The silence woke Cara out of her light sleep. Even though the sun was high in the sky she had learned to sleep in twenty-minute snatches throughout the day. It was not the sun streaming through cracks in the boards that had woken her. It was as quiet as a church.
Lack of sound had always been a sign of trouble. Back then, when she was a mom, there had been a lot of lessons. The boy had been her first, and only. When he was a toddler one of the things he taught her was that a quiet toddler was bad news. He was doing something he shouldn’t.
Now was not a safe time for Cara to stroll down memory lane. Moving stealthily, she slipped out of bed, careful not to let her shoes make noise on the old wooden floor. The rattled woman wrapped her hand around the baseball she kept next to the bed and made her way towards the only window. It had long been boarded up, but the person who did it left a space to look out of.
As she stared out the window, her ears strained to hear. There were no gunshots, no screams of the dying. That din had slowly replaced human companionship and conversation for Cara. Staring out through the space between the boards, she scanned around the house.
Not a single sound, nor soul was detected; even the wind seemed to be holding its breath. Going through a rigorously strict routine, she made her way downstairs and out of the house. The first step over the door frame was met with the same crushing silence. Slowly she looked around. A steady inhalation, as she gripped the baseball bat tightly. Guns were loud; they drew attention. The infected seemed to hear with the ears of wild animals, with instincts sharper than any knife.
She didn’t know what they were. They didn’t behave like Hollywood zombies, and the infection wasn’t spreading as quickly. It had been months since the United States fell into chaos. And with communications being down, nobody seemed to know how it was spread. Maybe another survivor did, but Cara never spoke to them. It was safer to stay alone and hide.
Dropping down low, she looked around for any signs of life or danger. Just a few yards off, she spotted a squirrel. It seemed that animals could be infected too. This one appeared to be okay. the only way to tell was to wait and see if it came at her. They made wary eye contact; before the creature scampered off.
Standing up, she started to carefully make her way down the road. The impact caught her by surprise. The weight behind it knocked her on the ground while pushing the air out of her lungs. Scaly hands with reptile claws started to pull at her skin. Cara screamed as she swung wildly with her bat. Another scream escaped her lips, but there was no sound.