When Sam opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was the teddy bear. She sat straight up.
“Joey?” Peered around the tidy bedroom. “Joe?”
That’s right. They’re no longer with her.
She picked up the lavender-scented bear and hugged it close to her face. With each beat of her heart, the tentacles of pain spread across her chest. It’s been less than two days without them. She can’t take too much more of this loneliness!
You must find a way to survive this. One of Joe’s last words to her before he picked up their son, arms now bound behind his little body, and carried him into their master bedroom.
Whatever you do, do NOT open this door. Love you always, Sammy.
He closed the door. Moments later, two gunshots sounded and then the eerily quiet.
Too numb to mourn her losses, Sam made her way to the living room and stared at the Christmas tree. Its pretty white lights unable to penetrate the darkness she felt filling her essence. She knelt and pulled the power cord, and the lights were gone.
Ever since then, she’d lied in Joey’s bed, curled up with his teddy bear, unable to care whether she ate or drank. Now, sitting up for the first in nearly two days, dizziness threatened to overwhelm her.
Was someone knocking on the front door?
Sam carefully stood up from the bed, and made her way down the short hallway to the living room.
What if it was the military? Should she open the door for them?
“Samantha?” A familiar woman’s voice called out. “Let me in, please1”
She turned the bolt to unlock and opened the door part way. A middle-aged woman stood at the entry way, all disheveled. What Sam saw looming behind her took her breath away.
Dozens of people moved haggardly towards her house. Only they looked…not normal. Similar to how Joey’s looked when he took sick. Pasty-colored skin that were sunken and for a few, peeling. Their grayish eyes held a blank stare as they snarled and grunted. Many of their clothes torn and bloodied.
“Sam!” Meg yelled out.
In the next instance, Sam swung the door wide opened and the older woman rushed inside. Sam quickly closed and re-locked the door. Moments later, loud banging caused the door to shudder. Both ladies held their breaths until the banging stopped.
“Joe and Joey?” Meg asked in a low voice.
Sam just shook her head.
“Oh, sweetie…” Meg took a step towards her with the intention of hugging her, but Sam walked right past the woman and into the kitchen.
Meg dropped her arms, and followed.
“Any word on Sheila?” Sam asked as she pulled out a can of coffee ground and proceeded to fill the coffee pot with it, and then added water.
Meg chewed her bottom lips before answering. “Um, I’ve been told they have quarantined her until they know she wasn’t infected.”
“Joey got infected most likely from someone at the daycare.” She closed the lid on the coffee pot, and plugged it into the outlet. “H-he turned and bit Joe, and he became infected as well.” Flipped the switch on but nothing happened. “They’re in the master bedroom, er, resting.” Sam tried the switch once more, again nothing.
“The power’s out, dear.” Meg said.
“Oh.” Sam stood there and stared at the idle coffee pot.
“You can’t stay here by yourself, Sam.”
For the first time since letting the woman into her home, Sam met her wavering gaze. “And why not?” Then she shook her head. “I’m not alone!”
“Okay then, let’s gather all of you, pack some things, and get out of here before it’s too late.” Meg’s chin rose in defiant as she strutted down the hallway towards the master bedroom.
“No!” Sam pushed past the woman and blocked her from the door. “You can’t!”
Meg crossed her arms at Sam. “Well, we can’t just leave them behind, now can we?”
Sam’s eye lids fluttered as she fought back the tears, her shoulders slumped down. “This-this is their final resting place.”
It was as close as she could get to saying “dead” out loud.
Meg uncrossed her arms. “Okay. Go and pack something and meet me in the kitchen.”
Sam stood there for a moment as she watched the older woman walk away. There was no way she’d go into her bedroom. She didn’t want to see them. Couldn’t bear the thought of the sight of their bloody corpses just strewn across the bed. Or perhaps on the floor; but knowing Joe, he would have made sure their son was comfortable on the bed first before he did the merciful deed.
Mercy was for the dead now.
No, there was nothing she needed from here.
Except for one thing.
Sam made her way back to the living room, and picked up the teddy bear from the sofa.
Something suddenly slammed into the front door and a narrow crack splintered straight up the center of the wooden structure.
“Out the back door!” Meg said as she grabbed Sam’s arm and practically dragged her through the kitchen. It was then when she realized she wasn’t ready to leave her home as she struggled against the woman’s tug.
“Stop fighting me, Sam!” Meg huffed.
“I-I can’t leave my family!” She cried.
“Your family is dead!” The woman blurted out.
It felt as if Meg had punched her in the stomach as the air whooshed out of her lungs, and she began to gasp as she struggled to breathe.
The front door completely disintegrated as zombie-like individuals stumbled into the living room. Meg pulled Sam against her body as they backed towards the oval-glassed door in the kitchen.
There was no time to open it as the infected readied to pounce on them.