Prologue

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"They just... died. I don't know how else to say it. They were alive and then they weren't... They were dead. But how can they be dead, how can they have died if they're downstairs right now, walking around bumping into things? I can hear them breathing... moaning...

"I can't check the television to find out what's going on because it doesn't work. It's just static. The internet signal is too weak to use so I can't even check the news on my laptop.

"The radio... I can see if there's any news on the radio..."

The girl opened her wardrobe door a crack, just enough to ensure that her bedroom was unoccupied. It was, thankfully, and as she stepped onto the carpeted floor she dug her nails into her skin and dragged them up her arm towards her elbow. Had anyone seen her it would've been quite clear that the self-mutilation was a re-enactment of the original injury. Blood dripped from the wounds on her arm but some of those injuries had already begun to heal over.

Now that she had left the sanctity of her wardrobe behind she could hear the sound of her parents and siblings much more clearly. They were no longer the people they once were though, of that she was certain.

She needed to get across the landing to her parents' bedroom. That's where the radio was. It doubled as an alarm clock but she doubted it would ever be used as such again.

She wrapped her fingers around the door knob, inhaled deeply and opened her bedroom door then ran. Every footfall sounded to her like the loudest noise in the world and it seemed to take an age for her to cross the eight feet to her destination.

Once inside she slammed the door shut behind her and took refuge, leaning her back against it as she caught her breath.

She heard the creaking of floorboards, recognising the slightly different tones as someone — or something — began to make their way — or its way — up the stairs.

Panicked, her eyes found the radio alarm clock. The display flashed 00:24, hardly a surprise considering the power had been fluctuating for several hours.

She leapt across the bed and hit the switch for the radio.

The result was the same as it had been with the television.

Using the dial she cycled through frequencies and yet the static remained.

Nails on wood. The sound went right through her and put her teeth on edge. She didn't want to turn around, she didn't want to see what came through the door. She wanted the last memories of her family to be peaceful ones, and yet she suspected that if she turned around and waited for the door to open, those final memories would instead be of her family trying to kill her.

If she was to survive, the window was her only option.

She went to the window, opened it, and exhaled...

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