My body jarred hard from the startling, and my mind snapped back from the dark thoughts that had been racing through my head. I whipped my head to the side and was starring face to face with a tall, blonde-haired, blued-eyed man, who had just snuck up on me ninja style. He introduced himself as Jackson. He was a tall man with a closely groomed goatee, long, thick mutton chops and tattoos covering his arm. He looked ridiculous.
He told me he had locked himself out of his house and he had to sleep in his car because the locksmith and cops hadn’t answered or some shit like that. I wasn’t really listening because my eyes kept getting drawn to the store window. I tried to mention the blood but Jackson kept interrupting to finish his story.
“Hey, you listening to me man? I said I need some help if it’s alright with you. Do you mind giving me a hand? I’m only like a few blocks from here.” Jackson said to me.
I began to tell Jackson I had just come to the store to get some food because I was hungry, but before I could finish, Jackson cut me off again.
“What the fuck!” Jackson blurted out suddenly.
I heard a bell ring behind me, before I could figure out what he had been talking about. As I turned around, I saw a grossly pale figure standing at the door of the store, glaring at us. The man standing was a good six feet tall and easily weighing in the 200lbs range, not moving, just staring. Blood covered the man’s lower face and dripped from his jaw. The life somehow seemed drained from his dark, cold eyes. Before a single word could be said, the ghastly figure opened his mouth to speak.
The garbled mess of literacy that came from the man’s mouth was chilling and curdled the blood racing through my veins. I could do nothing but stare in amazement the way a crowd stares in awe at a train wreck or an auto crash.
Jackson called to the man asking if everyone was alright, slowly moving towards him. Jackson moved closer to the man, but the man made no other attempt to talk or even move for that matter; he just glared at us. Jackson was a few feet from the man when he spoke again. It was not so much speaking as grunt as if choking on something. I remember the choking sound was watery and sticky from the amount of blood that seemed to be coming from his mouth. As he put his hand on the man’s shoulder, Jackson said he just wanted to help.
The strange man exploded forward before anything else could be said, tackling Jackson to the ground and began clawing at his face and body. Jackson was doing his best to keep the man’s face back as he gnashed his teeth and lunged at him.
“Get’em off me, get’em off me!” Jackson yelled to me over the man’s grunts and groans.
I suddenly snapped back to reality. I looked to the ground and searched for anything that could help. Ten feet away, I caught the glint of a metal pipe lying on the ground. Out of instinct alone, I ran to the pipe, grabbing it from the ground and hurried back to Jackson. I let my momentum build as I ran and swung the pipe with every ounce of muscle I had. The swing hit home as it found the side of the attacker’s face. Blood splattered all over me and chunks of flesh littered my shirt. The man flew off Jackson and landed in a mangled, twisted pose. I went to help Jackson back to his feet.
I ask Jackson if he was alright, knowing that no one is ok after being attacked by someone. Jackson said me he was fine as he panted and searched the rest of his body for injuries.
“If his fingernails were any longer, I think I’d be fucked right now.” I remember Jackson saying.
I looked to the spot where the man landed and saw he was already to his knees. Jackson yelled at the man that he was going to hit him with the pipe again if he tried to move. The man slowly rose to his feet, back facing us. He didn’t appear to be disoriented at all nor was he wavering on his feet. As he began to turn toward us, the damage from the pipe became shockingly clear. His skull was deeply dented and obviously broken, and as he turned further, I could see he was missing an eye as well as most of the flesh from around his socket. The eye hadn’t gone far though; I stared in horror as I realized it was hanging down to the man’s neck by its optic nerve. He grabbed his hanging eye without a sound and tried to shove it back into the eye socket. The force he used created a sucking noise from his socket and blood bubbled out as he continued to try to push it in. The man made no sounds of pain or any indication that I had just collapsed part of his head. Jackson and I could only stare in amazement as he plucked the eye from its hanging cord like a grape from its stem after failing to fit the eye back into his head, then stared at it for a moment before popping it into his mouth. A wave of nausea hit me as I could hear the juicy, swishing sounds as he chewed his ill-begotten meal and swallowed it down. The man then turned his focus back to us.
The man was glaring at us again, only this time through the one eye he had left. He began moving toward us in a twitchy, shuffling manner, as if the blow to his head had fucked up his movement on the right side of his body. His pace quickened, and he raised his arms like he was trying to grab the first of us to get close to him. Without thinking, I lifted my new found weapon and unleashed blow after blow upon the man’s body. I landed hammering blows to his arms, legs and torso, but the man was unflinching, even to the sounds of shattering bone coming from his limbs. Finally, in a frantic struggle to put the man down for good, I began to strike at the man’s head over and over again. My vision went red as the man fell to the ground and my bludgeoning continuously until the smoke cleared from my head. I was doing nothing more, at this point, then smashing skull fragments into the bloody pavement.
“Jesus man, I think you killed him.” I recall Jackson stating in almost shock. “I think he’s dead.”
I focused all the energy I had left to speak, but all I could muster was a pathetic, “Yeah.” I wanted to say something more, like “of course he’s dead, he has no fucking head” or “really, dumbass, you think” but I just didn’t have it in me to say anything more. I did however; hear the sudden sounds of shuffling footsteps around me. Then, over all the shuffling, a sound echoed through the air I thought I never wanted to hear again. A chorus of blood chilling moans and groans emanated behind us.
My energy was suddenly back, and my grip on my weapon tightened. I whipped my body around to see a sight that would have made me scream if all the air hadn’t already left my lungs. All around us were more pale-skinned, lifeless people moping towards us. Each of the people making their way to us was grotesque, missing various body parts and covered in blood. There was no way I could kill all of them; there must have twenty of them at least. I did the only thing that made sense to me at that moment.
I yelled frantically at Jackson to follow me into the store. The inhuman creatures were closing in on us as we made our way to the entrance. I made it to the door before Jackson and was half tempted to just lock myself inside, but for some weird reason, I knew I might need him, especially if there were any of those things inside.
One of the creatures lunged at Jackson before he could make it to me, grabbing hold of his shirt. I yelled, tossing the bar to him to defend himself, not wanting to lose my ground at the doors. Jackson grabbed the bar out of the air and swung wildly at what appeared to have been a woman grabbing at him; the bar landed across her forearms and splintered the bones. Blood sprayed his face. Jackson let go of the bar out of fear, and quickly cleared the distance between him and the store. I jerked the door open, letting it swing and smack the brick wall. The glass on the door cracked slightly. Putting it to the back of my mind, I grabbed the door handle, pulled the door close and locked it before the creatures could make it to us. Still out of breath and with the adrenaline pumping through my body, I said the only thing I could manage at that point. I’ll never forget what I said.
“Nice job, pussy, you dropped our only weapon!”