Sorry for the delayed update! Here’s a bit more from my Zombie novel. If you haven’t read the first part, please refer to The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse.
Jacob paced back and forth, raking nervous fingers through his hair. He had just dialed 911 from the landline, but all he got was static. He tried other numbers – the police department, the fire department, the operator, a pizza place – and still, nothing. Not a single outbound call was going through.
He found himself stealing frequent glances at the elevator. The flesh-eater from the lobby would wake up soon, and he’d need to be ready if she found him again. It was certainly plausible, given that her staff keycard granted her access to his floor. Jacob cracked his knuckles with fresh conviction and pushed the sofa against the elevator doors to set up a blockade. His defense would have to hold until the authorities arrived. He collected chairs from each room, stacked them against one other atop the sofa, and taking another, brought it to the stairwell door and jammed it under the handle. Satisfied with his improvisation, he made his way to the bathroom.
Jacob picked his gun off the floor and wiped it dry. The weight of the weapon always surprised him, made him feel powerful, deliberate, somehow more in control, and moving back to the main room, he propped the gun at shoulder level and took practice aim between the two blockaded entrances. He thought back to the nightmarish descent, the growls and whispers and snarls, and hoped that his mind had simply contrived a lie to distract him from his depression. Still, it had all seemed so real. After some time, he lowered the gun and began to search for his cell phone, looking under pillows and cabinets and in drawers, but to no avail, having hidden it in some forgettable nook when he first arrived. Better hidden so that he wouldn’t give in to weakness and call Molly, he remembered. He managed a laugh. It was just as she had predicted: in the end, his pride would prove his downfall.
But not today.
Jacob caught a glimpse of his cell phone lying behind the wardrobe closet. He dragged it out of the shadows with reaching fingers and blew the dust off the screen. It had been left in sleep mode for days, but with his touch the phone glowed awake. Service not available, he read. He was stunned. There was no reason for service to have been cut off. He had paid his bills on time, every time, for the entirety of his adult life. Jacob nearly smashed the phone against the wall in anger but thought the better of it. Emergencies were always patched through the network. He steadied his breathing, dialed 911, and put the headset to his ear. There was only silence. Minutes passed. He looked down at the screen and cursed his accumulation of bad luck.
With his phone in one hand and gun in the other, Jacob returned to guarding the entrances. Despite the setbacks, he began to convince himself that he could hold out. He was armed. The water was still running. He was out of food, sure, but it would take weeks for starvation to claim him, and by then he would be safe and free, maybe in Europe or Tokyo or Brazil. He’d always wanted to go to Brazil. At the very least, he figured, the trauma had earned him a vacation.
Jacob leaned against the kitchen counter with a sigh. An hour had passed since his encounter with the flesh-eater, and comforted by the relative safety of his suite, fear had given way to boredom. He located the television remote and flicked it on, but, as expected, the service had been terminated. Nevertheless, he browsed through seventy channels of black and white static before shutting it off.
He took out his cell phone and tapped through the menus to pass the time. Some voicemails had been saved to his phone from when it still had service. Though the battery was nearly drained, it was enough to check his messages.
Monday, August 12th.
Hey buddy, so listen, I know you asked for time away from the office, but there’ve been some unforeseen complications with the China investments. I’m going to need you to touch base-*click*.
He deleted the message.
Tuesday, August 13th.
Jakeybaby, it’s been a week since your father and I have heard from you-*click*.
Friday, August 16th.
His stomach clenched upon hearing her voice, but he could sense that something was wrong, as though she had been crying.
I think this will be the last chance I get to speak to you. I don’t know where you are, but I hope you’ve found a safe place now that the world’s gone mad.
She sobbed her words out.
All I ever wanted was for you to be happy. You just…you didn’t know how to be happy. Or you didn’t want to be. I don’t know. I’m sorry, Jake. I wish it hadn’t come to this. I wish you could hold me now and tell me everything is going to be okay.
There was a sharp thumping noise in the background and Molly shrieked. Jacob’s palms began to sweat.
I…I want you to know that I love you, even now.
The continuous thumping ended in a massive crack like the sound of wood being splintered. She hurried out her last words.
I love you-
The phone crashed to the ground amidst a flurry of screams and desperate growls, and the message ended as abruptly as it began.
Jacob balled his fists until his knuckles whitened, trying to stifle the flow of tears. He told himself that she could survive anything – she had always been a fighter – but his heart throbbed a different beat. He had immediately recognized the growls over the phone, and his bones hurt for fear of the implication. There were more flesh-eaters out there. Even Molly said that the world had gone mad. Surely it had. How else could he explain the situation? Jacob imagined her encounter with one of them, of her being overwhelmed, having her flesh torn away from her body as she screamed bloody mercy into the phone. Drowning in futility, she died telling him she loved him. No, he muttered, shaking his head defiantly. No, no, no.
He walked over to the windows and, for the first time in a week, raised the blinds. His knees buckled at the sight of the city materializing before him. The world had gone mad.
The water stopped running around midnight. Jacob placed his forehead flat against the window and exhaled his stress. According to a television program he had once seen on mountain climbing, he would have roughly four days before his body shriveled up from dehydration. Not that it mattered, really. Help might never arrive, let alone in the span of days or weeks. There had been no sign of police or military or medical personnel, despite whole buildings enveloped in blackness, whole streets packed full of flesh-eaters, hundreds of them, wandering aimlessly through the night past abandoned cars and the strewn about remains of people.
He looked through the glass with vacant eyes. He recalled the sight of a young couple plunging to their deaths, their hands clasped together until the moment of impact. His heart had broken a second time with their fall. He knew that he was not so different from the jumpers. If Molly were with him, perhaps that would be their decision, too. Now, however, he decided that if the flesh-eaters were upon him he would leave the world by the end of his gun, just as he had originally intended. It was the only reasonable thing to do, given what he’d seen of their victims. He had since learned the truth. Some were eaten alive, but others became them.
Jacob shuddered at the memory. He had been watching the sunset when a motorcyclist suddenly accelerated out of an underground parking garage located opposite the hotel. It was a fool’s gamble – the street was checkered with flesh-eaters – but the motorcyclist wove in and out of danger with a restrained confidence. As he approached the end of the street, however, a pack of the bastards rushed in from the next crossing, attracted by the engine noise perhaps. They formed an impasse with their numbers, forcing the motorcyclist to slam his brakes too quickly. He lost control and slid to the ground, defenseless before the flesh-eaters as they descended upon him. Jacob was certain that all that would be left were the grisly remains. It brought him an eerie feeling to watch the man writhe around in pain, to taste even a small part of that desperation – voyeur to a death that might soon be his – but not a minute later, the flesh-eaters backed away almost uniformly. Physically intact though covered in blood, the man rose from the ground and began to gesture in the manner of his once-attackers. The rest followed suit, and they continued as though nothing had happened, treating the victim as one of their own.
Jacob tapped his forehead against the glass, still struggling to come to grips with the realization that the flesh-eaters were making the normal ones theirs. With each passing moment they were growing in number, becoming even more of a threat. They would overwhelm the city soon if they hadn’t already. He wondered if the military would just nuke the fucking place, if some hardass general in a command center was arguing their fate that very moment. They’re a lost cause; let God have mercy on their souls, the general would declare, before he slammed his fist down on the red button and wiped them out. The world would sigh their collective relief, they would mourn, and finally they would celebrate the eradication as their salvation. He would be ash, to be remembered in the future by some distant relative as that one who was lost in the bombing.
He stepped back from the window and passed his gun from one hand to the other, rubbing the palm sweat off onto his shirt. He hadn’t let go of the weapon for hours. Looking at it now, Jacob realized the irrelevance of whatever circumstances surrounded his death – bullet, bomb, or cannibalism. In each case he would be lost to history, impossibly insignificant, as though he never lived in the first place, damned to existential hell. Only after having shed his suicidal drive could he fully understand. If there were ever hope of redemption, he would have to endure.
Jacob checked the barricaded entrances to ensure their strength, then moved to the bathroom and locked himself in to sleep. He decided that he would search for food and water supplies in the morning.