The water is hot on my skin and the bathroom fills with steam. After a long day at work I love standing in the shower and letting the heat soothe my aching muscles. I wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner that leaves it smelling like pineapples and coconuts. The scent always seems to send my mind to a tropical island, where I am just sitting on a beach with a pina colada in my hand and no worries. Letting the water wash the suds away and I notice that my hair has gotten longer, it’s now down to the middle of my back. Thankful for the fact that my genes have given me a darker shade of red and not the normal strawberry blonde that most Irish women have.
I wash my body down with my loofah and notice that my muscles have become more defined, nice and trim now. Washing down the side of my body I reach my tattoo on my hip. I remember getting it when I joined the military to remind myself to keep grounded and balanced. Washing the rest of my body, I notice someone move by the glass door.
“That was odd”, I think to myself.
My husband isn’t due to be home for another four hours and my mother had Lucy. Thinking I am just imagining things I go back to the left side of my body, when I see it again. Instantly putting my back up against the wall to try and hide myself, in case the person was to look in. Obviously they know someone is in here because the water is running. They didn’t peer in or open the door. Quickly, I look around the shower stall to see what I could use as a weapon.
The shower rack! I break it off the wall and prepare to use it in my defense. Turning towards the glass, I wipe away some of the condensation but whoever it was, isn’t in the bathroom anymore. I turn the water off and peek out the door.
Feeling very vulnerable right now standing stark naked with a shower rack to protect me from who knows what. As I turn my head from the right side of the room to the left, that’s when I see him. He is standing in front of the shower about twenty feet in front of me.
He is about six feet tall and one hundred and eighty pounds easy. His clothes are torn to shreds and he is bloody from head to toe. His uniform though was one of a construction worker. I held the shower rod in my right hand ready to stab him through his chin and into his brain.
“Hello” I said in a whisper but he didn’t respond. He just stands there looking at the floor and rocking ever so slightly from side to side. I got angry and slammed the rod down on the counter next to him, breaking it in half. “Bad idea.” I thought to myself. His head snapped up and I see his face. It was my neighbor from two doors down but at the same time I could see that it isn’t “him”. He has this wild look in his eyes and I am pretty certain he had brown eyes and not this eerie milky blue that was staring at me now.
“BIll? If you can hear me, I want you to leave.” Still no response, what was his problem?
Maybe he has rabies or something, thats a silly thought. As I reached for a towel on the counter, he lunged at me. I move out of the way fast enough and he crashes through the glass door ofthe shower. Within seconds he is back up on his feet and covered in glass, still coming after me.
“Bill, Please!.” trying to get him to recognize me.
I slowly start to back up into my bedroom and he was walking towards me. I notice that his walk is staggered. Looking down I see that his right foot is facing outwards with his fibula bone cracked in half and is protruding out of his skin.
“Stop right there, don’t come any closer.” I know I sound stupid but it is the only thing I can think of to say.
He obviously is not listening or maybe not even understanding me. He takes another slow step towards me and taking the sharp end of the broken rod and I ram it into his gut. The feeling was different than expected. There is not a cracking sound of the skin splitting but more of a squishy sound, as if all of his organs were completely liquified. As I stand there,in disbelief, with my hand almost inside of his stomach, time seems to stop for a split second.
His blood isn’t bright red like it would be normally but thick and gel like. As I release my hand off the rod, I look down at it, it was covered in a thick dark sludge, it is already coagulated blood. How can that be? You would have to be dead to have your blood be coagulated? Bill stumbles back and looks down at the rod sticking out from his abdomen and slowly pulls it out.
“What am I supposed to do now?” I whisper to myself
I am standing there in the nude and I have someone trying to kill me. My feet instinctively turn my body around and push me out into my bedroom Bill runs at me and knocks me onto the bed. Hovering on top of me, with his breath reeking of old cigars and rotting meat, the hole that I put in him is now oozing that foul sludge all over my stomach.
With all of my strength I am able to get my legs up and under his torso and push him off of me. He flies across the room and slammed into the wall creating a huge hole. “Great, now I will have to hire a contractor.”
Before I could catch my breath he is after me again, I did a backwards roll across my bed and open my nightstand drawer. Inside is my gun and extra clip, I lift my arm to aim and pull the trigger but nothing happened.
“Oh come on, damn safety!”
Flipping the safety off, with Bill closing in, I fire off a couple rounds. One in his leg, thinking that may stop him, but neither did the rod. I pump out three more shots in his chest but he is still coming. I have to shoot him in the head, hopefully it works.
“Bill I am so sorry” I say as my last bullet hurdles towards his head and found its new home right between his milky blue eyes.
The shot knocks him off his feet and his hits the floor with a loud thud.
My watch is set to go off at 5:00am every morning. Recently the sun has been rising around 6:30am, so I have been trying to get up an hour before that. I lift my arm to shut off my alarm and I am stopped by an arm across my chest.
For a split second I forgot that there was someone else in the room with me and I grab my hunting knife out of my bedroll that I used as a pillow. It is Nell’s arm, she is curled up next to me with her arm around me. I pick up my head and look at her hand and notice that she has the small blade in it.
“Trust only goes so far.” I hear my Father’s voice in my head. He told me this when I was trying to learn how to train our dog, Bosco. He was a very frightened German Shepherd puppy that we rescued from the pound when I was eleven.
I shake her gently, so not to startle her, but I am ready to defend myself if she decides to use that knife again. The smell coming off of her is almost unbearable and her clothes are nothing more than a ragged sweatshirt and some torn up jeans. She does not have any shoes on her feet, so I know they must be torn up just like the rest of her. I will find her some shoes on the road. She begins to stir and moves her arm off my chest and I am able to slide out from beside her.
I sat on the edge of that tiny mattress and reach for my bag. It’s time to check the inventory. The bag is just as beat up as Nell’s clothes but it’s my lucky pack. The first things I pull out are my extra magazines for my gun. There are four full mags and a full box of ammo, hopefully the armory still has some weapons.
Next to pull out are my three sticky mines. I like this kind of mine because you can set the timer and they are surrounded by a sticky explosive. That way I can either place them or throw them as I run. They are very handy to have especially if you are running from a horde.
I have my first aid kit, that I need to find some more medical supplies for it. Taking out the last little bit of gauze, tape and one more alcohol wipe, I redress my wound.
I have my empty canteen and one can of fruit left, which I am going to give to Nell when she wakes up.
Finally at the bottom of the bag is my cell phone. A device that I seemed to never live without. I remember always having and needing it in my hand. “Man the things I used to hold so important in my life. What was I thinking?” The battery on the phone is dead but I still carry it around as if there is a possibility of a cell phone store still up and running. I keep it only as a reminder of what I did loose. My family. Inside this tiny device are tons of pictures of them. I can not see them but knowing that the photos are with me, gives me a little comfort.
“Celeste?” Nell said with a very quiet timid tone. She was standing right behind me. I was so focused on the phone that I didn’t even feel her get off the bed.
“Yes, Nell?” I replied as I wiped a tear from my cheek and start packing up my bag minus the fruit.
“Are we going to leave this place?” She looked frightened when she asked.
“We need to leave so we can get more food and other supplies. I cannot leave you here by yourself anymore.” She gave me a little smile and reached out her hand.
“We should go now then.” she said.
Putting the few items I have left in my pack, I pick up my bag and put it on my shoulder. I grab her hand and I feel a small electrical charge coursing through my body. I want to ask her if she feels it too but I am sure I am just imagining it. We move towards the door leading out and I slide the desk out from in front of it. I put it there last night to help barricade us in.
Slowly we make our way out of the room that Nell called home for God knows how long. She is so scared that her hand squeezes mine with such power that I have to peel it off with my other hand.
“I’ve got you. I won’t let go.” I said reassuring her.
The hallway is empty except for the empty gurneys and trash on the floor. We move in one direction to the compound’s Command Center, according to the signs on the walls. The whole place is painted in a dismal grey and it has no windows. The lights still work but most of them are broken and the ones that do work flicker. There are no names on the doors just numbers or symbols. The number of the Command Center is room 1020 and we were only in the 700s.
Following a bright yellow arrow, we take the next left and as soon as we do, it feels like the life has been sucked out of this corridor. It is completely pitch black, so dark that I had to use my flashlight in order to see down the length of it. All the doors are open and it looks as if a bomb went off in this hallway.
The ceiling tiles are broken all over the floor, wires are hanging down from the exposed ceiling rafters, and there is a lot of debris from the rooms. I shine my light up along the wall to find a compound map and according to it Room 1020 was at the end of this particular corridor.
“Of course it is.” I said to myself.
I loosen my grip on Nell’s hand and place it on the back of my belt.
“We have to down this hallway to see if we can find any information, ok sweetie?”, my voice a little shaken
She nodded her head yes but I can see in her eyes she is very frightened but also very alert. It is also the first time I actually got a really good look at her eyes. They are the most gorgeous blue I have ever seen, reminding me of glaciers down in the Arctic. They are a shade cerulean with a more of a whitish blue ring around her black pupil. Her eyelashes are long and very full, I am a little bit jealous because I would have to use a lot of mascara and a curler to get what she has naturally.
“Here we go, let’s just take this one step at a time.” I said as I pushed a piece of drywall out of the way.
So far so good and before I knew it we are standing in front of Room 1020.