EMILY CHANG - HUNGER
Emily Chang is currently attending Full Sail University to receive a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She graduated from York Technical College with an Associate in Arts in 2018. Chang is an aspiring writer who loves writing fiction, especially fantasy. She also loves to draw as often as she writes. She is always working to improve her skills in writing and drawing. Chang enjoys watching YouTube videos, reading books and manga, and listening to music for inspiration. Often times, when everyone else is sleeping, Chang lies awake with too many thoughts running in her head.
The pop of fireworks should be ringing in the air instead of the ring of gunshots. Smiling faces and happy laughter, replaced by grim lips and hard eyes. Instead of a belly filled with sweet smoky barbeque and juicy watermelon, hunger rumbles. I peek out the window blinds at the street where another gunshot fires.
“Did you find anything?” Drew, who used to be my next-door neighbor asks.
His once shining dark brown eyes sunken in and his cheek bones sharp as razors.
I step away from the window and reply, “Nothing. It’s been cleaned out.”
“Geez, if this one’s been cleaned out then all the others will be too!” he says, and plops down on a dusty leather couch.
I turn back to the window, scanning the road for movement.
“Today is supposed to be July fourth,” I tell him.
“Don’t say that,” Drew says and clutches his abdomen. “I haven’t eaten a full meal in days.”
The scuffle of footsteps approaches the living room. I look over my shoulder as Kellie stalks in. Her sharp blue eyes narrow at the sight of Drew slouching on the couch.
“What are you two doing? We’re supposed to be looking for food!” she says.
Drew sits up and replies, “There is none.”
“Then search harder,” Kellie says. “We might have missed a spot.”
“I already searched upstairs and in the bathroom there’s nothing to eat and nothing useful,” I tell Kellie.
She frowns and crosses her arms. My stomach rumbles again and my insides clench.
“If we don’t eat soon, we’ll die of starvation,” Kellie states.
Drew stands up, snapping his fingers, “Hey, we haven’t checked the basement! There might be some canned food down there,” he says.
Kellie and I glance at each other. The house had been empty when we got here. No signs of struggle, no signs of death, no signs of the undead. Perhaps the people who lived here had been out when it happened.
“It doesn’t seem safe. Who knows what could be down there,” says Kellie.
“The only thing that could be down there are zombies,” Drew replies. “What else is there to be afraid of? Who’s got time to worry about ghosts?”
Kellie sighs and says, “Okay, you’re right for once. It’s better to face a few zombies and get some food than starve.”
We find the door to the basement beside the pantry. Holding our breaths, Drew grasps the doorknob and slowly pushes it open. Nothing shambles out. Kellie bangs a fry pan against the wall to make sure. Then we listen carefully for any noise. Nothing. Pulling out my flashlight I shine a beam of light down the dark stairs. Gripping an axe in the other hand, I carefully descend first, lightly stepping down on each wooden step, swinging the flashlight around. I don’t see any zombies.
“Look! Cans!” Drew says and points to a shelf with rusty paint cans and a bottle of laundry detergent.
Reaching the last step, we rush over to the shelf where four cans sit on the third to bottom shelf. Drew grabs the largest can and wipes the dust and grim off, with the cuff of his sleeve. His eyes gleam eagerly in the beam of the flashlight.
Licking his dry lips, with a huge smile, he says, “It’s beef stew! Beef stew!”
Kellie examines the other three cans with a frown and states, “And the rest is canned tomatoes.”
My stomach whimpers like a sad dog. The thought of eating meat fills my mouth with saliva. Honestly, I feel lightheaded. Another day and I might collapse. Kellie grabs the cans of tomato and follows Drew, who firmly holds the beef stew to his chest like a mother protecting her child, to the stairs. The thought of eating fills me with joy. I walk up the stairs with a growling stomach.
“Will that can of beef stew be enough for the three of us?” I ask.
“It’s better than nothing,” Kellie replies.
The growling becomes louder. I recognize that sound! I swing my light downwards and gasp in shock. Two milky eyes glare back at me. A pair of rough bruised hands shoot out and grab my ankle, jerking my feet from under me.
“Zombie!” I yell to Drew and Kellie as I fall backwards, hitting my head on the bottom steps.
Kellie drops the cans of tomatoes and runs to help me. I try to hit the zombie with my axe, but with the steps in the way I can’t hit it. I kick at the zombie’s rotting face, but it doesn’t land. I realize that my foot is stuck. Kellie yanks at my arms and tries to pull me out, but it’s no use. If I chop off my leg, the wound will get infected and I’ll die. If I don’t chop it off, the zombie will bite me and I’ll become one.
“Hold on!” Kellie yells, “I’ll take care of it!”
She starts to run down the stair when another zombie shuffles out. Kellie curses under her breath and lifts her bat. Suddenly sharp teeth pierce my ankle and I look back to see blood dripping down my foot. No. No! This can’t be happening!
“Just go!” I shout to Kellie. “I’ve been bit!”
“What!” she replies in shock.
I wave for her to go and she quickly goes back up the stairs as the other zombie heads towards me. From the top of the stairs Drew watches with wide eyes and trembling hands.
“Go!” I yell at the top of my lungs.
Kellie hesitates for a second, then slams the door shut. Only the light from my flashlight penetrates the cold darkness. I glare at the growling zombie that holds me captive.
“Two can play this game,” I say grimly.
I lunge forward and grab its mushy wrist and sink my teeth into rancid flesh.
“I’ve been starving.”