Bobs’ panic was almost uncontrollable. His wifes screaming had not stopped after the first and all he could do in return was scream himself…her name over and over into the phone. He wasn’t entirely sure when the silence began, but he feared what he knew it meant. His drive home was a nightmare in more ways than one. Within 5 minutes of leaving his office Bob knew the authorities he’d had so much faith in didn’t stand a chance, since all the ones he’d seen were either dead, un-dead, or running, and he didn’t blame them. He’d rolled up behind a two cruiser road block just in time to see it get overrun by just a handful of the undead. The police hadn’t quite grasped the reality of what was happening and still thought “halt” was going to do some good, and hadn’t even had the forethought to place the cruisers between themselves and the small group of people approaching them.
When they finally decided to break and run, they ran right into the cruisers at their backs. Bob watched a tall skinny teenager with saggy pants and way too much underwear showing, the kind seen at malls all across the country, reach out with one hand and grab a young cop by the throat, and use the other to rip his face right off. They were swarmed immediately but Bob didn’t see it. He had already slammed reverse to put some distance between himself and the horrors in front of him. He got himself turned around and punched the gas, the only thing he could think of was getting to his home, his wife, and his two young ones.
“It’s too late”. Bob slammed on the brakes and came to a screeching stop in the middle of the road, confused. He’d heard that voice plain as day, but knew his car was empty. You’re going crazy Bob, stark raving mad, and understandably so. “You’re not going crazy, and it’s too late.” Bobs blood ran almost as cold as the interior of his car had become. It was cold and smelled, he didn’t know any way to describe it, other than it smelled of death. And he HAD heard the voice. It had seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere, leaking into his ears like ice cold oily water stabbing into his brain.
It had no emotion but elicited a feeling of power, evil, and age almost unimaginable. “Go home Bob. There is nothing you can do, my will has been done already, but you must see for yourself and once you have your real journey can begin. You have a part to play in my symphony of death, an important part, but it remains to be seen how you will play it. You will meet a man, an old…friend you might say, and you will travel with him. Until that time my servants will be blind to you and when you have come to terms with your new reality I will send my right hand to you, and your journey will begin in ernest. Who are you, Bob whispered. The voice laughed, finally giving an impression of emotion, but it wasn’t humor. It was anger. Almost unbelievable rage. “My name would be meaningless to you, but some one of your kind has seen fit to call me The Dark….and I will be the destroyer of this world.” It laughed again and slowly faded from his perception, along with the cold and the smell.
Bob’s hands were shaking so badly it affected his arms all the way up to his shoulders. He was trying to make sense of what had just happened but he knew his mind was so close to overload he was in danger of shutting down completely, right smack in the middle of the road right smack in the middle of what was finally registering to him as an undead apocalypse, cliche’ be damned. “Focus Bob. Breathe.” He tried to hold that thought, like it was point just in front of his face that he could stare at, and tune everything else out. After a few moments it started to have an affect and his shakes began to subside. “Home”, he thought and to hell with disembodied voices that were probably nothing more stress induced hallucinations. He grabbed the wheel, got it in gear (as it were), and with new found determination made his way toward the one place he thought he might be able to find some sanity. Bob doggedly made his way home, ignoring everything happening outside his windows. He ignored the man being beaten senseless by another using a baseball bat, apparently for nothing more than his vehicle.
He ignored the figures kneeling over people on the ground, ripping flesh from bone, only to stuff it into hungry mouths, and he especially ignored the ones feeding on a woman pinned to the sidewalk while one of their kind was dipping bloody hands in and out of the carriage next to her. When he finally rolled up his driveway he was already a sweating wreck, but the sight of the bloody broken glass of the homes bay window brought his shakes back with a vengeance. Everything said by the voice came back in a rush, and he knew in the pit of his gut that his family was gone. Part of him refused to give in, thinking that somehow they were fine, they’d run out the back, or hid in a closet, or the attic or ANY thing except what he knew was the truth. They were dead.
Bob opened his door and stepped out, his eyes never leaving the broken window of his home. He glanced around as he walked up, noting people doing all the things you’d expect…packing cars, boarding windows, and in some cases just standing in their yards looking around as if confused by the actions of the others around them. Some were even dying, taken down by the undead slowly making their way among them, though there were surprisingly few. All of this only registered in the most basic way for Bob as his shaking hand gripped the doorknob. Taking a deep breath to calm himself as best he could, he inserted his key, twisted the knob, and stepped through the door pretty much in one motion. His home was a traditional split level. Just inside the door to the right was the living room, while straight ahead and to the right was the kitchen area with an attached dining area to the left. The living room and kitchen were separated by an L shaped breakfast bar. To the left of the front door were the steps up to the bedrooms, and down to the large family room. The living room looked fairly normal except for the broken glass from the window, some muddy foot prints, and a knocked over table and lamp that had been to the side of the window. Susan? SUSAN! …Those words rattled through Bobs brain as he glanced around his home in a panic, knowing in his knotted gut they were the truth.
He headed across the room towards the kitchen area, glancing left and right as he went, but seeing nothing until he got to the kitchen. Scattered amongst the broken dishes on the floor behind the bar were the knives from his wifes prized set she had received from her mother for a wedding gift. Wives get wonky over some mundane shit Bob thought, immediately giving himself hell for the stupid thought. He was still busy piling on his self-inflicted mental guilt trip when he glanced up and noticed the door that lead from kitchen to the garage was standing open. Please please please he thought as he rushed forward. Maybe they got to the car and got out ran through his mind as he bolted through the doorway…only to come up short on the other side.
There was blood everywhere, on the floor, on the hood and windows of the car, on the walls….and on what was left of Bobs wife and oldest son Brandon. They were standing at the garage door, his wife pawing at the windows that ran along the top and his son slapping one little hand against it over and over again, apparently attracted by the noise of the activity outside. He was only vaguely aware of the undead man with them. Some part of him knew he was their killer, but Bob had eyes only for what had been is family only tens of minutes before. It was too much and with a cry of despair he collapsed down onto the steps he had been standing on. At his cry the three figures in front of him turned around, sensing living meat, and locked their eyes on him. Their jaws gaped open as each took a step his direction, only to slowly close at their next step. He could only stare at the milky eyes in his wifes still beautiful face, trying hard not to see how the left side of her throat had been torn away, and the huge gaping hole in her dress where her stomach used to be. His 3 yr old son had horrible bite wounds on his little arms, his nose was missing, and the left side of his face was gone between his cheekbone and lower jaw, ripped away all the way back to his ear. The unknown zombie, he had come to terms with it, didn’t appear to be injured in any way that Bob could see, other than the extremely large kitchen knife protruding from it’s chest. With a small flash of pride and love for his wife he realized that she hadn’t gone down without a fight, doing her best to protect their children. Oh my God, Bob Junior! He leapt to his feet, charging back the way he had come and bolted up the steps to his youngest sons bedroom.
Little Bob was only 6 months old and the spittin image of his dad, unlike his brother who favored his mother in the looks department. He only had to take one step into the bedroom before he saw the blood in the crib. Bob started sobbing. Please God no the thought. His tears flowed in a river as he approached the crib, eyes squeezed shut at the last moment as he tried to avoid what he knew was going to be there. Eyes shut with his hands on the rails of his sons bed he prayed to hear some sound….a cry, a laugh, any of the normal sounds you would hear from your perfectly normal 6 month old boy. His heart leaped as he heard a rustling sound in the crib and his eyes snapped open, hoping beyond reason for just this one small miracle, only to have hope die in his chest at the sight before him. His little son, one of the three most important things in his life, had been torn to pieces. His right arm was gone, his torso and left leg missing, only a section of his spine and bits of intestine sticking out of the mostly empty chest cavity with nothing a but a bit of flesh still connecting his right leg to what was left of his body. The bottom of the crib looked like a butchers block, with blood and bits of flesh everywhere. His little sons head rolled around from side to side, milky eyes staring into space, his left arm waving aimlessly with tiny fingers grasping at nothing. Unbidden the scenario played out in his mind. His wife in the kitchen with their son, on the phone to her husband just as her killer crashed through the window…her screams attracting the thing as cutoff they tried to retreat to the garage…the silence of their deaths replaced by the crying from the upstairs bedroom. Bob refused to see the creatures clumsy determined assent of the stairs. Slowly shaking his head Bob began backing away from the crib. He knew he was fading, knew his mind was overloaded to the breaking point, and knew that everything in his life that had been worth living for was gone never to come back. As he backed into the wall on the far side of the bedroom he began slowly sliding down, consciousness fading from him as he fell.
Bobs last thought before he was consumed by oblivion was curiosity at how long his home had smelled of stale blood, rotting meat….and echoed with the sound of dark laughter.