It’s just a regular October morning as you step into the bright sunlight, coffee in hand, to get the newspaper. You see your neighbor, elderly Mrs. Baxter, running down the street. You pause, thinking it’s odd to see her moving so quickly, especially since she’s been using a walker since her hip surgery last winter. You call to her, asking if everything is all right. Suddenly she stops and slowly turns around. What you see makes the warm coffee mug slip from your fingers and splash to the ground. Mrs. Baxter is covered in blood, and she’s hold several feet of intestines. She growls at you, hugging her precious intestines to her chest as if she’s afraid you’re going to take it away from her. Then she starts running. You book it back into the house, closing the door just in time. Mrs. Baxter starts clawing on the door, growling and gargling. Something bangs on the back door, making you jump. You run through the house and see more of your neighbors, bloody and crazed like Mrs. Baxter, trying to claw their way into your house. You realize that the unthinkable has happened: the zombie apocalypse has begun. What do you do?
Go to #1 if you stay in the house.
Go to #2 if you decide to leave town.
Immediately you run through your house, locking doors and closing curtains. You fill up your bathtub with water just in case the power goes out and start barricading the doors; you decide to wait out the initial panic in the safety and familiarity of your own home. You have enough food to last you a week. Once that week is, hunger drives you out of the house. If you look for food in the surrounding abandoned houses, do to #5. If you go to the nearest grocery store, go to #6
There is no way in hell you’re staying in a house surrounded by flesh-eating crazy people! You pack a bag full of provision, extra clothes, and a knife. You get in your car, fire up the engine, and back out of the driveway, running over Mrs. Baxter in your haste. The fastest way out of town is to go down the freeway, and you are the most familiar with that route out of town. If you take the freeway, go to #3. If you take unfamiliar back roads, go to #4.
You make it five miles down the freeway before you get stuck in a traffic jam. A group of terrified people impatiently honk their horns and rev their engines. A state trooper is standing in the middle of a pile up, trying to calm everyone down. Seeing that you’re going anywhere any time soon, you get out of the car to hear what the trooper has to say. You join the small gathering of people who tell you that they had just been told help is on the way; a bus is coming to pick everyone up and take them to the local high school, where a shelter has been set up. Half of the group wants to wait to be brought to safety. The other half is skeptical and wants to venture out on their own. If you stay and way, go to #7. If you trek out with the other, go to #8.
You decided to take the back roads in hopes of avoiding traffic. You safely make it out of town but do not know where you are. The GPS in your car hasn’t been able to find a satellite connection and you’re running low on gas. Seeing no other option, you keep driving on fumes until the engine shuts down. You grab your bag and get out of the car, prepared to walk—or run—to find help. About a mile down the road you come across an old farmhouse…and it looks like something straight from a horror movie about inbred hillbillies who keep human prisoners in the basement. If you decide to venture up to the farmhouse, go to #9. If you keep walking, go to #12.
You grab the biggest knife you can find in the kitchen and slowly move the flipped-over-table barricade from in front of the back door. With a pounding heart, you slip out of the house, fingers gripping the knife. You look around the surrounding yards and see nothing. You hurry to your next-door neighbor’s house and softly knock on the door. No one answers, but the door is locked. You pick up a rock and break a window and climb inside. You’ve hit the jackpot: a pantry full of canned soup, vegetables, and fruit along with two cases of water. On your way back to your house, you see the house across the street is inhabited with people. One of them waves to you, beckoning for your help. If you decided to help, go to #10. If you ignore them, go to #11.
You get in the car and speed through the now desolate town to the nearest Wal-Mart. A few zombies mill about the parking lot, but they are deteriorating quickly and don’t pose much of a threat. You pull your car close to the sliding doors and get out. You sneak inside, unnoticed by the undead and grab a cart, prepared to fill it and get the hell out of the super-store. But you don’t get too far. A group has already set up camp inside, and they don’t take kindly to visitors. Despite your pleas to become part of the group, they push you outside where you get attacked and eaten by zombies. You are dead. Go back and try again.
You decided to stay and wait for the bus to usher you to safety. The others say good riddance, gather their belongings, and walk down the ditch off the freeway and enter the surrounding woods. You think they are taking an unnecessary risk. The sun is now setting, and the bus has yet to arrive. A herd of zombies staggers down the freeway and you scramble to safety inside an ice cream truck and wait for the herd to pass. The zombies devour half of the remaining people. While you’re helping the others clean up the remains of their loved ones, the promised bus rolls in. You gather up your stuff and get on the bus, which takes you to the high school turned zombie-shelter. You spot your best friend across the gym, drop your bags, and run to her, so happy you decided to wait for the bus. For the next few weeks, the shelter is run as smoothly as possible and everyone is re-adjusting to his or her new life amidst the zombie-filled world. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you think you can make it through this and even befriend a scared little girl who was found last night. She stays close by your side, finding comfort and safety in your presence. Then she suddenly bites you. You are now infected. Go back and try again.
Along with about 20 others, you grab your bag and set off in the woods. You quickly get to know each other and discuss what skills everyone brings into the group. A U.S. Marine Sergeant is appointed as the leader of the group. He suggests that the group head south in search of other survivors, making it to a warmer climate before winter. For three weeks the group slowly moves down the country, gathering supplies, finding others, and killing zombies. Then you come across another small group with another former Marine as their leader. He tells your group that he knows of a real safe place, and that he is headed there. Part of your group is eager to follow; the others don’t believe such a place exists and feel that they have been doing fine so far, they don’t want to test their luck. The other group is leaving in the morning and encourages your group to join and come with them. If you go with, go to #13. If you stay with, go to #15.
You walk down the long gravel driveway and climb up the splintering porch steps. The door to the old farmhouse flies open before you even knock. A kindly old woman ushers you in. The backwoods family is overly nice and welcoming but after a few days of hospitality, you realize that the family has no plans of letting you leave to find a zombie-safe shelter. You have become their prisoner. Go back and try again.
You drop off the supplies at your house and race across the street, killing a zombie by stabbing it in the eye socket on your way. You knock on the neighbor’s door and she quickly opens it, thankful someone came to her aid. She tells you that she ran out of food two days ago and her three young children made it impossible for her to leave the house. You bring her and the children back to your house where you share your provisions. You take turns keeping watch and come up with a plan of survival. After a week of preparation, the five of you set out and drive south, seeking warmer weather. On the way, you meet up with another group led by a Marine Sergeant, who welcomes you into his group. If you and the others go with, go to #13. If you all don’t trust him and stay on your own, go to #14.
You don’t want to risk running across the zombie-filled street, so you pretend you don’t notice your neighbor in the window. Another week passes before you run out of food again. You venture out on your own and with no one to watch your back, you get ambushed by the undead. Your intestines were ripped from your belly while you were still alive. Go back and try again.
You continue walking down the road and eventually find a car with keys in the ignition and gas in the tank. You drive for days, collecting weapons and supplies along the way. On the first day of week number 4, you stumble upon another group. Their former military leader welcomes you, and tells you about a safe place they are headed. If you go with then, go to # 13. If you don’t, go to #14.
You go with the group and are surprised at how organized they are. There is plenty of food, medical supplies, and weapons to sustain you for weeks. With the leader’s military training, your group is able to tackle the zombies and keep going to their destination. After several days, you arrive at an underground bomb shelter that proves to be 100% safe from zombies. Congratulations, you survived.
A month passes and your little group is just getting by. Winter is quickly approaching and one of the children has come down with a fever and cannot keep up. A herd of zombies surrounds your camp during the night. You sacrifice yourself to save the children. Go back and try again.
Only a handful of you don’t trust the other Marine. You decide to stick with your original plan of combing the country, gathering supplies, finding others, and killing zombies. But without the best zombie hunters in your group, you find yourself surrounded by a herd and unable to fight your way out. Go back and try again.
Let everyone know how you did in the comments below!
by Emily Goodwin
Series: The Contagium #1
Original publication: January 17th 2012
Scheduled to be re-released by Permuted Press
Genre: Horror, Zombies
“I wasn’t afraid of death. If I died, it would be over. My worst fear wasn’t of dying, it was of living. Living, while everyone around me had their flesh savagely torn from their bodies to be shoved into the festering and ever-hungry mouths of zombies. It terrified me, right down to my very core, to be alive while the rest of the world was dead.”
In the midst of the Second Great Depression, twenty-five year old Orissa Penwell doesn’t think things can get any worse. She couldn’t be more wrong. A virus breaks out across the country, leaving the infected crazed, aggressive and very hungry.
Orissa will do anything-no matter if it’s right or wrong- to save the ones she loves. But when she discovers that most of the world is infected or dead, she must decided if those lives are worth saving at all.
*The Contagium Series is now published through Permuted Press and will be re-released spring 2014*
~About the Author~
Emily resides in Indiana with her husband,ferrets,horses and their beloved dog, a German Shepherd named Vader. Emily has a degree in psychology, likes anything paranormal, listens to too much 80’s rock and loves going on crazy adventures with her friends.
Emily’s Website | Twitter | Amazon Profile | Goodreads
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