Michael Grayson groaned as he felt the weight of a body landing on his bed. A heavy panting filled the room, along with a quiet growling noise. Michael pushed against the weight, feeling the familiar tail of his dog, Ray, slap against his arm as he did so. Struggling to sit up in bed, Michael pulled his leg out from under Ray and leaned back against the bed posts.
"Hey, Ray...what's up, boy?" Michael asked the golden retriever as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. "What's... it's..." looking at the clock on the wall of his bedroom, Michael could see that it was just five o'clock in the morning. He hadn't planned to wake until at least eight. "It's five o'clock, Ray... what d'you want?" His speech was still somewhat slurred from speech.
Wondering if the dog might need to go outside, Michael hung his legs off the side of his bed and opened his dresser to grab a pair of thick black socks and a pair of pajama pants. He decided that, since he'd just be returning to bed, he didn't need to bother putting on proper clothes to take his dog outside for a second.
As he pulled on an old t-shirt he'd retrieved from its place hanging off his bed post, Michael heard a thump in the hallway. Someone else was up - it sounded like maybe his sister was awake, probably just heading to the bathroom. He leaped at the opportunity, running over to his bedroom door. He tripped on Ray's bed along the way, stubbing his toe against the door frame after freeing his foot from being caught on the edge of the dog's bed.
Gripping his right foot and cursing under his breath, then, Michael opened his bedroom door and whispered loudly, "Kayla? You there?"
A groan sounded from down the hallway, followed by an emphatic grunt, as though someone were being punched or hit unexpectedly. Michael immediately glanced around for the source of the commotion and moved cautiously down the hall toward his sister's room. Mckayla's bedroom was on the opposite end of the narrow hallway from Michael's, and now he could definitely tell that the sound was coming from her room. There was a low moaning sound, like a wounded animal, coming from her room, along with the sounds of...Michael didn't even want to imagine what the noises sounded like.
As he drew closer, he could tell that the moaning was definitely Mckayla's voice, and his worst fears were confirmed when he stepped into the sixteen-year-old girl's room and saw that her bed was covered in blood. Some...thing... that looked like a person was standing beside the bed, biting into her arm and torso as though it were a chicken wing.
"No..." Michael's cry was initially much weaker than he had intended it to be, due to his terror at the scene before him. He tried again. "No! Mckayla!"
Charging at the man in a maddened frenzy, Michael hardly even noticed when his sister stopped her quiet wailing. The man had pinned Michael to the floor and was trying to get at his throat. Michael had one arm free, though, and kept it pressed up against the... creature's... chest to hold him back as he looked desperately around for something - a sharp-ended object, a blunt instrument, anything - that he could use to fight the being that was trying to kill his family. That had already killed one of them. His sister... his baby sister, who he was supposed to protect. He finally decided, in his anguish, that his fists would work just fine. He drew his free arm back and, before the man could reach to bite him, slammed his fist across the man's face. The being fell back slightly, grunted as though frustrated with his would-be victim fighting back, then tried to move in again.
Michael, now enraged, was quicker. He pushed himself against the creature, landing ungracefully on its chest, and snatched a glass bottle of his sister's perfume from her nightstand as he fell, smashing it in the attacking man's face. The container had been in the shape of a heart, tinted slightly pink. As it smashed, shards of glass pierced Michael's hand. At the moment, though, he didn't really care. He took advantage of the fact that his assailant was now stunned by the shattering glass and the scented fluid spilling in its face, and grabbed a suitcase with a metal bar across the bottom to connect the two wheels located at the case's base, smacking the creature in the face with the part that had the metal bar.
Michael beat and beat the man, until his mother's voice settled on his ears from the doorway. "Michael, what are you - Oh my - who is that?"
Michael stopped swinging the now-torn duffel bag, breathing heavily, and looked up at his mother. "I... I don't know," he said, then looked at the window next to his sister's bed. That was probably how this man had gotten inside, then. "He...Mom, Mckayla..."
As he spoke, Mckayla whimpered weakly. Michael immediately went to stand beside her, as his mother frantically ran over to the other side, and then something Michael could never forget happened.
His sister, with a gaping hole in her side and one arm torn in half, sat up in bed and locked eyes with him. She growled - growled - at him, then snatched his arm. He impulsively yanked it away and said, "Hey, stop it - what are you -" She jumped out of bed and tried to shove him against a wall, but Michael dodged out of her way and ran back to the doorway to her room as his mom shuffled past him, sobbing in terror. Michael turned and ran as his sister continued to charge at him, and he didn't stop running until he reached his car. Mckayla continued pursuing him, leaping onto the hood of the car as Michael started it up and prepared to back out of the driveway. She started pounding on the glass.
"Mckayla," Michael shouted at her as loudly as he could so as to be heard through the glass, "I - I don't know what's wrong with you, or why you're doing this... but... if you don't get off my car and knock it off, I won't stop. I'll..." Michael's voice cracked as he said, "I'll take you somewhere, Kay, somewhere they can help you..."
Mckayla continued to beat on the vehicle's windshield as Michael spoke, so he slammed his foot down on the gas to back out. A millisecond after his foot hit the pedal, he remembered that he hadn't put the car into reverse yet. Two seconds later, there was a hole in the wall of his family house and his sister was on the blacktop behind him, laying flat on her back with her arms and legs at an awkward angle.
"Oh..." Michael put his head in his hands, leaning against the dashboard, tears forming at the corners of his eyes. Ray was barking at him from outside the car, and his mother was screaming in terror.
As he sat there, refusing to acknowledge that he was still alive, the unreality of the whole thing hit him. It was like something out of a horror movie. He wished it was - he wished he was dreaming, that this was just a nightmare brought on by his Dawn of the Dead marathon last night - but, as he sat crumpled against the dashboard, he began to understand that it wasn't, that it had indeed all really happened...then, he heard a faint broadcast on the car's radio. Through the occasional static, Michael heard:
"All...southeastern United States...warning: infected now control six areas... military... state of emergency declared... NOT under control..." After some moments of static, Michael hauled himself off the dash and fiddled with the tuning dial on his old car's stereo, trying to tune into the broadcast more clearly. He caught some sound as he steadily turned it through, and dialed back until he found the station again. "...southeastern United States have been issued a warning: infected now control six areas, areas where the military can render no aid thanks to heavy activity. State of emergency declared in following states: Florida; Georgia; Alabama; Tennessee; North and South Carolina. If you are in any of the northeastern counties in the state of Pennsylvania, know that the situation is NOT under control. Officials are working to organize evacuations. Locations for evacuation will be listed as more information is received."
With that, the broadcast ended. Michael had so many more questions, though. Infected? What was the reporter talking about? Had there been some kind of outbreak? And what situation is northeastern Pennsylvania? How had all this developed overnight? Michael crawled out of his seat in the car and went searching for his mother; he determined that they had to go look for answers.