lights, plunging the house into darkness once more.
I hurry to my parents’ room, grab my mom’s hidden swords and gun, and dash downstairs, deeper into the darkness of the silent house. I pull on my shoes by the door and stuff my purse with as much cash as I can find before grabbing my key and the small, heavy tactical flashlight.
I look out the porch window only to find it pitch black. I flip on the porch lights, then gasp in horror and disgust at the sight now revealed to me. The window is filmed with a coating of crimson, the blood running down the glass in tiny rivers. A body is strewn across the wooden planks, shredded intestines pulled out like flesh spaghetti.
I turn off the lights again and run for the garage door, grabbing my sweater and the keys for the red Toyota Highlander. I tear into the garage, yanking the car door open and slamming it shut harder than necessary. I turn the key in the ignition and press the button to open the garage door. As it nears the halfway point, legs shuffle into view covered in blood and things I can’t bring myself to identify. I dial my mom, then speeding out of the garage the second I have clearance under the door.
She picks up on the second ring. “Becky, what’s going on?”
“Mama!” I shout in relief. “Where are you?”
“Honey, calm down and tell me what’s wrong,” she says in the calm and steady tone that always used to soothe me.
But not today. “I don’t know! There’s a dead body on our porch, people stumbling around covered in blood, and a note on my window telling me to run!” I scream into the phone as I speed onto the main road, mowing down two shambling, bloody people as I go. “Where are you?!” I ask again.
“I’m at work,” she replies, voice edged with tension.
“Where’s Daddy?” I screech as I dodge a crashed car on the side of the road, already consumed by flames.
“He’s on his way to pick me up.” She pauses, filling the car with silence for a moment. “Becky, where are you?” she asks, almost hesitant and fearful.
“I’m in the red-” I’m cut off as a bullet shatters the driver’s window, missing me but hitting my phone, frying it and ending the call. “NO!” I scream, speeding up as I round a bend. Another bullet rips through the car, taking out my rear-view mirror and both windshields. I duck but continue driving, looking in the remaining two mirrors for who might be shooting at me, but I find nobody where I expected my attacker to be.
One more bullet hits the car with a dull thump and a shredding of metal, then the car flips over. I hit my head on the steering wheel, and black spots dance around the edges of my vision.
It gets warmer the longer I remain in the burning car, but I can’t move; my legs are pinned. The smoke makes me cough, bringing the taste of blood to my mouth. I struggle to free my legs, but it hurts too much. I try releasing the seat belt and fall through the empty window frame where the front windshield used to be, landing on shards of glass that bury themselves in my stomach, arms, and legs. The stench of burning gas, blood, and smoke mix to sting my nose as the sense suddenly returns to me.
Before I can attempt to stand and run, a sharp pain burns through my chest, and with a scream of agony, blood rises to my mouth as the burning car melts away in a haze of pain and endless falling through darkness.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.