Quiet MorningMature

"Pull!" said James Hawkins as he stared down the barrel of a pump-action shotgun. In response, a disc was launched into the air, which James quickly shot down.

'Haha, nice!" said Nate Cullen, James' best friend. It had been a quiet morning, more silent than usual. The only person they saw on the way to the skeet course was Jerry, the manager. The streets had been empty, no one else was driving around, no one walking about, barely any signs of life in the whole town.

Nate had one foot planted on the skeet launcher, one hand occupied with a cigarette. "Alright, my turn," he said, holding the cigarette in his mouth and catching the shotgun as James tossed it to him. Nate took the position James had been standing in, and loaded a few more slugs into the shotgun.

Readying himself, he cued James. "Pull!" he said. James launched the skeet into the air, but was surprised when the skeet kept flying, and Nate stood motionless. Nate lowered the shotgun and looked off in the distance.

"What is it?" asked James. Nate gestured into the distance, and James saw a lone figure. It looked suspiciously like Charlie, a man who had been a football player when James and Nate were in high school. They hadn't seen him in seven years, and he still looked the same; short blonde hair, built frame, wearing jeans and a team jacket, but something was off. James couldn't make out much of the details, but it looked as though Charlie was walking with a limp, stumbling about aimlessly with is arms crooked. It was indeed a strange sight to behold.

'HEY, CHARLIE!" Nate called out. The figure stood still for a moment, turning around to face the one who had called him.

"CHARLIE!" Nate called again. In response, Charlie let out a high-pitched, gargled scream, and started running toward them in a haphazard manner, limping the whole way.

"The hell is wrong with him?" asked James, a disturbed look on his face. Nate tightened his grip on the shotgun.

As Charlie approached, his features became clearer, and much more horrifying. His skin was tinted grey, thinned out and receded to the point where the veins bulged. His eyes were glazed over, greasy-looking hair atop his head, mouth hanging open as if he couldn't  muster the effort to close it. The open mouth revealed yellow, rotting teeth, green-tinted saliva dripping from his lips. The entire time, he made noises akin to the screams of a raving lunatic. Nate raised the shotgun.

"Back off, Charlie!" he warned. Charlie drew closer still, his screaming becoming louder.

"Charlie, talk to us! What's wrong?!" said James. Charlie made no indication he heard their warnings, and continued to run towards them.

"I SAID BACK OFF, MOTHERFUCKER!" said Nate as he gave his final warning. When Charlie was ten feet away, Nate rushed forward and slammed into his chest with the butt of the shotgun. Charlie was thrown to the ground, but quickly turned around and crawled towards Nate, jaws snapping at his ankles. Nate dodged him, and managed to kick his chest, making him roll over. Before Charlie could recover, Nate pressed the barrel to his face and, with Charlie still furiously writhing beneath it, pulled the trigger.

The shot exploded from the barrel, and Charlie's face was turned to a green-tinted pulp, maggots infesting the inner crevices of his skull. James and Nate took in the sight, bewildered at what they had seen.

"Motherfucker, that's nasty!" said James, unable to look away from Charlie's limp  and already-rotting corpse. "It's like he's a goddamn zombie!"

"We should go, tell Jerry what happened," said Nate. James nodded in agreement, scratching his beard impatiently.

The two made their way towards the main building, going in through the door at the entrance of the range. The building was mostly empty, as it had been when they arrived. They made their way to the counter to see Jerry, stumbling around as Charlie had been, the same grey skin, the same matted hair, the same rotting mouth.

"... Jerry?" Nate said, keeping the shotgun raised. Jerry turned towards the two, letting out a low moan, in contrast to Charlie's screech, and slowly stumbled towards them, mouth hanging open.

"Jerry, come on man, it's us! James and Nate!" said James, horrified at the sight of their friend's condition. James reached out, and Jerry swung his jaws toward him, causing James to recoil quickly. Nate quickly hit Jerry with the buttstock of the shotgun, causing him to stumble backwards, and when he tried to come at them again, Nate fired. His body was flung backwards and landed on the ground with his back against the wall, a small cavity in his chest oozing green-tinted liquid.

"Okay..." said James, panting. "Something is definitely wrong here."

"You don't fucking say!" said Nate. "First Charlie, now Jerry!

"Whatever's going on here, it's bad," said James, walking toward the telephone behind the counter. "I'll call Robbie, see what's going on." James quickly dialed a number, and the phone rang a few times before it was answered.

"Hello?" asked the voice of Robbie Cortez, James' adoptive brother.

"Robbie!" said James. "Are you okay? Have you seen anything.... strange going on today?"

"You mean other than these goddamn zombies?!" asked Robbie, sounding on the verge of panic.

"How many have you seen?" asked James.

"My apartment building is full of them!" said Robbie. "I've barracaded my doors, none of them are getting in."

"Do you have a way out?"

"Yeah, fire escape."

"Good," said James. "Alright, just stay calm, we're coming for you, bro." Nate was busy collecting shotgun ammunition.

"Don't take your time!" said Robbie. James hung up the phone and gestured towards Nate.

"Let's get the hell out of here!" said James. They ran outside to Nate's car, jumped in and drove off.

"First thing's first," said James. "I want my rifle."

The End

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