The moon shone like a blade frozen in blue ice. This and the bright white stars were the only things illuminating Tyler’s surroundings, but it didn’t matter much to him anyway. He was on the verge of passing out, his fingers had gone numb and his legs were shaking beneath his stumbling figure. His thoughts flickered back to the train that had passed him earlier and he wondered what had become of the passengers on board. Had they gotten to their destination safely or had they been overwhelmed by the devilish monstrosities that had slowly begun to take over civilisation?
He needed to get somewhere warm, and fast. If he didn’t he might as well just turn around and face the zombies, let them have him, because he sure as hell wasn’t going to make it out alive if he continued like this.
What seemed like hours but could have only been mere minutes later, the inevitable happened. Tyler’s legs collapsed beneath him; they had finally had enough. The snow wasn’t cold to him anymore though, it felt warm and inviting. A feeling of lethargy washed over him in one giant wave and he felt his eyelids closing, not of his own accord.
So this is what Death feels like, he thought to himself. This isn’t so bad, why was I running from it?
The darkness swallowed him whole.
* * *
He was in the park. The sun was shining brightly overheard and warm rays caressed his skin gently, a summer breeze blowing a wisp of hair into his eyes. All around him was the sound of delighted laughter coming from little children. But there was something wrong with these children. None of them had wide, innocent eyes or chubby cheeks. None of them even had hair. Their skin was rotting and vile. Strips of flesh hung from their face and the smell of Death was all around. It made Tyler gag as he took a step back, clutched the rust-covered railings that outlined the park that once held all of his precious childhood memories. It now seemed to be a harbinger of doom.
‘Isn’t it horrible?’ a voice beside him made him flinch. It was his father.
‘Why am I here? Am I dreaming?’
‘Dreaming? What dross Tyler! This is real!’
‘Where’s mother?’ His voice shook.
‘Same place I am. We’re gone Tyler.’ He turned to face his son. ‘It’s up to you. You’re on your own but you can do this. It’s all about survival now. Do not mourn for us, it was a quick, painless death but the same fate cannot fall upon you. You must make it out alive.’
The words were not registering with Tyler. This had to be some crazy dream for him, there’s no chance that this could be happening for real. If it was, where was the grief for his parents? Maybe he did not feel anything because deep down, he knew that it had happened. But to have it confirmed like this would still shake him up, wouldn’t it?
The last words that Tyler heard before everything disappeared came from his father: ‘Remember Tyler. We love you.’
* * *
Something had changed. He wasn’t in the park anymore; he was back in the woods. But he seemed to have a newfound energy about him. Maybe it was the adrenaline tearing through his veins, or something else entirely, but he managed to stand up strongly. The cold was affecting him still but he seemed to manage to push it to the back of his mind. He had other things to focus on: making it out alive.
He instinctively reached for the family crest he had had imprinted onto a chain he always wore round his neck. It always seemed to bring him good luck and he gave it a small squeeze. He wasn’t going to succumb to the darkness. He wasn’t going to give in completely and let them take him, he was going to fight.
This was his life now. And there was nothing he could do to change that.