The car ride was silent. I stared out the window watching the telephone poles flash by. My parents were driving my sister and I to the airport so they could send us off with another family member who would get tired of us and eventually send us back. That’s what they all did. I was nineteen and I knew by the time my birthday came around my parents would probably kick me out, and send my sister with me. They never wanted us especially when we misbehaved. Most parents would just punish there kids for doing something bad, but they just sent us away to another family member. Then when we’d do something bad around them, they would send us back.
We weren’t the terrible alternative children you’d think we were. We got kicked out of aunt maries because my little sister Rosie stole maries cell phone. We were kicked out of grandma’s house because I got in a fight at school. Just little things like that.
I watched as we sped past cars, my mother obviously in hurry to get rid of us. I turned to look at Rosie who was looking down at her hands. I noticed her eyes swelling with tears so I reached over and took her hand in mine. I gave her a look of what I hoped she would receive as reassurance. I didn’t know why she was so upset; we had done this plenty of times before. But I felt different about this time too.
I looked toward the road in front of us. I saw something far away on the strait four-lane. I couldn’t tell what it was until we were right up on it. Dad swerved off the road to avoid hitting the limping man. The car tumbled down the hill flipping past trees and boulders. Dad wasn’t buckled and I watched his body fly through the windshield. So many thoughts were flashing threw my head. Rosie, Mom, Dad, Me, what was going to happen to us? Finally I felt a hard blow to the back of my head and blacked out.
I opened my eyes. I was still strapped into the sideways laying car and had a pounding in my head. I forced myself to sit up and looked over to see my sister crying in the floor of the car.
“Rosie, are you okay?” I asked unbuckling.
“Oh my gosh, Jacqueline I thought you were dead!” She threw herself at me and wrapped her arms around my neck.
“I’m okay. How long was I out?” I asked pulling her away.
“A couple hours” she sniveled.
“And no one came?”
She shook her head, drying her eyes with her palms. I looked around outside and thought of what to do next. I’ve never imagined being in a situation like this, and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know why the cops hadn’t come yet or the ambulances or at least a crowd of nosey people to see what happened to us. No one was there. It was just my sister, me, and my mom’s dead body.
I knew we should probably get out of the car, in case there was a gas leak or something. The door was dented in so all I had to do was push it with my foot and crawl out. Once I was out of the car I reached in and pulled Rosie out. We could see up on a hill what looked like the roofs of houses in a neighborhood so we started to walk in that direction.
“What was that?” Rosie slung her head to look behind her.
“What?” I asked confused.
“That noise.” She paused holding up her index finger to silence me. “There it is again.”
This time I heard it. It was a low growl, almost like a moan. It didn’t sound like an animal but it didn’t sound like a person either. I grabbed Rosie’s hand and squeezed it. Then we heard the noise again. A man stepped out of the thicket of the forest. He was tall with messy brown hair. He was wearing a white dress shirt but it was ripped and stained with what looked like dirt and blood. His jaw hung down leaving his mouth wide open and red ooze dripped out of it. And I thought we looked bad.
I pulled Rosie behind my body instinctively protecting her. The man looked at us then cocked his head to the right. I looked at his eyes. They were yellow in the middle but blood shot all around. He looked back at me then let out a shrieking howl, and started to run at us.
“RUN!” I yelled taking off, pulling Rosie behind me.
We sprinted toward the neighborhood not even looking behind us. When we got to the large fence outside of a house, I instantly grabbed her and threw her over, then pulled myself up behind her. I quickly looked around for someone to help us but there was no one in sight. I heard the man banging on the fence like he was trying to break it down. Why didn’t he just climb over? He was taller than me and definitely stronger.
I kept Rosie close to me, holding her against my body as we gasped for breath. I walked over to the fence on the other side of the house that lead to the street. The road was packed full of cars just sitting there with no one in them.
“Who’s that?” Rosie asked pointing at two men that I hadn’t seen. “Are they like that other guy?”
“I don’t know” I said standing on the tips of my toes to try and get a better look. “I don’t know what was wrong with that other guy.”
“Hey!” the taller guy yelled. “Hey! Say your name!”
I examined him to see if he was like the other man that chased us. He looked normal. He was wearing a dark grey t-shirt that fit snugly against his muscular chest. He shook his head to move his shaggy bangs out of his face.
“You better say something!” he shouted. He reached in his pocket and started to pull something out.
“No” the other man put his hands on his friends. “It’ll attract more. It’s only two. Here” he handed his friend a baseball bat.
The muscular man started walking towards us. I pushed Rosie behind me as I started backing up. The man stopped looking confused.
“You human?” he asked lowering the bat.
“Um yeah?” I looked at him now as confused as he was.
“You should’ve told me your name” he dropped the bat to his side. “I almost knocked both your heads off.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” I asked, suddenly feeling angry.
“I thought you were a biter” he defended himself.
“Look, I don’t have time to talk. We gotta make a path so we can get out of here before more come.” He pointed at his friend who was standing by a large truck. “You can come with us if you want.”
I nodded my head and followed him out to the street. My sister and I climbed in the truck while they pushed cars out of the way.
“What was he talking about?” Rosie looked up at me.
“I don’t know” I looked out the windshield at the two men.
“Why was he yelling?”
“I don’t know” I repeated.
“Why did that other guy chase us?”
“Rosie I don’t know.” I shook my head still looking outside.
“How the hell am I supposed to know anything that’s going on!?” I turned to look at her. “I know everything you know if not less! You were awake when I wasn’t. What happened when I was out?”
“I don’t know” Rosie’s eyes started to swell with tears.
“I’m sorry.” I pulled her against my body and held her tight. “I’m just freaking out and don’t know what to do”
“It’s okay” she leaned in and hugged me back.
Finally there was a path big enough for the truck to fit through. The taller, more fit, guy came over to the truck and got in the drivers seat and turned the key till the engine roared to life. The other heavier guy climbed into the bed of the truck.
“I like your tattoo, what is it, a fish?” The muscular man pointed at my right shoulder.
“Yeah” I nodded.
“It looks Korean, where’d you get it?”
“From a Chinese lady” I smirked.
“So what do you answer to?” he glanced down at Rosie.
“Rose” she said quietly.
“And you?” he glanced over at me.
“Jacqueline” I answered.
“Everyone calls her Jack” Rosie smiled up at him.
“Well Jack,” he grinned “I’m Robb, I’m twenty-one, I went to the University of St. Luis. That’s where I’m from.”
“What are you doing in Atlanta?” I asked.
“Toby and I were gonna spend our Summer break there. So what’s your back story?”
“Uh, well I’m nineteen, we live in Macon” I gestured to Rosie. “We were going to the Atlanta airport when we got in a car wreck.”
“Oh yeah I noticed you were kinda beat up, but then again, so are we.” He pointed to his pant leg that had been cut open and bloody. He noticed I was staring at it. “Don’t worry, it’s not a bite”
“A bite?” I asked. “Why would I worry about a bite?”
“Cause those biters will take a chunk out of you.” He explained. “You get bit by one of them and your done, game over.”
“Yeah, biters, walkers, dead.” He said with a matter of fact tone.
“Dead? What are you talking about?” I was now extremely confused.
“Yeah. It’s this disease that’s going around or something, no one really knows, but when one of those nut heads bite you, that’s how it spreads and you turn into one of them.”
“Like zombies?” I asked sarcastically not believing what he said.
“Yeah! Like zombies, now you get it.” He seemed serious.
“That man that chased us in the woods,” Rosie spoke up. “He must have been one, he must have.”
“What did he look like?” Robb asked.
“Gross” she stuck her tongue out.
“Can you be a little more descriptive?” He chuckled. “What did his eyes look like?”
“Yellow, like they were rotten.” She replied.
“Was that… A biter?” My head had trouble searching for the word. It seemed so crazy to think zombies were real.
Robb nodded his head without looking at me. Suddenly he turned down a gravel road that I didn’t even see until we were driving on it. It was long and strait with crop fields on both sides. It looked like something from the second hand lion’s movie I’d watched over and over with my sister.
He stopped the truck in front of a gate and got out to open it. When he came back he drove through and parked in front of an old white house. It had dirty windows and broken shutters. His friend got out of the back of the truck to go and close the gate.
“What are we doing here?” I asked sliding out of the truck.
“This is my aunt and uncles house.” Robb walked over to where Rosie and I were standing. “We’re not staying here long, just for tonight.”
“Where are we going tomorrow?”
“Uh Macon, I guess you wanna find your family right? To make sure they’re okay?” He looked at me with sincere eyes.
“Our parents are dead. They died in the wreck.”
“Like just now?!” his eyes widened.
“Yeah” Rosie buried her head in my stomach. She was only nine and it was hard on her even though our parents were complete assholes. That’s the only reason I didn’t cry, because I didn’t care.
“Sorry about that.” He looked at Rosie then back at me. “Do you wanna come to St. Luis with us then?”
“Uh yeah sure, where else are we supposed to go?” I smiled.
“Well why don’t we go in?” He pointed to the house.
I nodded my head and followed him up onto the porch. He opened the screen and knocked on the front door. A small fragile woman greeted us at the door. She had grey brittle hair pulled into a bun on top of her head.
“Who’s there?” a voice called from inside the house. The woman reached up to hug Robb, who had to bend down to put his arms around her waist.
“It’s Robb” She called back. A man came to stand behind her at the door.
“Where you been son?” The man reached out his hand to shake Robb’s.
“I had to save Toby’s ass from some biters.” Robb chuckled.
“You watch your language” The old woman scolded. “You got two little ladies in your presence.” She flashed a smile at Rosie and I. “Would you two like to come in for some lemonade? Might wanna clean yourselves off too.”
I nodded and followed her into the house. She directed Rosie and I to a little blue room with a bathroom in it.
“Ya’ll just come down when you’re ready.”
I helped Rosie clean her face, and then washed mine. Rosie sat on the bed while I washed my arms in the sink. When I finished I found Rosie asleep under the blanket so I decided to leave her be.
I walked down stairs and found the old couple sitting at the table drinking glasses of lemonade. It had a large wood round top with a white lace table cloth draped over it.
“Oh dear come sit” The woman smiled and pointed to a chair on the other side of the table that had an empty glass sitting in front of it. She stood up and filled it with iced lemonade.
“Where’s Robb?” I asked politely.
“Oh he’s out fixing the fence with Toby, they’ll be in soon” She smiled and placed herself back in the chair beside her mate. “Where’s the little girl? Rose is it?”
“Oh yeah, she fell asleep so I just let her stay up there.” I took a sip from the cup. “Is that okay?”
“Oh yeah that’s Robb’s room, but he shouldn’t mind, it’s about time he starts acting like a gentlemen.”
I laughed and drank more of the lemonade. As soon as I set the cup back on the table, Robb and Toby walked through the front door. Robb sat down in the seat next to mine, while Toby sat on the other side of him.
“Now don’t come in here and flop down at my table smelling like that. Get up stairs and clean yourselves off” The woman stood and collected the dishes from the lemonade. “You’d better be getting some rest for tomorrow too. Ya’ll got a long drive ahead of ya.”
Robb and Toby went straight up while I stayed behind to help her with dishes. I went up to the room Rosie fell asleep in. I sat down on the bed and started taking my shoes off. When I’d removed my shoes I noticed the stench on my feet and decided I should probably shower.
I walked into the little bathroom connected to the bedroom. As soon as entered I spotted Robb stepping out of the shower, fully revealed. I couldn’t help but stare, I tried to find something else in the room to look at but his body was too intriguing. The way his perfect stomach glistened from the water, and the muscles on his arms tensed.
I finally realized my attention had gone down. I shot my vision up to look at his face, which was covered with a large grin.
“What the hell are you doing!?” I yelled turning to look at the mirror. I noticed my face was red with embarrassment, and he noticed too.
“No need to be embarrassed” he reached for a towel. “I’m the one that got caught nude” He chuckled wrapping it around himself.
“Why are you in here?” I asked still avoiding eye contact.
“This is my room you know? And Aunt Charlotte told me to take a shower.”
“You could have warned me that you were in here.” I finally turned to face him.
“You could have knocked before you came in.” He grinned, and then walked over closer to me. “No need to be ashamed, I know I have a nice body, I worked hard for it.”
I stepped back and hit the wall harder than I planned.
“Do I make you nervous?” he asked stepping closer again.
“Uh no just a little uncomfortable right now.” I looked down at his loosely wrapped towel. “I’d feel better talking to you when you had some clothes on.”
“Sorry” He said walking toward the door. “I didn’t mean to make things weird.” He walked out and I watched him leave the room.
I let out a deep breath and walked toward the shower. I twisted on the warm water and stepped inside. I started thinking about the day I had just been through. I took off with a total stranger, Zombies or biters or whatever they are took over the world, and both my parents were dead.
Then I lost it. I put my back against the wall of the shower and slid down and wrapped my arms around my knees. I started to cry. They might have been terrible, but they were my parents, and they were gone forever. I sat there for maybe ten minutes before I decided to pull myself together. I got out and dried my long brown hair. I put on my old underwear. I searched through the drawers and found what must have been one of Robb’s t-shirts and slid it on over my head. It hung past my butt enough to be a small night gown.
I crawled into the bed with Rosie and pulled the covers under my arm. I looked out the window where the moonlight shined in. What was I gonna do? How would I take care of Rosie and myself? How would we survive?