Desolate - Chapter 1Mature

One day, when all was going well, society collapsed as a result of a rapid outbreak that led to the reanimation of dead corpses.

"Wait -- Jason, what are they doing over there?" Debbie asked with a look of terror crossing over her features.

"Don't, sweetie. Just..."

Jason grabbed his wife's hand and gripped the steering wheel with the other. A film of sweat lingered upon his brow, his heart hammered within his chest and he was sure that Deb could hear it over the hum of a few surrounding vehicles. Looking out of the passenger side window, he could clearly see why Deb was so upset -- a girl who couldn't have been a day over fifteen jumped up from the grassy clearing along the side of the road and ran. Her shirt was torn over one shoulder and a nasty scratch ran along her right arm. Behind her, two men gave chase, bumped into one another and began to fight with each other.

"Dear Jesus," Deb whispered to herself. "Jason, they were trying to rape that girl!"

"She got away. You saw her get away." He explained, squeezing her hand as if it would reassure her that everything would be okay.

They had been sitting on the road for the better part of four hours, inching a step at a time toward the Oklahoma-Arkansas state line. Debbie had a brother in St Louis, Missouri and like everyone else, the newlyweds believed it had all been a contained incident. Jason still wasn't entirely sure what had happened. He remembered running outside after hearing a series of high-pitched screams coming from his neighbors' houses. He and Deb had ran outside and that's when they saw them -  several of those ... things, they started shambling towards them at first sight. Luckily, he had grabbed his jacket on the way out and the keys were inside of the pocket. They scrambled to the Grand Am and were able to peel out before any of the creatures were able to get too close.

"Why isn't the line moving? Why are we just sitting here?" Debbie asked no one in particular, a fresh stream of tears falling into her lap. "What is happening?"

"We're almost to the state line, honey. I told you that most everyone in Tulsa would be heading this way."

"What happened back there, Jason?"

She started pressing him again. It was something she did when she felt cornered. The shock was receding and she was finally beginning to think about just how impossible everything had been for the past 8 hours. The news reports began to broadcast only an hour or so before reality had stumbled up and met everyone at their own front doors. Jason saw one missing it's jaw, another one had no left arm and a particularly grotesque one had no flesh upon it's face, at all.

"They were dead. Dead people." Jason explained, pursing his lips and shrugging a shoulder. "Those people back at the house were dead. Didn't you see what they looked like?"

Debbie slowly removed her hand from his, choosing to cradle it in her lap. She gave him a hard, teary-eyed glare, then decided to spend the rest of the exchange gazing into the passenger side mirror. She was obviously worried about the state of everyone in the surrounding crowds, and she had good reason to be. Sick and desperate men were just as big of a threat as those monsters, back home. Jason began to regret not grabbing his pistol from the house.

"I saw one in front of the Kendall's house - it didn't even have a jaw." He went on, realizing the more he talked about it, the more at-ease he was in his mind.

Debbie remained silent, but the air was filling with the sound of more and more car horns. The cars and trucks stacked along the highway were getting impatient and it wouldn't be long before a riot ensued. People had been acting crazy even as they were leaving the Tulsa city limits -- apparently, most people didn't need much motivation to revert back to their Stone Age instincts. Take as much as you can before you die. It scared the shit out of Jason, but he wouldn't let Deb see him in that condition.

"Keep the doors locked." He said, gripping a tire-iron beneath his seat and opening the door of his car.

"Wait--!" Deb shouted, but he closed the door before she could finish and made sure it was locked.

The sun had descended below the horizon, just an hour earlier. The trail of headlights behind his car was matched only by the trail of red brake-lights leading towards the state border. Angry shouting could be heard from every direction, filtering through the constant blaring sound of car horns and booming stereos. A woman screamed, somewhere off in the distance.

"Oh, God -- those --!" The screams from behind began to grow louder and more numerous. Each one began synching up with the one before and after. "Those things are here!"

Turning back around, Jason saw the chain of headlights begin to break off of the trail. One vehicle careened off the side of the road and straight into a huge oak. Another car sped out into the median of the highway, crossing over the empty lanes on the other side and dropping out of sight along the ditch. Then more and more cars broke off from the trail, scattering light in every direction. In the brief flashes, Jason could make out the forms of hundreds - if not thousands of dark, shambling silhouettes.

The End

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