His legs pumped, his breath ragged as he ran through the field. He tried to run faster, trying to outstrip the bloodthirsty creatures that were pursuing him – his pack and gun were his main adversaries in that quest. But he couldn’t even think about ditching them. In this new version of the world, he wouldn’t last two days if he shed his food, his weapon and his ammunition.
He had always known that when humanity’s end came, it would not be because of nature fighting back or a celestial body crashing into the Earth. No, humankind had wrought its own destruction, just like he had always feared. In the end, the thing that caused the havoc was a particularly virulent influenza strain, developed in a lab to be a bioweapon. But a small tremor had put paid to that plan – a breach in the facility and, before anyone knew, people were turning into raving, brutal, bloodthirsty monsters that were feeding on each other.
He was panting now, and he could sense that he couldn’t keep this up for much longer. He could hear the rustling behind him as his pursuers gained on him. Slowly, inexorably, they were catching up. He would need to do something different. If he couldn’t outrun them, maybe he could hide from them?
Stripped of their ability to speak, to love, deprived of everything other than the one basic instinct that had brought human beings to the top of the food chain – FEED. The first few days were the worst, where people still didn’t believe the rumours. This CAN’T be true, they said. Zombies don’t EXIST. But then entire countries started to fall. Nigeria. Singapore. Cuba.
He looked up ahead at the thicket of trees that protruded from the ground. That was his best chance. He could hide there until they passed him, moving on to the next victim. He willed himself to run faster, getting to the trees and climbing up a particularly sturdy one. And then he waited. Laying flat against a branch, he watched as the pack chasing him caught up. He was too high to hear anything than a series of grunts and squawks. But then he heard another noise. One that chilled his blood. The noise of a tree branch, splintering. He looked behind him just in time to see the branch separate from the tree, sending him crashing down to the ground. The pack turned, converging on their victim. He braced himself for what was to come.
“Freeze! You are under arrest for the murder!”
The cure had been found a mere twenty-two days after the outbreak. With overwhelming force, the world’s major powers got together and started rounding up the infected, inoculating them and bringing them back to normal within forty-eight hours. The problem was, in those days of horror, people had picked up weapons and started trying to defend themselves. And now that the world had returned to order, THEY were the monsters. People who had taken machine guns and hatchets and sledgehammers to people who, in the eyes of the world, were simply afflicted with an easily curable malady.
He himself was guilty of fifteen murders. That would put him purely in execution territory.
His life would end, not with someone eating his brain, but with someone frying it.