Time to get up.
“Mom?, I say, sitting up, “I’m up, Mom.”
I rub my eyes.
Mom’s not home yet.
All my blankets are strewn from my bed. I must have kicked them off last night. Why is that? I rack my brain for a reason.
A bad dream. I went out to get a drink of water and more blankets last night.
“Oh,” I say softly.
I picked up the bundle of sheets and quilts. Winter must be coming, it’s especially freezing in the house. I love winter. I love the warm glow of the fire and hot chocolate.
Well, I love Christmas, but I hate the cold months afterwards.
I unbolt the door and unlock it. As always, I check the house in case one of the Turned was in here. I’ve never actually killed one. I never had to; God forbid I do in the future.
Our house is spacious and airy, one of the nicest in the neighborhood. Located on the peak of a steep hill, our home is filled with modern furniture and stylish paintings. My paintings.
I always silently admire them whenever I pass them, thinking, I did that. I can paint.
I constantly do things like that, rewarding myself. I suppose it’s not bad to be little confident.
Being artistic won’t help you now.
My mind does this to me a lot too, puts me down. Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s good.
Now, it’s good. I need to focus.
I walk into the colorful kitchen. Buckets of water are lined up against the door. My Dad runs, or used to run, a water bottle factory in the outskirts of town. He received a lot of fresh, water in one of those serving-water-things you would see in a doctor’s office or something. We always hauled them into the cold basement. We never used them, so I’m using them now.
I got a cup and dipped it into the cool water. Every morning now I drink one glass of water and an egg. I groggily trudge over to the stainless steel fridge and pull it open. The supply is thinning. It’s almost as if half of it disappeared.
I search around for that Styrofoam carton of eggs.
I hum softly as I look for my breakfast. My stomach gurgles.
The only foods that are left are a bottle of ketchup, a rotten apple, a full jar of mayo, and few other foods I would never eat. The eggs are nowhere in sight. I begin to move the scant amount of condiments and rotten foods in sight. It has to be there. I saw at least three eggs yesterday. Where could they be?
My stomach growls ferociously. Someone must have broken in. Turners are too dumb to do something like that. Someone alive with thought came in to steal my food to fulfill their needs. My head pounds as I close the door. It couldn’t be. I locked the front door, right? They must have been really desperate and searched all the houses on the hill. I guess I’m not that hungry, anyways.
My stomach growls again, louder this time.
Who am I kidding? I’m starving.
I shuffle to the sofa and groan as I plop down to the soft cushions. My stomach makes another awful noise. I have to. I have to go get food. There’s a deli down the hill. My mom used to pick up cold cuts and Italian bread every Sunday, after Church. My mouth waters as I imagine the texture and freshness of the warm bread.
Instantaneously, I stand and run upstairs.
I pull on my plain black v-neck, my dark green cargo pants, and black boots. I would never wear an outfit like this in public a few months ago. But now I have no one to impress. I kneel and tie up the black boots.
Maybe I should leave a note in case he, or my mom, comes home when I’m gone. I peel off a pretty piece of stationery from a stack and hastily scribbled my plans:
I’m leaving to get more food, I’ll be back soon.
I stick the note on the glass coffee table. Hunger and fear mix in my stomach.
Maybe, you should bring a knife.
Quickly, I shook the thought from my mind. Never would I ever carry something that dangerous. I don’t even know how to kill Turners. I’ve only seen a neighbor kill his turned wife in the front yard. He stabbed her in the head. My eyes fill with tears as I remember the blood splattered on their green, clean-cut grass. The knife, the bright red. They were married for fifty years. I remember hugging my dad and inhaling his spicy cologne. He shielded my eyes from the horrid sight. Mom went out just that morning to get supplies. She hasn’t come back just yet. Dad is still looking for her.
You need to do this.
I turn the brass doorknob slowly and light floods the living room.
So far, everything is exceptionally quiet. I’m already halfway down the steep hill. The autumn air engulfs me. A mass of colorful leaves swirl in the wind hastily. My chest and arms are dotted with goosebumps. I hug the thin shirt material closer to my cold skin.
A rustle comes from behind me.
My head jerks back. Startled, I search for the thing that caused the sound. Another crunch. My temples throb as I stumble back in fright.
“Hello?” I blurt out stupidly.
A squirrel pops out from a pile of leaves. A sigh of relief escapes my mouth.
“It’s just you,” I sneer at the little animal. He should be hibernating, right?
I continue on my quest for supplies when I muster enough courage. I’m almost there. I remember these houses, Amy used to live in one of them. She was my best friend. A neighbor told me she and her family escaped to some camp further down south in state. I miss her terribly. The bitter wind whips my hair back.
As I shuffle down the street, I see the deli through the bare branches of trees.
I’ll just grab whatever I can hold and run. What if there’s Turners? My heart stops just then. If so, a knife sure could have helped.
When I walk into the deli, the first thing I notice is the colorful array of breads stacked on the shelves. My eyes scanned the variety hungrily. My stomach is still growling. I clutch it and moan. I grab an Italian loaf and removed its packaging without hesitation. I ripped the bread in half and buried my nose in the sweet softness of the bread.
“Mmm,” I say as I stuff a piece in my mouth.
I drop to my knees. Hastily, I gather a bunch of loaves, as many as I can carry.
Just as I reach out for another loaf, I creak comes from the back of the deli. I stay low.
I hear another sound. I quietly sit on the white tiled floor and press my back to the shelf. The sound becomes louder. It’s like bare feet shuffling against tile; it’s a squeak.
I squeeze my eyes shut and pray to God.
The squeak sounds like it’s behind the shelf now. Tears flood my eyes. I struggle to control my breaths as I rub the dampness from my eyes. I hear the thing shuffle down the aisle.
I exhale. Dad told me to always be brave.
Slowly, I move up into a crouch position. I place the loaves on the ground. I gulp as I rise on my feet. Just as I am about to raise my head over the shelf, I have a feeling in my gut. Could it be fear?
Perhaps, it’s the adrenaline pulsing through my body. I pop my head over the shelf. And there it is.