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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
18+ Only
Set in Paris, France; this is the first installment of an ongoing zombie apocalypse series I plan to write.

Submitted: April 05, 2016

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Submitted: April 05, 2016

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Paris, France-21 Hours after Initial Infection

Music, loud music; people laughing…alcohol…copious amounts of alcohol. Images of the past night flashed through her mind and began to whirl faster and faster until she felt the need to get rid of them. Eyes opening and shoulders throwing themselves forwards, vomit exploded from her mouth with the force of a fire hose.

“Oh shit.” She’d have to clean that up later. That was the downside of having a party at your own house, the vomit stayed with you until you were active enough to clean it up. Either that or you passed out from the smell that invaded every tiny particle of material that you owned.

She noticed her friend lying on the floor next to her. “Peter.” He didn’t move. “Peter, wake up!” She threw a pillow which elicited a low groan from him but that was the extent of his acknowledgement of the waking world. “I vomited.”

He turned his head and looked at her with murderous, bloodshot eyes. “I know, I’m currently lying in it. It’s worked its way over to me.”

“So move.” She suggested but he just looked at her with those bloodshot eyes.

“No, because then I’ll vomit. Besides, it’s nice and warm.”

“You’re disgusting.” She remarked. He’d always been a little lax when it came to the subject of hygiene. He wasn’t dirty or anything but he still wasn’t as clean as most people.

“You keep saying that, Cécile but you still hang around me.” It was true. Cécile had known Peter for most of her life and she had told him about his dangerously low hygiene standards for a good seventy percent of the time they were together. She’d once seen him eat a slice of blue bread. It wasn’t even just a bit mouldy, it was completely blue like somebody had doused it in food colouring.

Cécile decided she needed to go to the bathroom and began to navigate her way through the minefield of bottles and cans on her floor. When she got to the door, she realised there was someone standing in her way.

“Excuse me.” She said but he didn’t move, he just stood there looking at her. “Excuse me.” She repeated louder this time but he remained stationary. She attempted to push past him and placed her hands on his chest. His shirt was stained with something dark and her fingertips stuck to it when she tried to remove them. She managed to pull them off but not without making herself want to vomit again. The shirt peeled off like super glue on skin and when she looked at her hands she saw they were tinged red.

He began to move closer to her with his teeth bared, snarling. “What the fuck?” She tried to push him away but he kept coming at her, pushing her back into the room. “Look, stop, alright? This isn’t funny, it’s pissing me off. I will punch you if you come any closer.” He did so she punched him right in the nose. He didn’t make a sound, he didn’t even falter that much. The only difference was that he had stopped snarling at her and was just staring blankly, like he was confused. The confused expression soon turned to one of anger and he lunged at Cécile, knocking her to the floor.

His hands stretched over her face and began clawing for her eye sockets. “Fuck off!” She managed to yell from underneath his wrists. Cécile grabbed hold of his arms and began to pull at them but it was no use. He seemed to find her arms to be easier targets, however, and released her face, grabbed her left arm and raised it to his mouth. She saw a bottle to the right of her, grabbed hold of the neck and decked him over the head with it. It shattered, leaving shards of glass in his face and showering her with tiny particles that fell into her eyes and mouth.

He fell off her and she stood up, blinking the tiny particles out of her eyes but she couldn’t get all of them. She decided to deal with it later-he was back up. He lunged at Cécile and in a split second she made a decision and executed it with expert precision given the circumstances. When she had finished he lay there with half a glass bottle sticking out from his forehead. Blood poured all over the floor and mixed with the vomit. Cécile had just killed someone. An actual person was lying dead on the floor because of her. She suddenly needed to vomit again. Doubling over and pouring her guts out from her mouth, Cécile thought over the last few minutes. He tried to bite her. He actually tried to bite her. It had to be a bath salts thing. That’s what it was, bath salts. It was self-defence because a junky tried to bite her. A person tried to bite her…an actual person…

When she finished vomiting, Cécile walked over to Peter. “Peter! Peter get up. We need to call the police.”

“Why?” He asked. The blood had flowed along the floor and pooled around his face.

“I just killed someone.”

His eyes opened wide and he sat bolt upright. “What?!” His eyes drifted to the man with half a bottle in his head and he screamed. “Oh, fuck! You killed him! What happened?”

“He tried to bite me. He must be on bath salts or something. You know like in America?”

“Shit. Fuck. Shit.” Peter said those three words so fast they were almost one syllable. “Okay, okay so it was self-defence. That’s fine the police will understand.”

“Yeah, exactly. Everything will be fine.” Cécile pulled her mobile from her jeans and dialled 112. There was nothing. No service. “It’s not working.” She said. “Let’s try the house phone.” They went into the kitchen and picked up the house phone-no service.

“Let’s try the TV. There might be something wrong with the phone lines.” The TV was a mass of static and white noise. No channels worked and after Peter cycled through them thrice, he came to that conclusion and threw the remote down. “Shit!” He remarked.

Cécile opened the radio on her phone and cycled through the frequencies all devoid of human life until she found one. “-GENCY! AVOID INFECTED AT ALL COSTS. PATHOGEN IS SPREAD THROUGH CONTACT WITH BODILY FLUIDS: SALIVA AND BLOOD ARE PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS. SEXUAL FLUIDS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE VECTORS. REPEAT, AVOID INFECTED AND KEEP CONTACT WITH BODILY FLUIDS TO A MINIMUM…

Cécile looked at Peter. The left side of his face was covered in blood that had seeped into the corners of his mouth and eyes.

He noticed the look on her face. “Cécile, come on. I’m not infected. I’ll be fine, I promise.” She backed away and he walked closer to her. “Come on. That was at least five minutes ago that I had contact with it. I would have it already. I’m fine.”

The woman on the radio continued. “SYMPTOMS INCLUDE RASHES, STOMACH PAINS AND NAUSEA BEFORE VITAL ORGANS SHUT DOWN AND BRAIN FUNCTION BECOMES LIMITED.

Cécile stared at Peter out of the corner of her eye. What if he was infected? What would she do? Would she have to kill him? She didn’t want to kill him. She’d be on her own. You can’t be alone at times like these. It doesn’t help your safety or your mental state. She decided to leave it for the time being. If he changed, she deal with him or it or whatever, when it happened. Until then, however, she needed to figure out what to do.  

The woman on the radio had been interrupted by a gruff sounding man. “As the lady said, bodily fluids. Don’t let them bite you or bleed into any orifices or open wounds. We want to survive this. It’s just like the films, kids.

“We are currently co-ordinating a safe zone located in Versailles. Proceed there for shelter, food and assistance. Check this frequency periodically for updates.

The voice faded into static and the room was almost silent once again. Cécile had decided what to do. She went back into her room, grabbed a large bag and began filling it with clothes. She proceeded to the kitchen with her bag and took canned food and knives.

“We can’t go to that ‘safe zone’.” Peter said as Cécile shovelled dangerous cutlery into her bag.

“Why not?” She had begun filling plastic bottles of water now.

“Because, in every zombie film I have ever seen those places are the furthest things from being safe. It’s like the zombies specifically target them when the infection starts.”

“It’s a good thing we’re not in a film then isn’t it?” She motioned towards a draw at the opposite end of the kitchen. “Can you grab some cling film from that draw please?” He grabbed the cling film and handed it to her. “Thank you. Do you want to grab some of your stuff?”

“No, I thought I’d just wing the apocalypse.” Cécile was slightly annoyed by the sarcasm in his voice. Peter had always had a scathingly witty remark to everything anybody said but this was the first time it annoyed her and rightly so; she was hung over, she just had to kill someone she was probably having a nice night with a few hours ago and the whole world had gone to shit while she was sleeping. Peter went to his room to grab a couple of things.  

“You don’t have to come to the safe zone if you don’t want to. I can drop you off somewhere and I’ll head up there.”

“No I go where you go. I don’t like it, that’s all.”

Cécile zipped up the bag and handed it to him when he came back with a backpack on. “You carry this and I’ll go get a couple of pool cues.” She dropped the bag in Peter’s arms and walked into the lounge area of the apartment. The pool cues were stacked up against the wall in a line like soldiers standing at attention. Cécile took one in each hand and walked back to Peter. “Alright, let’s go.”

As they left the house she passed a mirror. Her dark hair and ebony skin was covered in blood and her clothes looked like she had hired a psychopath to tie-dye them. That along with the pool cues in both hands made her look quite badass, she thought.

Just before the front door was the bathroom. She had almost forgotten about the bathroom. “Peter, wait.” She ran inside and grabbed all of the necessities: medicine, first aid kit, bandages, tampons, toilet paper and toothpaste and brush. She never thought about those things when she watched zombie films. As she left the bathroom her mind wandered and she began to wonder how often the characters would run out of these necessary items. Imagine that!’ she thought, ‘As if the apocalypse wasn’t hell already.’

Peter unzipped the bag in anticipation and she dropped the items into the already bulging canvas container where they teetered on the top of a very large pile of cutlery. “Alright, let’s go.” Cécile walked past Peter and he almost fell over with the weight sitting on his shoulder as he turned to follow.

They walked down the mass of stairs that led them down to Cécile’s car with Peter having to stop every few minutes to reposition the bag. They tried to be as quiet as they could be but both of their voices betrayed their vow of silence when they saw a door two floors down smashed to pieces with blood dripping from the edges and what looked like a finger hanging from a particularly sharp piece.

After the initial shock, Cécile composed herself and looked at Peter. “Keep walking…quietly.” She whispered, watching the pool cues to make sure they didn’t scrape across the wall or the metal banister as they reached the corner of the stairs.

They finally made it to the relative safety of the ground floor and cautiously walked out of the front doors. Immediately, Cécile noticed that someone had blocked her in. “Fuck. Alright help me push it, Pete.”

Peter dropped the bag on the ground and Cécile did the same with her pool cues. The both ran over to the back end of the car and began to push but it wouldn’t budge. Peter went to the driver’s side window and looked in. “The handbrake’s on.” He tried the door. “And the door’s locked.” He said in a ‘of course it is’ tone.

“That bitch! This is that old bag next door! I’m sure this is her car.” Cécile grabbed a pool cue. “Alright, stand back. I’m going to enjoy this.” She took a run up and speared the window. The pool cue snapped but it did its job and the glass fell apart raining all over the floor and Cécile was suddenly aware that she wasn’t wearing any shoes. The alarm on the car began to howl in their ears.

“Shit! Hurry up, Cécile!”

“What the fuck do you think I’m doing?” She asked, irritated while unlocking the door and pulling off the hand brake.

“Let’s just take this car. We’ll hot wire it and drive off now that it’s open.” He had to shout over the alarm.

“Can you hot wire a car?”

“Well, no not really…at all, actually. You?”

“No. I guess it’s back to plan A, then eh?”

They went back to pushing the car and then got into Cécile’s. She reversed out of the parking spot and drove around the car they had just pushed away. They were about to leave the drive way when a group of five zombies trundled around the corner into the drive. One of them, Cécile noticed, was the bitch from next door. “Put your seat belt on.” She said and put the car into reverse and went all the way back to the other end of the car park. It was quite a large car park actually; by the time they had reached the drive way she was in third gear and going at thirty miles an hour.

When they hit the group blocking their way, there was a sickening crunch as the bitch from next door fell under the wheels and they drove over her. Blood hit the windshield as the others collided with the front bumper and flopped onto the bonnet. One of them pressed its face against Peter’s window and he screamed.

They had finally made it onto the road and they noticed the world had truly gone to shit. It was as if it had always been that way. Cars that had crashed on the highway looked like they had been there for years. Bags and clothes littered the ground, settled in place like they were built with the road. The corpses were fresh though. Cécile even noticed steam coming off a couple of them.

Navigating the road was hard but they managed to do it and Cécile pulled up at a house about a mile away. “I’ve just got to go and get my parents. They’ll be scared stiff.” She grabbed the remaining pool cue and walked up the drive way to her parent’s house. The front door was open and Cécile began to feel uneasy. “Mum? Dad? Are you here?” She shouted but realised a little too late that she probably shouldn’t have. She stood where she was, waiting for a sound or the shape of one of her parents dragging their feet across the carpet towards her, hunger in their eyes but it didn’t come. There was silence and her vision across the living room was unobscured by the living dead.

She turned to the stairs to the right of her and began to climb up. She could see from the landing that her parent’s door sat ajar with blood stains dragged down the front and around the handle as if they couldn’t quite get a grip on it.

Cécile held the pool cue in her hand and kicked the door open slowly. Lying directly across from her were two bodies huddled together. The wall behind them was covered with blood that had dried while it streamed down the wall. Each of the bodies had holes in their chins and the backs of their heads and bite marks were visible on both of them-both of her parents.

Cécile’s mother had her head resting on her father’s shoulder and her father in turn had his head resting on hers. Their arms were around each other and Cécile tried to derive a certain warmth in the fact that her parents died together. They had never been the perfect couple and there were definitely times when Cécile was sure one of them could potentially murder the other but ultimately, they loved each other and that stayed with them until the end.

At least that was what she told herself. She tried over and over again to focus on the positives to keep herself from breaking down but like weeds growing through cracked concrete, the feeling of loss and despair just wouldn’t die. ‘They didn’t turn. They died together, on their terms. They were okay,’ she thought. She focused on the last three words and repeated them over and over but with each cycle it became harder to keep out extra words that fought to fit into the sentence. With each cycle the words changed but they became more and more horrible until the sentence was unrecognisable as time went on so Cécile decided to leave the room.

She walked down the stairs and into the living room. There was a cabinet that her parents had backed against the wall adjacent to her. That cabinet had their lives in it. Everything they ever did was there in the form of photos. Their wedding, Cécile’s birth, even their lives before they met, everything. Cécile heard her mother joke once to her father that if the house burnt down, they would probably just fade away.

Cécile took a photo of the three of them out of an album and placed it in her pocket. She then lit a match she found in a draw and threw it on the cabinet. She didn’t want her parents to be a casualty of this world. Without the lives they had in this cabinet, they would fade away. To the rest of the world, they would never have existed. They would never have had to suffer in this place. There was never going to be a living soul that would look upon them with pity because they were taken by the cruelty of whatever the hell was happening. From now on, they were hers. They may have faded from the rest of the world but they wouldn’t fade from her.  

She stepped across the threshold and into the midday light. Smoke billowed from the windows and out from behind her. She walked down the driveway to the car. Peter sat inside with his eyes closed. She had taken longer than she thought and he’d fallen asleep. She opened the door, climbed in and started the car. It woke up with a mechanical groan. She had to take a couple of minutes to find a place for the pool cue because it wouldn’t fit long ways and it kept hitting her in the head if she leaned it against a seat but when she finally managed to get it to stay where it was, she set off.

The road was lonely and they rarely came across anyone with a pulse but when they did, Cécile had to resist the urge to stop the car and let them in. They could be dangerous or worse-scared. You know what a dangerous person is capable of; they have control over their feelings and actions-they calculate their every

move but a scared person is impulsive. A scared person doesn’t know what they’re capable of and therefore, neither do you. Cécile realised that this technically made a scared person dangerous but she knew what she was talking about. It wasn’t as if someone was listening in on her thoughts or anything. The result after about half an hour was that Cécile hated herself and already felt the guilt seeping in.

In order to keep her mind off it, Cécile decided to put in a CD. She rummaged through the glove box until she found the one she was looking for. She thought her favourite band would calm her down. She had loved this band since she first heard them. They were English so at first she had no idea what the lyrics meant but she soon found translations on the internet. The music alone was beautiful but when she finally figured out the lyrics, she felt like she had unlocked this secret part of the songs she had loved for so long. As the first one started, a calmness wash over her. For the foreseeable future, everything was going to be okay…even if the foreseeable future was just until the end of the album which in fairness it was technically just an EP. Nothing, however, was going to enter Cécile’s bubble of calmness. Nothing could shatter the illusion that everything would be okay as long as the music was playing.

She believed that. She genuinely did; right up until Peter’s head spun and he lunged directly for her arm with his mouth open. Cécile moved her arm out of the way but as it was still connected to the steering wheel, the car followed and they drove off the side of the road and into a tree. Peter’s head flew towards the windshield but was caught by the exploding air bag and thrown back against his seat. The head rest broke on impact and he impaled his temple on the metal bar holding it in place.

Cécile could feel the world whirling around her. For the next few minutes she drifted in and out of consciousness but eventually she was dragged back into a lucid state. She was facing Peter when her eyes opened and she screamed. Blood oozed from the side of his head and his mouth hung open. His eyes looked shocked but they had stopped seeing the moment he hit the bars. They were cold and dead. She knew it was quite an obvious thing to say but that was the best way Cécile could describe them. They weren’t his eyes anymore. Cécile could remember his eyes, they were big and blue and darted from side to side but these somehow seemed to look grey and they were completely still.

She hadn’t noticed it when she saw her parents but there was something odd about looking into a dead person’s eyes. A living person’s eyes were looking around, taking in the world just like her eyes were doing and there was also an element of mystery to them. What were they seeing? Did they see things differently to hers? Cécile could tell exactly what these eyes were doing-nothing. They seemed wrong; more wrong than a dead body and more wrong than a dead body that tried to eat you. She had seen those things in films, but it’s hard to focus on the eyes when you are watching a film; you never think about the eyes.

She removed her seatbelt sluggishly and turned her head. Immediately, the world spun and she fell back on the head rest. She felt her head and there was no blood anywhere or any painful spots but she did have an enormous headache. She tried lifting her head again and got the same result but powered through it. She opened the door and went to swing her legs out of the car but realised that she couldn’t feel much. It was like she was half asleep. The world seemed to come in and out of focus and it was almost like she wasn’t in her own body. She looked down at her legs and her stomach lurched. When the car crashed into the tree, her legs must have taken the full force of the impact because her left one had snapped at the bottom and her tibia broke in half and punctured the skin. She couldn’t feel it though. Well, she could but it was like the pain was in the back of her mind. She realised she was in shock and quickly grabbed the pool cue and some bandages from the bag. With an almost vomit inducing sight, she lifted her leg, straightened it and bandaged the pool cue around to make a splint.

With great difficulty, she got out of the car with her bag and limped off down the road. Within five minutes, however, she was on the verge of passing out from the blood loss. The limp became a drag and eventually she fell down. The road felt nice. It was like a warm bed on a cold night and she felt especially tired. The darkness had returned but this time it was welcome and as her eyelids began to flutter, she felt content.

-

A dull light shone through her eyelids and she opened them. She was in a large tent and there was a small lantern on the table next to her feebly illuminating the room.

The shock had evidently been treated as she could feel her leg and it hurt like hell. It was bandaged and a proper splint had been placed on it and she realised she must be in a medical tent. She heard gunshots and voices and felt uneasy. A scalpel on a tray of medical tools next to her bed found its way into her hand and she felt slightly better.

“Ah, you’re awake. How are you feeling?” A blood stained man had entered the tent. He wore glasses and had rubber gloves covering his hands.

“Fine.”

“Good.” He smiled.

Cécile looked down at her leg. “Thank you for, um…” She trailed off.

He seemed to understand nonetheless. “No problems.”

“Where are we?”

“Just outside Versailles.”

 “Is this the safe zone?” Cécile’s eyes lit up. She’d made it. She was safe.

“No, unfortunately. There never was a ‘safe zone’. That broadcast was put out by a group of scavengers hoping to steal some supplies for themselves.”

“Did it work?”

“Yes. We got some essential materials.” He smiled.

Cécile’s heart jumped into her mouth. ‘We’. That was what he said, ‘we’. She had to leave, she had to go. “Thank you for your help but I think I’ll have to be going.”

“Oh, but I was hoping you could help me in return. You see, there was one thing we haven’t been able to get so far. I think you know what that is.” He stroked her cheek with his finger. “I think it’s only fair that you help me out.”

“If you touch me, I’ll kill you.”

He scoffed. “I don’t think you’re in much of a position to do anything like that, now are you?” He walked closer and reached for the zip on his jeans. Cécile took her chance and jammed the scalpel in between his legs and he fell down on the ground with a pain ridden groan. 

“You’d be surprised.” Cécile said as she got up off the bed. She knelt down and yanked the scalpel out and he screamed. “It’s been a day. A fucking day and you’re already trying to pull this shit?!” She stabbed him in the shoulder and he screamed again. “You see, people like you think you were born for this. You think that all of those horrible thoughts that occurred to you before now have a circumstance to manifest. Now that society’s gone to shit, you can do whatever you want and let your pathetic little fantasies play out in real life. But you can’t because you’re still just an arsehole.” She twisted the scalpel and he screamed more. “You are nothing. You don’t get to do that to people. Do you understand me? Nod if you understand me.” He nodded. “Good.” She stood up and returned the scalpel to its original position in between his legs, much to his dismay and discomfort.

Cécile found her bag on the floor just near the bed and picked it up. She shouldered it and walked out of the tent. There were men with guns everywhere so she ducked behind some barrels and kept low until she reached some taller cover. When she did, she stood up and peeked around the corner. There was a door a couple of metres in front of her with an iron bar placed across it to stop it from being opened from the inside. A circular porthole sat in the middle of it.

Cécile couldn’t see anyone in the immediate vicinity and ran over to it. She looked through the porthole and saw about seven zombies scratching at the door and had an idea. She removed the iron bar as quietly as she could and opened it. As the zombies rushed out, she pulled it all the way back and hid behind it. She could still see through the porthole and when she was clear she ran inside the building.

The screams from the people outside penetrated the walls and gunshots ricocheted off the building. At first she was worried that they might push through and hit her but she seemed to be safe. The back door of the place was unlocked and she followed it to a road. Cécile knew it well. It led to the countryside. It should be safe there, less crowded.

When she was clear, she dropped to the ground. Her eyes welled up and Cécile began to cry. It wasn’t out of sadness or anger, it was an exhausted cry. In the space of a few hours she had had to kill people, her friends and family had died, her only hope of safety was destroyed and she was on her own in a terrifyingly different world. She just wanted to sit there forever and wither away until she faded like her parents. She remembered the photo and took it from her pocket. The smiling faces of her parents spurred her on and she stood up, using a tree to stabilise herself.

Lit by the morning sun, she hobbled to the other side of the road and followed it; leaving the sounds of death and guns behind her.


© Copyright 2017 Josh Gardiner. All rights reserved.