(nome de plume)
Michael and mother were now both dead and in the dimly lit tunnel I went to search for father.
The underground concrete maze kept confusing me, and I took wrong turns down hallways my map didn’t show. I felt a hollowness in my chest, devoid of emotion anymore, which helped slay the infected who crossed my path.
But I wouldn’t find father right away. My older sister, Nicole, found me first.
“Little sister, I was hoping you wouldn’t come here. But here you are, no doubt trying to fulfill the promise we made forever ago. Well, I won’t let that happen.”
I was now taller than her and it didn’t seem she aged at all since I last saw her. Since we promised to each other that we would not one live on as an Infected if the scourge came into our blood.
Her eyes were red, just as mother’s had been. But Nicole had a different kind of…wrongness to her. Even for a flesh-hungry zombie, something was off. She smiled at me, showing razor sharp teeth.
“Yes, Emily. I’m infected,” she said, answering the question I didn’t need to ask. “So was mother, and dad too; we all are. But we perfected it,” she said in a persuasive but still off-putting tone. “Now, I’m much stronger than I used to be. Being human is so belittling, how can you bare to stay like this?”
That’s when she gave me the ultimatum.
“You can either join us, or I’ll kill you right now.”
Her smile turned to a fierce growl as my left hand gripped my hatchet, and the right hand readied the pistol. She saw this and seemed to grow eager for the fight.
“I came here on a mission, and I am not leaving without completing it,” I said to her, staring right into the inhuman red eyes that used to by my sister’s.
I was ready for her attack but she just stood there smiling at me, eyes glowing. I waited a bit, then ran toward her with the hatchet arching toward her neck. But she wasn’t lying; she was far from human.
Without effort she dodged my attack and countered with a knee to my gut. The force took me off-guard and the hatchet dropped from my hand as I tried to regain the wind she knocked out of me. With the pistol, I landed a solid blow onto her chin. Her head snapped back and she reeled away from me from the impact.
I could see the blood dripping from her mouth as she regained whatever those things call “composure” and quickly counter-attacked by launching herself at me from about five feet away. Her fingers—the ones we used to paint together in my bedroom—gave way to claws, all of them on a crash course with my face.
I was able to dodge her swipes by dropping down and then swung through her legs to get behind her, then slammed the pistol into the back of her head to send her face-first into the reinforced concrete wall.
“Sister knows how to fight now. How lovely,” she said condescendingly, like any sister does, “But you don’t know how to win.”
I launched myself at her in rage, and she ran to meet me. We exchanged fists, each of us landing blows in a flurry of physical and emotional pain. She knocked the empty gun out of my hand with an impossibly firm swipe, and then pinned me to the ground.
Standing over me she again unleashed that horrific smile, the blood from before had now stopped running.
“I promise. It will be you who will die,” she said, “You have one last chance to join us; to become better than what you are.”
The hatchet lay on the ground near my left hand, and I didn’t think she saw that. I reached for it frantically, though maintained eye contact with her as she gave me the offer I had to refuse. Once I got a firm grip on the handle I swung and lodged the hatchet into her shoulder blade.
As she stumbled off of me, she screamed in a way I had never heard before; a way that still haunts my dreams.
I should have known it’d be harder.
She just pulled the blade out of her flesh and looked over at me, her eyes glowing even more intensely. I looked at her wound and it was…healing instantly.
“How is that possible?” I thought to myself.
With renewed strength she pounced on me again and we both fell to the ground. My right pointer finger fell under my weight and bent backwards. I could hear the snap then, and when I forced it back into place.
“I’m stronger than I was, too, sister,” I said to her, trying to mask the throbbing pain in my hand.
Through our tussle, we had moved all around the underground tunnel, and I realized we were now back at the scene of Michael and mother. The scant light available in the tunnel reflected off of something next to his corpse. Perhaps it was the adrenaline running through me, but I instantly recognized it as what I needed most dearly—a single pistol round.
My former sister paced on the other side of the manmade cavern, her eyes glowing like tiny portals to the underworld. I don’t know why she wasn’t on the attack, but I took advantage of the momentary cease to pick the bullet off the ground.
The gun lay in between me and her where she had smacked it from my grasp, and I knew I wouldn’t have much time. I darted to the center, and so did she, but her super-human strength made her miscalculate her jump; she thought I was trying to begin hand-to-hand combat again. I went low for the weapon and she went high, soaring over me as I grabbed the pistol, opened the chamber, and swiftly popped in the bullet.
The training at The Haven seemed to have paid off.
She dropped instantly when I pulled the trigger with what was likely a broken finger. There wasn’t time to mourn or to rest for there was one thing left to do before my mission—mine and Michael’s mission—was complete.
This time, though, I didn’t have to do much searching.
“I wondered how long it would take for you to find me,” echoed a familiar voice from an almost familiar figure that was standing ahead of me in one of the doorways.
His face was shaded by the tunnel’s shadows, but I didn’t need any visual cues. His voice hadn’t changed since he became infected. It was my father.
And it was time to finish what I came to do.