Today…the picture prompt comes from The Dark Room over at Our Right Side.
Heart pounding in her ears, breath coming out in gasps, Melody ran. The baseball cap that had kept her blonde hair off her face flew off and loose strands found their way into her mouth. Her feet slapped down on the concrete, her right arm extended in front of her as she haphazardly slashed with her sword at whatever got in her way. She didn’t have time to think about those new shoes she’d drop to the ground, her hole-y ones supported her cause just fine for now. But, oh why hadn’t she just put them on before leaving the store?!
The horde had come out of nowhere. The town had looked fairly deserted, a couple of the rotten smelling, living corpses dragged themselves down the lonely road but it had seemed a safe endeavor to hit the Payless shoe store. Her old shoes had become so worn that rocks were able to sneak in through the bottoms. After weeks of thinking about it, she finally had decided to do a little shopping.
Earlier that morning, Melody had snuck out of the new camp. The small group had just arrived the night before but they were planning on doing a sweep in the next couple of days, once they settled and got their bearings. Since they wouldn’t stop on the way to the camp, even though she had begged them, Melody had decided to take her own matter into her own, very competent, hands. Since she thought it would be the nice thing to do to let somebody know where she was going, she had whispered to Logan her plan. Unfortunately, he was still basically asleep so she doubted he thought it was anything more than part of his dream.
She was wildly lost now, having made a sharp left into the woods. At least none of the zombies had bothered to follow her. They probably couldn’t recognize her human smell anymore, she had their zombie friends gore plastered all over her from that whole flight and fight.
She slowed her pace when she saw a dilapidated red structure in the middle of a clearing she hadn’t been expecting. She had figured these woods would stretch on for miles but it seemed to only be a decently large divider between the town and the highway.
Brown and yellow grass were the only evidence that there had been a path, wide enough for trucks, leading to the building. Weeds, saplings and tall grass hid the broken cement that appeared to have been a parking lot. Based on how faded the paint was and the fact that trees were growing out of the gutters, Melody guess it had been vacant since before the zombies had taken over.
She snuck up to the window and peered inside. It was as deserted in there as it was outside. The building had, so obviously, been long forgotten. Yet, it was a perfect shelter for the camp, there were only six of them. The middle of nowhere. Land to cultivate. They would probably be able to find supplies at the Home Depot in town where they could fortify the place and do the necessary structural repairs to make the building functional. At least, until this thing was over.
Tucking her hand inside her sleeve, she reached for the door knob. She didn’t want to touch any spiders that may be lurking. With a deafening squeal, the door opened. If there were any zombies around, they surely would have heard the cattle call the door made. Taking a deep breath, she held it until she was sure the coast remained clear.
Defensively holding her sword, which she had, back in the beginning, ‘borrowed’ from an antique store in another town, she went inside. If it weren’t for the sun breaking through the cracks in the roof, it would have been too dark to see the condition of the building or if there were any other tourists visiting the same spot.
Thankfully, she was alone. She lowered her weapon to take in the mess. The stench of, what she hoped was only dead animals, caused her to pull her shirt up over her nose and breathe through her mouth. Narrowing her steel eyes, she scanned the place. It was bigger than it looked. Someone had cleared it out, only pieces of broken furniture and a few display units were left. The floor was filthy but looked to still be in good condition. The place would definitely do. At least it would shelter them from the impending winter.
Melody was convinced. Now her only trouble was going to be trying to find camp. Too bad this zombie apocalypse hadn’t done anything for her abominable sense of direction. Logan knew she sucked at finding her way around, he probably would have come with her if he had been awake. At least there would have been two of them to ebb the tide of creatures so getting back to camp wouldn’t seem like such a daunting task.
She had no choice, she was going to have to head back to the infested town and then somehow retrace her steps back to camp. But then she was going to have to retrace them again, along with her companions, back to this place.
The only option she had was to find something to leave as breadcrumbs. Only, not in a food variety because those would entice other creatures, as well. Rummaging around, she lucked upon a skein of twine. What it had been used for, she had no clue. She knew what purpose it would serve now, though.
Breaking off pieces that were big enough to tie around branches as markers, she made a pile and then stuffed them into her cargo pant pockets. Glancing out the filthy window, she made sure there were no surprises waiting for her and she stepped back out into the autumn air.
If she followed the long patch of the dead grass road, she figured she would get back into town. She tied twine around lower hanging branches, periodically. Hopefully the horde has dissipated after their barely functioning brains registered that there was no food for them. She was skilled with her sword but when the numbers were overwhelming, she sometimes faltered. And, one little hesitancy could be the end of her. She didn’t ever want to be one of those things.
Uneventfully, Melody reached town which was now completely devoid of life, if you could even consider zombies to be remotely life-like. She tied twine on a couple different branches to show where she had entered. And then made sure to remember where the road was, which was a block or so from Payless, where she hoped her shoes were still sitting in the road in front of.
Next, she had to remember which way she came in on the main road. Right or left. Stock still, she looked left to see if it seemed familiar. Then right. Right was more so than left so she headed that way. Each step, she was more confident she was going in the right direction. She took it as a sign when she noticed those new hiking boots sitting in the road waiting for her to put them on. While they weren’t great for running, hiking boots lasted longer and were better for the harsh winters than the gym shoes she had been wearing for a year.
She tied the laces together and threw them over her shoulder as she marched her way back to camp. Right at the rusty green car. Left at the deer carcass. Straight until the giant out of place pine tree and then right again to the camp where there was a ton of activity.
Relieved and proud of herself, Melody allowed a grin to grow as she patted herself on her back. Not only had she evaded a horde, she found a perfect shelter for the group and scored a pretty sweet pair of new hiking boots.
But the cherry on top was, she was actually pretty effortlessly able…and she had extra twine to prove it…find her way back to camp.
Even in a world overrun by dead creatures, there were still those silver linings of hope.