I awoke on a cold barren floor. As I looked around, the place was familiar. There was no furniture except an old couch with no cushions and bare springs poking through. The linoleum had been pulled up from the floor in pieces, exposing the hard wood beneath.
I couldn’t remember how I had come to this place, but I had been here for as long as I could remember. And now it was time to leave. The food was gone and without food, I would be dead.
I briefly considered that being dead might not be so bad. As long as I didn’t become one of them. But everyone becomes one of them when they die. I thought about torching this rat trap and standing here, burning down with the building. Then I couldn’t ever become one of them.
But I didn’t. I inspected the windows. They were boarded up to keep the dead ones out. The boards were in place, all except one. It had come loose on one end. Luckily they hadn’t found it, or they would’ve gotten in.
It didn’t matter now. I peeked out the grimy window. I couldn’t see any of them so I picked up a crowbar and pried the boards from the window. Once completed, I traded the crowbar for a rifle, opened the window and stepped out. It was the first time I’d been outside in…how long had it been? I couldn’t remember.
It was a small town, one that looked like a scene from the old west. I didn’t know where that thought came from, but that wasn’t an unusual occurrence these days.
I didn’t dwell. I knew I didn’t have much time. They were slow moving, but they would keep coming if they saw me. Shooting them would slow them further, but bullets couldn’t kill them. They were already dead.
I began walking, heading up the empty street. I was hungry. Hungrier than I could ever remember being.
I thought about looking for food in one of the other buildings. But they could be hiding in there, waiting for me. If food was in there, it was not for me.
As I walked, I saw the others come out to watch me. It was them. The dead ones. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t ambling toward me. They just stood in the doorways and shadows, watching me pass. Something about them had changed.
It was somehow significant. The thought nagged me, but it was distant, hard to reach, hard to wrap my mind around. It required too much effort.
I pushed the thought away and replaced it with one of my own. As they stood watching and I continued walking, all I could think about was finding food.
Author's Bio: Doug McIntire is a central Texas author of speculative fiction. When he’s not writing, he enjoys riding his motorcycle and spending time with his wife and two children. You can find out about him and his writing at www.DougMcIntire.com.