For a few horrifying moments he was simply frozen, staring into the eyes of death itself. The creature that used to be Laura shuffled closer, picking up speed and letting out the most guttural, animalistic groan that Joe had ever heard.
Move Joe, some basic instinct screamed to him and he leaped into action. Without thinking what he was doing, he charged into the monster, knocking them both to the ground. He felt the creature's legs twist at an awkward angle. Jaws snapped, hands scratched but none came into contact with Joe’s skin. This was nothing like the Laura he had known once upon a time, this Laura was dead and hungry with milky-covered eyes and blackened teeth. A roll of nausea swept through Joe and he had to force himself not to throw up.
He rolled off the creature and in one lightening move was back up on his feet again, searching desperately for a weapon of any kind. Dammit why didn’t he think to take one with him?! His heart was hammering ferociously against his chest and he was sure that the blood pounding in his ears would alert his whereabouts to the other zombies. The creature began dragging itself across the floor at an alarmingly fast pace, almost like a crab. A half-eaten dead crab…
Joe’s eyes clapped on a metal pipe lying in the back of someone’s truck. The thing grabbed his ankle and desperately tried taking a chunk out of his leg. Joe yelled out in panic and tugged free, aiming a hard kick straight into its head. It didn’t stop though. Like a demented child who keeps trying to reach for something it can’t have, the zombie’s arms reached and swiped, its back legs kicking and pushing it forwards. Joe grabbed the pipe and brought it high above his head. The zombie’s eyes met his for a brief moment before it was destroyed by the pipe. Joe brought it crashing down several times until bits of brain matter and blood covered his jeans and hands. This time he really did throw up. His eyes burned and the smell wafted up his nostrils.
‘Oh God,’ he whispered, dropping to the floor. ‘What have I done?’
It was already dead, his mind told him. Don’t forget that. Laura Ramona was dead already. You were only ending her suffering.
The killing hadn’t been easy and if they were all like this, well Joe didn’t think he was going to last very long at all. He suddenly longed more than ever for his parents. They had been his guiding light throughout his short fifteen years, showing him the way and providing all the love and support he could ever need. Before he knew what was happening, hot tears were spilling over his cheeks and an enormous rack of sobs overtook him.
He tried stifling it, in case there were more zombies around, his shoulders shaking violently but he wasn’t doing a very good job of it.
‘You alright kid?’ a stranger’s voice came out of nowhere. Joe looked through bleary eyes, not even caring what happened to him anymore. He was numb and exhausted.
‘I’m fine,’ he muttered, wiping his cheeks and turning away.
There was silence for a few moments and Joe saw the stranger eyeing up the thing that used to be Laura.
‘First kill?’ he asked, surprisingly soft. Joe nodded, despite himself and attempted a smile, standing shakily.
‘Just a helpful hint, it’s easier to puncture the brain by going straight through the eyes, time efficient you know.’
The stranger pursed his lips, as though deliberating something. ‘The name’s Cancer.’ He stretched his hand out. Joe shook it, introducing himself. The guy was tall, over six feet at least, and slim with black hair and brown eyes. Joe was pretty good at reading people though and he noticed something about Cancer's eyes; they seemed surprisingly hard, as though he had seen enough to last him several lifetimes. Joe wondered what Cancer had gone through, what had shaped him this way.
He suddenly felt very wary.