January 25th, 2013, 11:44 PM
Chapter 1

This Is Normal Now

Mark Simon – May 5th, 2031

Mark was going to have to kill.

He raised his gun. "I’m giving you two choices. Leave or die."

The man stood still, holding the bag of food he’d stolen. Broken bits of glass surrounded him, and he was feet from the front door. The man looked like he was slowly moving his feet towards the exit, getting ready to run.

Mark fired. The bullet hit the man in the forehead, and he tumbled in a heap.

Another person had died. Mark went through the usual procedures. Using gloves, he dragged the body out of the house and into the backyard, where he lit the man on fire. Once the corpse was nothing, Mark let the ashes blow away in the wind.

This was life now. Everything was gone.

And everything had to be burned.

Mark slept badly that night, and the next day he was tired. He got up from bed and slowly went about his day. There wasn’t much to do besides clean for what seemed like the millionth time. Just to have something to do, he knocked down all of the books from a shelf and arranged them in alphabetical order.

He didn’t know exactly what time it was when he stopped, nobody did anymore, but it was probably near dinnertime. From his single small unboarded window, he could see that the sun was low in the sky.

His dinner consisted of a rabbit he had killed the day before. He had to decontaminate it first. The water that he drank tasted like metal because of the iodine he had to mix it with, but he was used to it.

He was used to everything. It was a normal day for Mark.

Jen Gregory – May 6th, 2031

Michelle’s nineteen-year-old daughter lived relatively close to Mark. People generally stayed away from Jen because of the strange way that she acted.

I would die to kill you, she thought.

Your own father. This was your fault, you know.

Shut up! I had nothing to do with it.

Oh, but you did. You could have let him live.

He was turning into one of them. He tried to kill me.

The voices went silent, leaving her in peace. She decided to take advantage of this rare moment to take a walk. She put on her boots and coat, got her gun, which was a small handgun, and a knife, and what was left of her pepper spray. Then she unlocked the front door and stepped outside to meet a cold gust of wind. The smell of death greeted her. The usual smell.

She started on her walk, striding down the cracked streets. On all sides of her were run down houses, the windows boarded up. Sometimes the doors were, too, and Jen could only guess that the residents were long dead. Images of the past flickered through her mind, and she could see the dead lining the streets around her. Decaying with disease. Rotting. Maggots crawling through their skin.

Jen remembered those days. It had been four years since the virus had first showed up. It had spread like rats, infecting about ninety-percent of the population. Of the infected, about fifty percent committed suicide within a week of coming into contact with the virus. The other half had gone on a killing spree, murdering anyone they saw. They had burnt cities to the ground. They had raped the uninfected, infecting those few people that had not come into contact with the virus. All in all, about ninety-nine percent of the population ended up dead or infected. Some of the infected were still alive now, but most were dead, either by their own hand or someone else’s.

Jen was caught off guard when a finger tapped her shoulder. She looked beside her and saw Kevin walking with her. He was a few inches taller than her, had blond hair, a youthful face, and was about her age. His blue eyes stared into hers. "Hey," he said in a kindly tone.

Jen grabbed his hand and held it longingly, but didn’t say anything. She didn’t say much, which was another reason why many people avoided her. It was just too awkward for them. But it wasn’t that way with Kevin. He was nice and patient and she had to admit that she liked him.

"You shouldn’t be walking outside without someone to protect you," Kevin said.

Jen grimaced. She had forgotten about what normally happened to women who were alone. Things like that often slipped her mind. She just did what she felt like. "I’m sorry."

"Don’t be. I live right next to you, so just knock on my door and I’ll walk you wherever you want to go. Okay?"

"Okay. Thanks."

"No problem." They walked in silence for a few minutes. It was a peaceful silence. "Do you want me to move in with you?" Kevin asked after awhile.

"Why?" Jen thought it would be a good idea, but she always said no because the voices had told her not to let him live with her.

"For safety. The people I’ve traded with have been talking about you. They find you good-looking."

"What does that have to do with you moving in with me?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, guys are going to find girls attractive, right?"


"And you find me attractive, don’t you?"

Kevin looked puzzled. "Of course."

"So what’s the point of moving in with me?" It didn’t make any sense. Most people didn’t understand Jen’s logic, but it made sense to her. If people found her attractive, they found her attractive. One equaled one, not five.

"The point is that the traders may try to take advantage of you."

"That has nothing to do with me being attractive."

"Fine. Can you let me move in for me?"

Jen thought about it. She weighed the benefits, and the ups weighted more than the downs. The voices would blame her for letting Kevin live with her, but they blamed her for a lot of things. "Okay."

Kevin looked surprised. "Really?"

"Yes. Let’s go to your house and get your stuff."

A smile spread across Kevin’s face. "Thanks."

Chapter 2

Trading With Men

Alexis Yung – May 7th, 2031

I watched as the trader spread the contents of the bag on the table. A week’s supply of food. A year’s supply of iodine. A hooded jacket. The man looked at me, and I knew what I had to do to get the items.

A little grudgingly, I took off my clothes, as did the man. I laid down on the couch I was sitting on and the trader laid on top of me. He touched my breasts, and I rolled my eyes. "You got half an hour," I said. If you can even last that long. The man had obviously never been laid before. He was bugging out like crazy.

We were done in five minutes.

We put our clothes back on, and I grabbed the items I was trading for and put them in the bag. The trader smiled at me. "If you want more food, just come back next week. I’m a good hunter, so I’ll have enough."

"Sure." I opened the door and left the house.

On my way back home, I heard a door slam to my right, then the sound of many voices.

"Dude. Look at that one!" He sounded drunk.

"Hey!" another called. "Come ‘ere. I got something for ya’!"

I kept walking. My hand hovered above the handle to my knife.

"I’m talkin’ ta you, lady!"

Just walk. Act like you didn’t hear them.
Suddenly, a gun was fired. The bullet found its mark in my leg. I collapsed on the road. I heard several heavy footfalls at once. Probably four men.

Fear consumed me. I frantically stood, wincing at the pain, and tied to limp away.

Too late. One of the men tackled me to the ground.

I screamed. "Stop it! Please, stop it!" I grabbed my knife and slashed the man in the face. A long streak of blood leaked from the wound that went from the man’s left ear to his right eye. I thrust the knife into his chest, and he backed away and stumbled onto his back.

Then a foot kicked the knife away. The others were immediately upon me. I struggled and screamed as the men tore off my clothes. I flailed around with my arms, but then they were pinned to the ground by two of the men.

After intense pain, another man switched places with the other and he raped me too.

And then there was a gunshot. Blood poured out of the man’s right cheek. Another bullet hit his heart. One of the remaining two men ran in the direction the shot had come from. "I’m gonna fuckin’ kill ya, bitch!" he yelled.

The other man grabbed me by the arms and began dragging me towards the house he had come from. "No!" I screamed. I caught a glimpse of the person with the gun: a woman in her mid twenties, about my age. She shot the man running at her. Blood ran freely from the other side of his head. "Help!" I screamed as loudly as I could.

The woman fired at the man dragging me and missed. She fired again, but she was out of bullets.

I was at the door. As the man opened it, the girl ran towards us. She was too late, and I was dragged inside. The man threw me to the ground and made to close the door.

The door burst in suddenly, and the man was slammed against the wall by the force as the woman came in. She banged the door repeatedly into the man’s face, and then closed the door. The guy tumbled to the floor in a heap, and the woman took out a knife and stabbed him over and over until he was dead. I was crying like crazy.

The girl leaned down beside me and withdrew a syringe. "This will help you," she said softly. She injected me in the arm.

The pain ceased and I slid into unconsciousness.

bazz cargo
February 7th, 2013, 09:20 PM
Hi Justinian,
First off, this is a very fine piece of writing. It certainly kept me reading.

There are a few places where there is some clumsy wordage.

She put on her boots and coat, got her gun, which was a small handgun,

the windows boarded up. Sometimes the doors were, too

I laid down on the couch

I'm sure the pain of being shot in the leg would have more of an impact on me.

Very smooth and fast paced if a little spare on description. Nice cliffhanger ending. I'm glad I stumbled across this.
Thanks for the read