My attempts at the next part of my series were...not working, so I decided to step away and do something different. Thanks to @Fictdoodles for the prompt! (Oddly enough, this is going to prove useful in my other writing too :) )
Worse Than Death
After digging out the last shard of glass from my heel, I stalked through the kitchen and into the living room. Bloody footprints trailing behind me like morbid breadcrumbs. More blood dripped onto the off-white carpet from the knife in my hand.
The stains didn’t matter. Odds were no one was in the house to care—most houses were empty now. The only ones interested in the blood were those who followed me. Fresh blood drew them like flies to honey.
If I’d had shoes left, I could have gone farther without drawing them in. Too bad my last altercation had forced me to choose between my shoes and my life. I’d kicked the sneakers off without a second thought. Anymore, pieces of glass outnumbered blades of grass, even in suburbia—my feet never stood a chance.
Time was something I couldn’t afford to waste, and I prayed luck had brought me to a house with bandages, shoes near my size, and bullets. Bullets would be good. The gun tucked into my jeans didn’t weigh nearly enough for my taste. Filling the clip or finding a new weapon tied in importance with my need for something to cover my bloody feet.
The first door in the hall opened to a bathroom. The peach towels and bright yellow tile screamed of happy times. Times too far in the past to remember without pain.
Then a flash of joy so profound I wanted to kiss someone hit when I found salve and gauze wrap in the medicine cabinet. My feet were covered as quick as I could manage. The bindings weren’t pretty, but they’d hold for a while. I tucked the rest of the salve into my pocket.
A low moaning met my ears through the window I’d cracked open. It might have just been the wind, but as fortunate as I’d been with the bandages, I knew my luck wasn’t that good. There’d been too much blood.
“Move. Find the shoes.” I stood, wincing—the pain somehow more intense now that the blood wasn’t an immediate issue.
I poked my head out of the bathroom, looking both ways and sniffing. Nothing yet. Maybe I had enough time to get out of here. Hell, maybe there was a car in the garage with gas left. No. I couldn’t allow myself the luxury of that much hope.
The next door opened to an office…with a gun safe. I staggered to it and jerked on the handle. It swung open, not latched the last time someone went into it. Too many times, I found them like that. As well as how I found this one inside—empty. Grabbing the guns as a last hope, and maybe never even having the chance to fire them before…
I shook my head hard. There were no guns or ammo. Time to move on.
Opening the third door in my search for shoes, I found something else. The missing shotgun—pointed right at me.
“What are you doing here?” The old man’s voice was steady and strong…and human.
“Oh shit. I didn’t know anyone was here. You have to get out. They’re coming—“
“Get out of my house! I won’t let you lead them to me!” Fire and fever blazed in his eyes and his hands shook, sickness and panic making him jumpy.
He needed my help even more than I needed his. When they came, he wouldn’t stand a chance. “We need to go…” I reached for the gun, and he jerked back, pulling the trigger.
My ears rang with echoes of the gunshot as I stumbled, hand pressed to the hole in my stomach. Blood gushed from the wound with other, more solid pieces of me as I fell. The stench of rotting flesh hit me as I lay in the doorway. Liquid burbled up in my throat as I tried to tell the man to shut the door and hide, but no sound came out.
Eyes wide and clear for a moment, he knelt next to me, his ear close to my face. “What’d you say?”
And then it was too late. The zombies didn’t run, but they didn’t shamble either. The man must have finally smelled them because he tried to move, but with my body in the doorway, they were on him before he even raised the shotgun again.
The screams couldn’t drown out the growls and squelching of their teeth rending his flesh. Then one of them turned and noticed me lying there. Its one remaining eye locked on me, and I knew they wouldn’t pass me over as dead. Like the old man, I’d feel them eating me.
As the zombie stood, I bit my tongue to keep from screaming. With blood filling my mouth, I raised the knife, and slid the blade across my throat.