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Bad Luck Charm

  • "What is it now? Six months? Eight? Who knows anymore…" I sighed and lit up my last cigarette then threw the empty pack off the edge. I enjoyed it as though it'd be my last. Who knows, maybe it will be. I laid back on my chair and put my feet up on the ledge. Relaxing isn't easy these days, but you take it where you get it. I started dozing off…

    Darkness surrounded me as I went through a door. I felt around, looking for a light switch and eventually flipping it on. "Burned out. Figures." A thick musty stench filled the air as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. It felt as though the gray walls were surrounding me, suffocating me. I bent over, closed my eyes, and slowly took in deep breaths as I composed myself.

    I opened my eyes and they began adjusting to the light. The blood-soaked carpet looked familiar. I looked up and saw my old tv, still hanging on the wall. This was my apartment, exactly the same as when I left it. Suddenly I started walking towards the bedroom as though I was drawn to it. I felt the blood beneath my boots being displaced with each step I took. Closer and closer I got to the door until finally, there I was.

    As I grasped the knob, a chill was sent up my spine. Something was behind this door and my body could sense the danger. "I need to go… I need to go now." I said this to myself over and over. I could think of nothing except getting the hell out of here but my body resisted. My hand turned the knob. Leaving was no longer an option. The door slowly creaked open, I saw a figure - a dark silhouette of a woman. She stood in front of the bed, staring down at it.

    I heard a name echoing in my head - Sara. "This is it," I thought to myself, "this dream again…" Suddenly I had a sort of "out of body" experience. I saw myself as though I was just an observer as I flashed back to that day.

    "Sara? Sara is that you? Come on we need to go, somethings wrong." The woman remained motionless to his calls. "Honey, come on we need to go now!" he walked toward her and grabbed her by the arm. I watched as fear and apprehension took over his face. I still remember how cold she felt that night… He let go of her and took a step back, "Sara… you're cold…" He kept walking backwards until he was at the door, "no… no… it can't… Sara turn around…" A groan came from the woman, followed by a squishy plop. In front of the woman now laid the bloody and half eaten body of our son. She still chewed on his arm as he backed out of the room and closed the door.

    A gunshot awoke me. I was so startled I nearly fell off the chair as I drew my rifle off my back, looking for where the sound came from. I saw a flash in the distance and another shot rang in my ears. I reached in my pocket and grabbed an old scope I looted from a gun shop not too long ago. I could see, barely, another man on a nearby roof. Zombies poured in from the door faster than he could reload his shotgun. At first he was holding his own, able to keep them at bay with the wide spread but they were relentless. Wave after wave got closer and closer, finally they were on him. A zombie bit him in the neck, dragging him down to the ground then two more got on top of him, he took one last shot…

    I put my scope back in my pocket, what happened next I had seen too many times to count. Another survivor gone, one less hope left in this godforsaken world. The night came swiftly, I checked the metal barricade to the downstairs door and looked through the peephole I had made when I first came here. Everything seemed fine. Tonight, I was secure. I walked to the corner of the building where I had built a small metallic bedroom. Who knew shop class back in high school actually had a use besides the easy A? I walked in, locking the door behind me and laid on my bed. My eyes grew heavy, another day, another survivor gone… I drifted off to sleep as I thought about all those I had lost.

    11 hours passed, morning came and went and now it was afternoon as I awoke. I haven't slept well in the recent months, this helped. I pulled my gun from my back again and checked the ammo before leaving, you can never be too careful. I got up and slowly opened the large metal door. A single crow stood in front of my door as I came out. It cawed once and then flew off. It was a bad omen, but that wasn't going to stop me. I'd survived for these past eight months by being cautious and staying three steps ahead of these zombies, a crow wasn't going to be my downfall.

    I walked to the greenhouse I built up here and watered the crops. It wasn't easy building this but I knew early on that if this lasted long then I'd need a renewable food source. I grabbed a tomato and went to the box I use to store food. Nearly empty. I grabbed the last of the cereal I had and ate breakfast, maybe not the best breakfast but it'll keep my energy up for the day ahead.

    After breakfast I went back to my "bedroom" or whatever you'd like to call it. I grabbed some extra ammo, my pistol and a machete. I've been slowly clearing out buildings and taking what I need to survive, it's risky but if I hadn't been doing this then I wouldn't have survived as long as I have.

    I took in a deep breath and relaxed as I focused. It was a nice day excluding the millions of zombies waiting to eat your flesh. A bright blue sky lay above me without a cloud in it and the sun shined as though to say there was still hope left. I let my mind wander and thought about how hope can be found in the smallest things, but in this case it was the biggest. I scoffed at the thought with a smile on my face.

    I walked to the barricaded door and opened up the peephole. One of the biggest advantages of this building is the natural light that is let in. Not a single area was dark because of the many windows so I had no need for lights nor candles, I could see clearly that no zombies were in this area so I walked down the staircase, remaining cautious just in case.

    As I approached the halfway point - floor 13 - I heard a cawing sound. Another crow seemed to have flown in one of the broken windows here. I ignored it and went to another barricade I set up here, opening the peephole to make sure there were no surprises. It was clear ahead. I pushed open the door and continued down the staircase, I could hear the crow calling as I went down.

    My final barricade came into view before long and I opened the peephole once more. This time, to my surprise, I saw someone. A fat older man with an ugly tie-dye shirt, jean shorts, and sandals on was facing away from me. I was about to call out when I noticed he had large chunks bitten out of his left arm. I looked around to see if there were any others but it seems he was the only one.

    Slowly I opened the door and readied my machete in my right hand and pistol in the left. Quietly I snuck up to the zombie as I watched to my right and left. The best thing about this building was the simple design of the lobby, it was basically a large square. I used all the furniture that was here to barricade the elevators and bathrooms so there was no place left for anyone to hide.

    I reached the zombie, the stench of rotting flesh was enough to make me rethink a quiet kill next time and instead just shoot him in the head. I lifted my machete and did a clean slash right at the neck. A clean slice, as the body fell and the head rolled off. I wiped the blood from my machete so as not to leave a trail nor lure any unwanted attention by the scent.

    I went to the doors leading outside and watched for movement. Ten minutes passed with only a few birds flying and other various animals so I went out and opened the sewer grate in front of the building. This was where I dumped all the zombies I'd killed, luckily the water was still flowing down there or I'd end up having to burn them instead. I went back inside and dragged the body out, head included, then dropped them into the sewer with a big splash and a satisfying plop. One less zombie in the world.

    The road was quiet, clear, a slight breeze came by. It would have been refreshing had it not brought the stench of blood and rot along with it. I readied myself and walked down the middle of the road, open space is always much better than closed areas in my opinion. I had already cleared many of these buildings of zombies and useful supplies, but there was one remaining that I've never gotten around to - my old apartment complex.

    I stood in front of it and stared up the five floor building. This place held some of my best memories… and my worst. I can remember when Sara and I first moved in, the truck with our furniture came two days late so we had to sleep on the floor. She used to say that before she met me she never had such bad luck, then she'd call me her "bad luck charm". Heh. Guess with all that's happened, that's pretty damn true.

    It was time. It was time to confront the past rather than just running and hiding. I walked up the steps, the door seemed to have been ripped off at some point so I went in. It was quiet and dark, so I grabbed a flashlight out of my pocket and slowly cleared the rooms from left to right. Most of them had nothing useful. A few cans of food here and there that had yet to expire, some extra batteries, bottled water. In one room was the remains of an older man, still clutching his shotgun. I took it from his cold decaying hands, and grabbed the ammo he had next to him. He wouldn't need it anymore.

    I reached the staircase and noticed that the mark from our table was still there. After our furniture finally arrived, we had to move it up to our apartment on the third floor and the staircase was the only way up. Seemed the table was a bit too big so we had to really squeeze it through, left a indent on the wall of the staircase. The landlord never did figure out how it got there.

    I continued up the staircase to the second floor, and saw three zombies in the hallway eating the remains of a long dead deer that must have fled up here. Too many to kill safely by hand so I checked the ammo of my newly obtained shotgun and inched closer. The shotgun felt heavier in my arms than the other guns I had but it should be fine. I aimed carefully at the neck area with two of the three in sight and fired, direct hits. Both went down quickly, the other turned and started running towards me as it made grotesque moans and hisses. I aimed quickly and fired but the gun jammed, I through the shotgun at the zombie, startling it for a second which gave me just enough time to take out my pistol and get off two quick shots to the head and a third to the neck before it fell. I should've known better than to test the gun in a fight, rookie mistake.

    I sighed and walked over to the gun, picking it up from the ground. Suddenly I was hit from behind and pinned to the ground, my gun and flashlight falling in front of me. A fourth zombie must have been in one of the rooms and heard the firing. I flipped onto my back just in the nick of time as it lunged at my neck, blood and drool were dripping from the zombie's mouth and the smell of death nearly overpowered me. I grabbed him by the throat with one hand and reached for the shotgun out of desperation. I could barely reach but finally I got the gun and shot but it was still jammed. "DAMNIT!" I pulled the machete from my back holster and shoved it through the zombie's open mouth. Blood sprayed everywhere and the zombie hissed as it fell to the ground still writhing around. I used all my strength and pushed the blade upwards, slicing the zombies head in half.

    I laid on the ground and caught my breath and thought to myself. "First the gun, now this, I know enough to clear the rooms before I move ahead… What's wrong with me today?" I got onto my feet and wiped the blood from my face, hair, and clothes then went into one of the rooms, quickly clearing it and closing the door so I could check for wounds. Neck, nothing, arms, legs, fine… everything is fine. Good.

    I walked out and grabbed my gun and flashlight then cleared the rest of the rooms more cautiously. A zombie here and there that were quickly and easily taken care of with my machete. I found quite a bit of useful supplies this time. A few solar powered flashlights, plenty of nonperishables, and even an old record player with some records. I took them downstairs for later and made my way up the staircase towards the third floor.

    As I walked up the stench of decay and death got stronger. My senses were nearly overcome as I got to the hallway of the third floor. I had to open a window just to keep from getting sick. The air outside wasn't very "fresh" but it was much better than the smell in here. I regained my composure and stared down the long dark hallway, my apartment at the end.

    Powerful memories rushed through my head, the anniversaries, birthdays, the nights we spent cuddled on the couch together, the child we had together… I sighed and walked forward, I didn't care about supplies right now. I quickly cleared each room of zombies. Closer and closer I came to the past until finally, I was there. The door was no longer familiar to me. Instead of being the doorway to a happy home it was now a portal to my nightmares. I took the handle slowly and turned it, the door opened easily and that musty smell filled my senses once more.

    I walked into my old apartment with pistol in hand, closing the door behind me. The living room was once a place of warmth and love, now it was a blood stained and broken mess much like the rest of the world. I walked to the couch, blood seeped out of the cushions as I sat down but I didn't care, I was too busy thinking about all the memories we had here. The late night movies, Super Bowl with my baby, even remembering the fight we had after I brought home that old tv. I smiled as I got up and thought to myself about how even the fights we had were good memories now.

    A loud cawing sound came from behind and I quickly got up and turned around. It came again, from the bedroom. I walked to the door cautiously and flashed to my dream… no… to my past. The bird kept cawing from the room. Caw caw caw, every few seconds I would hear it again. I took in a deep breath and quickly remembered just how bad it smelled in here. Vowing never to do that again, I slowly opened to door. Shock and fear hit me hard as I stared into the room.

    A body lay, pinned to the wall by a large pipe. A black crow was perched on the pipe cawing. It flew through the broken window. "Sara…" Tears came to my eyes but I pushed them back as I pulled the pipe from her chest and I laid her on the bed. She felt lighter... and when I looked more closely, her hair was darker than before... this... this wasn't Sara. That's when I remembered, the babysitter had come over that day... As soon as I remembered, I noticed a piece of paper lying on the floor. I picked it up and read it over, my body got heavy and I collapsed onto the bed. It was old, dated the day after the apocalypse started, but it was still legible.

    "Find me, my bad luck charm. 2-22-2012"


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