Chapter One“Today is Thursday, January 2[SUP]nd[/SUP], 2014, and at 7: 03 P.M. Harold Wednesday passed away at the age of 82.” Dr. Kitmura said, as he scribbled some words down on his clipboard. Mom was crying like a faucet.
“Ash, can you come out in the hall with me?” My dad grabbed my hand and led me out of the hospital room. He slowly squatted down so he could be eye-level with me. “Grandpa died today.” He seemed sad.
“What does that mean?” I asked. I’ve heard of ‘death’ before, but I don’t really know what that means.
“Remember how your goldfish ended up floating in his bowl, not moving a few months ago?” he paused, “It’s like that.” He just stared at me with wide, unblinking eyes.
“I think I get it, but how is grandpa gonna fit down the toilet?” As I was saying this, the door burst open.
“Ashley, Marshall, get out now!” Dr. Kitmura said.
“What happened?” Dad asked, slowly getting up.
“There’s no time. You have to run.” Just then, grandpa bit Dr. Kitmura’s neck, blood began to leak out, and he fell to the floor with a loud thud. A nurse passing by turned to look, but quickly ran away. I screamed loudly and almost everyone on the floor came to see what happened. Some of them tried to stay and help, but most of them ran away screaming their heads off once they saw what happened.
“What the fuck? Jen, are you ok?” Dad tried to peer into the room, but grandpa nearly got him. Dad pushed him away, grabbed my hand and quickly ran for the stairs. We turned left around the corner and reached the stairs. We were on the fifth floor, so we had some walking to do.
“Where’s Mom? She was in the hospital room with grandpa and Dr. Kitmura.” Dad just ignored me and kept leading me down the stairs. Soon after, a few other people were following behind us, from almost every floor.
“Get to the ch-church just down the road from here!” Some woman said. “If we get there we can r-regroup and recuperate.” As she finished her thought grandpa fell down the entire staircase, landing with a loud thud. I screamed, and lot of other people screamed too.
“Shit, shit! What the fuck was that?” Some guy above us said. We just kept running down the stairs. We passed by grandpa, who is now motionless, and three other people just like him, though they were walking around. I almost got grabbed, and I screamed again. We just kept running down the main hall. We passed by the elevators and the front desk. We then made our way to the front door, and I was so relieved that we made it outside. I let go of my dad’s hand and just stood against the pillar panting.
“I don’t know what happened Ash, but I don’t think mom will be coming with us. I think grandpa got her like he did Dr. Kitmura.”
“What do you mean?” Just then, a few people were exiting the hospital. They just ran away.
“Ash, run! There’s one behind you.” I ran away from the monster, not looking back, and screaming. I just ran and ran. I passed by other people, some shooting guns, and others running away themselves; all of them were screaming. I ducked under one of the monsters and ran around another. Suddenly a man came out of a nearby church and yelled to me.
“Get inside you two. It’s safe in here for now.” I ran inside and I finally noticed that Dad was following me. I’m glad he was. I hugged him.
I was instantly attacked by the foul smell. “This church is old and it smells like if grandpa’s house farted. I don’t like it.” I said, plugging my nose. Dad chuckled. The man walked away, with his hands on his temples in frustration, and one woman came up to us and introduced herself.
“Hello sir. My name’s Kim, Kimberly.” I looked up and saw her picking her fingernails. She also had blonde hair that was wild, like she never brushed it this morning. She kept looking around in every direction.
“I’m Marshall, and this here is Ashley, Ash for short.” Dad said, gesturing in my direction.
“What a p-pretty name.” She squatted down and ruffled my hair. I scowled at her. She got up and asked, “Do you know what happened? Like why people were e-eating each other?”
“No, I don’t know what the hell is going on.” He folded his arms, “We were visiting my father in the hospital today, and he died. I took little Ash out in the hall for a minute when he attacked my wife. The doctor came out of the room and told us to run, then he was bitten by my father too.”
“Oh dear, I-I-I’m sorry to hear that. That h-had to be hard on Ashley.”
“Yeah, it must’ve been. I mean she’s just a little girl. She does not need to be dealing with death yet.”
Just then, someone flipped on the television in the corner of the room showing a reporter in a city, and everyone watched. “Reports are coming in that the dead are coming back to life and eating people here in Cincinnati. As you can see, there are quite a few of them, and they’re all pouring out of the hospit-” and then a dead person snuck up behind him and bit his neck. He fell to the ground and then a few seconds later, the t.v. went to the emergency broadcasting station.
“Oh god, what the hell is happening?” Some guy said. A few other people screamed when he fell down. I looked around and I saw two men pacing back and forth between the pews.
“Melissa, look outside, toward the hospital. There are quite a few lost souls eating people, and they’re making more and more every few minutes, and the survivors are just drawing them in with the noise of their guns. It’s really shitty.” A man said. I walked over to the window and looked outside. I saw Mom outside, and someone shot her in the face two times.
“Mom, no! Please, don’t shoot her!” I cried. There were dozens of people being eaten.
“Who are you? Are you ok?” The man asked. I just stood there crying “well, I’m Jamie, and this is Melissa.” He hugged me and I felt a lot better. I could see that he had a grin on his face that stretched from ear to ear, and he smelled like macaroni and cheese. I like macaroni and cheese. I couldn’t tell much about her, because she had a blank expression on her face, but she had a clenched fist.
“Dad, come here! I need you.” I said through my tears.
“What is it Ash? Why are you crying? Is this man hurting you?” He walked over to me and stared at Jamie like a hawk eyeing a mouse.
“No Dad, I saw Mom get shot, and I see Dr. Kitmura.” I pointed toward the hospital, and Dad just fell to his knees crying. Jamie patted him on the back. Suddenly, Dr. Kitmura got shot and fell onto the ground.
Dad got up a few minutes later, clenched his fist, went up to the podium at the front of the room and said, “Everyone, gather around. I have a few words I’d like to say. I know I’m no group leader, but something has to be said.” He waited a moment for them to gather. “Most of you don’t know me yet, but my name is Marshall, and my daughter over there is Ashley, or Ash for short.” He pointed at me but I ducked behind Jamie. “I don’t know what the hell is going on outside and it seems real bad, but we need to be careful. People are dying and turnin’ into these geek things that just eat. I don’t want to stay here, but we may need to, just in case the government takes a while to come here and do something.”
“If they d-do come.” Kim said. “What if God is behind this? This could be the r-r-rapture or something! Maybe the-these monsters are just w-what’s left behind after someone’s been saved.” While saying this she sat down, got up a few seconds later, and paced back and forth between the pews, while chewing her nails.
“Calm down lady. We don’t need a crazy, pathetic loser like you making radical claims that could scare people.” Melissa said. Everyone then stared at Melissa.
“S-sorry! I’m just scared.” Kim said, slowly backing away from Melissa. Jamie walked up to Melissa and put his hand on her shoulder. I followed him.
“Melissa, please don’t be so rude to people. She’s just trying to rationalize a clearly bizarre situation.”
“Whatever. I need to go sit alone for a while, don’t follow me.” She then just walked away without any remorse. Everyone else broke off into small groups.
“What’s her problem?” I asked to Jamie.
“She’s got intermittent explosive disorder. The doctor’s say it is one of the most extreme cases they’ve ever seen. It means she sometimes gets enraged at small and insignificant moments. She usually just yells at people, but there have been a few times where she’s punched a hole in our house.” He said. He looked down toward the floor and rubbed his neck.
“Our house?” I asked. He slowly looked up at me, and had an expression like I asked him a rude question.
“She’s my younger sister. I have to take care of her because she can’t hold a job. I love her, but it’s hard work. When she’s fine it’s almost as if nothing could happen, but when she’s angry, she could be just like a charging bull. Well, I have to check on her now to make sure she hasn’t damaged anything.” He sighed and walked away slowly. Then I heard a ‘popping’ noise.
I walked over to my dad who was talking to a few people I’ve never met before. “Yeah, we’ll get on that.” A man said. Then him, and another man walked away toward the kitchen.
“Who are those people Dad?” I asked.
“That’s Omar there,” He pointed first to a lanky man, wearing an ugly green jacket. “and that’s Ike over there.” He then pointed to a fairly muscular man, with bright red hair, who kept bumping into stuff. “I’ve asked them to search for, and make us a meal. Our job is to go prepare the bedroom so we can sleep in it. Would you mind helping me? I’d certainly be less bored with you there.”
“No, I’m not doing anything. I can help.” I said melodically. I ran to the bedroom, beating Dad to it. “I win. I beat you to the bedroom.” I said while laughing.
“Yeah you did, that was amazing. You were faster than a racecar!” He said as he was smiling from ear to ear. “Now, I just need you to go in the closet in the back of the room and bring me all the blankets you can carry. I’ll then show you how to put the blankets on the beds. We only need to do seven beds, so it shouldn’t take too long.”
“Ok, I’m on it.” I skipped to the closet and grabbed so many blankets that I couldn’t even see.
“Good job Ash. Now let me show you how to prepare the beds. All you do is lay it long-ways like this,” He said as he placed the blanket on the bed, “and tuck the ends under the mattress. It’s easy really.” I did my first one, and it really was easy. Then I did another, and another. I thought I was doing well, but Dad finished way before me.
“You did good Ash.”
Ike came walking in, and hit the door frame, “Ouch. Hey Marsh, dinner’s done.”
“Thank you Ike. What are we having?” Dad asked.
“Ham sandwiches and some chili.”
“Alright. Ash and I will be there in a moment, we just need to wash up. We just finished making the beds, so this was good timing.” Dad then took my hand and guided me to the bathroom where we quickly washed our hands. On the way there, I saw Kim pacing back and forth in a corner of the room, and Jamie talking to Melissa, who was standing near a hole in the wall.
“Why is this happening?” I said, monotonically. Dad turned on the faucet and lifted me up. I wet my hands and then reached for the soap. Then Dad said,
“I don’t know.” He paused, “I wish I did, but I don’t. I don’t think anyone knows right now.” He said sternly. He began to wash his hands too.
“Oh.” I grabbed the hand towel, dried off my hands, and then passed it to Dad.
“Well, let’s go eat then since we’re done here.”
We stepped out of the room and went straight to the kitchen where everyone else was.
“Hey, Marsh, Ash, sit here next to me!” Jamie beckoned. I walked over there with Dad and we sat down next to Jamie. He had already taken a bite out of his sandwich before we got there. Everyone was quiet for a while, but eventually, Jamie blurted out, “So, what do we do if this doesn’t blow over? I want to go back home, but that may not be possible.” He waited for someone to respond, but no one did. “If it doesn’t blow over, we need a plan better than just this Church. It’s not very well protected, and anyone, lost soul or not, could easily break in here and either kill us or steal from us.”
“Lost soul?” Omar looked like he was holding back laughter. “What the fuck is that? One of those biters I’m guessing.”
“Yes.” Jamie said sternly. “Well, since no one’s willing to speak up, I’d say we should head to the grocery store, then the hardware store across the way tomorrow. We could either set up there, or we could come back here once we gather food and supplies.” He sounded angry.
“I g-guess that could work. We are f-f-fairly defenseless here.” Kim said.
“Me too! This church stinks! I’d be glad to leave.” I said.
“Yes, I like it. It could be more permanent than the church.” Dad said. Ike nodded in agreement and Omar was completely silent.
“That’s fucking stupid Jamie, and you know it. We could easily be overwhelmed by the dozens of monsters out there. You’d be goddamn foolish to ignore that.” Melissa said, banging her fist on the table. Everyone stared at her, like she was almost right, but Jamie ignored her.
“So then it’s settled, tomorrow morning we set out for the grocery and hardware store. Then we could talk about setting up either there or here.” Everyone finished their food a few minutes later and headed to the bedroom.
“Ash and I made seven beds, so just pick one and go to sleep I guess. There’s not much left to do tonight. We may need to have people on watch, but I think this first night should be fine.” Dad said. Everyone picked a bed and went to sleep. I picked a bed near the back of the room, and Dad picked the one next to me.
“Dad, I’m scared. I miss Mom and grandpa, and I don’t want to end up like one of them.” I let a few tears fall down my face.
“I know. I’m scared too. I promise that the only way you’ll get hurt is if something happens to me first. I love you and I don’t want you to be hurt, ever.” He wiped away my tears with his sleeve. I rolled over and tried to sleep, but I had a lot of trouble. I couldn’t stop thinking about what grandpa did to Dr. Kitmura. Somehow I managed to get to sleep.