A Chapter by MightyMouse

Pip had retreated to the forest after her supply run in the city had been successful. The bolt on the walmart door had only given her a little trouble, the doors being almost to narrow to fit the cutters between them. Her home for almost a week had been an old RV, though she rarely went inside preferring to sit on the roof instead. She is there now thinking like she does most days about anything and everything. Thunder sounds somewhere in the distance and dark clouds are forming high above in the mountain tops. She can just barely see the top of the mountain from her position. The RV is rested against a huge cliff that blocks her view. She is half way up the mountain, and though trees are scattered around her, they are thinning. One tree has invaded the RV’s personal space by deciding that the RV made for a comfortable pillow. The entire back quarter of the RV has been crushed otherwise Pip would have drove it away. The tank is full of gasoline. She has it on a to do list to siphon it from the tank for another vehicle when she’s ready to move on. Pip begins to feel the droplets of water falling from the clouds. They drop gently on her head and arms. They drum on the roof of the RV and give life to the forest. Birds chatter harmoniously alongside the rain excited for the spring shower. Pip stays on the roof for a few minutes listening with her eyes closed to the music of the forest. She opens her eyes to observe the sparkling trees reveling in the rain as their roots pull the water from the soil. Their leaves seem a little greener, their trunks a little straighter, and Pip smiles for the brief moment of calm and peace. But the thunder booms deafeningly startling her. The animals stop their singing to hide in their dens and burrows while they wait out the storm. Lightning flashes overhead suddenly making her feel like she’s in an old black and white horror movie. The rain picks up speed. The wind ravages the trees threatening to huff and puff and blow the forest down like the big bad wolf hungry for his three little pigs.

Pip wiggles inside through the sunroof and closes it. The storm sounds like a raging bull inside as it beats against the RV. Pip sits in the driver’s seat and stares through the windshield with her knees pulled up to her chest. Her heart still hasn’t slowed from the shock of the thunder, so she places her hand over it and concentrates on calming down while the storm rages. Pip slowly moves her eyes from the window to a handmade calendar on the dashboard. She lets her knees go to grab it from it’s place and flips through it until she finds today’s date. It is exactly one year after the apocalypse was officially declared. It makes perfect sense to her. The world was angry, it was sad, it was lost. All the turmoil of the last year has built up for this moment and now the sky has released it in a tantrum so all the world could feel it’s pain. Pip let’s herself weep alongside the sky. She let’s all her pain and suffering claw it’s way out of her heart and give itself to the forest. She let’s the rain wash away all of her troubles and the misery of the past year. She cries until she can’t cry anymore. She bleeds her emotions through her tears until she becomes numb. Until everything is gone from her and then she wipes her eyes on her sleeve, sits up straighter, and lets the storm give her it’s strength. She opens the driver’s side window, and though it is blocked by the cliff, she can still feel the air. It’s cold and crisp with the smell of wet Earth and the musk of the trees. She breathes deeply clearing her mind. She’s ready to start the year fresh. Ready to do something other than wander lost and alone. She’s ready to make a difference.

Pip takes a notebook out of the glove box. She has spent a lot of time observing Pests in the past year. Pest is the name she had given to the infected people. She has always wanted to understand them as much as possible. So she begins to write a list:

  1. Most behave very aggressively. Though, strangely, Pip has observed some that had actually hidden from her. Which leads her to her next observation.

  2. They sleep, or hibernate. Pip isn’t sure of the correct word. She had only seen it once. A huge group of Pests had been lying around on the ground in and around a barn. They had all been breathing deeply sounding like bears in a cave. Pip had been afraid to approach them, but curiousity didn’t stop her from observing some Pests on the outer edges of the group. At this time she had a stethoscope and she used it to listen to one of the sleeping Pests careful not to wake it. A sound played through her ears that forever changed her views. Her observation leads her into the third characteristic.

  3. Pests have a heart beat. This characteristic throws her initial assumptions out the window prompting her to rename them Pests instead of Zombies.

  4. Almost all of them growl, though not like animals. They have human growls, and they scream loud as police sirens. This usually attracts attention from other Pests who come and attack alongside each other. Pip often wonders if this is a signal for help, like bison forming a circle with their heads and horns outward to protect their young.

  5. They don’t move very fast, and their vision is bad. They have the potential to move quickly, Pip assumes, but they are very twitchy. Almost like they’re having mini seizures. When they stand still, their bodies jerk though not violently. More like someone with low blood sugar. It makes it difficult for them to move quickly or with any coordination. Their vision also impacts their movement. They move their eyes almost as if they’re dizzy and trying to focus.

  6. Standing next to one is like standing near a fire. They have very high body temperatures, which leads her to believe it’s why they don’t die easily. High body temperatures is how the body fights off infection, a lesson Pip had learned from her father when she was young. Leading her into yet another observation.

  7. Their blood clots quickly making it hard to kill them with ordinary injuries. Pip had killed them using other means: strangulation, chest wounds, drowning, etc, but it takes longer. She usually stabbed them in the head, a more efficient and quicker death. She had learned this when she had come across a dying Pest once. The Pest had multiple injuries to it’s chest and stomach, and it died from infections as Pip examined it.

  8. They eat, but their digestion process is very slow. This is Pip’s final observation for the time being. She had noticed that food was very scarce and knew that there weren’t enough healthy human beings to be eating it all. So she had spent a few days watching a shell gas station with food in it, to see where it was all going. A group of four Pests had gone inside and ate some of the food. She had been shocked. One of the Pests had been a small child maybe six or seven, and ‘for science’ she had kidnapped him and locked him in a room. She wanted to see how the lack of food would effect him. Needless to say, he was perfectly fine for a whole month before he wanted food again. It was another month and a half before he died.

Pip yawns dramatically when she’s done writing her list. All her tears had left her feeling weary. She puts away her list. The rain has started to subside so she takes the opportunity to sleep.

The morning brings the sun, big and bright, lighting the horizon with brilliant shades of pink and purple. The rain is done, but the ground is muddier than it had been the day before. The trees are still dripping water down from their leaves. Pip steps outside into the beautiful morning. She inhales the scent of the forest. It is a nice mix of after rain and morning dew. It brightens her spirits considerably. She is still full of the determination to make a difference she had felt the night before, so she heaves her backpack onto her shoulders and goes for a hike. Today, she heads up the mountain instead of down. She doesn’t quite know why, but she just wants to go that way. She glances at her watch. It’s 6 o’clock exactly. She plans on being back home by nine at night. The sun will have just set by then, and she doesn’t like to be out in the dark.

Eight whole hours later, almost eight miles, she comes across a big hole. She’s breathing heavily from her hike and sits to take a break before she has to walk all the way around it. She takes a drink of water, but only just enough. She hasn’t seen a clean stream nearby. Runoff from the rain is all she can find and it’s more mud than water. She sits for a long time enjoying the way the thin air feels as opposed to how the humid forest below would feel at this time in the afternoon. The sound of something sliding along rocks interrupts her peace. She tries to ignore it, but she starts to notice that it isn’t just one thing, it’s many somethings. Unable to ignore it any longer, she gets up to investigate. The sound is coming from the big hole. She peers over the side to see.

A man is in the hole surrounded by Pests. Thankfully for him, though, they couldn’t reach him from where he lay on a ledge. The Pests keep trying to climb to him, but their shaky bodies won’t hold still long enough making them lose their grips and tumble back down. Peering down into it, the hole looks almost big enough to be considered a canyon. “Are you okay?” She hollers down to the man. He doesn’t respond. She studies him. He’s lying half on his right side with his arm bent behind him in a sickly angle. His face is mostly buried in the mud and dark dry blood is pooled under his mouth. Pip comes to the conclusion that he fell down into the hole, probably during the storm. If he didn’t fall down during the storm, then that means he’s been down there for two days or more and he’s probably dead. Pip thinks logically about the situation. If he was dead, the Pests wouldn’t be trying to get to him, so he must just be hurt. She remembers her decision to make a difference, so she won’t leave him here. She takes her heavy backpack off her shoulders feeling lighter than air as her backpack weighed more than fifty pounds. At least it felt that way, she hadn’t actually weighed it. Pip doesn’t like to take it off her back unless she’s somewhere safe, like the RV, but it will be impossible to get the man out of the almost canyon with it on. She takes a rope from where she keeps it wrapped around the bag, throws it over her head and sticks her arm through it leaving it to hang from her left shoulder. Then she begins the climb down to the man.

The man is only about twenty feet down, and it’s an easy climb, but as soon as her feet touch the ledge, it begins to crumble. She tenses her body trying to focus on keeping her weight off of the ledge and knowing that it’s probably useless. She carefully shifts her weight until she leaning over the man. He’s breathing at least, so she nudges his shoulder. He doesn’t respond.

Pip slowly ties the rope around him like a harness and then around herself being careful not to move to much, or to push him off the ledge. It’s barely big enough for them to be on it at the same time. She takes a deep breath and begins to climb back out again. It’s easy for the first few feet until the rope grows taut and she has to start lifting the man too. She tries to do it slowly so she doesn’t hurt him any more than he already is, but the ledge cracks more and gives way before she even has him all the way lifted off of it. The rest of the man’s weight nearly drags her down. She has to dig her fingers deep into the rocks so she doesn’t lose her grip. One of her nails, the right ring finger nail, is broken almost all the way off. She grits her teeth to keep from screaming and keeps on climbing before the Pests can grab the man’s feet and start pulling on them. She would definitely fall if that happened. Thankfully the falling ledge slows them down by crushing the unfortunate ones underneath. The rest climb over the dead or dying Pests and reach for the man, their fingers barely reach his untied shoe laces. The rest of the climb is rhythmic. She moves one leg up and pushes then the other. And when her legs need a break, she uses her arms to pull. By the time she reaches the top of the almost canyon, she’s exhausted.

Pip pulls herself over the edge and reaches back to grab the rope with both her hands. Using a large stone as leverage, she pulls the man over the edge. The extreme shift in weight makes her feel like she’s floating. She falls onto her butt and sits panting and staring at the man completely different. At first she felt bad for his luck, but now she’s almost convinced he’s actually a mutated baby elephant! When she catches her breath, she detaches the rope from herself and the man. While she’s putting it back on her backpack, the man moves. She looks up at him startled and watches him roll over. He starts to tip on the edge of the canyon and about rolls right back down. She lunges for him and barely catches him by his belt. Pip sighs in momentary relief and begin pulling him back up. Her arms are straining to their absolute max, but she almost has him all the way back up over the edge. And then her luck gets back. His belt is one of those belts that don’t have  buckle. It is a type of belt with two metal rings that you have to put one end of the belt through and pull it back through. Pip isn’t sure of what that type of belt is called, but it’s the kind he’s wearing, and it comes undone. The man starts to slip as his pants nearly come off! She reaches out and catches his left wrist just barely and starts the struggle to drag him back up all over again. She considers just letting him go, but realizes that wouldn’t be very nice. She finally manages to pull him up and rolls him further from the edge of the cliff so he doesn’t roll off again. She feels a strong urge to kick him, but holds back since he doesn’t actually realize what he’s doing.

She slightly embarrassed as she also realizes that his pants are still down. She forces them back up and rebuckles his belt. She shakes herself to relax and turns around to walking back get her backpack. But the man rolls over again and kicks her in the back of her knee sending her flying into the side of a huge boulder. She makes a bunch of annoyed noises as she stands back up and bends down to rub the back of her knee. The opens his eyes while she’s glaring angrily at him and she almost falls down again in surprise. He moves his mouth like he wants to speak. She rubs her forehead where she had hit it on the boulder feeling it slide with blood. She pulls her hand away, but there isn’t as much blood as she thought she felt. She tries to explain to the man what had happened and who she is. “You fell down in that big hole, but don’t worry, I dragged you out. And it sure wasn’t easy. Now I’m going to take you somewhere until you get better. My dad was a doctor so I know a few tricks to patch you up. Okay?” She isn’t sure if he understands. He kind of stares at her confused like he’s trying to process the most complicating math problem in the world and passes out again. Pip sighs and sits down next to her backpack. She takes a too long drink of water and bandages her broken fingernail. She dreads the walk back to her RV carrying a man twice her size and weight, but she doesn’t know what else to do with him, and she doesn’t want to leave him here all alone in the pitiful state he’s in. She glances at her watch again and is saddened to see that the time is nearly five o’clock in the evening. There’s no way she’s going to get back before dark unless she finds a way to drag the man on a sled or something similar.

She searches the mountain for something to make a sled with feeling it’s a really good idea. She finds enough sticks and vines to throw one together, but it definitely isn’t comfortable. She wrestles the man onto it and props him up on her backpack. Feeling cruel, she takes guilty pleasure at the uncomfortableness of her ugly little handmade sled. Then she starts to pull him home. The slope grows steeper the further down the mountain she goes and eventually the sled is sliding along the ground and it keeps bumping into the back of her legs. Pip now faces the struggle of keeping the sled behind her, but suddenly an idea dawns on her. She had seen it in many cartoons and sci fi movies, but she had never thought that she would actually be able to do it. Excited, she pulls the sled behind a small rock to keep it still. She climbs on the sled in front of the man, though barely fitting, and kicks the rock out of the way. The sled moves down the mountain, but not at a speed where it is out of control. She steers the little sled away from trees and rocks. She enjoys the small breeze and well deserved break the slide brings. But the sun is nearly down and Pip worries about the dangers of the night. She tries to make the sled move a little faster by grabbing a sturdy stick as she passes and using it as a sort of paddle. It works in making the sled move faster. She feels like she’s in a little land canoe. She feel laughter bubble up inside her until she can’t contain it anymore. She lets it out laughing until her sides feel like they’re going to split apart. Her laughter is interrupted as the sled crashes into something. A loud metallic tang pierces the air and Pip. the man, and her backpack are thrown from the sled. Friction against the damp ground slows their bodies. Pip stands and brushes dirt from her clothes. She isn’t hurt. The man however is groaning a few feet away. His already injured body felt more of the impact than Pip’s. Luckily, the RV is what they ran into.

She drags the man inside closing the door and lighting a lantern. She’s almost out of fuel for the lantern, so she doctors him quickly. His right arm is broken, and his left ankle is swollen. It’s probably sprained. His left wrist is also a little swollen, but not very much, and Pip isn’t sure if it’s sprained or if it’s just sore. She tears a few sheets to wrap his wrist and ankle to help the swelling go down at the very least. She uses the last of her peroxide to clean all of his cuts. And then she makes him a cast for his broken arm. She had found supplies in a crashed ambulance a few weeks ago and was ecstatic. The state of the man is better when she’s done bandaging him, but it isn’t very sanitary. She debates for half an hour repulsed by the idea that he needed showered, but finally decides that it would be better for his recovery. She sponge bathes him making sure to leave his underclothes on so she isn’t being too invasive. Unfortunately, the lantern runs out of fuel, and she’s left to finish up in the dark since the moon is new tonight. When she’s done she covers him with a blanket, not bothering to redress him. She shakes herself feeling a little embarrassed about what she just did. At least now she’s sure he’s going to make a full recovery. “You don’t look so bad cleaned up.” She told him, though she knew he couldn’t hear, and then she took an extra blanket and fell asleep on the floor without washing her own self up.

It’s been nearly a week and the man still hasn’t woken up.

Pip is walking through the forest about two miles east of the mobile home looking for food. The city is another two miles away, but she’s trying to avoid going into it, preferring to use a bow she had made to hunt for something to eat. She was never much of a hunter before. She didn’t like killing small animals for sport, but now she needs to and wasn’t bad at it. She has been walking for most of the day and is ready to sit and take a break when she stumbles across a small cabin. “I feel like Goldilocks.” She says to herself, giggling. “I hope there aren’t any bears in there.” She’s still laughing at her own joke when she reaches the door. The doorknob turns, but it’s shut tight like someone doesn’t want someone else to enter. Pip grows serious and pulls out her knife. She prys the door open. She pushes hard using her weight and digging her heels into the ground trying to shove the door open. She hears it scraping against the floor. When the opening is wide enough, she slips inside. There’s an ugly, old, beige loveseat blocking the way. Pip frowns at it thinking the loveseat wasn’t a very good doorjam and then looks around  for any signs of trouble. She begins inspecting each room for anything she can make use of. She wonders what the people who lived here used to be like. It’s a mostly pretty home except for the pieces that have holes in them like the living room ceiling. She wonders what happened to make the ceiling fall through the way it did. Pip notices the smell of something dead in the living room. It’s an old woman sitting n a rocking chair. “The world sure does suck doesn’t it?” She asks. “You’re here one minute, and then you blink and you’re gone. I sure hope you didn’t suffer.” A muffled thump towards the back of the cabin has her alert. She cautiously makes her way towards the back, knife ready, expecting a Pest or two to be there. Every room has its door shut, but she looks in each room anyway. They’re all empty. She reaches the back two rooms, but the doors are locked. She suspects that’s where the noise is coming from. She backs away from the door unable to open it and goes outside to wander around until she finds a sturdy stick to break the doors down with. She goes back in and debates which door she should break first. By all reasoning, the very last door should be a room, while the second to last the bathroom. So she smacks the last door knob with the stick until it breaks of the door and clatters to the floor. The stick breaks too. She tosses the stick behind her and pushes the door open with her foot raising her knife out in front of her..

Her reasoning had been correct. The last room is the master bedroom. The room is large with two covered windows making it very dark, and mysteriously empty. Pip uncovers the windows wondering if the thump came from outside. Maybe it was a squirrel knocking branches from a tree, or maybe a Pest wandering in the yard. She scans the trees through the windows but doesn’t see anything unusual. She shrugs her shoulders and turns to leave deciding to ignore the sound for now. But she pauses when she hears the thump again. It’s not coming from outside, but instead from behind a door Pip assumes is a closet. The closet is locked with a large wooden rocking chair in front of it. Pip pulls the chair away from the door, thankful that the carpet muffles the sound. She presses her ear to the door to listen, expecting clawing or growling, but she hears what sounds like a child crying instead.

She pulls away from the door and stares at it dumbfounded, and then warily knocks on it. The crying inside pauses, and then a small, scared voice answers. “Who’s there?” Pip’s heart is beating a million miles a second. This kid was left here for a reason and she’s afraid that messing with someone’s kid is going to get her into a lot of trouble. She contemplates leaving and pretending she never found the kid in the closet, but morality halts her. The kid is locked in and crying. Maybe his or her parents locked him or her in to save him or her from something and then died before they could let him or her out again. He or she probably needs help. “Hello? Waya, is that you?” Pip shakes her head refocusing on the present.

“No, my name is Pip.” She answers pressing her ear back to the door. “Who’s Waya?”

“He’s my big brother, but he’s been gone for a long time.”

“How long?”

“A couple of days. He was supposed to come back before I woke up.” The little voice starts to cry again. “Don’t cry, I’m sure he’s okay. Why don’t you come out?” Pip says quickly trying to make the kid feel better.

“I can’t reach the lock.” The voice mumbles almost too quiet for Pip to hear. She wiggles the knob then sighs and looks around the room for something to help since she broke her stick on the other doorknob. She digs around beside the bed and finds a thick, hardcover book in a drawer under a lamp. The words have faded too much to read, but Pip doesn’t care about the title. She takes it over to the door and uses it to break the doorknob. It takes her two dozen tries before it finally gives out. She’s a little out of breath as she pushes the door. It’s stopped by a chain at the top, but her hand is small enough to unlatch it from the outside.

Inside the closet is a little boy about four or five. He’s dirty, and skinny and looks just downright terrible. He’s sitting with his knees pulled up to his chest in the back corner on top of a large pile of clothes and blankets. He wipes at his nose and eyes with his sleeves. “You’re not a zombie, right? You’re not gonna hurt me?” He asks. Pip smiles reassuringly. “No, I’m not a zombie, and I’m not going to hurt you.” She doesn’t try to explain the difference between a zombie and a Pest to him. He’s probably too young to understand. She walks as non-threateningly towards him as she can and crouches down so she’s eye level with him. “How about you come with me, and I’ll find your brother for you? Does that sound okay?” She asks. She feels really bad that he’s stuck here waiting for his brother to come back when he’s probably dead and she just wants to get him out of the closet. He nods his small head vigorously making his messy curls bounce. “But why do you want to help me? Waya says people don’t like to help other people anymore.”

“Because you look hungry, and scared. And if I was all alone, I would want someone to help me too.”

“And you’ll find Waya for me? He was supposed to come back. He always comes back.” The little boy’s voice quivers and his eyes fill with tears as he begins to cry again. Pip’s heart lurches with motherly instincts and she picks him up and rocks him. “Don’t cry anymore, sweetheart. I’m sure he’s trying to come back right now. I’ll find him and then I’ll bring him back to you. But first, I’m going to take you to my RV and get you cleaned up and fed. He won’t want to come back and see that you’re sick now would he?” The boy shakes his head against her shoulder. “Good. What’s your name?” Pip asks as she uses her backpack as a harness to strap him to her back. “Jake, please don’t leave Nibbles!” He says quickly reaching for a small stuffed monkey on the floor and nearly knocking them both over. Pip picks it up along with a wind up lantern pleased to have found it here and gives them to Jake. “Well, State Farm, me and you have a long walk. Take a nap and I’ll wake you up when we get there. And try not to move around a whole bunch. I don’t need you falling off.” Jake yawns and lays his small head on her shoulder. “Okay.” He mumbles clutching the small stuffed monkey and lantern to his chest.

Pip leaves the cabin feeling anxious. She now has a kid and an injured man to take care of, and she promised to find the kid’s big brother and all because she wants to make a difference. “I have got to think about things before I do them.” She grumbles and begins the long walk back to the RV with Jake already sleeping soundly on her back.

© 2016 MightyMouse

219335_One-Stop Publishing: free print & ebook publishing

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register


It was a little unclear the positions of the Pests as opposed to Pips position near the hole. Where they on opposite sides of a large circular hole? That would be logical. But it isn't clearly stated and seemed vague here. I think it is well written but could also use some tightening to decrease the number of words yet not detracting from the scene. Good descriptive usage though, and you have not lost my interest yet so I'll keep reading. I have the same issues in my writing so I try very hard to say more with less. I think there are some more descriptive verbs you could use in some sentences but then there are other sentences that are spot on perfect leaving a mini movie in my mind. You definitively have the talent to shine as the words stroke well during some sentences, then there are others that could be, if just combined and reworked a bit. Still a great story line.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

This will probably be my longest chapter. It was one in the morning when I was editing it, so I'm su.. read more

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


1 Review
Added on August 20, 2016
Last Updated on August 24, 2016



Dayton, TX

I enjoy writing and I want to know if other people enjoy my writing. I live in a house full of seven people, three of them children, thirteen dogs, and ten cats. I have a twin sister with only one leg.. more..

Plummet Plummet

A Chapter by MightyMouse