I gazed out the window, staring thoughtfully up at the clouds as the sun started to set. I had managed to sleep for a short while, but my fierce nightmares had jolted me awake. All I saw when I closed my eyes were the rancid, gruesome faces of the infected. I couldn’t stop thinking about how quickly this had all happened. A mere twenty-four hours ago, those rabid monsters were normal human beings going about their lives; going to work, worrying about paying bills, picking their children up from school. Their lives changed in an instant. The entire country changed in an instant.
“Eva,” whispered Ben as he walked over from the driver’s cabin and sat next to me, waking me from my thoughts. He held one of our many first aid kits in his hands. “Here, let me look at your arm.” He turned on one of the ceiling lights above me while I started unwrapping the scarf from around my arm. “Ok, it’s not too bad,” he said as he gently wiped my cut with a cleaning pad from the kit, making me flinch. “It’s only about a centimetre deep, so it won’t need stitches or anything. I’ll just clean it and bandage it up.”
I watched him as he took such gentle care of my arm. I had been in awe of his strength ever since we left his parent’s house. “Thanks heaps, Ben. How are you?” I asked, instantly regretting asking such an inane question. “I’m… I don’t know. Just keeping myself busy, I guess,” he sighed, wrapping a bandage around my arm and clipping it into place. “How did you get through this when…” He stopped and bowed his head, unable to say it.
I knew what he was going through all too well. Months passed before I could physically say that my parents had died, as though somehow it wouldn’t be real until I uttered those agonising words. “To be honest, I’m not sure how I got through it,” I replied, not wanting to sugar-coat the pain he was going through. “I just did. It hurt like hell, and I think it always will, but I’ve learned to live with it. I don’t understand why it happened, and I wish it didn’t, but it did. I learned to accept that.” It has been so long since I spoke about the death of my parents, that just hearing those words come out of my mouth made me realise how far I’ve come since that tough time. But my heart ached for Ben, knowing he was only at the very beginning of this shattering experience.
“I know it feels like the whole world is crumbling around you, Ben… and I guess in a way it is, with everything that’s happening. And you know what? It’s okay. It’s okay that you feel that numb. It’s okay that you feel like shit. It’s okay. Feel it. Then, once you’ve had enough of feeling that way, let it go. Change it. Shift your focus to the things that make you happy. Remember the good times you had with your parents. But right now, just feel it.” I took a breath, surprised at the wisdom I had just imparted. I hoped desperately that I had helped ease his pain, even just a little. Ben looked up at me with tears in his eyes and hugged me tight.
Seeing the heartbreak in his eyes, I finally knew what it felt like to be on the other end of this exchange. The only difference being he would never see relief in my eyes, I had already survived that tragedy; it didn’t scare me anymore. “Thanks, Eva.” Ben sniffed as he stood up. “No worries, Ben. We’re all here for you.” I replied, giving him a slight smile. As he packed up the first aid kit and climbed back into the driver’s cabin, I looked over at Jo as she slept. All of a sudden, these three human beings were all I had. Now, a new fear loomed over me; losing one of our little tribe. It’s us against the world now.
At that moment, I noticed the RV had started to slow down. Turning to look out the window, I could see we had turned off the highway and were driving through a small town, so I unbuckled my belt and walked over to the driver’s cabin. “Petrol.” Said Wyatt as I leaned against the back of the driver’s seat, as though he knew what I was thinking. “Better wake up Jo. We’ll run in and grab more food and anything else we find while Wyatt fills it up.” Added Ben. “Cool. Do you think it’s safe here?” I asked, looking through the windshield for any signs of danger.
It seemed a long main street and a few houses scattered around the area was all that made up this tiny town. I could see it had not escaped the wrath of the infection; with dozens of devoured corpses strewn along the road and sidewalks and a few shop windows smashed in, the havoc looked recent. “Not sure. We’ll have to be quick, and careful.” Answered Wyatt, looking at me in the rear view mirror. I nodded and stepped back towards the dining area to wake Jo.
Slowly, we rolled into the local petrol station, glancing around suspiciously for any movement. Squinting to see through the broken windows of the station store, I couldn’t see anyone inside. Wyatt pulled into the station and for a moment we sat in silence, listening closely. “Ok. Let’s hurry.” Said Wyatt as he opened his door and stepped outside. We quickly climbed out of the motorhome and made our way over to the store, peering through the windows carefully before entering. “I think I see a crowbar behind the counter.” Said Jo as we entered, the bell ringing as the door swung open and closed behind us.
Ben ran straight over to the snack foods, ripping open a packet of potato chips, while Jo ran behind the counter to get the crowbar. “Just grab everything, we don’t know how long will be in hiding for.” I said as I picked up an empty milk crate and started packing it with bottles of water and snack foods. Even though we had many packets of dehydrated meals packed away in the RV, I wanted to gather as much food as we could. While potato chips and chocolate bars weren’t the healthiest options, they would at least bring a bit of normalcy to our lives while we hide out in Cairns.
Preparing to pick up the crate to take it back to the RV, I paused when I saw Jo down the aisle. She stood frozen and slack-jawed, clutching the crowbar so tight her knuckles had turned white as she stared wide-eyed out the window. “Jo?” I asked, following her gaze.
I could see Wyatt standing by the motorhome, holding the petrol hose as it filled it up. I shifted my gaze behind him and gasped.
What I saw in the distance made me jump to my feet, with fear tightening my chest.
Three sickly grey zombies were lurking up behind him.
“Wyatt! Run!” I screamed, but it was too late.
One was already about to launch itself on him.
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As They Rise (The Eva Series #1)Horror
A Wattpad Featured story. As seen on The Huffington Post. Book One of The Eva Series, which has over 3M combined reads! A kick-ass young girl, a nation swarming with zombies, and a sweet romance that grows amongst the ruins. You'll find all that and...