How could I possibly have let this happen? I had been so careful to not let this happen. But now I was paying the price for one moment of carelessness. I tried my best to hide the bite marks. I didn’t want the rest of my group to see. It was a small bite on my wrist and it was easy to hide from everyone else. But even with such a small bite I only had one hour before I turned. I know I should tell my group but the thought of having them shoot me is mortifying. What if I get lucky and don’t turn? There had been stories about people being immune. Maybe I should just wander off so I am not close to them when I do turn? That would mean leaving my family behind. No goodbyes. I would be abandoning them. But on the other hand, I would become a danger to them. Here I am thinking about what to do and time doesn’t stop to let me make a decision.
We had stumbled across a grocery store. Most stores had been cleared out almost as soon as the outbreak happened but we hadn’t eaten and you never know when you might get lucky. So we go in and start looking. The group always sticks together. The more eyes in one place the better. It’s dark since there is no power. We scrounge through the shelves and have no luck. Everyone continues to move to the back of the store when I see something in the back of a shelf. It looks like a Snickers bar. It’s my favorite. I become focused on the candy bar. I slowly unwrap the bar like you see in the commercials. I close my eyes and put it in my mouth. It’s basically a Snickers commercial in the middle of the apocalypse. Then suddenly I am tackled to the ground. I look straight into its eyes that are just these dull white orbs with no pupils. I try my best to get it off of me. It has patches of rotting flesh. Its breath smells so terrible it almost causes me to pass out. It’s too heavy to push off and in the struggle, I can’t reach for my weapons. Its mouth keeps snapping at me. I am getting exhausted. It feels like I have been struggling for hours but it’s probably been less than a minute. Just like that, I feel it. He gets a tiny chunk of my wrist. At the moment that it bit me my thoughts were consumed by fear and desperation. And then all of a sudden a loud bang and it was all over. It was a second too late. Its head is blown and I am covered in blood. My group noticed I had fallen behind and came to look for me. They push the body off of me. Someone hands me a roll of paper towels and I clean myself off. I look at my wrist and try not to look too worried. I hope that it’s not real. But those marks won’t wipe off. I pull my sleeve down so no one can see.
Now here I am. Time is ticking. There are no outward signs of the transformation. When the eyes turn white you know that the transformation is complete. The only symptoms are what the person feels. I start feeling the first stage. I have a pounding headache. It feels like my head is being split in half. I try to keep my composure. I hide my feeling from the others but inside of me, I can feel my cells ripping apart. I feel like a little kid with a secret that is eating away at his soul. The only thing that keeps it inside is the fear of what the people I am with might do to me. We have moved on from the store with a few cans of food.
I have been with this group almost since the beginning of the outbreak. It has been a struggle. Everyone in this group has lost someone except me. I had been alone most of my life. This was the closest thing I had to a family for the first time in my life. The fact that it is going to end like this is driving me crazy. I try to hold it together. I see Adam and his son Jake. I will never forget when his wife got bit. She thought she could trust him. Before she could turn he pulled out his gun and shot her right in the back of the head. Jake sobbed for days and we were scared that with all that crying they would be drawn to us. He explained that it was for the good of the group. But she hadn’t turned. That was still his wife and he killed her. And I am still me and I don’t want to die. But in less than an hour, I will no longer be me and I will become a danger to the group.
I begin to feel a strange tingle throughout my body. I feel like a bunch of tiny bugs are running through my veins. But my headache is gone. I try my best to not let on that I am feeling bad. I stay toward the back of the group.
It all started two years ago. You would have thought that the idea of one person eating another would have made a bigger stir in the news but it didn’t. You would just hear rumors. When it finally was on the news it was too late. No one was prepared and pure chaos ensued. It grew out of control quickly. The first year it was just as dangerous to run into other people as it was to run into a group of those things. Now there are so few people remaining and most of those things have starved that there isn’t much to worry about. And yet that had been my mistake. I let my guard down.
No one knew each other before the event. We got along great and worked well as a team. We were a small group of eight. Well, now we were seven after the incident with Adam and his wife. That had really changed our group. We had prepared for everything except for that. We had survived and had no longer worried about getting bitten. Food and shelter were our only worries. But that had reminded us of the other dangers. And now here I was, slowly waiting for my time. I was holding out hope that just maybe it wouldn’t happen.
My stomach starts to grumble. I am getting hungry. We haven’t eaten. Is this another symptom or just a normal hunger? I am starting to panic. What if they shoot me? Will it hurt? What happens after that? And what if I turn? What will I be then? Is there even a difference? A million questions rush through my head. Even after the apocalypse at least I knew what to expect. But now everything was going to change and there was no way to know what was going to happen. The uncertainty is driving me insane or maybe it’s the bite.
I try to hold my composure. I am so focused on keeping it together that I don’t realize that Adam is talking to me. I have no idea what he is saying. And then Jake just walks up to me and asks “what’s that?” as he points to my wrist. My vision gets blurry. My headache comes back worse than ever and I feel that my veins erupt and I feel like a million little bugs are running under my skin. I can’t control my body. My arms reach for Jake and I launch myself at him and bite at his jugular. I am aware of everything around me but I have no control. I hear yelling. I jump at the next closest person. I see Adam struggle and I bite at him. I hear gunshots but feel nothing. I see Jake bleeding to death. I want to say I am sorry but I can’t. I go for the next closest body. Everything is beyond my control. I can think and am aware of everything but I lose control of my body. Suddenly I think of all those that were killed once they turned. They were killed by the ones they loved. They thought they had lost the ones they loved but inside they were still there. I don’t feel tired despite all the struggling. I look around. I see Jake. How did I let this happen? I want to say I am sorry but I feel sorrier for myself. I will die trapped inside my own body. I see the eyes of my family as I tear them to shreds. They will never know that this group was the best that ever happened to me. I hear a bang and the world turns black. Am I dead or have I finally turned completely?