Adora was completely drained. After an utterly exhausting day ducking and dodging hordes of zombies in search for supplies, she could use a nap. Maybe a bubble bath. Oh yea, bubble bath sounds good, The buff blonde thought as she dipped underneath some bits of a crumbling building, careful to avoid the rusted rebar jutting out of a piece of concrete. Too bad there hasn't been running water in three months, you dipshit, The more logical part of her brain remembered, and Adora silently cursed herself for yet again thinking about the Before. It was hard not to. Of course everyone missed it, but it was kind of an unspoken rule not to talk about it. All it does is bring up painful memories of better times, and no one needs that, especially right now.
A guttural strained groan escaped from the mouth of a nearby crawler, drawing Adora’s attention out of her mind and into the very real, very dangerous world she now inhabited. After a quick peek around a still standing wall, she spotted a sight that almost emptied out her stomach right then and there. Of course she smelled it before she actually saw it, as was the norm nowadays. You would think three months since the world ended, you’d get used to the smell of rotting corpses. You’d think, but no.
Breathing short breaths out of her mouth, Adora tried her best to be strong and not to let any tears fall as she watched her old neighbor, Mrs. Hartmann, feast upon her still twitching husband. Her lower jaw was hanging in a twisted, broken way, as if it had almost been torn off. Almost immediately, Adora realized she was too far gone. Mrs. Hartmann did not hesitate as she ripped into her late husband’s stomach with delight, squealing gleefully like a toddler playing in the rain for the first time. She seemed to be recently turned, as her silver streaked hair still kept its voluminous shape and wasn’t missing and clumps yet. Her eyes were glazed and vacant, but retained their warm amber color instead of the typical milky white of an average zombie.
Adora unconsciously backed away from the gruesome image, stepping down on an empty cola can. She cursed the great corporate capitalistic gods for their damned soda brand and questioned why the fuck aluminium cans were so loud when crushed before all hell broke loose. Within seconds, Mrs. Hartmann’s head swiveled towards the noise and her once welcoming smile turned horrifying as she seemed to recognize the abrupt sound as potential food. Scrambling hastily off of Mr. Hartmann’s corpse, the grandmotherly ex-neighbor let out a shrill scream and took off at mach 10, not bothering to watch for any broken glass or jagged rocks on the ground.
Adora came to the hasty conclusion she had three options: accept her fate and get eaten more quickly than her football team devoured pizza after a game, somehow fight Mrs. Hartmann and other zombies she had likely attracted with her war cry, or run like hell. Adora was blonde but not exactly a dumb blonde, so she opted for option number 3 and took off. It was hard to avoid making a ruckus while fleeing for your life, but somehow Adora managed to do just that, allowing her keen eyesight and quick reflexes take her out of her old neighborhood and onto the highway, ducking out of the way of any stranglers and even sliding over a few abandoned cares, which made her feel cool as hell. Unfortunately, now was no time to pretend to be an action movie star.
After a few minutes of sprinting, Adora began to feel her stamina run out. Taking a quick peek over her shoulder, Mrs. Hartmann and around six of her fleshy comrades were still a few dozen feet behind her, so the muscle bound jock made an executive decision and quickly slid behind a silver Honda Accord. Praying to whatever likely nonexistent gods that watched from above, Adora struggled to make her body as small and unnoticeable as possible, effectively fitting down to about the size of the battered car’s tires. Remembering what Entrapta had given her before she left Bright Moon’s base camp, she reached into her backpack and quickly retrieved a small metal canister.
The bottle resembled sprayable sunscreen or bug spray, but if that mad genius’s words (or rather, her long winded rambles) were anything to be believed, this unsuspecting febreeze look alike could save her life. Hoping Entrapta was right, Adora uncapped the canister and held the nozzle down, spraying her body with a white mist that gave her skin a sticky sheen. Almost immediately, Adora gagged, forcing herself to keep down the contents of her stomach at bay. The mist smelled absolutely disgusting, how the hell was this supposed to help her in her current predicament?
Her question was answered when the mini horde finally caught up with her. Without prey in sight, around four of the stranglers lost interest in the fruitless chase and shambled back towards the collection of houses. However, Mrs. Hartmann and two more decided to stay behind and search the surrounding highway. Adora was letting out shallow puffs of air, trying desperately to not give away her location from behind the scratched up car, but to no avail. Her heart was pounding against her ribs as if it was trying to escape its calcified cage, and this led to loud panting from the human teen.
Mrs. Hartmann and her zombified friends snapped their heads with eager glee towards the sound, and they all fought tooth and nail (if they still had any) to be the one who investigated the noise. Mrs. Hartmann asserted her dominance by swiftly kicking down one of the zoms to the ground, still having strength in her recently turned muscles. Well, Adora sighed. At least I’ll be eaten by an old family friend. I hope I taste as good as her Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Man that shit was so good. The remaining zombie saw there was no way he’d be able to beat Mrs. Hartmann, so he backed away from her in defeat, bowing his head. In return, Adora’s ex-neighbor let out another shrill shriek, and bound towards her really shitty hiding place. At least she didn't have to smell the woman again, now every time she breathed in all she could sense was pure, unadulterated, rotting filth.
The closer the elder got, the more Adora recoiled in fear. Sure, the dumb jock had a brush with death before. It was hard to avoid when almost all your friends and family became dead cannibalistic monsters. But this time, it felt different. Every drop of blood in her body ran cold and she could no longer feel her feet. If she thought she was sweating before, she must be leaking at this point, although it wasn’t the stuffy hot kind of sweat you’d get after lifting weights. It was almost as if Adora stepped into an ice cold shower. The goosebumps on her arm made their appearance and the baby hairs on the back of her neck stood up as the zombie made her slow approach.
Baring her teeth at the sight of the blonde, Adora noticed for the first time that Mrs. Hartmann was missing her tongue. Whether she bit it off or it was cut off, she didn't want to know. Her eyes seemed even less human now, the brown barely visible behind the glaze of intense hunger. Her nose was still intact, and she sniffed loudly as she made her way towards the blonde. Mrs. Hartmann’s face seemed to twist and contort, and it appeared the elder was almost confused. She got closer and closer until she came to a stop in front of the now tear stricken teen.
Now Adora could see every little detail on Mrs. Hartmann’s face. Every cut and chunk of missing skin. Every missing crooked tooth or bite mark. Each individual flap of skin and wrinkle hanging off of her face that Adora once found to be welcoming in a grandmotherly sort of way. Her complexion had gotten significantly paler over the course of her transformation, and all her features seemed gaunt and empty. What bothered Adora the most was her eyes. Her eyes seemed to be so angry, as if they were in pain, but most of all, they were ravenous.
The kind Mrs. Hartmann that taught her algebra when she was in eighth grade and couldn’t understand it at all seemed to be gone. The Mrs. Hartmann that would take her shopping for new shoes when Adora’s own mother was too busy with work to pay any mind to her daughter ceased to exist. The understanding Mrs. Hartmann who held the blonde sobbing when she had accidentally kicked a soccer ball into her dining room window, assuring her it was okay and that she wasn’t mad no longer came to mind. Now, it was only hunger-pained Mrs. Hartmann who’s stub of a tongue wiggle around in her open mouth, glaring agape at Adora.
Wait, staring? Why is she just staring? Hartmann let out a frustrated scream and violently stuck her face in the crook of Adora’s neck. Adora stiffened with vigor and stopped breathing. She shut her eyes and waited. This was it. This was when she died. Adora Lighthope, star quarterback, would get her jugular torn out by the elderly woman who basically raised her and then she, herself, would rise and become a part of the very creatures she despised. Oh, what a life.
Fortunately, the sweet release of death never came for Adora. To everyone’s surprise, Mrs. Hartmann sniffed Adora’s pulse point and groaned in anger, making a puzzled face as she backed off of the blonde and slinked away, fists shaking in rage and confusion. She was stunned. Whatever the fuck just happened was a miracle, maybe her prayers here answered. Adora sat in amazement and relief for a few moments before peeking out behind the car and saw the three zombies start the long walk back to the neighborhood. Finally, she felt like she could breathe again and she let out a long withheld sigh, stretching out her legs from her tight hiding pose. She realized she was still grasping onto the mysterious canister from her backpack, and Adora smiled softly. Prayers and gods, my ass, She shook her head in disbelievement. Entrapta is a goddamn genius.
In the distance, screams of distressed zombies echoed across the quickly setting sky. Noticing the time, Adora got up slowly, and after briefly checking for any injuries, decided she should probably head back to camp. The other runners would be back by now and she didn't want to worry her friends any more than they already are. Besides, Adora’s stomach was upset enough from the lack of food but the horrible spray was an added insult. I really need to eat and take a longggg shower. At that thought, Adora stood up fully and began the journey home.