I opened my eyes and looked around. I was in a street, if you could call it that. The houses were either crumbling or destroyed. There was litter on the streets; paper, rubble, metal shards... It smelt like smoke, dirt, and rotting meat. It was hot, the sun was bright, and there were no clouds in the sky. There was a breeze, slightly chilling my skin. I looked down; I was only in a Cami, shorts, and boots. There was brown hair whipping around my face, and it took me a minute to realize it was mine. I took one last look at the street. I recognized it, but I had no idea from where. I found my feet were moving down the road. They knew where they were going, but I didn’t. I hoped they were going away from them. I remembered them, how they looked, the way they walked, how to avoid or attack them. But the main thing I remembered was a boy. He was young, but tall. Tall and strong. And safe. He was always safe. He had messy dark hair that always fell into his bright green eyes. His face was pale and handsome. His smile always made my smile, even when I shouldn’t.
There was never a name I remembered, just that face. I was thinking of that face while I was walking. The face made me walk faster, but with more confidence. I felt my back straighten, my head raise and my shoulders relax. Ryder. The name suddenly came into my head. I paired the face and the name, but they didn’t match. Then I got another face. A small, pretty one with brown eyes and brown hair. Her name was Ryder. I was walking past a building, an abandoned shop with actual windows, when I saw the face. I stopped and stared. There was a girl in the window, looking right at me. She was short, skinny with light brown skin, dark brown hair, and light brown eyes. She had a few freckles on her nose and some dirt on her left cheek, but other than that, she was what was once called pretty. I was shocked to realize that the girl was me. I peered at my reflection closer, and I suddenly jumped. There was someone else in the window. He was far away, but he was coming towards me. His clothes were ripped and stained, with what I wasn’t sure. His hair was dark, but extremely jumbled up, with twigs and dirt entwined with it. His skin was sickly grayish color, with some of it just crumbling away. I felt a wave of nausea at the creature shuffling towards me.
That was the only word I could think of.
That was the next. I tried to remember how to run, but the thought had slipped away. All I could do was stand there, like prey.
Prey. Food. Hunger.
The words were in my head, but they weren’t mine. Suddenly, I remembered how to run; one foot in front of the other as quickly as possible. I ran from the zombie, down the street where I came. I turned left down a smaller road and stopped. There were even more zombies. I froze, hoping they wouldn’t have seen me. They continued to shuffle on, but then I heard a sound I can only describe as a scream from behind me. I whipped around and saw the first zombie. The group ahead stopped their mindless shuffle and turned towards the scream. I swore under my breath. I looked around, searching for an exit. There were two buildings, one on my left, and one on my right. The group was ahead of me, the loner behind me. I was trapped.
'Jump onto the dumpster. Then climb onto the roof.'
Like before, the words were in my head, but I hadn’t put them there. I looked around desperately, looking for the dumpster.
I ran towards it, and jumped. The loud metallic noise made me flinch, but I quickly recovered.
'Face the wall. Jump and pull yourself up onto the roof.'
I did what I was told, no questions. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew it was safer than being in the alley with the zombies. I hauled myself up onto the roof, then collapsed. I was exhausted. I closed my eyes against the glare of the sun. I could hear banging from down in the alley. Groaning softly, I crawled to the edge of the roof and looked down. The zombies were trying to climb onto the dumpster, but they couldn’t. Then one of them looked up. It had bluish-gray skin, dark eyes, and a menacing smile. I looked closer. It wasn’t a smile; the skin was rotting away, showing its teeth. I felt another wave of nausea, and quickly rolled away from the edge. I closed my eyes again, I was shattered. Trying to calm my breath, I tried to remember everything that had happened. I remembered screaming. People running. Panic. I opened my eyes, trying to forget all the horrible memories. I couldn’t live through that again, it would kill me. I stood up; I couldn’t stay on the roof forever. I had to have a plan. The zombies were still trying to get up, but from the sounds of it, they weren’t getting very far. I told myself not to go and see, the risk they’d get me, or I’d fall off, were too high. I had to survive.
'Why?' I thought.
'Why was it so important I stayed alive?'
'We need you.' I heard. I looked around for whoever spoke, but I was alone. I frowned slightly.
'Who are you?' I thought to them.
'Go to the hospital.'
'Why? I’m safe here.'
'We can help you at the hospital. Trust me.'
From my rooftop, I could see the hospital across the town. The only way to get there was by the main road, but that was way too risky. I’d never make it. I’d have to wait until it was dark, then I’d just have to run and hope. While I was thinking I hadn't noticed the banging noise from the ally had stopped. In fact, everything had stopped. I turned around quickly and screamed. Three zombies were on the roof, slowly making their way towards me. I ran to the edge facing the hospital, closed my eyes and jumped. The fall was short, the crash painful. My legs and arms were on fire. I looked at them, they were covered in blood. I swore and stood up. I screamed in agony, but I couldn’t sort it out now, I had to run. I was on the main road, so I ran north towards the hospital. My arms and legs were screaming in protest, but I gritted my teeth and continued to run. I didn’t dare look behind me; if I couldn’t see them, I wouldn’t panic. Looming up ahead of me was the hospital. I laughed in relief, I’d made it! I was about three hundred yards away; my breathing was short and painful. My legs and arms were screaming, and begging me to stop. I was so focused on the doors of the hospital I wasn’t paying attention to my feet. There was pain in my toe, and then gravity caught me and slammed me into the ground. I screamed; the agony was unbearable. I couldn’t move my limbs. I heard something shuffling, getting closer. This was it, I was going to die. After all my pain, it was useless. The zombies were going to get me. I felt my eyes close and I surrendered into the darkness.