Description: When Carrie failed to escape the city in time, she got trapped in quarantine. Civilization had abandoned her. However, she’s not alone. Others are with her—people infected and controlled by the single emotion they had when infected: Curiosity, Fear…Anger. She must avoid the contaminated and escape, or she too will be another victim.
One foot punched the gas pedal, revving the engine. Warm tears dripped off her face. Carrie gripped the gearshift. The engine belched throaty power, and then fell silent as she wrenched the keys from the ignition. She screamed at herself. “Drive already, God Da-”She managed to stop. Cursing God would only make it worse. She was the one damned, and He was right in doing so. Each day stuck on the island was a testament of her sins. Buster barked from the passenger seat. The Dalmatian flicked his tail. “You’re right, it was a good try,” she said, patting randomly. Day ten of trying and she still hadn’t driven an entire block. Mangled wreckage of twisted mailboxes, splintered fence timbers, and bicycle parts were scattered along the street. At least no one was on the mountain bike when the car she was driving smashed into the frame and bounced over each wheel, leaving the bicycle destroyed. Then again, there was no one. That wasn’t true, there were people, but she didn’t want to think of the others. Those left behind were hardly human any longer. The rearview mirror tilted to one side, and she moved to adjust the angle. At the end of the street, a shape moved around the corner and was lost among thorn bushes. Carrie kicked at the door and bolted. Squeaks from the metal brace attached to her left leg squealed with each step. Eventually the figure at the corner would realize she could only move with the speed of an injured lamb. “Buster, to me,” Carrie said. The dog bounded to her side. “Watch,” Carrie said. Hackles raised, the dog turned to look at the yard. Carrie wrenched at the front door handle and stumbled inside. Buster leapt over her and she slammed the door shut. Three locks turned close before she began to breathe normal again. She parted the blinds, expecting to see someone. The road was vacant. There was no movement except for the sway of long grass in the front yard from the breeze. The bramble of her corner neighbor’s yard grew into the border of lawn. They had kept the bushes trimmed, when they had been around. But that was over two months ago. She glanced back the other way. The street remained empty. Each of the yards seemed to imitate the next with a mosaic of trash entangled in the long hands of the grass. Tall weeds towered across each green stretch. She breathed deeply and steadied her pounding heart. Really, the movement could have been anything. Another dog or cat left behind or even her mind playing tricks. She wanted to shrug it off, but her eyes stayed riveted on the area just to be certain. For over a month, she had not seen anyone on her street. She acknowledged she was be getting careless, and needed to be certain of her surroundings before making so much noise with the car. Carrie looked at her yard, which looked the same as the rest on the block. Part of her wished she could bring the mower out, but the clipped lawn would have made it obvious there was a survivor living in the house. She turned back to the living room. Buster barked. “I know. We can try the car again tomorrow. Remember what happened when I went before I was ready last time? We don’t want to have to find another car.” Buster barked. “Okay, okay. Sure it was easy. If I can find the keys the car is mine, but it means I have to go into houses. Only one mistake is all it takes.” Buster barked again. On automatic, Carrie reached for the bag and poured. Brown pebbles dispensed for a second and were covered by crumbs and dust. She sighed, took the food sack, looked at the full trash, and threw the bag into the front yard through a slit in the window. The wind would drive the paper away. She looked at the bare cupboards and wished the breeze would return something edible. Her reflection caught on the toaster. She stared at the blue eyes and black pupils. Part of her worried that one day she would look at a mirror and the eyes would be different, instead finding purple had replaced the blue iris. “We need to go shopping, Buster,” said Carrie. The dog whimpered and lowered his tail. “You’re right,” said Carrie thinking of the blur she had seen. “Wait until it’s dark. At least then maybe no one will see us.” *** Moonlight littered each deserted home. Block after block Carrie moved through the silence. Thick towels wrapped around the metal brace muffled the sound of her movement. Perhaps she was overly cautious, but better paranoid than dead. Buster crouched low and moved forward. He turned his head back and Carrie followed. Times like these made Carrie appreciate she only had five feet of height to hide instead of the bulky frame of her dad. She wondered if her family was still alive. Did they pass the barrier before the bridge was destroyed? She was almost positive her mother was caught up in one of the last groups across the bridge, but she was uncertain about her dad. She tried to ignore the thoughts. There was a way to find out. If their cold bodies lay on the pavement, she would know they died because of her. A group of five stood below a street lamp three houses down. Each of the rust colored faces stared up at the florescent glow. Deep gashes stretched down the face and neck of a young girl and an old man. Carrie shuddered. Those who could not run were caught first. But even the old man had managed to escape; which meant there was some hope she might get away, if surrounded. She yanked the black beanie tight over her hair. Her long strands of blond were a gleaming halo at night. Her pale skin did not help and she covered herself in a dark sweater despite the heat. Even her backpack, once bright purple and gold of the school colors, was now covered in a thick midnight shade of spray paint. The bag had been her favorite, but blending into the shadows remained top priority. She squeezed past a broken fence post, moving away from the group. Purple eyes and dirt encrusted fingers haunted her dreams. She did not need reminders, and there was no way to predict if or when one would snap. The grocery store lights glowed through large windows onto the vacant parking lot. Carrie stepped forward. Buster growled, and Carrie jumped back into shadow. A lone figure, almost blending with the night, stood under a parking light, staring. “We have to sneak around back,” she whispered. Buster moved backward. From the opposite edge of the lot, another figure burst out, running straight for the lone man under the lamp. Carrie turned her head. Buster’s growl deepened. “Shh,” Carrie whispered. “There’s nothing I can do.” Sounds of metal carts crashing on the asphalt and banging against poles reverberated, but no screams. There were never screams, which made witnessing the brutality worse. Carrie kept her eyes forward, but movements on her periphery still assaulted her. Bile clung in her throat. The person under the street lamp would be dead by morning, or if not he would stare at his wounds in amazement for hours. The keys jangled as she rammed them into the lock and jumped inside the store. She slammed the lock back home and sighed. A voice yelled in one of the aisles. “Keep back as ravens eat the cream puffs! I’m warning you! Don’t make the shrimp jump into limburger cheese!” “Hey Herbert,” said Carrie. Herbert screamed again and the sound of cans crashing on the linoleum echoed as he scampered away. “Nice to see you too,” said Carrie. In a twisted sort of way, Carrie enjoyed seeing Herbert. The man had been the grocery owner since before she was born, and it seemed only right to pick up supplies under his watch. He was one of the few who offered any conversation, even if it was gibberish. “Get over your fear yet?” One of the freezer doors thumped shut on the far side of the store. Most likely, others outside were infected with fear as well, but Herbert was the only she could identify with those symptoms. The others probably hid in their cellars. She wondered what emotions others might have, but the Curious and Angry seemed the most prevalent. She felt fairly certain of her theory. Everyone seemed to be controlled by a single emotion, and most were curious or angry. She figured when the evacuation occurred and people began to change most had been bewildered or frustrated and were now stuck with that emotion. She had had those emotions as well as being scared and tired. But she still had no idea what was going on. She still didn’t understand how they lived. Did they eat? What was sustaining them? “At least you weren’t stuck with curiosity, like the guy outside,” she muttered. “Or worse, anger.” The dog chow bag resisted her pull to open it, and eventually she rammed the sack against a shelf edge. Pellets sprouted and poured from the hole. She took a list from her pocket as Buster crunched. “Don’t worry Herbert,” she said. “I am keeping a tally and when humanity returns to this hell hole I am sure my family will pay you back.” She reached in above Herbert, who was trying his best to hide on the bottom row, and plucked up a package of frozen burritos. His purple eyes glanced from between his fingers for a moment and his body constricted tighter.