Read This Rotten World (Book 1) Online

Authors: The Vocabulariast

Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse

This Rotten World (Book 1) (16 page)

BOOK: This Rotten World (Book 1)
5.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Chapter 39: As Day
Breaks

 

As the day
broke across the city, and even across the country, thousands of scenes of
horror like the following played out, tragic deaths of those that had no idea
that something was going on, something apocalyptic.

 

***

 

Nina
Gonzalez-Santiago slept with earplugs in. That’s what you had to do when you
lived in an apartment complex where ranchero music blasted until three in the
morning. It’s not that her neighbors were rude. It was just normal. Your cousin
got married? Time to drink until 3 in the morning, singing songs drunkenly with
all your family members. Your daughter turned fifteen? Time to have a quincea
ñ
era, and then drink until 3 in the morning, singing
drunken songs with your family members. Hey! Someone had a baby! You know what
that means… drinking until 3 in the morning… singing loudly… while loud
ranchero music makes the walls shake.

Nina had
learned long ago, from her own family’s experiences, that one does not simply
go over to the apartment of someone who has been drinking for the whole day and
ask them to turn the music down. That’s not how it works. Even if they did turn
it down, they would likely only do so until you had climbed the stairs back to
your own apartment and crawled in bed. Then it would come on, most likely
louder than it was before. That’s how her dad had always done it.

So it was
with earplugs that Nina slumbered at night. She could still feel the bass from
time to time, but feeling bass wasn’t nearly as irritating as actually having
to listen to it. When Nina raised her head off the pillow that morning to greet
the sunshine, she had slept through the gunfire, the explosions, and the
screaming. As far as Nina knew, today was just a regular day.

She wasn’t
looking forward to going to her secretary job, but it wasn’t the worst thing in
the world. She yawned as she padded barefoot through her apartment, showering,
and putting her clothes on. She brewed herself a cup of coffee, threw it in a
cup to go, and walked down the flight of stairs to her car. She marveled at the
amount of garbage on the landing. Spare bottles littered the stairs, a garbage
bag sat ripped and ownerless at the top of the landing, and what was that?
Bullet casings? Once again, Nina thanked the lord for whoever had invented
earplugs.

The
windshield of her car was still wet from the night’s rain. She unlocked the
door, swung it open, and tossed her briefcase in the passenger seat. Nina
started the engine of her Toyota Prius, unaware that the engine, which was
considered quiet for a car, was more than enough to bring the dead out of the
woodwork.

From a
third-floor landing, a body tumbled through the sky to land on her windshield,
shattering it. Nina flinched and screamed. As she extricated herself from the
Prius, she kept expecting people to run and help her. That’s how it worked in
the movies. A woman screamed, and then everyone scrambled to help her. Only
this time, no one came to her aid.

Instead,
she watched in horror as the man who had shattered her windshield reached out
to her with a gray arm. His face was shattered and misshapen, but the man could
still see her for what she was. Food.

From other
places, she could finally see help in the form of her neighbors… only they
weren’t her neighbors, not anymore. There was the patriarch of the noisy family
downstairs. His button-up western t-shirt was torn at the abdomen, and blood
caked his brown skin. His face was blank and expressionless. But the most
revolting sight was when Nina saw two of the man’s five children come stumbling
out of the apartment doorway in much the same shape.

Nina
screamed nonstop, unable to comprehend what was happening. Her first instinct
was to get away, so that’s exactly what she did. Her voice cracking with every
scream, she hopped back into her car and threw it in reverse. She could see out
the back windshield, but driving in reverse was not one of her strengths.

The man who
had landed on her windshield began tearing through the broken glass, his hands
and arms shredding in the process. With her head turned, she didn’t notice him
get his pale arm through the windshield until he had a handful of her hair.
Despite the three story fall, the man still had quite a bit
of strength, and he wrenched Nina's head to the side, causing her to back into
a large oak tree on the side of the road. Her head banged against the headrest
of her car, and the deployment of her airbag broke the gray man's arm in half.
She would have been safe if it weren't for the handful of monsters that were
advancing on her unconscious form. The first bite woke her. The second, third,
and fourth made her wish she were dead. The fifth granted her wish.

 

***

 

Gianni
Grimaldi had it all. The car, the acting career, the house on the hill. The
only thing he didn't have was much time. He was late for the first day of
shooting Marked for Vengeance, a medium-range-budget horror flick with
theatrical aspirations. It was one of his first starring gigs, and he was kicking
himself for going out the night before. But what are you going to do? It's your
first night in a new town, you and your acting buddies are stuck in a hotel
with nothing to do, and you've got money and a modicum of fame waiting to
spread the locals' legs if you play your cards right. Of course, he was going
to go out on the town.

He wondered
if Spindly Jackson, ex-futbol star turned actor, felt the same way he did this
morning. His head ached, and he wondered if makeup was going to be able to do
anything about the bags underneath his eyes. With his hair gelled up just
right, he stumbled down to the lobby of the Hotel Plush and set out on a quest
for some coffee. It was 6:30 in the morning, and no one was around, not even
the desk clerk was at their station.

On a metal
cart, he spied two coffee containers next to a stack of Styrofoam cups. Ah,
just what the doctor ordered. There was nothing like a good dose of caffeine in
the morning to kick-start the old liver into functionality.

The
sunlight streaming in through the front doors made his eyes hurt, so he turned
his back to them. Gianni grabbed a cup, filled it with coffee, and then added a
teaspoon of sugar. With his back to the lobby, he didn't notice the bellhop
shambling towards him, his eye missing from its socket and the left sleeve torn
off of his once pristine bellhop uniform.

The bellhop
grabbed him from behind and took a bite out of Gianni's neck. They tumbled to
the ground, and the last coherent thought that Gianni Grimaldi ever formed was,
Not the face!
The world would weep at his death... or at least the
twenty or thirty movie reviewers who had appreciated him in bit roles.

 

***

 

Anan
Abdullahi woke up in the morning to find that her mother was not there. This
was normal. Her mother frequently stayed out all night, especially when she had
a new boyfriend, which seemed to happen once or twice a month.

Anan lay in
bed, wishing to close her eyes and fall back asleep, but it wasn’t meant to be.
She could hear her little sister up to something in the other room. When her
own stomach gurgled, she decided to get up and see if Emanna could use some
food as well.

She
stumbled out into the living room, across the stained, toy-littered carpet, and
found Emanna jumping up and down on the couch, not wearing a stitch of clothing
except for a dirty diaper. Anan’s morning was already starting out shitty.

She pulled
Emanna into the bathroom and helped her get into a new diaper, she threw the
old, stinky one into the garbage. They were down to their last diaper. She hoped
that Mom brought home more or else Emanna would be walking around pooping
wherever she went. She would probably get blamed, and then she would get the
closet. She didn't want the closet. It was dark in there.

Hand in
hand, Anan and Emanna walked into the kitchen to make themselves some
breakfast. The kitchen looked just like it usually did. The sink was piled high
with unwashed dishes, flies buzzed around the mess, laying clutches of tiny
eggs in the week-old, rotten milk left in the bottom of a cereal bowl. Old
fruit went to rot in a fruit dish on top of the microwave. It was all normal,
and Anan and Emanna paid it no mind.

Emanna
walked to the table, her toddler body desiring to sit in a big people chair
instead of her highchair, while Anan walked to the fridge and looked inside.
Old lunch meat, a few cheese slices, and no milk… it was the absence of milk
that really depressed her. She slammed the door closed, and pulled a couple of
bowls from the cupboards. They were the last clean ones. She eyed the sink
suspiciously, staring at the tower of dirty dishes. Someone would have to clean
them, but she decided that thought could wait.

Instead, she
climbed up on the one clean spot on the counter, the one spot where beer
bottles and old juice spills had not destroyed the tacky laminated surface. She
opened the cupboard and pulled down a box of cereal, a giant blue box of Rice
Krispies, three freakish elves smiling back at her, giant spoons dipping into
the bowl on the box.

She dumped
the cereal into a bowl, not caring about the stray Krispie or two that bounced
off the counter and onto the floor. Then it was time to do it… time to put the
water on. Anan hated the taste of water and Rice Krispies, but her options were
limited. It was either a bowl of Rice Krispies with water, or pieces of
questionable lunch meat or rotten fruit.

“Where is
mom?” Anan asked plaintively as she set the bowl of Rice Krispies in front of
Emanna, along with a spoon that seemed relatively clean. Emanna looked at her
with questioning eyes; she had not yet started to speak. Anan didn’t know if
that was normal or not, but she was beginning to suspect that it wasn’t. “Don’t
worry; I’m sure she’ll be here soon,” she told Emanna more to reassure herself
than Emanna.

Anan poured
herself her own bowl of cereal and plopped down at the kitchen table. The first
spoonful wasn’t so bad. The cereal was still crunchy, but she wished that they
still had sugar. Rice Krispies were always better with sugar, but as with most
things, they had run out weeks ago. Emanna was done with her bowl, so she
hopped off of the chair and tossed the bowl in the sink, adding to the
festering pile of dirty dishes.

Anan looked
at the pile with dread in her eyes. So many dishes. She finished the last bite
of her cereal, and walked over to the sink. Hesitantly, she began pulling the
dishes out of the sink, trying to avoid getting her hands wet or getting any of
the really nasty moldy bits on her fingers. She dry-heaved throughout the
process.

In the
other room, she could hear Emmana turning on the TV. They only received a few
channels, and it didn’t sound like anything that Anan wanted to watch, so she
resigned herself to finishing the dishes.

After she
had cleared out the sink, she looked at the bottom of it. Mold and old food
were plastered to the bottom of the sink, and with disgust in her chest, she
picked up the old lump of steel wool that would do the scraping and cleaning.
She leaned over the edge of the sink, grinding away with the steel wool, her
shirt getting wet in the process.

Her mind
wandered as she scrubbed, thinking of better times and better places. She
remembered her father, his brown skin and the way he would always smile with
his missing teeth. She missed him. Anan spent most of her daydreaming minutes
fantasizing about her dad walking through the door. She would run to him, leap
into the air, and he would catch her in one smooth motion and hug her tight in
his arms. But she knew that wasn’t going to happen. She knew that people just
didn’t come back from being dead, and if they did, well, it wouldn’t be anything
that she would want to hug.

She shook
the water off of the bowl that she had just cleaned and placed it on the
counter to drip dry. She grabbed an old pot, covered in radioactive orange
filth. What was this? Oh yeah, her mom had made macaroni and cheese last week.
It was good… but this was just nasty. The parts of the pot where water had been
sitting were covered in soggy and cold orange muck.

Anan turned
the water on to get it as hot as possible, but still the stubborn soggy bits
wouldn’t separate from the sides of the pot. It was time for more steel wool.
She held the semi-rusty blob up to the window; bits of food and filth dangled
from the swoops and loops that composed the soggy bundle. She tried not to look
at it too hard, and she began scrubbing the pot.

Her mom had
never told her what had happened to her dad. When she had asked her about it,
her mom had seemed sad and almost embarrassed, then she had told Anan to never
speak of it again. One night, when she was supposed to be sleeping in her room,
Anan had snuck into the hallway to listen to her mom and her new boyfriend
talk. She heard her mom sobbing. She had been talking about Anan’s father, and
she overheard the word "overdosed," but her 7-year-old mind had no
idea what that meant. The man with his arms around his mother held up an object
to her mother’s lips, ran his hand through her hair, and told her that
everything was going to be ok. Then he pulled out a lighter, held it to the
object, and Anan watched from around the corner as her mother blew smoke into
the air, acrid, stinging smoke. Anan didn’t like the smell of it, so she went
back to her bed, wondering what the word “overdose” meant.

From the
other room, Anan heard Emanna yell, “Mama!” Anan dropped the steel wool in the
sink, and she ran to the living room with a smile plastered to her face. Emanna
had finally spoken her first word! She skidded to a stop in the living room as
her mother stood in the doorway of her bedroom, her shirt off and vomit running
down her bare chest. Her eyes were swollen and puffy. A needle hung from her
arm, and her black hair hung down over her face, tangled and speckled with more
bits of vomit.

BOOK: This Rotten World (Book 1)
5.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Faithful by Kim Cash Tate
Dark Obsession by Fredrica Alleyn
Abandoned in Hell : The Fight for Vietnam's Firebase Kate (9780698144262) by Albracht, William; Wolf, Marvin; Galloway, Joseph L. (FRW)
Backwoods by Jill Sorenson
Nothing but Blue Skies by Thomas McGuane
Cougar's Prey (9781101544846) by Sweazy, Larry D.
Crime on My Hands by George Sanders