3) Streets

3) Streets

A Chapter by Nicholas Woode-Smith

Peter leaves the safety of the apartment to venture out to find food. Alone with no one but his talkative self, he soon finds that the world has become a different place.


Peter winced as the trellis door slid behind him with a loud clunk. The noise was not deafening but any noise at all in this situation was undesirable. He turned around irritably, facing the deserted street. He wore simple clothing, but much more stylish than he normally would. Covering his torso was a black leather jacket, crossed by the two belts which he was currently using to hold his twin bread knives. As pants he wore simple jeans, hoping that its history as miner apparel would mean it could withstand teeth as well as stone shrapnel. His shoes were weaker than he would have wished �" the out of fashion but convenient crocs. He finally regretted wearing them as even though they were comfortable, they did little in the way of improving his already below par running skills. They would have to do, as he had no alternative besides flip flops, which were even more atrocious. 

Taking a deep breath, he made his first step out of the apartment, then another, and another after that. With each slow reluctant step he began picking up pace, until eventually he was plodding along at a reasonable speed. As was the same with the day before, no life graced the desolate street, and no sign that anyone had ever been there. Doors remained closed, windows shut and curtains drawn. Like the apartment, the residents seemed to have just upped and left, of course taking their valuables and food with them, without any thought that maybe he may come along and need a roast or two. Peter grimaced; people really were greedy pigs, weren’t they? 

He thought of checking out the houses, but decided against it. Most of the houses were most probably locked and the food taken by the greedy and selfish previous inhabitants.
There was only one place nearby where he knew he would get food without having to break a window, and that was Cavendish Square. It was a mall after all, and malls had food, too much food for even looters to steal. He also severely doubted that with all the zombies trotting about that any looters may have reached Cavendish at all. That thought stopped Peter in his tracks. Bringing his hand to his head and shaking it, he spoke to himself, “How could I have been so bledy stupid? Zombies will keep me away just as much as locked doors.”

Then he replied to himself, “But is there any real guarantee that the zombies are even there? You are insane, you know, maybe they were figments of your imagination.”
“I’m not insane,” he countered, highly offended that he would say something like that, “I just like talking to myself.”

“That very action proves your insanity, and if you are insane, can you truly prove that there really were zombies there?”
Peter kept quiet, thinking of a reply. He had a point. The credence of anything an insane person did was within doubt. Maybe there truly were no zombies, and that the events of 7 days ago were something else, or maybe even just a drunken stupor. He had felt sick that day, after all.
“Very well, I will take you up on your claim that there zombies may be myth. So do I head towards Cavendish?” he asked, finally. 

“If you wish to rid yourself of these stomach aches, yes.”
With that, Peter gave a confident nod and set off, ready to leave the street.

Things had been left as if the owners had disappeared while using them. Lines of cars were left abandoned; bags of trinkets were tossed around. Letter boxes and windows were smashed, leaving glass scattered across the floor. Bullet shells lay strewn across the ground, a concentration of them being located near a police van. Frequently Peter found himself doubting himself. Maybe there really were zombies. Hell, the bodies of all the owners had to have gone somewhere. Whenever one of these thoughts came up, however, he would hastily remind himself, “Now remember, Peter, you are insane. You can’t trust anything you tell yourself.” 

This re-assured him of what he was doing and he would continue onwards. Every so often he would glance down to see what the now non-existent people had dropped: toothpaste, phones, hats, newspapers. The list went on and on, but the usefulness of said objects continued to decline.
What Peter really wanted was a good sharp knife, then he may feel safer.  It was then that a near blinding glint of silver pierced his vision and forced him to blink. The sun had risen further and had illuminated much of the city, including what seemed to Peter as a concentrated mini-spotlight. But after blinking, Peter’s irritation turned to one of joy, as lying in a puddle of rubble he spotted that the source of nauseating light was in fact the object of his desires: a knife. He couldn’t maintain his composure as he ran towards it, almost scraping his knees as he fell to them to examine the weapon.
Before he lifted it out, though, he realized that the hilt was covered in dried blood. Infected or human, he did not know (he convinced himself it was the latter after a convincing argument was put forward). He still had no desire to touch dried blood, so he hastily ran back to areas he had once ignored. While many of the cars were smashed to bits, one shinier make was relatively unscathed. Peter carefully opened the already ajar door and then leant in. 

Peter was definitely not a car person, but even he had to admire the fine craftsmanship of such a vehicle. The seat belts were fine-tuned to perfection after all - couldn’t have anything but perfection for belts. On the passenger side of the car, Peter found his quarry in the glove compartment, his quarry being the compartments namesake in fact. The gloves were unworn and crafted of leather. They would not only allow him to touch unhygienic objects without fear of dirtying himself, they would also allow him to look stylish.

Pleased with his find, he went back to the blade. No sneak thief had taken it in the meanwhile, and Peter noted that crime was actually lower than before the outbreak.
Without fear of the blood, Peter took the blade by the hilt and lifted it up, examining it. It was worthy knife, probably used for cooking but equally good for slicing people or zombies for that matter. The hilt was roundabout 10cm, the blade being 25cm. Peter could also see by the metal lining of the hilt that the blade was full tang. He tested the point and found it satisfactory. It would do, even if it lacked a blood groove.

He had always found blades fascinating. He had studied them when he could and owned a collection of swords and daggers back in his apartment in Rondebosch. He tried not to think about his collection, as they were probably all looted, but he couldn’t resist building a new one out of anything he could find. Starting anew felt somewhat refreshing for Peter, he may very well have lost everything he owned, but he didn’t care for that. All that mattered for him was that he wasn’t disturbed when he wanted to be left alone.

He inserted the blade into the belt around his waist, saving it for when he found a real threat. As he kept reminding himself, however, there probably were no threats �" probably.

He edged ever closer to his goal, Cavendish Square. As he came closer, signs of violence became more apparent. Cars crashed into nearby buildings, dried blood staining the walls and asphalt of the streets, and abandoned weapons. He studied these weapons to see if he could find any as useful as his knife, but was disappointed to find that these were but the remainder of what must have been a carcass of weapons picked dry by scavengers. Guns, blades and passable blunt weapons had all been taken.
Out of other loot, he couldn’t find anything that he wanted just then. This area was no doubt picked bare by scavengers, and any food or somewhat useful apparatus would have been taken by the foul carrion snatchers which had preceded him.

While picking through a pile of empty can, Peter let out a heavy sigh. He could almost smell the curry which had been contained within, until it was so greedily devoured without him.
He was only a street away from Cavendish Square, but the closer he drew to it, the more foreboding he felt. Regardless of what he told himself, he still believed that something was wrong �" besides the obvious lack of people in one of the busiest shopping districts in the Southern Suburbs.
He dropped the empty can, finally coming to the conclusion that it wouldn’t magically fill up again, and as it hit the ground, he saw something. He looked again, placing his hand on the hilt of the blade. He had seen a figure, a shadow, shambling in the alleys. It had reacted to the sound of the can. He held his breath. Not only to aid in concentration or preventing him from breathing too fast, but also due to the fact that he may end up talking to himself, and this wasn’t the time nor place to do that. He watched �" not drawing the blade just yet, but easing it up so it could be easily drawn. To him, if he drew the blade, it would be a mental command for a conflict to definitely ensue, and conflict was what he wanted to prevent.

Everything was as quiet as it had always been that morning. Sound would most probably travel far. Glancing up slightly, Peter realized that clouds were moving in, his brief period of sunny respite was over. He stood for seconds more, and then stopped.
“Must have been your imagination, you are insane after all.”
Peter growled slightly, trying to not fall for his goading. It still had a point. There probably was nothing there. Peter turned and after one suspicious glance down the alley, kept on moving. Not letting go of his grip on the knife no matter his own protests.

© 2012 Nicholas Woode-Smith

Author's Note

Nicholas Woode-Smith
Do you think that Peter's eccentricity gets the message across that he is not exactly mentally stable? What do you currently think of Peter?

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Added on April 13, 2012
Last Updated on April 13, 2012
Tags: zombies, infected, insanity, survival, dystopia, cape town, south africa, apocalypse


Nicholas Woode-Smith
Nicholas Woode-Smith

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

I'm a writer, gamer, politician and anime enthusiast. I am involved heavily in the Libertarian movement in South Africa and hold the position of Director of Social Media for the Libertarian Party of S.. more..