UNDEAD MONDAY: The Cull | #ApocalypticFiction #FreeRead

The Cull

shattered
Photograph courtesy of Nina D’Arcangela of Dark Angel Photography

The first stone pinged off the side of the vehicle with animosity, thrown by a protestor from the crowd. Her angry face shone brightly before being lost among the sea of acrimony the bus travelled through. The passengers could only sit and stare, unsure of what was really going on and what would become of them. Herded up like animals, they’d been forced onto buses, their meagre possessions stripped from them by masked guards. Silently they sat, in a state of collective shock, their powers of comprehension failing them in the face of such secrecy and overwhelming authority.

The children cried and cuddled into their parents, not wanting to witness their fate, not understanding what was going on. All along their route, the people outside hurled their insults along with rocks, the outer casing of the bus only managing to keep out the rocks. As the windows weakened, so did the resolve of the worried inside. The masked and armed guards could see the collective composure slipping away with each barb, their poison spreading and infecting even the most determined. And then the screams of hatred and words of abuse exploded inward as the web expanded across the surface of the glass. The angry roar of the gathered filled the interior of the bus until there was no space for anything else. The air reeked of smoke, stale sweat and fear.

Slowing to a stop, great wrought-iron gates loomed in the front windscreen; they had arrived. But no one knew where they had been brought to. The gates opened and the bus rolled forward. Fences and makeshift buildings had been erected inside the walls—the space designed to keep those who inhabited it inside, while the others were kept out. But which side of the wall was clear of infection?

Copyright © 2014 Julianne Snow

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UNDEAD MONDAY: Seven | #FreeFiction #FlashFiction

Seven

It’s been seven months since it all happened. We woke up one morning to the end of the world.

It’s been seven days since you left. You went out looking for supplies to help fortify the small hole in the wall we’d managed to find. Maybe even find some food to keep our spirits up and our bodies going. Seven long days without word, without anyone else to talk to. Long days of utter, deafening isolation.

sevenIt’s been seven hours since I awoke to the sounds outside. I wondered if it was you but knew in my heart it wasn’t. They’d found us and now it was only a matter of time before they got in. I cursed myself for not being strong enough to go with you, but my swollen belly made travel too hard with what the world had become.

It’s been seven minutes since someone broke through the paltry excuse for a reinforced door. I say someone, but it was one of them. I could hear the snarling coming from the dark hallway that lead in the room we were using as a home. I prayed it was a dog or something small I knew I could fend off, but my prayers went unanswered.

It’s been seven seconds since my scream shattered the landscape around me. Seven seconds since I’d felt pain I’d never even imaged. Seven seconds since the savagery the world had descended into found me.

And in seven seconds, I’ll join them…

All rights reserved © 2016 Julianne Snow

 

Random Monday Mini: The Cull

Okay so today’s Random Monday Mini wasn’t based on a word, but a photograph…

shattered

The Cull

The first stone pinged off the side of the vehicle with animosity, thrown by a protestor from the crowd. Her angry face shone brightly before being lost among the sea of acrimony the bus travelled through. The passengers could only sit and stare, unsure of what was really going on and what would become of them. Herded up like animals, they’d been forced onto buses, their meagre possessions stripped from them by masked guards. Silently they sat, in a state of collective shock, their powers of comprehension failing them in the face of such secrecy and overwhelming authority.

The children cried and cuddled into their parents, not wanting to witness their fate, not understanding what was going on. All along their route, the people outside hurled their insults along with rocks, the outer casing of the bus only managing to keep out the rocks. As the windows weakened, so did the resolve of the worried inside. The masked and armed guards could see the collective composure slipping away with each barb, their poison spreading and infecting even the most determined. And then the screams of hatred and words of abuse exploded inward as the web expanded across the surface of the glass. The angry roar of the gathered filled the interior of the bus until there was no space for anything else. The air reeked of smoke, stale sweat and fear.

Slowing to a stop, great wrought-iron gates loomed in the front windscreen; they had arrived. But no one knew where they had been brought to. The gates opened and the bus rolled forward. Fences and makeshift buildings had been erected inside the walls—the space designed to keep those who inhabited it inside, while the others were kept out. But which side of the wall was clear of infection?

All rights reserved. Copyright © 2014 Julianne Snow 

AtoZ2014: Bus Stop

Bus Stop

Carmen and Doug made their way slowly away from the burning house, their attention focussed on what could come out the dark at them. With little moonlight, there was no telling what lay ahead, waiting to reach out for them.

“Where are we heading Carmen?” Doug pulled against her hand in a bid to keep her from continuing forward. He hated when she took the lead, but understood she only did it to make up for his own shortcomings.

More often than not Doug had frozen in dangerous situations, his fear response high and uncontrollable. Over the months, he’d gotten better, but he still wasn’t at a point where his body would allow him to react the way his brain wanted him to.

“Anywhere but here sweetie.” Carmen understood his limitations all too well. Hell, she’d dealt with his agoraphobia for 4 years of their marriage before forcing him to get help. It had only taken Doug ten months of intensive therapy before he’d consider venturing outside—and that was a miracle in and of itself.

That had been three years ago, and while he continued to make progress, his fears still held him captive at times.

A shape loomed in the darkness before them, causing Doug to stop and scream. Carmen stopped as well, brought up short by the statue that was once her husband.

“Doug, we’ve got to move honey.” She knew coaxing him was the only way to get him moving. And she needed him to move.

Carmen could hear it. The strange keening moan that identified the dead for all who could hear them. It was a sound that sent knives of pain though the brain—like the sound of nails in a chalkboard. She cringed in fear and pain, her finger coming up to wiggle around in her ear canal in an attempt to shake the noise free.

It was a move or die moment. One of them was coming and once it had caught their scent, it would be a difficult feat to lose its trail. Carmen didn’t want to think about the possibility it was a group of them. There was no way for survival if there were more than one of them.

Thinking on her feet, she turned to Doug and slapped him hard across the face. Never had she laid a hand on him before, never during the years of his self-enforced captivity, but in a moment of panic, she relied on her desperation.

His hand flew to his face and his eyes widened to saucer sized. His lower lip trembled for the briefest moment before he sucked it up and grabbed her hand.

Thankfully it worked this time. If she’d had to leave him, she would have, but was thankful that moment wasn’t today. She knew it was coming, but the longer she could ward it off, the better.

The crossed the street, putting some distance between them and the ungodly noise while trying to remain downwind of the creature. Ducking in behind the marquee of a bus stop, the pair stopped to catch their breaths.

The inhuman screams sounded again, closer this time.

“Are we surrounded?”

“Doug, let’s try not to panic before we need to. It could still be one of them. Relax, at least for the moment.”

Carmen spied a doorway in front of them, the wooden door standing slight askew. She caught the briefest flash of light, grabbed Doug and propelled him bodily past the barrier. The door closed quietly behind them as she turned to stare into the face of their salvation.

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

Random Monday Mini: Bacteria

And today’s random word is…

Bacteria

The perfect killer. Small, invasive, self-replicating; it needs you, it loves you…

***

“Mommy, I don’t feel very well…” Angie whined as she rubbed a grubby hand across her nose.

Laurie placed the back of her hand on the little girl’s forehead, judging the severity of her illness by temperature. “Is it your tummy honey?”

“No Mommy.”

“What hurts sweetie?” Laurie looked at the pallid complexion of her daughter, beginning to worry at seeing the dark-rimmed eyes and runny nose.

“I just don’t feel we—” Angie barely got the words out before going limp in her mother’s lap.

Laurie shook her daughter, gently at first growing more concerned at her inability to rouse her. Placing her fingers on her neck, she felt for a pulse, growing alarmed at how cool her daughter now felt. “Angie? Angie! ANGIE!!”

Panicked, she laid her daughter on the couch as she grabbed for the phone. Dialing 9-1-1 quickly, she cradled the phone in the crook of her shoulder as she waited for the line to connect. Still she searched for a pulse…

“Police, Fire or Ambulance?”

“Ambulance!”

Laurie waited a few more seconds as the general dispatcher connected her to the correct department, growing agitated at the delay. She stroked her daughter’s face with one hand as she pushed deeper into her daughter’s neck with the other. Why couldn’t she find a pulse?

“Ambulance. What’s your emergency?”

“It’s my daughter. She just fainted and I’m having trouble finding her pulse, can you send an ambulance please?!?”

“Is your daughter breathing?”

“No!”

“Do you know CPR?”

“No!! Oh my God, she’s going to die isn’t she??”

“Ma’am, calm down and do as I say. Can you put the phone on speaker and put it down beside your daughter?”

“Yes, hang on a second…” Noise can be heard in the background of the call as Laurie fumbles with the phone. She comes back a moment later sounding a little farther away. “Okay what do I do?”

“I need to take your finger and scoop out anything that may be in her mouth first.”

“Okay, gimme a second.” More noise can be heard in the background, then a piercing scream echoes over the line.

“Fucking hell! She bit my finger!”

“Ma’am?”

“Angie! Oh thank God you’re awake! I was so worried!”

“Ma’am?”

“Let me get a towel for my finger.” Laurie’s voice seems farther away as she addressed the phone again, “Operator if you’re still there can send help for me? It seems my daughter’s bite reflex was a little stronger than I expected.”

“Your daughter bit you? Is she conscious now?”

“Yes, she seems to be alert, though she’s still very pale and seems confused. Sweetie, stay on the couch I’ll be right back.”

All Rights Reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

Random Monday Mini: Internet

Today’s random word is…

INTERNET

They sat in front of their screens, unable to tear their eyes away from what was unfolding. In some areas reports were sporadic, only coming through hours after the fact when safety and connectivity permitted. In others, they streamed live; shot from balconies and roofs as the world succumbed to the encroaching virus. The feeds were terrifying but the message was the same: the end is nigh…

All Rights Reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

Random Monday Mini: Ant

Today’s random word is…

ANT

“Fuck! Something just bit me!” Sarah squirmed underneath Aaron on red blanket they had laid on the grass.

“Just relax Sarah, I’m sure it wasn’t something horrible,” he said as he continued to kiss the tender skin of her neck. “Just relax and I’ll make you forget all about it.”

Sarah knew him well enough by now to know he’d winked when he’d said it. Aaron was certainly a charmer and there was no way he’d miss a chance to get into her pants. “Seriously dude, it hurts. Get off. Now!”

Aaron continued to kiss her neck, running his tongue up the length of it and using his lips to draw her ear into his mouth. He sucked for the briefest of moments until he felt her shiver before letting his mouth fall back to the spot just above her collarbone. His hands traced a number of paths over her clothes, venturing closer to the lower hem of her powder blue t-shirt.

Suddenly Sarah’s body jerked; the length of it jumping off the ground in chaotic movements. A seizure. Aaron had no idea how to help and wished he’d paid better attention to her lessons on what he should do if her epilepsy flared while they were out.

Rolling to the side, he brought himself up to his knees, taking her right hand in his and patting her shoulder awkwardly. As he stared into her face, tears of helplessness welled in his eyes. He could see the angry red rash creeping over the landscape of her skin, but he was at a loss at what to do.

Grabbing his phone, he called 911 and was connected in short order.

“Fire, Police or Ambulance?”

“Ambulance. My girlfriend is having a seizure or something and I need help!”

“Calm down, help is on the way. Tell me where you are.” The calm demeanour of the operator had no effect on Aaron.

“You have to come quick. She has epilepsy.”

“I need to know where you are sir. Can you tell me?”

“Granger’s Park. Behind the Snack Shack. Hurry! Please!”

“I have a unit on their way to you now. Can you tell me your name please?”

“Aaron. Aaron Samuels.”

“Thank you Aaron. What is your girlfriend’s name?”

“Sarah Codger.”

“Do you know if Sarah takes any medications for her epilepsy?”

“I have no idea. Can’t you just come and make her better?” At this point Aaron was crying, the words coming out in huge slobbering gulps.

“Aaron, I’m going to need you to calm down. Can you do that for me?”

Aaron took a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves and compose himself. Within a minute he’d calmed down a small amount as he continued to stare at Sarah flopping around on the ground. “I think I’m okay now.”

“Good Aaron. Is Sarah still seizing?”

“Yes.”

“How long has it been going on?”

“Maybe 3 or 4 minutes?” He heard the pause on the other end and said, “That’s bad isn’t it? You’ve got to get here faster! Sarah can’t die!”

“Aaron, calm down. No one is going to die today. Can you do me a favour?”

“What is it?”

“I need you to put the phone down and place something like a belt or some sort of stiff fabric between her teeth so that she doesn’t bite down on her tongue. Can you do that for me?”

“Ummmm, yeah, I think so.” Aaron activated the speakerphone before placing it down on the blanket beside him. Unbuckling his belt, he drew it through the loops until he held it in his hands. “Okay, I’ve got my belt off and I’m going to try and get it between her teeth. She’s foaming at the mouth a bit, is that okay?”

“Aaron, that’s normal during a seizure. I just need you to concentrate on getting that belt between her teeth, okay?”

It took Aaron more than a few seconds to get the belt worked into place, the whole time worrying that he was going to hurt her. “Okay it’s in.”

“Okay good, now I need you to hold her head somewhat still. Can you do that?”

Aaron repositioned himself at the top of Sarah’s head and bent over her, placing his forearms on either side of her ears and tried to keep it stationary. “She’s moving around a lot still.”

“That’s okay. Her seizure will be over soon. You’re doing an excellent job Aaron.”

The next few minutes passed as the operator talked to Aaron, trying to keep him calm through the ordeal. Aaron did his best to follow the instructions of the voice on the other end of the phone, but he found his resolve slowly melting away. He wanted this all to be over, and he wanted Sarah to wake up.

“Wait! I think it’s stopping. She’s stopped shaking!”

“That’s good news Aaron. When she wakes up, she might be groggy or confused. I will need you to keep her from getting up. Can you do that Aaron?”

“Yes. I think so.” Part of him was relieved, the other part still scared shitless. “Sarah, everything’s going to okay. Help is on the way.”

“That’s good thinking Aaron, keep talking to her.”

“Ummm, I think there’s something wrong…”

“What do you mean Aaron? What’s wrong?”

“Are they coming soon?”

“They should be there soon Aaron, just hang in there.”

“I can hear screaming.”

“Screaming?”

“Yeah, it’s close too. This is really beginning to freak me out.”

The line fell silent for a moment and the eerie sounds of screaming in the distance came through the operator’s receiver. The switchboard lines at dispatch lit up almost instantaneously and all she could do was stare at her computer screen as the cacophony of calls echoed through the room.

“Aaron, are you still there?”

The last thing she heard before the line went dead was his scream, terrified and full of panic.

All Rights Reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

 

Random Monday Mini: Microscope

Today’s word is…

MICROSCOPE

“Mike, you’ve got to see this.”

“What is it Sarah?”

“Just look at the specimen.”

Mike walked over to Sarah’s microscope and peered into the eyepiece for a second before turning the focus knob toward him. He drew in a sharp breath before whipping his head up to look at her.

“Which one am I looking at?”

“It’s from Test Subject #1054.”

Mike’s eyes turned back to the cells he could see through the lens, his amazement growing with each passing second. He watched as they divided and then consumed the surrounding healthy tissues. He spoke again, unable to tear his eyes away, “am I really witnessing this?”

“Yes Mike, though I have to admit I’m not sure why you’re excited. These are not the results we were hoping for.”

“Yes I can see that Sarah, but do you know what this means?”

“Yeah, we’ve just created a monster. I’ll take all the samples from 1054 to the incinerator today and make sure the animal is destroyed and incinerated as well. It explains why the test subject didn’t react well at all. In fact, it bit me pretty badly while I was trying to get the samples.”

Mike looked up, fear entering his eyes for the first time. “You got bit?”

“Yeah, little bastard took a pretty big chunk too.”

“Did you report it to anyone?”

“Not yet. I wanted to see the samples before I did anything else. I’m probably going to need some strong antibiotics.”

Mike knocked over the stool behind him as he backed away from Sarah, terror plastered all over his face. There seemed to be a level of indecision in his actions, like he wanted to tell her something but couldn’t decide if he should just flee.

“Mike, what’s the matter?”

“I changed the formula last week.”

“You did what?”

“I changed the formula… Look, I know it was wrong, but I had a hunch!”

“A hunch?”

“Yes, I thought if I could make the cancer consume itself, we could die billionaires and Nobel Laureates.”

“But I don’t have cancer Mike… What will this do to me?”

“I have no idea Sarah, but you’re really not looking too well at the moment. I think you need to go into quarantine.”

“Quarantine?”

Mike had finally gotten himself to the door to their lab. Opening it, he slid out and closed the door behind him.

“What are you doing Mike?”

“Hopefully saving the world…” Mike gave her one last look as he palmed the emergency quarantine button on the wall. The room sealed and the ventilation system shut down. As the doorways around him all began to close, and the sounds of the ventilation system shut down over his head, he brought his face up to look at Sarah again, surprise covering it.

“Did you think they’d only quarantine me, Mike?”

All Rights Reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

Random Monday Mini: T-Shirt

This week’s random word is…

T-SHIRT

It came at me. From a direction I completely wasn’t expecting. Fucking zombie!

Sometimes you think you’re in the clear, you know? You look in front of you and all seems normal. That’s the problem with thinking you’re living in a normal world. Nothing is normal now.

I’d been surviving on my own for about a year now. In the beginning there were more people but you know when they say you can’t cure stupid? They’re right. Once, I watched this guy walk right into a grocery store without even checking first!

I mean sure, we hadn’t seen many of them that day, but it wasn’t like they had jobs to go to anymore. They just hung out sometimes waiting for the living to wander by.

I guess that’s their job though isn’t it… Hunting us. Who can blame them for getting a little smarter about it?

Geez man, now I’m giving them some intelligence. But I swear, if you watch them too long, you’ll see what I mean. They have an uncanny ability to sense things. I watched a few people walking down the street yesterday, doing the normal look-out and advance stuff we’ve all learned from watching movies.

The funny thing was that none of them thought to watch their back. Classic rookie mistake, but it wasn’t like any of us are rookies. Jesus, it’s been at least 16 months since everything went down. If you’ve survived this long the dumb luck has to have been tempered with a little skill.

And I was beginning to think my own dumb luck had run out.

Its fingers caught the hem of my shirt, pulling me back as I struggled to get away. In a the briefest of seconds it was on top of me, weighing me down. I knew it was over and had kind of come to a sort of peace a while back.

No one could survive forever, especially not alone.

You want to know the funny thing?

We were both wearing the same concert t-shirt…

All Rights Reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

Random Monday Mini: VAN

So I asked Creative Games to give me a word and it spit out… VAN. So here goes!

VAN

It came out of the darkness, its headlights blinding us for the brief moment it stayed true to our direction. It turned sharply, responding to what it encountered.

The road was full of them and us as we struggled to stay that important step in front of them. We ran past it, not wanting to slow down, not wanting to hope that someone was willing to help us.

“Hey! Stop! What’s going on?”

How could they now know? Didn’t they watch the news? It was everywhere!

The dead had risen and now they were taking over. All you could do was run, try to stay ahead of them. But even then, so many had no idea what to do.

The van pulled up next to us. The driver, a young man with a beard, rolled down the window, “Where are you going? Do you have a plan?”

The panic in his voice was palpable. I didn’t want to stop and I wasn’t sure I wanted to waste precious breath talking to him either. Risking a sideways glance, I stared him full in the face, letting him see the terror, the blood that marred my once porcelain-coloured complexion. “Out.”

“Out? What does that mean?” I could read the confusion and I continued to run, his van keeping pace with us.

“We’re getting out.” I didn’t know why I bothered explaining it to him. It was unlikely he was really going to care.

“Look, get in and we can get out together. Deal?”

I could tell he was nervous, scared to be alone. I also knew there was no way I was going to be able to keep up this pace with a kid on my hip and another tiring at the end of my arm.

“I drive.” It was simple, I’d stated the rules and he acquiesced.

All Rights Reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow