The road was empty, silent, dark - all for a single mouse, scuttling under a musky streetlight which flickered, threatening to shut down completely. The mouse glared up at the light. It's dark, glistening, bulging eyes staring. It zipped off into the overgrowth of a near by bush when the light fizzled out with a tiny 'pop'. A slight breeze rolled through the town of Ashfield. The trees swayed lightly as the wind slithered through the once lively Marrow Street. The once bustling Marrow Street responded with a rattling of cans and other strewn debris littered on the ground. All that was good about Ashfield was now gone, lost. The ghost of a town had barely seen life since the 'incident'. But even now, a silver Toyota still rambled up the road. Past the cornfields and the water towers of the outskirts and into the town. The headlights of the car broke the mist and revealed an abandoned gas station. It's windows were poorly boarded up. It's door hung of it's hinges and swayed back and forth, whining in pain. It was obvious that the place had been empty for quite some time. Just like the town of Ashfield, it remained a reminder of what had been, and what was sorely missed.
The car had stopped, suddenly and almost silently, right outside door. After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened. A man stepped out. He was tall, slim and wore an unbuttoned, checkered shirt with a dirty, white vest underneath. His jeans were torn and muddy and his unkempt, brunnete hair struggled to stay idle in the breeze. He also had a brown leather satchel slung around his shoulder and thick rimmed glasses. Although the town was deserted and abandoned, he seemed strangely calm. He reached into his satchel and pulled out a torch. With a flick of the wrist, it's beam pierced the darkness and showed the true extent of the damage. A sign that would once show the latest news, often plastered with 'BREAKING NEWS' on sordid affairs between Z-list celebrities, had now been vandalised - the words 'NO HOPE' was now splattered across the sign in red paint. The man glanced at it and slightly jumped when a female voice erupted from his jean pocket.
"Rob? Rob, you there?"
The man wrestled a small walkie talkie out of his pocket.
"Still alive"
"Jesus, Rob. Don't go quiet like that again!"
"I know, Ava, updates every ten minutes - I just had shit on my mind"
"You can't have 'shit on your mind' in this world anymore. Got what you came for?"
"Takin' a look now"
Rob placed the walkie talkie in left chest pocket. Ava's voice was still loud and clear.
"Rob d'you think this will ever end?"
"What?"
"This...this world...this way of life..."
"It'll get better"
"Promise?"
Rob looked down at the ground and looked back over at the "NO HOPE" sign.
"Promise"
Ava remained silent. Rob opened the trunk of the Toyota. He pulled out a revolver - a Smith and Wesson Model 10, found in a abandoned police station five weeks prior. He stared at it for a bit, examining it's barrel and six-round cylinder. Before this, he wouldn't of even touched a gun, let alone fire one. He looked at the door of the gas station, it was still swinging and creaking. Rob closed the trunk and pointed the torch towards the entrance of the gas station - slowly making his way forward.
"Now, you sure you know where it'll be?" Ava said.
"Well, I fucking better - else we're all screwed"
Ava drifted into silence again.
Rob nudged the door open revealing the trashed interior of the gas station. It was quite something. Shelves which would normally contain food and drink were now toppled over. The lights were completely blown out, leaving Rob's torch as the only source of light. The stench of rotten food blanketed the room, scrunching Rob's face into a grimace.
"I'm in, Ava"
"Alright"
Rob crept to the corner of the room, tip-toeing to a blood stained door.
"Aw, shit"
"What?" exclaimed Ava, she seemed on edge.
"Fuckin' padlocked"
"Can't you get through it?"
After a few seconds of silence, Rob muttered:
"I could put a round in it, should be enough to break it..."
"You know that they're attracted to soun-"
"I know" Rob said through clenched teeth "But if we don't get this fuel, we're not movin' "
Now Ava sunk into silence. A silence were Rob sweated profusely under the pressure of the situation. After a hefty amount of time, Ava spoke.
"Do it"
Rob exhaled heavily. He rubbed his brow and pointed his Model 10 at the lock. He shut his eyes and fired.
A animal-like scream erupted from outside. Rob's eyes burst open.
"FUCK, FUCK, FUCK" He shouted.
"HURRY, ROB! HURRY THE FUCK UP!" Ava screamed in terror.
Rob snatched a jerry-can full of petrol from the ground. He was now scared, terrified and heard the sounds of his worst nightmare behind him. He turned to run but was tackled to the ground.
The thing on top of him was barely human - a freak of nature, an atrocity, a monster. It wailed in his face. The beast was still wearing the clothes of whoever it was before - before it turned. Rob pushed the freak of him and managed to scramble to his feet. The beast got to it's feet clumsily, but it was too slow. Rob grasped the back of it's head and smashed it against the edge of the gas station counter. Blood and brain matter spewed from the walking corpse until it's head was nothing more than a heap of flesh and crimson. Rob shook his head and looked the corpse up and down. He removed his glasses and crouched next to it.
"Man...what the fuck..."
Rob scratched the top of his head and closed his eyes, just to see if he could wake up - wake up from this horrific, twisted dream - where it's kill or be killed, where you're alone and the people you once loved and cherished became them - the freaks.
"R-Rob?"
Rob patted his chest pocket in bewilderment and realised he'd dropped the walkie talkie. He scanned the ground and realised that the freak was layed on top of it. He grimaced and rolled the freak off it with his foot.
"Ava...it almost fuckin' got me"
Ava remained silent. Rob continued.
"I had to kill it - mash it's brains in. I don't think I can do this..."
"You said it would get better, Rob"
Rob climbed into his car and leaned back in his chair.
"it can't get much worse..."



Ava stared cautiously out the window. Looking down at the apartment blocks and the once lively avenues of North Rushton. This was her home town. 'Was', she thought 'Before the incident'. Ava took her glass of water and sat down on her mattress. She heard the springs bounce and rebound and placed the glass on the ground directly next to her pillow. The containment broke out almost a month and a half ago - back then she had just got her job. She was a secretary for the local paper - a respectable job, more than she ever thought she could achieve, she loved it. Then, the flu came.
The flu was mysterious. People would just get it. They'd just fall unconscious, no word of warning, nothing. Ava was extremely lucky, she was one of the first to recieve the vaccine and managed to survive - just like Rob. However, her friends, her family, they all became on of them. Ava looked at her bag, inside was a small handgun. The very handgun that she used to kill her own mother. She'd turned, become one of them. The only way to take them out was by destroying the brain. So she aimed, right between the eyes, at her mother - she took one last glance into those eyes, the eyes which had watched over her for all of her childhood and most of her adult life and fired. The bullet left a clean wound, straight through, no mess - just death. For a while, Ava moved - transitioning from place to place, but in the end she had to return to North Rushton. She passed through Ashfield and found Rob, a local IT technician at Ashfield High School. They drove back to North Rushton in his car and scavenged what they could; food, medicine, anything they could find. They managed up to now, the car had run out of fuel completely. 'And that's where Rob is right now' Ava thought. She turned to face the wall.
Rob climbed the apartment stairs. After months of surviving here, Rob had memorised where Room 28 was and just how many stairs, floors and doors he had to pass to get there. He reached 28 and knocked on the door.
"Ava?"
"Oh, Rob. Thank god!"
The door opened quickly and Ava flew out and embraced Rob.
"I was fucking shitting myself" Ava cried.
"Heh, so was I..." Rob replied from the crook of her neck.
They released eachother and Rob entered. He sat down on the mattress next to her.
"Got a couple o' litres - should last us"
Ava sat quietly and looked at our feet. Rob glanced at her and held his stare.
"We're gonna have to get moving"
Ava snapped her eyes up.
"W-what?"
"I said, we're going to have to get m-"
"I know what you said"
Rob glared deeply into her eyes.
"What you remember, everything that once was, is gone"
Ava brushed her blonde hair back with her hand. Rob could see the tears in her eyes. He continued.
"And what we have to focus on right now is survival..."
He stood up and walked to the window. It overlooked the Arion shopping centre. He watched a thing wander aimlessely around the front ot the entrance. Maybe it was looking for food.
"Survival means moving, and that's what we've gotta do. I saw lights up in Ashfield - maybe there are pe-"
"So, you get to go back to your home while I lose mine?"
Ava was now looking away from him. Rob turned his head towards her.
"If that's what it takes to survive..."
Ava stood up and turned to look at him.
"I can't just go..."
"We have to..."
"I can't...I grew up here...I'll die here if I have to"
Rob walked to the door. Ava looked worried.
"Wh-where ar-"
"You'd rather die here?"
Ava looked to the ground and shuffled her feet. Rob shook his head and adjusted his glasses.
"If you think you can survive here, go ahead, suit yourself. But know this, I am not coming back for you, I am not going to return to this god-forsaken city. Face the fuckin' facts. The world has ended. There is no home, there is no family, there is no friends. It's us and them. Us and the freaks and if you want to stay here and die alone, then do it. But I am NOT staying here"
Ava's mouth was wide open, her eyes were welling up again. Rob swept his hair back and left the room.
Rob looked left and right before he opened the gate, muttering curse words to himself. He walked to the car and threw his satchel in the back. He opened the door and sat inside, sighing heavily. He wiped his glasses and took one last look at the apartment block he had been staying in for so long with Ava. He scanned the windows for Room 28 and sure enough, she was there, watching. He looked up at her, showing no emotion, then looked forward and turned the key. The car coughed to life and began to hum. Rob looked down slightly before he heard a clicking of a door. Ava sat next to him, saying nothing. Rob looked at her and nodded, before looking forward again. The car set off into the distance and left behind a desolated wasteland. A ghost town.