|Deadend, Tribeca, New York - Photo by Sean Ng|
The sun retreated without promise of a tomorrow as darkness crept through the alleyways of the abandoned streets, devouring the remaining light without mercy. A putrid stench of death hung in the air like a suffocating fog, clinging to everything that it came in contact with.
Charlie couldn't smell it anymore. He hadn't in quite some time.
Buildings rose near endlessly into the sky around him like giant skeletons striped bare of their flesh. Once the pillar of modern civilization, now the streets of New York were nothing more than trackless miles of rusted steel frames and concrete mausoleums for the dead and hunting grounds for the eaters.
Charlie’s chest heaved with exhaustion. Eleven dead bodies lay around him as he sat against the side of an old condominium on the corner of Jay and Staple Street. He hadn’t seen another living soul in several months, which was fine with him. Everyone he ever met eventually got killed or was turned.
Today had been a productive day; thirty-seven kills in all. Not bad for a 15-year-old from Bigfoot, Texas. Charlie had been visiting his aunt in New York when the zombie virus broke out. The pandemic initially outright killed people in droves, but when it morphed into an airborne pathogen, it changed everything. The new form didn't quite kill its host, but instead, turned them into an efficient, man-eating, killing machine with heightened senses and a veracious appetite for flesh.
Charlie appeared immune; he had the scars from bite wounds to prove it.
A scream pierced the silence. Charlie instinctively jumped to his feet and resumed a combat grip on his blood stained bat. The scream came again, but it wasn't one of them. He fallowed the sound north on Staple Street until he came to an alley. The screams morphed into terror. Four of them had a young girl cornered at the end of the alley. She was clamoring up an old mattress stacked on top of a pile of trash bags.
Charlie hated using his gun, but if he didn't shut her up soon the whole city of eaters would be on them. He charged. Pulling his pistol from his side, he unloaded a flurry of shots that tore through both flesh and bone. As he closed the gap, Charlie finished off the last one with a backhanded swing with his Slugger. Before Charlie could catch his breath, he heard the thunder of footsteps behind him. He spun on his heals to find a horde of them pouring down the alleyway.
Charlie snatched the girl by the hand a drug her to the only fire escape within reach and lifted her up to the ladder. She latched on and climbed. Charlie leapt up behind her. As he began to pull himself up, the mass of flesh-eaters pounced and grabbed Charlie by his feet. He kicked furiously and broke free, but so did the rusty bolts holding the ladder. Charlie’s last image was seeing the girl clinging to the terrace above with desperation as the eaters engulfed him.
Michael A. Walker
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