Chapter Three: Personal Missions - Three Days after Viral Outbreak

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I tap my fingers on the glass, hoping nothing moves inside the store. After I wait for several seemingly eternal minutes, nothing comes. I hope that means the coast is clear, especially since the overhang on the front of this store blocks the sun effectively. It's a perfect retreat for those human-like creatures roaming about while I'm in town to scavenge supplies. I may be just seventeen, but out of the three of us, I'm the most physically able to get in and out of the city quickly. It's a tough assignment, but I chose it and will do anything to help my family survive.

Clutching the hunting knife I have in a sheath buttoned to my belt, I slide the fingers of my other hand over the gun in its holster at my side. I'd taken shooting lessons with my father when he was alive, and they sure are coming in handy now. If one of these crazy vampire-like people tries to bite me, I'll be ready.

"Hey!"

I turn to find an older man limping his way toward me. His face is pruned, tight with a permanent frown pasted on his lips. The white hair on his head is thinning and wild, lifting up with the soft breeze of the early morning hours. His clothes are disheveled, and a cane with dozens of scuffs and nicks on it helps him wobble along.

I suck my breath and turn my back toward the window, my fingers on the gun, but I don't answer him. Sometimes, the people that I've met after the first day haven't yet turned. It was hard to tell, but I'm starting to see the signs. They can still walk in the light, but have become sensitive to it. They're usually injured or sickly and the real sign is the bloodshot eyes... eyes like this man's.

"You hear me, girl?" he yells, like I'm deaf or something. I nod, hoping he stops approaching. I can feel my blood freeze inside my veins as he sniffs at me... sniffs!

I gulp and clear my throat. "Yes, sir."

"Damn kids nowadays. No respect, 'specially now, with the whole darn place going to hell in a hand basket." He shakes his head, grumbling under his breath, words I can't decipher.

I contemplate running, but this store hasn't been looted. In fact, as I flick my eyes to peer through the window, it looks downright pristine. We need more food. We need to load up with as much as we can to leave the city. We have to leave. Staying is not an option in this pandemonium.

Movement in my periphery makes me swing my eyes from the store to the old man, then to a couple of people sprinting across the street. I have to go inside so I won't be seen. Running into anyone is risky.

"I'm just leaving." I step back. The old man is almost within arm's reach.

"You stop right there. I won't take this from a malnourished little bitch like you. I'm hungry. I need... I need...." He stops in his tracks, shaking a finger at me as if accusing me of a dire crime. He immediately crinkles his brow, confusion spreading across his pale face. His lips are a faded pink, cracked and in need of some hydration. The tired appearance of his bloodshot eyes morphs slowly before my own.

His irises spill with blood, and his faded blue eyes slowly shift to a darker brown and brick color.

"I...I...I'm so thirsty." His consciousness fades before my eyes, and I can see it as plain as if he was standing in broad daylight. He isn't. He's left the safety of the sun for the large overhang I'm standing under, the shade darkening the sidewalk enough for the disease to jump into action and take the reins from his very soul.

Shit!

I step back, grabbing my knife and pulling it into my grasp. I ready myself for close contact while he stands frozen for a moment, his mouth twitching. His finger, still suspended in the air, shakes as his body betrays him. The man who'd been there a moment before, fades completely.

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