A freak illness spreads far and fast throughout the world. As Iris knows it, with her family being threatened, and her friends states away, they will fight to survive and thrive in the increasing toxic environment. Will the undead outnumber them? Or will they be able to live with the smell of dead flesh forever?
Iris woke up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, her favorite scent when she woke up. She went downstairs and was greeted by her roommate and half brother Caiden. He was already dressed for work in his black slacks and white button up. His short black hair was slicked back, revealing his fade. The sun shining through the window made his green eyes even brighter.
“Hey. I'm running a bit late, but here's some coffee. Looks like you need it.” Iris' blue eyes met his green and she mocked hurt. “No offense.”
The blonde laughed, “Asshole.”
Caiden was about to walk out the door before turning back. “Oh and make sure to get your flu shot. There's a lot of sickness going around.”
“Promise me. It's not looking good.”
“I promise! Now go before you're really late.”
He smiled and walked out, locking the door behind him. Caiden was eight years older than Iris so he was always protective of her. It's one of the reasons he wanted the first time Iris being on her own was with someone who can teach her the ropes before she moves to California to live with her three best friends from high school.
Iris started making toast when she heard a breaking news report. She walked out and saw a tall woman. Maybe late thirties with red hair and a perfect smile. “Thanks Brad. We all know about the sickness going around. Some kind of flu like virus that we are now learning came somewhere from Africa. It has been spreading to different countries and it was only a matter of time before it found its way to America. The symptoms are only being shone in some states, however we do know that it is not air born.”
“What the hell?”
“Some people might call it sleep sickness because it is like you are sleep walking. We don't have a name for it yet, scientists are still trying to run tests on some victims. They are calling it Pax 12. We will stay on sight to keep you posted on any updates we can. Back to you Brad.”
Iris' arm hair was sticking up and chills went up and down her spine. “Weird.” Her thoughts were interrupted when her phone went off.
This brought a smile to the blondes face as she swiped the green bubble up. “Hey babe.”
“Hey! Did you hear the news?”
“Of course I did. Do you think it's dangerous?” Iris said while walking to get her toast and finish her coffee that was now just room temperature.
“I don't know. The news hides things dude. Just so people don't panic.”
“I know. That's what worries me.”
“Not to change the subject, but did you hear what Tryston did?”
“No I haven't heard from him.”
“He got a job in Japan to be a DJ!”
“No way! Really? How'd he manage that?”
“Friend of a friend I think.”
Iris looked at the time and noticed that she was running late. “Shit.”
“What is it?”
“I'm gonna be late if I don't start getting ready soon.”
“Alright well call me tonight okay?”
“I always do. I love you Veda.”
“I love you too Iris. Talk to ya soon.”
The blonde hung up and ran upstairs to get dressed. After getting dressed In her khakis and blue button up, she looked in the mirror and noticed the dark circles under her eyes. She had trouble sleeping for some reason. She put on cover up before some eyeliner and mascara. She ran downstairs and rushed outside, getting into her banged up black Prius. She was about half way to work when she was caught in traffic. “Another day in paradise.” She said before turning up the radio. Every channel she went to was nothing but news reports about the virus going around.
She got to work with a minute to spare and clocked in, putting her name tag on her shirt.
She turned around to see one of her co workers Stephanie. “Slow your rolls there honey, What's up?”
“Can you cover my shift for me?”
“You want me to work a double?”
“Please? My kid is very ill. I think he has the virus.”
Iris gave out a sigh than smiled. “Okay. Don't worry about it, I'll handle it.”
“Thank you! You're too nice!”
The older woman ran out of the automated door and left the blonde alone.
Iris kept checking the time, counting down the seconds. She had been working for twelve hours and was so done with it. There were a lot of people calling in sick which made her day even worse. She went to the break room to get some coffee to make her last hour bearable. There were two other people there that looked worse for ware. “Are you two okay?”
“I think we got whats going around.” The woman said.
Iris noticed a bandage on her hand. “What happened?”
“Oh I was running late and bumped into someone. I think he scratched me. He looked sick.”
Iris contemplated her options for a moment. The news said it wasn't air born which doesn't make sense if it's a sickness. “Why don't you two take off. It's been a weird and long night. I'll see you first thing tomorrow.”
“Are you sure boss?”
“Yeah, Randy won't mind. Besides, what he doesn't know won't kill us.”
“Thanks! Here's the keys.” The man spoke for the first time, suddenly looking just fine.
“Thank me with a big burger tomorrow yeah?”
“I'll give you two.”
With that, they left the little blonde by herself to finish her coffee. She noticed the news saying something about the virus. She turned it up and sat down.
“People are crowding the hospitals. It seems to be spreading faster than we had originally anticipated. People with the Pax 12 seem to be getting aggressive and are very hard to calm. We know that it is mainly in the St. Charles area so anyone there please stay safe.”
Iris started to feel a little panic, that's where her sister was. She took out her phone and dialed her number. Straight to voice mail. “Shit.”
“You know what to do.” BEEP
“Hey Kaveeta, it's Iris. Just making sure you're alright. I heard the shit that's been going on. Stay safe and call me as soon as you can. Love you.”
“We have just been told that a curfew will be set at a later date. Everyone who is out must return to their homes. Work or not.”
The TV cut off as the lights went out in the building. “What the fuck?”
Iris turned the light on that was on her phone and made her way to the store, trying to find the fuse box. It was very quite. No one was in the store shopping. She could hear her heartbeat and feel it in her throat. Accelerating with each little sound that happened near her or that echoed through the store. In the midst of trying to find the box and almost giving up she heard a grunting sound that was coming from the back of the store. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to catch her attention.
Her feet were moving even when her head was saying run away. “What the fuck are you doing Iris.” She whispered to herself. She got to where the noise came from and saw a dark figure. “Freeze!” She shouted. While cringing at the stupidity that came out of her mouth.
The manly figure made one last movement, than the lights came back on. She noticed the middle aged man who was the cleaning guy. “Hey boss.”
“What the hell Bob! You scared the shit out of me!”
“Sorry, it's hard to do my job with no lights.” He smiled warmly.
“It's cool. Are you almost done? I have to close now.”
“An hour early?”
“Yeah, some stuff is going down in St. Charles, now there's some kind of curfew.”
“Bummer. Alright, let me put my stuff away and We'll walk out together.”
“Kay, I'll see you out back.”
Iris was waiting for five minutes before her friend came out and shut the two large automated doors before she locked it and waited for the alarm to beep.
Satisfied that it was secure she said her goodbyes and went to her car to go home.
Her ring tone came through her car speakers and she answered it. “Hey Veda. What's up?”
“Did you hear about the curfew! It's total bullshit! I've got places to be.”
“It's happening in California too? Jeez. Are you alright? Is it in your area?”
“No its in the city, a good hour away.”
“Good. Please stay inside. People are crazy at times like this.”
“What bout you?”
“I'm on my way home, should get there in about fifteen. I'll call you when I'm there though.”
“Alright. Love you bitch.”
“Love you more bitch!” Iris said while laughing at their inside joke. She threw the phone to the passenger seat and focused on the road. There was not a car in sight. It was dark due to some street lights being out and it all seemed very creepy to the blonde. She wanted nothing more than to crawl up in her bed and forget about today.
She was so wrapped up in her thoughts, she almost hit a man that ran in front of her car. “Shit!”
The man had pale skin, red eyes and bloodied body. She came to a stop and was sent forward a bit until her chest hit the horn. She quickly got out and went to the mans aid. “Are you alright!?”
“He- Help.” The man struggled before passing out in her arms. She struggled, but managed to grab the man by his underarms and drag him to the back seat. She was in full panic and her anxiety was acting up. She quickly buckled up and sped down the empty road to the nearest hospital.
She looked back every now and again to see the man stirring a bit. “Please don't move Mr… Dude.” He moaned in response. “Oh fuck. What the fuck do I do!?” She shouted in frustration, trying to keep her breathing even. She got off of the highway and made a right as the hospital came into view. It was packed and ambulances were rushing in and out from the loading zone. She didn't slow down, just kept going until she reached the front. Cutting off one of the ambulances.
“Please! This man needs help! There's a lot of blood!” No one seemed to notice her plead. “Son of a-” She was cut off by a bunch of car horns. Iris ran to get a wheel chair and went back to her car, pulling the man out and into a sitting position. His head leaned down onto her shoulder while grunting in pain. She gently grabbed his head and leaned him back. “Please don't do that.” The man was sweating. She rolled the chair to the entrance and shouted for anyone to help. As soon as she entered, she was surrounded by the smell of blood and death with a side of bleach. It burned her nostrils as she sniffled, inhaling the god awful scent.
She had finally got the attention of a nurse and three other doctors ran her way. “What happened to him?” One of the men said.
“I don't know, I found him like this.”
“He's been bitten.” The nurse said after checking him. She then turned to Iris. “Have you been bit?” She asked moving closer to her.
“What? No! I just found him. What does it matter.”
“Look.” One of the doctors started, dismissing the nurse and the others to aid the injured man. “If you're bit. We need to know.”
“I'm not. I was driving home and he jumped in front of my car so I rushed him here.”
“And he didn't come after you in any way?”
“No. Look do you mind telling me why you're interrogating me? Because it's weird as shit. Why would he bite me?”
“I am not at liberty to say. I believe you, thank you for bringing him in.” Iris was intrigued at how well calm he was with all of the chaos around them. “I need you to go home now. It is safer in doors.”
Iris just nodded as questions filled her head that will be unanswered. She walked outside and to her car. There were a lot of injured people being moved in and out. She just started her car and left. She pulled up to her driveway and sat in her car… Thinking. About what? She didn't know. After awhile of pondering, Veda popped into her head. She had to talk to her, see what was happening. See if she was okay. She looked at her phone to see two messages from her two best friends, Finn and Tryston, who also lived in California.
Holy shit, it's all over the news! I'm telling you it has to be zombies man!
Are you alright? I heard what's happening. Shits getting weird dude. Call me ASAP.
She took a deep breathe before getting out of her car and studying her surroundings. Some neighbors were packing their cars with kids in the back seats. Some crying, some out cold. Her gut was telling her to do the same, but she needed to think of her options. She went inside and locked the door, dead bolting it.
“Caiden!” She shouted to the dark and empty house. She knew he wasn't there because his car wasn't in the driveway, but she had to call out. She took out her phone and noticed a text from her brother.
Hey sis. Hope your having a good day. I was thinking we could make egg rolls tonight? Like we used to as kids and mom would yell because we would almost burn the house down. Don't worry! I've been practicing. I love you and will see you around ten. Apparently that's curfew… Please be in by then.
Iris looked at the time and noticed it was 10:30. She panicked a little before her phone rang. “Hello?” She answered eagerly to the unknown number, hoping it was Caiden. It was an automated system telling her about passed due bills. “Fuck off!” She shouted. The blonde went to the living room and turned the TV on. The news already on.
She dialed the first number that came to mind. “Hello?”
The girl on the other end heard the shakiness in Iris' voice. “Are you alright? What's going on?”
“The virus. It's getting closer to home. I was driving when a man ran in front of me. He was covered in blood.”
“Did you help him?”
“Of course I did. I brought him to the hospital. They mentioned something weird.”
“They kept asking me if I was bitten.”
“Maybe that's why Finn is saying that it's zombies.”
“Don't say that word!”
“Why? You know that would never happen.”
“But it makes it sound to weird. Especially with what's happening.”
'Alright babe. I'm sorry. Look, go upstairs, take a shower and get into nice PJ's. Than call me when your settled in bed and we will watch something together. Okay?”
Iris loved when Veda acted like they were in the same room. “Alright. I'll call you in a bit.” They said their goodbyes and she hung up, heading to the shower. Her music was drowning out the TV downstairs.
“We are in a state of emergency. The patients seemed to have gone crazy and lost control.” The anchor said as chaos happened behind her. There were gunshots that filled the air around the anchor before it was just static.
Iris was in her gray jogging sweats and a black tank top. She took a few deep breathes before lying on her bed and grabbing her phone. She had a few missed calls. Three from Caiden and one from Veda.
She checked Caiden's voice mail. “Iris! Please call me as soon as you can. The virus. It's out of control! I'm on my way home now. My car was totaled, but I'm running. I'll be there in-” The voice was cut off while gunshots and screams filled the background. She pulled the phone away from her ear until she heard her brothers voice again. “Lock all of the doors!” There was more commotion in the background and than nothing. Than it went to the second one. “Iris.” This time he sounded in pain. Tears filled the blondes eyes. “I was attacked. Son of a bitch bit me. I don't know what's going on, but I'm not going to stop until I get to you. I love you so much sis.”
Iris jumped out of bed and put on her black converse shoes before running downstairs and trying to call her brother. She heard the commotion going on outside, but one sound caught her attention the most. It was a ringing sound. She hung up the phone and it stopped. When she dialed again, it started. It was coming right outside the back door. She walked briskly to the sliding door before opening the blinds and the light came on, showing her brothers corpse on the concrete. He wasn't moving. A deep bite mark on his neck and arm. “Caiden!” She shouted while placing the phone in her pocket. She went to his side to check for any heartbeat, finding none, she tried shaking him. “Caiden please wake up! I need you!”
She jumped a bit when his body shook and his eyes shot open. Once green eyes full of life, now black and red. “Caiden?” He slowly got up, his bones cracking every inch. She followed in suit, backing away from the monstrous figure she called her brother. “Caiden?”
He turned his head as if giving a satisfying crack to his neck and looked right at her. She swore she saw a smile as he screamed out and started to charge. She shut the door and ran into the living room. Crouching down behind the wall and hiding between the TV and corner. She heard the thumping and soon cracking of the window. She cried out before the glass completely shattered and she heard a thud soon after. She stopped any sounds from escaping her lips by holding her hand tightly against her mouth.
She heard the footsteps and how he bumped into everything. Checking the kitchen, like he had never lived here. He eventually made it to the living room and passed her completely. Walking to the large window and bookcase on the other side of the room.
Iris was shaking uncontrollably at the sight. Her heart thumping so fast and so hard, she surprised he couldn't hear it with the silence. There's only the slight sound of destruction outside. Her heart dropped when her phone went off. It got his attention as he turned around quickly and saw her. She screamed out and made a run for the stairs, pushing the couch towards Caiden to slow him down. She made it upstairs as he tried to get back up. She locked her door and sat with her back against it, covering her ears and shutting her eyes tight. Whispering silent nothings to slow her heart and calm down. There was beating on the door, but she ignored it and kept whispering.
She had sat there for awhile after the thumping stopped. Trying to wait it out until it was safe to make a run for it. She grabbed her phone that had been on mute and noticed over twenty missed calls from Veda, Finn and Tryston. She noticed Veda was calling again. She quickly answered and put it up to her ear. “He- Hello?” She whispered.
"Babe! Oh my god. Please tell me your okay.”
“It's… It's Caiden, he's… He's dead.”
“What do you mean he's dead?”
“He had no heart beat than he just came after me. He wanted to kill me.” She said through tears.
“Oh my god Iris. Where are you now?”
“Locked in my room.”
“You need to get out of there. I can't even imagine what you might be going through, but I think it is safe to say that we know what is going on. It's only a matter of time before it happens here. WE need a plan.”
“I don't think I can.”
“Babe, listen to me, you can do this. You are so strong baby. Stronger than any of us. I need you to be brave for me. You need to get in your car and book it to those mountains we always went to when we met each other half way. Do you think you can do that?”
“Will you stay on the phone with me?”
“Of course baby. Now be brave. I believe in you. Finn, Tryston and me will be waiting there.”
Iris took a few deep breathes and grabbed a backpack and filled it with random clothes before grabbing her car keys and opening the door slowly. Keeping the phone to her ear. The house shook and she fell to the ground. She crawled over to see a truck that went right through her living room window. Debris still following around it. “What was that!”
Vedas' voice broke Iris out of her trance as she ran down the stairs and onto her driveway. “A truck just rammed through my window and my car has been stolen.”
She saw her surroundings. Scarred people running in all directions. She couldn't tell if they were like her brother or actual people. Who was running away and who was chasing. She noticed her neighbors mountain bike and ran to it, trying to not draw any attention her way. She put the phone in her pocket and started to pedal on the bright pink bike. She didn't know what direction, but she had to get out of the area so she could collect her thoughts. She was on the road when she took the phone out and put it back to her ear. “Alright. I'm leaving the area. What's happening over there?”
“I just got a news report that it's spreading everywhere. I will find Finn and Tryston and we will meet you there.”
“I can't just leave my sister.”
“Alright, you grab her and I'll get my mom, than we meet up as planned.”
“I love y-” Her sentence was cut short when a speeding car hit her from the side and sent her in the air and hit the hood, bouncing off and onto the windshield of a parked car. She lye there on top of the shattered glass. Not able to move. Her phone on the ground somewhere shattered.
“Iris!” Veda shouted after hearing the commotion. She just got done packing the bags and was about to head out. “Iris please no.” She knew Iris was hurt. Forget it, she was going all the way to Missouri if she had too. She tried the cell phone again, but it was disconnected. She held back the tears as she ran outside and got in her car, ignoring the screams around her. “I'm coming babe.”
Iris woke up to the after math of the chaos that happened before she knocked out. She got up and noticed that she had been pulled off of the car and put inside instead. She looked out of the window and noticed the bodies scattered all over the roads and lawns. Some completely divowered and others getting up to find their next meal. She checked her body to see if anything was broken, fortunately she was okay, just sore. She got out quietly and looked around.
There was a truck with the door open so she snuck passed the undead and got in, locking the doors and checking the inside. The keys were in the ignition which pained her to think of what might have happened to them. She knew the plan. Get her sister and go to the mountains. She thought as she sped off, those things sprinting behind her.