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Issue 2 - Choice LivingEdit
This was it. Julius had to shake away his fear or else this world would eat him alive. He still couldn't stop his hand from shaking, and his forehead from sweating. His heart was still beating fast. He still thought he would die at any moment.
The air seemed to smell a bit of smoke, and fear. Wind rustled throughout the parking lot, the chill adding to Julius's cold body temperature. Something different was in the air, Julius thought, but he just couldn't understand it.
The parking lot didn't have too many cars. Many probably left for vacation, or just ran away from the plague. Julius felt that it was easy enough to reach his car.
He walked past the middle area of the parking lot, which set itself apart due to it being roofed. He could see flashing red and blue lights on the other side, only blocked by a handful of cars. He walked to see if the police were still present.
He passed by his car, which was just to the left of him. He found that the police cars were empty, as if they were abandoned; all of the doors were open, but the engine was off. The sirens were still flashing. "Where are the authorities?" Julius thought.
Just as he looked around to find them, he saw a woman, wearing a pink bathrobe, holding her neck. Blood was gushing just on the other side of it. Julius wanted to approach her, but the cold gaze she gave him made him think twice. It was as if she just woke up from a nightmare that scarred her.
She walked slowly on the sidewalk, a few feet away from her apartment building. The buildings were arranged separately, with a few of them being two different floors. Hers was a one-floor apartment.
Julius looked to where the woman came from. Her front door was left open, with the lights shining the inside. After looking at it for a while, a shadow emerged from the door in an instant. Something chilled inside Julius for a moment.
He felt a presence some feet behind him. As much as he wanted to see who was coming out from the door to follow the woman, he needed to see what this presence was.
He turned back to look.
It was his neighbor, Judith, jogging slowly away from her apartment, her hands resting on her daughter's shoulders.
"Julius...?" Judith looked at him, tears continuously falling from her eyes. She quickly walked toward him.
"W-where are you going?" she asked, some shuddering in her voice. Her daughter looked as scared as her.
"I.... I was just about to leave, go to my uncle's house." Julius couldn't help but feel curious as to why she was crying.
"A-are you alright?"
Judith pauses looking at him, then to his daughter. "Mark... attacked us..."
Julius felt as if something heavy fell inside his chest. He had just said hello to Mark, Judith's husband, two days ago. A week before that, Julius helped deliver a cat perch to his house. He couldn't believe that he was infected.
"He's... locked up inside our house. The car keys are inside..."
Julius didn't know what to do. He took out his car keys, and pressed the unlock button. The lights of his cars blinked. "C'mon. You guys can come with me. We'll sort this out----"
Just as he was about to finish, he heard distant gunshots right behind him.
He turned around, only to see the woman from earlier standing still, her back turned to him. She suddenly fell to the ground.
Julius slowly started walking back, now even more shocked than ever.
"C'mon honey, get inside!" he heard Judith say, as he turned to glance for a brief second. They were rushing in to get to the seats, with Judith at the front, and her daughter in the back.
From the distance in front of him, two police officers started to come into view. They were stumbling out of an apartment, one of them clutching his shoulder. Just right behind him was a shambling walker, wearing pajamas. The building's resident.
He turned toward his car, hoping to hide inside, just to feel safe again. But just as he was getting there, something quickly jumped at the front window of his car. It was a walker, trying to claw it open. The shadow from the opened door seemed to have vanished.
He ran toward the man to shove him back, but something stopped him right on his tracks. Eerie groans, slowly growing louder right behind him. He turned around to face his shock.
A few more officers, and two other apartment residents, limping quick towards him. He didn't want them to ge too close to the car, since he'll be forced to run them through.
He turns to notice that the officers from earlier were much closer this time. He heard someone saying that this was "worthless". Their infected followers seemed to have grown from one to three this time.
The female officer turned to shoot the zombies, while the injured officer started one of the cars. Julius made for his own car, but an infected officer reached him too soon.
He started to get dizzy as his shock peaked a new level. He pushed the zombie away as hard as he could, but he just couldn't find the strength to do it. While he tried to subdue his biter, he swore the amount of zombies started to grow around him. He forcefully pushed the officer, surprised at his delayed strength. He found himself in front of his car, standing on the sidewalk. The man clawing the front window was pushed away by the infected officer he had just pushed.
He could see the fear in Judith's eyes, as he quickly glanced at her and her daughter through the car's window. He did a quick scan to see what his current situation was.
One of the police cars had already left. The three other chasers were now added to the rest of the zombies. There were eight or more, posing a threat to his escape.
He looked at the car, then to the suited man crawling toward him. He hopped over the crawler, and noticed that the window for escape was almost close.
He quickly opened the front door where Judith sat in, and threw his car keys in her lap. "I'll lure the zombies out. You guys drive away as fast as you can!"
He slammed the door abruplty, and hopped over the sidewalk, barely missing the crawler. He circled the van that was parked right next to his car, closely clutching his bat.
The zombies had accumulated behind his car. "Perfect," he thought. He motioned to lure them, slowly walking back, away from his car.
By this time, he could see more coming out from the other apartments. He swore that the two walkers from his apartment were part of the group he was trying to lure away. He closely clutched his bat, nervous at what was happening next.
The growing number of the walkers overwhelmed him. How can he possibly lure them all out? Does he need to talk to them? He thought that talking to something virtually dead was stupid, so he scrapped this idea. His presence alone seemed to have been luring them, so he continued to walk back slowly.
He could finally see his car moving, as the red lights in the back glowed brighter. He sighed for a moment of relief.
He edged farther and farther away from his car, as it instantly backed up, causing the zombies in the back of the pack to stagger from the rear of the car. The pack seemed to have sped up its pace, as it continued to limp toward Julius.
Julius started walking even faster now, noticing the bathrobed woman from earlier, lifeless on the ground, twitching. His heart started to pump, as he could not grasp the idea of seeing that woman living for one second, then dying the next. He tripped up briefly at his nervousness, quickly recovering from it, but slowing his pace down.
The sudden rush of nervousness caused him to impulsively hit the nearest walker, so as to speed up their movement. "C'mon, chase me faster!" he loudly said. He walked toward the first walker, who was the police officer from earlier, and shoved him with the bat, to urge him to move faster. There was no change in their pace.
"C'mon, Judith... I hope that's enough space for you..."
He continued to look at his car, which has completely backed up from its parking spot. The walkers from the back were already attracted to it.
Finally, Judith couldn't take it anymore; she reversed the car toward Julius's direction, shoving the walkers at a considerable distance. This was the signal for Julius to run off, as his job was finished.
He turned away from the pack and quickly sprinted, running towards the opened apartment from which the police officers exited from earlier.
He ran past a few cars, hopped over to the sidewalk, and into the slanted ground, leading to a fence covered by small plants. He quickly ran to the fence, and hopped over it as fast as he could.
The fence had a sidewalk on the other side of it. Julius was finally outside of the apartment complex.
Julius's first step to the outer grounds of his home felt different, as he'd expect. He thought of the many things that changed; most notably, he thought of the city's society crumbling before his eyes. Though the streets laid obscurably silent, he heard a loud siren ring throughout the city. Somehow, he felt a rush of excitement, but it was quickly drowned by the thought of sorrow, and danger. He never expected to hear this dreaded siren, this siren that signaled the apocalypse. He could also hear loud radio-like announcements, but he couldn't make out what it said. All he knew was that it was a man talking.
This town just isn't the same anymore. Every step of the way, danger lurks. The people aren't living their normal lives; they've either died, or continued to live, but as these souless beings. As he thought of these things, some tears dropped from his eyes.
He cursed himself for not attaining his goals. He hasn't made his parents proud by graduating from college. He's now too late to start that road trip he'd been planning with a few friends to Vegas. He can't go to the Six-Flags over at Magic Mountain anymore. Many of these goals, big and small, he can't do.
As he walked, he hated himself. Life isn't normal, he thought. He continued to walk the silent streets, passing by the orange-colored lamp posts, the wooden fence that covered the suburban houses to the opposite of the complex he lived in. He looked at the other tall buildings to the other side. It was peculiar not seeing anything come out, as there was nothing pulling those people out of their houses. Maybe he just didn't want to see them get pulled out. Either way, he kept his eyes in front of him, as he calmly walked, silently.
He decided that there has to be some changes made in his new life. He's fully aware that this new world will be dangerous. He wants to keep living. "But for what?" he thought.
He still hasn't proposed to any girl. He figured that it would be unnecessary for this world, but why not see how it turns out? He still didn't have a degree, and with it, a stable job. But what difference will that make in this world? He still doesn't own a home. Maybe now it'll be easier to own one, since he doesn't need to go through those processes anymore; just pick one, and call it home. "Yeah, this doesn't seem too bad," he thought.
But what of his life? Danger lurks at every corner. Or so he thought; nothing surprising has jumped on him yet as he walked. "I have goals," he continued to think. Goals that demanded him to live. Maybe now, it'll be easier to get admitted in Magic Mountain. Maybe now, he can rent a suite (or maybe even own one) without paying. Maybe now, he can eat all the food he wants, without paying for it. Freedom. Freedom to do whatever the hell he wants. "Well, shit... I need to live," he thought.
But what was he thinking? He can't do this all alone. Margaret just asked him to bring his parents along. "Speaking of Margaret..."
He pulled out his cellphone. The the remaining power on the battery bar seemed to look like a stick. He speed-dialed his sister's phone number, and waited for an answer. Instead, all he heard was an automated message from his service provider, saying that he couldn't reach her. Are the phone lines down, or is it just because of his battery? Whatever it was, this made Julius want to throw his phone out in anger.
"I'm sure I'll find a charger, and everything'll be fine..." he thought, just to calm himself down.
At first, Julius's surroundings seemed to be untouched by chaos. But once he walked about one and a half miles away from his apartment, he started noticing the growing toll of the plague.
What was once a small plaza, now looked like a looting area. Windows of the three restaurants were broken, while the only car repair shop had its only garage door blocked by a recklessly driven car. He could also see blood; some of it were scattered on the ground, while others were on the broken glass and doors. As he walked by, a few walkers started to notice Julius, emerging from behind cars, or the broken windows of the restaurant.
They all seemed to move lazily, slow enough to be left behind. Julius sped up his walking, hoping to lose their attention.
For some reason, trash consisting mostly of paper and plastic flew around the streets, blown by the shallow wind. There were even traffic blocks and cones on the streets, all displaced from their original location. Was this a street construction from earlier, or an attempt to block off drivers from using the road? "Plague caused disorder this soon," he told himself.
He started to move faster, finding it hard to get used to the sudden change in surroundings. Everything looked as if it was abandoned; aside from the parked cars, there were also sites of recent accidents. He didn't want to stay around to see if its drivers were still present.
After passing by the few plazas and buildings, he started to see tall wooden fences, with houses right behind them. He must be getting close to his uncle's house.
He ran, hoping to reach his destination sooner, and to quickly leave behind his eerie surroundings in trade for, hopefully, a better one.
But as he went closer and closer, the eeriness slowly crept in some more.
He could see a small row of cars blocking the street; cars that came from the suburbs, trying to leave. There was also an abandoned S.W.A.T vehicle on the side of the row, with bullets scattered on the ground besides it, glistening from the street lamps. Did this street suddenly get darker? The lights, as Julius remembered, seemed to be more yellow. Now, they were just as dark-orange as the street he walked in half an hour ago.
He continued to jog, feeling the shallow wind through his cheeks, and his somewhat thick collared jacket. The multitude of trees also rustled, creating a feeling of increased cold. But did the fanning leaves really make the wind stronger?
No. Julius just cringed a little bit as he saw a walker stand up from behind the row of cars.
He was only a few feet close now. He just has to get past the medium-sized gate, and he'll be a little bit closer to his uncle's house.