About a fourth of the parents and children around us had collapsed completely to the ground. Mr. Morgan picked up his five year old daughter and cradled her to him.
“What’s wrong with her?” Mrs. Morgan asked as she placed a hand on her husband’s shoulder.
“I don’t know. She just . . .” Whatever he was about to say was stopped as their little daughter turned her head into the crook of Mr. Morgan’s neck. I thought it was just a hug and that everything was fine until I saw the blood trip down from his neck. Mr. Morgan grimaced in pain and pulled his daughter off him. The little girl’s mouth and teeth were covered in blood. She snapped at him again, but he kept her at a distance with his long arms. The veins in the white of her eyes popped out red. She looked more like a monster than a child.
“Mrs. Harris?” Mackenzie said again, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the little girl who bit into her father’s hand.
Mrs. Morgan screamed, but she was spurred into action. She grabbed her daughter by the shoulders and pulled her off Mr. Morgan. Mr. Morgan brought his bit hand up to the bite on his neck and held it there to stem the bleeding. The little girl fell to the ground with the force which Mrs. Morgan pulled her off of Mr. Morgan. The little girl quickly jumped to her feet and ran at Mrs. Morgan with her red mouth and eyes, fingers extended clawlike towards her mother. Mrs. Morgan screamed again and ran away as her daughter used her little legs to chase after her.
Mr. Morgan collapsed to the ground and began to spasm.
“Victory!” Hunter shouted. “Get her out of there now.”
“I’m trying!” Victory shouted back. “Come on, Kenzie. We’ve got to go.”
“But Mrs. Harris,” Mackenzie said.
I turned back towards my sister as my heart raced against my chest and my arms and legs tingled with a sense of dread. Mackenzie was bent over Mrs. Harris gently shaking her shoulders. Victory pulled on Mackenzie’s arm, but Mackenzie wasn’t leaving Mrs. Harris. After just witnessing the Morgan’s daughter attack them, I didn’t want Mackenzie anywhere near Mrs. Harris. Especially when Mrs. Harris’s fingers started twitching.
“Mackenzie,” I started to call. A strong arm wrapped around me from behind me. It lifted me off the ground and spun me. I was set down, but the momentum had me taking a few steps away until I could steady my feet.
Hunter had one hand wrapped around Mr. Morgan’s throat. He brought up his other hand that had just let me go to keep Mr. Morgan’s claw-like fingers away from his face. Mr. Morgan snapped his teeth as he tried to bite Hunter’s arm, but couldn’t quite reach him with the way Hunter held him. The white of his eyes had gone red just as his daughter’s had, only this close I could see that his pupils were no longer black. Not exactly. There was a rim of green around his pupils. The exact color that had lit up the night sky earlier.
Mackenzie screamed. The sound of it cut through my core. I looked back at Mrs. Harris’s door. Old Mrs. Harris had Mackenzie pinned against the door. Her yellow teeth chomped towards my little sister, but stopped inches from her cheek as Mackenzie had her arm against Mrs. Harris’s neck to hold her at bay. Mackenzie screamed again.
She was not the only one screaming. Screams filled the cold air. Her screams drew the attention of a nearby monster that had moments before been human. The human-like woman rushed across the grass towards my sister and Victory.
I took a step towards them, but before I could turn it into a run Victory grabbed Mrs. Harris’s white hair and pulled her roughly off Mackenzie. Mrs. Harris skidded across her wood floor back further into her house. Victory grabbed Mackenzie’s hand and pulled her from the house just as the other woman reached out to them with her extended fingers.
“Get back to the house!” Hunter shouted.
Victory didn’t need anymore coaxing. She pulled Mackenzie’s hand and the two of them ran through the grass and fallen leaves back towards the Sang house. I took two steps towards them before I remembered Hunter.
“Hunter,” I said. How could I get Mr. Morgan off him? And the woman had changed direction from chasing after our sisters to come at us instead.
Hunter gave a great heave and Mr. Morgan fell backwards onto his butt. The woman reached us, but I kicked out with one of my long legs kicking her in the stomach. She staggered a few steps backwards. That was all the time we needed for Hunter to grab my wrist and pull us after our sisters.
Mr. Morgan and the woman were quick on our heels. My legs pounded. I took wide steps as I ran which put a slight distance between us and the monsters. I could feel them behind me, hear their strange moans as if they were trying to form words, but couldn’t. And most disturbing of all – I couldn’t hear them breathing. Not even a small gasp. Nothing.
Mackenzie and Victory had almost reached the house. There were two children on the sidewalk up to the Sang house. I guessed they were about five and nine. They had their backs turned to Mackenzie and Victory, but as my sister got closer to them, they turned to face our sisters. Blood was on their mouths and hands – splattered all over their costumes. The five year old was dressed as a fairy, the nine year old was a pirate.
We had closed the gap slightly on our sisters, but we still weren’t close enough. My heart dropped when the children lunged at our sisters. Mackenzie hesitated, but Victory didn’t. She pushed them both away violently before grabbing Mackenzie’s hand and leading her up the three steps to the porch. She twisted the door handle, but the door didn’t open.
“It’s locked!” Victory yelled back at Hunter. He and I had reached the children. We were closer to them now than our sisters were and they charged us. Hunter quickly fished the key out of his front pocket and threw it at Victory. She caught it easily. Mackenzie picked up the bowl of candy off their porch and held it in their hands while Victory fiddled with the keys.
In the next movement Hunter did something similar to what Victory had done and shoved both of the children back. The two of us bounded up the stairs just as Victory opened the door. Mackenzie was the first into the house. Victory quickly followed her, but Mr. Morgan and the woman had reached me and Hunter. The woman’s hands clawed at the back of my jacket. It snagged for one brief moment before I turned. Her bloody mouth descended towards my shoulder, but I pushed her away from me with my arm and when she was at arm’s length, I kicked her in the stomach. She stumbled down the stairs.
While I was dealing with the woman, Hunter was dealing with Mr. Morgan. There were hanging potted flowers on either side of the porch. He grabbed the one that was almost hitting his head, pulled it roughly from it’s hook and slammed it into Mr. Morgan’s head. It knocked him back down the stairs, but he and the woman and the two children were quickly rushing towards us again.
And they weren’t the only ones. Other monster/human-like creatures were rushing across their lawn towards us. Hunter grabbed my arm and pushed me inside before he followed and slammed the door closed behind us. He locked the door. Fists pounded on the other side.
Victory and Mackenzie were already struggling to push a heavy cabinet in front of the door. Hunter and I moved and helped them.
“Run and check to make sure the back door is locked,” Hunter told Victory. “Then start at the back of the house and work your way to the front to make sure all the windows are locked and the blinds are down. Be quiet about it and make sure they don’t see you.”
Victory nodded and ran to the back.
“We’ll help to make sure the windows are locked and the blinds are down,” I offered quietly. Already the pounding against the front door was growing quieter.
“Start on that side,” Hunter said and waved to the left side of the house. “I’ll take the right.”
Hunter walked into the room on the immediate right.
I looked Mackenzie up and down quickly. The leopard makeup was all smudged and I doubted she knew that. It wasn’t really important though. That was the least of our problems.
“Are you all right?” I asked her quietly.
She nodded and swallowed hard. I didn’t see any visible wounds and her costume was still intact so it appeared she was fine. I took her hand in mine and squeezed it gently. Her hand was cold, but I wasn’t sure if that was because we had been outside or because she was frightened. I stepped over the two pillowcases barely filled with candy and the candy bowl that the girls had discarded on the floor. Mackenzie and I went into the dining room. The blinds were up. It was semi dark outside, but with the light off it was darker inside the dining room. I wasn’t sure if the monster people could see us, but I didn’t want to take any chances. I knew they were there. I could see their silhouettes milling about in the yard.
I dropped to my hands and knees. Mackenzie did the same. We went to the first window. It was locked. I checked the next window before I reached up to grab the string that would lower the blinds. I held my breath as if those outside could hear me. The creatures didn’t seem to notice. We quickly finished with that room and moved to the next. It was the bathroom. There weren’t blinds in here, but it was a glass block window so they wouldn’t really be able to see us through it anyway. I made sure it was locked and we made our way to the kitchen. Victory was already inside the kitchen. She finished checking the last window before turning to us. Weirdly, her makeup was perfectly fine. The scales seemed somehow fitting on her.
She smiled kindly at Mackenzie. “Let’s meet back up with Hunter,” she said to us quietly.
We found him waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs. He didn’t say anything when he saw us, but he led us up the stairs and into his bedroom. It had changed a lot since the last time I had been in here. Gone were all traces of Pokemon and instead his room was decorated with various video game posters.
He looked outside his window down into his yard. There was a large tree outside his window that he once used to sneak out of the house, but I didn’t think he used it like that anymore.
“What happened to those people?” Mackenzie asked. “We need to get them to a hospital.”
“I’m not sure a hospital will know what to do with them, Kenzie,” I said gently.
“They’re not people anymore, Kenzie,” Victory said. “They are zombies.”
“Zombies aren’t real,” Mackenzie said defensively.
“Well, they are now,” Victory said. “Right Hunter?”
We all looked at him. He tore his eyes away from the window to look at his little sister.
“They aren’t zombies,” Mackezie said with more conviction before Hunter could say anything.
I wanted to agree with her, but I couldn’t. “It doesn’t make sense,” I said, “but the sky turned green and a fourth of the people fell to the ground and when they got up they started attacking people. And…they aren’t breathing, Kenzie.”
“That’s silly,” Mackenzie said.
“No,” Hunter said, “she’s right. They weren’t breathing. And Victory’s right. They are zombies. I don’t know how or why, but this is our reality now. We need to figure out what to do next.”
“What about mom and dad?” Victory asked. “And Grace?”
Hunter paled considerably at this.
“And Maria and Anna,” I whispered. Was this happening everywhere? Just our block? Just our city?
“And Tanner,” Mackenzie said with panic in her voice.
“Your parents are at the same party as mine,” Hunter said. “I’ll call my mom and make sure they are all alright. You call Maria or Anna. We’ll call Grace and Tanner as soon as we are done with that.”
I took out my phone and called Anna. It went straight to voicemail. She must have let her phone battery die again. She never was good at keeping it charged. I called Maria while Hunter called his mom and looked out his window while he waited for the call to go through.
“Lily?” Maria answered immediately. It was clear from her voice that she was crying. “Where are you?” she sobbed. “Anna collapsed and then she started attacking people and . . .”
Hunter’s expression changed to sheer terror. He dropped his phone to the carpeted floor and flung open his window. He didn’t hesitate as he sprang onto the nearest tree branch.
“Hunter!” Victory screamed after him. I dropped my phone as the three of us rushed to the window to coax Hunter back in.
He didn’t pay us any attention as he scrambled a little ways down the tree.
“Run, Arthur!” he yelled and stretched his hand out.
Arthur? There was a ten year old Arthur down the street. Was that who he meant?
I didn’t see him at first as the evening continued to get darker and darker. What caught my attention first was about twenty of those creatures running down the sidewalk and the street all in the same direction. Towards us. And then I saw the ten year old boy running as fast as his legs would carry him towards the Sang’s yard. Towards Hunter and the tree. But the zombies in the yard had seen Arthur too and were running at him.