This is an emergency alert. Barricade all entries to your house. Do not go outside after sundown. Restrict contact with others. Do not enter tunnels during the daytime. Do not make any light or noise between 6 pm and 8 am. Stay inside your homes until dawn. Military aid is unavailable. Good luck.
I couldn’t keep the goofy smile from my face as I replayed all the high notes of my day. Today was a good day. We finished that massive presentation at work yesterday and presented today. The collective effort put forth by the five of us paid off. We were a smashing success at the board meeting and were green lit to move forward with the project. My boss pulled me aside to tell me he was so impressed with our work and my leadership on the team that he was considering me for a promotion. After work, our little group went out for drinks and we had a blast. I even connected with Maurice. We’ve been flirting lightly for months and tonight we finally set a day to go out. I felt like all the pieces of my life were falling into place. I couldn’t stop smiling even after I came home and started getting ready for bed. I usually had a hard time sleeping, so I took an extra dose of Melatonin to make sure I got a good night’s rest. By the time my head hit the pillow, I was confident that things were going the way I always planned.
The next morning, something startled me out of a deep sleep. I pulled off my sleep mask and rubbed my eyes as I shook off my grogginess and looked at my watch. The digital numbers glowed 5:45. I had a moment of panic when I thought I would run late, but quickly realized it was Saturday and I didn’t have work that day. My brows furrowed as I considered why I woke up. If my alarm didn’t wake me, what did? I sat up in my bed and looked around. Nothing seemed out of place. Everything was where I left it. I picked up my phone and checked my notifications. A message came in at exactly 5:45 am. The text seemed strange, claiming it was an emergency alert.
Emergency Alert: Barricade all entries into your home. Do not go outside after sundown. Restrict contact with others and stay away from tunnels during daylight hours. Refrain from using lights or making noise between 6 pm and 8 am. Stay inside your homes until dawn. Military aid unavailable.
What the hell? Was this a joke? I got up and walked out into the living room. The TV was on. I must’ve forgotten to turn it off last night. The screen was orange with the same message in black letters I just read on my phone. I picked up the remote and tried to change the channel, but it was the same message on every channel. My heart started pounding as I wondered what I had missed. The last thing I remembered was falling asleep with a smile on my face, reflecting on my awesome day.
I pulled out my laptop, determined to get some answers. All the news sites had the same stupid message up and nothing else. It wasn’t until I ventured over to YouTube that I got an idea of what was happening. What I watched chilled me to my very core. Goosebumps lined my arms as chills skittered up my spine. I shook my head in denial as I watched video after video. It couldn’t be real. This had to be some elaborate hoax, right? People were dying brutally at the hands of these things. The only word I could think of to describe them was monsters. Most videos were recorded in the early morning hours, making footage grainy and unclear. It seemed no one could get a good video of them because, in most of the videos, people were screaming in fear and running away. No one knew where they came from or what they were, but one thing was clear… These things were attacking people and eating them. To make matters worse… the monsters were cunning and fast. They weren’t mindless zombies. You could see the intelligence in their eyes as they worked out the best way to get people. It was scaring the shit out of me.
The monsters dropped out of trees or hid so well in the shadows that you didn’t even know they were there. Despite the grainy footage, I could see they had humanlike bodies that seemed excessively thin. Their talons ripped through our skin like butter and they seemed to be stronger than their frail looking bodies appeared to be. Not once did I see a human fight back. Every single video started similarly with investigating unfamiliar sounds or unknown shapes sulking around yards and patios. By the time the person caught on to the fact that it wasn’t an animal or another person, it was too late. The monsters were quick and efficient.
I slammed the laptop shut, still in denial that this was really happening. I decided I would venture out myself and see what the hell was going on. I quickly threw on a pair of jeans, t-shirt and my favorite pair of sneakers. I brushed my hair into a ponytail and ran out of the house. As I jumped into my truck, I took note of the eerie stillness of the neighborhood. I reasoned it away with the fact that it was still early. It was now only 7:30 am on Saturday, which would normally be quiet, anyway. As I drove around the city, I quickly realized I was wrong. Unease started to build as I noticed the lack of activity on the roads and intensified when I saw the blood splatter. It was on buildings, roads and sidewalks. As I continued my drive around town, I kept seeing strange misshapen bloody things thrown casually in the bushes and grassy areas. I slowed down to a crawl to take a better look. I nearly screamed out loud when I realized that it looked like a half-eaten human carcass. Upon closer inspection, I could see discarded hands, feet and heads. With trembling hands, I tried to keep my composure as I drove on, desperate to find someone alive. When I finally found activity, it made me wish I would’ve just kept my stupid ass at home.
I pulled up to the parking garage at my local mall. I always avoided this parking lot in favor of the open lots in front of the stores. The enclosed structure creeped me the hell out on a normal day. The first three floors were closed off, leaving the top floor open to the sun. I never parked on those first floors because they were too dark and always gave off this ominous feeling. Looking at the entrance of the lot, I knew I would never enter that building again. The creatures were there waiting in the opening of the parking garage. I could see a few of them favoring the shadows as the morning light grew stronger. Their gray bodies were gangly with arms and legs that were twice the length of a normal human. They had random bits of long greasy hair hanging off a mostly bald skull. They had large black eyes that took up half of their faces with a tiny nose squished in-between. Their mouths took up the rest of their face with long pointed teeth jutting out awkwardly. At first, they looked hunched over a body, but I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. No, what sent me into hysterics was realizing three creatures were tearing into a man that was still alive and screaming. My body started shaking as I gripped the wheel tighter. His screams seared into my memory as I reversed the truck and turned to get out of there.
When they realized I was there, all the creatures stopped what they were doing and watched me leave. I could see them in my rear-view mirror, watching me leave with their black, soulless eyes. They made no move to follow, as they would not step out of the shadows. I had this overwhelming feeling that they were memorizing my car and would find me later.
I hightailed it out of there and headed back home. As I drove back, I made a checklist of what I needed to do. Lists were my thing. They helped me stay focused and in control, and I needed that in a bad way. As I compiled my list, I quickly realized that I had nothing to barricade my house with. I’d have to go looking for supplies. That thought terrified me. What if I ran into more of those creatures? How could I protect myself? Would they be killed as easily as a human would? It looked like their bodies were frail, but I dared not to make that assumption. Given the warnings that were all over the news, I knew that they couldn’t go out during daylight hours. Was it the sunlight that bothered them or the UV light from the sun? I needed to find out, but first things first. I needed to head home and pick up my shotgun. There was no way I was walking into a dark store without protection.
I was kicking myself now for not taking my dad’s gun last week when he offered. I felt bad taking it because I knew it was his favorite and the last thing gramps gave him before he passed away. As I thought of my dad, my anxiety kicked up. I hadn’t heard from him. I checked my phone again as I thought about him and still had no new messages or calls. We joked when I saw him last and I teased him about going on a long fishing trip with his buddies, but suddenly I was glad he took that vacation. Hopefully, this hadn’t spread down to where they were fishing in Key Largo.
When I pulled into my driveway, everything seemed the same as it did last night. It was a surreal feeling that so much had changed in such a little time. I wondered briefly if my neighbors were still here, hiding in their homes. I hadn’t noticed much blood around my neighborhood on the way back. Now that I was really looking, I noticed most of my neighbors’ cars were gone. Maybe they found some place safe to go. It appeared I was well and truly alone. I shook my head. It didn’t matter. I needed to protect myself because I had nowhere else to go. I ran into the house and pulled my shotgun out of my closet. To my surprise, I saw my gramps’ revolver sitting there in its box, right there next to the shotgun. Sneaky dad! I opened the box and saw not only the gun, but there was extra ammunition and an inside the pants holster sitting there. Thank God for dads! I loaded the gun and stuck it in the holster, then clipped it to the waistband of my pants and ran back out to my truck.
I drove over to my local hardwood store and sat in the parking lot, observing. It was mid-morning now, and the sun was making everything nice and bright. I hadn’t seen any more of those strange creatures in the last few hours, but I also hadn’t ventured anywhere that was closed off from the sun. The store had its doors open, but I couldn’t see it from my spot. I knew from experience that there were big, tinted windows upfront and the store had large skylights in the roof to let in natural light to cut back on electricity. That’s why I picked this place. If the monsters were hiding from sunlight, then this place wouldn’t be ideal.
After fifteen minutes of watching, I decided I couldn’t waste any more time. I needed to get the supplies and get it set up before the sun went down. There was no time to waste. I got out of my car and could feel my nerves wreaking havoc on my body. I patted my side and made sure my gun was tucked in nicely against me. I carried my shotgun but had the sling with me for when I needed my hands to gather supplies. I racked the shells into the gun and started my walk to the store.
It was so quiet that my footfalls echoed around me as I entered the store, making my paranoia soar to new heights. I did a quick look around and saw nothing. No people or monsters to be found. I frequented this store often and knew where everything that I needed would be. I wanted to be as quick as possible. I grabbed a plywood dolly and headed into the lumber area. This was the area that made me nervous. It was darker back here than most of the store. I had six windows, so I needed six large pieces of plywood to barricade them and several 2×4’s. I already had my 2×4’s loaded and was struggling with my sixth piece of lumber. It was too heavy, and I was making too much noise. I forgot how heavy lumber could be. As I struggled to get the last piece placed on the dolly the hair on the back of my neck lifted. I heard movement and my head snapped up. My palms started sweating as my heartbeat intensified. I looked around and didn’t see anything, but I knew better than to trust my eyes. There was something in there with me. I could feel it. After getting the last piece of plywood loaded, I ran out of that section. Just as I reached the bright area of the store again, I turned around and caught sight of it, but I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. I squinted my eyes for a better look because what I thought I saw couldn’t be right. Back in the shadows, there was a man. Shadows bathed half of his body in darkness and the other half was lit in a stream of sunlight. I could swear that the half that was in the shadow was not human looking but more like the gray monster thing. I shook my head and ran. I needed to get home. Now my mind was playing tricks on me? I gathered the rest of my necessities, nails, tape, batteries and extra flashlights at a running pace and got out of there. I was so thankful I had a truck at that moment. My body was running on pure adrenaline making the task of getting that heavy plywood into the truck easier than I expected. I was back in the cab and speeding off in record time.
When I pulled back into my neighborhood, I noticed a couple of neighbors outside putting up plywood on their windows. I guess I wouldn’t be alone in this neighborhood after all. I waved to them, but they just stared at me. It was like they suddenly didn’t recognize me. I’d been living here for five years, and I knew most of the people here. It was a little strange that they didn’t acknowledge me, but I really didn’t have time to worry about it. I needed to get to work. Without my dad to help me, I’d have a long afternoon ahead of me.
By 5:30 pm, I had just about everything done. I was putting up tape on the glass window in my front door to keep from being able to look in or out. I contemplated putting a piece of plywood over it, but decided against it. The window was tiny, and I didn’t imagine even these skinny monsters being able to squeeze through an opening of that size. I had everything locked and ready to go as I sat down to eat dinner, my first meal of the day. I wanted a glass of wine so badly as my nerves were shot to shit, but I wanted to be sharp this evening just in case something happened. By 6:30 pm the sun had set, and the darkness was settling in. I opened my laptop and logged into my online feed for my cameras to monitor the house. Everything looked good so far, so I opened another window to do some more research on YouTube. There were so many videos out there about what was happening to people. The part that scared me was that it seemed widespread. There were videos from all over the country. Again, my thoughts went to my dad. I picked up my phone again to check for messages. I’ve had shitty cell service since this morning. I tried a few times to call earlier, but nothing ever connected. Text messages were only coming in sporadically. I prayed he was okay.
Something started scratching at my front door. It was a metal door, so the sound sent chills down my spine. The creatures had talons attached to those long, bony fingers. I knew before I got back to the cameras that it was one of them at the door. I quickly switched over to the camera feed and sure enough, it was there scratching at my door. It tapped again as if taunting me before it looked up to the camera and pointed at it, then smiled a gruesome smile. Before I had time to react, it reached up and knocked out my camera. I watched as every single one of my cameras suffered a similar fate. The creatures were all over my house, scratching and taunting me, and now I was truly blind to what was going on outside. I started panicking, not knowing what to do. I was now trapped in my house, and I hoped that they didn’t try to get inside. That hope died a quick death as they started banging on the windows and breaking the glass. I barricaded from the inside and now they were trying to break through the wood.
The next thing I heard was the glass break on my door. I saw a skinny hand travel through the glass and venture down. It was looking to unlock the door from the inside. I was thankful that I took several 2×4’s and barricaded the door as well. I ran into my kitchen and grabbed the sharpest knife I could find and ran back to the front door. Now was my chance to see how fragile their bodies were. Question was, could I do it? Could I really hack his arm off? Then I remembered the horrible screams of that man being eaten alive and forged on. Yes, yes, I could. The creature was still trying to get at the door lock and without a second thought, I ran up to the arm and cut it right at the elbow joint. The lower arm plopped to the floor, spraying black blood along the way, while an inhuman sound shrieked from the other side of the door. I screamed when I realized I now had a monster arm here to deal with. I took a step closer to inspect it and right before my eyes, the long gray arm transformed into a normal human looking arm and hand. I kicked it back against the door and it fell into the shadow of the corner and changed back into the gray arm and hand. What the ever-loving fuck was going on?
I backed away from the arm and picked up my shotgun. I didn’t know if the monster was still there, but I pushed the muzzle of the shotgun out of the small window and fired. This time there was no loud screaming, so it must’ve left. I needed a safe place to huddle up for the night. The only rooms in the house that didn’t have windows were the bathroom and the garage. I wouldn’t be sitting in the garage. It was too hot in there and I didn’t trust the aluminum door to hold. I grabbed a pillow and a blanket and threw them into the bathtub. I went back and grabbed my revolver as well as the shotgun and barricaded myself inside my bathroom. I settled in the tub with the pillow at my back and the shotgun aimed for the door. I listened to them for hours, taunting me with their inhuman sounds, putting my nerves on edge. They’d bang on the walls, and I could hear them scuttle across the roof. They also kept trying to get into the windows. Around 3:30 am, the sounds died down. By 4:30 am, it was quiet. Maybe they retreated into their hidey holes for the night? By 5:00 am I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, and I passed out. When I finally woke up, it was 10:00 in the morning. I got out of the tub and shook out my sore limbs.
Keeping my shotgun at the ready, I opened the bathroom door slowly and listened. Nothing. I walked out into my living room area and realized they had never made it in last night. Everything was where I left it, even the severed arm. I avoided the arm as I inspected the door. It looked the same as last night. When I looked through the broken window, I could see activity outside, and I could hear banging. I went and got my drill so that I could open the door again. I grabbed my shotgun for good measure and walked out into the sunshine. When I looked towards the sound of banging, I noticed my neighbors were barricading their house. As if they realized they had an audience, they all stopped and turned around in unison and stared at me. Only one person waved. He had a crazed smile on his face, and he was missing half of his arm from the elbow down.