I had a nightmare—as usual. It’s always the same one, repeating every night since the day the world was flipped on its head and the outbreak occurred. In this nightmare, my mother comes into my room while I’m reading with blood dripping down her chin. When I look up, her empty eyes always make my blood run cold, goosebumps rising on my skin. Behind her, my father lies facedown in the hallway, soaked in a pool of blood. The door to my sister’s room opens, and she lets out a scream. I’m frozen in fear, unable to do anything as my mother gets closer and closer. And just as she bites down on my neck, I regain my senses and shriek. The vision goes away and everything turns black.
That’s when I find myself sitting in my bed or, in this case, the bundle of blankets on the floor that I call my bed. But normally, after I stop screaming, there’s only silence. Sometimes, a roommate will wake up and reach for one of the bats resting against the wall, but other than that, there’s normally only silence. But not this time.
“Up! Everybody up! There’s over a dozen infected fucks outside!”
That’s James. He was on watch tonight, keeping an eye out on the little chair above the RV that we call the crow’s nest. If he’s shouting, that means the infected have already noticed us and it’s too late to avoid drawing their attention.
“Chris, it’s your turn to bat.”
A wooden bat was shoved towards my face. It has nails hammered into it like how delinquents used to do it back in the 80s. It’s not very helpful for killing infected since all it does is scatter their blood around, but it’s great for deterring other humans. No one wants to be hit by an infected bat. I grabbed the handle and rose to my feet. “Thanks.”
Jen nodded at me, and I adjusted my eyepatch. I closed my other eye and waited. A moment later, my vision turned red as a light shone on my face.
“Ready.” The light was pointed away from my face, and I opened my eye. We all wear eyepatches at night. It was Jen’s idea, inspired by some pirate movie. Fighting in the dark is dumb but being blind after losing your light can kill you. The eyepatch prevents that; something builds up in our eyes to help us see in the dark, but it goes away after being exposed to light. I’d search it up on the internet to find the specifics, but the World Wide Web went down two weeks after the outbreak. My sister would know how it works, but she’s dead. Anyways, if we need to see in the dark, the eyepatch saves our vision in one eye. All we have to do is flip it up.
Jen shone the light around the room before shining it onto the door. As the one with the bat, it was up to me to approach it. I tapped on it and waited. I didn’t have to wait very long.
“Clear! Get your asses out here! Hurry!”
I opened the door, and Jen adjusted the light, raising her hand over my head so it shone over me. Loo and Joe were waiting by the open door, a bat in Loo’s hands and a flashlight in Joe’s. Swinging a bat while holding a flashlight is a lot harder than it sounds. If you keep the light fixed on your target, then you aren’t twisting your body enough to swing the bat with full force. If you swing with full force, then your light goes off target and that brief moment of not knowing whether you killed the infected or not can cost you your life. Zooey actually died that way, tragic, really. So, learning from her mistake, we work in pairs: a batter and a spotter.
An infected stumbled through the open door, and Loo swung his bat, striking its head and killing it instantly. The idea behind the open door is similar to how the Spartans held off the Persians in that famous battle that everyone has heard about but can’t name (it’s the Battle of Thermopylae by the way), holding off a large number by guarding a chokepoint. If the door remained shut, the infected would spread out and surround us. If they can’t get in, that isn’t a problem, but when morning comes, who knows, one of the infected may have fallen and gotten stuck under the RV. Then, when one of us steps outside, it’ll bite us. That happened to Wilson, Zooey’s boyfriend. An unlucky couple they were. But it’s not like we keep the door wide open; we have a tripwire set up that works surprisingly well.
An infected tripped, and its head fell right into my striking range. I swung my bat before it could lift its head. I hate looking into their eyes before killing them, so if I have the chance to kill them beforehand, I’ll take it. There was another wet smacking sound, and an infected tumbled backwards out of the RV. Loo spat onto the wall and adjusted his grip on his bat. Apparently, he used to play baseball for a living. I don’t believe him, but you don’t call out someone who has an infected bat. If he told me he raced snails and won millions of dollars, I’d ask him to teach me how to find the best snails.
Loo swung his bat again, but the infected he hit didn’t die. Two more infected pushed it from behind, and it tripped over the wire. I finished it off while Loo struck the infected trying to come in. We’re lucky the entrance is so narrow. It almost feels like we’re cheating with how easy it is to fend off a herd.
“James!” Joe shouted. “How many are left?”
“A shit-ton! Keep swinging! Why the hell are there so many of these fucks?”
Arguably, James is in the safest spot even though he’s exposed to the elements. The infected don’t know how to climb. I don’t think they can swim either. They can only walk, claw, and bite. They can’t even run. Well, to be fair, if humans weren’t smart and didn’t develop tools, we wouldn’t have been on the top of the food chain. Lions would slaughter us and zebras would kick us to death. The only advantage the infected have over us is their ability to stay up without sleep—and the fact that they can infect us.
“Ah! Fuck! What was that!?”
“James? What happened?” Joe shouted. “You alright up there?”
“Am I alright? Of course, I’m alright. It’s just that … something hit my head. The hell was it? It’s wet.”
Owl poop maybe? Well, James should be fine. I have to focus on killing these infected. Just because only one can come in at a time doesn’t mean I can take it easy. If Loo doesn’t kill them in one hit, I have to make sure they die. Even if he does kill them in one hit, it doesn’t hurt to doublecheck. Lily died when an infected that we thought was dead bit her.
“Hey, guys. There’s something weird,” Joe said.
“Shut up and keep the light steady,” Loo said. He grunted and swung his bat, decapitating an infected that had an apparently very weak neck.
“No, I’m serious. It’s weird,” Joe said. He was staring out the window of the RV. “There’s an infected standing over there.”
“There’s infected everywhere, you dumbfuck,” Loo said and spat again while adjusting his grip.
“No, no, this one’s different,” Joe said and shuddered, the light on the door trembling. “It’s just standing there. It’s … staring right at me. It’s creeping me the fuck out.”