Friday, February 23, 2007

The Hunger

The Hunger

By: David Probert

Sandra awoke in the confines of a musty basement. She’d been unconscious. For how long, she didn’t know. But she wasn’t alone. Her boyfriend, Roy, was with her, as well as their friend, Carol. They sat engulfed in a thick blanket of darkness that was cut by a faint ray of pale moonlight which spilled through a window on the far wall.

“Everyone ok?” Sandra asked, slowly rising on her trembling legs with the support of the wall behind her assuring that she wouldn’t topple over.

Carol responded, a voice without origin in the blackness. “My head hurts but I think I’m alright.”

“Where the hell are we?” Roy fumbled through the dark. He grasped Sandra’s arm and pulled her toward him. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah, you?”

“I’m alright.” He kissed the top of her head and wrapped his arms around her. It didn’t matter what had happened to him, he was just relieved that she was ok.

The basement door flung open and a large figure, preceded by the bright beam of a flashlight, descended the stairs. Roy yanked Sandra back and watched in horror as a bloody arm shot from the dark and wrapped a hand around Carol’s throat.

She coughed and gasped for air as a large figure dragged her up the steps, her arms flailing and legs kicking against the wood. The basement door slammed shut behind them, muffling her cries for help.

Roy’s feet pounded up the old planks of wood and he jiggled the door handle. It was locked. “What the fuck is going on?”

Sandra stood at the foot of the stairs, her eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness. Below Roy’s silhouette a thin lining of dull light shone from under the door, and every so often a shadow would scuttle across.

“There’s more than one person up there.”

They both froze as Carol began to scream from beyond the door.

Her screams were followed by the loud buzz of a chainsaw.

The moonlight spilled over Sandra’s terror-stricken eyes and she trembled like a leaf in a vigorous breeze, barely clinging to her own sanity. The piercing screams rattled her eardrums. She could hear the saw grinding as it cut through (what could only have been) Carol’s flesh and bone. “What’s going on, Roy?”

There was a loud crack, then the splattering sound of heavy liquid spilling onto a tiled floor. Carol stopped screaming and an eerie mumbling arose from the other side of the door.

Roy stumbled down the stairway in a panic, grabbing at the wooden rail to steady himself and prevent a severe tumble. “They killed her. They fucking killed her.”

He began to fumble through the darkness. “Feel around, there has to be something we can use. He’s going to come back down here. We have to do something.” He clumsily felt around until his fingers tapped a cold metal surface, a toolbox. He snapped the lid open and carefully felt inside, wrapping his hand around the wooden handle of a hammer. “I found something. Where are you?”


“Keep talking, I can’t see you.”

Sandra’s voice resonated with fear. “Roy, I just had a really bad thought.”

“Not now Sandra.” Roy took her hand and slowly led her through the basement.

“What if someone else is down here?”

“Don’t say that.”


He paused for a moment as footsteps shuffled overhead. “We would have known by now.”

“I don’t feel so good.”

“Me either; it’s nerves Sandra.”

She rubbed her stomach. “Do you think we’ll make it out of here?”

“We have to stick together, that’s all. We’ll wait under that stairs and trip him as he’s coming down.” He pulled Sandra beneath the steps, where they waited in silence until the door burst open again.

A pair of heavy boots pounded down the stairs. Once Roy could see the back of the stranger’s legs he swung the claw of the hammer between the steps.

The stranger let out a scream and tumbled forward, slamming against the basement wall. Roy quickly darted around and bludgeoned him with the hammer. A violent crack emanated from his skull as the hammer crashed down. The basement door slammed shut, and Roy retreated back into the shadows.

“Do you think he’s dead?” Sandra whispered, her body quivering.

“If he’s not, he’s not going to manage too well with his brain mashed like a bowl of potatoes.” Roy watched the lifeless silhouette through the gloom. Suddenly, it began to moan in agony.

The door opened again. This time there were two men. The light from the doorway shone down into the basement where the body was visible and twitched in a dark pool of blood. Fragments of skull and brain matter were splattered across the wall.

Sandra raised the back of her arm to her mouth to keep from vomiting. Her stomach churned with nausea. Roy held her close as the two men carried the body back up the stairs, closing the door behind them.

“Come on, we have to get the hell out of here.” Roy pulled Sandra toward the window. He cupped his hands and lowered them to her knees. “I’ll lift you up, and then you can help pull me out.”

“You’re too heavy, Roy…”

“Than if you can’t pull me up, go get help.”

The door creaked open again. Sandra stepped on Roy’s hands and he hoisted her up to the window. She fumbled over the lock then pushed the window open and slid out. Before she could grab Roy’s hand, she heard him screaming as he was drug toward the stairs, toward the same grisly fate as Carol.

Sandra turned to run. What she saw sent her heart into a pounding frenzy. Once she’d crawled out of the basement, she’d crawled out on reality entirely. The world before her was like nothing she’d ever imagined; a horror movie come to life. Bloody corpse’s littered the lawn; their gaping wounds glistened in the pale moonlight. Some of them twitched, groaned, and clawed at the soil. Others lay motionless.

She cupped a hand over her mouth as she felt vomit begin to crawl up her throat and burn her esophagus. She sprinted around the house and the world seemed to spin frantically around her.

The front porch was filled with more of them. She saw a man pounding on the door like a crazed lunatic. Another hunched near the front steps, gnawing on a severed arm.

Hiding behind a group of bushes, she watched them in their tattered, rotten skin. They didn’t appear confused, disoriented, or even phased by the fact that they should have all been dead. Instead, they were crazed; their eyes wide with malice, shrinking their pupils to the size of black pencil-tip erasers.

She retreated to the other side of the house. There were more. They were dead, yet mobile, still functioning just as well as any living being.

She watched from the shadows as they ran across the driveway, toward the other side of the house. Her heart thumped against her chest and a dry lump balled in her throat.

A few cars sat in the driveway and Sandra weighed her options: run and pray to God that there was a set of keys in one of the cars, or keep hiding and hope that the living dead didn’t find her. After what had happened to Roy and Carol, she decided to place her odds with the cars.

She crept toward the edge of the shadows and scanned the area; it was clear. Her feet pounded against the gravel in a wild sprint for safety. She jiggled the first door handle but it was locked. She quickly moved to the next, and her luck had changed; the car was open and dangling from the ignition was a shiny set of keys.

Her heart pounded as she slid into the car and locked all of the doors, but she was spotted. A small group of the undead charged the car.

Sandra turned the key in the ignition and the car started immediately. She threw it into drive and floored the gas pedal, striking one of the animated corpses and sending it onto the hood. She backed up and the body slid to the ground, leaving a wet trail of blood behind. Its bones were broken and it couldn’t stand. It grasped at the dirt with its decayed hands and screamed at the car like a wild animal defending a fresh kill.

Sandra turned the car around and followed the only road she saw, a long dirt road to nowhere.

The car swerved around corners and tore through gravel. She never let up on the gas. She kept her eyes on the road and drove until she saw lights, a town. A little reluctant, she veered off the road and parked in front of a gas station and ran inside for help, hoping that help hadn’t fallen to the evil that ran ramped outside.

She insistently rang the small bell on the counter, but no one answered. A loud thud sounded outside, and as she turned, she saw more of the undead, attacking her car like a swarm of angry hornets. They must have thought someone was inside. Their eyes were furious, and dark scarlet blood masked their faces. Some of them had gaping head wounds. Others were missing limbs. She even noticed one with its stomach torn open and a glob of organs hanging loose. They hissed and screamed as they pounded on the car, denting the hood and doors, and breaking through the glass.

Gunshots blared and a bullet struck one of them. Its head jolted back as a splatter of blood shot into the air like a crimson fountain. It turned around, then fell against the car and slid into a sitting position against the front wheel.

The assailant emerged, aiming and firing. Blood sprayed as another fell. A bullet lodged in its skull. The man cocked his rifle to reload, but was overwhelmed by the hoard. It was a feeding frenzy; he didn’t even have time to scream. They bit at his flesh and tore it from his bones. His screams turned to gurgling as blood sprayed through the crowd, and the more blood that sprayed, the more violent they became.

Sandra ran from the window and into the back room of the shop where she noticed a glass door leading outside. Moonlight lit the outside with a light blue glow. There were probably hundreds of them, hiding in the shadows and waiting for the next living being to waltz into the spotlight of the moon where they would charge and fight for a taste of flesh.

She approached the door with caution and scanned the area. Her eyes had somewhat adjusted to the darkness and she didn’t see anything but the general store across the street. Its lights were out, but the sign on the door still read: open.

She dashed into the night, across the street, and inside of the store. It was a mess. The violent corpses must have already been there. Bags of food had been torn open, soda cases were vandalized, and shelves were knocked to the ground, spilling their contents throughout the store. Blood was smeared across the back wall, and at the end of the arched smear was a scarlet handprint providing proof of a violent death.

She noticed local and regional newspapers on a shelf along the wall. Headlines read: Strange outbreak keeps the dead from their graves. Viral outbreak closes local area hospital. Is the impossible possible?

On the cover of the local paper she saw a picture of Roy, Carol, and herself, they were all smiling at the camera as it snapped their senior class photos. She snatched the paper and read the caption beneath the photo: Day 3 - Local teens still missing.

The paper slipped from her grasp. She remembered being abducted, along with Roy and Carol. The memories invaded her mind with horrible flashbacks of a large man locking them in the basement; it was the man Roy had beaten with the hammer.

A group of cars screeched in front of the store. Sandra ran her fingers along her throat and felt thick, sticky liquid covering a rough opening across her neck. She looked up at the glass and saw her reflection. Her skin was pale and rotted, her cheeks hollow, and her eyes lifeless. A line of crimson, where the abductor had slit her throat, was the only visible color on her body.

She stood for a moment and glared at herself in horror. She was already dead. So were Roy and Carol. They’d been murdered in the basement. They were all dead and being slaughtered as they arose to join the animated corpses.

A group of men approached from the parked cars in front of the store. They’d spotted Sandra through the window and their rifles were raised.

She closed her eyes as the craving for flesh began to overwhelm her senses, her stomach churned; the hunger was setting in. Soon she’d become crazed just like the others. When she opened her eyes, the last thing she saw was the group of undead screaming as they charged the men from behind. They aggressed from the shadows like a pack of animals.

There was a loud crack as one of the men pulled his trigger. Sandra dropped to the ground, blood spurting from her head. She took comfort in knowing that dying again was the best thing that could have happened to her. The world as she knew it was no longer the same, and nor would it ever be, once the hunger had set in.


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