She woke up with a start, sweating and shivering. The sheets on her bed were tangled and soaking wet, sticking to her body as she tried to free herself from their clingy embrace.
That was one hell of a dream. She could still feel the fear as she was running down the street. The darkness was making every shadow grow and take on grotesque forms. She could hear her breath coming in rasps, drowned out only by the sound of her heart racing and pounding so loudly that she was sure it could be heard by the dead.
Which is exactly what she wanted to avoid. The lumbering, stinking, groaning monstrosities that were haunting the roads. She could still smell them. The very sweet, sickly scent of death coupled with rotting meat which has been left out all summer. She inhaled heavily and the stench coated her throat as she gagged on the taste of their decay.
Her senses were in overload and she wanted to claw off her own ears rather than listen to the screams of their victims. Not the restrained sounds that you hear in the films but rather the gut wrenching, visceral sound of fear combined with an unimaginable death. Through the cacophony of chaos she could hear the wet, slurping evisceration mixed with the shrieking of shop alarms, breaking glass, shouts and prayers to a god that had deserted the desperate.
She hid behind a large communal bin in the alley and, frozen in time, tried to slow her laboured breathing. At this rate she was going to die of fright before the living dead even got to her. They were getting closer. The back of her neck tingled. Her hair stood up in a primeval warning and she shifted as an icy droplet of sweat ran down her back.
She needed to move, but nowhere seemed safe. Looking around the corner of her cover she realised that she was out of time, she either got up and ran like the Devil himself was on her tail, or she gave in to her blinding terror and faced her fate.
No, she couldn’t give up, she had a family to get back to, dammit, she had a job interview in two days’ time, as if that mattered at this moment. She stood warily and felt her legs protest with the dull ache of having been crouched down for too long. Hesitantly, she peered around the corner, took a deep breath and ran.
The numbness of fear was now replaced by a panic so overwhelming that she was unable to move fluidly. Her knees buckled and as she darted forwards her eyesight was becoming dark around the edges as though she was running down a tunnel. Her brain could not focus, it was flashing from one thought to the next too quickly for her to fathom a direction. Her breath came too fast and she felt cold to her very soul. As she sped around the end of the alley she felt a sharp pain in the back of her head. She fell backwards as a ghoulish hand caught in her ponytail…
Shaking her head to try and clear the dream from her memory she slowly sat up. She ached like crazy and realised that she must have been tensing her muscles as she tried to escape in her nightmare. She peeled the sheets from her skin and ran a hand over her clammy face.
Sluggishly moving her legs out of bed, she stood up and stumbled across the room to look out of the window. She had forgotten to close her curtains before going to bed and a warm, hazy stream of golden sunshine hit her face as she looked out on a perfect summer’s morning. The cornflower blue sky was dotted with feathery white clouds above a quiet road with birds sitting in the trees. There was a soft breeze which was causing a crisp packet to dance along the pavement.
An empty pavement.
Where were the people? The tired mums pushing prams whilst their smiling toddlers skip along next to them, the old ladies chatting at the bus stop, or even the hooded teenage boys who are fixated on their phones? There was no-one, it was perfectly calm and quiet, no cars, no buses and even the birds were sitting in silence.
How strange. She had never known that to happen before. As she moved back slightly from the glass her reflection became clear, the room began to sway, go dark and close in. The macabre face staring back at her was not the one that she expected to see but rather the image of carnage. She opened her mouth to scream but all that bubbled up was a glutinous groan.
© 2018 Zoe Davies
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Having always been an avid reader, Zoe now writes fiction and poetry to relax and escape into her own reality for a while.