Authors: Kay Glass
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As always, for my loving husband, Wayne
, who named the main character. I wouldn't be able to do what I love without you and your support. Seven years and still going strong!
And for you, the reader- without your support I might not have the heart to keep doing what I love. Thank you, so very much, for believing in me.
It was good to be right. They laughed at her at first, and then they locked her away. Lorna was no fool, however. She’d
them someday there’d be a zombie apocalypse and she had been right. Too bad none of the ones who'd accused her were still around to remind them who’d warned them. Yeah, that was a bummer. But hey, no school, no more drugs being forced on her, no more counseling sessions with the asshole doctor. There were no more people judging her and whispering behind her back. Hell, if her life weren't in jeopardy this would actually be a beautiful situation.
It had taken her two days to coax one of the stupid undead orderlies close enough to the room to get the keys.
She’d dipped and dodged around his snapping jaws to rip the keys from his belt loop, then beaten his head to mush with the leg of her cot. It disgusted her, slaughtering a man that way, but she tried to pretend it was a video game or a cheesy movie, and she'd only thrown up
she’d succeeded. Now she was free and had enough food and water to last her a week or two at least. But that wasn’t all she needed to stay alive. She had to get home. She needed her bug-out bag.
Oh, she knew that was part of what had gotten her locked away in this damned
nut hut to begin with, but she was right and they were dead. It made a twisted sort of sense. She wouldn't call it justice… she didn't even support the death penalty. It
fact, however, and that was enough. The problem remained, she was more than twenty miles away from home and wasn't sure how to make it back safely. Lorna was alone, and that was something she'd never expected.
Jeff was supposed to be with her, she thought with a sigh
, brushing her greasy, unkempt hair away from her face. They'd made all these plans, hours of plans, on exactly what to do to survive the apocalypse. Now she was trapped in this institution until she figured out a way to make it home for her supplies, and she didn't know where
was. She'd tried the phones first, but they were as dead as the staff in this hellhole. Like it or not, it was her against the world. So, what
The supply room had a sturdy door
with a nice, shiny lock on it. And on the key ring she’d snatched from the former orderly was the key needed to get her inside. Lorna counted her blessings. Had this been a larger institution in one of the big cities she would have had nowhere safe to go. Instead, everything here was locked with deadbolts instead of key codes. The power had been off for three days, and she would have been trapped until she starved to death with the newer locking systems. It didn’t bear looking at too closely, so she did her best to push the thought away and focus on what she had to do next.
She took her food and water and crept warily towards the supply room. She was tired and half-starved from being trapped the last few days. She’d been forced to do things she’d worried about once, but never actually dreamed of. She’d peed in the shower, saving her toilet for fresh water. It disgusted her beyond belief, but desperate times
called for desperate measures. She rationed the water carefully, unsure how long she would be trapped in her room. She was just fortunate that she hadn’t eaten. She hated to think about what she’d need to do if she’d had to do more than pee. A shudder ran through her at the thought of how close that room had become to being a tomb.
She shook it off. N
one of that mattered now. She had a case of bottled water with her, and there was a bathroom right across the hall. Hell, she would even be able to use the toilet rather than hording it for drinking water, so things were looking up. It was March, she knew, but even without power, the building was fairly warm. She had pillows and blankets at her disposal, and she’d taken all the packaged food from the nurse’s station. She would get tired of eating chips and graham crackers before long, but it was a big step up from starvation.
Lorna needed a plan to get out of here, and one began to form as she munched on the dry crackers, chasing each bite with a tiny sip of water.
She intended to rest for a day or two to build her strength up for her journey, but after that she needed to get home. She didn’t relish the idea, and wasn’t sure what became of her mother, father, and little brother, but she needed to go collect her survival gear if she stood any chance. She just prayed the house would be empty. Putting the guard down was hard enough. She suspected killing her family members might drive her insane for real.
When she was full to the point of nausea, she opened the door to the storage closet as quietly as possible and went across the hall to use the bathroom. She carried a
bottle of water with her to pour into the sink. The lack of running water pissed her off, but she wasn’t sure if it was due to lack of power or some random plumbing issue. In the meantime, she’d just use one of those precious bottles of water to wash her face. She hated to do so, but she was dirty and oil was running into her eyes, making them ache miserably.
It was dark in the bathroom, and she had to do everything by touch. Lorna was just glad she
wasn’t afraid of the dark. She had no choice but to shut and lock the door to prevent anything from shuffling in to chomp on her. With no windows, she was completely sightless. Still, she managed with only a little fumbling, and was grateful she couldn’t see her own reflection. She may not fear the dark, but she was pretty damned sure she’d be terrified by the sight in the mirror.
She wanted a shower in the worst way. She hated being filthy
, and it had been nearly five days since she’d last bathed. Four days ago, the first staff member had stumbled into group therapy clutching his throat, blood gushing from between his fingers before he collapsed. His name had been Joseph, and he could often be found mopping the floors and scrubbing the tables in the cafeteria. Five minutes later, while Dr. Diplank argued frantically with the 911 operator, Joseph had opened his eyes and sat up.
She hadn’t waited to see anymore, but fled back to her room and demanded they lock her door.
It was a shame she hadn’t thought to pinch a key off the orderly then, but at least she’d made it this far. She had barely been secure behind her door before the power had gone out, and it hadn’t come back on. She was in the ‘good behavior’ ward, so her door was normally open. Now she was grateful there had been a door to lock.
With that thought in mind,
Lorna crept into the storage closet again, thumbing the deadbolt into place and making a nest of the spare bedding. She was warm, she had food and water, and she was as safe as she could get for the time being. It was an ideal situation, as long as she ignored the shuffling and grunting of the undead feet outside the door. With that thought in mind, she curled up into her makeshift bed and fell quickly to sleep.
She came awake with a start, hands slapping at the dark, a scream choking her throat. The dream had been stupid, but it had upset her nonetheless, and she was somehow sure that she would wake to find herself being gnawed on. She shook, cold to the bones, and wrapped the blankets a little tighter around her body as she struggled to figure out what had scared her about the dream.
She was in
in the biology lab in high school, although she hadn’t set foot in it since before she’d been locked her away in this institution. The teacher, Mrs. Santiago, had strapped her to the steel table at the front of the class, holding a pointer and tapping each spot on her body as she explained exactly where the organs were located within her chest cavity. Her face, once a lovely olive tone, was a sickly grey in the dream. Patches of skin had peeled back, exposing the bone beneath. Blood had dried on the front of the gold dress Lorna remembered her wearing so often. She was one of the undead now, and Lorna was a science project.
Mrs. Santiago had invited the class to come forward and explore for themselves. He
r voice was hard to understand, since something had crushed her throat. When she spoke, it reminded Lorna of the rock tumbler she’d received one year for Christmas. One by one, the students pushed their chairs back from the long tables they used in lieu of desks and approached the front of the room. Chelsea, the prom queen, wasn’t looking nearly as attractive with her throat ripped open and blood smeared on her face from a recent feeding. Owen, Chelsea’s boyfriend, looked untouched… well, until Lorna caught sight of his legs. One of them was stripped entirely of its flesh, yet somehow he shuffled alongside his girlfriend to stand at Lorna’s side.
The faces filled her vision, all the people she’d had class with, and even Jeff was there. His one blue eye was wide and dull, the other popped and dripping milky fluid down
his cheek. As one, they fell on her. Hands ripped her chest wide and they snarled and growled as they fought over organs that were never meant to be seen in the light of day. Mrs. Santiago had smiled indulgently before turning to stare into Lorna’s eyes. Then she reached forward, plucked the first of those eyes from Lorna’s head and popped it into her mouth.
That’s when Lorna had
woken, fighting the urge to scream. She had known it was only a nightmare while she was stuck in it, but she hadn’t been able to wake up. She needed to pee, and was distantly thankful that she hadn’t wet herself. Her legs were weak, though, so she took time to gain her composure before venturing from safety.
he gathered several bottles of water, a washcloth, and a small bottle of shampoo from the cart. She needed to be clean- it wasn’t some idle desire but an overwhelming urge that couldn’t be ignored any longer. She was wasting more of her precious water supply this way, but it was worth it to know she wasn’t filthy. Besides, she expected to leave in a day or two and wouldn’t be able to cart a full case of water with her to begin with. At the last minute she snatched up a towel to dry off afterwards, cursing herself under her breath for nearly forgetting. The last thing she needed was to risk slipping in a puddle on her way back.
Lorna went through the ritual of filling the sink with water again, but this time she added shampoo to it and dipped the washcloth in. The water was room temperature and felt good on her skin as she wiped herself down.
She dressed quickly, already sorry she’d have to put the filthy pajamas back on, but she felt better clothed. When she’d finished, she dunked her head into the water and adding some shampoo to her mane, working her hair into a frothy lather before dunking into the sink once more to rinse as much of the shampoo out as possible. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start. Then she uncapped another bottle of water and slowly poured it over her downturned head, running her fingers through her hair to rinse it a bit more thoroughly. Only then did she empty the sink, wrapping her hair in the towel as the water gurgled down the drain.
She’d had no problems the night before.
The hall had been empty but for a couple stragglers at each end. That was no longer the case. The sound of the water going down the drain had apparently alerted one that had been near the bathroom door. She heard the series of grunts coming from the other side of the thick wood and froze, not even wanting to breathe in case she could be heard. She hoped it would just go away… he, she, whatever… but knew it was unlikely as the thin barrier rattled. Whatever was on the other side hooted anxiously, punctuating each noise by smacking the door. In a matter of minutes it had drawn a crowd. She could hear several of them now, hooting, moaning and grunting as the thudding on the door grew more anxious.
She was defenseless, and was furious with herself. She’d planned for this shit for years now. At first it had been
fun, a sort of ‘what if?’ strategy game she’d played with Jeff and a few of their friends. Over time, however, she and Jeff grew more concerned with the news of drugs in the street that caused zombie-like behavior in its users. Everyone knew the military played with things it need not touch. They were sure it wouldn’t be long before someone created a true zombie apocalypse. As they grew more adamant about needing a workable plan, their friends drew away one by one. Before long it was just her and Jeff, and it was no longer a game at all.
She knew that while food and water were important, they were still luxury items compared to weapons. How could someone expect to live if they didn’t have a way to defend themselves?
She was a survivalist, and was damned proud of it. She’d been smug once. She was convinced the world would go down in flames, yet she’d be just fine. She was already prepared for anything. Just look at her now… wearing damp pajamas that she’d been in for days, skid-resistant slippers, and a towel, trapped in a bathroom while the undead beat down the door. God, what a way to die.
She wasn’t sure
how much of a believer she was. If there
a God, she thought He should have stopped this before the plague began to spread. With her impending death, however, she was besieged with an overwhelming need to pray. She got down on her knees on the cold tile floor and prayed for her soul… for a swift and painless death. She begged for forgiveness, and another chance at life. She bargained… she’d do so many good things if only He would spare her now. And she kept praying as she heard the door begin to crack.