No one wanted to play with her
After a few pitiful attempts to chat up some of the other kids they all quietly walked off. Refusing to even look at her.
With the only exception being one boy who laughed in her face.
Feeling more alone than ever she started working on building a sand castle.
Doing her best to keep her emotions away.
A couple tears still fell down despite her best efforts..
It was then something blocked her light, casting a shadow over her end of the sandbox.
She looked up to see another person standing over her.
The sun gave them a heavenly glow.
As if she was an angel.
Time didn’t mean anything anymore. It could have been days, months, or even years since Olivia went out for supplies. Julia held her knees to her chest. Nothing could be heard but sounds of the house settling and her own anxious breathing. Far too quiet anyone or anything to be safe. She felt the almost deafening silence swallowing her whole and killing her peace of mind bit by bit. The midday sun creaked in through the boarded windows. Bits of dust and dirt floating around in its presence. Another reminder of how filthy her ocne spotless house has become. Feeling panic in her veins, Julia remembered what her school counselor once taught her.
Breathe in and out.
In and out.
Still the unwanted thoughts still squeezed their way into her skull.
Her parents were among the earliest to fall ill to this disease. Maybe even some of the first to go through the changes. She shivers and tries to think of anything else but that. She has to focus, has to think. Has to get out and find Olivia. Find her before the night falls and the worst of those creatures start walking upright. She rubs her dirty face and scratches at her unkempt hair.There was no other option was there? With a regretful sigh she gets up. Ready to face whatever evil awaits outside.
She stayed off main roads and sidewalks. Even if it wasn’t a minefield of monstrosity the foul smells and trails of ambiguous fluids would have been too much for her to stand. She walked in careful and gentle bursts in case her footsteps could attract unwanted attention. Keenly listening to the distance wailing and gurgling. The noises of unfathomable suffering. It was so nauseating she would have puked. Thankfully or unthankfully her stomach was already painfully empty. There was no getting used to horrors like this. Soon she saw buildings in the distance. Not the familiar sight of boarded up and ransacked houses but actual commercially designed buildings. She had finally reached the town square.
The closest place for supplies and the most likely place for Olivia to be. The screaming and sobbing of the ill were barely audible making this place as safe as it was going to get. The general store down the road was her best bet. Only place nearby that had a focus on groceries. Places like the laundromat and book store held nothing but the remains of once desperate families that got cornered and trapped by those things. She thinks about what if Olivia was trapped in the general store like they once were.
She can’t let her own mind get away from her.
She breathed in.
And breathed out.
She gave herself a light slap on the side of her head and pushed those horrible horrible thoughts away. She left the bushes and went onto the sidewalk. Her feet were already killing her, and her stomach making all kinds of desperate pleas for nourishment. The summer sun even took time to assault her body with heat and rays. Julia suddenly wishes she wore anything other than her old run-down sweatpants. On the way to the store she found ghosts of her past. The old arcade she played with her classmates all the way back in middle school. Some of Olivia’s friends, while usually nice, were often bad losers. Almost always defeated by Julia in those fighter games She stifled a chuckle and then felt a cold realization at what might have happened to them. She hoped strongly that some of her old friends managed to get out before things turned into this nightmare.
Of course this assumes what happened here hasn’t happened everywhere else.
She nervously swallowed her spit and walked on doing her best not to look back. She was not doing this, not now. She needed to be strong. To be brave. Olivia needs her. She kept walking for a few minutes until she smelled it. And soon saw it. This putrid sight will haunt her until her final day. She looked down at her shoes and kept walking. Fighting the macabre urge to look directly at the biohazards. But in the corners of her vision she still saw bits and pieces of it. Throbbing bloodied bits of pink flesh. Sometimes rotten, always seemingly alive. Almost always surrounded by a weird array of bodily fluid, misshapen bones, and even the occasional blinking eye. She held her breath. Not wanting a single particle of this to enter her lungs.
Julia swore she could hear faint pleas for help from the ground below but chalk that up to her own imagination. She moved her hands from her nose to her ears just in case. Those poor people.
Hell maybe even her dad was among them. A chill went down her spine at the mere implication of it. She had to get away from this horror .She desperately ran the rest of the way until she made it to the general store. going through the front door she took in the chaos around her. This place somehow got even more run down than when this all first started. The rotting, partially skeletal body of the owner was still there.
She remembered the early days of the “viral infection”. Or whatever the hell this actually was. Before the sounds of nightly screaming kept her up at night. Way back when everything operated more in line with a nasty strand of flu. CDC tent clinics, extra police officers, and closed down schools.
She felt a tinge of grief. Her father was among the first cases and those doctors from all across the state tried their best. She shakes her head. She needed to stop. She can’t do this now. She can’t do this one bit. She needs to stay alive. She needs to find Olivia, and she needs to get out of this god forsaken town, still her mind thinks about Louie. The store owner was kind and reasonable even when people were buying emergency supplies en masse. Never short changed anyone to the best of her knowledge and didn’t even raise prices when things got tough. But there he was. A rotting corpse. Just a collection of objects at this point. A bullet hole in his skull. Gone in an instant. His killer never to be brought to justice.
She sighed and forced herself to remain on task. She looked around, front and back of the store, not only Olivia but there wasn’t even a single edible can of food. Even the gumball machine of all things laid busted open and empty. There was no sign of her to be found here and now that the general store was crossed off her list only two possibilities as to where she could have gone.
The first was that she went through houses to raid pantries.
Too stupid and dangerous. Julia knew she wouldn’t have risked it.
The second was her best bet
Olivia must have gone off to the gas station on the edge of town.
She cursed under her breath.
It was mid-afternoon by this point and she wasn’t even half way there. She thought of what night could bring and that propelled her forward. The clock was ticking and she had to hurry. This thought persisted until she heard a disgustingly familiar sound. A large bestial roar. She looked behind her and her fears were confirmed. There it was. A living and walking nightmare.
It was towering above. Taller than a man on stilts, fatter than a hundred hogs, and with far too many legs. There stood this conglomerate of oozing bodies all fuzed together into an ungodly mass. All aware. All awake. All feeling every bit of their predicament. Faces frozen in agony and silent screams. Time went so painstakingly slow. Simple seconds made up entire eternities. Julia’s eyes went up to the top and what she saw there she can never heal from. At the very top of this beast was her dad’s head. On this monster as if he became this thing’s head. Her heart ache was broken by her distraught screaming. The beast roared and lunged towards her. She ran off-road into a nearby field of tall grass. The thunderous sounds of that creature’s footsteps not far behind.
And she ran.
Running until the very concept of distance seemed like an abstract idea. Ran until she knew she escaped but kept going anyway. Only stopping when she tripped and fell into a ditch. Laying down in the mud she let it all out. Her dad. The man that raised her on his own. She didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. She curled up into a ball. She wished she had just stayed inside her house for even starving to death seemed desirable compared to this. She wished she was home and that none of this happened. Yearning and grasping for times gone by. She thought to herself that even if Olivia was in trouble she couldn't do a single thing to help. She felt useless. Useless and worthless. She gasped struggling to get any oxygen.
There was no time for this. Daylight hours were running out.. Olivia needed her and she, more than anything, needed Olivia. She got up and kept moving. Not even stopping for a moment when she heard a woman scream for help in the distance. Given the animalistic howling that accompanied the screaming there was nothing she likely could have done for her anyway.
After what might have been twenty minutes she saw it. She saw hope. She saw the gas station sign. This had to be it. This was the only place left where she could have gone.The sight of the long-since out of power “Twenty Four Hour Gas and Groceries” felt like a mercy from an otherwise apathetic god. A brief rush of energy overcame her. She ran up to the front door. It was Locked and boarded up.She turned to look for a back entrance .When she heard a voice. The voice of her angel.
The weariness in that voice could be felt even by a common housefly. It was her. Julia had finally found her. In a bout of surprise strength she burst down the door with nothing but brute force. The sight she took in broke her.
She could tell right then that Olivia wasn’t long for this world. Her eyes were bloodshot. Her skin was mostly deadly pale but with a strange red tint spreading across her. The same one she saw on her dad all those months ago.
“Olivia?..Oh god please stay with me…”
With her life fading away Olivia replied ” You have to leave…There isn’t much left in this town…There was barely anything inside of her when I came in.”
Julia felt wetness on her cheek. “ I’m not leaving you!”
“ I don’t have much time left.” She said.Her throat sounds dry and rotting. As if she hasn’t spoken in years. As if a corpse was talking .
“I loved you, ya know? I’m sorry it took all this for me to tell you.”
Her angel. The one who brightened her world up all those years ago. The one that taught her how to fly. Saving her from the madness of isolation. Giving her meaning when she had none.
Julia leaned down and kissed her. The touch of their lips gave a much needed spark to each other. Longing now satisfied at long last. An angel giving its final blessing upon this land. When their heads pulled away Olivia gave her final gasp and then she was gone.
The setting sun illuminated the world in a bath of orange as Julia made her way out of town. There was nothing left for her here. The last bind that tied her here has been severed. But before she went off into the coming night she looked leftward. There it was. The park from memory’s past. Including the playground from where she first met Olivia. Despite years gone by and everything that’s happened it has changed so little. She held in her tears of nostalgia and walked off onto the road to somewhere else. Anywhere else.
Written by AudreyOwO
Content is available under CC BY-SA