I clamour down the rickety wooden stairs. It was a bad move, a panicked decision, but here I am; a dark basement with cold concrete walls, deep freezers, crates, one way in, and one way out. I hear the creeeeeaky sound of the top stair. Zombies are coming. And suddenly there is no way out.
Frantic, I look around for a weapon, but find none. Only a maze of crates and freezers. Well then, my best option will be to get them to chase me around the room. I know I can outrun their slow but steady pace, but with the room set up like a maze I will have to ensure that I don't get caught with zombies coming at me from both ways. After scanning the room for what seems like a mere moment, I turn back towards the staircase and see that three zombies have already made their way into the basement, and have spread throughout the room in less time than should be possible with their shambling gait. No time left to worry, just time left to play with these knuckleheads.
I swiftly run towards the closest zombie, which is approaching a three way fork in the paths between the basement's obstacles. It lurches forwards, but I slide past untouched and avoid becoming trapped in the place that I was. But looking up, I'm already face to face with another zombie. It's face, once beautiful no doubt, now ravaged by fuzzy green splotches of mold, one juicy pus-filled eyeball dangling from the socket, swaying back and forth, all traces of humanity scoured away. A low and hungry moan whispers as it opens its mouth, which gapes impossibly wide until the jaw literally breaks off and falls to the ground, punctuating the horrible sound with a crumbling pop. Bony hand longingly reaching out towards me, I do the sensible thing and hoist myself up onto the nearby freezer.
Ummmm, why didn't I think of this before? Perched atop the freezer, I'm free to skip around the room, avoiding the rules of the basement maze that confine my pursuers. I hop along the freezers, one, two, three, down to the end of the line, and wait for the shuffling brutes to slowly make their way towards me before hopping back to the other end. I wait again, three sets of hands reaching closer and closer, haunting moans from their tortured stomachs testify that they will not be giving up. A meter away, now just a foot from me. I hop before it becomes an inch.
I get halfway back to the end of the line, when suddenly a robotic forklift bursts through a secret compartment in the wall, pulling the next freezer into a dark delivery chute. And suddenly I'm trapped, hungry hands outstretched and wails of ravenous glee welcoming me to the other side of life. How could I fall to the zombie apocalypse so quickly? I pass through the 7 stages of guilt with appalling speed and find acceptance...
Then suddenly hope. Companions burst down the stairs, wearing puffy green bite-proof armour, armed with machetes. A fancy wave of a sword, and two of the zombies rush off towards this distracting duo, following them back up the stairs. Now I'm just left with one zombie to deal with. Lucky break, but if I get eaten now, I'll never live it down. After all, when it's one on one, the human is supposed to win.
A creepy hand claws at my boot, and I fall on my butt. This zombie has a blubbery face, with glazed over eyes and sparse whisps of hair stuck to the side of its head with yellow slime. I lash out with my left foot. Rationally, I know that a hard blow to the head should cave the rotting skull, but deep inside I know it is futile and, what's more, puts my foot at risk of being gobbled up instantly. The hit barely registers against the zombie, but the force propels me backwards, and I land hard on the concrete floor. Sucking up the pain, I take my second lucky break, get up, and run for the stairs. One of the deep freezers opens and zombies begin pouring out, as if a stairway from hell is contained within it. Up I go.
Fellow humans meet me when I reach the top. I don't know them, but it is as if they were expecting me. We dash down a hallway, through what seems like an office building. I follow a woman wearing glasses and a lab coat as she ducks left into an alcove where regular people once heated lunch and brewed coffee in their attempts to make it through the banality of the workday. Holding our breaths, we silently count our heartbeats as the first wave of zombies emerges from the stairs. From the sounds of the scraping bones and plopping flesh of their feet moving in the opposite direction, it seems they failed to notice us which direction we escaped. With the coast clear for a moment, we dash back down the hallway, turn right, and meet up with three more people in a room full of empty glass cases.
We catch our breath, but nobody says much. It seems clear that we can't stay here, and if the zombies see or hear us, an entire army of them will make of us their snack. I follow the survivors as they try to circle back around, avoiding the hallway where we risk exposing ourself to the eyes of the undead still pouring from the stairwell.
As we pause to listen for movement, I take the opportunity to rifle through a nearby desk. Pencils, staplers, a rifle... I take the rifle. Looking up with a dumbass grin to display my find to the party, I see that I'm alone. Shit! I hear footsteps ahead of me. I rush towards them.
I round the corner and see the woman in the lab coat ahead of me, in the alcove with the coffee makers and microwaves we hid in before. Moving forwards, I fail to notice that I've crossed the hallway until the wide eyes of the woman reveal my mistake. Terrible squeals from the zombie hordes down the hall. She turns and bolts, through the alcove and beyond. I follow.
We cross an indoor bridge that passes over a busy road, huge glass windows revealing the pristine city under a calm blue sky outside. I only catch a few glimpses of the outside as we run for our lives. To the right, business as usual, so many people unaware of the horror that is happening. To the left, the first zombie bursts through a door into the outside world, into a throng of people. I reach the end of the bridge and go through.
I'm in a huge indoor area, a mix between an airport and a subway station. Crowds of nicely dressed business people flock between kiosks, purchasing coffee or magazines, chatting with colleagues like it's any other day. Ahead of me looms a wide escalator, and I push through the milling people. It occurs to me to warn them, but I can't seem to catch my breath enough to call out. I just push through.
As I near the entrance to the escalator, screams erupt behind me, but I don't look. I only look forwads and upwards, seeing the glasses lab coat lady, halfway up the escalator already, making fast progress by elbowing and slipping between the unaware. I try to emulate her, but the crowd starts to press in, packing me tightly against terrified men in light brown trench coats. The stairs carry me up.
I get spat out onto the street, among tall white buildings and more crowds of people cheerfully going about their daily business. They are like milk mixed with flaming oil against the screaming, fleeing people coming up from the subway.
Confusion and panic. Not my allies. I do a quick scan to confirm that I'm not in immediate danger. So many people surrounding me will surely act as a buffer if the zombies get close, their slaughter buying me time to escape. Now that I'm alone, with nobody to lead me, I take a moment to figure out what to do next.
My mind glazes over; nothing comes to me. A hysterically scared looking elderly man, packed tightly amidst rising others, nears the top of the escalator. He will be helpless to flee when the zombies arrive, becoming one more vector for the plague of undeath. With solipsistic apathy, I reach out with my rifle, the barrel resting momentarily against his head before I put a plug into it. He slumps forwards, is expelled from the escalator, and is trampled. The people already above stare at me in shock; the people coming from below seem not to notice. I look at the gun in my hand, it drops to the ground with a clank, unaudible in the rising frenzy of escape. I run.
I run along streets lined with shiny white buildings, filled with people, some recognizing their dire situation, others confusedly unaware. Zombies burst from a building ahead, pulling down everyone nearby into a pile of writhing flesh. I push forwards against others who are now running in the opposite direction. I look up towards the crystal clear sky, the pile of zombies mostly blocked from my sight by half a tear welling up in my left eye.
My legs are burning, but they push me forwards. As I head down a ramp, the buildings fall away and reveal the city stretching out to my right. Between the towering white skyscrapers are thousands of people, jammed up in the fleeing frenzy. In some areas, the zombie hordes are tearing through the streets like an unsatiable meatgrinder, biting and chomping on people and converting them into more zombies. Ahead of me, at the bottom of the ramp, is a shallow decorative pool in the center of a huge open courtyard. On the other side of the pool is a crowd of people, standing silently, some holding tightly to their loved ones, ultimately waiting for what they have decided is an inevitable fate. I splash through the knee-deep water towards them, and hear the horde emerging from the buildings behind me. The crowd seems to flinch as a unit, yet they stand their ground, hypnotized with morose fascination by the impending onslaught. Nearing the other side of the pool, I scan the crowd for an opening to pass through the people, but my eyes stop on a pretty woman with sad eyes and long, straight, brown hair. Emboldened and liberated by impending doom, I delay my escape for a moment to stop in front of her.
"You are too beautiful," I tell her. She breaks her gaze into nothingness and focuses her sad eyes on me as I wrap my arms around and deliver a quick but gentle kiss. I pull away to leave and start pushing my way into the crowd, and she follows me with a hand on my sleeve. A burst of something between hope and happiness fills me, as if human connection could somehow foretell that everything might turn out ok. Well, it's nice to have some company at the end of the world.
I get through the crowd with my companion still attached to me and, finding ourselves up against another building, we creep along the side until we reach a revolving door. We burst inside, and I frantically look around for the nearest staircase. We have to get to the roof; it's the only place left to hide, and maybe there is a chance that helicopters will come to rescue us. Although, that never happens in the movies... but there's no time to think. We run up several flights and arrive on a floor where we are confronted by rows upon rows of cubicles and flimsy dividers. We flee through the aisle, but find that it ends in a wall. I notice that the wall is of the same material as the dividers separating the cubicles, so I kick with all my might, breaking through to the other side. I stick my head through first and, finding no zombies on the other side, we both plunge through into a kitchen area. On the countertop directly ahead there is a wooden block filled with knives. I am eager to arm myself, but I let her choose first. She pulls a large straight blade out of the block. I grab the next biggest looking knife, seeing a serrated edge as I pull it out. I imagine stabbing a zombie in the forehead, but notice in my imagination how tough it is to remove from its skull. Best not to push my luck like that if more than one zombie is attacking or I could find myself unarmed once again.
Studying the wavy edge of the blade, I wonder how sharp it is. I softly, barely even touch it to the palm of my hand, yet it opens a deep gash across my hand. I wince as sharp pain shoots up my arm, and open my eyes to see blood gushing out. Embarrassed of self-inflicting my own wound in this scenario of already overwhelming danger, I look over to see the reaction of my friend, but she doesn't notice; her head is turned towards the huge windows, sad eyes staring into the blankly serene cerulean sky.