Grace By: Sarah Oliverson

Grace stood in the shadows, afraid to move. The thing staring at her from the end of the hall was grotesque. Hunched over on all fours it appeared to have a female body, but there was no hair. Every time Grace would shift, the thing would tilt its head, as if it could hear her. Thud, thud, thud, her heart beat increased the longer she stood there terrified to move. As she stood there the more it seemed it was intrigued with what she was doing.

The hallway was wide, papers and blood strewn everywhere. A man’s screams erupted down the hallway, drawing the things attention. Grace’s heartbeat shot through her throat as she watched the thing turn away from her, only to turn back and start slowly moving down the hall towards her.

Toenails scratched the floor as the thing stalked towards Grace. Head down, shoulders hunched in preparation of the pounce. Thud, thud, thud, was all that Grace heard as her heart crawled from her throat, into her ears.

The thing stopped right in front of Grace, breathing like a derby horse after the race. Sweat pooling on her face Grace dare not move.

Just down the hallways you could hear footsteps, “HEY UGLY, I’M OVER HERE!” screamed Rider.

It turned its head immediately screaming, it pounded both sides of the wall that Grace had firmly embedded herself in.

“DON’T MOVE GRACE! DON’T TALK, IT HEARS EVERY MOVE, EVERY HEARTBEAT.”

Just as the words left Rider’s mouth, the thing screamed for one more time while Grace looked it in the skin covered eye sockets. Just as it finished it engulfed Grace’s throat, showering itself and the brick walls around them with her blood. It then turned its sights on Ryder, listening to his drumming heart. The heart beat was like music to her ears as it thrummed away to the terror that she had caused when ripping his girlfriend’s throat out in front of him.The air creating bubbles in the blood that pooled from her neck.

The man stood in the hallway with the beast a corpse and his wild heartbeat. There wasn’t much left to do now that his heart lay bleeding out on the floor.

His dark hair disheveled, jacket and shirt torn with blood soaked jeans, Ryder was a sight to be seen. Sinking to his knees he watched as the thing bat around Grace. Slowly he began melting into the ground from his knees, without his Grace, everything they had worked to live for meant nothing.

He closed his eyes, even though he knew the thing was taking it’s time tenderizing its dinner, he imagined it standing over him licking its pale grey lips, preparing to turn him into the next rag doll.

The slow darkness took over, he closed his eyes waiting for the thing to come for him.

There was a rough jolt, almost like someone was running into walls in a hurry. A feeling of hovering over the ground, but the sound that came from it was more like dragging.

“Nicholas, do you think he’s going to make it? He’s lost a lot of blood?” the female voice said.

“That’s a great question, I can’t believe that it just left him there after ripping her throat out, this isn’t normal behavior from them.” He replied stoically. “Sometimes they pull through, and sometimes they turn into the things that our nightmares are made of.”

The woman nodded in the dark, Nicholas didn’t need to look at her to know, the two had been traveling together since the beginning when she had found him on Fort Bragg. He had been working together with his former commander to find all his missing guys, because no soldier gets left behind was their motto. What they hadn’t known was what the fallen soldiers had turned into. They continued to drag Ryder to safety. Well at least what they called safe. Since the outbreak there truly wasn’t a safe place to sleep. What would it be like to close your eyes again for more than a half hour? A hot shower would be amazing right now.

Alexa moved the cover off the door, and opened it for Nicholas to drag the man in. In the medium sized room, Ryder was set down so they could secure the doors, or what the door was made of. Months of conditioning like this in a hurry had made Alexa and Nicholas quite defined. They may be skinny, but they were made of pure determination and muscle.

Pulling the boards into place, Alexa stepped out of the way so Nicholas could shove the fridge in front of it. The battered thing had seen as much wear and tear as the two had and was keeping what was left of the door closed. It had taken them a while to hollow out the floor in the collapsed building that they were residing in, but they made it work.

As soon as the door was secured they pushed a couch out of the way reveling a door that was below it. This had been the find of a lifetime. There wasn’t food or water, they still had to leave to find that, but below this door was a concrete room.

There was soft talking around his head as he lay in a fog of unconsciousness. When he was conscious he was delirious, when he was unconscious he was fighting for his love, Grace. The scenarios were played over in slow motion over and over in an insanity induced nightmare.

Pain, sharp, stabbing. The flutter of light, more pain associated with the light. Muffled voices in the distance, Ryder turned his head towards the sound. Nicholas and Alexa stopped their conversation for a moment looking at their patient. Alexa scooted next to him.

“Can I get you some water?” she asked.

Nicholas piped in, “If you give him water, just wet his mouth until we know if he’s going to throw up or not.”

She nodded taking the cleanest rag she had, dipping it in the cup. Dabbing Ryder’s lips caused him to open his mouth, whistling to try and talk.

Alexa leaned into listen to him, the sound of air passing through his dry mouth and lips was sickening.

“Nicholas, I have no idea what he’s trying to say.” She said frustrated.

Nicholas leaned into the man, “Save your breath, you were in rough shape when we found you. Your friend didn’t make it.”

A tear slid down the man’s face.

“Is that what you were asking about?” Alexa asked.

With slight movement in his head, Nicholas looked at his friend. “Yeah, he was asking about her.”

“We moved her somewhere safe and covered her since we didn’t have the time to bury her with you bleeding so much. I know that she was important, but we had to take your life into consideration. There aren’t many of us left.” She said looking at her hands in her lap.

Ryder closed his eyes.

Nicholas pat his companion on the shoulder, “He needs rest and time.”

Alexa nodded.

They moved to give him more space, then the sounds of sleep filled the small area.

“We’re going to have to go back out for water and food again.” He said looking at the dirty female. “Especially with another mouth here, we will have to stock up.”

She nodded, reaching for the dim light, “I hope we make it back this time.”

He nodded looking at the sleeping man as he closed his eyes. Alexa smothered the light.

 

The two stood talking in low tones. The conversation sounded began to get heated in a whispered manner. “I could give a damn what you say.” She said.

“Shhh!” hushed the male voice.

Alexa rolled her eyes. “We need supplies Nicholas, I am going out. I promise that I will be careful.”

“I understand that we need supplies, but why are you the one going?”

The conversation got quiet again.

Ryder blinked, shaking his head as much as he could, began to moan. Alexa looked at him.

“Do you need more water?” she asked.

Tears streamed down his cheek as he tried to shake his head through the pain again.

“If I were a smart person, and sometimes I’m not, I would say that he doesn’t want you to go back out there.” Nicholas guessed looking the other male in the eye.

“No one wants to go back out there.” She said rubbing her hands on her face, “But we don’t have a choice if we’re going to live.”

“You call this living huh?” Nicholas replied shortly.

Alexa shook her head and walked to the ladder that was now their reality.

“Someone needs to stay here, and it’s my turn to go out there. That makes it obvious what needs to happen. They usually sleep during the day anyways.”

Shaking his head, Nicholas knew that her logic was right. Since they had brought Ryder in a couple of days ago, they had been taking turns getting water. Now Alexa needed to get food for them all.

photo downloaded from https://www.pexels.com/photo/grayscale-photo-of-human-eye-120271/