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Hush - The Venom Series - Book 1

Summary

The virus was first found in a test patient, a volunteer, mutating rapidly.

The mutated virus didn’t take long to turn him into a blood sucking monster.

It started with a simple laboratory test.

Vampires did not exist, right?

Wrong.

They are not the usual romance novel related, stunningly handsome Vampires.

These are the new age Vampires and all they crave is blood … human blood.

Prologue.

He picked up a new test tube and squirted some blood into it and mixed it. The red had changed colour from blue to black, like onyx. Frowning slightly at the reaction of the two solutions, he took out a small amount at squeezed out a tiny blob under the microscope.

He was squinting one eye from behind his laboratory glass mask and studied the cells through the magnifier. “The cells are being attacked by the virus and eaten,” he stated. His voice was recording in the inbuilt mechanism in his laboratory suit, whilst he was watching the red blood cells dying and transforming into darkness.

He moved away for a moment to type something down into the laptop, and then came back to observe what else was occurring. Whatever was happening was horrifying.

The virus was mutating unpredictably fast and his heartbeat was increasing its function. “A strange reaction has occurred to V3 infected blood,” he continued, and twisted the magnifier’s level to increase. He could see the blood cells closer and clearer. “It’s mutating incessantly.” His brown eyebrows furrowed together.

Sighing, he moved away once more and jotted the status of the virus, and then went away to the centre of the room. He moved past the semi clear curtains – which were hung around like a temporary four-walled area – and concernedly, went over to his volunteer.

The male volunteer – who was heavily sedated for the purpose of the test – was named ‘V3’ on the personal file.

The scientist was flipping through the papers on his clipboard. Out the corner of his eye, he caught the V3’s hand move suddenly – like a tiny spasm. That was impossible. “V3 is going through a spasm attack of some sort, despite being heavily sedated. Perhaps this is the work of the mutating virus that is attacking V3’s body internally,” he acknowledged.

He saw the laid body going through more spasms, which were stronger than the last. Making sure to write more down onto the clipboard, he lifted the eyes to check the pupils on the body. “The eyes have altered,” he confirmed what his eyes saw, “The pupils have decreased in size significantly … the cornea is notably losing colour unusually fast.”

Suddenly, an inhuman screech came out of V3’s throat, in anguish. And just as abruptly, his heartbeat ended on the machine and was replaced by a monotonous, yet alert, tenor. The body was not moving any more and was laid limply and soundlessly.

The scientist sighed in defeat. “We have lost V3,” he stated. “Albeit, a new fact has risen; the eyes have changed colour in their whiteness into black, unlike the previous two volunteers, V1 and V2.”

V3’s eyes opened, revealing the corneas as blood red. The eyes swivelled to the right, smelling the humans blood standing next to its undead carcass. The breathing was growing hard and raged, unlike the preceding patients, and shot up from the bed. It screamed hungrily with wide eyes and lunged on the scientist. It opened its mouth wide, revealing sharp teeth – every one of them was fang-like – and bit into the man’s arm.

The scientist was too caught off guard and fell to the ground, pulling the plastic curtains over himself and the mutant. He screamed in pain as his protective lab suit and flesh was ripped away from him.

Blood was splattered on the plastic covers.

“No!” he gasped, realising that his body was weakening. He should have yelled for help, but his tongue was numb and his voice was a mere mumble. His heartbeat was like a giant, echoing drum in his ears as his eyesight dimmed and darkened into nothing.

That day, was his last.

…As a human.

Chapter 01 – Alert And Evacuate.

24 hours later…

Katrina footsteps tapped along the long hallway of the office building as she pulled her long, honey blonde and deep red – dyed in streaks– black hair back into a low pony. She was early this morning, as always, and turned the corner and entered a large room where numerous cubicles and cabins littered efficiently. Gaps and pathways were there for easy access.

Her cubicle was near at the far right of her, where the emergency exits were. The urge to run back outside, to her house, and into her bed was so strong, that she had almost fainted from the lack of sleep.

This was her third day at work in the first week. On the first day her computer had died down and she had to move to another cubicle for the time being. Her first day at work was full of disasters that were accidental. However, today on Wednesday, she refused to believe that her day would eventually spiral down to her clumsiness again. She was indeed very precarious, even though she unloved to believe that little fact about herself.

Things were finally happening for her and she did a little victory dance in her mind. She couldn’t believe that she was in such a wonderful working environment – if you would take out the negatives previously mentioned – and smiled greetings to others as she walked by them. Most of them didn’t even pay her any acknowledgment, but she didn’t let that bother her.

A day ago, someone with acne scars and spots had even passed her a pad of yellow post its. She had thanked him after accepting the unusual gift gingerly.

Snapping out of that memory, Katrina walked right into the busy, and yet coordinated mass of people, and headed towards her place. As soon as she had gotten to her seat she punched a button on the computer and it came alive. While waiting, she turned to her right and waved at her friendly co-worker. “Morning!” she greeted contentedly.

Her newly made friend was busy talking on the phone when she turned around, waved silently and pointed to the phone, and then went back to scribbled something down.

Katrina was tapping on the keyboard fast and professionally. There were times when she wouldn’t even make a mistake when she would glance away at something for a moment. She looked back at the screen as it took her to a new – error – window on the internet. “Stupid net, think you’re so smart!” she snapped allowed without thinking.

“Talking to yourself again?” her friend, Fleur asked with the underdone of sarcasm. Her first language was French from her mother’s side whilst her father was British, and she had a slight accent if one paid more attention.

Katrina’s index finger tapped the ‘Esc’ button repeatedly, but then … the computer died down and crashed. “No!” She screamed dramatically. Her hands were on her mouth and her eyes wide in disbelief.

Fleur’s light brown eyes glanced at her. She tutted pitifully, resting her heart shaped cheek in her left hand. “Twice in your first week at work,” she observed.

Katrina gave her a look that told Fleur to stay silent and then turned her attention back to the screen. It was just blank. Nothing was happening! “I hate my job,” she whined involuntarily, and slunk back against in her seat. An angry huff escaped her lips and she crossed her arms in front of her chest.

“It’s not that bad. At least you have one,” Fleur sighed, “My brother is still on Job-Seeker’s allowance because he cannot find a proper job.”

Katrina looked guiltily at Fleur. “You’re right, I should be lucky,” she agreed understandingly. “And don’t worry,” she paused to smile, assuring her poignant friend, “he’ll find one soon.”

Fleur thanked her with a smile, and she was about to add something to that when, suddenly, the alarm went off in the whole building and red lights flashed in distress. “Uh-oh, what is happening?” she asked, her eyes furrowing together worriedly. She stood up and looked around.

“I don’t like the sound of that…” Katrina said just as slowly as she was standing up. Her eyes made contact with Fleur.

There was uproar from outside from the open doorway, and as people started to run past in the corridor, more worry and apprehension grew in the atmosphere.

“What’s going on?” Fleur wondered, straining her neck to see ahead. But people were getting up with their belongings and moving in front of her sight. She brushed her dark, medium length, brown hair behind her back and pushed her spectacles up her nose bridge.

As if on cue, their Boss briskly walked out of his cabin. He was in his mid forties and wearing his usual grey suit and tie.But today his tie was slack, with the top two buttons of his white shirt loosened, which was highly unlike him. His graying hair was looking like he had been running his hand through it all morning. “Everybody!” he announced, getting everyone’s utmost attention, “We have been authorized to get out as soon as possible! We are no longer safe! Go home to your families!”

People started to shout questions.

He held up his hands to silence them. “There is no time to explain!” he reasoned, growing anxious by each passing second. “Go home and be safe!” And with that, he turned around and ran out.

Everyone did as they were told.

Katrina ran over to the windows that were running along to her left. Her eyes nearly bulged out of their eye sockets from the sight. Everybody was running this way and that, trying to get home, and something else was happening too. “Oh, dear Lord…” she whispered.

Everywhere … people were dying; some already dead from the looks of it. Others were biting into flesh…

The ‘Others’ were disgusting mutated people, hungry for blood.

She pulled herself away as she felt bile rise up her throat and covered her mouth with her right hand.

Fleur watched wide-eyed, who suddenly appeared next to her. She was just as shocked and scared as Katrina was.

Katrina closed her eyes and taking a huge gulp of air. But when she opened her eyes – expecting to awake from this nightmare – everything was as it before she had closed her eyes shut again. “Shit!” she yelled, her eyes tearing. “Let’s get out of here!” That was the only thing that made sense to her at the moment, as it did for everyone else.

Fleur closely followed her outside and into the hallway where they mixed in with more people. She grabbed her friend’s hand and pulled her out the emergency exits and down the countless stairs. Hundreds of others were already descending the same stairs. The automatic lifts were too cramped and slow – seemingly – to get down to the ground floor. As soon as both girls stepped down to the last step and went through another emergency exit, they’d reached the ground floor.

Katrina turned to Fleur and blinked back tears, as Fleur, too, turned back to say something. They both nodded at each other and then gave each other a quick hug before breaking it.

“Can I please stay with you?” Fleur asked. Her eyes were pleading silently.

“Of course you can,” she nodded vigorously, “You can stay with me until this whole this dies down. It has to! C’mon!” And with that, they both exited the swiveling doors.

As soon as they’d met the outside world and into the parking lot, they halted in their steps. There were people running everywhere, running away from the blood-suckers.

“Oh, God,” Katrina gasped. “Quickly, let’s get in my car!” She got in her driver’s seat and started the engine after Fleur had got in the passenger’s seat. Katrina started to take deep breaths and tried to calm down and be in control of the situation and try to make sense.

“What is the matter with you?!” Fleur cried, clicking her belt to fasten. “Please, hurry up and start the car!”

Katrina opened her eyes and fastened her side of the belt, too. Before she could do anything else, something collided with the driver’s side of the window. Both girls screamed when they saw two, bright red eyes and fangs protruding from someone’s mouth, who seemed to be in a rage as well as pain. She removed the breaks and reversed the car with a loud squeal. She then made hasty U-turn, changed gears, and sped forward. Katrina gasped in fear as she took the car away from the mess, but only met with another. The same thing seemed to be happening everywhere.

“What are we going to do?” Fleur whimpered. She was biting her nails nervously.

“First of all, we get to my house,” Katrina helpfully stated, “Then we contact our families. Get together with them and we stick together!” She nodded for assurance and looked at her friend. “Sound good?” she asked, looking at her friend for a second.

“Better than what I was thinking,” Fleur confessed.

And then what are we supposed to do? Katrina thought frantically, as her dark eyes looked ahead. Just sit tight until help arrives? What if nobody comes?

Chapter 02 – V3 Has Escaped.

24 hours before…

Fiona was also a scientist who had entered the laboratory, without any knowledge of what had happened to the researcher before her appearance. She was walking silently whilst keeping her steady gaze on the thick black file in her hands, which was A4 with about two hundred pages. All the experiments that had gone on within the past five years had been documented. This wasn’t the only document either – there was several more stacked away carefully.

She had also worn the same dress code as her co-worker and scientist researcher; all white and covered completely from head to toe. Her hazel eyes flickered from one page to another from behind the glass plating. She pressed a button – that was just under her left collarbone – and was greeted by a small but audible beep. A blue light illuminated the square button around the all sides, signaling that it was ready to be used. It was in fact a voice recorder, which had been given to her to work with.

Taking a turn in the huge, white room, she set the large file on the table where all the studying was done. More books and laptops and computers were stationed around this area. The only items that were colourful were the books and an odd hued laptop in blue. Heaving a sigh of relief that she had reached her workplace in time, she was just about to turn away, when a horrible stench caught her senses. Her nose scrunched up. As she followed the decayed stink she almost gagged from it, but forced herself to keep going.

“Sir?” Fiona called anxiously, trying to get a reply. “Sir, I have brought the file that you asked for this morning,” she explained, walking along after turning around a corner. There, she met the bloody scene that was causing the horrible smell. Her steps halted in horror.

On the ground lay her senior scientist researcher, half covered in the plastic sheet, which the third volunteer should have been walled around with. One side of the Professor’s face was bare, the left side, and the other side was bloody underneath the transparent sheet. Blood pooled from underneath it.

“Oh, no!” she cried out after a deadly pause. Her eyes widened in fear and disbelief. She covered her mouth with her hands.

Suddenly, confusion took over her and she frowned slightly. The table that should have been contained with V3 was empty. Where is the volunteer?! she thought, alert at once. She turned to her right and left, everywhere that she could manage to see. A blurry movement caught her peripheral vision of her right eye, just behind the white and tall filing cabinets. She swiftly looked there and waited, unsure at first, until she took her first step towards that area. “There seems to be … someone, or something else in hear,” she muttered, recording her voice continuously.

Suddenly, a hurtful groan came from behind her and she swiftly turned around to her the … previously assumed dead, man moving. She quickly moved to kneel down to his side. “A – Are you alright?” she asked. “I thought you were dead! You’re hurt! Where are you hurt, Sir? Should I get the…?” Her words trailed off as she observed the injured man cough up blood.

His eyes were closed as an angry and painful scream – which sounded strangely inhuman – echo throughout the room. The man’s body started convulsing and twitching violently. Shortly after, his movements stopped suddenly after coughing up more blood.

Fiona had moved back, away from the flailing scientist on the ground. “The Professor is going through – b – but he was dead … he was …” she said observantly, trying to understand what was happening in front of her.

Suddenly, the bloody mess stopped and nothing moved for the longest moment. It was only half a minute in actuality.

She got up the courage and moved, walking towards the unmoving man on the ground. Her eyesight caught an almost unperceivable twitch on his mouth. The glass on his helmet was crashed, she noticed, and was replaced by dangerous edges. Her breath was coming out in short and shallow gasps, her eyes wide in apprehension, and leaned down slightly. She saw ripped parts of flesh and bites where the protective garment should have been on him.

Something moved again, a blur, from her peripheral vision and she whipped her head around to see it. This time, however, she did see something move, but it was too fast for her to pin down on. It moved so speedily to her right, and then behind her, that it unnerved her to no end.

It was sizing her up.

She grabbed a metal rod – that the plastic was being held up with previously – and held it in her hands. It’s another infected, a Blood-Sucker, she thought knowingly. But when had they inherited so much speed?! This is interesting, very interesting. If only I can contain it!

It buzzed by her left. She quickly turned around, only to see nothing. It repeatedly continued down so until she swung her weapon in the air, earning a ‘whooshing’ sound. She had hit nothing each time she had tried to get the infected.

Suddenly, the glass door crashed and she saw that the Blood-Sucker had thrown himself through it. Then … he escaped.

“V3 has escaped,” she said anxiously. There is only one thing to do now… she thought, and was about add to that, when she heard more groaning to her left. She saw that the Professor was shifting again. She readied her weapon and tried not to tremble, but she couldn’t help it. This was her boss. Or more like had been. Now he was only a mutant … a blood-thirsty creature of the dead. The Undead. She almost laughed out loud from the hysteria building up inside her.

The zombie like creature opened his eyes and pushed its torso until it was sitting. The eyes were gleaming red and bloody at the same time. It looked demonic as the mouth opened up revealing sharpened, fang-like teeth. Then, it started to stand up but struggled since it was so weak. But the eyes were so alive, like fire blazing in a volcano. So much hunger was inside the eyes.

Fiona took this moment to whack the metal rod into the back of the Blood-Suckers skull. The creature fell onto his stomach as it was trying to get up again. It reached for her ankle. Screaming in fear, she recoiled, and hit him again repeatedly until the skull crashed. She had lost count on how many times she had hit and stopped abruptly, after seeing that it was no longer moving again.

All she could hear now was her own ragged breathing. “Now he is dead. I killed him. I had to. He was infected.” Wiping the sweat from her forehead, she threw the metal on the ground with a loud ’clang.’ Tears of fear and frustration trailed their way down her cheeks as she fled the lab.

Everything felt strange to her now, as if she was in a strange state of shock and yet her brain was working enough to get herself out. The infected had escaped only to infect and turn more. Her steps halted before the broken glass of the door to turn around to look around for the last time. The bloody mess was still on the floor, dead and gone, for good.

She turned back around and stepped over and past the broken shards of glass, through the jagged glass of the door, and on to the other side. There was more blood splattered against the floor and walls, leading all the way down the corridor. She had to inform the authorities. She had to tell them what had happened as soon as possible.

Her hand hit the squared mechanism on her chest and it beeped again. “To Headquarters,” she announced, forcing her voice to stay steady, “The Research Lab has been infected and can no longer be used. V3, the infected, has escaped also after infecting and turning the Professor in process. On its way out of the lab it has probably bit many, many others – the blood testifies it.” She set her lips in a firm line as she observed the dead bodies littered.

Soon there were faraway screams.

“Get me airborne, now!” she ordered, her eyes were begging though. “I am no longer safe, nobody is. I need help at once!”

“Get to the top floor – the roof – and wait,” someone replied finally. “Help will arrive in five minutes.”

“That may be too late,” she stated. As she reached the end of the corridor, she was met with glossy, red stairs. Almost every inch of the surface was spilling with warm blood as victims that were laid over the stairs. She changed her course and hurried past the stairs and went through the emergency exit. She ascended the tripled amount of staircases and had finally reached the top exit door. Walking through it, she was met with the chilling, morning air.

“I’m here,” she announced, thankfully breathing in the clean air, and shut the door after her.

The sky was cloudy and grey with plenty of clouds congregating together to blast their tears upon the earth, like a massive water fountain. There was a god chance that it was going to rain anytime soon.

“Sit tight,” the voice advised. “Stay in touch.”

“No problem,” she replied.

Suddenly, the door started moving from the other side. There were noises. Hisses and groans. At first she had thought that there were people on the other side, but as she started to listen more clearly, she realised that they were no longer human. They were infected also and were turning and, as one would begin to turn, their hunger would grow along to the point that in would be in controllable. She should know.

A similar thing had happened with V1 and V2…

“Ah, you better send them as soon as possible,” she gasped, stepping backwards whilst facing the door. It was being banged on by the infected from the other side. “Otherwise you won’t find me as the same Fiona Rai Anderson again.”

Chapter 03 – The Outbreak.

(Back To The Present Time...)

Katrina could feel the heartbeat pumping frantically against her chest. She was afraid it might burst out of her ribcage if she didn’t calm down her haggard breathing. Looking around, everything seemed to be as if in a dream – she felt as if she was looking at herself from the outside, if possible. “I may be in shock…” she whispered, slightly breathless.

“Take long, deep breaths!” Fleur said apprehensively, “And for God’s sake, please don’t faint!”

So Katrina focused on taking deep, careful breaths and let them out slowly as she continued to drive. She changed gears and drove down to the street that her house was sitting on, waiting, and welcoming from afar.

She was driving now at a steady speed as she studied the area. Chaos was nowhere to be found here. Everything looked normal as did the people in her neighborhood were, as if nothing horrible had happened. The flawlessly cut hedges around the front gardens were sitting perfectly, guarding the colourful plants in their soils. Nothing appeared wrong. The trees were almost still. It was cloudy and the sun was hidden behind the darkening clouds; the quiet before the storm.

People were walking and talking and going with their business. Some toddlers were playing on the small lawn outside of their house, their mother laughing with them, and their dog was happily tagging along with a wagging tail. An old couple were sitting on their usually occupied places and watching the world go by, munching on biscuits and sipping their cups of tea. Nobody seemed to know what was going on.

Perhaps it wasn’t happening here, Katrina thought, her body flooding with relief. Maybe the authorities will stop whatever was happening at work, soon.

Fleur started to sob and her shoulders shook.

“Fleur! Fleur!” Katrina urged, “We’re here! Let’s get out!” Why weren’t the people over here doing something? she asked herself, looking through the window screen.

Fleur snapped out. “What?” she cried fearfully.

“Let’s go!” Katrina urged again and got out of her car.

Fleur, still crying quietly, did as she was told and followed her friend outside, but not without earning several curious glances. She closed the car door after her and stood next to Katrina. “We are safe here, right?” she whispered, scared. She had her hands clasped together near her chest and kept fidgeting with her wavy hair. She sniffled loudly.

“Sure,” Katrina nodded, but she couldn’t trust her own answer.

Fleur looked around at the people. “What is wrong with them?” she cried, “Everything feels too normal what went on at work."

Katrina locked the car with a click on her keychain and the car beeped. “I was thinking the exact same thing,” she responded uncertainly. She turned to Fleur and asked her to come inside her house. They both needed to calm down and figure things out.

Her house was a semi detached house, like the rest of them. She gestured her friend to follow and waved nervously at her neighbours, who were calling her to come over sometime, but she wasn’t in any condition to even consider that yet and pretended not to hear.

They walked past the metal gate that clanged against the wall and crossed to the front door hastily. Katrina’s eyes darted to her left and right while her right hands pushed into her bag for the house keys.

“P – Perhaps I had imagined it all?” Fleur asked herself with a small, hopeful yet in denial, smile. She was getting hysterical.

Katrina fished around of those keys impatiently. “That’s some imagination you have there,” she said replied. “I wish I could have imagined it all as well – and now I’m talking to myself! I never talk to myself!”

“Actually, you do,” Fleur came to stand neared the door, and checked behind her. Her eyes were a bit dazed.

Katrina just shook her head and was about to turn her bag upside down, when she finally found the house keys. She promptly unlocked the door, ushered her friend inside, let herself in as well, and then finally relocked the door. She checked the peephole on the door to make sure they were alone. It showed the outside world all curvy with nothing at their tails. “Thank God, we’re safe,” she breathed.

Fleur walked inside to their left, where the living room was and curled up on the huge sofa. She moved back and leant against it and hugged her knees to her chest, still sniffling as a new stage of waterfalls pursued.

“Let it out,” Katrina advised, and sat opposite her on the carpet. She lighted the electric fireplace and the illusionary fire lighted up instantly. Her toes were cold as were her hands. She was in shock as was Fleur. “L - Let’s call our families and friends to make sure they are safe. Alright?” she instructed, watching her friend.

Fleur opened her eyes and wiped them with the back of her hands, nodding vigorously. She quickly grabbed the phone out of her coat pocket and dialed a number. “Perhaps they are alright, too,” she nodded again hopefully.

Katrina did the same and called her mother and father, who had gone to visit their friends in Plymouth for a week at least. They went only two days ago. She waited while she waited, and turned to see where Fleur had gone. “Fleur?” she called, getting worried instantly.

“Here…” she answered in a tiny voice. She had hid herself between a small place that was automatically made, between and underneath the armrests of to sofas, and poked her head outside. And then she went back in after shortly.

How the hell did she fit in there? Katrina asked herself, and focused back to the person speaking on the other side of the line. “Hello, mum?” she gasped thankfully, and sat near one of the armrests that Fleur was hiding under. She could hear the girl’s trembling mumbles.

“Sweetie, how are you?” her mother greeted happily. “How is your first day at work so far?”

Katrina closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Mum, please don’t freak out…”

“Why would I freak out?” her mother scolded. “I – oh, no, no, no! No parties in the house, your dad and I were strongly firm about that,” her mother scolded.

If this had been a day like any other she would have had laughed, but today even that was like torture. “No, it’s nothing like that,” she explained. She stood up to check through the netted curtain on the window. Everyone was back inside their homes, nobody was out there anymore. She frowned.

“Katrina … you sound worried. What is it?” her mother asked, finally catching on.

She turned around and her back faced the window. “Mum, there’s something happening, something bad and … and … j – just horrific. Oh, mum, I’m so scared!” She confessed and blinked back the hot tears. “At work … it was going very well until our boss ran into our working area and … he ordered us to go home at once. T – Then I looked out the window and-!” She felt like throwing up and ran out the room, up the flight of stairs and burst into the bathroom.

“Katrina, what is happening?!” Fleur cried, running up behind her with her cheeks stained with brown mascara.

Katrina fell onto her knees and threw up her breakfast into the toilet boil. When she was sure she was done, she wiped her mouth after washing it thoroughly. Then she brought the phone back up to her right ear to hear her mother’s anxious words. “It’s alright Fleur, you can go, thanks,” she said, and saw her friend go out.

“I am beside myself. Why are you throwing up?!” her mother demanded. “Are you ill?! What’s wrong, hunny? Tell me!”

“Mum! People are turning into these … these bloody … things!” Katrina blurted out, not knowing how else to explain it all. She ran a hand roughly through her hair, flushed the toilet to sit on it lidded. “I saw them from the window and they looked too scary mum! They were literally biting into people’s flesh! The blood was everywhere.”

“Have you been taking drugs?!” her mother demanded once more. “How could you do this to us, to me and your father?”

“Not drugs mum,” Katrina sighed sadly. How could she have expected her mother to understand such an unbelievable story? “Whatever I’ve explained to you … it’s real, mum, and I’ve called you to tell you and dad–” She stopped suddenly to take a fresh breath of oxygen. “They are monsters mum. This is honestly happening. Come home!”

There was a pause. “At least you’re not on drugs,” her mother sighed.

“Of course I’m not. Just come home, please mum! We all need to be together!”

“Sweetie,” her mother laughed, as if there was nothing to fret about, and continued, “We told you to stay with the neighbours while we would away. You can still go there if you feel insecure on your own. You don’t have to make up a story like that. We will be back on the 28th, alright?” She wasn’t listening at all.

“Mum, no, please listen to me because this is very important!” Katrina tried her best to get her attention.

“Don’t worry so much. We already explained to the neighbours. They were very understanding, and you already know how kind they are.” Her mother seemed to be driving somewhere. “Alright, sweetie, we’ll talk later. Just popping over to the mall, so, I’ll talk to you in a bit, OK?”

“Mum…” Katrina cried. The line was cut. She redialed but her mother wasn’t picking it up. So she tried her father’s phone but could only leave a voice message. After telling him to come home with her mother, she flipped her phone shut. She decided to go back downstairs and cried out when someone bumped into her.

“Sorry!” Fleur cried, her phone clutched to her chest protested. “I needed the toilet!” she insisted. She had been about to walk into the bathroom and bumped into Katrina instead.

“Oh, God,” Katrina sighed with her hand in her forehead and walked out. She walked into her bedroom, lay down on the flowery duvet and closed her eyes as sleep lulled her to sleep.

The next minute – that was how long she felt she had been asleep, when in reality it was more than a few hours – somebody’s hand was shaking her. Her eyes opened groggily because she still wanted to fall into her deep slumber. Of course, it had been Fleur shaking her awake. “What?” she moaned, annoyed by the inconvenience. She turned onto her side and attempted to go back to sleep, forgetting what had gone on this day.

“Wake up, Katrina!” Fleur whispered and shook her friend awake. “It’s finally on the news and it’s happening all over the U.K! We are going to turn into those vampire-zombie-blood-sucking-demons and die!”

Chapter 04 – Like A Cocoon.

At once, Katrina sat up. Everything came flooding back to her, like an ocean’s wave crashing over a tranquil beach. “Oh,” she muttered in sheer disappointment. She followed her friend downstairs where the news reporter was informing everyone to pay careful attention.

“See? You see?! I’m not crazy! This wasn’t my imagination,” Fleur was blabbering hysterically, and pointing at the television. She inched backwards to sit on the sofa and hiccuped.

“It’s alright, they’ll send someone to help,” Katrina assured her friend, took a place next to her and put an arm around her. “Shush, shush … don’t worry. You see that? We have to seek the nearest authority. Like the Police … yeah… we have to tell somebody.”

There were screams and crashing sounds coming from the outside now, and they both jumped, glaring at the window. They couldn’t see anything properly because the semi transparent netted curtain was covering the window – and the hedges weren’t low enough – and the sky had gotten darker outside.

Their attention was brought back to the television and they listened intently. The female news anchor continued to read out from the teleprompter. “And the Government is doing their best to see this problem. An important announced will be made by the…”

Fleur cried out loud at how close the crash was from the outside. “What is going on out there?!” she screamed and ran to see. She opened the door and disappeared outside.

Katrina was breathing faster now and she tried to calm her nerves once more, and try to hear what the news reporter was trying to say, but the screams and roaring erupted. She got up and hurried outside to see where Fleur had gone off to.

Fleur was standing outside of the gate and on the footpath, opening her mouth to scream but only a croak escaped. She pointed up ahead the path, soundlessly fell to her knees and started to wheeze. Her breathing steadied after inhaling from her inhaler.

Wide eyed, Katrina rushed to her side and knelt on her heels to help her friend up. “Oh, my goodness, are you alright?!” she asked with strong apprehension. She brushed her poor friend’s dark brown hair away from her face and helped her up. She was about to guide her back into the house when she saw blood.

A blue car had crashed into a public bus, or it might have been the other way around. But what mostly caught her attention was what was going on inside the bus. Blood was being splattered everywhere. People were fighting for their lives as their flesh was being ripped from their limbs.

Nausea bumbled up inside her and she turned her gaze away, only to have it back there again. She felt like screaming for help but someone had already called up for help. A far away cry of a siren came into focus when the car turned around the corner, driving at top speed onto their street. A sense of relief spread through her.

Fleur couldn’t take her eyes away from the bloody spectacle in front of her, in front of both of them. “E – Even t – the children,” she groaned, and she dry heaved. She leant over and threw up on the road. “Even the ch – children, Katrina!” she cried and stood up, ready to run after the screaming people and towards the screaming monsters.

Katrina pulled her back into the front garden and locked the gate. “Stay inside!” she told her friend.

“Those bastard people are killing the kids as well as everyone else!” she gasped in between sobs. She sat on the ground. “I saw one of them do it! It was a … a … one of those bloody mutants we saw at work this morning. He … she … the bastard took the kid and bit his arm! S - Sucking out the b – b – blood!” She was shrieking by now and was quickly growing out of breath again.

Katrina checked the time on her watch and it told her that it was almost five o’clock in the afternoon. It was winter after all, so the days were shorter and darker.

Suddenly, a strong blur whooshed by, startling her and she whipped her head to see what it was. Just then the Police car screeched to a halt and two Policemen climbed out. The female Police authority was talking into her radio before she hurried over to Katrina, and the other male Policeman ran over to help the others.

“Ladies, are either of you injured?” the woman demanded, scrutinising them carefully. “Have you been scratched anywhere? Have the infected touched you?!”

“No, neither of us has been in contact with them,” Katrina answered desperately, “What’s going on? Why is this happening? We don’t understand.”

“We have everything under control, Miss.”

“Some control,” Katrina heard Fleur mutter under her breath mordantly.
“Stay inside. Keep all windows and door locked at all times until further notice. Understand?” She ordered and rushed to join the other Policeman.

Katrina opened the gate again and watched the ambulances arrive, but what happened next made her sick to her stomach. The police officers were being attacked instead; blood bubbled out from their wounds and screams echoed. Was that how the infection was spreading? Something clicked in her head. This was like some sort of contagious virus.

She caught a movement to her left and saw more raging howls and hissing sounds from behind her. A large throng of those mutant blood-suckers were running closing in on them. She needed to get back inside. No matter how much she wanted to help the victims, her instincts told her to go inside the house. She was too weak to help anyone but herself and Fleur. There were too many raging lunatics that used to be humans also, whom had turned hysterical. Indeed, this was a nightmare that nobody wanted to be a part of, but some handled it by losing a few screws.

She had rushed herself and her hysterical friend inside the house, just in time to see the grotesque figures of the blood-sucking creatures run past her house from the spy-hole. She locked the door quickly, then she went to the back of the house and made sure all the windows and the backdoor – as well as the door on the backyard – was locked. She went back in the rechecked the windows of the living-room.

Fleur was back inside the little gap between the two arms of the sofas, like a butterfly inside her protective cocoon. “Turn off the lights!” she cried, “For crying out loud, just turn off the lights!”

“What will that accomplish?” Katrina asked desperately, not understanding the request.

She checked the window and saw that the ‘infected’ – like the policewoman had addressed the blood-suckers – had climbed on top of the ambulance. They were banging and punching all around it until they got what they wanted, which were the people inside the van. She knew this because at first, there were sounds of glass shattering that soon followed by agonizing cries of pain. Horrible gurgling could be heard and more blood was soon spilt without a doubt.

The news reporter was still talking on the television. “…They have seemed to have adapted to the night. Their system somehow has turned nocturnal, like the owls,” the woman urged firmly.

Katrina promptly turned off the lights and closed the curtains after she caught a slightly shuffle and bump on the front door from the outside. Her eyes widened in fear and made eye contact with her hiding friend.

Fleur moved out halfway and whispered for her to hide at once. But Katrina was too curious. “What if it’s someone who needs help?” she mouthed back.

“No, come back,” her friend whispered back desperately. “It’s one of those things!”

Katrina laid her index on her lips and tiptoed to look through the eyehole. She saw one of them breathing heavily just outside her window. “Shit,” she said inaudibly. Fear overwhelmed her to the point that her blood ran cold.

It grinned as if it had seen her; nevertheless, it had most likely smelt her human scent. Its sharp fang-like teeth were shining with blood. Its eyes were bleeding and red, like burning fire. Or the roundness of the eyes could have been emphasised because of the distorted vision through the tiny glass. More blood ran down its eyes as tears would.

She could hear a rattling noise and realised that it was the doorknob. Soon the thing behind the door started to attack the door and the wooden door trembled against the hits. She stumbled back as the door started to crack, making the peephole shake and start to loosen from the hold from the fault. Her breaths became ragged and shallow despite her tries to be as unnoticeable as she could manage.

“Katrina, where are you?” Fleur called frantically from the living-room.

“Shh! They’re here!” Katrina warned in a harsh whisper. “Stay quiet.” She stood still as the peephole finally shook one last time and fell onto the floor, and as if in slow-motion, bounced a couple of times on the carpet.

She took hesitant steps towards the door when she couldn’t hear or see anything. As she got closer and closer to the now empty space of the whole in the door and waited. When nothing happened and was going to move back, the hole was replaced by the eye of the creature that was trying to break down the door again. It grew angrier in rage as it watched its prey. More and more howls and hisses mingled with the banging.

“They found us!” Fleur cried from her place. “Oh, God, they’re here!”

A bloody grayish-white hand crashed through the cracked, wooden door and caused her to scream in trepidation and adrenaline. She watched in horror as the door steadily become weaker and weaker in protection. Every hit, every crack, and every splinter was a realization to her; how could she save herself and her friend? There were too many of them.

Chapter 05 – Hell On Earth.

Katrina stumbled backwards until she had fallen against the stairs behind her. She couldn’t stop looking at the raging creatures that were clawing at her, as if her eyes were bonded to them. The door continued to shake from the other side and the small group of blood-suckers’ groans were attracting more of their kind.

There was a loud crash from the living-room and she heard Fleur shriek in fear. That snapped her out of the horror filled trance. So she forced her backside off from the stairs and dashed into the room. She halted in her tracks.

The window was broken; shards glinted dangerously on the carpet as the blood-suckers were trying to force themselves through all at once. It looked as if there was a massive television screen had broken to pieces and monsters from a horror movie were trying to climb out, a perfect nightmare to the human eye. They struggled to get in since there were simply too many trapped between the frame.

She saw Fleur cowering inside the little fort she had made up for herself with the sofas. Running over to her friend she pulled her out and told her to run to the back of the house. She was about to follow, when one of the infected pounced on her from behind.

“Katrina!” Fleur screamed from the door of the kitchen, and was about to double back.

“Go out the back Fleur!” she screamed to her friend, struggling to free herself. “Hurry!” she cried, making her hesitant friend to go through with it. When Fleur had gone, Katrina thought she was going to die and turn into these infected creatures as well. Hope was leaving her but her eyes caught something, making her hope and adrenaline soar.

“Urghhhh!” the blood-sucker gargled in the back of his throat, trying to bite her arm, shoulder, neck, anything!

She took this chance to grab a shattered piece of glass and wasted no more time slashing the blood-sucker’s throat. More creatures fell through the broken window as she continued her fight it off as she got up on her feet. Her heartbeat thudded against her chest in alarm and she turned on her heel and ran, only looking once over her shoulder to see if the one she had wounded was dead. It was getting back up again.

There was blood on her clothes and she knew it wasn’t hers; it belonged to the blood-sucker. She had to change into washed and clean clothes. What if the blood could infect her as well? This made her blood run cold.

As soon as she had ran into the kitchen she closed the door and jammed it with a chair, tilting the back against the door with a chair under the handle. This still wasn’t going t last, but she needed to stall them for however long she could afford to.

She saw that the back door was open that lead to the backyard – with the yard door was open as well – and she assumed that Fleur had probably run off. But she was corrected when she saw Fleur step into view in the back-street, gesturing at her to hurry up with tears running down her face.

“Hurry!” Fleur whispered loudly enough, and looked to her left and right. “Oh, God, they’re everywhere!”

Relief overwhelmed Katrina and she ran outside and into the back-street, where it was amazingly, quite empty. She turned around and closed the yard’s door just when they heard the kitchen door open with a bang. “I think they’ve all congregated at my house by hearing the chaos,” she guessed. It certainly made sense.

“Like flippin’ honey-bees?!” Fleur screamed fearfully.

“Summat like that,” Katrina shouted back. They both ran to the end of the back-street, where it sounded quieter. Checking over her shoulder and if they were clear, they turned the corner, and chose a random backyard to hide until they could move again safely.

After checking nearly halfway down the backstreet of stranger’s houses, Fleur found one that actually had a tough enough looking backdoor and it was open, to their relief, and it seemed safe. They couldn’t afford to be seen by those blood-suckers.

Fleur went in first and ducked into the little shed that had other random tools, things that weren’t needed for an everyday rule, and closed the door after Katrina had followed inside. There was a small window that could look outside but it was a mirror from the outside. It was helping. They both got the chance to catch their breath.

Katrina observed the interior; it had an old mattress, which had already took three quarters of the room and sat down on it. It didn’t creek but it was as cold as an ice berg and made her shiver, but she needed to rest. As did Fleur, who followed her did the same and hugged her knees to her chest.

Tears were running down Fleur’s face. It looked like she was about to say something before she just as quickly, she’d clamped her mouth shut. Her eyes rolled to where the window was and her chin trembled in whimpers. She quickly moved backwards on the bed until she reached the dark corner. It was already dark and glum outside but the moonlight was shining through, which had lit some of the box they were hid within.

Katrina realised that there was something happening outside. Her breath was releasing in short and shallow gasps as her cheeks were shining with warm tears. She cautiously stood up until her sight came to focus on the hell on earth on the other side and stumbled back suddenly, almost falling backwards and she caught herself. What she saw made the bile threat to pour out of her mouth. She covered her mouth and watched a blood-sucker looking at her.

No, it wasn’t staring at her … it was staring at itself. Its eyes were red and the pupils diluted almost all the way – and they didn’t blink even once – and there was blood leaking from them. Some had even dried as more bubbled up from their sockets, like water boiling in a pan. The skin was ghostly white and pale, like a Vampire. There were blotches of some dried and some fresh blood along with bruises.

Katrina’s breathing accelerated more and she thought that it could hear her. “Oh, God,” she gasped in a whisper. Her eyes were wider than they ever could be and watery underneath the tears in the night sky. She could see the blood-sucker’s reflection mimicking itself in its eyes.

“Katrina, move away!” Fleur whispered strictly, hiding her face from the living nightmare.

“Hush … don’t m – make-ah,” Katrina gasped in a quiet whisper, “sound…”

The infected coughed out more blood and let it spill over his bottom lips. It screamed in agony and rage into the sky.

Katrina squeezed her eyes shut and forced herself not to make a squeak of noise. When she opened her eyes the thing was gone. Just to make sure it was really gone; she didn’t even let herself take that shaky breath she was dying to inhale without her mouth being clamped.

The sixty seconds lasted like sixty hours before her tears blurred her vision. She took that excuse to remove her hands and turn around shakily to face Fleur. The poor girl looked like she was going through torture. “It’s gone,” she whispered almost inaudibly, “For now…” Although her heartbeat was still beating unbelievably fast, she sensed a little relief flowing back into her veins.

“We need to stay hidden, that way they won’t know where we are,” Fleur whispered, pulling the old – but clean enough – blanket over and up to her neck. There was a duvet there as well left for Katrina.

“Yes,” Katrina nodded her head. She began to search around for something to make sure the door couldn’t open from the outside. Finally, feeling around on the floor, her hands picked up something that resembled a scarf but it wasn’t made of wool. Then she started wounded it around the handle and a – conveniently – sturdy looking nail sticking out halfway in the doorframe. She wrapped the dusty cloth in criss-crossing loops, like a number eight, and tied it as tight as her strength would.

“Good idea,” she heard Fleur hushed voice float from behind her. “We’ll be safe here … we’ll be safe here … we’ll be safe here” It was like a mantra that she as making herself get used to.

Katrina took a place next to her friend and coworker, resting her back against the wooden wall. She closed her eyes, trying to calm her nerves. Nothing was making sense to her, except … survival.

Ten minutes had probably gone by until Fleur broke the ringing silence with a watery sniffle. She wiped her nose on a random old cloth she had found and blew her nose, trying to be as subtle as possible.

“Go to sleep, Fleur,” Katina advised, “We need the energy. Something tells me…” She paused to look at the dark sky that was littered with tiny candles, “that we’ll need it more than we might think. Sleep.”

Fleur did as she was told and thankfully closed her eyes, finally letting her guard down to go to sleep. She was exhausted, mentally and physically, as was Katrina. Her head was leant again the wall to her right in the corner and slept.

Katrina however couldn’t go to sleep. She also feared the dark, which didn’t make it easy for now at all. It was just like a phobia, not to the extreme, but still fearful enough that she couldn’t sit in comfortably in darkness let alone go to sleep. Something that made gave her at least an iota of comfort was that there the little light being relieved from the stars and the streetlamp from the other side of the wall.

A loud screech like hiss came from somewhere – it wasn’t that near, nevertheless, it was scary – and echoed in the atmosphere, making Katrina tremble in trepidation. She was so desperate to call out for help and at the same time knew that she couldn’t give herself and her friend away.

The terror and the expectancy of the door to break down, by the things outside, had been getting the better of her. Albeit the dreamland had tried to overcome her many times before she stubbornly forced herself to stay conscious. Unfortunately, she fell asleep just before the sun started to rise from its slumber.

Chapter 06 – The First Kill.

Her eyes opened with a start and met with the sun-rays shining from the small glass window of the shed. She had been dreaming about the nightmare she was going through in real life. Her breaths came out in short gasps and fast through her parted lips.

To her right she saw that Fleur was still fast asleep, and to her let, she could observe cardboard boxes, tool boxes, etc. In front of her the door was still safely closed and not a splinter was broken away from it.

She felt like a little girl again. Not knowing if anything was going to be alright, but she knew that she had to be the one to be brave. Facing the reality was the only way and denial wouldn’t help at all. She knew that.

Catching her breath and taking huge gulps of air, she managed to throw away the feeling of helplessness. If she continued to feel this way she would surely break down later on in the day. She had to be fearless at least to the world.

Fleur was the only person she knew right now and she couldn’t dare think if something bad had happened to her family, who weren’t even in the same city as her. She wondered how they were doing. How her friends were doing. How everyone going through this nightmare were coping. And how many had been added to the horde of blood-suckers.

She hissed in through her gritted teeth and realised that she had been trying not to cry. She had to keep the tears at bay, otherwise they may never stop and she might give up. Perhaps she was being stupid to bottle up her feeling right now – she wasn’t the one to do that – but today everything changed, even her.

Katrina was usually a much optimistic and bubbly person. She loved to tell jokes and hear them in as well. But how could she be herself in this situation; there was a time and place for everything and hence, now was the time to be serious and careful. Her own – and Fleur’s – life had probably depended upon it.

Thoughts ran through her mind like a the windows on a train, Can someone actually die from the contagiousness of being effected? She frowned from the perplexity, dread, and disturbance. Why hadn’t somebody done something about this, to prevent this apocalypse from happening? How could they, whoever the hell they are, let this happen?! She shook her head. We have to stay away from those things until everything gets back to normal…

Fleur stirred and yawned. She blinked her eyes open for a while and tried to make out where she was before remembering last night’s occurrences. Dread and realisation pasted across her features. She turned her head to look at her friend. “It’s morning,” she said knowing, and raised her eyes. She had said it in such a way, that it was clear of what her tone was actually meant, ‘Are they still there?’

Katrina nodded knowingly and looked at her hands. “Somewhere,” she muttered, “but I sense, in a way, that we’re safe here for the moment.” She paused to smooth the free strand of hair behind her right ear, and look up at Fleur. “I think we should move to a safer place until help arrives. Find something to eat as well.”

Fleur agreed with a stern nod. “OK,” she said. She sighed and leant back against the wood. She tilted her head slightly so she could observe the webbed light bulb on the ceiling, as well as the corners up there. Flinching, she moved away from the corner that she had been habituating, brushing the nonexistent webs on her right side. A shudder sounded from her.

Katrina involuntarily smirked a little. “Spiders are just like us, they need a home, too,” she murmured.

Fleur looked up at her and gave a small smile, raising a perfectly shaped eyebrow. “Since when did you turn dark?” she asked half-heatedly. They both knew that they were trying to lighten the mood and forget, if just for a short moment.

Katrina just shrugged and looked away.

“So what should we do now?” Fleur asked, and her voice grew smaller near the end.

Katrina didn’t need to think twice. “Move,” she stated, and glanced over at her friend. “We should move soon, like I said before, before they find us.” She paused. “How do they attack?” Katrina asked abruptly. “What do they need to survive? I mean, you saw them attacking those passengers on the bus, right?”

“Erm, ’they’ … they suck blood…” Fleur said under her breath.

“Blood?” Katrina asked in consternation.

“Those blood-suckers,” Fleur explained. The corners of her mouth twitched downwards and her eyes watered, so she wiped them away with her sleeves. “I saw it happening to those people in the bus … those poor kids…”

Katrina bit her bottom lip as it started to tremble.

“They bit into their flesh so hard,” she paused, and frowned upwards, “until the flesh ripped away from the bones and sucked out the blood…” She made a disgusted sound in the back of her throat, covered her mouth as bile rose to her throat, and squeezed her eyes shut.

Katrina leant forward and laid and comforting hand on Fleur’s arm. “I’m sorry I asked. Are you going to throw up?” she asked.

Fleur shook her head as she felt better after pushing that memory away from her attention. She took deep breaths until she could open her eyes and replied, “I’m OK. I’m OK…”

Katrina nodded and removed her hand to stare outside the small window. She frowned. Where is everybody? she thought, Why isn’t there any noise? “Let’s go out … now,” she whispered, and turned around to face Fleur.

“What?” her friend gasped with terror clearly showing in her eyes. “Are you insane?” she whispered. “I – I mean I knew that y – you said we would move, but why s – soon?”

“I know,” Katrina held up her hand, “Fine, you stay in here then. I’ll go and see if the coast is clear. We should at least know what we’re up against, don’t you think?”

Fleur calmed down and bit on her thumbnail nervously while contemplating.

“We have to be strong in order to get through this,” Katrina insisted desperately, gesturing to Fleur and herself. “We should do anything to stay away from them – only if we’re safe. And I need new clothes…” She looked down at her garments and the dried blood. She made a face and didn’t dare touch it.

“You’re right – I – I … we need to be strong,” Fleur nodded. “I’ll wait here until you come back and I can see the backyard door through the glass.” She nodded and climbed out of the old blanket. “Don’t be afraid,” she continued and hugged Katrina.

When they broke the hug, Katrina smiled at Fleur. “Thanks for the encouragement, Fleur,” she sighed.

Fleur started to sob again into her hands. “I prayed so much last night in my heart for God to help us. I don’t think I’ve ever prayed as desperately.”

“Oh, Fleur, I can understand how you must be feeling…” Katrina sighed knowingly.

“I just,” Fleur gasped in between crying, “hoped that all this would go away. Why weren’t my prayers answered? I am so scared! And what about my family? What about them? My friends!” Her voice was raising with a shrill and desperate tone by every word.

Katrina’s eyes watered as she thought about her own mum, dad, and friends, and her tears fell down when she closed them. She wiped her tears away and looked at her sobbing friend. “I don’t know if I can help right now, but we need patience. That’s what I’ve been trying to convince myself. Patience and strength.” She tried again. “ ’God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight...’

Fleur nodded, brushing her own tears away, and blew her nose on a random cloth that looked like a tea-towel. “I think that maybe the best advice I’ve heard all day,” she hiccuped.

“Remember that, OK?” Katrina asked. “Fleur, I better go before I lose my courage. See ya in a bit … hopefully.” She reopened the knot that she had tied around the door handle and the nail. She told Fleur to tie it again from the inside once she was out and never open it until she would do the secret password knock. After they made an easy to remember but hard to make up password, they decided to part.

“Be careful,” Fleur whispered, her eyes darting this way and that. Her hand was on the handle, ready to close the door.

“Can I say something?” Katrina asked suddenly, and Fleur looked at her, telling her to go on. “If I don’t make it to the car for us … go without me whenever you get the chance.”

Fleur’s eyes watered and she listened intently. “No, you have to come back,” she insisted. “We can be like sisters and survive through this. I can’t do this alone. I need to find my family and … I … you know how I am!”

“Hush, they’re here!”

“I’ve changed my mind, I’m going with you!”

“Fleur!”

“If they get you they will get me anyway,” Fleur cried, moving out of the small shed, “But if we will stay together we might stay alive. And I can’t stay inside that,” she pointed behind her, “in solitude, while thinking whether you made it or not. Constantly going through hell like that and not getting any answers anyway, and–”

“I don’t want to rick your life, too,” Katrina reason. She looked over her shoulder to see if the yard door was still closed and it was, thankfully, so the other blood-suckers couldn’t see them. “We don’t know what’s out there.”

Fleur looked like as if she was battling something in her mind.
“Fine,” Katrina sighed and took a deep breath, “Let’s go. Shh – quietly…”

Fleur nodded quickly and followed her friend to the back door. She nodded at her.

Katrina slowly pressed the coin-shaped paddle with her thumb whilst the rest of her fingers – trembling – curled around the handle and she opened the door inwards. She looked out and expected to see one of those blood-suckers. To her mind-boggling surprise, not one of them was within her sight. Confusion settled in her and she looked to her left, where Fleur was watching her questioningly. “They’re not here,” she whispered.

Fleur wore the same expression now. “Are you sure?” she mumbled. Her eyes widened. “Maybe they already know we are here and they are waiting for us, just waiting for us, until they realise that we have let our guard down!” Her mousy voice was growing shrill again and the tears floated back inside her puffed eyes.

“Why would they do that?” Katrina argued, looking back outside the door and closed the door again, but didn’t let go of the handle. “Be quiet, please,” she begged. “I don’t know about that theory of yours but I don’t see a better excuse to run to my car than now.”

Fleur nodded quietly crying again behind her left hand.

“You alright?” Katrina asked concernedly.

“Yeah,” Fleur said unconvincingly.

“Remember, my house is on other side of this block … I have the keys in my bag inside the house,” Katrina explained, and she couldn’t help but feel fear creeping back into her bones. The thought of encountering another one of those blood-suckers was terrifying. A shudder slithered down her spine.

“O – OK,” Fleur nodded, and sniffled.

“I need to change as well, quickly, and grab enough food from the kitchen and head for the car and soon as possible,” Katrina elaborate further, and nodded as well, as if to convince herself enough to go through with it. She took a deep breath and let it out shortly. “Ready?” she asked, and received another nod. She reopened the door to face a blood-sucking creature sniffing around the opposite wall.

Fleur screamed – before Katrina could even close the door – and caught the blood-sucker’s attention.

It turned its head, which was almost tauntingly gradual – and hissed behind the bloody fangs. It lunged at the wooden door that had closed before it could bite into the human flesh. The human, that it once was, screamed in anguish and ire and started to hit the door, almost breaking it instantly from the second collision.

Behind the door, Katrina was thinking desperately to do something to hurt the creature so it would not hurt them. She started looking around for something to hit the blood-sucker with and defend herself and Fleur. She ran into the shed.

Fleur on the other hand was going hysterical with her screams and sobbing. “W – What are you doing?!” she cried, “It’s going to kill us!”

“This!” Katrina announced coming back out, and adrenaline pulsed through her veins. She was holding a hammer. Just then the blood-sucker broke through the door and rushed towards Fleur, who was in clear sight compared to Katrina. She had been standing just against the wall when it broke through.

Fleur screamed and covered her face with her arms and hands.

Katrina hadn’t wasted any time to wait for it to hurt her friend, and swung the heavy stone made hammer against the creature’s back. She watched it arch its back in pain and hiss in pain. To her terror it turned around to face her and she swung the weapon against its jaw, and then again, and again, and again, until it was a bloody mess of decaying flesh.

Fleur had been shocked and her eyes were darting from the messy corpse on the ground and back at her friend. “You killed it,” she said in a monotonous tone, taken aback.

As if disagreeing with that sentence, t he bloodsucker began gurgling and its hand twitched.

That made Katrina reply with another – and final – repeating reaction with another hit. She dropped the bloody hammer on the stone ground; her chest heaving as hidden tears had been pouring out of her eyes and down her cheeks, she let out a final huff. “Now, I killed it,” she corrected, and looked down at the corpse with disgust.

Katrina started to feel dizzy, and fainted – or had almost fainted at first – and her right hand lifted up to her right temple.

Fleur flew to Katrina’s side in an instant. “A – Are you alright?” she asked desperately.

The world seemed to dither and wither for a few second before she leant against the wall to her right – where the kitchen’s window was – and sagged until she felt the ground underneath her bum. She heard the blood pump through her heart clearly in one ear, and in the other, Katrina was telling her to move urgently. Hearing that call, she had tried forced herself to get up, but she was fast falling into the world of unconsciousness.

“Katrina!” Fleur cried desperately, and shook Fleur’s shoulders.

To Katrina, Fleur’s blurry face came into her inconsistent focus as she looked at her through tired eyes. And then she fell unconscious, leaving a fraught Fleur to defend for them both.

Chapter 07 – Damsel In Distress.

Fleur was desperate for Katrina to come back to consciousness and tried to awake her by shaking her shoulders, but it wasn’t working. Her ears caught something in the air, a noise that she didn’t want to get closer to any time soon. She looked up at the broken gateway in front of her - to the left - and then at her friend who was slumped against the wall.

She stood up from her knees and hastily started to drag Katrina up and away – towards the shed – and pulled with all her might. Her grunts of effort were too loud even for her liking and she clamped her mouth shut tightly, in case any of those blood-suckers were within earshot. It took her a while to drag her friend into the dim box, and then tutted at her carelessness when she saw Katrina’s lower arm.

Katrina was now soundlessly laid down on the dusty mattress with a scrape on her skin. Her arm had scraped against something sharp when Fleur was busy pulled her through the splintered doorway.

“Oh, no,” Fleur gasped in a whisper and covered her mouth guiltily. She was sure that the scrape wasn’t because of the blood-sucker because it wasn’t there before, so she had nothing to worry about – minus the epidemic. With a small whimper of dread and a final look – she was praying for her to wake up now rather than later – she scuffled back out. She waited to look at the friend who had saved her today, and closed the door after her.

She had a mission to fulfill. There wasn’t anything thing to hold the door in place from the monsters so she left it close just like that, and inched past the gory mess that lay in the middle of the yard. She quickly stepped outside and her heart sped up rapidly. Not trying to let her paranoid thoughts get to her, she focused on making her way around the whole block and back into Katrina’s house.

The sky was bright and sunny in comparison to what was happening today, with a baby blue background and rich, foamy clouds of whiteness. They reminded her of scattered bits of candy-floss and her mouth watered. That’s when she remembered that she hadn’t eaten from yesterday morning, and neither had Katrina. Her stomach rumbled, making her self-consciously wrap her arms around herself and quicken her small, yet quick, pace.

Her eyes darted everywhere that she could get to see as her feet were tapping along the asphalt backstreet quietly, nonetheless, she still wasn’t fond of those tiny sounds her kitty-heels were making. Everything was too loud for her and she was afraid she would get caught. She couldn’t believe that she was actually doing this and felt brave enough. But she was indeed. She had to be strong, just like Katrina was.

She turned a corner to the left, recalling from her memory that which way they had come from, and met with another backstreet that was elongated behind her. All the time she was checking in all directions whilst she kept on the move. The sooner she got what they needed the sooner she could get back.

Get back to where? she asked herself bitterly. That wasn’t even a safe place for them and they still got caught. That was when she stopped just before the backstreet was going to end. Her feet were only about half a meter away from the end of the wall. Fleur took a deep breath and jumped at the corner and checked if there was anything around it. Nothing. She let out that breath that she was holding in. She turned her head to the left and so the footpath leading up the steep slope. Nothing there as well.

At last, when Katrina's abandoned house came into her sight - after she had dashed around the corner - her heels landed on the front porch. She was glad that there were no monsters of her nightmares there anymore as she tumbled through the door. The front – broken to pieces – door was hanging barely off its hinges.

A rotting kind of smell overwhelmed her senses. She thought that could have thrown up if she hadn't reminded herself about her current mission. She looked around her surroundings and saw that the keys were exactly where they were left, and she grabbed them out of the open purse that was laid on the ground. Now, as she held the bunch of keys in her hands triumphantly, she hurried into the back.

The kitchen looked disastrous. Everything was wrecked – except for the fridge. Amazingly, the glossy white rectangle was unharmed, save for a few scratches here and there. Whilst she was picking up foods and drinks, she looked around for a suitable container. A simple grocery basket would have to do. So after one last look into the bottom units and stacking some tinned food as well carried everything back outside. The keys carefully pocketed. She decided to go back the way she had entered and was feeling too fortunate that she wasn’t caught as of yet, and, nevertheless, felt more fretful.

What if those things were only watching me to get me in the end? she thought frantically, and stepped outside with the heavy load. She picked up her pace as quickly as she could and hurried back to her friend. The weight was weighing her down and she regretted filling up the basket to the fullest. It’s done now, I’m already … nearly … halfway through … won’t take me long, she tried to convince herself.

When she turned back in to the second right corner of the backstreet she smiled desperately and walked back inside the yard with the food. She dropped it next to the white concrete wall before she opened the door of the shed. Surely, Katrina was still laid in the same way and still unconscious.

“Katrina, please wake-up!” Fleur wept and sat down on her knees. She shook Katrina again, roughly, but to no avail, and laid her head against the mattress to cry into it.

“Er … I can see your underwear from ‘ere,” someone commented, causing Fleur to scream out in shock.

Fleur turned around quickly and had already grabbed a half broken brick next to her, and threw it before she could think.

“Ow!” The man cried, and touched his forehead. “Shit, I‘m bleedin’ – thanks a lot lady!”

“I – I – I’m so sorry,” Fleur stammered and stepped out of the shed nervously, “I thought y – you were one of the, erm, those things!” she pointed at the slob of mess on the ground.

“You hit me with a bloody brick and then say sorry?” he hissed through gritted teeth, although, he was clever enough not to raise his voice loudly. Suddenly he smiled. “No problem,” he chuckled. “Just messin’ with ya – oh! bloody hell, is she dead?” he asked suddenly, looking past her.

Fleur glanced behind her and then back at the stranger. “She fainted,” she explained and her eyes watered again, as if her eyes were pumping transparent lip-gloss.

He nodded. “A lonely woman in a world of chaos,” he empathized.

Fleur blinked once and a thick trail of tears fell down her cheeks. “On the contrary, she was the one who killed it,” she retorted, and pointed at the gut covered ground. “And she’s not just a woman and she’s not lonely, she is brave and she has me as her friend.”

“Impressive,” he grinned slowly. And then he looked around himself and whatever else was staring back at him. “On the other hand, I think we should get out of here before anything else finds us and get to a safer place.”

“Wait, were you following me?” Fleur asked innocently.

“Yes. Initially I was going make a dramatic escape with my car when I saw you carrying that,” he confirmed, and nodded at the basket, “So I thought I might as well follow you, what if you were in trouble? And so a thought came to me; 'what is a gorgeous like you doing all alone? A damsel in distress that could be in need of my help perhaps?' So I went after you.”

She blushed and gave him a little smile. “I’m alright,” she muttered shyly. “I think we should get out of here like you said, as quickly as possible,” she added hastily.

“Gladly,” he sighed, and walked past her to Katrina. He titled his head and studied her. “Alright Sleeping-Beauty, let’s go,” he announced to the unawake Katrina and picked her up. He was carrying her on his shoulder. “Pass me the basket, beautiful, and we’ll head for my car” he said.

“No, our plan was to get my friend’s car,” Fleur implored. She couldn’t understand why they had to change the plan since that was the only thing of late that she was so focused upon completing. “I even got the keys! That’s why I had gone to get along with the food–!”

“Listen to me, girl, I think it will be best if you both stick with me,” he stated, “Look at it this way, you and your friend won’t be alone in that ugly place. It’s best if we all stick together, OK, foxy-lady?”

“It’s Fleur, not foxylady,” she corrected with a trembling smile, and passed him the basket in his left hand. If she was a cartoon in a movie, she would have had stars shining in her eyes followed by a heart pumping in and out of her chest.

“Fluer,” he tested it out and went outside, heading towards the road. He kept his pace steady and his eyes alert, even though he was still keeping the lighthearted conversation going. “French, right?” he asked, and walked up the steep footpath.

“Yes,” she whispered frantically and kept pace with him. “I am so glad that we found you, er, Mr…”

“Cruise Mitchell,” he glanced over his shoulder with a wink. “But since we’ve already become such trusting friends, I say we’ll be alright on a first name basis.”

She didn’t know if he was being sarcastic or not but went along with it anyway. She would do anything to get out of here. Right now, all she was desperate for was to get into the safety of that van he was telling her about. “It’s so creepy without any people,” she whispered again, and they seemed to walk on and on until they turned the final corner onto the main street. An empty car space away, stood a white sports car. It was the latest, she was told.

“That’s my ride, hop in,” he announced and set the green basket on the ground without dropping Katrina. Then he opened the backseat on the other side from Fleur that was next to the road, and carefully laid Katrina inside. He asked Fleur to strap the passenger belt on her, closed the door, and then walked around the back of the car to retrieve the basket of goods to be stowed in the boot. A second later he climbed into the driver's seat.

“Nice car,” Fleur said without emotion.

“It’s my baby,” he grinned. “OK, madam, where to now?” he joked as if he was a taxi driver.

“Why aren’t those monsters coming after us?” Fleur suddenly asked in a hushed voice, and was glad that the windows were tinted. They made her feel less exposed.

“Careful what you wish for, sweet-bee,” he warned and started the car.

“Fleur,” she corrected.

“Pretty girl,” he smirked, and glanced at her from the rearview mirror to see her blush.

Fleur smiled a little. When she looked at her sleeping friend, she felt sad again and she wondered when on earth she would come to.

“So where were you both headed off to before she decided to faint?” he asked, and started the driving. He didn’t even bother to wait before the red traffic lights.

“Anywhere but here,” she sighed, and she started trembling. What am I doing? she demanded to herself mentally, and put her head in her hands. I’m so silly to be flirting right now. However, I am truly relieved to meet someone. Someone so helpful and kind.

He didn’t say anything and understood how she must be feeling. To lighten to mood, he wanted to put some music on but instead there was breaking news on the radio.

“…And people are urged with the utmost and earnest words, to stay inside their homes! Lock and bolt every entrances until help arrives,” the news reporter was announcing. “Do not go outside, I repeat! DO NOT GO OUTSIDE. The mutants are highly contagious and will attack any living human being! They are fast, they dangerous and most of all, they are infectious!” The lady’s voice paused a moment before she continued with the news.

“Oh, my Lord…” Fleur gasped.

“I have just received further information that the infected mutants feast on human blood…”

Fleur started crying to herself.

Cruise focused on the road ahead with a seriousness, the playful side gone.

“…And the sunlight hurts them to the point that they scorch under the heat. I repeat, sunlight is deadly to them! Albeit the virus that these mutants carry can evolve. Let’s not hope that it happens. Ladies and gentleman, we may have our very own, real life blood-lusting Vampires on our hands–”

Cruise turned the radio off, which left Fleur’s muffled sobs to be heard in place.

“Mine … my chocowate bunny…” Katrina mumbled groggily in her sleep. “Chocowat … bunny wabbit…”

Cruise and Fleur instantaneously gave each other amused looks and for a minute, and then they started laughing. It was semi forced and they both new, but it helped to ease the tensed up atmosphere even if it would be for a little while.

“Maybe that’s why they aren’t outside…” she whispered in realisation. “They’re afraid of the sun!”

“Apparently,” he replied as he rounded a roundabout.

“You already knew this?”

“I thought you were already aware.”

“Well, we weren't but – the one that Katrina, my friend here, killed … it was outside in the daylight…”

“Perhaps they are evolving already.”

That made her grow more frightened and she slumped in her seat.

He felt the need to make her feel protected. “Don’t worry, Fleur,” he said, getting her attention in the rearview mirror. “You and your friend will be safe with me.”

She smiled thankfully at him and nodded.

After a about a good ten minutes, she decided to ask him something. “So, what work do you do?” she asked stammered. “I – I mean did – before all this happened?”

“I was a … a pizza delivery boy,” he answered carelessly, and stopped himself from hitting his forehead against the dashboard. That’s the answer I could come up with? he thought regretfully.

“Oh,” she murmured. “That’s nice. So you can make pizza?”

“I just delivered before the outbreak,” he lied again.

“Hm…”

“Yeah.” He couldn’t very well have told her the truth, or to anyone, other than those few who were also like him.

She studied him subtly. Cruise had short, medium blonde hair with grey eyes, and stood at the height of six foot two. He was powerfully built, looked like he enjoyed going to the gym and certainly didn’t suit delivering pizzas. “You don’t strike me as the kind who would work as a pizza boy,” she observed quietly, and put her indeed on her bottom lip thoughtfully.

Pizza deliveries…!” he answered under his breath, and mocked his own answer. He sighed and set off on the motorway. “I could’ve chosen something impressive like…”

“Come back, cute wabbit…” Katrina murmured in her sleep again.

I’m surprise she’s lucky enough to be dreaming about chocolate bunnies,” Fleur said brightening up a bit.

Chapter 08 – New Mission

Katrina woke up with a start. She looked around her unrecognized surroundings with a confused expression and suddenly a trembling hand clamped over her mouth.

“Shhh! Don’t scream!” Fleur warned in a hushed tone of voice, her brown eyes wide.

Katrina looked around the car after the hand was removed. Her eyes landed on the driver. “What the hell happened?” she demanded. “Who brought us here? How did we get here? I – we were–”

“He saved us,” Fleur answered to her questions with a thankful gaze at Cruise, who was listening in. “You fainted. Don’t you remember? I got the keys to your house though … and food. He followed me back to where you were and helped us! Kat, Cruise can take us to a safe place!”

“Cruise?” Katrina asked. She looked at him sideways.

“That’s me,” he confirmed. He glanced over his left shoulder and smiled back at her. When she didn't smile back, he smirked, turning his attention back onto the road. There were already on the motorway. “Not a cheery one, are you?”

Katrina cleared her throat. “Erm, thank you very much for saving us, but we can take it from here now. You can drop us off over there where the next intersection ends. I know this area. So you don’t need to worry about us.”

Cruise slowed down the car to a stop and turned the engine off. There were no cars around anyway except for those that were abandoned. He turned around as much as he could strapped between the belt and seat, and threw Katrina an incredulous look. “You think you know what’s really happening out there?” he challenged.

“We can handle it. We’ve done it this far. And never mind you being able to help us, I’ve already addressed that and even thanked you for it. God knows who you are and what you’d do with us!”

“Listen Kitty-Cat–”

“Katrina.”

“Whatever, Kitty-Cat,” he ignored her, and received a frown. “I doubt I’d be stupid enough to rape or kill either of you when the rest of the world is in difficulty right now. Not that I would in other circumstances and I’m not that kind of guy for God's sake.”

Katrina felt slightly embarrassed by her outburst and didn't retort. She crossed her arms in front of her and leant back against the seat. “Sorry,” she mumbled after a paused and blinked up at him. “Thank you for your help. We appreciate it. You went out of your way to save us when you could have left us to be eaten” – She heard Fleur whimper beside her – “by those Blood-suckers.”

Cruise smiled faintly and nodded curtly. “Good. Now that the confusion has been clarified, shall we focus on getting out of here?” he asked.

Fleur screamed when a grotesque body slammed against her side of the window. It was burning in places and smoke was coming out of it. Its red eyes were disgustingly jutting out of the skull as it screamed in blood-lust, slapping and snapping its jaws and teeth against the glass, which made more blood gush out of its rotting flesh. The glass was splashed with blood.

Fleur pushed herself away from it and was glad that the window wasn’t cracked already from the sheer force of the creatures' hits. “Oh mon Dieu!” she cried out in her mother tongue when she witnessed more coming at them. “Ils sont là! Comment sur terre peuvent-ils nous voir? Lot d'entre eux! Oh mon Dieu, ainsi de nombreux!”

Cruise stepped on the accelerator and the tires screeched in protest. “Ne vous inquiétez pas Mademoiselle Fleur,” he replied to her in french as well, as the sports car raced forward.

“Oh, my God – that was so close!” Katrina exclaimed whilst looking out behind them, watching the blood-suckers unsuccessful attempts at catching them. Her heart was still hammering in fear and adrenaline when she turned back around. “Fleur are you alright?! And what on earth were you both rambling on about?”

Cruise smirked at Fleur through the rear-view mirror. “It’s our little secret,” he retorted.

“You think this is a game? Grow up! I mean it nearly got my friend!” Katrina shouted. Her hands started to tremble so she hid them by crossing her arms again.

Cruise just made a grunting sound and made a sharp turn. He didn’t bother say anything.

Fleur was going through hyperventilation, when she found an carrier bag lying around the floor and began to breathe in an out.

“Are you going to be sick?” Katrina asked and rubbed Fleur’s back.

Fleur shook her head … but then vomited. She made a disgusting sound to herself and spat out her morning cup of coffee and toast into the bag. Suddenly there was bottled water in front of her from Cruise, who was still looking ahead. She thankfully took it. “Thanks,” she whispered.

“Welcome,” he responded.

Katrina shivered in thought when she recalled how the creatures' daunting red eyes seemed to be staring straight into her eyes. “I wonder who the first one was,” she wondered.

Cruise cocked his head to the side. “What?” he asked.

“Well there’s got to be someone at the beginning who must have caught the virus first, right?” she asked thoughtfully. “I was just wondering to myself on who it was, that’s all. I don't know. I mean … don’t you wonder how this occurred? There’s always a beginning...”

Cruise didn’t say anything right away as he was also wondering the same thing. “You’re right, there is always a beginning,” he agreed. “You know, me and my group of mates have been thinking the same thing. We're thinking about doing something about this mess.”

“How do you mean?” she asked

“We're going to save the world,” he paraphrased. He caught the hesitant look on her face and laughed. “You’ll be surprised how well organised and determined we are, especially when most of the world’s population is either dead, a mutant, or a deserter. We're going to save the uninfected.”

“My thoughts exactly…”

“Well, then,” he grinned, “we are not so different after all. That’s why I decided to help you damsels in distress, to come my gang. The more we are the better advantage at killing off these things.”

“First of all, we aren’t just some ‘damsels in distress’ – that’s insulting – and second of all, I think that it would be best for me and Fluer to join you in fighting these monsters.”

"Yes, thank you so much," Fleur agreed, taking another sip of water.

“Good to hear, not that you had a choice in it or anything, I mean, it’s your planet as well. It’s our duty to help save it and preserve it. Bring it to the way it was; make it safe.”

“Yeah,” she nodded. "Well. As safe as it could be anyway..." She trailed off in her own thoughts.

Fleur sighed and threw the bag of vomit out of the window just as quickly she had opened it. “Urgh, I need the toilet,” she announced and her face turned red.

“Can’t you wait? We’ve not got long to reach our destination.”

“No, and I think I might be sick again. I need some of those sick bags.”

“No problem, there’s a petrol station coming up next in about five minutes,” he assured. “There’s got to be a lavatory in there,” – he paused to think for a second. “You’ll have to wait until then, Mademoiselle.”

“Fine."

Five minutes later he rolled the car to a stop next to a gas pump, which was to their left side while the empty roads were to their right.

“Hey, want me to go inside with you in case of any undesirable guests?” he asked her politely. "I'll keep an eye out in the store and you can do what you want."

“Please,” she nodded.

“ ‘K. You, Miss. Tenaces, ” he nicknamed her in French, “Are staying in here until we come back out. If you see any one of those bloody things just beep the horn and we will get to you A.S.A.P. Oh, here,” he reached into the glove compartment and got out a shiny, black, and dangerous object. He held out the gun for her to have.

“Are you insane, I’m not touching that!” Katrina cried and moved away from his hand.

He rolled his eyes and pointedly laid it on the passenger seat to his left. “Suit yourself, Miss. Tenaces,” he repeated in French. “Lock the doors.”

“And what is that you keep calling me?” she asked curiously, but he was already out of the door.

“Miss. Stubborn,” Fleur opted to answer, and hastily closed the door after her as she caught onto Cruise’s arm, tugging on her jacket nervously. She looked behind her at Katrina.

Katrina scoffed. “How dare he?” she asked herself. She locked the doors from the inside and watched carefully.

Cruise had kicked the glass door open slowly with his own gun, poised and steady. Then he checked if the "dead" man slumped behind the counter was actually dead, and then went somewhere out of sight inside. Fleur had disappeared with him.

Probably looking at the back, searching for the toilets, she decided. Now she was left very aware of her surroundings. The silence of no cars, no people, and no anything alive was pressurising. She didn’t want to be one of those people who would lose their mind and turn crazy. She wanted to have control of her emotions. Yes. Control is good. Control is good.

She peered through the darkly tinted glass all around her and the hair on the back of her neck stood up. Something wasn’t right. Or perhaps her paranoia was finally seeping into her nerves - as they sent shock-wave after shock-wave of warning to her braincells - making her jumpy. She didn’t feel safe even with the concealment of the windows and the locks. And not a moment later her instincts were answered, when a sound of a loud gunshot was fired from inside the building and echoed outside.

No. She needed to focus on not feeling scared. But she could do all that once she, Fleur, and Cruise were in a safe place. It didn’t matter how obnoxious and annoying he may appear to her, he was still humane enough to save her and her friend, and that was alone a huge help. She just did not want to let her guard down particularly when she wanted to be on the lookout.

About ten tauntingly slow and worrisome minutes later, the door finally opened. A sigh of relief flew out of her parted lips. She opened the locks for them to climb back into their seats.

“There was one already in there!” Fleur answered Katrina’s silent questions, “But Cruise was very brave and careful. He shot it.”

“It only gets ‘em in the head,” he stated. “Remember that girls. The head.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Katrina nodded, quickly disguising her fear with determination.

“I bought some crisps for you,” Fleur mentioned and passed a packet of salt and vinegar flavoured crisps with trembling hands. “Here. You must be famished.”

“Thanks,” Katrina smiled for the first time in ages. “I knew something bad had happened and was worried about you both.”

“I was so scared of being alone in the toilet myself so he stood outside for me. When I came out he already killed it. So we decided to grab a few necessities as quick as possible and leave. There’s barely anything left on the shelves anyway!”

Cruise restarted the engine the same time his mobile-phone rang. “Hang on, I might as well top up the petrol. Plus, the phones are still working amazingly well,” He joked. “What is it?" he answered his caller, whilst getting back out again, "Yeah – yeah … yes, I know that. Why? Fine. Whatever. Keep me updated.” He hung up, climbed back inside and grinned at the girls. “Put your fun faces on children. We’re going to Light Water Valley Theme-park!”

The girls stared at him as if he was stupid and gave no response.

He has finally lost it… Katrina thought.

“Seriously,” he said, and the grin was gone, “I need to save a group of friends that ‘ave realised how wrong they were - they didn't think, for some strange reason, that zombies liked to visit theme-parks." He stared at the something in between the girls' heads with a scowls. Suddenly it was gone. "ANY-way. I owe them BIG TIME! I couldn’t just say no. They’re in a bit of a trouble.”

“Are we going there right now?” Katrina asked knowingly.

“Do I really have to answer that?” he asked drearily.

Fleur sighed and put her head in her hands.

“OK. We have to stick together,” Katrina nodded resolutely. “They deserve to live just as much as everyone else on this earth. Let’s go.”

“Bonne.”

“What did you call me?” Katrina muttered darkly.

“Bonne!” he repeated. He knew that she was misunderstanding him and he enjoyed letting her.

“Alright, that’s it, which language study did you get back in high school, are you a frikkin' alien in disguise or something?” he mocked halfheartedly with a smirk. He tutted. "It's French."

She blinked once for what seemed – almost – dramatic. “Erm, my language class was Urdu…” she replied.

Cruise looked poker-faced at her.

“In fact it's my mother-tongue,” she smiled genuinely. "Naturally, I got an A* for it."

He just gave her a look of confusion and then laughed it off. “Ah. Bonne alors! We best be goin’,” he turned around and started the car. “Oh, how do you say ‘I love you’ in Urdu?” he asked out of the blue, as he pulled out of the petrol station.

Katrina replied in Urdu, pretending to look serious. Fleur was trying to hide her snickering behind her hands, since she had already known the actual meaning behind those words. She and Katrina knew each other enough to teach each other a few words and phrases in their languages. Katrina on the other hand didn’t get the hang of French very much though, but Fleur was quite good in remembering many Urdu words.

After several attempts later, Cruise finally got it right and was proudly repeating the phrase to Fleur. Unbeknownst to him, he was repeating ‘I am insane,’ as if it was a medal.

Chapter 09 – The Ferris Wheel.

30 Minutes Earlier…

“Jay, what are we going to do?!” Jemma cried. Her medium dark hair flew messily around her face. Wide eyes blinked at the monsters that were getting closer and closer by the second. This was her worse nightmare.

Her two closest friends were too scared to fight and ran away together, leaving Jemma and Jay to fend for themselves. The footsteps pounded against the stone ground behind them as they disappeared behind a scary looking building.

"Cowards," Jay said grimly, thinking about their deceiving friends. He sent Jemma a sideways glance and started shooting the blood-suckers in the limbs. “Jemma get the car started and get yourself inside the car! I’ll stall them.”

“I'm not leaving you here!” she snapped.

“I’ll be right behind you, Jemma, now run!” he assured, and firmly pushed her away from the looming throng of the Undead. He didn’t stop shooting until he himself was starting to lose patience and ammo.

All of the blood-suckers were still moving towards them despite half of them being shot in all of their chests, arms and legs, and whatnot. He didn’t know how it was possible that they could keep on moving with bullet lodge inside of them. It should've hurt like hot coal bubbling up inside of them.

He checked the bullets in his gun; there were still plenty in there but they would only go to waste. He was breathing fast as he stared at them getting closer to him than before. “Why won’t you DIE!” he incredulously.

“Jay!” Jemma shouted from somewhere behind to his left. She was waiting for him halfway out of the passenger seat, and her eyes wide with desperation in her voice. “Something's wrong, it’s not working!” she stressed.

He ran over to Jemma’s car in which she had arrived in with him and the others. He checked the engine as quick as he could and then closed the hood, all the while checking over to his right at the looming mob of mutants. “It’s heated up,” he explained, “we need to fill it up with water but the public toilets are too crowded by those things. I’m afraid we will have to escape by foot!”

“Let’s go!” she nodded. She threw her stolen police gun away and took the lead. They both fought their hardest past the blood-suckers and the big hoard followed them with groans of anger, agony and blood-lust.

As they were trying to escape a small group of five that they had ran into, Jemma had spotted the Ferris-Wheel and ran for it without thinking. It was still going round and round. She didn’t care anymore, she just wanted to get away and calm down for a minute and think.

“Jemma!” Jay shouted as he ran behind her. She had already covered more than half the distance. “Man, she can run fast,” he breathed under his breath. When he had finally caught up with her she was already in one of the circular baskets. Running past the metal gates that bordered around the ride gave him the helpful reminder to close it behind him. So he skidded to a halt, ran backtracked to the metal handrails and locked the gate in place with a metal chair lodged underneath the broken gate. He followed Jemma back and had unfortunately ended up climbing inside the one that came right after hers.

“It’s hopeless…” Jemma sobbed and shook her head. Her basket like container with her in it was disappearing above by now, as she could no longer see his face. “This is the end.”

Meanwhile, he was busy trying to keep an eye on the oncoming hoard of blood-suckers that were soon gaining in numbers in hundreds. “What in the bloody ‘ell is going on?!” he asked himself. He finally speed dialed his enemy and ex-best friend. “Hey, remember when you owed me?”

Chapter 10 – Kitty Cat

Katrina's eyes were cloudy as she thought of what her parents would be doing right now. How they were and if they were alright. She was very worried about their well-being but refused to let herself breakdown.

“…In my workplace, you see,” Fleur was explaining to Cruise. She had already shifted herself in the passenger seat next to Cruise. “I - It all happened so fast that all we could do was … run … just run. I mean … I – I mean I just … it’s just so … unreal, don’t you think?” She was gesturing with her hands, as if to make him understand her hysterical babbling.

“I totally get it,” Cruise said. “Feels like a bloody nigh’mare.”

Katrina sighed and leant the back of her head against the headset and closed her eyes for a moment. The mental images of her laughing parents’ faces came into focus. Their kinds brown eyes were shining in delight and happiness. She was missing them terribly for the first time in a very long time.

She had had moved out from her parents’ house when she was eighteen to live on her own, to work and live in independent life from her overprotective parents. All she wanted to do now was to find them and curl up in their warm and protective embraces, like a caterpillar would within a cocoon until it was ready to face the world. Right now she had to be strong.

“Oh mon Dieu!” Fleur cried out in French. She was pointing at something in the trees on her side of the window. As the trees draw closer and closer, her eyes widened more and more and she gasped. Sympathy tears her eyes. “We have to save it, please we have to,” she begged Cruise and turned to him.

Cruise pretended not to listen and kept on going.

“Hey, can you stop for a moment?” Katrina asked, but the car had gone past the poor cat. “I don’t believe it. You would actually leave a poor, defenseless and helpless little kitty all alone?”

“Listen-”

“You better listen to me, Mister. I know Karate.” Katrina threatened.

"She doesn't really."

"Fleur!" Katrina cried and felt betrayed. Her face turned as red as a tomato. "I went to a few self defence classes," she muttered quietly and crossed her arms.

“Fine,” he caved in, “But you will look after the cat, feed it, bathe it and everything. I don’t want any distraction from the real mission.”

“Mission?” Katrina caught on quickly, “What mission?”

“Heh, nothing, just having fun with wordplay that’s all,” he smirked. He reversed the car about ten meters back and then nodded towards the cat on the tree. “Hurry right back girls - go get it, Miss. Tenaces!” he cheered, trying to avert her attention.

Katrina stopped in mid exit when she yelled, “Stop giving me unknown nicknames!” She huffed annoyingly and climbed out.

“I must admit, you can be very stubborn,” Fleur corrected her and proceeded to follow her out.

Katrina stared at her friend. “Who’s side are you on?” She demanded, throwing her hands up. She stood in front of the tree where the cat was meowing in distress, as if it knew something they did not.

Fleur giggled. A smile that reminded them both of how things were before the world went topsy-turvy in an endemic, living nightmare.

Katrina couldn’t help but smile up at the cat in response. “Hey, little cat,” she coaxed and reached her arms out. The cat didn’t budge and just watched her with unblinking eyes. “Come on. Come here!”

“It’s alright kitty,” Fleur joined in and stepped forward. “We will save you.”

Katrina watched in sadness as the little black and white cat sat helplessly atop a tree branch. Then as if it knew that these humans could be its saviors it started to meow, walked up and down the high branch.

“What is it, kitty?” Fleur asked. “Did the bad monsters try to eat you? Naughty, mean creatures, all gone now.” She pouted up at the cat and it meowed back and began to gradually walk to her side. “Come to mama!”

Katrina looked around herself when she thought she heard a strange sound. “Don’t move,” she whispered, but it was too late. A bunch of blood-suckers came scrambling towards them from nowhere.

“Er … girls? I think we have some guests,” Cruise called from the car. "Get the tea and biscuits ready, they look starved to death. HAH! Gettit? Starved to death?"

“Aren’t we lucky,” Katrina retorted, and watched as Fleur had finally grabbed the cat. “We can’t even rescue a poor little cat without having these monsters coming for us! Fleur move over. I’ll climb the tree and bring the cat down! Quickly!”

Cruise got out of the car and stood with the door open, gunning down any blood-suckers that got too close. “Are you crazy Kitty-cat?!” He exclaimed, glancing at her as she started to climb up the tree trunk like a monkey. He shook his head at her in disbelief and punched another creature in the head before stomping on its skull. It’s cracked and spurted dark bloody liquid.

“Careful, Kat!” Fleur sobbed and covered her mouth with her hands.

“Fleur, get in!” Cruise ordered, and told Katrina to follow suit. “Forget the damn cat!”

“Never!” Katrina retorted it defense. She was sitting on one of the highest branches in the trees that were halfway up.

“Then we will leave without you!”

“No, Cruise!” Fleur protested.

“I’m only trying to get her to come down,” Cruise whispered and made a face like he wasn’t serious about leaving Katrina.

“Oh,” Fleur sighed in relief and got into the back of the car seat. She watched the throng of the blood-suckers getting bigger in numbers.

“It’s like they can smell us,” Cruise stated in awe. Can they smell human blood? He thought. “This is bad,” he whispered, “Kitty-Cat, we don’t have time. We gotta go. Now!”

“Er ... slight problem … there’s good news and there’s bad news…” Katrina put timidly. “I … I can’t get down.” Her face looked like a scared small child.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Cruise snapped and slapped the cars' hood with his hands. “Don’t do this to me, I'm hanging onto my sanity by a thread and I don't wanna lose control. Just climb back down, the ground won’t eat you up.”

“Don’t patronise me and get me down!” She ordered, her eyes flashed with fear from the height. She was always afraid of climbing back from heights than climbing up.

“She's ridiculous,” he complained to himself, and climbed back into the driver’s seat as the murderous throng of creatures crowded his car. He had to wind up his window just in the nick of time. “Shit,” he swore.

“It’s true,” Fleur insisted. “She can climb up the tallest mountain but when it’s time to get down she panics!”

“You don’t understand!” Katrina was shouting from the outside. Unbeknownst to her, her voice was attracting more of them gradually. “How come more are coming to me than either of you?” She asked, scared.

Cruise watched her and shook his head disappointingly. Fleur hit him suddenly on his arm with the water bottle. "Ow! It's not OK to hit!" he yelled.

Fleur pointed to her trapped friend in the tree. "We need to help her!"

Katrina was helpless and sitting in tree and tried not to get grabbed by the dead hands below her. She was about six feet high from the ground, but it still appeared too low as she watched the creepy blood-suckers reach out for her frantically.

“There’s only one way to get out this situation,” Cruise yelled within the car, “I will run them over and park it further down the street, come out here and distract them and you can run to the car. You will have to jump down in order to do that, but if you want to die it’s up to you.”

Fleur was sobbing in the car. “Kat!” She cried and hugged the rescued cat to her, which was hissing from behind the window.

Cruise shot down several more blood-suckers from the roof screen. He was standing out of it and watched them fall. “I’m leaving you here if I don’t get an answer,” he warned.

Katrina looked down and her vision swam round and round. She thought she would faint and so closed her eyes. She heard something crack underneath her and her eyes flew wide open.

Chapter 11 – Demons From Hell.

Cruise couldn’t believe what was happening. She can climb up like a ninja but a complete scaredy-cat when it’s time to come back down, he thought in disbelief. “Hey! Hey! You better stay awake, damn it, I am not kidding!” He shouted at Katina, and shot several more blood-suckers that tried to climb onto the roof of the car.

“Kat!” Fleur wailed from the backseat. She didn’t want her friend to die this way. “What are we going to do? We have to save her!”

He ignored Fleur’s rambling and concentrated on the danger at hand and decided to take them all on by himself. A war-cry erupted from his throat. He climbed on top of the roof of the car. Bullets shot out and more guns came out of his pockets when the first ones became of no use. He was shooting and kicking away from clawing at his feet.

Meanwhile Katrina’s vision was losing focus more rapidly as she looked down; she was too high from the ground for her liking and still couldn’t get herself down – certainly not when she had attracted so many monsters. So … this is how I die… she mulled over. She couldn’t help it, and as a result of it, fainted. Thankfully, her unconscious body fell to her right against the trunk of the tree, away from the gaping mouths of the blood-suckers below.

Cruise had killed so many in a short amount of time that he felt more invigorated to send more to their deaths. He was felt incredible adrenaline rushing through his blood. His usually bright hazel eyes were now full of fortitude and were narrowed. “Shit,” he muttered and pursed his lips. He threw away his empty guns below that fell into the car.

“Where are you going?” Fleur cried frantically. She watched him jump high over the thirty or forty or so blood-suckers.

He flew over the groaning creatures without much of an effort and did a somersault and landed on his feet without difficulty, softening his landing. He started shouting to get their attention away from the car and the – dangerously keeled over – girl in the tree. “Hey, you blood-sucking-vampire-zombies! Look over here! Fresh warm blood, over here! Oi, you demons from Hell, yeah, look over here! HEY.” He continued to provoke them.

Cruise saw Katrina appearing as if she was growing dizzier by the minute, her grip on the branches and tree trunk was loosening and appeared disoriented. He was about a good ten or more metres away from the girls. He had to get the blood-suckers to follow him and this had to happen soon, otherwise Katrina would be a bloody-vampire meat.

The blood-suckers all began to turn Cruise' way and go and follow the comotion he created. They saw him and grew more fervent in their breathing, their bloodshot and red bloody eyes – some were nonexistent and many were just hanging from their sockets – and their grey fleshed hands reached out ardently to grab him. Their feet pressed against the asphalt road quickly into anxious steps. It wasn’t long when picked up they paces. Many were were faster than the rest and were gaining on him.

Cruise flipped them off before running off as fast as he could and laughed madly. “Follow me! I’m going to send you back to Hell!” He led them into the forest and hid himself behind a tree that was enough to hide his frame. His breathing was fast and shallow from running hard, but he had learnt to control it and listened.

A random blood-sucker walked by him. He slowly but quietly brought out his knife and attacked the creature's skull. It fell onto the grass with a disgusting squelch. He continued to kill them off one by one until he finally came to an opening of the road and stretched his arms and cracked his knuckles. It hadn’t taken him long because he was well trained and practiced fighting a lot by himself.

He could make out his car in the distance by shading his eyes with his hand. He ran back quickly to where Katrina and Fleur were. As he got closer he noticed Fleur got out of the car when she saw he was back.

Fleur was sobbing to herself, all the while patting and hugging the rescued cat to her bosom.

Katrina was still leaning against the tree and her limbs limp.

“Oh mon Dieu!” Fleur blubbered and ran up to him. “You’re fine! You’re OK, thank goodness! Katrina is still unconscious. What are we going to do?!”

Cruise put a hand on her shoulder. “Calm down, everything is going to be alright,” he assured.

She nodded swiftly and sniffled.

He looked around them and saw no blood-suckers whilst walking over to the infamous tree. “Yo, Kitty-Cat, wake up,” He called. When he got no reply he got worried, frowning. He then proceeded to climb up to where she was, put him over her shoulder once more and jumped all the way down to land softly on the grass.

Fleur thanked him unrelentingly until she got into the back seat with the sleeping Katrina. “I – I think we should leave now,” she advised desparately.

He nodded and climbed into the driver’s seat. He turned around a bit to look at the cat. “…Is it coming with us?” He asked disheartened.

“Of course Angel is coming with us,” she sniffled and scratched one of the cat ears. It purred and closed its eyes.

“Angel?”

“How could I leave her? Let's go already, I'm scared out of my-”

“It’s going to get us into a lot of trouble, you mark my words.”

“No, it won’t,” Fleur hugged the cat to herself.

He closed his eyes for a moment until turned to face the road, started the engine and opened his eyes to come face to face with another blood-sucker. He stepped on the gas pedal and the car roared to life and went over the creature, killing it completely.

Katrina stirred in her sleep as he struggled against the belt across her chest, only to calm down once more and fell into a deep slumber.

“Next time – and I don’t care if it’s a bunny rabbit – we are not going to put our lives in danger just to save it,” he said adamantly, and shivered in thought of the cat being too close to him, “You got that?”

“A – Are you … afraid-”

“I am not afraid of a cat,” he guffawed nervously, and nevertheless kept glancing at Angel through the rear-view mirror watchfully.

“Angel is so cute. He won’t hurt you, look,” she guaranteed, and scooted over to show him the cat. Its yellow cat-eyes flashed eerily to him.

Cruise almost swerved the car into an abandoned Van, which had fallen into a ditch, but reclaimed his control over the wheel before it was too late. “You get that thing away from me!” he warned and his eyes widened.

“Oh,” she pouted. She looked over at her sleeping friend and also decided to take a nap.

The cat curled onto her lap and started to snore.

The sky turn dark over the half hour as he drove past fields and – dead animals – and grimaced.

Did the virus effect the animals, too, or did they stay dead? He thought to himself. Soon his eyes started to droop and he caught himself just in time. He grabbed one of the water bottles and randomly poured all over his head to awaken him completely. He didn’t care if his top got wet and opened the window to dry off.

There was another hour to go until they reached the theme-park and he needed to stay vigilant . He hoped that he would get there in time to save Jay the others. The car zoomed faster as his urge to reach his destination got stronger. “Don’t die on me, Jay. I’ll get there,” he muttered and increased the pressure on the speed.

Chapter 12 – The Gathering.

“OK, we’re here,” Cruise said and turned off the ignition. There was deadly silence. Nobody was in sight. “I hope I’m not too late,” he said under his breath regretfully before got out of the car.

“Shall I come to help?” Fleur asked nervously and hesitantly. “What about Katrina?”

“Stay in here,” he advised.

“And do what?” She demanded, “I need to help you. I can’t just sit here and do nothing until one of them things sucks out my blood and leaves me to die to turn into one of them.” She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I have a cricket bat.”

“Oh, Lord,” he sighed. He didn't want her blood on his hands if she were to be bitten.

“I – I think I should wake up Katrina,” she recommended. “Kat … hey, Kat … wake up … w – we are going to save the people who need our help.” She shook her friend’s shoulders but was pushed away.

Cruise rubbed his chin and said, “I'm kinda in a hurry. So ... I think that it’s best we let her sleep it off and hopefully, whatever strange urges she has about becoming a ninja-like-climber will eventually disperse.”

“I’m not leaving her to be eaten!” She argued.

“Please Fleur time’s running out. Just leave her in there ‘cause she’ll be safe until we get back. I'll have the doors locked. The windows are tinted so ‘they’ can’t see her,” he cajoled.

Fleur was about to say something else but changed her mind. She grabbed a large cricket bat from where her feet were and got out of the car. “Look after Kat while we are gone, Angel,” she whispered and got a meow in return. She covered her friend’s whole frame with a dark cloth for concealment. Angel sat next to Katrina, curled up for warmth.

Cruise rolled his eyes and urged her to hurry up. “We don’t want a bunch of dead people on our hands,” he reminded.

Fleur closed the door and went over to him. “Ready,” she announced, a new kind of determination showing in her eyes.

“Let’s go into the entrance, but be careful, they could be anywhere so stay close to me,” he said seriously.

They both walked through the large entrance and were posed to attack, ready if they needed to kill a bunch of blood-suckers running for them. They shared a look of confusion when everything was quiet and not a single being – dead or alive – was to be seen. Some rides were still activated, which created an unnatural ambiance of eeriness and beauty.

“Strange,” he whispered, “Jay told me they were everywhere.”

“Jay?” Fleur whispered back. She was hunched close to him and had her bat in her hands, prepared to batter anything that decided to lung at her from the shadows.

“One of my friends – ex-friends – but I owed him a big favour in return in the past. He was the one who called me,” he answered whilst keeping his eyes all around him.

“Oh, right,” she whispered. She glanced at him. “I still think we should not have left her in there all alone…”

“Miss. Tanaces?” He chuckled quietly, “She’ll be better off inside the car than outside with us. We need to save people and efficiently leave without getting bitten, not saving someone and getting trapped ourselves. She’s a liability.”

“You’re wrong about her.”

“She is a liability. I mean look at what happened last time she saw a cat and these things are practically crawling. Is she going to save them all until she becomes a cat lady?”

“You’re still wrong about my friend. And what do you have against cats?” She protested.

“Shh! They're here!” He whispered sharply and gestured her to stay quiet. He stopped walking, as did she. His index finger was on his lips and then he signalled for her to listen.

The noise was distant and mistakenly could have been ignored at first, but when Fleur paid much attention it was inexorably true. “It’s coming from there,” she mouthed silently and pointed to their left. She ran tiptoed after him as the noise grew louder and clearer.

The pair walked side by side and quickly reached the carousel, hunched and peaked around it. There in the distance was a cartwheel that held about ten, large metal baskets in a circle around gigantic wheel, which was going round and round along lights and music. The loud melody attracted the blood-suckers very well, like snakes to a hypnotic snake-pipe.

Two baskets were containing a man in on and a woman in the other. They were looking down at the creatures below them. But there were too many of them. Perhaps a hundred or more crowded around in a massive ring all together. There was no way the couple could escape without getting bitten, scratched and carousel getting infected.

“Oh … my … God…” Fleur whispered, and her eyes widened in fearful horror. She wanted to run away crawl back into the car, but she knew that that would be wrong. She had to help Cruise after what he did for her and her friend. God, give me strength, she prayed silently.

Cruise’ usual cheery face was now deadly and grim. “Fleur, listen to me and listen well,” he said soberly and turned towards her, “This could be the last day you live. There’s too many and I don’t even know if I might live through this, but I’m not going to die without trying. You can go to the car if you want now, but if you want to fight 'em-” He pointed his thumb behind him. “There’s no going back.”

She took a deep breath and let it out. Her usual timid looking eyes were no filled with strength of mind and braveness. “I don’t want to die without trying either. I’m ready!” She nodded to confirm her own decision.

“Good!” He smiled approvingly. “Here’s the plan and it’s the only plan that seems to work. I’ll distract them somehow, you run up to Jay and Jemma – that’ll be them in there – and bring them back to the car. You drive them away to safety just in case any of them try to get to you.”

“B – But-”

“Listen to me. Tell Jay to go to the nearest petrol station, which will be on Ashton Rd and wait for me there,” he finished.

“But, how, but how will you be able to get there? There are so many, you said it yourself!” She argued. “I don’t want you to die, Cruise.”

“I won’t. I promise.”

“OK,” she agreed half willingly and nodded.

“Then without further ado, let’s party,” he announced and punched the air.

Chapter 13 – Saving Them.

All sorts of possible scenarios were running through Fleur’s mind as she watched Cruise, yet she pushed them aside. This was her time to save the helpless and innocent people who were in trouble. She stayed in hiding until it was safe enough for her to come out of the shadows, move past the horde of blood-suckers without being seen or heard and hurry to Jay and Jemma.

Her heart rattled dangerously in her ribcage in fright and adrenaline as she carefully looked around herself. No blood-sucking-zombie whatsoever. When she looked back at Cruise her heart almost jumped out of her mouth and the blood drained from her face.

Cruise had confidently walked up to the large horde of groaning blood-suckers, started yelling at them and flailed his arms about. “Hey, you vamp-zombies, look over here!” He shouted, standing afar from Fleur so she wouldn’t get caught. “That's right, I’m over here! Come get me!”

The majority of them already gained his attention and were now turning around. They screeched in agony and hunger and went after him hastily. The rotting corpses were gnashing their decayed teeth. Their long fang like teeth glinted in the night light dangerously, almost like a sharks would.

Fleur sucked almost through up and felt goosebumps. Disgusting! She thought.

Cruise ran backwards and away from the large Ferris-wheel as much as he could without tripping of falling over himself, beckoning the Undead, provoking for them to come after him for his plan to work. He would admit the creatures scared him, but he had to do this. He had to be brave and distract them so Fleur can safely get his old friends away.

Looking back over his shoulder he noticed that there was a walkway around the large ship ride, so he started to run past the ship because the horde grew larger and larger by the minute. Sweat broke out on his forehead when he saw a town’s size of blood-suckers pursue him. “That’s right, dummies, follow the food!” He yelled and laughed crazily. That gained a voracious groans of blood-lust. His plan was working.

Fleur saw Cruise disappear behind a massive, swinging pirates' ship ride and the blood-suckers running after him. Her heart hammered behind her chest with alarm, like a gong. Her eyes followed every last one of them disappearing behind the ship and the rides after it. As soon as the last one couldn’t be seen, she dashed out from her shadowed hiding place.

“Don’t look back, don’t look back, don’t look back,” she whispered to herself like a mantra, and carried on running until she reached the outer ring of the gates. She was panting for breath by the time she reached it and rushed through.

A young man that looked to be in his early twenties and a young girl about the same age were looking down at her, both in their own baskets that contained them for protection. They had to wait until the Ferris-wheel to be switched off.

“Close the gates, for Heaven’s sake!” Jemma urged and leant forward slightly.

Fleur obeyed and locked the gate after her - she was not taking a chance just in case a random blood-sucker to get in. She looked up at the couple. “I’m here to save you!” She announced. It felt good to be brave right now, she felt invigorated albeit nervous.

“Thanks, and hurry,” Jemma responded worriedly. She kept glancing up and down in case they get trapped by the blood-suckers again if they return. Her basket was taking her more up. “You have to go to the main power point and switch this off so we can get down.” She navigated Fleur's sight down at the little booth.

Fleur looked to her right and sure enough, there was a small box for only one person to sit and control the main power source. She jogged over and went up the couple of steps to get inside the little cubicle. The door was left ajar as she tried to decide which button to press or which level to pull. It was quite confusing despite of it being in charge of only one ride. Tears finally came to her eyes in frustration. She put her hands over her mouth. Pressure was finally getting to her.

“Hurry up, they might come back!” Jemma shouted from outside, “Hurry up!”

“Calm down, she can do it,” Jay persuaded her.

Fleur thought she would fail, when she caught something laying on the ground. She hurriedly picked it up and it was indeed a manual. It was covered with dust and cobwebs. She coughed when she brushed the dust off with her hands. She checked in case any blood-suckers noticed or smelt her blood. None. She was safe. Sniffling, she opened the book and skimmed through it until she came to the right page. She had to pull an emergency lever and stop it, which had to be traditionally a red coloured one.

“There,” she whispered with a water smile, and held on to it with her right hand. She looked up to her left side and saw that Jemma and Jay were nearly reaching near the bottom to come off, so she waited a couple of minutes until she thought their containers were most near. She pulled the lever.

The wheel stopped and she let go of the controls. The happy yet ominous tune was off also, leaving her in silence. The lights were also off now and the ride was cast in to a gloomy shadow. Her feet carried her back outside of the glass cubicle – although she had to be careful where to step in under the looming shadows – and did her best not to trip.

Jemma’s basket was nearest to the ground so she was the first getting off. She turned to help Jay, and went over to him as he hauled himself over and jumped out, a couple of metres higher from the ground. They hugged and then quickly rushed over the person that had helped them.

“Thank you so much!” Jay thanked.

“Yeah, thanks, honestly,” Jemma gasped and nodded. She couldn’t believe how lucky they were to have lived through this. Her frantic mind had convinced her that she and Jay were going to die, or worse … turn.

Fleur smiled nervously. “No problem. We should get moving. It’s not safe here in the open. I’m Fleur, by the way. Come this way.” She inclined her head to follow her.

“I’m Jemma, and this is Jay.” Jemma introduced, pointing to herself and him. She began following Fleur and moved past the gate, not bothering to shut it.

“Yeah, Cruise told us,” Fleur nodded, and urged them to run quickly after her. “I’ll explain once we get inside his car. It’s right over there, behind that Carousel.” She pointed to get her point across as they ran around it and came face to face with it.

“Sure. But where’s Cruise?” She asked, concerned and looked at Jay.

Chapter 14 – Possible Future.

Fleur was so glad that she was alive. She was also happy that Jay and Jemma were safe and sound and the plan worked. She knocked on the window Katrina was peeking through from the inside and gestured for her to open the locks.

“Where’s Cruise?” Jemma persisted.

“Please, I’ll explain once we’re safely inside!” Fleur pleaded.

Jemma and Jay shared a cautious look before they obliged. Jemma pushed Jay towards the backseat door that was hanging open – after Fleur had climbed in – and she stole the passenger seat in the front that Jay had been headed for.

Jay huffed and said, “Nice, mature.” He climbed in after Fleur and closed the door.

Jemma got in the front. “Whatever,” she replied.

Katrina watched them with a keen eye. Jay was very handsome with short wavy brown hair, deep brown eyes, and tanned skin. He was very tall, at least more than six foot, broad, and looked very athletic. He wore a dark shirt and jeans with dark trainers.

She looked at Jemma who had longer, wavy black hair that had subtle lighter streaks and reached down to the middle of her back. Chocolate brown eyes were set in slightly almond shaped eyes and an equally beautiful face. Her dark chocolate skin glowed under the half-light that the starlight created. She was in a light grey thank top and skinny jeans.

Jemma got inside, turned around to face him, Fleur, and a confused looking girl. She must be around her age. “Hi, I’m Jemma. Thanks so much for coming for us," she said gladly. She smiled friendly and held out her hand.

Katrina was sitting directly behind Jemma’s seat. She shook the new girl’s hand hesitantly. “Oh, erm, it’s nice to meet you, Jemma. I'm Katrina. And no problem?” She said slowly. “When did this happen?” she whispered to Fleur.

“Wait – what were you doing in here while your friend came to save us?” Jemma asked.

Katrina’s cheeks burnt a bright tomato red. "W - Well I..." She fumbled for words but didn't know how to respond to that.

"Play nice Jemma," Jay told her off.

“She fainted,” Fleur said without thinking. “She climbed up a tree to save Angel but got too scared to get down. So she fainted. Thankfully Cruise distracted the bloodsuckers that came for us from nowhere-”

“Oh, my God-” Jemma whispered. She frowned worriedly. "She put her life at risk for a damn cat? Sorry, carry on."

“Er. Well," Fleur straightened her back and hugged Angel to her defensively. "Well, then he came back after getting rid of them. He got Kat down, but she was out already. So she had to stay inside the car until we came to save you,” Fleur explained.

“Oh,” Katrina muttered. “So you’re the people we were coming after?” She asked turning to look at Jay on her right.

Jay nodded. He wasn’t smiling but his eyes were kind. “We are very thankful,” he said, and leant his head on the headset. “Where is he?” He asked gravely. Now his eyes were alert and looking outside.

“He asked me to tell us to go to the nearest petrol station and wait for him there, on a … this … what was it? Ashton Rd?" She paused thoughtfully. "Yeah, he definitely said 'Ashton Road'."

“Don’t worry, he’ll make it. He always does.”

“I’ll drive,” Jemma announced, and slide to the right side got and behind the wheel. She started the engine after Fleur gave her the car key from Cruise. “We’ll wait for him until he comes. Then we’ll get out of this hell.”

“It’s all over the world by now,” Jay said.

“There’s probably a safe zone somewhere, you know that could be possible,” she corrected. “They made sure they would be.”

“What are you talking about?” Fleur asked, confused.

“Nothing,” Jay said, looking at Jemma from the rearview mirror. He glared at her with a knowing look.

Fleur watched Jemma frown in disapproval and shake her head.

“Nothing at all,” he repeated again firmly and quietly.

“They deserve to know,” she argued back equally, and drove the car onto the road. "We need to get out of here."

Jay looked away.

“There’s a safe zone,” she exposed, and unflinchingly stared at Jay’s frown through the same mirror. “A place where there is guaranteed protection from the world wide spread Aqua Virus. There’s also a possible cure.”

Jay shook his head slowly disapprovingly. “We can’t be sure,” he reminded.

“We can try,” she retorted, and then turned concentrated to look back onto the road. “We can surely try.”

Suddenly, a silhouette ran onto the road from the right where the forest was.

Jemma hit the breaks to stop the car and it screeched to a halt.

Whatever bumped the car had fallen onto the road.

Everyone was quiet save for a mewing Angel. Fiona cooed and hushed at her.

After what felt like an eternity and a bloodsucker didn’t get up to attack them, Jemma finally looked around. “Should we check it out?” She asked uncertainly.

“I’ll do it,” Katrina stated. She took a deep breath and was about to open the door, but Jay was quicker. She watched him as he was already walking over to the front of the car. She watched him staring, speechless, something he rarely was and looked back at the the others.

“What is it?” Jemma mouthed. Her chocolate eyes were wide with trouble and uneasiness behind the wind screen.

Katrina watched in silence, not wanting to make a sound and too afraid too move.

Fleur was trembling and hugged Angel tighter. "Don't make a sound, Angel..." she whispered.

Chapter 15 - Under The Headlights.

Jay watched the lifeless figure that was laid on the road. It was being illuminated by the car headlights. The guy wouldn’t have anymore older than twenty perhaps. He had short dark hair and pale skin from his profile.

“Is it dead? Is it one of them?” Jemma was asking him, looking out of the window.

Jay was about to turn away when when he did a double taking. He caught a twitch of the arm of the and hunched down to check the pulse. “He’s alive,” he whispered in alarm. Standing up, he motioned for Jemma to come out and inspect it.

Katrina hunched down also and tilted her head, her blonde hair looked as white as snow under the headlights. A frown made its way to her forehead. "You're right, he is alive..." she whispered in awe.

Jemma quickly got out – leaving the keys turned on in the ignition as well as the breaks – and got out. She walked around to the front of the and hunched down onto her heels. A frown came onto her soft features in trepidation and curiosity. “Gosh, he’s alive,” she stated after also checking his pulse. “Is he infected?” She looked up at Jay who was to her right and then opposite at Katrina.

“He doesn’t appear to have been bitten nor have any inflicted wounds,” Jay observed, also hunched down next to her. He had a look of concentration. “What’s this?” he asked himself mostly.

“What?” Katrina replied, and her curiosity followed where he was gesturing.

He nodded at the unconscious guy. “Look under his collar on the back of his neck.”

Jemma pulled the guy’s collar back and saw something odd.

“Maybe it’s a tattoo,” she guessed as she leant forward to check his pockets.

"Strange..." Katrina whispered.

“Yeah. We need to check if he has guns. He could be crazy or dangerous.” When she didn’t find anything she sat back onto her tip-toes.

“Nothing. Maybe he was running away from something and got hydrated and fainted,” He guessed, and ran a hand through his dark brown hair.

Jemma nodded. “Let’s go.”

Katrina couldn't believe what she saw. Before she could object, Jay spoke up, and she was glad.

“Wait!” He said suddenly and grabbed her arm. “Are you going to leave him here?”

“Yes.”

"That's totally unfair!" Katrina added. "What if we hadn't come to save you as well?"

Jemma opened her mouth to say something but was cut off.

“That’s not right. He isn’t infected! We should take him with us. More people, more strength against these mutants!” He reasoned, letting go of her arm.

“How many people are we going to save?” She sighed heavily and stood up to head back to her seat. “Whatever. Do what you want. But if turns," she paused to look back at them, "I'm not going to be responsible. "We should go, Cruise is probably waiting for us at the petrol station and I’m seriously freaking out that not a single human is around.”

Katrina stood up to confront her and faced her. “Are you seriously expecting help when you won’t help somebody else in their time of need?” she demanded. She was astonished.

Jemma's face passed a moment of guiltiness and her eyes softened. She glanced at Jay over Katrina's shoulder. She watched the unmoving body. There was a long bloody scratch on his white top. The jeans looked untouched. “Fine,” she muttered, “but let’s just make sure one last time in case he is infected. We can’t be too sure.”

Katrina's blood boiled. "Are you infected?" she snapped.

"What?"

"Let me jog your memory if you have forgotten. We didn't ask if you got scratched by those blood-suckers. But we still took a chance on you because Cruise saved our lives by trusting us."

"What are you going on about? I would never lie about something like that if you would have only asked!"

"Ladies," Jay tried to interject.

"H – Help..." Came a soft voice, but the girls were too involved to notice.

Jay tried again to get their attention. "He's coming to. Look!"

"What?!" Katrina and Jemma said in unison. They looked where Jay was hunched over again and forgot about their bickering.

“D – Don’t leave m – me … here … p – please,” The laying man on the floor whispered. It was so faint that it could’ve have been easily misheard. “P – Please!” He repeated and managed to turn himself onto his back.

“Oh, gosh, you see? He is hurt. Look at his stomach!” Jemma cried and moved back a few steps in horror.

“No … t – this … I hurt myself … fell down in a ditch b – because it was too dark ... t – to see and scratched myself, twisted my ankle … ow! Please help me,” he whispered tiredly. He was slipping in and out of consciousness.

Katrina gasped. “Thank God. I mean thank God you’re not infected, not that you fell down a ditch and twisted your ankle. C’mon guys let’s get him inside.”

Jemma gave Jay a warning glare and before going back to the car.

Jay rolled his eyes. He let the injured guy rest his body weight against himself and walked him carefully to the car and helped him get inside next to Fleur and Angel. Jemma was already in the driver's seat with a scowl. When Katrina took the seat after the guy Jay closed the door and then got into the front passenger seat next to Jemma.

“We need to get him sorted so he can leave as soon as possible,” she was mumbling and removed the brakes. She steered the wheel and glanced into the rearview mirror.

“Hey, man, need water?” Jay asked and handed him a small bottle of water. “You look thirsty.”

After the strange guy finished the bottle of water and gasped to take some air, he looked at Jay and everybody else with a weak smile. His black eyes were studying everyone. “Thank you for saving me, a – and for the water, otherwise I – I would’ve been dead meet … l – literally,” he stuttered.

“It was our duty. We will get that looked at as soon as we can find a Pharmacy,” Jay explained kindly. “Anyway, I’m Jay,” he introduced himself and turned to shake his hand.

“I’m Mark, Mark Hyun,” the injured guy said shook Jay's extended hand.

“Oh, so you’re Japanese?” Fleur asked excitedly.

“Korean,” he corrected, smiling.

“Oh, sorry,” she responded quickly. “I’m Fleur, I'm part french from my dad's side. This is my friend Katrina.”

“N - Nice to meet the both of you,” he smiled a little more. He didn’t want them to think that he wasn’t appreciating their help and made small talk, even if all he wanted was to get some sleep. “Are you Indian, if you don’t mind me asking? Sorry, j – just making conversation. I get nervous a lot,” he chuckled.

Katrina smiled for the first time since everything happened this morning. Her hair was blowing slightly in the humid breeze from her window. “It’s OK,” she smiled back. “I’m Pakistani, born and bred in England. And don’t worry; you have a right to get nervous particularly with what’s happening…” Her smile fainted.

“Yeah. What is happening?” He asked restively. “I just watched my parents and younger sister get torn to bits by those … those … things. They used to be my neightbours. They just went beserk! This is a nightmare!”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” she whispered, suddenly remembering her own parents. She felt guilty for not finding them already. What if they were…? No. NO. They are alive, they have to be. I need to find them soon as we pick up Cruise, she thought.

“Those things are a sort of mutants – they crave human blood,” Jemma took the initiative, “And they care about nothing about hurting and killing humans. They care only the lust for human blood. It’s their life force, it’s what they thrive on and stay alive despite being dead themselves. A part of their brain is reactivated somehow. They can infect you by scratching – that’s why I was so adamant to check your wound if you were infected – and they can also infect you when they bite you.”

“Like … zombies w – we see in the movies?” Mark asked slowly, processing the facts, “…A zombie apocalypse.”

“Yep,” Fleur nodded.

“Only these are blood-sucking vampire zombies,” Katrina opted to correct. She shuddered. “They crave blood. Not meat.”

“As far as we know,” Jemma added.

“This is too much to comprehend,” Mark groaned, fear showing in his eyes and his face pale.

Everyone was quiet for the for roughly ten minutes.

“So,” Jay finally broke the silence that was filly with gloominess. “What happened to you, man?”

Mark sighed and took a deep breath. “A group of those things saw me after killing my family and came right at me,” he elaborated in a soft, painful voice.

Katrina listened sadly.

Fleur patted his shoulder. “It wasn’t your fault,” she said gently.

“Wasn’t it? I could have been quicker, more capable. I ran for it after I watched them die. I wasn’t even able to let them rest in graves! My parents are now dead because of me! I have been running from the morning without food, water or clean clothes … never got the time – I … I’ve been running until you guys found me.”

“Mark it’s not your fault your family couldn’t make it,” Jay helped out, turning to give him an understanding look. “You would have helped as much as you could if you had been given the chance.”

“Yeah,” Fleur and Katrina said in unison, and nodded.

Mark was quiet and didn’t say anything else. He wore a grim expression as his parents dying eyes stared back at him pleadingly, the voice of his younger sister screaming for her big brother to save her from the bad monsters and take her away. Tears stung his eyes as he stared blindly out the window and bit his lip. I’m so sorry mum dad. I’m so sorry for not being able to save you and Kelli, he thought.

“Uh-oh … everyone … we have company,” Jemma announced in a horrified whisper. She slowed down the car to a standstill.

Chapter 16 – I’m Sorry.

Right ahead of them was a large horde of blood-suckers coming their way. It would have been easy to just run them over but some people who were human were screaming for their lives as they tried to get away.

Katrina heard a baby crying. “Oh, hell no!” She shouted at once and got out of the car. She could not take the poor little baby’s helpless cries, and began searching for Fleur's cricket bat frantically. She grabbed her Fleur’s cricket bat from her feet. “Where’s the baby? Where’s kid?!” She asked herself desperately.

“Katrina, you can’t do this alone!” Jemma shouted after her.

“Damn straight,” Mark yelled back.

“We’re right behind you!” Jay agreed. He gave Jemma an admonishing glare and Jemma caved in. He watched Katrina run away from the car with Mark. "Don't be such a cow. We're here for a reason. We need to save people to save the earth."

“Come on, hurry up you guy!” Katrina called back and whacked a blood-sucker on its head. It landed with a sickening thud next to her feet. “Die! I’m letting you evil bastards take a baby! Die! Die! DIE.”

“Damn she’s tough when she wants to be,” Jay said as he got out of the car. A blood-sucker ran hobbled over to him, snapping its jaws desperately. He easily pushed it away and kicked it in the gut and stabbed the head.

He was impressed by Katrina's fighting ability. “Katrina, here you go,” he said and threw a spare knife at the blood-sucker behind her. “Take the knife,” he nodded.

“Thanks,” she responded by taking it. It made a revolting squelching noise as she pulled it out from a skull. “I’ll go help the baby and the mum. The rest of you cover me and help the others!” She ordered and pushed through the blood-suckers and jumped onto the jeep that the mother and child were crying and sobbing on.

The baby was huddled close to its mother’s chest protectively and screaming to the top of its lungs. The baby looked to be only about three or four months old with fine dark hair covering the head. Cute button nose and eyes squeezed shut.

“Don’t worry, little baby, I won’t hurt you or your mum. You’ll be safe,” she whispered comfortingly at the baby.

The baby opened its eyes and watched her but continued crying.

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” The mum cried. “My husband and family members wanted to rest but they came at us out of nowhere! I wouldn’t let one of them take my daughter!”

“My heart couldn’t take her cries from all the way over there,” Katrina cried and kissed the baby.

“I needed to get into the other car that my husband was driving, but they were coming for my daughter and I – I just panicked and climbed on here!”

“It’s OK! We’re here to help! Come on, stay by my side, I’ll get you to your car safe and soundly, I promise,” Katrina reassured and held out the cricket bat and the knife with either hands. When she climbed back down, she asked the mum to come down with the baby.

“There it is, the blue one,” the mum said immediately.

“Great, follow me,” Katrina stated and motioned to be followed quickly. The baby was still crying its heart out and it tore Katrina’s heart. Why does a baby have to go through this hell? She thought angrily, but kept focus.

Katrina fought and stabbed several more blood-suckers on the way there – which was only a distance of about two cars away – but it felt a lot longer than that. Soon she was helping the mother and daughter into the backseat of the car in the car seat, when one of the creature's grabbed her arm.

The mother screamed from inside and hugged her baby to her bosom protectively.

“Not today, you piece of cow shit!” She hissed under her breath and twisted herself around, just in time to stab the thing in the head. But before that, a knife had already lodged into the skull. “Thanks Jay,” she gasped.

“Anytime,” he saluted and jogged over to her. He bent down to pull out his knife. “You’re fast, ruthless!”

“Not at fast as you,” she disagreed.

“That’s twice you saved my life just now,” she counted thankfully.

Another blood-sucker groaned and came at them and snapped its jaws hungrily. The fangs were horrid, some decayed and broken with others long and sharp, blood dripping from the mouth.

Jay quickly grabbed it as Katrina stabbed a knife into its skull, sending it sprawling onto the ground.

“Thanks,” she laughed. She felt exhilarated and accomplished. Saving innocent people definitely had its perks.

“MUM,” Fleur screamed suddenly and ran past them. Angel ran out of the car somewhere unseen.

Jay and Katrina gave each other worried looks before running after her.

“Stay with the family. Keep them safe!” Jay reminded Jemma and Marks. “Get rid of the last few!” He meant the creatures.

Katrina ran after her insane friend. “Where are you going, Fleur?!” She asked urgently, trying to catch up to her before she did anything stupid.

“Mum! Mum I’m to save to!” Fleur was screaming recklessly. She skidded to a stop until she came face to face with her mum. Someone who used to be her mum and wrapped her in a big hug. “I’m here now! Thank Heavens you’re not hurt!” she gasped, frenetic.

“No!” Katrina yelled angrily and continued running. Almost there, she confirmed silently.

“Mum…?” Fleur asked tentatively and broke the embrace. Something stank and she covered her nose and mouth to look at her mum. “Mum…?” She repeated, and her hair blew in front of her eyes. There was a strange noise before her arm was on fire and she screamed in pain.

“No, no, no, no!” Katrina shouted angrily. Tears sprung to her eyes when she finally go to her poor friend.

Jay had gotten there first before the creature could do Fleur anymore harm. He swiftly and efficiently got rid of it. Fleur's mum was now completely dead.

Fleur sobbed as she fell onto her knees in pure agony and clutched her bloodied arm. Warm blood oozed from the wound down her arm and dribbled off her fingers, leaving a thick pool of crimson liquid on the ground.

Katrina fell next to her friend and took hold of the bitten arm. “We can get it cleaned up and soon you’ll be fine as if nothing happened,” she explained in a rushed tone, desperate for her friend to be OK. “Get up! There’s a public toilet where we can get that washed and I have-”

“I’m … I’m sorry, Kat, I’m so stupid,” Fleur sobbed into Katrina’s chest.

“Don’t be silly!”

“I am! I thought she was my mum, but she was one of them!”

“Let’s get you to the public lavatory first,” Jay advised and picked her up bridal style. Fleur was too weak to stand up and walk by herself.

Katrina followed behind them and entered into the small building that contained four cubicles. The walls were dirty and the white paint was peeling off in so many places it was hard not to find somewhere unclean.

“I’ll put you here, is that alright?” Jay asked the hysterical Fleur, and received a small nod. He set her against the wall near the entrance and put his leather jacket around her.

“I’ll go and get the Aid box,” he stated before leaving "Cruise always has one in his car."

Katrina nodded and Jay went out.

“I’m going to die, aren’t I?” Fleur sobbed, “Because of my stupidity! I’m going to turn … aren’t I?”

“No you’re not because I won’t let you! As long as we get that cleaned up I’m sure the infection will-”

“Look at me!” Fleur demanded weakly, tears leaking down her face and her eyes were heavy. She removed Jay’s jacket.

Katrina hissed through her teeth and shut her eyes. But it was too late; she had seen the large mouthful of flesh disappeared from forearm. “Oh, Fleur, I’m sorry,” Katrina gasped as a new wave of tears flooded behind her eyelids.

Fleur laughed hysterically. “It’s not even your fault so why are you sorry?” She asked and giggled again like mad. “I’m thirsty. Can you please get me some water?” She asked in a small voice.

“Of course, I’ll get it right away,” Katrina replied at once and went out of the small building.

Fleur was glad that her friend wouldn’t be here to witness this. It had to be done. She reached with her left right hand - which was unbitten - into the inside pocket of Jay’s jacket and pulled that shiny object out. Standing up and stumbling towards the mirror, she stared at herself with tears and sobs. Whilst her shoulder moved up and down with her blubbering and bawling, she fished out her lipstick and wrote something on the murky mirror.

It was going to be a message to Katrina. When she finished her message, she let the lipstick tube and lid fall and clatter onto the sink. They hit the edge of the basin and then flipped into the air only to fall onto the cold, stone floor. She brought the gun up to her temple and closed her eyes tightly. She squeezed the trigger after a moment’s hesitation and the bullet shot straight into her skull.

Fleur’s lifeless body fell onto the ground with a stomach-turning thud. The shot echoed from inside and carried the shock waves right out so everybody heard it.

If only she had taken another minute to consider killing herself, Katrina could have stopped her. But it was now too late.

Katrina stumbled back into public toilets and screamed. So many emotions grew inside her, anger, frustration, love, regret, guilt and sympathy.

There lay her friend on the floor, lifeless and unmoving. Her eyes were wide open that were still glossy with remaining tears, her heart-shaped lips slightly apart and her limbs rested in odd angles. Her hair was messy and frizzy and her clothes covered in semi-dried blood.

Jay, Jemma and Mark all came rushing through the entrance and stopped in their tracks, stunned to discover what the reason behind the shot was.

Katrina’s chest shook with hiccups and sobs as her feet slowly took small steps forwards. My best friend … is dead? She thought. “H – How … oh, Fleur! I b – brought the water you asked for!” She cried, and caught something red to her left in her peripheral vision.

‘I don’t want to turn like my mum. I’m sorry Katrina. Love, your best friend and sister, Fleur,’ was written in big, unsteady handwriting in red lipstick.

Chapter 17 – The Long Wait.

“Oh, Katrina,” Mark said sympathetically. “I’m so sorry to see this happen. You must feel devastated. I know how you feel … I … I’m sorry you had to see this.”

Katrina looked up at him as if remembering something very important. “How is the baby?” She asked worriedly, “Is her mum and dad safe now?”

“They are safe and sound,” Jay assured her and sat down on his heels next to her. “They insisted to give us any help in return but we asked them to go on their way. We explained to them that we were waiting for someone. Then we heard…” He didn’t finish the sentence and looked down at the frail form on the cement floor.

“I’m so sorry, Katrina – Fleur was a good person, even though I hardly knew her,” Jemma gasped and put her hand over her mouth.

Jay put an arm around Katrina protectively. “I’m sorry that she … she is gone. We offer our condolences,” he said in a softer, low voice, “She was a beautiful person.”

About twenty minutes had gone by nut Katrina was not budging. She wanted to stay with her friend. “I’m not leaving her here, damn it,” she cried into her hands.

“Kat, please…” Jay begged. “I know you’re hurting, but staying here won’t bring her back. Would she want you to put your life in danger, hm?” She did her best to be considerate.

Jemma turned walked up to Katrina and knelt down next to her also. She felt her pain, as did the others. “Look, I’m sorry about your friend, but we have to go,” she said apologetically and puts her hand on her shoulder, making jay let go. She felt a pang of jealousy but pushed it away quickly.

"You never know if more might come. We could get trapped," Jay reminded.

“He’s right,” she agreed. “I think we better get out of here, fast.” She was rather edgy and anxious to leave and looked at Katrina, begging her with her eyes.

“We are all very sorry about your friend, but at least she won’t have to become one of them,” Jay said concurred and pointed his jump at the door. His usually intense dark eyes softened again when he saw Katrina sob. He looked away at the ugly coloured walls.

Katrina nodded and slowly bent forward to give her dead friend a light kiss on the forehead. “Goodbye,” she whispered. “I will miss you.” With a final caring gaze at Fleur, she left with her group and stepped back outside. It was raining by now. She knew she had to be strong and hid her emotions at the bottom of her heart for the time being.

“Come, Kat,” Jay said quietly and held out a hand. He smiled sadly at her with kindness. “Let’s all get through this. Right guys?” He asked everyone, but it was more towards her.

She couldn’t help but give him a watery, wobbly smile and took his larger hand. “We won’t make it, will we?” She whispered to him knowingly.

“Only time will tell,” he whispered back with a small smile.

She nodded and looked to her left. “Jemma, let’s go and wait for Cruise. We can’t give up on him. He has done so much for Fleur and I,” she stated.

Jemma gave her a curt nod as they all walked back to the car along with them. “Are you sure you’re OK to drive?” Jemma asked hesitantly when Katrina had approached the driver’s side.

“You need some rest,” Katrina advised and climbed into the car. The key was already in. She turned it and the car came to life. She waited until everyone got in. The boys got in the back and Jemma was next to her in the front.

“Thanks,” Jemma whispered and looked at her, feeling a bit guilty. “I don’t remember when I got some shut eye,” she murmured and yawned heavily.

“No problem. Get some sleep in the back, you guys,” Katrina advised and pulled the car back onto the street. She was headed towards the Petrol Station. Please be there, please be there, she begged silently in her thoughts. I don’t know what we’d do if we lose him. Sure we didn’t get a long a first but after Fleur he was the one I could trust most.

She dodged several broken down and abandoned cars parked haphazardly on the bridge she was going through. Glancing over her shoulder and to her left, she saw that everyone was already snoozing. She looked back onto the bridge, drove a few more meters until it ended and turned right onto a long winding road.

~*~

Katrina almost dosed off when she realised that it would be fatal for everyone and forced her eyes open. There was only a little more to until they would reach the petrol station. She kept her eyes on the road as well as keeping a lookout for Cruise and the blood-suckers.

Five minutes later she saw the familiar street corner and turned right, right onto the infamous Ashton Road. There it was. It was just like another other petrol stations but it looked too out in the open for some reason.

Cruise was still not there.

Maybe he was hiding and would come out after he can see us, she thought expectantly and parked the in front of the petrol pump. There were four petrol pumps as per usual and she took the top right one, closest to the road. She switched the ignition off and the wipers stopped in the middle of the window screen, letting the rain obscure the vision.

Jemma mumbled and woke up at once. “Are we here?” She asked groggily yawning and peered through the window.

Katrina nodded. “Yes.”

“Thank God,” Jemma said, getting out with Katrina and closing the door. “An hour must have gone by since we last saw him. He would've travelled on foot.” She turned to Katrina. “Maybe he’s still on his way, perhaps he's late.”

Katrina nodded, but something at the pit of her stomach squeezed her insides and something didn't feel right. She didn’t pay heed to her gut and continued to look around the building in case he was there. When they didn’t see him, she motioned to go inside and watched Jemma wake up the others.

“Want me to come in with you?” Jay asked yawning.

“No, you keep an eye out for Cruise,” she replied, “He’s probably not here yet so I need you and Mark to be our eyes and ears. We’ll be back. Just gonna go and check for him in there, if not, we will grab some essentials and wait. OK?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Jay said shortly. “Be careful. Mark and I will be watching out just outside of the door.”

Jemma held her hand gun out, and nodded at the broken glass window.

Katrina nodded and went inside the door slowly. “He’s not here,” she whispered quietly. She looked over her shoulder and saw as Jay and Mark took their places as watch outs.

After the girls checked that the building was empty, they started to fill the carrier bags that had been strewn across the floor, and got a few female essentials for themselves privately.

“Good thinking, right?” Jemma smirked, lightening up the mood.

Katrina nodded with a smile, but her eyes weren’t smiling. They were wide, anxious and alert. “What’s keeping him?” She whispered out loud. "I'm getting creepy goosebumps."

“Same here. It’s creeping me out!” Jemma shuddered and stopped just right outside the door. “Guys, come inside and have some snacks. We will wait for Cruise in here.”

“I’ll stow these inside the car in case we have to rush out. I don’t want to forget anything,” Katrina announced and quickly ran outside under the rain. She was already completely wet by the time she returned into the building.

“Gosh, girl, you could have took an umbrella before scuttling out in the rain!” Jemma joked and pointed at the rows of stacked umbrellas at the back.

Katrina groaned at herself, annoyed, and forgot her grief for the moment.

Mark chuckled and shook his head.

Jay just stood near the door and watched everyone, regularly checking outside and took the chair that was behind the till to settle on.

“It’s a surprise there’s still a lot of stuff left in here,” Mark said and observed the room. “We can stay here for a few weeks.”

“Why would we need to do that?” Jemma asked as if he was a child.

“Just saying,” he shrugged, “There’s quite a lot of food. It’s helpful.”

“He’s right,” Jay spoke out. “Also we should stock more up in our car in case we needed a quick get-away.”

“We should only take how much we can carry and need,” Katrina reminded.

“Yeah,” Jay agreed.

Jemma was sitting on the floor. She crossed her legs underneath her.

“How long do you think we will have to wait here?” Mark asked, sitting across from her.

Jemma shrugged. “As long as it takes,” she responded.

“What if he’s-”

“He will make it,” she interrupted. “I know him. He’s not one to give up. And neither should we.”

Everyone was quiet after that. The room was getting colder by the minute because the rain splattered through the crashed glass pane that used to be in the door.

“We should border this up. It’s dangerous,” Jay conveyed. He looked over to Mark and inclined his head to follow him. “We can use the empty shelves of the stalls to border it up.”

Jemma quickly got up and suggested, “I’ll go check in the back in case they have any supplies. I think I saw some nails, hammers, and other stuff there. Won’t be a mo.” She walked past the till counter and came back out not a moment later, carrying some big nails and a hammer.

“That was fast,” Mark said.

“There you go,these should help,” she said and passed everything to him.

Jay came from the back with a large metal shelf that was easy unattached. Mark helped him and soon they were both helping each other border up the entrance. They didn’t need to drill holes in the metal shelf since it already had some, so that made the job easier.

“Doesn’t look so bad,” Jemma commented with a hand on her hip. “Not bad at all. Good work guys.” She gave Mark a high five and raised her palm at Jay.

He rolled his eyes and returned the gesture.

“You and your brooding,” She teased.

“I do not brood,” he retorted.

“You are the king of broodiness.”

He sighed.

“I win,” Jemma sang.

“You both are better than a television soap opera,” Mark joked, chomping on a chocolate bar. “Hey, where’s Katrina?” He asked suddenly when she couldn’t be seen anywhere.

Everyone grew alert all of a sudden.

“Katrina?” Jay called. Nothing. “Hey! KATRINA?”

Katrina stumbled out from the back expectantly, her mouth full. “Wha’?” She mumbled with her hands full of snacks. “Sowwy. I didn’ realishe how fawish a yam,” she tried to explain.

“What…?” Mark asked confusingly.

Katrina showed them the contents in her hands and gulped down a can of fizzy drink. Her eyes were red and puffy. “I said, didn’t realise how famished I am,” she repeated, apologetically. Her expression turned sour. “Is he still not here yet?” She asked indistinctly.

Jemma knew that expression. She could tell that Katrina had been crying alone but she didn’t ask her up front, because even she wasn't that mean, she knew how it was like when you didn't want people to find out you had been crying alone. “Don’t worry, we are not giving up. We are going to stay here all night if we have to,” she said, trying to comfort herself and everyone.

Epilogue.

Cruise’s eyes opened with a start. They were wide and watchful. He was on the dirty ground and his face was facing his left shoulder with his right side touching the ground. He couldn’t move – paralysed, except for his eyes. What happened to me? He thought a little dazedly.

Last night’s incident flashed in his mind, waking him up completely from the grogginess. Fleur and I made a plan … saved the rest … I ran away to distract the dead vamps and then I … I … was … He thought slowly. That’s when he remembered that he was bitten. One bite was on his left leg and the other on his side, just below the ribcage, and then he had lost conscious. Why can’t I move?! Am I … am I dead? He thought frantically and his heartbeat quickened when he heard something.

He ignored it and went back to his thought. I think. I hope Fleur and Katrina and everyone have escaped without getting hurt! I’ll try to get myself somewhere … perhaps I can get up if I keep on trying. He tried to get up.

Nothing. Nothing happened. He was stuck!

He blinked slowly trying to calm down when he still couldn’t move himself still. But after what felt like an eternity his heart soared, finally, the tips of his fingers could be lifted from the grass. A tingly sensation overtook his whole body, which was an outlandish feeling because it wasn’t exactly pins-and-needles but at the same time that was the best how he could explain it as. Perhaps … my body was … asleep? Nah. That’s impossible, he thought.

His hands itched to push himself away from the dirty ground to see what was happening around him, but to no avail. He couldn’t be dead because he wasn’t having that insatiable thirst for blood or anything horrific like that. At least I’m not one of them … yet. Will I turn later? He asked himself mentally, desperately not wanting to turn.

There was a movement behind him but he couldn’t turn on his back to see.

“Arghhhhh … raaarghhhh…!” Came the unavoidable voice. It was a blood-sucker coming Cruise’s way.

Cruise could feel the ground thudding as it came closer and closer. Oh, no… he thought dolefully and squeezed his eyes shut. He nearly jumped out his skin and he listened. Bloody vampire-mutant! He screamed in his head. His eyes darted everywhere to catch the blood-sucker but his body wasn’t fully mobile yet. The tingling sensation gradually leaving his body but still prevalent. No matter how hard he tried he still couldn’t move anymore that much.

To his absolute horror and amazement he watched the blood-sucker dragging its upper body past him as its insides dangled out from the gaping waist line. The thing groaned in agony and hunger on the ground and didn’t even look to see the lying man on the floor.

Cruise would cringe if he could. That’s right, keep going you piece of decaying mess of dog shit! He said silently with disgust and satisfaction. A revolting stink of decomposed flesh and bones reached his senses and he thought he would vomit. His sight caught the dead body’s insides hanging out. It took everything for him not to throw up indeed.

When the last bit of discoloured grey intestines was out of sight, Cruise breathed sigh of relief through his nostrils, glad that he hadn’t become its food. “Thank God,” he breathed into the grass. Suddenly, his eyes widened when he noticed his could finally move his mouth. The tingling feeling was completely gone by now. “Wow it feels good to talk again!” He exclaimed.

Now, he progressed to attempt once again to move his fingers. It worked. He made them into fists and opened them up to look at his palms. Then his toes inside his combat boots and his feet and legs also moved without a problem. A faint, subconscious smile came onto his features when he was OK again. Soon, he was able to budge himself to sit up and study the area he was situated in.

It was daytime now. Sunny and hot. The trees were looking uncannily beautiful as their leaves rustled when the wind brushed them. The rays of the bright sun was shining down from above him and all around him, engulfing him in warmth. Why did the blood-suckers’ bites not turn me? Why am I still alive? Am I in fact still laying unconscious somewhere and dreaming this? He questioned madly and ran a over his face. He didn’t understand and the questions were running wild in his mind, like rampaging ants.

As he pushed himself off from the ground it started to drizzle very lightly. He continued to walk. At first his steps were hesitant but not for long and they started to pick up pace, just like the rain did as if urging him onward. His blonde hair fell over his eyes and matted to his head as the rain poured down. The ground under his feet became muddy and sloshed, which caused his boots and the bottom of his trousers to splatter with mud. He ran his hands through his wet hair and brushed it away from his already obscured vision from the rain.

“Ah!” He gasped as his side hurt as if a needle pierced him. Stopping in his tracks he inspected his injuries underneath the sun and rain. His eyebrows furrowed as he peeled his shirt off. It peeled away from him like second skin.

The skin cells had regenerated exceptionally fast for a normal human. He checked bitten his leg and was met with the same results. He looked back down at his bite shaped scars and watched the dark, half dried blood dribble off with the rain, and watched with perplexity, amazement and shock. “What the…?” He muttered. The bites were no longer open and were scars instead. “I healed, but … how?”

Darkening clouds rumbled. Thunder crackled in the distance, scaring away the sunlight and invited threatening clouds. Rain poured down hard and created puddles.

“Why am I alive?” He said in awe.

“That’s a very interesting question,” a female voice answered him. She was dressed in a futuristic black uniform. She had a sort of dark metal over her head and it masqueraded over her eyes. Her full pink lips curved into a smile as she introduced herself before him.

“Who are you?” He demanded, alert.

She replied with a unwavering tone, “You are very special, Cruise … aren’t you?” She circled around him with sure and confident steps, subtly touching the place where he was bitten on his side with her gloved hand.

“How do you know my name?” He demanded.

“You don’t know me, but I know you very well, Cruise,” she responded with an amused look. “We have been watching you and your friends, you see.” She stopped behind him and traced something undecipherable on his back. Her touch was cold. “You’re quite a beautiful human being,” she sighed.

He watched her come back around to face him. “Who are you and what do you want?” He asked curiously.

“Name’s Fiona … I want…” she said looking into his eyes, “I need your DNA.”