Sequel: Static Screams
Status: bloody

White Noise


Under the guise of going for a walk, Logan and I ventured out of the furniture store and into the cool air. We didn’t talk, just watched our surroundings as we silently stepped through alleyways and across sidewalks until we reached the outskirts of the town.

We came across a small park nestled up against a pond, where ducks quacked and waddled happily and turtles bobbed above the water for a moment. The gray skies didn’t mute the bright colors of the slides, the swingsets with rusted chains, or the monkey bars. Now that it was cooler, and the leaves were fading from bright autumnal colors into diminished, dying pigment, the park held a very haunting quality about it.

“I bet Seven would love this,” Logan broke the silence. “Just to play for a little while. We’ll have to bring him here before we leave.”

I looked at her and nodded, before reaching my arms high above me and stretching. “So, where do we start?”

She followed my lead, stretching some of her limbs out as well. “There seems to be a track that goes around the pond. Maybe start with a run first, just to see where you are?”

“Seems fair,” I nodded, leaning over to ensure my ratty gray tennis shoes were tied. “Wow, I need new shoes.”

Logan laughed, and motioned to the track.

And off we went.

After a few hours of running, sit ups, push ups, and pull ups on the monkey bars, Logan rested her hands on her knees, hunched over taking deep breaths. “I don’t know what your definition of out of shape is, but you’re kicking my ass.”

I laughed, taking deep breaths. “To be fair, I said I was in bad shape, not out of shape.”

“Fair enough,” she smiled. She looked at the sky on the horizon, where black clouds were starting to form. “Let’s finish this up with some basic self-defense moves. Should probably get back before Scar sends out a search party for us.”

She walked me through some moves that she said she learned from karate when she was a kid. Blocking, maneuvering, and escaping someone’s grasp – something that would seem more useful in pre-apocalypse subway stations than in the zombie world – before showing me one more thing.

“Now this is the most important thing,” she spoke, looking me in the eye. “And it’s not so much a physical move as it is a mental one. You have to always anticipate the next move.”

I tilted my head. “ is that possible?”

She laughed. “Basically, expect the unexpected. Training your brain to respond to any and every situation.” She took a seat in one of the swings, and I plopped down next to her.

“I don’t think I get it, Logan,” I frowned. “Can it still be unexpected if you’re expecting it?”

She shook her head. “You’re thinking too hard about it. Think about it this way: If this were still normal-life, and you woke up tomorrow and it was sunny, what would you wear?”

“Uh...probably jeans and a t-shirt.”

She nodded, “And if it were rainy?”

“I’d put on my rain jacket.”

“Right. Now, say you woke up, and it was sunny when you woke up, but then lunchtime rolls around and it’s raining. But you don’t have your rain jacket, because you weren’t prepared for that to happen.”

“Ohhhh,” I said. “You want me to be paranoid.”

She giggled. “Sort of. Paranoia is fear without preparation. I want you to be prepared. Look at every situation from every possible angle. It takes practice at first, and it can be difficult – especially in really high stake situations where you don’t have a lot of time. But a good thing to do is plan for every possible scenario, and figure out how you’d combat each one.”

I felt sweat cooling on my forehead, and I wiped at it with the sleeve of my shirt. “Okay, I think I’m getting what you’re saying. So, as an example...if I wake up tomorrow, and there’s a zombie trying to chow down on me, I would...”

“Preferably, you’d kill it,” she interrupted my train of thought. “Chances are, if it’s attacking you as you’re waking up, your best course of action would be to--”

“To block, or evade,” I nodded. “But also expecting it to anticipate that. Having my next seven steps planned for each choice I make?”

“Specific number, but yes,” she stood as thunder rumbled. “We passed something that looked like a sports or maybe clothing store on the way here. Let’s stop back in there on the way back. Maybe we can find you some new shoes.”

We began to head back, following the same steps we took to get to the park. We stopped in front of a small shop, similar in looks to the furniture store, about two blocks over. Logan handed me a knife and motioned to the door. “I’ll let you do the honors.”

I looked at the door, in the window, where a decaying body toothlessly gummed at the window. “Ew...okay.” I twisted the knob, and it swung open quietly as the undead body fell forward towards me. I lunged forward, plunging the knife through the neck. “Shit,” I hissed, struggling against the zombie. But I grabbed it by the remaining hair it had, forcing its face downward as I pulled the knife back out. I plunged the knife back in, right above the back of the neck and straight into its brain.

It fell soundlessly to the ground.

“Nicely done,” Logan praised, pulling her knife back out of the zombie. “That’s another lesson that goes hand in hand with expecting the unexpected.”

“Yeah?” I exhaled.

“Mhmm,” she nodded. “Nine times out of ten, your adrenaline is already those seven steps ahead of you.”

We really racked up at the small store, each leaving with two large duffel bags full of goodies for everyone, even Cosmic and Seven. We eyeballed and guessed on all of the sizes, but everyone would at least have two new pairs of underwear, two new sports bras for the girls, two sets of thermal underwear (pants and shirts), two pairs of fleece socks, one pair of fleece lined sweatpants, one pair of cotton sweatpants, one zippered fleece sweater, one crewneck sweatshirt, a 6-pack of crew socks, a couple of pair of shoes (Darren’s and Cosmic’s were falling apart, and I’m sure there are a few others who’d like some) and a plethora of t-shirts (short sleeved and long sleeved) with various sports team emblems on them. We even thought to grab gloves and knit winter hats.

I left wearing a pair of dark gray cargo pants, a dark gray sports bra, a gray camisole, and an army green long sleeve henley. Matched to the dark gray Nike’s that I pulled on and tied. I felt so different in new clothes, with my new look, like I really was a new person.

As we approached the furniture store, before the rain started, Logan stopped to look at me. “I just want you to know, I had a lot of fun today. I know this is about survival, but...I don’t know, if we met before the apocalypse, you would have been one of my best friends.”

I smiled, readjusting one of the straps of the bags. “You’re really cool, Logan. Same to you. You remind me a lot of one of my best friends from high school. I always called her my ‘secret sister,’ as though we’d been separated from birth but our parents wouldn’t tell us.”

She laughed, and playfully punched my shoulder. “From the color of your hair, I’d have to say we’re probably not related, but I’ll accept it.”

I smiled, and we continued walking again, until I stopped in my tracks. “I just remembered...”

“What?” she called back, turning to face me.

“I think...I think today is my birthday.”

She walked back to link arms with mine. “In that case,” we walked forward, “we’ll have to celebrate. Look at all these gifts!”

I laughed, and we continued to the door of the furniture store.

I sang happy birthday to myself in my head.
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word count: 1368