Like Dying Embers
Carrie wasn’t sure if she had ever let out a scream that loud in her life. The sound of her scream intermixed with the others down the street and in the distance, like some sort of horror movie. And honestly, the scene in front of her was like a horror movie. However, this was real life, and not some stupid fake CGI or cosmetic gag that could have been pulled off in the ten minutes she had been gone. No, this was an image that burned into her brain, that she would never be able to forget. No, this was much worse than any stupid horror movie she had ever seen in her life.
Ryan’s body was mangled on the floor, blood dripping from the neck and arms and everywhere. He was clearly dead. At the sound of her scream, the body crouched over him ripping into the stomach of the young man turned to face her. Carrie screamed again at the sight of Rachel, her once pretty mouth now dripping red with her boyfriend’s blood and meat spilling from in between her teeth. Her skin was gray and looked sickly, and her pretty blue eyes were now dilated, yellow, and blood-shot.
Rachel—or whatever Rachel was now—let out a guttural growl, stood, and began charging at Carrie. In panic, she grabbed the small bottle of mace on her key-ring and sprayed it at the monster charging towards her with another scream; it didn’t even phase the Rachel monster, and it kept coming towards her. In panic, Carrie slammed the door, effectively shutting whatever… whatever that thing was inside. Her back was against door 204 and she could hear it clawing and banging at the door, trying to get her.
Ryan, oh my God, Rachel ATE him… what the fuck happened to Rachel?! She was fine earlier, until… oh God, the homeless man scratched her! The pieces clicked for Carrie, but it still didn’t make sense. Sobs wracked through her body in fear, and she fumbled with her purse, reaching inside to grab her cellphone.
It took three missed calls before the phone was answered. “Carrie? What the fuck ya—What the hell happened? Are you okay?!” Daryl answered and asked, hearing Carrie’s gut-wrenching sobs over the line. Daryl had been pissed at first to be woken up when he had work the next morning, but he quickly sat on the couch, trying to listen to Carrie’s story.
She told him about the whole night and her friends’ attack, going to the store, and coming back. Daryl felt sick as she described Rachel’s boyfriend, and winced as she described Rachel. She had been sweet to Daryl, though she liked messing with him, and she didn’t deserve such a fate. It clicked in his mind at the constant PSA’s and emergency broadcasts that had been on earlier; they were infected.
“Carrie, girl, did ya watch the damn emergency broadcasts?” Daryl asked carefully.
She sniffled before answering,” No, I didn’t see one. I haven’t really been watching TV or listening to radio. I tried macing her, but it didn’t even do anything, not even burn her eyes! It’s like she isn’t human. There’s a bunch of screaming and gunshots in the city—Daryl, I’m scared! What do I do?”
She sounded so helpless, so unlike the Carrie he knew. He chewed his thumbnail while thinking, easily coming up with a solution, though he wasn’t sure how she would like it. “Do you still got that little gun we gave ya for Christmas? The one I put in the glove compartment?” Carrie sniffled before nodding to herself. She realized Daryl couldn’t see her nod, so she quickly answered yes, wiping her tears from her face.
“Ya gonna go get that gun, and ya have to stop her—“
“No!” Carrie yelled through the phone, and let out a little scream when the door pounded again, Rachel’s groans getting louder. Her face—if possible—paled even more when she heard another set of growls join her. Ryan was one too. Carrie cried out into the phone,” Ryan is one too! They’re both those things!” She could hear Merle in her mind telling her to man up, but she knew if Merle was here, he would take them down so she wouldn’t be hurt.
“Carrie, ya listen to me. Ya gonna go and do what I say, understand me? It’ll be fine. I’ll drive down tomorra mornin’ and we’ll sort it out. Just… end it and be safe, lock yaself in, okay?” Carrie sniffled and sat for a minute, listening to the angry poundings of her friends behind the door, before agreeing.
She ran down to her car and retrieved the gun. She listened to Daryl’s instructions and checked the gun for rounds before turning the safety off. She choked back a sob as she went up the stairs and set the phone on the ground. Carefully she raised the gun in her shaking right hand before cracking the door open and quickly stepping back. They rushed her, and she screamed.
“Carrie? CARRIE?!” Daryl yelled on the other end, only able to hear the sound of gunshots and Carrie’s screams. Finally after a few minutes, the sounds all stopped. Daryl’s heart thumped loudly in his chest, and he was only able to finally breathe when Carrie’s soft voice shakily answered him.
“Oh God, Daryl. I shot Rachel in the chest, but—but she didn’t go down. I had to shoot them in the heads!” She began to cry again. “I murdered them!”
Daryl wasn’t a comforter, or somebody who knew what to say, and it broke his heart to hear someone who was like his baby sister cry. “Listen, ya didn’t murder them—they were gonna kill you! Probably rip ya open like Rachel did ta Ryan,” Daryl paused as she winced at another one of her cries, but then continued,” Just drag ‘em inside, and stay there. Don’t call nobody, got it? I’ll be right down there. Don’t let anybody in, don’t let anybody else know ya in there, got it? Keep the TV low, pull the blinds, lights off, and on the news, nothin’ else, ya got me?” Carrie agreed and went inside, setting the phone down before dragging the bodies inside. She pushed them into Rachel’s bedroom, Carrie nearly gagging at the smell of them. They smelled like death.
She spent a little more time with Daryl on the phone after she locked up the house and turned off all the lights except for the TV news station. She curled into a ball and silently cried when neighbors from the apartment began knocking on the door, coming and going. Daryl didn’t have much to say, but she felt much safer with him on the other end until she fell asleep from her exhaustion.
It had been three days of being locked up in the apartment. The first day of being locked in, she waited for Daryl to be done with work so he could start his drive, but he never showed, nor called. She called his home at least ten times with no answer. The bodies filled the house with a dead smell, so she had to shut Rachel’s door to keep it out. Carrie did not change and still wore what she had worn when she killed her friends; the only difference was the bloodstains that were sprayed over the front.
By the second day, the news was constantly playing the Emergency Broadcast along with several other channels, telling everybody to head to safe zones and to avoid infected. She felt sick to her stomach thinking that she may have killed her friends over a virus, something that could be cured. She could hear gunshots from outside and screaming. At one point someone tried to get in, but Carrie had barricaded the door with the couch and anything else heaving she could stack on top of it. Carrie waited and waited, but Daryl did not call for almost the whole day. Finally, nearing midnight, there was a call from him. They skipped formalities, and Daryl informed her that their town had been hit and he had to skip and hide out in his home.
“I’m gonna get Merle, and once he’s out, we’ll head to Atlanta for the safe zone. Ya gotta go there and wait for us, okay? Then we’ll get the hell outta there and figure it out,” Daryl told her, trying to reassure Carrie.
But Carrie was terrified to even think of going outside and running into more infected. The constant gunshots and screams in the distance terrified her. “Can’t I just wait for you here?” she whimpered, curling up tighter in a blanket for warm comfort.
“Nah, what if me and Merle don’t get there, and ya just stuck in that apartment? Ya gotta pack up and go to the safe zone, and be ready to leave, just in case, alright?”
“But you and Merle will get there, right? You’ll come find me?” Carrie panicked, not wanting to worry about the Dixon brothers while she was in the safety of the zone. “What if it isn’t safe? If I have to run? You won’t find me; I can’t do this alone.” The thought of being separated or dying or one of the brothers dying made her heart clench, but not nearly as bad as being alone and never seeing them again. She wasn’t made to be a fighter. Bar fights with chicks and fighting of drunken guys was one thing—pepper spray worked on them. But these things were trying to eat her. She wasn’t extremely strong and she could barely shoot; what could she do?
“We’ll find ya, I promise, okay?” Carrie nodded and sniffled. “Now go get shit together. Whatever ya may need. I gotta go so I can go find Merle, okay? I’ll call ya when I get him. Go straight to the zone, and don’t be afraid to get those things.”
“Okay… yeah, okay, I will.” She took a deep breath in; she was strong, she had to be okay.
“Don’t wear heels.” Carrie burst into shaky laughter, her worry slightly dissolving. He wasn’t a typically comedic guy, but his dry humor always made Carrie laugh and feel better. It reminded her of Merle and his stupid smirk. “I’m serious, girl,” he told her,” did ya bring any shoes other than heels?”
Carrie rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly. “Fuzzy slippers and flip-flops.” She didn’t exactly know that people would be eating each other, or else she would have chosen more appropriate footwear.
“Does… does Rachel got any sneakers?” Daryl asked softly. Carrie winced when thinking about looting her dead best friend’s closet for shoes, but she told herself that Rachel would want her to take them.
“Yeah, she should,” Carrie whispered, standing to go to the bedroom. Daryl told her to pack up once more before hanging up, and Carrie slowly opened the door to Rachel’s bedroom.
Carrie almost gagged on the putrid smell of death and decay in the air. She coughed and quickly covered her mouth, her eyes watering at the smell burning her eyes. She sank to her knees in front of the open closet, and dug through the messy pile. While Carrie liked to keep all of her shoes in racks and lined up neatly, it seemed Rachel just through them into a big pile. Finally, she found a pair of black New Balance running shoes in the bottom of the mess, grabbed them, and ran out of the room. After slamming the door behind her, she headed to the bathroom and quickly emptied her stomach of her lunch—leftovers in the fridge. She would definitely not be going back in that room.
NotesNot one of my best, but I swear, the actual apocalypse should be creeping up soon. You know what to do! Vote for this story (a 10!), leave a nice comment, suggest this to your friends, post it around your local grocery store, send it to Norman Reedus!