Authors: R.K. Weir
A World Alone copyright © Ross Weir,
This book is sold subject to the
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which it is published. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in
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mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written
permission of the copyright owner.
This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, incidents and dialogues
are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely
For more information contact: www.rkweir.com
Book cover image bought from thebookcovermachine.com
First Edition: September 2016
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my parents, who always believed in me
dead is better...
HERE'S ONE IN THE HOUSE.
The dragging thump of footsteps, somewhere downstairs, is what tips me off. My
entire body goes rigid as I strain to listen. Going down to investigate is a
necessity, and with a heart that beats against me I leave the bedroom and step
out into the hall.
Muffled sounds and the occasional sniff are all that I can hear as I move
towards the staircase. The cries an animal would make if something had
frightened it. But the stench of deteriorated flesh is swift to assault me as I
poke my head downstairs, and I know that the source of noise is neither animal,
The front door is wide open, allowing a substantially bright stream of
sunlight to illuminate the stairs directly in front of it. I mentally retrace
my steps and try to remember if I shut the door. I'm almost certain that I did.
In fact, I'm positive that I did. But I must be wrong.
Because they can't open doors, not without breaking them down.
It's not long before the source of noise reveals itself, stepping into the
pool of sunlight at the base of the stairs. I withdraw myself further behind
the wall, my heart now beginning to pound.
Tangles of hair encrusted with dried blood surround a portion of its head
that’s missing. The white of its skull is visible, highlighted by the sun
beneath the dirt drenched scalp. Its clothing is torn in random places and
stained in others. Long arms hang limp at its sides, its spindly fingers
clenching and unclenching at random intervals. Despite this movement it manages
to stand alarmingly still, its body angled towards the open door, distracted by
a sound of the wind.
Perspiration dampens my brow and trickles down the sides of my face as my
eyes study the entirety of its body, analyzing every twitch and spasm. My heart
jumps with each small, agitated movement it emits.
I'm unaware that I'm holding my breath until it throws itself towards the
stairs and an unintended gasp leaves my lips. In an instant I'm quietly running
back towards the bedroom, my heart beating in pace with the footsteps I hear
coming up behind me.
Panic overwhelms my thoughts while my eyes dart to every corner of the room,
landing on the door of a small closet. Daring a glance behind me, I step inside
and pull the door with a slow precision, leaving it open a crack to avoid the
creation of noise. I don't know if it has heard me, I can only hope that it
The darkness hugs me, and only now does the confinement of the small space
register in my mind. I’ve trapped myself with no other options. Like a drum, my
pulse pounds in my ears, overbearing upon the sound of its steps and groans. In
no time at all, the infected appears at the door of the bedroom, its approach
silent compared to the beating of my heart. It’s found the room so fast that
I’m almost sure it knows I’m in here. A wolf mid-hunt, it pauses in the doorway
and lifts its head up in the air, nose sniffing for a scent. I bite down on my
tongue to avoid a breath from escaping.
Like a switch, its head snaps down and it enters the room with the awkward
stagger of their kind. It stalks towards my place of hiding, its long legs
bringing it close with quick steps.
I fall back on my hands and crawl as far away as possible, pushing myself
into the corner of the closet and pressing myself against its walls. The
infected only draws nearer, and I'm certain now that it has heard me.
The sound of its labored breathing infiltrates the silent expanse separating
us when it comes to a stop. Its tall figure stands right outside the door, its
body motionless. A strong pulse reverberates through me, pounding within the
confines of my skull and tightening my parched throat. The metal wire of my bra
has broken out and stabs into my skin. I want to push it away but I don't dare
to move. My eyes, wide and unblinking are focused on its legs and the dirty
fabric that ripples, like waves, with every small sway.
Without thought my hand slinks across my body and coils around the small
switchblade tucked precariously in my jean pocket. The cool metal feels like
ice against my skin. Slowly, and carefully I pull it out, my eyes searching for
any small sign of movement. Any small sign that I'll have to use the flimsy
knife now clasped in my hands.
But it turns its body away, back towards the bedroom door. The smallest sigh
slips through my clenched teeth and out desiccant lips as it walks out of sight,
and relief floods my veins. My grip on the knife loosens as I stand up in the
closet. I wait several seconds before opening the door and stepping out, the
knife held in front of me. Moving towards the door of the bedroom, I peer out
and exhale at the sight of an empty corridor.
If there’s one, there’s bound to be more. I need to leave. Looking back at
the bed, I single in on the dark red shape amongst the white sheets and pluck
my backpack from the soft mattress. My eyes linger on the clean spread and soft
surface, my limbs crying out for a rest. The house seemed like such a promising
pit stop, almost completely untainted by the world outside.
If only I had locked the front door.
Turning from the seductive lure of the bed, I crouch down and creep out into
the corridor. With my body pressed against the wall, I inch towards the stairs.
The front door is almost in my line of sight when the infected walks out of a
room from down the hall. I repress a gasp and just manage to quickly slip into
the nearest room, my heart thundering like a storm in my chest.
I look around my new hiding place – an infant's bedroom. My jaw clenches at
the significant lack of furniture and closets to hide in. The sound of
footsteps make their way towards me as my eyes snap between every empty corner.
In a fluster I shuffle behind the small cot in the center of the room and duck
down behind it. Squinting through the wooden slats, my fingers curl around the
knife in my hand, like a python determined in strangling its prey.
The infected stops outside of the room and I hold my breath, hoping against
hope that it will move on.
It steps inside, its arms still limp as it walks towards the cot, sniffing
the air with a raspy wet sound. It moves towards the cradle until it's standing
directly above it. I lower myself as close to the ground as I can, my hands quivering
and impossible to still. After a moment it begins walking again, this time
circling round the cot. I follow its speed, creeping like a mouse in the
opposite direction until we've swapped sides. I glance back at the door behind
me, the idea of running a tempting one.
But I choose to remain still until it begins moving again, and finally we're
back to our original positions. Looking up at it through the slats, my view of
it is made a shaky one from the merciless trembling that wracks my body in
waves. Its eyes, haunted with a lifeless stare explore the walls of the room,
never looking down. The expression painted on its face remains one of consumed
austerity as its nostrils flare with every momentary sniff. While its lips,
having forever lost the life of words, part the slightest bit to allow a snarl.
Satisfied with its exploration, it turns and leaves.
Another bottled breath relieves itself from my lungs as I stay crouched,
listening to its footsteps descend the staircase. Each resounding thump echoing
with comfort as the distance between us furthers. That was far too close. This
time I wait several moments before leaving the room, something I should have
done in the safe confines of the closet.
I pause beside the staircase and peer downstairs, listening intently for any
sign of the infected. After a moment of silence, the thought scampers into my
mind that it must have left the house altogether. As soon as it reached the
bottom of the stairs it must have heard a noise outside and left through the
open door to catch it.
The thought calms the considerable dread that had built up a fortress within
me as I descend the stairs, one quiet step at a time. The bright sunshine
blinds me as I reach the last step and squint to see out the door. The street
appears empty, but it hasn't been that long since the infected left, which
means that it’s still nearby.
It's a safer idea to leave through the back
, I think.
Standing up from my crouched position, I take off at a jog and turn towards
the back of the house. And that's where I see the infected, standing at the end
of the hall with its blank stare pointing in my direction. Crashing into an
invisible wall, my entire body comes to an abrupt halt. Its body is still, save
for the abrasive twitch of its hands.
The fortress of dread has crumbled, and in its place a citadel of terror has
Slow and deliberate, I take one step back.
And that's when it screams.
Do not feel bad.
I force myself to focus on the road ahead.
My grip on the wheel tightens and I find my eyes straying to the rear-view
mirror, and the two women fading in the distance. Their arms remain above their
heads as they continue, desperately, to try and flag me down.
Do not feel bad
, I growl the words at myself and try not to think of
their faces when they saw my jeep driving towards them, the relief that flooded
their eyes, only to twist into an expression of utter despair when I didn't
The words are engrained in my mind when the two women vanish from sight, and
I find myself at a crossroad with guilt and relief.
It's survival, nothing else. Helping those two women would have drastically
decreased my chances of staying alive. I don't need a chart or an expert to
understand that. It's the simple truth – albeit a harsh one – but a truth
nonetheless. After how long I've lasted out here, and all the shit I've
I’m not ready to give up just yet.
Even if there isn't much reason to stick around.
Slowing the car to a halt, I move the pistol in my lap onto the passenger
seat beside me and pull out a map from the glove compartment. My fingers curl
like dying flowers around its edges, careful not to tear the delicate material.
I unfold it, treating it like a dried petal that might disintegrate if handled
roughly. Squinting at all the thin, intricate lines I glance up at the
surrounding desert and curse. Maybe it’s because I don’t know how to properly
read a map, or maybe it’s because life is just shit, but I find myself getting
My hands clench into fists around the paper, and I scrunch it up and shove
it back into the glove compartment. I don’t need a damn map when I know the
general direction I’m supposed to be heading.
Glancing around at the arid landscape one more time, I start the ignition
and begin driving again, catching a glimpse of my reflection in the side-view
mirror as I pull back onto the road. I scratch at the stubble that lines my
jaw, threatening to sprout into a full beard. Shaving isn't on my list of priorities,
but I'll have to make it one eventually.
There aren't many infected around as I drive. They know there isn't anything
to find out in the desert, as if they know we can't survive out here.
The ones that do bother to venture out this far are slowed anyway by the
harsh winds, constantly grinding sand into their joints until their limbs have
withered away altogether, like sandpaper against wood. They wouldn't pose a
threat unless there was a horde of them, and they rarely ever travel in hordes.
It isn't long before the familiar shapes of buildings manifest in the
distance, their bodies molded by the heat and looming like waves.
A town I'd probably never have come to if it weren't for the circumstances.
Always have to look on the brighter side of things, even when the entire world
has gone dark. At least I've been traveling a lot, visiting new places and
seeing new sites. Places void of the living and sites that are either
completely destroyed or in the process of accelerated erosion,
is what it is. I can't exactly say that it hasn't been interesting.
Looking around at the buildings as I drive down random streets, I try to scope
out any place that may not have been looted, or a place I can stay for the
night. The jeep isn't exactly comparable to a warm bed.
A flicker of fast movement catches my attention up ahead when a girl sprints
out of a house and onto the road. She pauses when she sees me. An infected man
emerges from the house right after her, like a creature from its cave stalking its
prey with flying limbs.
"Goddammit," I mumble as I press down on the accelerator.
The girl takes the hint and runs the rest of the way across the road,
leaping out of my way and leaving the infected directly in my line of sight.
The sick bastard doesn't even look at me as I run it down. Its eyes remain
trained on the girl as its body falls under the wheels of the jeep with the
sickly sounds of snapping bones.
I don't ease up on the accelerator; the death of one always attracts others.
In a few minutes the road will be clogged with other infected. A sense of déjà
vu creeps in on me as I glance in the rear-view mirror at the girl standing by
the side of the road. She stares after me for no more than five seconds before
I may not be willing to pick her up and give her a lift, but I helped her
out no less. That should count for something. I saved her life, I've done more
than is required of me. More than I even expected from myself.
At the very least, I shouldn't have to feel bad this time.
But I do.