Babine moaned, adjusting her head. A sharp pain shot through her and she cried softly. Her eyes slowly fluttered open, glancing at the aluminum ceiling above her. That was weird; what happened to the white paint of her bedroom ceiling?
Her eyes continued roving, and she saw the shattered glass, the twisted window panes and…the bleeding, unmoving bodies?
Everything suddenly came rushing back; she’d been in an accident. She remembered the coughing man, the crying child, the angry driver as she struggled for control of the wheel with him.
She turned her head slightly amidst the pain and saw him. He was twisted in an awkward position. His eyes were wide open but seemed lifeless.
She couldn’t make out much from the persons that had been in the car with her, but they all seemed very still. She couldn’t tell if they’d passed out or were dead. She looked around for the child crying a while ago; his cry had been high-pitched, as it seemed he had been in uncontrollable pain. She’d looked at his young mother, a child herself from her young disposition, who had effortlessly tried to pacify him. Her eyes suddenly caught him; he was tangled in some bodies strewn against each other.
Her eyes continued roving and fell on the entrance, with the door wide open. She had to get out; she needed air and a clear space to think to make some sense of all that was happening. Crawling on her belly, she inched towards her escape, avoiding the bodies on her way. She was getting closer and closer still. She would get out; leave this place that was beginning to choke her and fast becoming a living nightmare.
Someone groaned behind her and Babine caught her breath. She turned slowly behind to see a pair of red eyes staring unseeingly at her. The man groaned. He was starring at her, but despite her pains, Babine realized he wasn’t seeing her. His hand snaked out and gripped her leg, slowly at first, and then the grip tightened.
Her breath caught at the pain of his action. She tried to shove him away, but he pulled himself closer to her and she watched in shocked as he sunk his teeth into her flesh.
“Get off me!” she yelled and kicked. That seemed to do it as he rolled away, hitting the side of the bus. Her relief was short-lived as he regained his balance and made for her again. She looked frantically around, searching for an escape.
Someone moaned beside her and she turned to see a man drenched in blood. He laid slumped over a twisted car seat chewing and grunting as he shook his head from side to side. In horror, Babine watched as he took another bite….from his arm. He seemed oblivious of the pain as he continued chewing.
He looked up from his arm at her…….through her, and Babine gasped, regaining her senses. Whatever was happening, she didn’t care to know, she just had to get out of here! She inched her way towards the entrance, crawling on her stomach. A grunt came just right behind her and she felt arms trying to pull her, but she kicked at them and didn’t look back, intent only on her escape. She just had to get to the door and through it. She was very close and then she would be free. Then she could think back on what was happening and try to make sense of it.
She crawled out the door and inched towards a tree, she just needed to rest and catch her breath. Her body hurt everywhere, but she was glad to be alive. Leaning against the tree, she took large gulps of breath, doubling over as it seemed to hit her in the chest.
Then she saw it! The legs. The man that was eating his arm in the vehicle. He was drenched in blood and was staggering towards her, chanting softly as he came. He seemed to be followed by another woman, and then another.
Babine watched in dream-like horror as a procession slowly grew behind him and made for her. This was more than she could take; more than she could comprehend. What was happening! Why were these people chanting? Staggering? But most importantly, why did it seem like they were coming for her?
In confusion, but too terrified to make head of the happenings before her, Babine ran, panting as she did. She didn’t know where she was running to or how long she ran, but what she knew was that she needed to put as much distance between her and those…people as she possibly could.
Whatever was doing all these to them could get to her too. It hadn’t missed anyone, young or old, on the road, in the bus, anywhere. So why not she?
She looked frantically behind her, were they still following………
“What on earth!”
She had run slapdash into something or someone. She recoiled as she was thrown back, desperate to get her footing and take in the other direction. One of them! She was right in its grip!
Alex reached out to steady the lady before she fell. She was struggling frantically, lashing out at him.
“Hey, calm down”, he bellowed, shaking her.
“Let me go, you……you thing!”, Babine cried out.
Thing? Alex mused, suddenly exasperated. He’d had enough drama for one day and didn’t need this added to it. He shook her again, roughly this time, intent on getting her out of her hysteria.
Babine’s senses reeled and she stopped struggling, trying to re-arrange her erratic thoughts and steady her view. It cleared and she stared into his eyes. She was shocked at the colour. They were clear; white. She blinked.
Alex noticed her calm state and at the same time he took in her clear eyes. “Are you alright now?”
She nodded and jerked her arms softly from his grip that was still firm, choosing to wrap them protectively around herself instead. A shudder went through her, which he noticed.
“They are all changing”, she muttered. “Everyone changed, became a zombie with bloodshot……”, she stopped when she saw his expression, calm and unreadable as though he didn’t believe her. “It’s true! You have got to believe me!”
Alex ran his palm over his face in exasperation. So it was happening outside too. “” I believe you”, he replied. “It was happening in my office and that’s why I left. Everyone became something else right before my very eyes”, he stopped, peering at her. “You didn’t change?”
Babine shook her head. “I don’t understand why, but whatever it is going round didn’t get to me.”
“Nor me”, Alex replied. “A low groan came behind him and they turned to see a small crowd slowly approaching, staggering trance-like towards them”.
Alex gripped Babine’s hand. “Common, we have to get out of here!”
“Where to”, Babine gasped breathlessly as they ran. “They are everywhere!”
“There must be someplace they haven’t been to”, Alex tried to still his confused thoughts.
As they ran, Babine stumbled and Alex slowed to help her up. He looked around frantically for a place they could hide. His eyes fell on an uncompleted building. Was it habitable; free from those…..things as this lady had called them?
She was getting tired. He didn’t know how much further she could go before collapsing on him. The building was it; they had to rest here. They could always find their way out if it was already inhabited.
“Come on, we are almost there”, he encouraged, half dragging her towards the building.
Babine continued, her breath coming out in short painful bursts. She struggled to keep stride with him as they approached the building. Rest! Oh God, she needed rest! She collapsed on the floor inside the building, taking in as much air as her lungs could possibly handle. The guy collapsed beside her. He seemed tired himself and she was glad she wasn’t the only one.
She didn’t know how long they lay there, but their breathing returned to normal. The images of the past one hour were coming back
“I’m Alex”, he introduced, breaking into her thoughts. He knew what must be going through her mind. He was troubled as well but wanted to get their minds as untroubled as possible while he thought up a solution__ if there was any.
“Babine. Babine Thomas”, she supplied, noticing he hadn’t supplied a last name, but she was beyond caring about such right now.
“Don’t worry, Babine”, Alex coached. “We will get through this, somehow.”
Babine nodded, though she didn’t see how. She had picked up the slight uncertainty in his voice, even though he’d tried to mask it. She couldn’t see how they would get through this predicament. Those things seemed to be everywhere!
Her fingers were intertwined beneath her head to support it as she stared at the wall in front of her. A board creaked somewhere in the building and they started, sitting up. “What was that?”, she croaked.
“I don’t know. I’ll go check it out.”
“No!”, Babine exclaimed, gripping his arm. “Don’t leave me here alone!”.
“I just want to find out where that noise is coming from”, Alex replied softly. “I’m sure its nothing to worry about though. It could have been a stray cat.”
She shook her head vigorously. “No! No! I cant stay here alone. I’ll go with you.”
Alex sighed softly and nodded. “Alright, come on”, he said pulling her up.
“Alex, watch out!” Babine cried out terror-stricken and in shock he swerved, hitting one of the zombies to the floor.
Babine scurried backwards, huddling into a corner. She watched Alex struggle to his feet as the zombie approached. He searched frantically about, until his eyes fell on a dead log of wood. He rolled over and picked it up.
As the zombie approached, arms outstretched, blood oozing out of its mouth, its eyes red and unseeing and chanting incomprehensively, Alex swung the wood at it, hitting him across the head. The head seemed to explode before their very eyes.
Babine screamed, pointing frantically. Alex followed her fingers and groaned. Another zombie had appeared. “Babine, run! Get out of here!” he commanded.
She managed to understand the order despite her terror and jumped to her feet and going towards the door, when she noticed he wasn’t following. “What about you”, she called.
“I’ll be right behind you”, moving backwards, inching away from the zombie as it approached.
Babine turned and fled, then stopped dead. The entrance was blocked; covered with hundreds of them as they staggered unseeingly towards them.
She edged backwards, noticing as Alex did the same. As they moved backwards, they came together in the center of the room. She pressed her back hard against his, desperate for the feel of him as it was a source of strength to her and the only thing keeping her sane.
The zombies inched closer, chanting inaudibly, arms outstretched.
* * *
She screamed and sat up in bed, her hair in wild disarray and her nighty drenched in sweat. She panted, her breath slowly stabilizing and images of the zombies slowly began to fade away.
She sighed, relief coursing through her. It was only a dream. Her alarm shrilled and she jumped, reaching across to turn it off. Eight o’clock! God, she was late!
Today her artwork would be on display at the gallery. She couldn’t afford to be late.
Babine rushed out of the house, wearing her flat, comfortable ballet shoes under the white and black pin-stripe polo gown she had on. She rushed on, aware that she was ninety-five minutes late and would miss the opening of the gallery as the visitors were allowed in. Simone would have her hide!
Simone was Babine’s childhood friend and the owner of the gallery where her art works were to be displayed. They’d agreed to meet by 7:30am. It’s a pity her alarm had chosen today to malfunction.
She ran slam into someone and pulled back to apologize. She should watch where she was going in her haste or she would rush into a busy express.
The apology died on her lips as she stared into a pair of very familiar eyes; eyes she had seen barely a few hours ago.
“Are you alright, ma’am?” Alex asked as the lady continued to gawk at him. She seemed to be in some kind of shock or something…..like she just saw a ghost.
Babine blinked, getting herself. “”Yes…yes”, she stammered, pulling her thoughts together as she chided herself. It had only been a dream after all. She was letting the stress and excitement of the art exhibition get to her.
She excused herself and scurried inside the hall, away from Alex–was that his real name—- and his puzzled look.
“Where on earth have you been?” Simone asked on sighting her. “The exhibition started thirty minutes ago without you”
“I’m sorry, Simone, my alarm didn’t go off early.”
A thunder sounded overhead, followed by flashes of lightening. Babine stopped talking, turning to stare in slight horror and denial as a heavy rain started and the hall suddenly filled up as people rushed in, desperate to get away from it.
It had been a dream, Babine chided herself as her thoughts returned to the dream of last night. And this was a harmless rain.
A lady coughed somewhere in the crowd behind her, then sneezed. Babine turned to glance at the woman, softly berating herself for wanting to see the woman’s eyes. Their eyes met and she froze.
* * * Tags: story, a short story, a short horror story