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ORIGINAL FICTION

EPIDEMIC


By Ian Kappos


From the balcony of the seventh floor, Brian gazed out upon the desolate city. Nothing moved. Everything was silent, sterile. He felt for a fleeting second like the world was his home, like all this was his little play world.

Until he heard the soft, but telltale moan from far below. Another of the infected people shambled down the street, bumping into the carcasses of cars and debris.

Brian raised his rifle, putting the scope to his eye. He traced back to where he had spotted the stalking figure. He found it again and pinched off a resounding shot. He scored a hit. The zombie's head exploded in a puff of red.

Nodding, briefly admiring his work, Brian decided to take a break and marched back inside the apartment. Bobby was sitting in a corner, surrounded by ammunition and dissected barrels of his miscellany of guns. Hilary sat in the corner adjacent to Bobby, picking lint from the floor. Greg stood propped up against the empty doorway that led into the bedroom, smoking a cigarette. All of them were around Brian's age. Sixteen to seventeen years of age.

"You got one," Greg said, the bags under his eyes signifying his insomnia. No one had been able to sleep much after the virus had broken out. Something had caused these people to go mad, to eat, to feed on their own family or neighbors. And now, a group of teens were trapped in an apartment on the seventh floor of a building in a zombie-infested city.

Brian nodded. "Yeah."

"How many's that today?" Bobby inquired from the corner, fitting a clip expertly into an M-16.

Brian shrugged. "Two, maybe three. Dunno." He looked down at his feet, knowing everyone else in the room was feeling the same as he. This was the end. The end of everything. Right now, planes might be flying and the rest of the world was continuing as normal, but not for long. The epidemic had gotten to the extreme, done too much damage already. Los Angeles was dead, and with it, the rest of California would fall, too. "How're the supplies?" he said.

Greg motioned to the kitchen, a doorway next to the only bedroom of the apartment. "Check in there," he said, his same lifeless expression on his face.

Brian nodded. He knew what to expect. Walking slowly, he entered the kitchen. Pots with chunks of food plastered to them still sat on the stove, attracting mold and flies. The floors still had a few bloodstains from treatments from the other teen that they had brought along. He had been infected. They had killed him and tossed his body over the balcony three days ago, seconds after the infection completely took him.

Brian reached the refrigerator and stood there, looking dumbly at it, hesitant to open it. Finally, mustering his nerves, he gripped the handle and swung the door idly open. What remained of their rations were a six pack of Dr. Pepper, a loaf of stale sourdough bread, and some cheese that surprisingly hadn't started to mold yet. He then checked the pantry. There was an unopened bag of Doritos, a pack of poptarts, and four cans of Campbell's soup.

That was it. Sighing, Brian exited the kitchen sullenly. He faced Greg. Brian said, "There's not much left. It won't last. I don't know how long we plan to stay here, but the rations that we have will only provide a week's worth of sustenance. We need to move."

Greg looked at him blankly, took a long pull from his cigarette and said, "I'm almost out." Brian didn't say anything. It was typical for Greg to say things off-topic when he was uncomfortable.

Brian turned to Bobby and Hilary. Bobby got up and smacked the clip into his M-16. "I don't see why the fuck not." He looked at Brian with all-honesty. "We've been here way too long and haven't killed enough of those ass-rammers. I think it's time to make a move."

Brian nodded and turned to Hilary. She, too, got up. She stared at Brian for a few seconds with the same empty look in her eyes, the look of despair. She just nodded. "It only seems right," she said and turned away to hide her tears. The epidemic had really gotten to Hilary. Brian knew that the others were equally affected by the outbreak as Hilary, but she didn't have the nerves to endure it. Brian briefly contemplated whether they should just kill her and set her free of this misery. Then he pushed the thought away. Hilary was strong. And he knew that her time to shine would soon come.

Brian looked to the floor then. "So." he began, but found no words.

"We're gonna leave," said Greg. He scrunched the butt of his cigarette on the wall and shot his gaze towards Bobby. "Hand me one uh those bitches."

Bobby smiled and went back to the corner and came back with a fully loaded Desert Eagle. He slapped it in Greg's hand. Then, reaching to his back pocket, he retrieved an extra clip. Greg took that as well. Bobby and his family had hunted a lot, and his father had been obsessed with guns-he had even owned an illegal gun-shop somewhere near South Central. Just after the epidemic had broken out, Bobby had raided the gun-shop using his father's key and taken anything he could.

Brian nodded, a small line of a smile that didn't reach his eyes imprinted on his boyish features. "I'll get the supplies."

Brian went back to the kitchen and retrieved his JanSport backpack from the counter. In it he placed all the food that they had. It all surprisingly fit well. And then, in a larger pocket of the backpack, he placed their med kit. While he was doing this, he wondered what they should expect once they exited the building. Zombies, to be sure. But what about survivors? Were they-Brian, Greg, Bobby, and Hilary-the only survivors in Los Angeles? Well, if we are, he thought, we're in for a shit load of action.

When all was done and prepared, each of the survivors exchanged long stares with each other. Brian had the backpack with all their supplies slung over both shoulders. It didn't really matter if it slowed him down, because they would all die sooner or later. He also had a Desert Eagle implanted in its holster strapped around his right thigh.

Hilary had the least of the load. She had a machete shoved between her belt and her pants and a Desert Eagle in hand. When Bobby had insisted on giving her a holster, she had refused, only saying that it was much better to have a gun in hand, then a gun uselessly at her side. She had an extra two clips shoved into each of her back pockets.

Greg had a dagger shoved into his boot and a revolver in hand. He also had two extra clips for his gun in his back pockets. And as an extra, he had a Desert Eagle set in its holster at his right thigh and an extra magazine for it set in another holster on his left thigh.

Bobby was the most equipped. In his hands sat confidently was his recently oiled M-16 and he had two lines of bullets crisscrossing across his chest. He had a revolver stuffed into the groin of his pants and naked bullets jingling in his left pocket. On his left thigh was yet another Desert Eagle with an unused clip stuffed into his other pocket. In his right boot was a jackknife. "Let's go," he said and they were off.

* * * * *


The troupe exited the apartment building. It had taken them a while to leave because the elevators were down due to the absence of electricity and they had to descend down the seven flights of stairs. They had only encountered three zombies and were surprised by the fact that the moaning fuckers hadn't come knocking on their door before.

Bobby led the party gallantly, standing up straight and waving his gun nonchalantly, an arrogant grin on his face. To him, this was all in good fun.

Brian, though, thought differently of the situation. He was scared. Scared beyond his wildest dreams. He didn't want to fight zombies. The only good way to kill a zombie was from the seventh floor of an abandoned apartment building was his philosophy. And he had good right to be scared. He, like the others, of course, had seen Dawn of the Dead.

Hilary was scared, too. She was on the verge of panic. The others knew that she was close to insanity and would not restrain her if she decided to abandon them in a frenzy of laughs of mad-enforced mirth. But she was not insane yet, and she was trying her hardest to keep her cool. And so, she lifted her Desert Eagle and scanned their surroundings.

Greg was about as nonchalant as Bobby, though he managed to keep the stupid grin from creeping up on his face. He liked this scenario. He had nothing to lose. Absolutely nothing. So, he kept his cool, his revolver in his hand, but lowered to his side. He lit another cig. "M' last one," he informed the others and managed to squeeze out the last of the fluid in his lighter. He tossed the empty canister to the side. "Boy, I better fucking enjoy this."

Brian smiled at this. Greg was the same.even during an apocalypse. Sometimes, people just never changed.

Around them were dead bodies of the zombies that Brian had taken out. Smoldered carcasses of cars were littered haphazardly everywhere and discarded miscellany flew in the desolate wind. The buildings were vacant and the streets were hard to get across considering the abandoned cars and buses. To their left, an overturned train lay against a collapsed wall of a warehouse.

Eerily, they all sighed in unison.

They marched.

* * * * *


They had been walking for seven minutes down Main St. before a zombie shambled out in front of them. Bobby put his hand up. "This one's mine."

He shot the M-16 from the hip. An array of bullets catapulted through the air and slapped wetly into the approaching zombie. Gore and intestines leaked from the holes in its body and smoke rose through the air. The rotting creature collapsed to the ground.

The survivors cautiously advanced towards the still body. Bobby reached it and kicked its shoulder. Suddenly, the beast's head jerked up and he sputtered blood in a terrorizing growl. The zombie shot its hand at Bobby's leg and gripped it hard. Bobby lost his cool and yelped in terror.

Greg raised his revolver and shot. Half of the ghoul's head blew off, shards of skull and slabs of flesh and brains washing over the concrete street. The hand fell limp from Bobby's shin. Greg looked at Bobby haughtily. "Dumbshit."

Brian chuckled. Bobby turned around and glared at him. Brian immediately shut his mouth. Bobby raised his head, scrutinizing Brian and nodded threateningly. "Yeah."

Then, more moans reverberated down the street.

The survivors looked up in terror. A horde of undead, rotting bodies of putrid, gory flesh marched down the street towards their destination. The survivors.

Bobby's jaw dropped and he raised his M-16 instinctively. He shot randomly at the frontlines of the ghouls. A few fell, but the majority of them kept their pace. Then, all the survivors were shooting their bullets at the advancing undead, clouds of smoke rising from their repeatedly firing weapons.

Soon, the zombies were only ten yards away. Hilary snapped. Screaming maniacally, she ran forward, throwing herself before the lines of the dead.

The ghouls poured onto her.

Brian screamed. "Jesus Christ!" He raised his Desert Eagle and shot more, taking down only a few.

Then the dead were upon them.

Greg managed to behead one as it lunged for him, splashing brains all over the street and the zombies behind it. Bobby waved his M-16 to and fro, never loosening his grip on the trigger. Three rows of undead fell before him.

That was until a zombie from his left flank shot down at him with amazing speed compared to the norm of its kind. Screaming, and still shooting wildly, he fell to the ground. The zombie was atop him. Moaning, it tore a hole into his stomach with its claws and bit a chunk of flesh from his arm. "Kill it! Kill the motherfucker!" he screamed, sheer terror and pain evident in his shrill voice.

Brian shot at the zombie, but only scored two hits out of his three. One smacked wetly into the ghoul's stomach and another hit its clawing arm. The other hit Bobby in the leg. Bobby screamed in terror-such terror that it struck a nerve in Brian, caused him to lower his weapon, to gawk at the scene that had opened up before him. Soon, Bobby's obscenities and curses were lost under the tumult of moans as the undead piled onto him, tearing him limb from limb and ripping his insides from his body.

Others shambled towards the still Brian. He seemed not to notice it, though. Thoughts of death, of horrible terror, of pain unbounded shot through his mind, but he still did not notice the approaching zombies and their clacking jaws and dripping saliva.

They were almost upon him now, and soon he would end up like Bobby and Hilary.

Then, a hand shot out and gripped his arm, turned him around and soon Brian was looking into the now-urgent eyes of Greg. "We have to go," he said and dragged Brian away from the undead forces.

Brian came to his senses then, and fired randomly into the crowd of zombies as he and Greg retreated down the street.

To nowhere.


-- END --



Ian Kappos is a High School Freshman and lives in Sacramento, California with his family. He enjoys reading, writing, and being lazy. You may contact him at his email address, iankappos@yahoo.com, or catch him on Yahoo! IM (smellyskunky).



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