It felt like an eternity since I was last moving around on my own, even though it’s only been a few days. My muscles were still shaky, and I couldn’t go far, but every rocky step and potential fall was worth it knowing I won’t have to come into physical contact with Tom anymore. I noticed it had been quiet in the house for a few hours, and my stomach kept growling, so I decided to head downstairs to eat something.
As I made my slow way to the kitchen I can’t help thinking about him. Tom. I still can’t believe he’s alive, but even harder to believe is what he’s become. So different now, so far from the husband I remember. The Tom I knew would never have done this to the world, would have fought against anyone who did, but the Tom here now relishes in what he did. I shudder as I think about the proud look on his face when he told me what he’d done and his future plans.
He’s sick now, so far from the Tom of old. Part of me wonders if I can help him, help fix the broken parts of him, but another part of me realizes I’d be an idiot if I tried. Just looking at him disgusts me, and I have to work every waking moment to hide that from him. Just one look of horror and shock from me had sent him into a rage, and shortly after I could hear and someone screaming in pain outside for far longer than any person should be able to handle.
I suspected it was some unfortunate he suckered into his plan, like the man who injected me with whatever concoction before I woke here. I ached for them but knew there was nothing I could do to help them. I know now that if I hide how I truly feel, if I pretend to want what he wants, Tom won’t go into a rage.
Reaching the kitchen, I realized how eerily quiet it was in the house. No sounds of movement, just silence.
Silence. I moved to the base of the stairs before calling out again and I felt a trickle of excitement. If I’m alone…
“Tom? You there?”
A surge of adrenaline rushes through me when I realized what the silence means, I’m alone in the house. No Tom, no guards, nothing. I may be able to escape, but the adrenaline and excitement are quickly followed by a wave of trepidation. What if this is just a trick? What if Tom suspects I’ve been playing him, and he’s set this up to see if I can be trusted? Crap.
If it’s not a trick and I can escape, I won’t be nearby to kill him and end this. But I can’t kill him in my current state, and if I stay I don’t know what he’ll do to me. Crap, crap, crap!
My desire to escape battled with my fear. I know I have to decide soon, this could be my only opportunity, but it still takes a few moments before I finally make my decision. I will run. Well, hobble run, and as far as I can. Even if it’s a trap, I can’t pass it up. I have to go, I have to get away and get back to Chris…and Alex.
I step towards the door and pause. Food. As if my stomach had ears and heard my thoughts, it grumbles loudly in reply. I know I won’t get far as is, and I certainly can’t do it without food or water. I don’t know what’s out there, is it still going crazy? It’s been quiet here, calm even. Maybe it’s only pockets of crazy? No, I can’t be sure. I have to assume Tom arranged something here to keep it calm and quiet. Especially since I learned he has some freakish ability to control the infected. What was going on was already crazy and terrifying, but when I saw him tell a zombie to be quiet and it stopped instantly I felt a new level of terror spring up.
Tom was insane, and right now I was seemingly safe from his wrath, but it was only a mater of time before I said or did something that shot him over the edge and led to my death. Probably a horrible one too at the hands of an infected. I shuddered at the thought and pushed it aside, quickly grabbing a canvas grocery bag from under the sink to throw some canned food and bottled water in.
After a few minutes of searching I have two 1-liter bottles of water, 15 random cans of food, a can opener, a towel, a small pot, a box of matches, and a spoon. I considered searching longer for a knife or some other weapon but decide against it. I have no idea how long my chance will last, so I trudge to the door.
Peeking through the windows I see nothing outside, not even the silver car that’s been in the driveway the whole time. It could be in the garage, but I’m counting on my luck here and hoping it’s nowhere nearby and Tom’s with it.
Sucking in a steadying breath I pull the door open and dash as fast as I can outside and start down the street. No one dashes out to stop me. The street is almost as eerily quiet as the house, but the occasional bird chirp can still be heard and it calms my nerves.
After on a few blocks, I realized I had to rest, but I’m on a residential street with nothing but houses all around me. Houses and silence. And I can’t just sit in the open, not when I have no idea where Tom is. The idea of being seen and caught again drives a spike of fear through my heart, so I decide to leave the sidewalk and check the houses I’m passing. Maybe there will be some lawn furniture in a backyard, going into a strangers house seems both wrong and completely unsafe.
I luck out on the fourth backyard I check, which has a pool and several cushioned lawn chairs, one of which is positioned so I can see the house and gate I came in through. Perfect.
I couldn’t help feeling awkward and anxious as I leaned back into the cushions of the lounger. This was someone else’s house, their yard, their furniture. To top it off, I still hadn’t heard any noise. No dogs barking, kids playing, vehicle noise, or the general chatter you usually hear in residential neighborhoods. It was definitely freaky.
A low, guttural growl breaks the silence a few minutes after I settled myself on the lounger. Crap, crap, crap! Panic surged through me and I quickly glanced around, looking for the source. At first, I saw nothing out of the ordinary, so I switched to looking for something to defend myself with. Naturally, I venture out without protection. I’m brilliant like that.
My eyes came to rest to the left of the house where I saw a long wooden handle resting against the fence. The grass is too long to see it all, but even if it’s a flimsy rake it would be better than nothing. Which I’m currently equipped with.
When I try to stand I realize how much shit I’m really in. I can’t get up! Even using my arms to push myself up, my muscles rebel and refuse to lift me more than a few inches before giving up on me. I realize quickly I’m too weak and too close to the ground to get to a standing position, so my only option will be to crawl.
I roll awkwardly off the lounger and crawl as fast as I can towards the wooden handle. I’m sure an infant could crawl faster than I was right then, but I push on. Thankfully it’s not a huge yard and I’m almost to it when the growl comes again, fiercer this time, and closer.
Shit! I scramble faster and finally reach my target. A long-handled garden hoe!
I grin as I use it and the fence to haul myself up off the ground. It takes a few minutes, and my body is not at all cooperating, but eventually I’m finally standing with my weapon in my shaking hands.
I feel steadier and more secure as I turn back towards the yard. The feeling quickly fades though when my eyes come to rest on the source of the growls.
A zombie. A real-life fucking zombie standing before me. It’s technically not the first one I’ve seen, but my mind still freezes for a moment at the absurdity of it and the fear. Zombie’s don’t exist, the logical part of my brain knows this, but the greying torn skin and bloody stump of an arm can only translate to ‘Zombie’ in my head. This is the first one I’ve seen up close, the first one not standing docile on the porch. And I’m truly terrified.
I jerked back when it starts to move towards me. No growl this time, only a gross sounding gurgle coming from it’s bloody and torn lips. Somehow that sound is much worse than the growl. It sends both fear and disgust through me, and my limbs begin to tremble and my thoughts become sluggish.
I realize I’m probably going to die and clamp my eyes closed to block it from my vision. Run! I need to run! My mind is screaming commands, but my body is incapable of following them. I realize the only thing I can do is stand there, eyes closed, and pray it’ll end quickly…