I hated moving through the post-apocalyptic woods in the dark. Every shadow, every sight, every glimmer of light seemed to electrify me with a fresh rush of adrenaline. Causing me to raise my gun, ready to fire useless bullets at the creature or even worse, creatures I knew I would have to face at some point during the rest of my seemingly pathetic life. Even the word sent shivers through me now, for I knew what it meant, the word meant fear, it meant terror, it meant death; death in the worst possible way, not only a death of your brain but a death of your will and control.
Death from these creatures didn't mean a comforting and painless end, only a horrible, gruesome extension of your dying moments, moments in which you can walk and talk...and feast upon the bodies of the living. To be unaware of myself, of my surroundings and of what I was doing to other people is my worst fear. Not the twisted faces and the rotting flesh, not the animalistic groans that rumble from their chests in their pursuit of fresh, living meat. It was the fear that I should become one of them myself, an uncontrollable monster together with an endless amount of comrades also turned into servants of the Grim Reaper. If it wasn't for Lucas, I would have killed myself long ago and have done with it. Thrown myself into a lake or something, where those creatures couldn't get me. But Lucas told me off for wanting to give up so easily he gripped my hand and together we're trying to get to an ocean as fast as possible. So far, we hadn't had a run in with a zombie, any sign of them in the distance and we'd somehow managed to navigate around them without any noticing us. That was until that night in the woods.
Lucas was still holding my hand, he hadn't let go since sunset. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't hide my fears from him. He always seemed to be able read my mind and my feelings. Still, shacking up with a mind-reader was a million times better than fighting off those zombies alone. We were walking through the forest as the last few embers of light disappeared off the horizon behind us, and the woods became cold and damp with humidity in the atmosphere. I could feel it in the air that night, I knew that night was the night I would come face to face with one. Lucas gripped my hand tighter and stroked it a little with his thumb, I don't know whether I'd flinched a little or he felt my pulse get quicker. The wind blew and quite suddenly not too far off there was a horrifically familiar sounding groan, the rumbling kind, the kind that sounds like you were about to be dinner for one of them. Lucas and I stopped and my heart beat quickened we scanned the trees ahead and I raised my gun. Lucas didn't let go of my hand. There wasn't another groan for a while, all was silent and the wind had stopped, there was a glimmer of hope and relief in my head as I looked at the spidery skeletal looking trees.
"I hope I'm not being cliché here, but perhaps it was the wind?"
Lucas looked at me and smiled, perhaps amused, perhaps trying to be reassuring - he took a deep breath and pulled me along with him "Come on. We need to find a safe house; I think there's an old log cabin around here."
I was reluctant, but trusting Lucas with my life I followed him, still not letting go of his hand. Then suddenly, without warning there was another moan. The wind had not blown this time, the skeletal trees remained in a form of stasis as though time itself had stopped.
"We need to get out of the woods." Lucas looked at me concerned. "Now."
"But...but..." I replied, no words would come out, I was too fearful. Then there was a rustle in front of us in the bushes and I screamed a high pitch, blood-curdling scream as it staggered out groaning so hard it was almost a roar. It's eyes were yellow and sinking into waxy, dying, green flesh. It's nails seemed to have grown into an impossible length, so they had become claws, the same colour as it's eyes. It had one ear missing and coagulated blood clung to it's cheek. The stench and the fear threatened to overcome me, and black rings started to form in front of my eyes, I leaned on Lucas for support and dropped my gun. There was something mournful and desperate about the creature, for it looked like it had once been a teenaged human girl, no older than 16, the same age as me. Lucas slapped me in the face hard and picked up the gun before ordering me to climb a tree. Adrenaline snapped me back to my senses and I ran at the tree, Lucas picked up the gun and aimed it at the creature who was merely groaning and surveying us. I clumsily grabbed onto branch after branch until finally I felt safe. The creature stared at Lucas and growled, it's eyes feverish for meat.
"Lucas!" I cried. "Lucas come up here!" I begged, the creature looked like it was about to attack. But no, instead it looked up to the skies and groaned a high pitched scream. A sound that must have resembled the voice that the teenaged girl used to own before it took her over. Then, my stomach dropped as three other zombies joined the first one. Lucas lowered the gun and ran towards the tree I was in, but it was too late, the zombies were quick. The two zombies who were even more rotting and waxy than the girl grabbed his arms and bit into his neck, the death sentence of the servants of Grim.
"NOOOO!" I screamed louder than when I first saw the zombie. Lucas kicked them off him and with the last amount of energy climbed up to the tree where I was. The zombie who had bitten into him groaned for more, it had blood and Lucas' flesh dangling off its chin. Lucas sat opposite me on the wide branch, panting, going paler and paler by the second. I looked down at the gun on the ground, but then shuddered in shock at the thought of shooting Lucas.
"Push me off, kill me." Lucas begged. "Let me go to the zombies so they can finish me off, Ebony."
I looked at the gaping wound on Lucas' neck, it was pouring with blood that was fast becoming black. I knew he didn't have long.
"Never." I told him. "I can't do it, Lucas."
"But. I'll kill you, you know that Ebony, don't you?"
"Yes. I do. I'd rather become one of them, than kill you, you're my best friend."
"I won't BE me, don't you understand that?" Lucas told me angrily.
Tears started rolling down my face "I can't do it to you Lucas."
The zombies below started hammering on the tree. Their strength wasn't as astounding as their speed, luckily.
"Ebony..." Lucas' breath started to quicken, his eyes started rolling. "I...I love you. So please, just push me off."
"I love you too. Which is why I will never kill you, no matter what you are." I touched his face tenderly and he passed out and landed face first on the branch. The zombies below stopped for a second and watched, I half-expected them to smile with glee about what was about to happen. I saw Lucas' back stop rising and wept bitterly.
"What the hell's the point now?" I cried to the heavens, louder than the groans of the monsters below me. "There is no reason for me to keep fighting now Lord, without him by my side." Then I paused. "But then, you wanted me trapped in this apocalypse didn't you?"
I looked down straight into the blank, yellow eyes of the creature I could soon become and at that convenient time heard a groan from Lucas in front of me. My best friend had become one of them, he sat up, eyes turned yellow and looked me in the eye before snarling and revealing black teeth.
"Oh, Lucas." I smiled, knowing I had no reason to stop what I was about to do anymore. "...always the conformist." And with that I threw myself off the branch headfirst and heard my own neck crack as I hit the ground. In my last breath I heard the advancing groans of the zombies and silently thanked the Lord for delivering me from the fate I had grown to fear so much, the fear disappeared as the darkness enveloped me.