Safe
By: Ezequiel T

It was Day 83 inside of the local sporting goods store when Julie and Charlie heard a loud crash. The couple had been holed–up at a Bass Pro Shop since the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. It was a complete absurdity to think that zombies could actually exist one day, but they became a reality after the first reported attack occurred at a pediatrician's office. After that, the virus spread across the US in a matter of days.

The few remaining survivors all have different versions of how everything started, but the prevailing version is that an unvaccinated kid got sick at school and was taken to a pediatrician's office to get treated. As soon as the doctor saw the boy, she called an ambulance because his condition was worsening by the minute and rapidly became life–threatening.

Before the doctor was done with the phone call, the boy stopped breathing and all of his organs shut down, but his eyes stayed open and he seemed like he was still alive. In a split second, he went from looking sick to downright evil. He jumped on the doctor and bit off a chunk of her neck causing her to drop dead and turn into a zombie in approximately 7 seconds.

The medical assistants rushed in when they heard the doctor screaming and were attacked by the boy and the freshly zombified pediatrician. In the blink of an eye, the whole place turned into a bloodbath and in less than two minutes, the facility was overrun by the zombies, or as they are now called, The Unvaccinated.

Almost everyone inside the building was turned into an Unvaccinated. Some people ran away but didn't get far because, unfortunately, the Unvaccinated were the kind of zombies that are fast and extremely violent. Their rage and desire to kill makes it almost impossible to get away from them.

It was complete chaos as the Unvaccinated burst out of the building and into the parking lot and surrounding businesses. They attacked anyone they could get their bloody hands on. In an instant, everyone in the shopping center was turned into mindless killing machines. They multiplied quickly and started an unstoppable tsunami of carnage through the streets.

Thousands of people were killed and turned in less than an hour. By the time the National Guard and Army arrived to try to stop them, there were just too many to control. The government basically decided to take an "everyone for themselves" approach, and that just added to the insane pandemonium the country was experiencing.

The initial attack lasted almost 3 days. Some people were able to escape and go into hiding, but the majority didn't survive the epidemic. The lucky ones boarded up their houses, or just got in their cars and drove as far away as they could. Some even made it into Canada and Mexico before the two countries closed their borders.

Charlie and Julie chose to hide at a Bass Pro Shop because they figured they would have weapons, food, water, and supplies to survive for more than a few months. Their other choice was Costco, but they couldn't get in because they didn't have a membership there. Just kidding. Everyone thought of going to Costco and it only took one Unvaccinated to get in and infect everyone in there.

As soon as they got into the sporting goods store, Julie and Charlie boarded it up. They chained up the entrances, set up camp on the second floor, and started working on setting up booby traps around the building. They positioned almost every crossbow, rifle and gun in the shop so they could go off if the Unvaccinated stepped on or ran over the wires they placed all over the store.

The married couple was on high alert for the first couple of weeks, but after the Unvaccinated ran out of humans to attack, the crazy cannibal corpses calmed down and just mindlessly walked around, waiting to pounce on anything that wasn't like them. This gave Julie and Charlie a little peace of mind, and before long they got used to living in the store.

They spent their days eating energy bars and freeze–dried food and sleeping in camping tents. They didn't have much, but they knew they were extremely fortunate to be alive and to have each other.

Julie checked the radio every hour to see if she could pick something up and Charlie often flew a drone from the roof of the store as far as he could, to see if he spotted anything or anyone that could help them.

On Day 77, Julie was checking different channels on the radio when she heard someone asking if there were any survivors. Julie was so excited that she knocked the radio off of the table it was on. Luckily, it didn't break and she was able to communicate with the person on the other side. The stranger identified himself as an officer of the British Army named General Henry Clinton. General Clinton told Julie that other nations were sending help to the US and that they were conducting rescue missions all across the country.

Charlie and Julie continued communicating with the officer and gave him their location. They were told that someone was coming to get them exactly one week from that day. All they had to do was just wait for the cavalry to arrive.

The couple was overjoyed and could not believe that someone was actually going to save them. They were definitely skeptical and knew that it could all be fake, but they still got really excited.

The next few days felt like the longest days of their lives. Whenever they thought of actually getting to go back to living a normal life, they would get the biggest smiles on their faces. They loved catching each other grinning because they knew exactly why they were so happy and full of hope.

On Day 83, just one day before the rescue, Julie and Charlie were having some celebratory smores when their peace and quiet was violently terminated by a loud sustained honking that sounded closer and closer until it ended with a large truck crashing through the chained up doors of the store.

Julie and Charlie wasted no time and switched from leisure mode to survivor mode, in an instant. The truck had 8 to 10 Unvaccinated on top of it, but they re–died in the crash, along with the driver of the truck. They couldn't see who the person behind the wheel was since the truck was covered in blood, guts and other human and non–human remains.

The pair then heard the snarling and screeching of what sounded like a stampede of death coming directly towards them, and hundreds of Unvaccinated rushed into the store.

Almost all of the booby traps started going off, incapacitating a bunch of the undead, but Charlie and Julie knew that this was only going to buy them a couple of minutes, if that, so they started getting ready to leave the place they called home for over 2 months.

Charlie got his backpack and Julie went to get a flash drive containing a lot of the pictures they had taken together during their 14 years of marriage.

As Julie got the flash drive, another wave of the Unvaccinated rushed into the store and one of them tripped a wire that was connected to 10 crossbows. Only they weren't aiming at the undead. The weapons were moved during the car crash and all 10 crossbows shot their arrows towards Julie. 9 of them missed, but one of them got her in her right thigh.

Before Julie even called Charlie, he was already by her side. Julie wasn't bleeding much since the arrow was still through her thigh and was preventing most of the blood from coming out. They both knew that their plan to escape was not going to work anymore since Julie obviously couldn't run. Charlie considered carrying her but he knew they wouldn't get far if he did.

The Unvaccinated reached the barricade Charlie and Julie set up at the bottom of the stairs when Julie told Charlie to help her get to one of the gun safes that were a couple of feet from them. Charlie was proud of Julie because he thought she wanted to get a gun and go out fighting, and he immediately decided that if that was what she wished, then he would stay and fight by her side and die with her. Together. Just like everything else they had always done.

When they got to the safe, Julie told Charlie to promise her that he was going to come back for her. Charlie realized what Julie was actually thinking about doing, and there was no time to argue or talk about this. She couldn't run. They both knew she would slow them down and get them killed. Only Julie fit in the safe, and even if Charlie fit too, one of them had to open the safe from outside, so the only way they could both survive was if Julie got in the safe and waited for Charlie to come back for her once the General and his men rescued him the following day. She only had to stay in that steel box for one day.

The Unvaccinated sounded like they were in the thousands now and Charlie knew he had less than a minute before the soulless bastards broke through the barricade and made their way to the second floor. They were both crying when they expressed their love for each other. Charlie promised Julie that he was going to come back for her, and Julie said she knew he was. She grabbed a bottle of water, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and a radio, and got into what could either be her salvation or her coffin.

Charlie closed the door to the safe just as the Unvaccinated made it past the barricades. He ran as fast as he could to the other side of the store so he could reach the ladder that leads up to the roof. He turned around to take a look of the safe right before it was completely blocked from his view by the horde of the undead.

As he continued to run, Charlie hoped he would be able to outrun the countless Unvaccinated that were after him. He hoped that he would survive that day. He hoped that the General and his men were on schedule and would arrive soon. But most of all, he hoped that he would be able to keep the promise he made to his dearly beloved, Julie.

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