author: 1_rhiannon_1& Adam Tibbott
wordcount: 6614 per wordcounter.net
fandom: Original Fiction
pairing: Alex & Angela
rating: Let's go R just to be safe
warning: Language, violence & some gore. It's the zombie apocalypse! Shit happens!
disclaimer:This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person or place is absolutely intentional and said person/place should be flattered.
Author's Note: Many thanks to our beta, corellian_sugar, not just for beta work but for her encouragement & cheerleading as well! Your help was beyond valuable and I love ya for it! I have to also thank the fine folks of the cast and crew of The Walking Dead for inspiring and influencing me. And thank you to my artist aolianfor helping us bring Alex to life :-) Art post is here.
summary: Alex, a high-school dropout, has only ever been good at one thing: using women. He's always thought that luck has been on his side, but his encounter with Angela has finally proven to him that his luck has run out. His charm has always been enough to carry him from con to con, but when the dead begin to rise and feast on the living, charm is worthless.
"Duncan Shea! Get your sorry ass out of bed right now! You have some serious explaining to do!"
Angela's shrill voice drilled into Alex's brain with the force of a bullet. He groaned and pulled the covers over his head, hoping he could just make her disappear by sheer force of will. There was a time, not so long ago, when he loved to hear Angela say "Duncan". Granted, it wasn't his real name, but the way she said it was so lyrical, so lovely. Now, she just sounded like a shrew ninety percent of the time.
Unfortunately, he wasn't about to get a reprieve. Angela stormed into the bedroom and ripped the covers off the bed, throwing them onto the floor. Alex opened his eyes and squinted at her; she just stood there, one hand on her hip, the other clutching what looked like a napkin from a bar.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Ange? I was sleeping!"
Angela crumpled the napkin and threw it in his face. "Who the hell is Sugar?" Angela shrieked, barely able to conceal the rage in her voice. She crossed her arms over her chest, tears beginning to glisten in her eyes. "You told me you were out with some friends last night. I wasn't aware that you had a friend named ‘Sugar’." Angela mocked him with exaggerated air quotes. She said the name with so much venom in her voice that Alex wouldn't have been surprised if she had sprouted a forked tongue and fangs.
Alex sat up and unfolded the napkin, mentally chastising himself for not having the good sense to throw it away before he got home. He looked at the number and then wadded the napkin into a ball before he pitched it in the trash can. With a sly smirk, he replied, "Honey, Sugar is just some chick that was at the bar last night. She hit on everyone in the place and insisted that I take her number. To tell you the truth, I felt a little sorry for her.” His voice dropped an octave, the tone soberingly mellow. “She's just some lonely broad, desperate for attention. I didn't have the heart to tell her I didn't want it. I meant to throw it away before I got home - I was just so damn tired that I didn't even think about it," he fired back at Angela.
He stood up and wrapped his arms around Angela, kissing her softly on the nape of her neck. "Come on babe, don't be angry. I swear nothing happened!" He made the sign of an X across his chest and smiled that boyishly sweet grin he knew Angela wouldn’t be able to resist. “You know you’re the only woman for me.”
"Oh come on, Duncan!” Angela took a step back, breaking the faux embrace, and rolled her eyes. “We both know better than that. You felt sorry for her? Puh-leeze! You've never felt sorry for a lonely woman in a bar in your life!"
Alex sat down on the bed and grabbed his pack of cigarettes off the nightstand. "You know what, Ange? That's just really fucked up. How can you even think such a thing about me?” He lit a cigarette and threw the pack back on the table. “Have I ever, ever, given you a reason to doubt me?" He took a deep drag off the cigarette and angrily blew out the smoke, the haze partially obscuring Angela's face. "Well? I'm waiting." he spat back at her.
"You know I hate it when you smoke in MY apartment," Angela hissed, as she stepped up and tore the cigarette out of Alex's mouth. She stomped into the bathroom and threw it in the toilet, glaring at him, almost daring him to say something. "Duncan, I just don't know what to think anymore. You stay out all night. You come in whenever you feel like it. You haven't worked in months. I just,” she paused, trying to take a calming deep breath. ”I'm at my wits’ end. I don’t have any more room to tie any more knots at the end of this rope! I just need some help here.”
She turned her back to him and fisted her hands in her hair. Alex just stood there for a moment, completely taken aback. In all the short time they'd been together, Angela had never raised her voice to him, never questioned him. He honestly didn't know what to say or how to react. He hesitated for a moment, reached out, put his hand on her shoulder, and whispered, “Honey.”
Angela pulled away from him as though his touch had burned her. "I can't do this right now, Duncan." She turned and looked at him with blank eyes. "I have to go to work now,” she said as she stepped toward the bedroom door. “I'd really like it if you were gone by the time I got home. Pack your things, leave your key, and just go."
"Ange, wait!” Alex leapt off the bed and crossed the short distance of the bedroom. He took her hand and said, “We can talk about this, we can fix it! Don’t leave me! Please" Alex hated the sound of desperation in his voice, but he didn't know what else to do. He followed her to the door, bracing his hand against it so Angela couldn't open it. "You don't have to do this, babe. We can make it right. I can make it right. If you'll let me."
Angela sighed and put her hand on Alex's chest. "No, Duncan, you really can't." She pushed him away from the door, almost as though she were discarding yesterday’s leftovers.
Alex had reached his boiling point. "You'll be sorry, Angela!” he began to rave behind her. “You'll never find someone who'll put up with your shit like I do! Just wait and see!"
Angela looked back at Alex, eyes full of disgust. "And this is why I want you gone. Screw you, Duncan. I'm done." She walked out the door, slamming it shut behind her.
Alex just stood there, shell-shocked. What the fuck was that, he thought to himself. He was sure that she'd come back, tell him she'd changed her mind, and everything would go back to the way that it was. But as the minutes ticked by, he slowly realized that Angela really meant what she'd said. It was over.
Well, ain't this a switch, he said to himself. He sat down on the couch and grabbed a cigarette from the pack lying on the table in front of him. He lit one, exhaling as he leaned back. Alex Parish, you stupid idiot!
He had to admit that things had been going downhill with Angela for a while, especially since she’d started to hassle him about looking for work. To be honest, he’d lost interest in hearing about that the moment the words left her mouth. He liked the apartment and the company, but not enough to put up with her nagging. I guess it was fun while it lasted, he said to himself.
He sighed and put his cigarette out in a leftover fast food soda cup. It was time to move on and lay Duncan Shea to rest. He had run this routine so many times in the past that it had become second nature to him. A new name. A new town. A new woman.
Looking around the apartment, he made a mental list of the things he needed to take. With any luck, he'd be halfway to his new life before Angela realized anything was missing.
* * * * *
Alex whistled to himself as he walked down the street, a jaunty little tune that, had anyone known he'd just been dumped and kicked out of his girlfriend's apartment, would make them cock an eyebrow. Alex was grateful that Angela had forgotten to get her credit card back from him after he'd borrowed her car the previous evening. A couple of maximum cash withdrawals and a bus ticket would wipe out the card's usefulness, but Alex would hold on to it like he had so many other trophies. Angela was also now minus some jewelry, her laptop, and her cell phone. Alex shook his head at the thought. She was such a sweet girl, so naive. She'd learn better. Of course, it was too late this time around.
As he rounded the corner to head to the bus station, he shrugged his shoulders to settle his backpack more comfortably and caught movement out of the corner of his eye. A man was walking toward him, hands outstretched. Actually, he was stumbling. He has to be drunk, Alex thought. "Damn panhandlers," he muttered to himself as he sped up and took a couple of steps toward the street, trying to stay away from the man. The vagrant looked sick; his skin was a mottled gray. Alex would swear that the guy had weeping sores on his hands and face. He shuddered at the thought, horrified by this man’s appearance. A few off-center sidesteps placed the bum within arm’s reach of Alex’s backpack. "Sorry, dude. Got no spare change. You need to lay off the booze and get a job though!" The panderer replied with a low moan, almost a growl.
Alex was almost halfway down the block when he felt someone grab him. Surprised, he turned and saw that it was the same panhandler that almost had a hold of him earlier. One of the sickly hands had attached itself Alex's backpack, the other tugging at his jacket. "Dude! What the fuck?! I said I didn't have any money!" He tugged his backpack away and gave the man a shove, knocking him to the ground. Alex brushed his jacket off in disgust, his eyes flashing angrily. "What the fuck is wrong with you? You don't just grab somebody like that!" He kicked out at the man, catching him squarely in the ribs. The sound of bones cracking reverberated through the air. The vagrant’s only reply to the assault was a pathetic moan.
As Alex turned to walk away, he heard a woman’s voice calling to him. "Hey buddy, what's your problem? You didn't have to do that! Look at him! He can barely stand up now!" Alex turned and walked backward. Watching her help the man up off the ground was almost comical, like watching a child try to pick up a sack of potatoes. He flipped her the bird, saying “Whatever, bitch!” and turned back around, making a beeline for the bus station. He didn't have time for her or some crazy old drunk; a new life was waiting for him.
His thoughts were interrupted by the woman's voice once again. He turned with just enough time to see what her problem was. He chuckled to himself when he saw that the old drunk seemed to have a hold of her, one hand crumpling her neatly pressed blouse, his dirt-encrusted fingernails digging into her arm. She cried out in pain and she shoved the man away, knocking him to the ground a second time. A small crowd had started to form around them, but Alex could clearly hear the woman cry in protest “He scratched me! I’m bleeding!” "No good deed goes unpunished, sweetheart,” Alex called to the woman, a cheeky smile on his face.
* * * * *
Alex sat in one of the god-awful uncomfortable chairs in the bus station commons, sipping a burnt cup of stale coffee and waiting for his bus to be called. He was tempted to break out Angela's laptop and make use of the station's Wi-Fi, but he didn't want to waste the time packing everything up when it was time to leave. He was ready to be done with this town, and Duncan, anxious to hit the road and begin his next adventure. Keep things exciting. Fresh and new was his motto. Well, that and make sure the adventure was on someone else's dime. That was important.
Alex turned his attention to one of the TV screens along the wall; a local news station had interrupted one of the many banal morning talk shows with an emergency broadcast. There had been some sort of commotion going on at the hospital a couple of hours earlier, a patient wreaking havoc in the emergency room, attacking people. For a moment, Alex thought it was the homeless guy that had approached him on the street. The patient in the hospital had the same look: gray skin, milky eyes, and a waxy appearance. His thoughts then turned to Angela; she worked at the same hospital. Which department did she work in? Was it the ER or was she over in Radiology? Did he even really care at this point? He thought she was in administration somehow but he couldn't recall. At the moment, he had more important things to worry about. He pulled her cell phone out of his bag, brushed his thumb over the power button, and debated whether or not to risk turning it on so he could search through her contacts, see if that would give him a clue as to where she'd be in the hospital. Just then, another passenger tripped into Alex, shaking him back into reality. It doesn’t matter, he thought.
Irritated now, he shoved her phone back in his bag, and stuffed it in as far to the bottom as he could. Why the hell was he worried about where she was? She'd kicked him out. Besides, he was sure she was fine. He looked back at the screen, saw that the hospital security seemed to have the crazy patient under control. The screens flipped to show the updated list of arrivals and departures, and Alex's bus was at the top of the list to leave. The commotion at the hospital and thoughts of Angela were soon forgotten as Alex grabbed his pack and headed for the loading platform.
As he waited to board, Alex looked around at his fellow passengers, sizing them up. He was pleased to see that the bus would only be about half-full. He didn't like to be crowded; he didn't want to have to climb all over anyone else to get in and out of his seat. Hmmm, except for that little cutie, he thought to himself as he noticed one of the female passengers. I wouldn't mind climbing over her. She seemed to be travelling by herself and she was absolutely delicious. Alex gave her a smile and a little wink when she looked his way. She blushed and smiled back before ducking her head, turning back to face the bus. Alex gave a little laugh as she boarded the bus. Yeah, this is going to be a fun ride, he thought.
Alex boarded the bus, choosing a seat near the back. As he sat down, he noticed that the guy across the aisle on the other side looked really ill. He was sweating through his cheap Faded Glory polo shirt; his eyes were bright and glassy, his skin pale but his cheeks clearly flushed. Alex sat down next to the window and tucked his pack safely on the floor between his feet. Great, just great, he thought. People shouldn't be allowed to use public transportation when they're obviously sick. Whatever this guy had, Alex definitely didn't want it. He looked at the guy again, and shook his head in disgust as he turned around in his seat. Guy looks like fucking death warmed over and he's on a damn bus. Perfect. Probably the monkey flu. Now I’m gonna get sick, thanks to this douchebag.
The driver boarded the bus and started the engine. Alex settled more comfortably in his seat and pulled his iPod out of his pocket. As he seated the ear buds in his ears and adjusted the volume, he caught the little cutie from earlier looking over the top of her seat at him. He smiled at her and gave her another wink as the bus pulled out toward the highway. Alex sighed and closed his eyes. In a few short hours, he'd be hundreds of miles away, ready to start a new life. He already had his new identity picked out, chosen from a stash of IDs he kept in a secret pocket in his backpack. Dominic Horan, born 1977, native of Boone, North Carolina. It would work, for a while.
* * * * *
Alex awoke with a start when the bus jerked to a stop. He couldn't believe he'd drifted off like that. So stupid. Foolish, even. Probably a little dangerous. He sat up quickly, reached down between his feet to make sure his bag was still there, sighing in relief when his fingers brushed the familiar material of his lucky backpack. He rubbed his eyes, and then looked toward the front of the bus to try and see what was happening. There was a roadblock several hundred yards ahead, with military vehicles blocking all lanes of traffic heading out of the city. There were quite a few cars and trucks pulled to the shoulder of the highway. Military police speaking with the drivers of those vehicles and checking IDs. There were a number of State Trooper cruisers as well, lights flashing, and officers walking between the cars, leaning down to speak with drivers and showing what looked like photographs to the cars' occupants.
Alex stood and made his way down the aisle, dropping into the seat next to the pretty girl he'd noticed earlier. "Hey,” Alex said, coyly. “Why are we stopped? What’s going on out there?"
She glanced at him, looking him up and down with a hint of sexual longing in her gaze. She then looked back out the window, watching the activity around the roadblock. "I'm not really sure, sugar. It looks like they're looking for someone, but they haven't been to the bus yet. Maybe there was a murder or something, do you think?"
Before Alex could speak, a police officer knocked on the door of the bus. The driver opened it for him, and the officer stepped on board. He spoke with the driver in low tones for a short moment before leaving the bus again.
Alex swallowed hard, his face going pale.
"Sugar,” the girl asked. “Are you ok?"
Shaken back to reality, Alex nodded and attempted a weak smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just I... I fell asleep after we left the terminal. Just woke up, that's all. Thanks for the info. I'm sure they'll get to us soon, and then we'll be on our way in no time."
Alex stood and shakily made his way back to his seat, his mind racing. As he walked, he caught sight of the sick guy he'd noticed when he first got on the bus. Alex wouldn't think it was possible, but the guy looked even worse. He was fidgeting in his seat, rocking back and forth with his hands clenched over his stomach. His face was completely pale and starting to take on a greenish-gray tint. Ugh, Alex thought as he slid into his own seat. Dude looks awful.
The other passengers were whispering loudly to each other, wondering what was going on and passing the word that the roadblock was an effort to catch someone. All Alex managed to catch from their conversations was that they were searching for a man; no one seemed to have any description other than "a white male, late 20s to early 30s, with dark hair."
Alex felt the strangle-hold of panic start to rise in his chest. Were they searching for him? Had Angela come home early, discovered that he'd taken her computer and jewelry? Had she tracked her phone somehow, found his location that way? He started to sweat, freak out a little. What if she'd come home, called the police? No, that's just ridiculous, he thought. They wouldn't call out the military just to catch me. That’s absurd.
To be on the safe side, Alex grabbed his pack and dug through it. Nothing he could do about the computer, but he could stash her credit card with his wallet with the fake IDs and other stolen credit cards he'd collected over time. He tucked his new ID, the one with Dominic's name on it, in his back pocket and hid the wallet in the secret pocket in the bottom of his pack. It could still be found but they'd have a hell of a time managing it unless they did a full on pat down of his backpack. Even then it would be hard to notice.
Confident that he'd covered his tracks to the best of his ability, he closed the pack and settled it on the seat beside him, just in case he needed to make a swift exit. He straightened his shirt and brushed his hair back from his face, wiping his sleeve across his forehead. He was sweating like a whore during Easter mass.
Two military police officers climbed aboard the bus, the one in front wearing a smile and projecting a somewhat friendly but still authoritative demeanor. He's the diplomatic one, Alex thought. He's supposed to keep us all calm and orderly until they get what they want. The second officer, though, held a large rifle and looked as though he'd love to get the chance to use it. He's the muscle, the pit bull, Alex thought as he sized the man up.
The first officer spoke, addressing all the passengers at once. "Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the delay in your travel plans, but we have to conduct a thorough search of this bus. We'll be around to speak with each of you individually. If you could please have your IDs and boarding passes out and ready that would expedite our investigation. We appreciate your cooperation and ask that you remain in your seats until we're through."
As he spoke, the second officer looked around at the passengers, his eyes catching Alex's and holding them for a long moment. Alex began to sweat again, his hands shaking a bit. Oh shit! He knows, he knows! What the fuck?! How could he know? Alex's thoughts whirled in his mind, fast and nonsensical. He looked around, his eyes lighting on the emergency exit at the back of the bus. He debated going for it, weighed his chances of getting the window pushed out before the officers could catch him.
"Sir,” the pit bull called out in Alex’s direction. “Are you ok?” For a minute, Alex thought the guy was talking to him. He started to answer, and then realized that the officer was speaking to the guy in the back of the bus, the one who seemed to be sick. "Sir?" the officer called out again, cautiously.
The other passengers turned to look toward the back of the bus. Just then a woman cried out, "Oh my God! He’s having a seizure! Someone help him!" Alex looked back and sure enough, the man was flailing in the seat, his legs flopping around, his hands curved into morbid talons. He was obviously choking. The passengers' voices rose in a cacophony of fear. Several passengers left their seats in an attempt to reach the man with help. The officers tried to keep everyone back out of the way and maintain some semblance of order as they made their way up the aisle, calling for everyone to remain calm and seated. Alex figured that this was his chance; he had just hooked the straps of his backpack over his shoulders and stood up when the bus erupted into chaos.
The female passenger who'd spoken before was calling out for help, shouting that the man had stopped breathing. “He doesn’t have a pulse,” she screamed. She knelt over him in the seat, doing her best to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The military police officers had managed to reach the back of the bus and were attempting to take over when the man's body began to violently shudder to life, his hands catching the woman's hair and latching on. She screamed as she tried to push herself to safety, shoving desperately to get away from him. When she stood up, Alex swore that his eyes had been playing tricks on him; the woman's lips had been torn completely away, a gaping wound where her mouth had been. Blood flowed without remorse down her neck, staining her shirt and leaving those close to her covered in a crimson wave of sticky red warmth.
The other passengers were screaming, shoving at each other in their confusion and terror. Alex took this opportunity and ran for it. He grabbed a hold of the handle on the emergency exit and pushed with all his strength, but nothing happened. He raised the handle and kicked the door as hard as he could, sending it flying open. He fell out of the door as it banged into the back of the bus. A loud metallic "Wham!" resounded. Was that a gunshot, he thought to himself. He didn't waste any time scrambling to his feet and ran as fast as he could from the bus and the carnage that had erupted within. His backpack was a solid steady weight against his shoulder blades. He looked over his shoulder only once as he ran. The scene in the bus was horrifying. Blood spattered the windows at the back, gory handprints smeared across the windows. Alex heard a gunshot, the loud report of a rifle, and more desperate screams from the passengers trapped within.
Terrified, Alex scrambled over the guard rail at the side of the highway and slid down the bank. When he reached the bottom, he ran as fast as he could, not daring to look back again.
* * * * *
The next few hours passed in a haze of terror and confusion for Alex. He ran back to town, looking over his shoulder constantly as he went. He couldn't stop shaking, couldn't get the image of that woman out of his head. Had that guy really bitten part of her face off? She'd said he was dead; how could he just all of a sudden come back and do something like that? It was like something straight out of a horror movie and Alex couldn't quite wrap his mind around it.
I need a place to lay low, get myself together, Alex thought. He tried to blend in with the rest of the pedestrian traffic out and about in town. People shopping, on their way home from work, hanging out with friends. It was all so normal, so completely at odds with the turmoil in Alex's mind. Finally, he spotted what he'd been looking for: a motel with a vacancy sign flashing. He slowed his pace as he walked through the parking lot, tried to bring his heart rate down so he wouldn't walk in looking like a panicked rabbit.
The clerk had his attention on the television when Alex walked up to the counter; a news program was running video of the attack on the bus. The talking heads pointed out that it was a video captured by someone in traffic behind the bus, a poor-quality cell phone capture at that, but Alex nearly had a heart attack when he saw himself bursting out of the back of the bus and jumping over the guard rail. His pulse racing, Alex watched the screen, seeing what had transpired before he'd left the chaos at the highway. Blood splattered across the windows at the back of the bus, splattering the windshield of the vehicle behind. Several shots were fired. The back glass exploded outward leaving prisms of light dancing on the highway. A bloody hand reached out through the empty space. From the size of the hand, Alex judged it to be female, likely the woman who'd gotten part of her face bitten off. Alex shuddered as the video ended, the scene turning back to the news anchors in the studio.
They talked about a possible national outbreak, something called "Patient Zero." They said that traffic in and out of the city had been halted, and roadblocks were put into effect to ensure that no one got through. From the headlines scrolling on the bottom of the screen, similar events were taking place all over the country. Some outbreaks had been reported as far north as Canada. The National Guard had been called up to help maintain order in the larger cities across the country. All air traffic had been suspended until further notice. The airports were overrun with stranded travelers. Cellular signals were jammed as those travelers made vain attempts to reach their families and let them know what was happening. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control was quoted as saying that there was no evidence of a mass outbreak or any major cause for alarm at this point. She said that preventative measures had been put into place; the National Guard and suspension of travel were just a precaution. She urged the populace to remain calm, stay in their homes, and practice vigilance and report any unusual behavior to the proper authorities.
It was confusing to Alex, too much for his mind to process. He couldn't make sense of the images he was seeing, the words spinning in his mind like a kaleidoscope. He found himself backing away from the desk, jumping as he bumped into the door frame. He shoved the door open and stumbled out into the heat, gasping as the humid air slammed into him. He gripped his backpack tightly, his knuckles turning white from the strain, as he allowed himself to be swept along with the other people out and about on the street. He barely paid any attention to where he was going, bumping into people as he walked, his mind a jumble of thoughts, confusion, and fear.
Alex found himself outside a familiar coffee shop, Higher Grounds. Angela's apartment is only a few blocks from here, he realized. He walked inside, ordered a coffee and grabbed a table in the back of the restaurant. He needed to pull himself together, catch his breath. His eyes swept the restaurant, relief flooding over him when he saw no one that he recognized. He pulled Angela's phone out of his backpack and turned the power on. The screen flashed notification after notification; missed calls, voicemails, texts, inbox full. He didn't know Angela's password so he wasn't able to access her voicemails, but he could read her texts. Mostly from her parents and friends, all of the messages ran along the same themes.
Where are you?
Please call me back, I'm so worried!
I heard about the attack at the hospital, please call me!
“What the fuck is going on,” Alex said out loud. Alex turned the phone off, pulled Angela's laptop from his bag, and opened the internet browser. He smiled a little when he realized that Angela had stored her passwords in the computer's memory. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn... Everything opened with just a click. He noted that Angela's feeds and timelines contained more of the same type of messages. Notes from family and friends, begging for information or even a quick response from her. Other messages were regarding the state of events in the city or cancellations of plans.
The longer Alex sat there, the more his conscience began to eat away at him. He'd seen the footage on television, the attack at the hospital. Obviously, no one had seen or heard from Angela since early that morning. He sat back in the chair and scrubbed his hands over his face, his eyes roaming over the screen. As he watched, a video link was posted, a live feed from a news camera at an airport. He clicked the link and was dumbstruck by the images he saw there.
Looks like the Director of the CDC was wrong, Alex thought. A mass outbreak was happening live and in Technicolor right in front of his eyes. People were running, screaming in terror. Others were covered in blood, their mouths dripping as they fell on their hapless victims, biting and tearing into their flesh. Airport security was trying to restore order, but their shots had little effect. Most of the creatures just staggered and went back on the attack. Those that fell only struggled back to their feet. The scene was one of pandemonium -- mass hysteria. People pushed and shoved each other, desperate to escape. Some were trampled; others were backed into corners.
Alex sat in front of the screen, his hands clenched in his hair. The world was falling apart, and he had no idea what to do, where to turn. The only person he could think of was Angela. He fully expected her to slam the door in his face but, in light of the current situation, he hoped that she'd be able to restrain herself long enough for him to say his peace. They needed to hole up somewhere safe, wait this crazy situation out. After that, they could deal with personal stuff.
His mind made up, he packed the laptop and phone away, making sure the phone was powered down. He left the coffee shop and turned down the street that would eventually bring him to Angela's apartment. As he walked, he passed people watching news bulletins on televisions in store-front windows, listened to their exclamations as they voiced their fears. He kept walking, determined to get to Angela as soon as possible.
Sirens wailed in the distance as Alex ran up the stairs to the lobby of Angela's apartment building. Angela's place was a good building, but not one of the upper scale buildings with a doorman and locked entrance that you have to buzz in. For once, he gave thanks for that as he ran inside. He stopped long enough to drop his pack on one of the sofas in the lobby so he could dig his key to Angela's place out of the hidden pocket in the bottom. He grabbed his pack and started up the stairs at a run.
By the time he reached Angela's apartment, he was out of breath. He put his ear to the door, listening for any sign that Angela was inside. He couldn't hear anything, but he knocked softly anyway, just in case. There was no response, even when he knocked again, louder the second time. He slid the key into the door, hoping that she hadn't had time to change the locks, and heaved a sigh of relief when the tumblers turned with a snick.
He stepped inside, calling out softly. "Hello? Ange, you here? Ange, it's me. It's Do-Duncan. It's Duncan, honey, you here?" There was no response that Alex could hear. He dropped his pack on the floor near the door and started walking through the apartment, looking for Angela. The second bedroom was clear, as was the bathroom. The door to the master bedroom was pulled to, not quite closed. Alex put his ear to the door, but didn't hear any sounds from within. He pushed the door open and knocked, calling out softly when he saw Angela curled up on the bed.
"Ange? It's me, Duncan. You ok, honey?"
Angela had her back to the door, her arms wrapped around one of her bed pillows. She must be asleep, Alex thought as he knelt on the bed behind her. He reached out and put his hand on her back. He started to speak when Angela moved, turning toward him.
Alex had just the space of a heartbeat to realize Angela was sick. She looked just like one of the people from the airport: all crazy, bloodshot eyes, and gray, mottled-looking skin. Then she was on him, and it was too late. She sank her teeth into the flesh of his neck, her fingers raking and scraping his skin as she dug into his flesh. He tried to scream, tried to push her away, but it was too late. The damage had already been done. Angela, ravenous, tore huge chunks of flesh from Alex's body; his blood spurted out, soaking the mattress beneath them.
Desperate, he kicked out as hard as he could, shoving Angela off of the bed. He clasped his hand over the wound in his neck and ran for it, slamming the bedroom door behind him. Angela slammed into the door as it closed, growling and clawing. In his haste to escape, Alex tripped and fell over the coffee table. He slid across the floor on his back, a trail of blood marking where he'd landed. The bedroom door rattled and shook as Angela slammed into it again and again.
Alex scrambled off the floor and stumbled to the front door. It took him several tries to get the door open, the blood on his hands making purchase on the knob difficult. He stumbled into the hallway and limped to the elevator bank. He pushed the button repeatedly, as though he could make the elevator arrive faster through sheer force of will and looked over his shoulder at the door to Angela's apartment. He was terrified that she'd find a way out of the bedroom and escape into the hallway. He could hear her inside the apartment, her inhuman growls making the hair on his neck stand on end. He'd never heard anything like it in his life, not even in the videos they'd shown on the news. She sounded like an animal.
He kept his hand clasped to the wound in his neck, blood seeping between his fingers and soaking his shirt. "Gotta get to a hospital," he said, his voice weak and rough. He leaned against the wall and closed his eyes, his thumb pressed to the call button. "Please... hurry," he whispered.
Finally, the elevator car arrived. He practically fell through the door, hitting the button for the ground floor and tapping the "door close" button until they complied and the elevator jerked, beginning its descent. Alex collapsed against the wall and slid down to the floor, too weak to stand upright any longer. He closed his eyes, his breathing growing ever shallower. He couldn't quite focus.
The elevator car reached the ground floor, the doors opening with a ding. Alex pushed weakly against the floor, trying to force himself up, but he couldn't manage it. By the time the doors closed again, he was gone.
* * * * *
Outside, the city descended into chaos. The police tried to maintain order, but it wasn't long before even the military was overrun. Local populaces began to enforce an impotent marshal law. The world’s population became panicked, turning on each other in their haste and desperation to avoid becoming a victim of what many were calling "The End of Days". Scientists worked furiously to try to come up with a cure, but even the world's brightest mind's were left clueless in the grip of this act of a vengeful God.
Hospitals burned. Power grids flickered and faded into oblivion. All lines of communication went down. Civilization was thrust violently back into the dark ages. Stores were in ruins, emptied and looted, sporting shattered windows which sneered at the growing Necropolis with broken teeth. Streets and highways, the only way of possibly escaping the madness, had become clogged with the dead and impassable to the living.
The end of the world had arrived.