A group of scientists, while working on cross genetics, accidentally mutated a couple of humans. The corporation that the scientist worked for thought as long as they were kept out of the public eye everything would be fine, and it was, until the mutations escaped, and the human race quickly found out that the mutation was extremely contagious. In a week the pandemic had extended over the entire United States.

Eye color is the first sign of infection, they turned bright red, and even the pupil turns a dark crimson. Next skin color changes to a dark grey, hands and feet both becoming more like claws; nails became thick, jagged, and sharp. Jaws become stronger and wider, able to bite through bones and metal. Bone structure also changed, making them more adapted to running on all fours. Finally they also grow quite a bit: towering over seven feet tall.

Regrettably physical changes weren’t the only problems; firstly they forgot how to read and write, and then how to talk altogether; and then they forgot how to run and walk upright. They become barbaric; they were still very smart, but not humanly intelligent. They also become extremely aggressive, even to the point of attacking each other. Survivors quickly learned that they changed much faster under stressful situations; when they were angered or acting aggressive.

Years later, the survivors, have pulled themselves together the best they possibly could. Now they sleep in fear, carry loaded weapons, and kill their own mutated friends and family.

Humans call those that are infected the Shade.

Chapter One






 “Addison!” Camryn said. Addison looked up from her absent minded staring at the grass underfoot. Her mental fantasy melted away as the horrors of reality came rushing into focus again. A sense of dread returned as she took in her familiar surroundings. Like a common plague, fear consumed her thoughts. She wanted to close her eyes to the world around her but, even after all the years that have passed, her eyes remand wide open in dismay.

Overgrown shrubs and vines covered every surface; they mixed with long grass that blanketed the dark earth. Cement, rocks, and debris littered the ground practically unseen until stepped upon. Crashed cars engulfed the highway; they were empty, long ago abandoned by their frantic owners. The cars’ paint was faded and chipped; rust consumed every joint and edge of metal. Tall strong trees stretched along either side of the highway for miles.

Addison stopped walking and turned back to see Camryn running up to her. Camryn’s pant’s straps clinked as she ran, the sharp sound echoed in Addison’s hollow thoughts. Camryn’s dirty clothing stuck to her skin from perspiration. Her bag and shot gun were slung over her shoulder and bounced on her back as she jogged up to Addison.

“I have been shouting your bloody name for the last five minutes, where is your head girl?” She said. When she reached where Addison was waiting Addison continued walking.

It was a hot day outside and the sun was beating down on them. Camryn’s dark tropical skin glistened in the sunlight. Her dreadlocks were tied back in a ponytail under a dark beret. She was close to a foot taller than Addison’s five foot five inches.

“Oh” Addison said “Sorry. I was just thinking-” She stopped herself. ‘I was going to say “I was thinking about the past”’, she thought to herself, but she knew that Camryn didn’t want to hear that. ‘I guess no one really wants to talk about the past now’ Addison contemplated.

“Is there something you want? You know how I feel about talking.” Addison said while trying to shake off her thoughts.

“Nicholas wants to go look around for a working vehicle. He’s tired of walking.” Camryn said.

Addison let out a small sigh. “How you are ever able to put up with him, I’ll never know.” Addison said as she pushed her long brown bangs out of her face and behind her ears.

“Why couldn’t he come here and tell me himself? Now, I have to send you back to tell him that; ‘We’re all tired’.” Addison said in reply.

Addison had been tired of walking for hours by now.

Instead of waiting for his messenger to come back, Nicholas quickened his pace to a jog so that he was able to catch up with Addison’s stride. Nicholas and Addison had a sort of silent understanding with each other. It was a silent understanding because as long as he kept his mouth shut she was happy.

Addison favorite characteristic about his personality is that he loved big guns and blowing things up. She thought he must have been in the military at one time. Whether or not he actually fought in any battles was unknown to her. He also always seemed to wear camouflage pants and combat boots. Sometimes he even had the audacity to wear tropical flower pattered shirts with them.

“Well then do you want to carry my stuff instead?” He said. Addison looked over at him. Her eyes were tired; she could feel them tingling and was able to feel approximately how puffy they were. She tried to glare at him but out of laziness it just turned into a long creepy stare. “Don’t give me that face, my bag’s heavy.” He said straight faced, her stare apparently had no effect on him.

“Then don’t carry so many useless things around with you, and don’t send Camryn to talk to me on your behalf anymore.” Her words came out tired and unsympathetic. She was bored and her feet felt a thousand pounds heavier than they normally should have.

“My stuff isn’t useless. That’s like saying its junk” Nicholas said in protest. His voice was laced with whining; it seeped through his tone and scratched against Addison already raw nerves.

 “That is exactly what I’m saying.” She said in retort, trying to focus on her foot placement and not on listening to the same argument they seemed to have every single day.

“The point is we have been walking all day” Camryn butted in. Addison instantly understood then that Camryn wasn’t really talking to her because of Nicholas. Camryn too wanted to stop for a moment. A smile faintly fluttered her face and then disappeared just as quickly.

 “Guys, I know you’re tired. Do you think I’m not? There isn’t much we can do about it. The sooner we get there the soon we can stop walking.” Addison avoided eye contact while talking and instead glared at the grass slowly moving underfoot. Everyone knew that if Addison looked at them then she would give in.

Instantly and simultaneously they started to bellyache and complain. They were utterly similar in Addison opinion. They had both grown up in the 90’s. They had the same taste in music. They often had long discussions about movies Addison had never even heard about. Addison was positive that if Nicholas would ever read a book then they would even like the same kinds of books.

Addison’s ears had about all they could take from their constant out pour of pleading. “Why don’t you guys leave me alone? Go somewhere else and talk about how awesome ‘Back to the Future’ was.” As if Addison had just dumped oil on a flame, they instantly started to talk across her to each other. Almost as if they were trying to trap her in a bubble of continuous noise. They were laughing and making a racket about their favorite parts.

“Enough!” Addison finally shouted at them. Her brain had begun to pound at the front of her head. It was her brain’s way of demanding peace and quiet. Pain caused her plain facial feature to scrunch up and become distorted: it was affecting her vision, and causing her ears to ache. “Go bother someone else, would you guys?”

“Whatcha have a headache?” Camryn asked. Her dark eyes searched Addison’s obviously pain stricken face.

“I do now.” Addison said agitatedly, “Fine you guys, Five minutes”. Camryn whooped with joy, forcing Addison to flinch, pressing her bare palms over her ears. It was too late; the sound echoed in her ears and ran through her head like a festive parade.

“Oh, sorry dear.” She said motherly pressing her hand against the back of Addison’s head before Camryn rushed off to tell the others.

Addison slowly trudged over to the first vehicle she saw; it was some big dark blue car. She carefully examined the hood of the car for shards of glass.

Once deciding that it was clean enough, she took her bag off her back and placed it on the hood. Following the bag, she pulled herself up off the ground and onto the vehicle. She let out a long sigh as she lay back on the bent and dented hood.

Looking up at the sky, she predicted that it must have been about three o’clock. There were a few clouds in the sky that covered some of the calming blue color. The wind was blowing fairly strong. There was a large group of clouds to the north, just where they were headed. ‘I hope it isn’t going to rain tomorrow’ she told herself

Sitting up she yanked open her bag and riffled through it for some Aspirin. She noticed her bag had become cluttered and heavy lately. ‘Clean it out later today.’ She mentally noted sternly. Once she found the large plastic bottle she pulled it out of her backpack.

Camryn was there by Addison’s side and she looked at Jeremy as he walked up to them and leaned against the car door. Camryn turned back to Addison then looked down at the bottle in her hands.

“You’re not gonna take those are you?” She said stepping closer to Addison. Her eyes darted from Addison’s face to the bottle then back again.

“Yes, I was planning on it. Why?” Addison replied still holding onto the unopened container in her hand. She clutched it to her chest as if the bottle was the holy bible about to save her soul from eternal damnation.

“They probably expired years ago.” Camryn said forcefully taking the bottle. Addison’s face instantly fell apart as Camryn ripped the bottle from her hands. Jeremy thought about intervening because it appeared that Addison might cry. Camryn flipped it around in her hand until she found the expiration date. “Here, see, expires October, 2013.” Camryn said nearly shoving the bottle into Addison’s somber face.

Addison took the bottle back from her, opened the lid, and quickly swallowed two pills. Her brain seemed to be unhappy that she had not taken them earlier and angrily pounded once more. It hurt so badly she nearly chocked and gagged on the pills. Addison thought about getting some water to follow them up but her energy drained arms refused to move from their place. As Jeremy thoughtful handed her his bottle of water, Addison discerned that Camryn was swelling with rage.

“What do ya think ya doing?” Camryn bellowed. Her grammar and pronunciation always seemed to get worse when she was angry. “I can’t believe you just did that, do you even know what could happen?”

“Yep” Addison replied a little smugly, pausing as she took a large drink from the bottle and handing the water back to Jeremy. “Medication doesn’t truly expire.” She said tossing the pills back into her bag. “That date is just telling you how long it will keep full potency, if anything I should probably take a lot more of them.”

Camryn looked at her apprehensively, and Addison knew Camryn wanted to argue the point, but she let it go. After all there wasn’t much she could do about it anymore. Camryn was leaning against the passenger door, hands on her hips and a pout on her sizeable lips.

“Sorry, Camryn, but I’ve told you before you’re not my mother.” Addison said with a stern but apologetically tone.

 “Well someone has to mother you.” Camryn retorted.  

As if sensing there was an atmosphere he could make worse Nicholas walked up to them. “I-” He started to say.

Addison put her hand up “Let me stop you right there. You have three minutes until we leave. I don’t care what you do until then. Just as long as you don’t do it here: where I am forced to see and/or hear you.” With that she put her hand down and closed her eyes.

In triumph he swaggered off. Jeremy shook his head a small smile playing with his pale pink lips.

“You do realize he is doing that to you on purpose, right? He wants you to send him away so he can do whatever he wants.” Camryn said looking over to Addison. Her eyes almost showed an air of disappointment.

“Yes, I’m aware of that. Much like me, he isn’t a child. If he gets in trouble it’s his fault, not mine. I may be responsible for us as a group, but beside that, it was his choice. I didn’t send him off to do God knows what.” Addison replied.

“But as the group’s leader it means you are suppose to be in charge of keeping us safe, even if that means making decision that we aren’t happy with.” Camryn pointed out with almost an air of aloofness.

“I didn’t want to stop and take a rest.” Addison said with a hardness that ended Camryn’s self-righteous rant. Addison’s head spun slightly as she laid it back on the hood.

She peered at the sun through her shut eye lids. She saw red. Her mind couldn’t think of anything but that bright red color burning through her shut eyes. Even after turning her head and looking away it still remanded, its remnants haunted her thoughts.

Addison gasped as she opened her eyes. Sitting upright she grabbed her bag. It seemed like her eyes had been closed for an eternity; like she had been asleep all her life and just now woken up. She rubbed her sleep deprived eyes. Looking around quickly she noticed that only a few moments had pasted.

Camryn was looking at her as if she was some sort of abomination. “Are you alright?” Jeremy asked as Camryn took a step in Addison’s direction.

“You look awfully pale.” Camryn add as she reached out her hand to touch Addison’s face but Addison jerked away from her.

“I’m fine. We’re leaving.” Addison said with a harshness that poured out in her tone.

“Aw, but we just got here.” Addison heard Casey complaining from somewhere behind her. Addison ignored Casey’s complaint as she pulled her bag off of the car.

“Shut the hell up Casey.” Jeremy said off handedly. Jessica turned her face and glared daggers at Jeremy. He shot back an arrogant smile daring Jessica to say something.

Jessica looked like she was about to open her mouth and give him the verbal thrashing she thought he deserved but Casey Mumbled a “Sorry” as she sheepishly looked at the ground. This only infuriated Jessica further and Camryn could hear Jessica bitching out Jeremy behind her.

Jessica was the oldest of the group. Her typical biker leather clothes hung loosely on her bulky frame. Jessica’s sub machine gun would have looked gigantic on anyone’s arms, but it seemed to match perfectly with her heavily muscled body.

Addison pulled out her handheld radio, “Nicholas, we’re leaving right now.” She said flatly. Before Nicholas had an opportunity to respond Addison through the radio into her bag and flung the bag over her shoulder.

Addison stepped down the slight embankment so that she wouldn’t have to walk crooked. The others grumbled and whined but they followed suit. They all set back on the same old task of walking for miles in waist high grass and shrubs down the side of a highway.

Addison hadn’t been paying attention to Camryn was walking next to her, but she defiantly noticed when Camryn suddenly stopped. “You see that?” Camryn asked, alarm shaking her voice. Addison looked at Camryn with inquisition and unease rushing to her face. Camryn’s face was covered in concern and her eyes looked around frantically.

“See what?” Addison asked worriedly.

“So you haven’t seen him.” Camryn said. Almost as if she knew Addison’s next question she used a discreet hand motions to guide Addison’s eyes.

At the first glance Addison saw a boy dressed in tattered jeans and a dark hoodie, which was pulled over his head. He was standing just out of the shadow of a tree so that you could barely see him. Instantly Addison’s mind was bombarded with questions that she could not possibly answer.

 Addison’s eyes opened wider as his gray skin gently reflected some of the suns soft glow. It was a Shade. Her eyes frantically swept the area. ‘There is never only one. They go everywhere in packs.’ She thought as fear struck her like a bolt of lightning. For a moment panic took over her mind. All she wanted to do was run as fast and as far as she could. Addison forced back her frantic thoughts and tried to make a plan.

“Camryn tell everyone to be ready for a Shade attack. We need to stay close together, and we should probably find a place out of this grass to make a stand. How much ammo do we have?” Addison asked in, what she tried to make sound like, a commanding voice.  

“We should have enough ammo if we are lucky, very lucky; and what about that truck in the middle of the highway. They’d have to climb over the cars and it’s kind of higher ground.” She said tilting her head. Addison might have laughed at the way she had said that if she wasn’t thinking about how they all might be eaten alive in the next couple of minutes.

“Ok that sounds as good as it’s going to get, trade guns with me.” Addison said slipping the sniper rifle off her shoulder and into her hand. Camryn looked at the gun uneasily.

“Are you sure about trading? I don’t think it’s a good idea” Camryn said. Addison ignored her reaching out and taking Camryn’s shot gun off her shoulder and replacing it with the rifle.

“Yes, positive, I can do more damage with my knife, even more so because we don’t have a lot of ammo. Now be quiet and go tell the others.” Addison said pushing her away.

 Addison climbed back up the steep embankment and stepped onto the pavement. Addison tried her best to calmly clambering up over the vehicles, but her hands were shaking, and her knees were buckling.. She cautiously watched where she placed her feet. ‘Careful,’ She told herself, ‘the last thing you need right now is a gigantic cut.’

Addison mounted the truck bed and began to look around. The Shade she had seen earlier was gone. Another wave of concern flowed over her. Taking a deep breath of air she calmed her heart rate, soothed her emotions together, and forced her body to stop reacting based on panic.

 Out of the corner of Addison’s eye she saw Casey frantically waving her arm. Addison reached to grab it but before she could Jessica angrily shoved her out of the way. Jessica grabbed Casey’s arm at the elbow and yanked her over the side of the truck.

Jessica turned and glared at Addison angrily. Addison took a step back and Jessica turned her snarling face to the floor of the pickup truck.

Casey moved to the side of the truck and ducked down. She was the only one of them that didn’t seem like she was fit for this kind of life. She was a soft sensitive girl, and at one time probably very fashion oriented. She was about 20 years younger than Jessica. Addison could have sworn she saw the girl’s pistol trembling in her hands.

            Addison felt a firm hand on her shoulder she spun around startled. “Just ignore her,” Jeremy said trying to quiet Addison’s raw nerves: “You already know she only cares about Casey.” He said with a sigh. Addison looked at him and saw the hope that always seemed to glimmer somewhere in his dark brown eyes.

Jeremy wrapped his arms around her waist pulling her close to him. “I know.” She whispered into his chest as he slowly rocked her in his arms.

Addison pulled away from Jeremy’s torso as Nicholas and Camryn brushed past and headed to the back of the bed, closet to the cab. Camryn set up the rifle on the back of the cabs hood facing away from the tailgate. Nicholas dropped his bag on the bed’s floor and quickly pulled out boxes of Ammo.

Then it happened; exactly what the Shades were waiting for. Clouds moved in front of the sun, decreasing the group’s visibility. The Shade seemed to leap from every corner and crevice; anywhere dark enough for them to hide. Instantly guns started firing. Shade flew backwards from the impact of the bullets.

It continued this way for the next thirty seconds or so until they heard something no one wanted to hear. Jeremy yelled, and then a surge of cuss words followed.

“Nicholas! Cover me.” Addison shouted. Casey was already at Jeremy’s side. He was sitting with his back against the side of the truck clutching his left arm. He was covered in blood and it pooled on the floor of the pickup around his body.

“What happened?” Addison asked, extending her hand to examine Jeremy’s wound. Meanwhile, Casey had become frantic. She was crying hysterically and wiping fluid from her face with her long sleeves. Casey started ripping part of her shirt placing them on the bed of the pickup within Addison’s arms’ reach.

Casey was talking quickly and quietly but not a lot of it made any sense to Addison. “Casey!” Addison shouted at her without looking. Tears started to come to Addison’s eyes. Casey cleared her throat, wiped tears from her chin, and tried to start over.

“Well, he was standing here at the side of the truck-” Casey was loudly sobbing now, they both knew it wasn’t good. “One of them… Got to the side of the truck… And bit him!” She finally managed to get out through uncontrollable weeping.

Jeremy willingly handed Addison his arm. It was broken in two places were both side of the Shades jaw had been, and a large chunk of flesh was ripped from his arm. He had lost an immense amount of blood. Perspiration was dripping from his face and soaking his shirt.

Addison tightly wrapped the wound with the cloth trying to decrease the amount of blood flow. He groaned and cursed at her, but he didn’t push her away. Tears rolled down his cheeks but she ignored them, delicately applying pressure to his wound. ‘I know he doesn’t want my pity, he wants to live.’ Addison told herself.

“You’re going to be fine.” Addison said to him when she was sure her voice wasn’t going to shake and betray her.

Casey made a contorted sound, a mixture between a gasp and a sob, Addison had never heard anything like it before. Addison looked back at her to see her wide terror stricken eyes looking directly at Jeremy. Casey hysterically scrambled across the pickup floor to the opposite side of the truck. Addison couldn’t look back at him; she knew what she would see, those blood red eyes all shade had.

“Oh, God.” He said quietly. Addison forced her eyes back to his arm.

“Ignore her. You’re fine.” Addison said she didn’t care what her voice sounded like anymore, she didn’t care if she cried. Her mind tumbled.

“Here, do it.” He pushed his pistol towards me. At first Addison just looked at it on the bed of the truck. Then she made the mistake of looking at his face. His red eyes seemed to burn within her brain, striking an overpowering fear into her very core. Her entire body froze.

Addison had seen them before; in every shade that she had killed, but they always had the same effect on her. Addison tried to shake off her feeling of dread. She took the warm gun and held it firmly in her hand aiming it at his head. She sucked in a breath and tried to see through a constant river of tears that ran in trails down her round face.

“I can’t do it, we can save you. We are an hour from Damian and a cure. People can make it that long without changing.” Addison said pulling the gun down. Addison didn’t want to look at his face. She couldn’t stand seeing those eyes; they terrified her. Her hands shook so hard that she thought she might drop the gun. Addison’s bottom lip started quivering, she bit it, to keep it still, so hard that she thought she tasted blood.

“Addison, don’t be stupid.” His mouth trembled as if he was struggled to remember how to speak. “I am already showing symptoms, aren’t I?” Addison glanced up from the truck, the skin around his eyes darkened. ‘It isn’t true.’ She told herself.

 “Kill me now, or I will kill you.” He took in a breath of air. “I refuse to lose my humanity.” Addison didn’t want to look at the face she knew so well, with those eyes. She didn’t want to face the signs of her comrade changing.

He grabbed her hand, Addison looked at him and in one quick motion she lifted the pistol and shot. His body lay still as blood flowed from his chest onto the pickup bed.

Casey jumped from the sound of the gun going off, even with the others still firing. She sat on the floor of the truck whimpering. Addison knew she needed to try to control her emotions. She sucked in air trying to calm her rapidly beating heart, but she couldn’t help it, she was angry and bitter.


Lektorat: Ashley Zimmerman
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 30.03.2013

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A gigantic Thank you to my sister Bethany who never helped me proof read anything. Also a really big Thank You to Ash-Mo for believing that I really am a strong independent women who don't need no man, to write this.

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