The bleakness of the sky drew the last of my sorrows from beneath my protective shield of guilt, anger and enough pain to serve a lifetime.
Wasn't such a large word now I knew the truth. A lifetime could serve an eternity for me on this rock and I'd take every day with a casual breath, metaphorically of course. Breathing was a hassle that I didn't keep up with.
I chewed the inside of my cheek, blinking away the tears that threatened my eyes as I kicked my tattered converse against the brick wall that I was slouched on. Altogether, the wall took me a full five feet into the air. Enough to get a glimpse at the dying city lights ahead, enough for me to see the deserted dirt paths in front of my nose... enough to see the stars of the never space. The Universe I wished I knew.
"Hey guys, check it out!"
My ears pricked cautiously to the voice; though I knew who it was. K, her real name no one knew. Lost to the wind most likely decades ago. She didn't share much; like all of us. We trusted each other with little, though in retrospect we were all we had of each other. I turned my head around to see her deep purple hair flapping in the breeze of the late summer night. She was doing what she did best, directing the newer ones whilst completely ignoring the rule of the elders. She knew no better, from what I could tell, she knew little of reality in general. All she had was death to keep her alive. Ironic really.
Her green tinged skin lifted into the moonlight, her bony forefinger protruding from her wrist like a weapon as she pointed out beyond the dirt path. Her violet eyes met my gaze steadily. "Do you feel it?"
I didn't need to voice my agreement, I simply nodded. Her lips quivered with a smirk as she ushered our team to circle around. There were only six of us, some came and some went. We didn't judge. If they were running on their last legs and needed a quick kill we'd serve it to them. Brains and human flesh hot and steamy ready for the taking. We were like the Zombie soup kitchen on legs.
So far I only knew two of their names, the two I had been travelling with ever since I was turned eight or so months ago. You lose track of time after a while, your body clock falls to pieces and you're left with a shred of the humanity you had when you were alive. That shred was never easy to work with.
"Come on guys, I want you lookin' alive tonight. You wanna get a good meal you're gonna have to work for it." I couldn't help but roll my eyes to that. The voice of a burly soldier, though he had no experience of it. Brendon; the jokester of the gang. He talked the most, but never said anything. He was a loner before he was bitten and all we could guess was getting turned brought the best out of him. It gave him friends and the opportunity to help people make a living in something other than gaining personal wealth. This was a matter of life and death, or rather undead or permanent dead, meaning no dramatic rising from the Graveyard down the street and most likely, no harmonious uniting with God either. We knew our place in the afterlife, which was why we steered clear of cities and picked out prey carefully. We didn't want to meet our end. Truthfully, we were just as scared as the humans that locked their doors at night, the humans that told their kids not to open their windows. The people that were utterly serious when they said that Zombies could very well devour you in the night.
"Teagan, you gonna sit there all night? We got our prey so you helpin' with the noobs or not?"
I sighed, rolling my shoulders. Sometimes I thought that if I looked at the stars... just for a while I could kid myself that I was human again. Getting tucked up in bed by my mother as she read me a story about Silkies or Fairies. Never Zombies; she didn't believe the young mind should be tainted with such reality. I could feel my lip quiver. If she could see me now... oh how wrong she was.
Instead I sniffed up all my issues, 'cause I knew that there were plenty to go around. No one shared, but sometimes... you just caught a glimpse of someone's true nature. Usually at their most vulnerable.
"Yeah, coming." I grunted, slipping from the wall and sliding down nimbly onto my feet. The stories about Zombies being mindless creatures that walk with a limp at two miles an hour was an old wives tale; something to make Humans think that they had a chance if they were cornered by a gang of them. Truth was we were faster, stronger and smarter than the average human. We could learn through our eternal life of feeding. And that was exactly what we did.
I jogged up to Brendon and K, immediately feeling their arms wrap around my back as I met them in the middle. They were my support, and though I was only seventeen and barely above five foot; they both looked up to me in a way that I couldn't swap for anything in the world.
I looked upon the new additions joining us for the kill. There were three of them, varying in height... but their faces. They were so young. The eldest having to be younger than me. Two girls and a boy, their skin the lightest of green, barely coloured. They were practically newborns. Which meant they'd need more than one human to sustain them if they were going to live. I couldn't help the small grimace that spread across my features as I took in their young features. Some Zombies were crueller than others, some bit the children just to watch them scream as they died and then scream outwards from then on. Dying didn't ease the pain, especially when it brought you with a famished, crazed hunger that nothing but warm flesh could cure. I clapped my hands together, pointing a thumb in the general direction of the noise K and I had heard previously. "From the vibrations I'm thinking a range rover probably carrying up to four people. I want you to make sure you kill these people, no playing with your food and no biting. We don't need more newborns on our tails. Understand?" I knew I sounded strict, and I hated the way these newborns cringed at the power in my tone, but they nodded as though they understood so I returned their startled gazing with a smile to ease their pain. I looked towards Brendon, his brunette locks whipping over his left eye as the gale picked up further, "take the kids and position them in the right places," Brendon nodded and with a cocky grin saluted jokingly, "Aye Aye T, I'll do as you command!"
I rolled my eyes, disguising a smirk with difficulty, "go!"
I looked to K, who was also grinning, but her eyes were focused on the children. She was around nineteen, not much older than me but old enough to have dreams. Dreams of a family... of having children of her own. Something that couldn't happen when your body is mangled and dead except for your digestion tracts and brain activity. I threaded an arm around her shoulder, "you want to sit this one out?" I asked softly.
She grinned, rolling her vibrant violet eyes as she knocked into my shoulder playfully, "nah, I'm hungry anyway. Might as well eat when there's food on the table. C'mon."
And with that, the humanity we had been sharing with each other demolished completely.
I crouched by K, feeling the vibrations of the rover as it came ever closer. That was the one thing I enjoyed about being bitten. Your senses were improved three hundred times over. Better smell, better sight, better hearing. Everything was clearer, which made it so much easier to take prey.
The roar of engines caught our attention. The range rover was a simplistic black; its large lights were on full fog conditions, taking advantage of what the humans within suspected to be a deserted dirt road.
Inches to go.
My lips twitched as I lifted my arm in the air, beckoning Brendon for his opening move. Brendon moved to the front of the vehicle forcing it to collide with his frame before it could break, the bumper of the metal twisted and bent around his large body, disfiguring the vehicle greatly. As the car screeched to a halt, K and I grabbed the doors of the vehicle, scrunching the metal in our grips and tearing the doors from their hinges. I could tell the newborns had done the same, however they had taken no time to assess who the occupants were before attacking.
All I heard were the shrill screams of a woman and a very obvious younger boy. Splatters of blood were already evident from the newborn's side. Instead of taking time to recognize the pure undying need of the two newborns to feast, I instead grabbed the collar of the very human, very scared driver of the Rover. He was male, his eyes cascading with tears. A father figure. But not very authorative. I threw him to the dirt without a second thought, grabbing his neck and forcing his forehead into the gravel below. I felt his blood gush from his skull and soak my fingers. I didn't hesitate. I could already feel my body tingling with the primal need to devour. My teeth ripped into his flesh, sucking at the bludgeoned wound, prying the brains from the body before sinking my teeth into the fleshier parts such as arms and legs. The blood and flesh poured into my system like caffeine into a five year old, fuelling me with enough energy that I felt as if it could serve me a lifetime. I grinned to my previous thoughts sitting on the wall as my jaw enveloped around the nape of the man's neck, swallowing whole pieces of flesh and allowing the blood to flow.
It wasn't soon before I felt Brendon's presence by me, his own body ravaging at the arms and legs of his side of the kill. It didn't take the two of us long to derive the body of flesh and vital organs. When we were done with him, all that was evident was a faceless skull and a ripped open ribcage soaked in blood. The bones of his limbs already discarded further from the body. I blinked a few times, attempting to get the buzzing out of my head, attempting to get grounded back to reality before the blood really got me going.
But then I felt a tug at my arm.
I turned with a risen brow to Brendon, wiping the blood from my fingers onto my clothes nonchalantly, "what?" I hissed, cringing at my own hateful tone. That was what the flesh did to you. Turned you into more of the monster, less of the human. Every time.
It was all he needed to say, my body instantly jerked around to meet her.
She knelt on the ground, mouth dripping with blood, but not with enough of a full kill. Her arms were enveloped around the body of a young girl; her arm was missing a chunk of flesh and it was oozing dark, thick rich blood. I could already see the change to it. It was tainted with the bite of a Zombie, and K simply rocked her. Hushing her with meaningless noises and words.
My body moved to her in a simple stride, the air guiding me as to be quiet for her sake. "K," I whispered, picking at a lock of her scarlet coated purple locks. I cautiously sacrificed a glance towards Brendon, his arms were around the three newborns. Their eyes of deep scarlet, but their faces still radiating fear and innocence.
"K, you can't." I insisted, attempting to grab her shoulder.
"But I can!" She countered, rolling her shoulder away as she held the struggling child tighter in her arms, "I have the power to make her my own."
I licked my lips, knowing what I had to say, and hating that I had to say it. "K, we just killed her family. If she comes back, she's not gonna want you. K... she'll be lost."
I felt K's shoulders shake and slump under my grip. "F-fine, b-but... y-you're right..."
I smiled reassuringly at her, though I felt awful about doing it. "Here." I knelt down, allowing K's arms to loosen around the body before taking the child within my own grip, her blonde, blood coated plaits landing lifelessly against my knees as her head lolled to one side. I took the child's neck, looking into her eyes. They were already becoming tainted, poisoned with the scarlet haze of a newborn. "You're gonna see your mummy and daddy." I assured, feeling my nails dig further into her neck.
I saw K's body shudder as the crack of bones echoed through the night sky.