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
By Rob Darnell
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.
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.
turned her head to meet Jerry’s gaze. Her bright,
yellow eyes were wide and glowing.
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
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.
rat. Not a particularly large rat, but still a
good-sized one. Jerry kept his eyes on the rat until it
reached the sidewalk.
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.
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.
turned to Molly and held the rat up for her to see.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
last John got Molly to turn around and follow him
inside. Frank turned away from the window and slowly
walked to his bed.
was closing the drapes when he saw Bryan come out of an
alley up the road, carrying an animal over one shoulder.
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
were you late?" he asked. His voice was throaty.
looked around at each of them. "There are strangers at
the towers," he said. "I counted eight of them. They
are not like us."
exchanged looks with Molly, and then he looked to
Bryan. "Did they come from beyond the wall?" he asked.
shook his head and pointed upward. "They came from the
do you mean?"
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?"
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.
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.
Bryan said. "The airport. The strangers came in a
machine like those at the airport."
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
white? Did they have hair?"
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."
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.
they hostile?" It was Frank who spoke.
don't know," Bryan said. "I watched them from a faraway
position. They did not see me."
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.
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.
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
could be anywhere in there," Greg said. "It's a big
Helen agreed. "But I'd rather we didn't go looking for
them in there. It's not safe."
nodded. "They're in their holes anyway. The sun is
coming up, but we'll see them tonight."
will," Helen agreed. "We should set our traps now."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
tripped over something, stumbled, and then landed face
first on the road.
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.
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.
be afraid," a woman said. "We are here to help you."
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
"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."
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.
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?"
looked at the woman. She did not bare her teeth and her
expression was kind.
understand you," Jerry said.
you let us help you?" the woman asked.