|Previous - Prologue|
Issue 1 - PhonecallEdit
8:42 PM. The only lights lit were the front door's, and the bedroom. Julius was told to keep most of the lights off. Sweat dripped from his forehead, as he frantically moved around trying to gather everything, be it his items or his composure.
"Passports. Documents. I --- at the door, they do ----"
His sister's connection wasn't clear, like normal days, when they'd talk for hours. Julius was pressing his head against his right shoulder, a cellphone clamped in between, having the phone call of his life. He jogged toward his room, then to his desk, where piles of paper, pens, and clothes were scattered on top. He opened the shelves, hoping to come across important documents. He looked at the first thing that looked important. It was a jury duty letter.
"W-won't they not care about this crap now that this is blowing over? I mean..."
Julius continued to rummage his messy desk, as his voice started to shudder. He continued to sweat, as the only light in the room, coming from a lamp, shined in front of him. The temperature was suddenly rising. His hands gradually shook, as he grasped some papers and dropped them.
He then started hearing muffled noises of sirens. Flashes of red light gleamed through the blinds of his windows. Everything laid silent for a second, then it returned to normal.
"They're here. I-I don't know if I should be relieved..."
"Who? Th-- cops?"
Julius calmly walked toward his kitchen to use the window overlooking his front porch. On the way, he tried to shake off his shivering hands.
"Grab some food, a flashlight, a-and... ---thing's easy to carry. I want you to leave as so---sible, OK?"
Though it was good to hear his sister's voice, he just couldn't shake his nervousness. He passed by all of the contents he had already gathered: two carry-on bags, a pull bag of clothes, and a backpack full of other necessities. They were already placed there earlier.
He pauses, and looks at his luggage. "W-what the hell am I doing, Margaret?"
Julius wiped the sweat in his forehead and sat on his couch. The cushion never felt so comfortable.
"I haven't seen you in two months. I just came back from nearly bombing my mid-terms. I nearly cost Uncle Henry a table.... I-why can't I just worry about these, for now...?"
It seemed like a long time for his sister to answer. He placed his phone down on the table in front of the couch.
He continued to process the sudden danger around him. The thought of it being so abrupt, and being so close. Not now. Not this soon.
He has just talked to his sister for nearly two hours, mostly about the "plague" and it "infecting the city". At first he tried to prove her wrong, but the tone of his sister's voice, one he has never heard before, made him think twice. He was in danger, and so was his family.
Should he grab the phone, and go forward with this plan, or go to the kitchen, tear his throat out, and end this once and for all?
The noise from the phone, coming from her sister's loud voice, made him snap out of it. He grabbed the phone.
There was a long pause, then the sound of people screaming.
"Call me ba-- in --- minutes, OK!? Keep trying ev--- you see phone lines down. Just k-- trying---"
Julius froze. A tear streamed down his cheek. Have they got her? Was she going to become one of them?
He looked at his bags, then to the blank wall across the table in front of him. The siren sounds were louder, and this time, gun shots were fired. There were some shouts of people.
Julius covered his face with both his hands. He can't risk his life. He doesn't want others to take it. If anyone, it should be him.
But he couldn't. He was disappointed that he couldn't go forward with it. He stood up, and ran toward his room.
He started rummaging his walk-in closet. After a minute of searching and hesitating, he finally found it; a gray, stainless steel bat unopened from its package. There was a post-it note that said "It's steel this time. Can't hardly break; for you Jules". He'd remembered it was a gift from his childhood friend, whom he had just seen a month ago. "Because I break too many wooden bats," he muttered silently to himself.
He removed the plastic wrapping, and started to grasp it with both his hands. It was a little bit heavy, but not too restricting for him to swing it freely. He did a few practice swings to feel comfortable with it.
Suddenly, there was banging on his door.
He slowly walked toward it, bat in both hands, ready to swing. Another bang. He was a few feet close. One more bang, and it opened. For a brief moment, he heard busy sounds and loud sirens out the door. It quickly silenced once the door closed, forcefully.
He stopped walking slowly to see who entered. It was a new face, someone who probably just moved in the complex. Sweat poured from his head into his pale yellow shirt. A spot of blood with a sort of make-shift covering over it was on his pot-bellied stomach. The man looked desperately at the door, his face nearly pressed against it. He turned Julius for a second, then back at the door. He was pushing against it with force.
"We need to block this... g-got anything for that?" he asked.
Julius was confused and speechless for a moment, then started looking around.
"B-block? Listen buddy, but--"
The man looked at his luggage, and quickly ran to it. He left the door hanging open for a bit as he felt the weight of the bags. He threw them around one by one until he felt the pull bag, which he quickly pushed toward the door to help him block it.
"C'mon, man! Quickly! Get boards, nails, hammers, shit like that! C'mon!"
Julius stood still, as he looked at him the whole time, still surprised. He thought for a moment where he placed his toolbox.
"I-I don't have any boards... just, the tools and---"
"What? No tools!?"
The man, who worriedly looked at the front door as he was leaving it open, walked toward the kitchen.
"We can break the boards of these cabinets a-and use it to block. Get the tools! No... block the door!!! No, no... get the damn tools!"
The man tried his best to pull the cabinets' doors. His struggle made it evident that he was indeed out of shape.
Julius pondered a bit as to where he put his tools. He placed his bat on the wall next to the front door, and ran toward the walk-in closet next to his bathroom.
He rummaged there, only seeing hung jackets, boxes, and other items. There was no tool set.
"Got one of these boards! Where're those nails, man?"
Julius looked a bit more then turned to the man. He was holding a thick board that was once a part of his cupboard; too thick for nails, he thought.
As he continued to look, he heard one of his windows shatter.
"Oh, no, no! They're here!" he heard the man shout.
He quickly ran toward the man, grabbing his bat from the wall it hung in.
Someone broke into the only window in his kitchen. The over-sized man rushed toward it, hoping to use the board as a weapon. Just as the man was busy slamming the assailant with the board, something forcefully pushed the broken front door out of the way, letting him and another one in. The bags that blocked it were pushed away, hid by the fallen front door.
Julius was in a quick panic; he looked at the man, who was too busy to run, and the two other people limping toward him. One of them had blood near her neck; the other was a police officer. Julius, for a quick moment, felt too shocked to move.
He quickly returned to consciousness when one of them got too close. He managed to dodge the woman, then the police officer. He quickly grabbed the backpack full of items, since it was the only luggage closest to him.
He ran toward his bedroom, hoping to find his car keys. Along the way, he felt his cellphone vibrate. He had no time for this now; he had to get out of there. He locked his bedroom door, then quickly grabbed his keys from the desk. As he looked for a way out, the door started to shake. Behind it, he could hear both moans, and the man shouting.
He continued to think. Is he going to go through the front door, or force an exit elsewhere? The phone on his pocket continued to vibrate. He thought that this can't be the time to talk and run.
He quickly opened his window, his backpack right behind him, and his bat on his right hand. Just as he was climbing on it, the door finally broke; the woman and police officer rushed in, hoping to pull him back. Beyond it, he could hear the man shouting.
"C'mon, man!? Where are you!?"
He rushed, almost jumping outside of the window. His feet quickly touched downward slanted ground below him, forcing him to slide onto the flat cement ground below it. The surprise slightly delayed him from getting up, but once he saw his two chasers come out from the window, he quickly stood up.
He was finally outside, into a new world. Sirens were ringing from a distance. Distant sounds of megaphone announcements echoed. Shouts of people. Sounds of crackling fire. This isn't the same town anymore.
Julius had just landed himself into the ramped entrance of his apartment district. He quickly ran toward the parking lot, hoping to find his car. His phone ceased vibrating. Julius, at first, wanted to call back, but the sight of the parking lot made him think otherwise.
He continued to scan for anything dangerous. So far, there were only lots of parked cars, and apartments with lights closed. He was sure there were police, but he couldn't see them. He patted his pocket for his cellphone, then took it out.
No missed calls. Just the "low battery" notification.