The year is 2012. The busy city of Pine Ridge is under zombie attack. The rest of the world? No one knows. There hasn't been any outside contact. They're simply trying to survive.
From what I remember, the months leading up to the day everything changed were nothing special. I’d spent them at OCS, and had emerged not long before everything had happened as a proud, new Lieutenant. There was a spring in my step, but at the same time, I didn’t feel ready. While I’d been at OCS, my squad had gone on a tour in Iraq. Only half of them had made it back. I’d only been to Iraq once, and we weren’t there for long; I’d only seen maybe an hour or two of combat in my entire life. So I guess I felt a little inexperienced to be in charge.
I’d requested a day’s leave, to go and see my folks to give them the good news, but I hadn’t been able to find them anywhere. Their house was eerily empty, and the front door had been left unlocked, something my parents would never do if the both of them were away from the house. I’d checked out in the garden, but they weren’t there either. That should have been a huge clue already.
But instead of questioning it, I let it drop, figuring they must have just been getting forgetful or something, and figured I’d make the most of my day off. There wasn’t exactly much I wanted, but I’d treated myself to an ice cream sundae. I hadn’t had anything like it in so long; I forgot how ill they made me feel if I tried to eat all of one. I was in the middle of it, when the waitress at the diner I was in switched the channel on TV to the news. Everyone in the place looked up from their food as the distressed voice of the news reporter rang out through the tinny speakers of the old TV.
“Pine Ridge police are trying to detain two men and a woman who are supposedly ‘biting and gnawing on other civilians’ faces and bodies’. Reports claim one of the men attacked the woman, who appeared to have been killed, before getting to her feet and joining in with the attacks. It’s not known why… Oh my God, they’re attacking the police. They’re being shot at, but they’re not stopping”
The channel cut out then, switching to one of those “technical difficulty” screens. There was a chill in the place. No one wanted to say anything, but they were scared. I was just glad I wasn’t in my fatigues, or they’d start asking questions and panicking, as if I knew what was going on. I left some money on the counter for my half eaten sundae, before getting up and heading outside.
“You’re not going out there, are you?” the waitress called after me.
“I have to”
“What if there’s more of them?” she asked, fear thick in her voice.
I walked back over to her, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Listen, I’m in the military. I’m going back to get back up, and I promise I’ll come back here to get you. I want you to lock all the doors after I’ve gone, and barricade the windows. Can you do that?” I asked and she nodded.
“It’s all fear mongering” someone announced from the other side of the diner and I looked round, seeing an older gentleman with a bushy moustache. “Probably just some young punks on drugs”
The others in the diner seemed convinced by him, but the waitress still looked scared. Some of the others that’d finished their meals started getting up to leave, ignoring my insistence that they stay where they were. Apparently not wearing fatigues is also a great way to get people to not listen to you. Within a few minutes, it was only me, the waitress and a couple other people left.
“Do you think it is just junkies?” the waitress asked.
“I don’t know. Do what I said anyway, and don’t let anyone in until I get back, okay?” I said, going outside and back to my car when she nodded.
I heard her lock the door behind me, and I got into my car, driving back to the base. Or rather, trying to drive back to the base. The traffic was ridiculous, hundreds of cars lined the streets, all honking angrily at each other to move when there was nowhere to move to. I was still stuck in traffic when I saw them; a woman and what looked like a little kid running down the freeway, their skin blotched with blood and bruises. At first I thought maybe they’d been caught up in the attack, and were trying to get away, but when they leapt on one of the cars, smashing the windows and trying to get at the people inside, I knew something was wrong. There was enough space between a few of the cars to get to the turnoff I needed, so I went for it, watching in the rear-view as more of them appeared.
Needless to say, I was creeped out by the time I reached the base. I made my way inside, trying to find someone, anyone. The place was usually bustling with life, but now it stood empty and silent. I wandered around, calling out every now and then to see if anyone was about, but… there was nothing. I couldn’t be the only one left. I headed for the armoury, tensing when I heard something behind me.