Winter Aftermath of the End
By Jake A. Strife

Outside the motel the cold is at the worst it’s been in fifty years. I miss the sun. The warm rays shining down on our faces, the warm breeze, and the sounds of streams. None of that exists here.

Chrono, my baby boy sleeps on the bed. An unconventional name for a child, I know, but he’s named after time, because he’is now the only remnant that will prove the human race ever existed.

Outside the window the parking lot is covered in a thin veil of white. Cars are parked in every spot but one. Down below in the cities are monsters. They number what the human population was at during the time of viral outbreak. Minus two... myself and Chrono.

The Zombie Apocalypse came on like a flash. It was early 2021 and I lived in Los Angeles, California, the ‘City of Angels’. I was with my boyfriend, Croix, and we were at Magic Mountain, the popular amusement park. It was only our fourth date but we were madly in love.

If I had known I had a baby growing in my belly I wouldn’t have gone on any of the insane roller coasters. How I hated those things, but he didn’t, he loved them.

On the way up the hill of a tall orange coaster there were screams. At first we took them just for other people having a good time. Looking over the side, the people were so tiny they looked like ants. Strangely many people were running around. It looked like a mad game of tag. But it was no flash mob? No, the disease was spreading. Patient Zero as they called him was at the park that day, you know, one of the terminally ill, Make A Wish kids... well when he died he came back.

At a place so populated you can only imagine what happened next. Croix got us to our current location. He was a gamer and an expert at ‘killing zombies’. He even bought himself a black hat with a red feather and called it his ‘Zombie Killing Hat’. It was what first me to him. What a dork...

But now he’s gone, forever. It’s been three weeks since he left for supplies. He went down to the city in the armored jeep we found, hence the one empty parking spot. Like a fool, I allowed him to go alone. Never go alone. That is our rule, but having Chrono made it more difficult. I can’t take my baby into an undead infested city. Zombies of all shapes and sizes are down there, humans, cats, dogs. A deer even came to our door once. Thankfully Croix killed it before it could get us.

“Bambi’s mom came back to life for revenge,” he joked.

It was probably the first laugh I had in a long time. But I haven’t laughed since then, and I don’t think I will ever again feel the urge to do so.

The clock on the wall reads seven o’clock at night. I know we can’t stay here any longer, we’re out of food, baby formula, diapers, everything. I get dressed, pulling on my tight fitting pants, and a similar shirt. Anything baggy would just give the monsters something else to grab onto to grab me and sink in its jagged broken teeth. From the corner I grab my shotgun and sling it over my shoulder, also putting my colt revolver into its holster on my hip.

Chrono wakes up and starts crying. In that moment I freeze. He has only cried like this three times. When he was born as the chaos went on around us, when the horde found us at the last outpost in Nevada, and when the rotting deer tried to get in.

“Shit. Zombies.” I whisper.

I slap the light switch, bringing the dark upon us. I don’t risk pulling the curtains closed. I would rather not be seen. Scooping Chrono up into my arms, I wrap him in a thick blanket and hesitate. The door to escape? Or the door to the bathroom to hide? My decision is made for me a moment later. A shambling figure walks past the door. It was large and a hairy. I think it was a bear, but I can’t be sure. If it’s the only one out there, we’re fine, but if there are more we don’t stand a chance.

I kneel down and wait, holding in my breath, I count to ten. Nothing comes past. We’re safe for the moment, but it will be back and can easily trap us in here. We have to leave.

Creeping to the door, I turn the knob and pull it open. The door, which Croix oiled before he left, doesn’t squeak. I tip-toe to the nearest vehicle, a beat up old Ford pickup truck. The door is unlocked, so I climb in and set Chrono on the seat , buckling him in as best I can. A car seat is a luxury at this point.

I pop open the front panel and start punching in numbers. Croix worked for the motor vehicle industry and was an expert at hacking, so he proved more than once he could hijack any car since and passed the trade along to me. The car engine comes to life and the lights shine on. I scream. The light has landed on the monstrous grizzly bear several yards ahead of us. Its eyes glow red in the shine of the light, and I can see from the missing patches of fur and visible ribs that it is one of the undead. My foot slams the gas and I swerve, avoiding the bear, which comes barreling after us. Soon it’s far behind us.

We are now on the road again, only looking for a safe place to live.

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I'm Jake A. Strife an author of Young Adult Fiction, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Flash Fiction, Screenplays and video game-to-book adaptations. I live in Los Angeles, California and plan to keep on writing till the day my hands fall off!
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