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Story 1

Rob Darnell

Rob Darnell likes sports and beer. He is also an avid deer hunter and hunts from the beginning of October to the end of December. His website is

"The Infected" is an old story, and Rob doesn't remember what he was thinking when he wrote it, but perhaps the movie "I Am Legend" had something to do with it, as well as hunting and the fact that Detroit is largely abandoned.


The Infected
By Rob Darnell

Jerry sat on the sidewalk at the edge of the crumbling road.  He hugged his knees for warmth.  The night wasn't terribly cold, but Spring had not yet settled in.  At the moment there was nothing to do but wait.  Some hunters preferred to stalk their prey; others waited for the prey to come to them.

Jerry looked to his left.  Molly sat on the faded white line where two roads intersected.  Rusted traffic lights no longer in operation hung low from the cable over her head.  She, like Jerry, hugged her knees for warmth and watched the road and the decaying houses.

Molly turned her head to meet Jerry’s gaze.  Her bright, yellow eyes were wide and glowing.

Jerry looked away from Molly.  He was hungry.  The painful aching in his stomach reminded him that he had not eaten in three days.  Food was hard to find and often meals were small.  In the last year, Jerry had lost nine friends to starvation.  The tribe had only a few members left.

Something moved.  Jerry focused on the house directly across the street from him.  He waited until he saw another movement, slow and cautious.  Jerry sniffed the air and inhaled the scent of urine.  He watched as the animal crawled from the cracked foundation and skittered across the dry lawn.

A rat.  Not a particularly large rat, but still a good-sized one.  Jerry kept his eyes on the rat until it reached the sidewalk.

Jerry unwrapped his arms from around his knees and rose to his full height.  He took one slow, soundless step toward the rat, and then another.  He was halfway across the road when the rat looked his way.

The rat's eyes grew wide, but it did not move.  Jerry took a few more steps toward the rat.  He reached down and plucked the rat from the sidewalk.

Jerry turned to Molly and held the rat up for her to see.


Herb coughed again.  He lay on an old mattress.  Herb was so thin that Jerry could see every bone under his skin.  Jerry had tried to feed Herb some of the rat he'd caught, but Herb had been unable to swallow.

Jerry turned away.  He was unable to watch.  Herb was a good friend and would probably be the next to die.  Frank stood at the window across the room.  Jerry went to join him.

Outside, Molly stood with John on the front steps.  Both of them looked underfed, but the hunt today had been successful.  Molly, too, had caught something to bring home.  A pigeon had landed on a low hanging branch, and Molly pounced on it.

They had not brought home much food, but it was more than the tribe had had in days.  Jerry and Molly might have stayed out longer and tried their luck at ambushing more prey, but when the sun's first rays appeared over the horizon, it was time to return home.  Too many had braved the sun's rays in the past, and they had paid dearly.  No one stayed out after sunrise anymore, unless they were suicidal.

Bryan had not returned yet.  That was why Molly and John were on the steps and why Frank had not closed the drapes yet.  It was not like Bryan to stay out alone for so long.  Molly wanted to go searching for him, but John wouldn't let her.  The sun was already turning dawn into morning, and they would need to come in soon.

Wherever Bryan was, Jerry hoped he had found shelter.  Bryan was the most skilled hunter they had.  The tribe could not afford to lose him.

At last John got Molly to turn around and follow him inside.  Frank turned away from the window and slowly walked to his bed.

Jerry was closing the drapes when he saw Bryan come out of an alley up the road, carrying an animal over one shoulder.


Jerry had questions for Bryan, but he kept quiet until everyone had finished eating.  Herb was still unable to eat, though, and insisted the others have his share.  When the food was gone, everyone looked to Bryan.  Frank spoke first.

"Why were you late?" he asked.  His voice was throaty.

Bryan looked around at each of them.  "There are strangers at the towers," he said.  "I counted eight of them.  They are not like us."

Jerry exchanged looks with Molly, and then he looked to Bryan.  "Did they come from beyond the wall?" he asked.

Bryan shook his head and pointed upward.  "They came from the sky."

"What do you mean?"

Bryan shook his head again, and then shrugged.  "I don't know, they came in a machine like those that are on the flat field.  Remember when Lucy told us the machines flew a long time ago?"

Jerry remembered.  That was several years ago.  Lucy was no longer with them.  She had been a grandmotherly figure to all of them, and she carried tales that were passed down from generation to generation.  Jerry was a boy when Lucy died, but he remembered her well.

"The flat field was called an airport," Jerry recalled.  That was what Lucy had called it.  The airport building was intact, but the decades had worn it down and weeds had sprung through cracks in its roads.  All of the machines at the airport were old and damaged, and they did not look good for anything.

"Yes," Bryan said.  "The airport.  The strangers came in a machine like those at the airport."

"What did the strangers look like?"

Bryan's expression turned to one of puzzlement, and again he shook his head.  "They were white, from head to toe."

"All white?  Did they have hair?"

"No," Bryan said.  "They had no hair and their heads were very large."  He held a hand at each side of his head to give an example of how much larger the strangers' heads were.  "Their bodies were muscled."

Jerry did his best to picture the strangers in his head.  If Bryan's description was accurate, the strangers were much larger than any of them.

"Were they hostile?"  It was Frank who spoke.

"I don't know," Bryan said.  "I watched them from a faraway position.  They did not see me."


Helen Greenwich shined her flashlight through the window of a building.  The room inside was a large lobby area.  The ceiling was caved in and walls had collapsed.  Helen saw no signs of human life.

She turned away from the window and continued along the road.  Greg Stevenson was a few meters ahead, inspecting the entrance of another building.  He, like her, was wearing a white biohazard suit with a hood and mask.

Helen stepped to Greg's side and had herself a look in the doorway.  The scenery was the same as the last building she had looked into.  Caved in ceilings, collapsed walls, a lot of dust.  Mouse and rat feces were everywhere, along with furniture from a century ago.

"They could be anywhere in there," Greg said.  "It's a big building."

"Yes," Helen agreed.  "But I'd rather we didn't go looking for them in there.  It's not safe."

Greg nodded.  "They're in their holes anyway.  The sun is coming up, but we'll see them tonight."

"We will," Helen agreed.  "We should set our traps now."


"This is it."  Bryan spoke in a hushed whisper as he peered around the corner of a crumbling building.  He stepped back from the corner so Jerry could have a look.

Jerry peered cautiously around the corner, at a tall building several meters away.  Jerry looked up toward the top of the building.  A bright light shined down from the roof.

"I was up in that building," Bryan said and pointed to another building a short distance away.  The second building was taller than the first building.  Anyone on the roof of the second building would be able to look down onto the roof of the first building.

"Should we go up there now?" Jerry asked.

Bryan peered around the corner again, and then bolted for the second building.  Jerry followed Bryan.  He could hear Molly close behind him.  The road was littered with garbage and rubble.

As Bryan was leading them into the building, a bright light came on from within, and a loud noise sounded.  Jerry couldn't decide which was worse, the light or the noise.  The light consumed him and blinded him.  The noise was so loud he could not hear himself yelling.

Jerry turned away from the light and ran in the opposite direction.  His vision was not restored, and he could not see where he was going.  He had never been so frightened.

He tripped over something, stumbled, and then landed face first on the road.


Jerry picked himself up from the road.  He didn't know how long he had lain there, but the noise had stopped and his vision had returned.  He looked around.  The building he had run from was several meters away.

He saw Bryan and Molly.  They were not alone.  Five creatures surrounded them.  The creatures were all white from head to toe.  They were also very muscular.  Bryan had described them correctly.

"Don't be afraid," a woman said.  "We are here to help you."

Jerry turned his head and saw one of the white creatures coming toward him.  He made out the creature’s face through the glass visor and realized it was a woman in a white suit.

"Please," the woman said as she took another step toward Jerry.  "If you can understand me, don't flee.  We are here to help you."

Jerry saw movement out of the corner of his eye.  He turned his head to see another person in a white suit coming toward him.  This person was carrying a black rod.

Jerry backed away.

"No," the woman said to her friend.  "Don't use the taser on him.  I think he understands me."  She looked at Jerry again.  "You do, don't you?"

Jerry looked at the woman.  She did not bare her teeth and her expression was kind.

"I understand you," Jerry said.

"Will you let us help you?" the woman asked.

Jerry nodded.  "Yes."




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