I am at Starbucks when the world goes to shit. One second people are talking to each other in comfortable voices, and then the next thing I know, we are all silent. The world is at a stand still, unmoving, until the screams and gunshots ruins it. Glass breaks as someone throws themselves right through the window, attacking the man sitting at the booth. Then there is another person, and then another and another. Everyone dashes out of the coffee shop, joining the crowd outside. It was stupid, but it was the only thing we could do. If we stayed inside, we would die, but out here, we had a better chance of surviving. I stare in horror until the barista shoves me forward, shouting words of encouragement for me to run.
The streets are hell. There are dead bodies littered all over the street, and several of them are seizing, twitching uncontrollably as they start to turn. Blood is already soaking into the concrete and there are cars on fire. Children are screaming, men and women are begging for help. With my own eyes, I watch as people get torn apart by the ravenous people.
Fuck, I didn’t want to be here.
I dash through the crowd, jumping around abandoned cars and undead. As I run, I realize a few things. The first is that zombie movies are like pre made documentaries, except I don’t know what version I am dealing with. There are so many different variations. The Walking Dead, The Girl with all the Gifts I Am Legend, The Girl Who Knew All, World War Z…
The second is that in these first few moments of confusion, I will get to see first hand the nasty side of humanity. Neighbor versus neighbor, living longer than the person next to us is now more important than getting a chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-a.
And thirdly, nothing would ever be the same again.
Gun shots are now embedded in my mind as I watched people fall and never get back up, their petrified screams of horror and pain.I sprinted down the street as fast as I could, dodging cars as I weaved in between dying and dead people as I attempted to get home. Everything I needed was there. After I went there, I would somehow get back to my family. I had to be with them, not several hours away when all of this was going down. We would need each other.
I found a safe place in an alleyway so I could text my mom and friends, she called me. I clicked ‘accept’ even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to reply.
“Lance, stay where you are! ...not safe here… love… bye.” Her voice was cutting out, and I only caught fragments of her last words. I gripped the phone tightly in my hand as I listened to the screams. She should have hung up, I should hang up. I didn’t want to hear this. I didn’t want this.
I wanted to tell her I love you but I couldn’t even do that. She was dead. My sisters and brother are probably dead, and I wish I was there with them. I would never be able to see them again or taste mom’s cooking or feel her warm hugs.
I didn’t want to do this alone.
I am about to slump onto the ground and sob when I see two children huddled beside a car, crying. I silently pray that their parents didn’t just leave them. I barely register the helicopter flying overhead until it opens fire on the crowd, killing anything that moved… and we were right in the middle. Without hesitation, I dove for the kids, covering their bodies with my own. Bullets bit into the ground, making zippy sounds as they shot through cars, people, concrete… and me. I bit my lip hard, tasting blood as I tried not to be sucked into the pain. With deep, labored breaths, I look at my shoulder, sighing in relief when I realize that it hadn’t been a solid hit. It had only been grazed. I would live. Returning my focus back to the two kids, I hastily grabbed their hands, smiling as comfortingly as I could given the situation, and made hand motions to get them to follow me.
And they did.
I was the adult in the situation, and they were putting their trust in a complete stranger because I was older and I was supposed to know what I was doing. And I did... somewhat. Get to the apartment, get the supplies, then get the fuck out of town. If I had learned anything from the movies, it was that the military would show up and start dropping bombs in an attempt to get rid of the zombies. Fire would rain down like gods wrath on the city, soldiers would shoot anything that moved, and I didn’t have the confidence to say that they wouldn’t come all the way out here.
Faces blurred together as they ran past us, but one women caught my eye. They were standing on the sidewalk, holding a little boy in her arms. She was panicking, looking at the chaos around her with wide eyes, and as soon as she sets him down on the ground, I start running. I had half the mind to shoot her when I reached the kid, but a zombie got her, biting into her shoulder and tearing a chunk of flesh out of her. I ignored her screams, not feeling a drop of remorse as I picked up the little boy who was wailing on the grass. He was so small, probably about a year old.
I kiss him on the cheek in an attempt to sooth him, and again, I find myself wishing that I was able to talk. I cradle him close to my chest with both arms, the gun hanging awkwardly in my hand. I barely took three steps when a hand grabs my shoulder and spins me around aggressively. The man was a few inches taller than me, but he was broader and had a lot more muscle mass than me. I did not want to mess with this guy, but he was livid.
“Where do you think you are taking my son?” He says coldly, glaring down at me.
I shake my head frantically and point to the women lying dead on the sidewalk, and he blinks, turning around to look at what I wanted him to see. When he looks back at me, there is no sadness in his eyes, so I know that she wasn’t his wife. I still had the toddler pressed protectively against me, along with the two kids clinging to my legs. His eyes narrowed at me and I fidgeted underneath his stare, when I remembered the blood on my clothes. He thought I was bitten. My eyes widened and I quickly shook my head, making gun fingers and pointing at the helicopter flying over the city. He looked briefly at it before nodding.
He grimaced. “Do you live here? Because we need to get out of the streets now. ” He asked, and I finally sighed in relief. The zombies were getting closer as more people ran out of the cities. I nod, running towards my apartment complex, the child’s father not to far behind as he follows me up the two flights of stairs and up to my room. With one hand, I unlock the door and let it swing open, letting the kids go in first. The man locked the door behind us, and I instinctively took a step back. It doesn't go unnoticed.
The man looks guiltily. “I’m really sorry about treating you like that. I just didn’t know who you were and you had my son in your arms… and I overreacted.”
I mull over the words before nodding, handing the child back to his father. Given the circumstances, I didn't blame him one bit. There was a soft patter of paws that instantly had me grinning. My golden retriever, Blue, padded into the room, heading straight for me. He nudged my side, most likely smelling the blood and letting me know I was hurt. I bent down and started to pet him furiously before turning back to the kids, motioning them over, letting them know that it would be okay to pet him.
“What’s his name?” He asked
I tugged on my shirt, which was blue and he said, “Shirt?” I rolled my eyes before shaking my head. What type of person names their animals after clothing? Mittens and Socks I could understand, but shirt? How could someone fail so badly in life.
“Blue?” I nod.
“I’m surprised he hasn’t barked yet.” He remarked, setting his son down. The little boy walked over to the dog, flopping down on his butt, his little hands waving in the air excitedly before finally grabbing onto Blue.
“The woman, did she… what was she doing?” He asks, his dark grey eyes guarded as he waited for my answer.
I open my mouth as if to speak, and then I close it. I hold up a finger before going into my room, digging out the journal I had stuffed in my backpack. I return back, notebook and pen in hand, and wrote, She was going to leave him there. I saw her set him down onto the sidewalk but the zombie got her before she could get away. I think she was planning on returning him to you, but she freaked and tried to run.
He looks at me for a second before holding the child even tighter, kissing him on the cheek like I had done. “Thank you for saving him. Most people wouldn’t have done what you did,” he said gratefully. “The names Shiro by the way, Takashi Shirogane. And this is Sam.”
“Do you have any family to go to?”
I shook my head, bottom lip trembling as I remember mom’s call. I didn’t have anymore.
“My boyfriend is waiting at my house with a few of our friends, and I would like you to come with me… you and the kids. I want you to, since you saved Sam, but I’ll respect your decision if you don’t want to leave. It’s not exactly safe out there.”
I look at the two kids I just saved, and I realize that I didn’t know what I am doing. After this, I didn’t have anywhere else to go except for Pidge or Hunk’s place, but I don’t know if they would even be there. Shiro seemed to know what he was doing. He would be able to protect us, and I have a feeling that he is a good person. So I nod, and he takes that as a sign of agreement because I hear him let out a relieved sigh.
Besides, it’s not safe anywhere. Might as well have someone watch my back.
“Shit!” He exclaims, making me jump. “We have to patch you up. Do you have a first aid kit?”
I nod, heading towards my storage closet, opening the door with my uninjured arm.I hand Shiro the camping bag, thinking it might be useful. He opens it and gives a low whistle. He looks up at my grinning face. “I’m glad you have this stuff because I know I don’t have any of these things back at home.”
It had binoculars, a map, a led flashlight, extra batteries, matches, a lighter, a pocket knife, the first aid kit, etc. He pulls out the first aid kit and opens it up, pulling out the bottle of hydrogen peroxide, bandages, and the small medical scissors.
I follow him back into the small dining room, and we both sit facing each other.
“I’m going to have to cut your shirt off in order to get to your wound, okay?” He asks, grabbing the scissors, waiting for my permission. I nod hesitantly, looking at anything but him. He cut up the middle of my shirt so he could remove the offending cloth easier without agitating my wound. Shiro’s eyes lingers briefly on the scars that litter my arms before he opens one of the drawers and pulls out a cloth, and then with a warning he poured the hydrogen peroxide on it, and I grit my teeth so hard I thought I might shatter them. I hold onto Shiro’s arm to distract myself from the burning pain that ensues as the liquid enters my wound. He pays no mind to it, and he doesn’t even pause as he starts to clean it. When he’s done, he wraps a bandage expertly around my arm with just the right amount of pressure.
“Thank you,” I mouth as he washes his hands, blood washing down the sink. I was glad that he didn’t bring the scars up.
Back in my room, I slip on the plaid shirt that I chose, since it won’t strain my arm.
“You should pack up whatever you want to take with you, but only the essentials.” He informs me once I’m fully clothed.
I nod, grabbing some snacks, and placing them on the table for the kids to eat, and they do so greedily.
“What are their names?” Shiro asks, standing beside me, looking through the cabinets before finding the knives. He picked one up and I shudder, imagining what he plans on using them for.
I shrug. It’s not like I can ask them. I don’t even know if they are old enough to read.
“They’re not your siblings?”
I shake my head.
“Did you… did you find them too?”
Yeah. I don’t know if their parents died or left them.
I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I had left them on the streets. They looked so young and vulnerable.
“You’re a good person Lance. You’re parents would be proud of you.” Shiro says, clasping his strong hand onto my shoulder with a proud smile. Here was this man praising me, feeling pride and I didn't know how to feel about that. The warm feeling it gave me felt good though. Like, really good.
I gave him a wobbly smile before closing my notebook. If we were going to stay the night, I would have to get everything ready, for tonight and for tomorrow, so we could leave as soon as possible. I grabbed my old school bag, and dumped all of its contents out into a box that I had also taken out of the closet. I shoved a few spare clothes into the bag, along with my copy of Lord of the Rings. My c.d player went in next along with the accompanying c.d case. My eyes drifted around the room until they landed on my lion stuffed animal. I grabbed it hastily, and picked up the spare journal it had been guarding. The noises outside were muffled, but I could steal hear the chaos. In the bathroom, I picked up the deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste that was already sitting on the counter, along with my 3 in 1 Ocean Breeze scented shampoo. There was no way in hell I was doing this without keeping myself clean.
I sat the backpack beside the couch before opening the closet door by the laundry room. I took out the Trilogy Super Tent my Dad had bought me as an apology gift 2 years ago. It was a tree tent, which was really cool, but it did nothing in ways of bringing me closer to the man. If anything, it made me pity him.
With everything organized and ready in case we have to run, I went back into the living room to get the kids to eat and sleep. Shiro was with them, all three kids sitting in front of him as he talked to them quietly. We could still hear the groans and few terrified screams coming outside, so we knew to keep as quiet as we could.
Shiro looked up as I got nearer and he offered me a smile. “Do you have a place where they can sleep?”
Opening my journal again, I wrote, They can sleep in my room. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get any sleep tonight. The couch pulls out to so you and Sam can sleep on that, if that’s alright with you?
“Where are you going to sleep?” Shiro asked me and I shrugged.
I’ll just roll out a sleeping bag or something.
Shiro shook his head. “No. This is your place. I can take the floor and you can sleep on the couch. Besides, you're injured. I can't allow you to do that.”
Where will Sam sleep then?
“With you. You’ve already proven that you would look after him. Not everyone would grab a child in the middle of an apocalypse.”
My house, my rules, and I’m telling you that you’re going to sleep on the couch. I wrote quickly and harshly to get my point across, glaring at him in case he tried to argue with me. He raised his hands in surrender.
“I can put the kids to bed while you get our beds ready.” Shiro suggested, standing up with the two kids I had saved.
“Yeah, I have Sam. Don’t worry alright love? There’s this man, Lance, who saved him. He’ll be coming with me and there are two other kids as well. And a dog.”
There is silence before Shiro’s voice becomes stern. “No, I am not lying. Lance got shot saving them, and he could have died rescuing Sam. It’s not up for negotiation.”
“Yes, I understand we don’t have enough supplies, but we’ll make some stops to gather some.”
“I love you too. I’ll see you in a few days, okay?”
“ I love you,” Shiro said again, this time softer and more reverent. Whoever he was talking to, I knew Shiro would go to hell and back for.
And in this new world, he may very well have to.