of newly risen dead.

Elijah drove for hours straight into the middle of nowhere. Only when the road turned to gravel, the house he’d seen was a couple of miles behind him, and the trees surrounded him on all sides did he stop.

He ditched the SUV, carrying all he could on foot, and headed out even deeper into the woods. His plan had been so perfect, well thought out and executed without a snag. Weighted down by his supplies he’d hiked as far as he could before he’d made camp, still patting himself on the back for making it out here with so little trouble. It wasn’t until the first of the creatures came bounding out of the trees at him with saliva and blood dripping from its hungry mouth that he realized just how huge of a mistake he’d made.

Elijah barely managed to get his loaded shotgun up and ready in time to defend himself. He squeezed the trigger with the creature so close that when the shotgun’s blast blew its decaying form apart, its blood and intestines splattered over him. He lumbered over to its twitching body and smashed its skull in with the shotgun’s butt. He fought down the urge to vomit as taking the time to do so could cost him his life. He heard movement in the brush and knew the thing hadn’t been alone. Snatching up what he could from the gear he’d laid out, he took off sprinting away as fast as his legs would carry him. His breath came in ragged gasps and his whole body burnt from the effort as he forced himself to keep going.

The houses he’d quickly driven by not long before were now his only hope. He made a point to cut through a small creek hoping the moving water would cause the creatures to lose his scent. The image of the one he’d shot lingered in his mind. Its body had been torn to pieces on the ground before him but its head had remained intact, twisting in the dirt of the forest floor as its teeth continued to snap hungrily until he’d finished it.

At last, Elijah saw a house in the distance. Truth be told, it was more of a shack that appeared to have been abandoned for years but he didn’t care. It had walls and a door and that was enough for his purposes. He reached inside himself and found the energy for one more burst of speed like a runner who sees the finish line in sight. He didn’t try to open the door or see if it was locked. He barreled into it throwing his weight against its wooden frame.

The cabin’s door slammed inward and he went toppling across the floor of its single room. He jumped to his feet discarding the meager supplies he’d been able to salvage, with his shotgun still in hand raced back to the door, and slammed it shut. Its hinges had been damaged but it still worked well enough from him to get it closed.

His eyes scanned the room desperately searching for anything he could use to brace the door with. The cabin was clearly deserted. Other than a single chair, a desk, and a small stack of wood beside its fireplace, its sole room was empty. He wondered if it were some kind of “way station” for hikers who needed a respite from the elements but didn’t have time to dwell on the question of the cabin. He pushed the heavy desk against the door and slid to the floor leaning his himself on it. Only then did he allow himself a moment to breathe.

A wolf howled somewhere in the night outside. It was an unnatural cry of sickening pain which ended in a gargling wheeze. The howl didn’t surprise Elijah. The wolf he’d faced off with had had half its upper back exposed with both its fur and flesh torn clean from its body.

In the flash of his shotgun, he’d seen the white bone of its spine before the weapon’s blast had struck the creature. He figured if the dead humans formed packs to hunt the living, wolves certainly would as hunting packs were already part of their instinctual nature. That’s why he had run from his camp. There was no way that wolf could have been alone and the howl proved it. There was no telling how many of the damned, rotting animals were out there circling the cabin.

His eyes were drawn to the fireplace. He hauled himself up and went over to it fishing around in his pocket for a lighter. He quickly got a fire going and then hurried once more to add his weight to that of the desk against the doorway. Not having a fire had not been an option.

If wolves could come back to life too like people then the last thing he needed was an undead squirrel crawling down the chimney to rip his face off.

“Why in the hell had he thought only humans would come back?”

He cursed himself.

The cabin’s only window exploded in a shower of glass as the first wolf leapt through it. Elijah jerked up his shotgun, pumping a round into its chamber, as the thing landed gracefully on the floor across from him. It tried to growl at him though its throat had been torn out.

A wet, flopping sound filled the room as its windpipe vibrated where it dangled from the thing’s open neck. It tensed up to pounce at him as Elijah pulled the trigger and took his shot. This time his aim was true and the shotgun’s blast burst the wolf’s head like an over ripe melon.

Elijah felt his makeshift barricade buckle against his back as the scratching against the door began. He held his position holding the door closed by shoving his backside into it as two more wolves came through the window. Cursing he tossed his shotgun aside and drew the pistol holstered on his hip. The fight was over before it truly started.

Elijah fired getting off a trio of shots. Two of them struck the lead wolf sending it sprawling but his third shot went wild as the second wolf grabbed his gun arm in its teeth and ripped at his skin with its paws. The first wolf got up and charged him going straight for his throat, cutting through his jugular and windpipe alike as its massive jaws closed around his neck. Elijah’s body twisted and fought against his fur covered attackers as his blood flowed out onto the wooden floor.

His body rolled away from the doorway no longer holding the desk in place. The door slid open under the force of the paws pushing against it outside and still more wolves entered joining their brothers in a feast of warm, once living flesh until all that remained of Elijah was bone and scattered pieces of clothing.


The pounding on the walls of the bunker never stopped. Night or day, it was always there. Burke wondered if the hordes of creatures outside took turns. Surely it couldn’t still be the same ones who had first started the damn noise. By now, would those first creatures even have anything left of their hands?

A vision of rotting bodies with the white of bone protruding from battered and crushed wrists, slamming them repeatedly against the metal of the only door to the bunker came alive in his head. He shuddered and tried to continue opening his lunch, pushing the mental image out of his mind. He was down to the last dregs of the bunker’s supplies and the can of meat his was opening, he knew from experience, made the thought of cold, greasy Spam even sound appealing in its place.

Burke hated his visions. He’d been born with the ability to see things that others couldn’t. Sometimes, he could watch faraway places through his mind’s eye like a gazing through a crystal ball. He could also reach into another person’s mind and read their thoughts as if they were his own.

On his most clear of days, he could sometimes even catch glimpses of the future. It had been hell growing up with his “gifts'. He’d spent most of his thirty-odd years of life bouncing in and out of various asylums. He’d had his first visions of the end when he was only four years old. His parents had thought it was just a nightmare induced from his love of horror films but the visions kept coming and soon they were frightened by the images he’d described of men eating men, women being ripped apart, and rotting dead things that didn’t stay dead.

When he’d finally gotten free of the last institution, Burke had felt it in his bones that the end he’d been seeing for mankind was near. Using his gifts, he’d conned and forged his way into the military. Burke had no wish to die and the way he saw it, the military would hold out longer than anyone else in a world destined to be overrun and eaten by the dead. Of course, things hadn’t exactly worked out as he had planned.

His unit had been assigned the duty of trying to hold the containment line around Richmond. The battle had been raging for days when he and his fellow troops arrived to offer reinforcements to the poor souls who had held it during the early days when humans still emerged from the city intermingled with the dead as they tried to flee. The army was fully dug in around the city fighting a pointless war. The containment lines around New York and many other places had fallen.

There were rumors of nuclear strikes on American soil in places where the lines had failed to retrain the dead but no one believed them and hearing or seeing actual news was a thing of the past. Most civilians were too busy just trying to keep breathing, journalists included.

Burke fought with his unit two days before things began to fall apart. They were taking heavier losses each

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