Please choose One**
EXCERPT #1 –
“The CDC is recommending everyone to stay indoors until further notice. We will have round the clock updates on the situation for you. There have now been more than two hundred and fifty confirmed cases of the virus in the state of Nevada
alone, and a small number of cases in both California and Arizona.”
I throw my head in my hands. “What the hell is this thing?”
Ike’s response is not one I am expecting. “You don’t want to know.”
“Are we going to survive this?” I’m not sure that I’ve ever been portrayed as weak,
but if I have, this is it.
Ike glances over at me with a tight line forming at his lips.
“They are emptying out the prisons in an attempt to have set check points for the uninfected to check in and be protected by the military. Two of the four state prisons have already been evacuated, with the other two to follow shortly.”
I can’t help the gasp that escapes my lips from the information being relayed
through the radio. “What are they doing with the prisoners?”
“My guess? With this epidemic they have going on currently, prisoners are the least
of their worries. They are putting them on the streets,” Ike answers, unusually
calm and collected.
“Are you fucking joking me?” I can’t help my outburst. “The world is literally going
The only saving grace I have is that the prisoners are branded with barcodes on the
back of their necks. If I make sure to check every person we encounter, it won’t be a problem. But I think that is going to be easier said than done.
Ike clicks off the radio abruptly, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“You have anyone left?” Ike asks as we drive further into the darkness. It is barely
4:00 p.m. according to the clock on the dashboard, yet the sun set nearly an hour ago. And now, there is no radio to drown out the awkward silence.
“Just my little sister,” I answer, my eyes fixated on the stars twinkling idly by.
They are so deceivingly beautiful, and out during the ugliest of nights.
“What’s her name?” Ike asks, turning the a/c up a bit.
“Rian, but I like to call her Ry. She says it always makes her feel special.” I feel a pang in my chest. I hadn’t realized just how much I had been missing my sister until the rest of my family was lost.
“Have you tried to get ahold of her?” Ike asks, glancing over at me.
“I don’t even know where to begin.” Ike gives me a strange look in response to my
Silence falls upon the car as we continue driving without further explanations from one another. And that is how we leave it for at least another ten minutes. I think we are going to remain that way—in muted silence, when Ike surprises me by asking another question. “Where is she? Do we need to go pick her up somewhere?” The suggestion makes me feel like a bad sister.
“It’s not that easy,” I begin. “My sister is away at boarding school.”
Ike looks at me quickly with a somewhat shocked expression.
I shrug my shoulders. “She got into a lot of trouble…I probably wasn’t the best
I remember when my parents made the decision to send her to boarding school, I
was so relieved. I knew that with her being in a completely different state, it made my Uncle’s access to her nearly impossible. While I hated the thought of her being alone in a new place without me, I was thankful she would have a safe environment to grow up in, somewhere she would feel safe.
We continue to drive in silence for a few more minutes before Ike decides to speak
up again. “Where is she, Phoenix?”
“How old is she?” Ike continues to try to make conversation.
I sigh, not wanting to talk. Ike doesn’t seem to notice.
“My baby was just seven years old…such a tragedy,” Ike chokes on the last word. I
glance over at him just in time to notice him biting his lip and a tear trickling down his cheek; instantly feeling guilty for having any sort of attitude.
“Is she one of the lost souls now?” I find myself asking; not sure if I am overstepping boundaries or not.
He doesn’t answer me, just silently cries while staring out the windshield.
EXCERPT #2 –
I’m soaking wet when I wake up in the middle of the night, but as I reach up and touch my side of the bed and clothes, I realize it’s not me. Robyn is drenched in sweat; it is seeping through the bed sheets.
“Robyn.” I attempt to stir her by shaking her gently. “Robyn.”
I turn on my bedside lamp quickly, illuminating our dark room.
“Robyn, wake up.” When she finally stirs and opens her eyes—more than one vein has popped in each of her eyes. My biggest fear has just come true. I couldn’t protect her from the infection. I’ve been careful not to come in contact with her saliva or blood, but what about my daughter? “Robyn, you’re soaking wet babe, you
should change.” I pull her up so she’s now seated on the bed, but she looks disoriented, confused, and even a bit agitated.
“Why did you wake me up?” she slurs, semi-coherent.
“You’re running a fever.” I hurriedly grab a change of clothes for her and help her into them before changing the bedspread and
putting her back to bed. They said the virus attacks unhealthy hosts at an unusually fast rate…my wife has sickle cell anemia. The virus is probably feasting on her unhealthy insides. I shudder at the thought.
Quickly, I make my way out into the hallway and over to Asia’s room. She appears to be sleeping soundly, so I don’t wake her. I will check on her in the morning. I feel sick to my stomach as I grab a knife from the kitchen and carry it back to our bedroom. Instead of lying down next to Robyn, I end up seated in the rocking chair in the far corner of the room,
silently watching her, gripping the knife tightly. I know I’m in denial. I know that I’ve already lost her, but I can’t do it. No matter who or what she is now, I can’t hurt my wife.
EXCERPT #3 –
Seven minutes left.
They just keep coming. Some look worse than others. Their decaying flesh and stench cannot be ignored, even if I tried. I glance down at the pile of lifeless biters at my heels. Come on Cullen! My mind is screaming. It’s almost like they are multiplying; never-ending.
“Harlan! Behind you!” I shriek, before a knife flies straight past his face and into the biter’s skull. I turn to look at Cullen, who is in a stance like he has just thrown it.
So he is skilled in throwing knives too? He is just full of surprises…
As I am still mid-deep in thought, I feel a burning sensation coming from my arm—similar to what it felt like when my brother sank his teeth into me. Yet this is a much more intense pain and without being aware
of my actions, I hear myself scream out in pain.
“Phoenix!” I hear both Cullen and Harlan shout out in unison.
I look down at the biter who is currently trying to gnaw my arm off, and bring the butcher knife down onto her skull, cracking it in two. I catch her eyes right before I end it all for her, they are feral looking and bloodshot. She is only a teenager. Again, I will have to live with my guilt.
I instantly feel relief as her teeth release from my arm. Blood is gushing everywhere.
“What do we do?” Jerrica screams, while still attempting to keep the biters at bay.
“She’s infected; we can’t take her with us.” I hear Cullen say.
“We are not leaving her here to die—I’m not leaving her.” Harlan comes to my rescue.
The loss of blood is making me woozy; nauseous. I am stumbling from side to side. I want to tell them that I am immune according to what Ike told me, but my words come out in heavy slurs.
“Get it going!” I hear Harlan bark, through tightly closed eyes. I have never heard him so fierce.
“I just need to lie down for a second,” I say, again through slurred speech, mostly to myself before the hard ground and I meet in the roughest of ways. And then it all stops—it all goes black.