Avery and the man stood in complete darkness. She couldn’t hear the groans of the corpses outside. The only thing she heard was the man’s heavy breathing matching her own. Her heart was racing and her ankle was throbbing. The adrenaline was draining from her body and the pain from her ankle seemed to flow through her entire body.
“Hold on a second,” the man said. “Let me find a light.”
There was shuffling and then light filled the small room. The man held a small flashlight which illuminated the room they were in.
“Thanks,” Avery said shielding her eyes from the light.
“Yeah no problem. Sorry about the light.”
The man lowered the flashlight. he then pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the second door. This was some kind of waiting area with mail boxes for all the tenants of the building. The second door lead to the actual apartment building.
“The name’s Dustin,” The man said.
“Uh…Avery,” Avery said.
She wasn’t sure that she should be using her real name, but she couldn’t think of another one fast enough. Her head was fuzzy and her ankle was killing her.
Dustin looked down at Avery’s ankle.
“Wow, that is really bad. You need to sit down,” Dustin said.
“Thanks,” Avery said weakly.
“Follow me, I’ll lead you to my place,” Dustin said.
Dustin began walking down the hallway.
“I…I…” Avery began.
Dustin turned back to Avery who stood in the doorway.
“What is it? Can you walk?” Dustin asked.
“Yeah I can walk. That’s not the problem. It’s just…why did you save me?” Avery asked.
Dustin gave Avery a strange look.
“Why? Because you were in danger. You obviously needed help,” Dustin said.
“I would have been fine,” Avery said.
Dustin let out a small laugh.
“Look, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but I saw the way you were handling yourself out there. There were a hundred of them and only one of you,” Avery said.
He looked down at Avery’s handgun.
“Plus how many bullets do you have anyway?” Avery asked.
“Enough,” Avery said.
She knew better to reveal the number of bullets she had. She still didn’t trust this man.
“Yeah I had enough about a year ago. Bullets are in rare supply these days,” Dustin said. “I bet there’s some guy out there with a bullet making factory making enough to supply an army.”
Avery just stood there not knowing what to do.
“Anyway, you want to at least get something to eat? When’s the last time you ate?” Dustin asked.
Avery’s stomach rumbled at the sound of food.
“Sounds like it’s been a while.”
“I have food,” Avery said.
“Fine. Fine,” Dustin said putting his hands up in defeat. “If you want to go, go. I just hope that you will be able to your shelter and food on that busted ankle.”
Avery stood there not knowing what to do. On one hand she knew that she would fair well out there on the streets. It was now dark outside. There were probably walking corpses all over this location. She had a bad ankle. All of these things spelled disaster.
On the other hand, she didn’t know if she could trust this guy. He seemed nice enough, but Avery feared he might have an ulterior motive to helping her. No one is just nice to another person for no reason. Not in this world. Not since the dead started rising.
“So?” Dustin asked.
“I’ll stay for the night, but I’m leaving in the morning,” Avery said.
“Sounds like a good plan to me,” Dustin said. “Now let’s go get some food.”
Dustin led Avery down the hallway towards the back of the building. There were many doors boarded up and the whole place was a mess. There was trash and deserted belongings everywhere.
“As you know, it was chaos when the whole world fell a part. There was looting, stealing, and murder. People were desperate for food and supplies and were willing to do whatever they could do to survive. Utter chaos,” Dustin said.
“Yeah I went through the same stuff,” Avery said.
She didn’t like thinking about her life all of this. It just brought heartbreak and pain. It distracted her from now. That kind of distraction lead to mistakes like today.
Eventually they made it to Dustin’s apartment. The place looked a little bit more together. There was still boards on all the windows and junk all over the place, but at least it looked better then the places Avery had stayed in recently. Last week she literally locked herself into a school locker to sleep the night because it was the only safe space.
“Well here it is. Mi Casa,” Dustin said.
“It looks nice,” Avery said.
“It’s not much, but it is where I call home. Safe from the undead and I don’t have any noisy neighbors,” Dustin said.
“Does…anyone else live here?” Avery asked.
“Just me and the rats. There’s some corpses on the upper levels of the building, but I haven’t had time to explore the whole thing. All is safe and secure,” Dustin said.
“Glad to hear it,” Avery said with a small smile.
“So there’s a couch,” Dustin said pointing towards the couch. “You sit down and I’ll get dinner ready.”
Avery hobbled over and sat down the couch. She put up her foot. It felt amazing to get off her feet for a moment. She hadn’t been this conformable since…since…she couldn’t remember. Maybe ever.
Dustin went over to the stove and started it up. He pulled a pan and started searing meat. He began cooking a whole assortment of foods. The smell filled the air and made Avery’s stomach grumble more. This smelled way better than canned cat food.
Avery relaxed on the couch for about 45 minutes until Dustin came over with a plate full of food.
“Where did you get all of this?” Avery asked.
“It’s a secret, so you can’t tell anyone ok?” Dustin said with a wink.
“Ummm….ok,” Avery said.
“All the vegetables come from a rooftop garden that sits on top of this building. Also there’s an abandoned butcher shop a few blocks over. Freezer is still pretty cold and has a decent amount of meat in it. A lot of it has gone back, but I’ve been able to salvage enough meat for now,” Dustin said.
“You’re really resourceful, Dustin,” Avery said.
“You got to do what you can to survive in this world,” Dustin said.
“True,” She replied.
“So do you want to watch a movie or something?” Dustin asked.
“You have movies?” Avery asked putting a spoonful of potatoes into her mouth.
“Of course,” Dustin said. “What do you think I am, some kind of animal?”
“My bad,” Avery said with a laugh.
“So you like romantic comedies or romantic comedies?” Dustin asked.
“That’s my only option?”
“Yeah apparently during the Apocalypse, people raid movie rental stores and take all the good stuff,” Dustin said.
“Then I guess it’s romantic comedy.”
“Good choice,” Dustin smiled.
He took as minute to pull at television out of a back room and plugged it in. The electricity flickered and then plugged in the DVD player. Dustin put in a movie and then sat down in a chair adjacent to the couch.
Avery took another bite of her food. The throbbing her ankle decreased a bit, but now her head was throbbing a bit. Her eyelids grew heavy.
“What..what…” Avery mumbled.
She had trouble keeping her eyes open.
“What’s going on?” Avery asked.
Dustin looked over at Avery.
“Don’t worry about it, darling. Just embrace it,” Dustin smiled and his face seemed to distort a bit.
Then Avery’s eyes closed and she was enclosed in darkness.
Avery opened her eyes. Everything seemed to be spinning. She had no ideas where she was. What was the last thing she remembered? She was with Dustin in his apartment and they were eating.
She looked around, but she couldn’t see anything. She was completely in darkness. Plus her whole body was numb. It was like things were going in slow motion.
“Hello?” Avery asked the darkness.
She tried to move but her whole body was numb. It was almost like she was fighting against quicksand.
Avery heard a squeak of a door and a beam of light entered the room. She tried to move her arms, but her right arm was chained. Her left arm…was gone.
She didn’t really have time to react to the fact that she was missing her left arm before Dustin stepped into the room.
“What did you do?” Avery asked.
“I’m sorry, darling,” Dustin said. “But don’t worry. I’m cauterized the wound. That way you won’t die before I want you to.”
“Die?” Avery asked.
“Yeah you just like the other tenets in this building,” Dustin said. “You know that people did whatever they could do to survive. Well I found a stable food source. Others went after the grocer store to steal food. I decided something different.”
“You…you…eat people?” Avery asked.
She struggled against the chains, but she couldn’t escape.
“Yes,” Dustin said.
Avery’s heart was going crazy and her breaths were short.
“So did you,” Dustin said with a small smile.
“What?” Avery asked.
“Did you really think that there’s some butcher’s shop somewhere? Well here it is,” Dustin said looking around the room.
Avery felt nauseous and wanted to throw up.
“At first I just killed my victims and then cooked up the meat, but you can only eat so much at a time. I don’t have the capacity to keep it long. So how do I get more meat? Use a little at a time,” Dustin said. “Drug the people and then you can just take some of it.”
Avery continued to struggle with the chains as Dustin continued to talk.
“It’s taken a while, but I think I’ve gotten the whole thing down. Cut off an arm or leg and then use a hot frying pan to cauterize the wound. I can take the limbs and then kill the victim. Much more meat for the effort,” Dustin said.
“You’re a monster,” Avery said.
“I’m a survivor and I play it smart. I don’t go to grocery stores just to hurt my ankle,” Dustin said.
Avery looked down at her ankle.
“How do you know I got this when I was at the grocery store?” Avery asked.
“A hunter studies his prey before he strikes,” Dustin said.
“What is wrong with you?” Avery asked.
“This world isn’t make for scavengers like you,” Dustin said. “Survival of the fittest and I’m the fittest.”
“I’m going to kill you,” Avery sneered.
“You can try,” Dustin smiled. “For now just sit here and get comfortable.”
Dustin left the room and the light diminished.
It was dark once again and Avery was left by herself. There were so many thoughts running through her head. She knew she was in a bad situation. Her ankle was hurt. Her left arm was completely gone. She had no idea where her handgun went. There was one thing that drover her forward; however. She knew she had to kill Dustin and get out of here. She did not come all this way to be killed by a cannibal and waste away to dust. She was a survivor and she was going to survive.
Header Photo Credit to Lifeboat Foundation Blog