I can’t believe it. I try, but my mind just can’t seem to wrap around what’s happening.
The people around me move into action, setting watches and checking their ammunition. This feels more like a movie than real life.
In fact, just like a film, the world seems to slow around me as I watch the gates shut and something in my brain finally clicks into place.
I’m not watching World War Z, I’m experiencing it.
People I used to smile at when I saw them at the store now rush the gates, trying to squeeze between the bars. At least they don’t throw their bodies on top of each other to climb over the gate, like they would in World War Z.
Moms. Dads. Friends. School kids. They all used to have a life. Someone who loved them. They used to be someone who had dreams and visions of their future.
I’d let them in, but they are no longer them. Some disease has taken over who they were. Like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers only worse, leaving them like rotting corpses and I can’t help but think about the cockroach-like bad guy in Men in Black.
They look like zombies. But they aren’t. They aren’t people anymore.
Someone rushes by me and places a heavy riffle in my hand.
It reminds me why nothing has sunk in until now. We have a full proof plan. We are guaranteed this win. It will be a battle, don’t get me wrong. But we will win. There’s no doubt about it.
And again I find myself frustrated by the news. They aren’t covering this. They’ve turned a blind eye to our community.
I want to scream at them. To make them see this problem and report it like the should.
What’s happened to these people is wrong and the world should know about it. It’s not right or fair that their lives have been snatched away and no one mourns them.
Someone should mourn them.
If I fall in this battle I know I will be mourned by my family half a world away. My heart jumps in my throat. My family doesn’t know about what’s happening here. Again, I curse the news for not telling them.
I shift the riffle on my hip and pull my phone out of my pocket. There’s still time before we activate our plan. I dial in the number for home but an error rings in my ear.
I haven’t dialed the right country code. Please try again.
I recheck what I’ve dialed and try again.
Again, I receive the error.
I want to curse. To scream at the sky how unfair this all is.
“You coming?” My partner, dressed in khaki fatigues stands in front of me.
“Is it time?”
He shakes his head, making his shaggy dark hair shade his eyes, “No, but the next town up still has civilians. We’ve been asked to go alert them.” He tilts his head, “You up for the challenge?”
I take a look at the gate, where zombie-like people – no – they’re not people anymore, they’re not even animals. They’re a Thing. Not living. They’re still trying to squeeze through the iron bars. “We’ll have to take the back way.”
He smiles and we move into action. Our little team, step in line behind us. In all there are about twelve of us. We’ve been working together for so long, there’s little need for talk or planning. We anticipate each others moves.
We have no working vehicles, so we slip out the back gate on foot. Each wary and watchful for danger.
It’s then I realize my phone is still glued to my hand. I saddle up to my partner and ask him if he remembers the country code.
He tells me.
It’s not long before we reach the bridge that crosses over into the next town. It’s not a big place, but already, we can see we’re too late. People are screaming. There’s blood everywhere. But at least those around us are still people. For now we’re safe.
A quick nod to my partner and I move to the side of the road. I dial home again and this time am answered by the satisfying sound of it ringing.
It only rings twice before my mom answers.
All around me, my team are moving into action. Someone finds a working vehicle and starts loading it up with survivors. For some reason it reminds me of that episode of Firefly when the Reavers are coming and they could only take a few people on their speeder. Or was it the film, Serenity?
I turn my focus away, knowing for the moment we have the advantage.
It takes all of one minute to tell my parents what’s happening and another five to calm them down. “We’re gonna be okay.” I say, “I just wanted you to know, just in case.”
My mom tries to be brave, but I can still hear the tremble in her voice.
Then there’s a rush of people running past me.
I turn to see a mob of Reavers. I mean Zombies. No the Things coming toward me.
I hear my partner say, “Move out.”
And I tell my parents I’ve got to go. I love you. I hang up before my voice gives away the tears in my eyes or before they hear too much of the chaos approaching.
The Things are coming fast and I don’t think we’ll make it. I’ve never been much of a runner. Still we move out, running back toward our base. To the safety of our walls and plan.
Why did they send us on this fools quest?
I push the thought away and focus on my feet hitting the pavement but before I reach the edge of the bridge the familiar buzz of an alarm calls me away.