Waiting For Sunrise
“Waiting For Sunrise” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Ruhi Hiren Doshi, Vidyashilp Academy, India.
Waiting For Sunrise
Last night was as any other. I kissed my mum, dad and little sister goodnight, read a book and fell asleep. Little did I know that that night would be the last normal night of my life. It would be the last dreamless sleep I would ever have.
I woke up to screaming.
I looked up, startled. My mum screamed my name.
I yelled back, “Mum! What happened?”
She shouted, “We have to go! They're coming!”
I got out of bed and bolted down the stairs. When I looked out of the window, my heart almost stopped beating. Dozens, no, hundreds of figures that resembled humans in appearance, but acted like…zombies…emotionless creatures. All the hair on my body stood up.
Mum and dad rushed me and my sister out the back door and into the backseat of our car. Dad drove, while mum rode shotgun. My sister, Hazel, hugged me, while I stroked her long hair and comforted her. We managed to drive without being spotted by any of them. After a few miles, I asked quietly, “Mum, dad, what were those things… those creatures?”
“Something we were afraid of, sweetie,” my mum replied.
“What?” I asked again, quite scared.
“You know we work at the disease control centre, right? Last night, we received a call from one of our colleagues. He said that he was checking the area where we keep our contagious viruses bottled up, and that one of the containers of our contagious viruses was slightly open. It looked as if it had been pried open. He was on the phone when he was checking up the place. Just when he was about to hang up, he made a groaning sound and dropped his phone. We called him again and again, but he didn’t pick up. Our guess is that he was infected, and then passed on the disease to other people,” my dad said.
I was scared. More scared than I had ever been. I hoped this was a nightmare. I closed my eyes and pinched myself. I opened my eyes and I was still in the same place. Suddenly something horrible occurred to me.
“Wait a minute! Where is Uncle Robbie?”
Uncle Robbie lived with us. He was my dad’s brother and my favourite uncle. He always went out in the morning at around 7:30 in the morning for a walk. My sister loved him even more than I did.
My sister’s eyes widened, remembering him and bracing for the worst.
I hoped my dad would say ‘Oh he’s safe. Nothing to worry about!’
Instead, my dad choked back tears. My mum put her hand on his back and said, “He went out for his walk, and he was caught. He became… one of them.”
I remembered those creatures… those zombies…
Hazel couldn’t take it anymore. She broke down crying. I held her. I couldn’t do much more. I let a few tears stream down my face, but I held back the rest. I had to stay strong. For hazel, for my mum, for my dad, for everyone.
“Where are we going now?” I asked. There weren’t many places we could go now. Where could we go?
“Oh honey, we’re going to call the army base, police, hospital, everything. We should be able to find something.” She sounded like she was trying to convince herself, so I decided not to say anything.
Hazel had fallen asleep, in my arms, so I gently laid her down on a pillow.
“HONK! HONK!” I screamed as I woke. Mom and dad were as startled as I was. Even Hazel had woken up, and trying to wake her up is like trying to convince a hurricane to stop destroying stuff. We saw a huge truck barreling towards us. It came closer and closer… it stopped. I breathed a sigh of relief. So we weren’t going to die. Not now, at least.
I glanced at the truck’s driver’s seat. A teenager was sitting there. A girl… not a zombie. I was shocked. We hadn’t spotted a single living being since the time we escaped. The girl, who looked about 16 years old, waved a white flag, a form of truce, and my dad motioned for her to come. She had dark brown hair with red highlights in them and an olive complexion. I tried to identify if there was anyone else was in the truck, but I couldn’t see anything.
“D-did you see t-those dead o-ones?” She stammered.
“Er- do you mean the zombies?” I asked. “And yes, we did.”
“Y-yes, the zombies. My m-mother and my f-father…” She cried, leaving us feeling nothing but sympathy for her.
“We’re sorry” My mother said, getting up and hugging her. The girl sobbed into my mother’s sweater. “What’s your name? How did you get away? Is there anything we can do for you?”
The girl nodded and stuttered, “I'm Julia and m-my little b-brother is in that bus. Our parents had gone to our g-grandparent’s house this m-morning. We fled when we saw those dea- zombies. My brother, Eric desperately needs some motherly support. Could you…” she trailed away looking hopefully at my mother.
“Absolutely. Bring him here. We should abandon that truck; it would make too much noise. Bring your brother here. We’ll all travel in this car.” My mother said. Thankfully we had a big car so both of them could fit in. Julia brought Eric from the truck. He was barely 4 years old. Mom took him, held him close to her bosom and started talking to him in whispers, like she used to do to us when we were young. Hazel was on my right side and Julia on my left. I tried to stir up a conversation with her.
“I'm really sorry about your parents.” I whispered.
“That’s ok. I…I just miss them.” She said. I tried to imagine my parents gone. Just then, a possibility started to form in my head.
“Julia, you said that your parents went to your grandparents house, right? You don’t know whether they're gone, do you? I mean you haven’t seen them. What if they're in a car like us? What if they're still with your grandparents, in their house, in their room…?” I trailed away. Her eyes widened. I could see her drinking in that what I had said. I could also see my parents looking through the rear view mirror, listening to our conversation, wondering if it was possible.
“Yes! They could be alive. I don’t know for sure if they are gone for good anyway!” she exclaimed with relief and joy.
“I'm sure we’ll find them. They would have escaped too,” Said my mother, quite the positive person.
Eventually Julia fell asleep. I offered to drive for a while. At first, my dad refused, but eventually he gave in, taking my place at the back and giving me the wheel. We were in the wheat fields. I looked at the road in front of me, wondering what lay ahead. I saw a group of malformed people walki- wait a sec, people? I looked over again just to see if I was dreaming. No, I wasn't. Those were zombies… Damn it!
I whisper-screamed to my family, “Get out of the car and crawl away silently, and find a hiding spot. Now!” luckily they all got the message and did what I told them. I did the same, at least I tried to do the same. I was on all fours when I spotted a stray zombie. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from screaming. Everyone else was ahead of me. As soon as I was far enough to be safe, I rose up, my back and my knees aching, and I signaled for everybody to walk. I could see that they were all relieved to do so. We spotted a warehouse and we hurried inside it, not wanting to be spotted. Good news? There was food and water. Bad news 1? Not much food and water. Bad news 2? There was a zombie in it. Bad news 3? We had to knock the zombie out as it clearly wasn't keen on sharing its space with us. We ate some food, drank some water and sat. We just sat in silence. Tonight was supposed to be movie night. What movie would we have watched? The sound of music? The pacifier? The spy next door? My mind drifted off to horror movies. When a stranger calls you? The ring? The conjuring? The zombie apocalypse? The rise of the zombies? The day of the dead? I guess I’ll never know. Before I knew it, I was asleep, waiting, for next dawn to rise. Sunrise…