Danielle Kim sat quietly against the wall, staring at the bloody remains of her neighbors. It had been two days since the broadcasts online had stopped. Yesterday, radio broadcasts about safe zones began to vanish throughout the day. Any broadcasts since were intermittent and only conveyed fears, prayers, and screams for help.
She hadn’t bothered listening to the radio today. At the time she was too preoccupied with the sounds of struggle in the apartment next to her. She didn’t really know her neighbors that well. Now she found herself staring at the blood that pooled around the corpse of… was it Julie? It might as well have been Julie, now. Danielle had spoken to her a handful of times in the five years that they were neighbors. Most of those conversations came after the apocalypse.
After the sounds of screaming and heavy thumps against the wall had suddenly cut out, Danielle left her quarantined apartment. She had stepped onto the walkway and saw the stone steps that lead up to the second floor were still demolished, and that no ghouls had managed to make it up.
The second floor only consisted of two apartments, built above the two apartments below. In a panic a week earlier, after a horde of ghouls caught the woman who lived below her. Julie’s boyfriend, Danielle didn’t really know his name, had smashed the stairs with a large hammer. Julie and Danielle had done their best to fight off the ghouls who attempted to climb up at the time.
It was far too late for the neighbor below. Between the heavy thuds of the massive hammer striking the stone steps were the bloody, gargling cries of her dying moments. Julie had attempted to climb down, to help, but Danielle held her back. Since then, the three of them had locked themselves away, hiding from the ghouls and hearing the periodic scream until the screams stopped coming.
Danielle turned her attention from the demolished stairs to the other apartment and saw that the door was open. She had knocked lightly but heard nothing from inside. She had decided then to step inside.
Julie was already dead. Her boyfriend was on his knees, his face buried into her face. Sitting here now, Danielle didn’t remember making a noise, but she recalled the boyfriend looking up at the time, his eyes pale and unblinking. Between his teeth was a chunk of Julie’s cheek.
He had turned. When had that happened? When did he get sick?
It was hard for Danielle to remember now, but she must have stumbled back to her apartment and grabbed something to defend herself. In the present, Danielle looked around the living room and saw the volleyball trophy she had grabbed, tossed away. The marble corner was caked in hair, blood, and brain matter. She turned back to see her handiwork. Next to Julie’s body was the boyfriend; his skull caved in and his arm thrown over Julie. A parody of a sleeping couple.
Danielle began to sob. Everything had fallen apart. She felt like a fool for not having fled somewhere, anywhere, sooner. He was making arrangements, he said. It was his idea to stay isolated and to get out together “at the right time.” She foolishly followed his idea. Idiot.
The sobbing continued until Julie began to stir. Danielle watched the fingers of the dead woman begin to curl and drag across the carpet. The first stirrings of something horrid being born.
The internet was right. Danielle hadn’t wanted to believe it. The dead were returning to life and attacking the living, forced to wander around in an undead daze.
She rose to her feet and made her way to the trophy. She wouldn’t let that fate befall Julie.
Danielle plunged the corner of the trophy into the temple of Julie’s skull. Soon the rasping moans fell silent, and again, the trophy was discarded across the room.
It was time to leave the apartment complex.
Thank you for reading the first installment of the Haunted MTL original series, The Dead Life. Please share your thoughts about the story with us.