Days passed by in the same mundane routine. They'd wake up from their makeshift beds, wash themselves in private from the small supply of water, have something to eat then try and occupy themselves. Sometimes they went on explorations of the underground tunnels although Ty always warned them not to go too far. Cal had gone on one of these with a group of about three people but he hadn't found it overly appealing. The tunnels seemed to stretch on for miles and Cal began to wonder how they'd know where to go back, but they were experienced and had obviously done this many times. He was guided swiftly through maze after maze of endless stone walls, dripping pipes and the same foul stench he had seemed to grow immune to.
Occasionally they would hear noises from the surface. The screams were the worst. Human screams, terrified and haunting. There was nothing anyone could do except remain still and silent, praying they wouldn't be discovered. They had to sit there, listening to the hapless victims from above as their cries were cut off short, unable to help, unable to do anything except wait for it to end. The screams became less frequent over time, which either meant people were getting picked off easier or they knew not to venture outside.
One day Ty asked the question that was on everyone's mind and one they all secretly dreaded: 'Who's coming with me to the surface to get more supplies?'
Rob, a man Cal had grown a lot of respect for volunteered instantly. Although Rob was no older than twenty, he was one of the bravest. It seemed like he could resolve any feud that would arise within the group, whilst managing to hold them all together. However, he always seemed resigned to his fate, like he knew he could die at any given point. His expression was always grave and his pale blue eyes always solemn.
'Thanks Rob,' Ty nodded appreciatively in his direction.
'I'll come,' Danielle offered, already standing up.
Over the days, Cal had begun to grow fond of this girl, he felt they had some sort of bond and this was mostly down to the fact that Cal had shared his story with no one else other than her. He felt strangely protective over her and as soon as she volunteered he stood up and offered to go with them.
'Cal,' Holly whispered, tugging on his sleeve. 'Don't. Please just stay down here!'
Cal looked down into his sisters dark eyes, filled with nothing but worry and concern for her older brother.
'Hey,' he smiled reassuringly. 'I'll be fine. I'm with Ty and Rob, you know what good fighters they are.'
It was true, on several occasions, they had given demonstrations to everyone on how to protect themselves if they had to fight hand to hand with the deadly creatures.
'I'll be back before you know it.' Cal squeezed his sisters hand once before following the others into the shadowy tunnels. The last thing he heard before descending into the darkness was the steel grating sound of the gate being shut, separating him from his sister and his friends. He was unsure of when or if he would even see them again.
'These tunnels seem to go on forever,' Danielle whispered beside him. Cal could briefly distinguish the outline of Ty and Rob, who were close in front. When he turned his head to the side, Danielle was practically invisible to him. To say he was fearful was an understatement.
Some minutes later, they came to a stop.
'We're here,' Ty declared.
'I'll go first,' Rob's voice came through the darkness. A thin slit of pale silvery light shone through a crack in the roof of the tunnel, directly onto Rob's face casting shadows across his cheekbones.
'Is this the ladder where we all came down?' Cal wondered aloud.
They all followed Rob, who pushed the manhole cover off with a grunt letting the light flood into the tunnels, illuminating their surroundings. One by one they ascended into the outside world. The fresh air hit them like a slap in the face and Cal flinched ever so slightly before adjusting.
A lot had happened in their absence. They spent a good few seconds gazing around with wide eyes and open mouths. Cars scattered the road in irregular angles, some overturned, others melded into another. Windows were smashed in and a thin cloud of smoke was escaping from one of the cars, trailing off into the night air. Newspapers, leaflets and other bits of paper lay strewn across the concrete, windows from shops were boarded up and Cal could make out the words 'THE END IS NIGH' painted in big black letters on one of them.
'This place looks like a total shithole,' Rob murmured. 'Come on, we should get going.'
Wordlessly, they closed the entrance to the tunnels and crossed the road, heading for the nearest supermarket. Ty was gripping onto his customary knife, Rob had two guns in each hand and Danielle had a baseball bat. It wasn't enough to ward off a vast number of zombies but it was hopefully enough to survive through this one journey.
Everything was eerily silent, the only thing they could hear were their own short breaths and the wind whistling through the trees, fluttering the discarded bits of paper causing Cal to jerk around every five seconds. Blood pounded in his head and his vision swam causing him to stagger.
'Cal?' Danielle looked at him concerned. 'Are you okay? You look like you're going to faint.'
'No, I'm fine.' He just needed to take deeper breaths and tell himself he was going to be okay. He nodded at the others to continue and they did so with tentative footsteps.
They were at the supermarket entrance now and it loomed over them, dark and menacing.
'How are we going to get in without raising attention?' Danielle whispered.
'Through the back door?' Cal suggested.
'Follow me.' Cal had worked here briefly in the summer and knew this particular supermarket like the back of his hand. The door round the back was unlocked thankfully and Cal guided them into a dark room the only light appearing from the vending machines humming softly in the corner of the room.
The door closed quietly behind them.
Suddenly, a loud crash grabbed their attention, shifting all their gazes into the direction it had come. The crashing didn't stop, if anything it was getting closer. Whatever it was was engulfed in shadow but it was approaching them at a quick pace, getting nearer and nearer.
A hand grabbed Rob.