The Roof by Shanna
It seemed fitting that when the zombie army attacked, Joan was in the shower washing her hair. She had just squeezed the shampoo onto her palms and was rubbing it through her hair when the alarm went off. The high pitched siren made Joan jump and she grabbed onto the wall to make sure she didn’t slip in the tub. She had only heard the zombie alarm once before, during a test, but she would recognize that siren anywhere.
The alarm continued to blare as she frantically rinsed her hair and wondered if there was enough time to put conditioner on it. “If I skip putting conditioner on my hair,” she thought, “and it’s a false alarm, I don’t want to be left with gross unconditioned hair.”
Today was Joan’s day to shower. The water rationing that had recently been put into effect only gave allowances for bathing every fifth day. If Joan didn’t take care of her hair today, it would be unmanageable for the next week. “But,” Joan argued with herself, “if it’s not a false alarm, I don’t want to waste time conditioning my hair when I could be escaping.”
The alarm continued to blare and Joan ducked back under the shower spray as she quickly rinsed off her body. With a burst of inspiration, she squirted some conditioner into her hands and massaged it into her hair. “Leave-in conditioner,” she thought and giggled to herself as she turned off the water.
She grabbed her towel from the counter and speedily dragged it over her arms and legs trying to soak up as much water as she could. She quickly tied her hair up in the towel and ran to her dresser where she pulled on the clothes she wore earlier that day. The alarm continued to blare. Joan imagined she could hear it chanting “Hurry hurry hurry!”
She glanced out the window as she ran a brush through her hair, throwing the towel on the floor. She went to grab her shoes and froze. The zombie army was closer than she realized – in fact, the army was gathered right across the street. Joan didn’t know why it had taken the zombies so long to attack. The building where Joan lived was one of the few apartment complexes that was still inhabited by people. After the attacks had begun and the population had fled the city, the remaining residents – those who didn’t want to leave or the few who still had jobs in the city – had consolidated into the tallest high rise apartments in the city. The zombies had continued to overrun the empty parts of town and now it looked like they were ready to take over what was left.
Every couple of months the government would send in a containment unit to wipe out the armies. But somehow a few zombies would always escape and those would then make more zombies. It seemed to be a never-ending circle and the government was rapidly running out of time and money to kill the zombies.
Joan squinted and looked closer. The zombies seemed to be …. arguing? The two zombies in front seemed to be yelling at one another. One kept pointing at Joan’s building, while the other kept gesturing in the opposite direction. Contrary to popular belief, the zombies were not stupid. Rather, the infestation that turned them into zombies killed the majority of their brain cells. This was often why the zombies traveled in packs. When enough of them got together, they found they made up one brain.
The alarm continued to blare as the zombies argued. Joan gasped as she saw a couple of zombies break off from the group and make their way across the street to her building.
BANG BANG BANG!
“Joan! Let’s go!” Patrick yelled from the hallway. Joan could hear people running in the hall, their feet stomping on the carpet. The door to stairwell kept banging open as the building residents ran up the stairs to the roof.
The alarm continued to blare as Joan turned away from the window, laced up her boots, and picked up her jacket. Making her way to her door, she started to grab her keys and then stopped.
“Should I lock the door?” she thought. “Would it matter if I locked the door? If the zombies got in the building they would most likely break down all the doors looking for people.” Joan looked around her apartment. “But if they don’t get in,” she rationalized, “I don’t want to leave the apartment unlocked. What if someone stole something?”
“I paid a lot of money for those shoes,” she said aloud.
BANG BANG BANG!
“Joan! Come on!”
“I’m coming!” she shouted. She flung open the door and rushed into the hall, almost running into Patrick. He grabbed ahold of her arm and pulled her to the stairwell.
“Don’t worry about your apartment,” he said, pushing her ahead of him on the stairs. “We have more important things to be concerned about.”
They ran up the stairs, helping the people they came across. Finally they exited the stairwell onto the roof and Joan collapsed on the ground, breathing heavily. She brushed her wet hair out of her eyes and looked around. Most of the other tenants looked like Joan – breathing deep as they tried to recover after running up 20 flights of stairs, random clothes thrown on in a hurry. Many were looking around as if to wonder what happens next. Some had managed to gather important things like purses, phones, and laptops. Some had brought blankets and were wrapped up in them. Others had brought food as they were clearly in the middle of eating when the alarm sounded.
The alarm continued to blare.
“Is this everyone?” Patrick asked.
A voice came from off to the left. “Brad and Ms. Hopkins aren’t here. She was having trouble getting her dogs in their crates so he volunteered to help her.”
“Okay,” said Patrick, glancing at his watch. “We’ll give them a minute more but that’s it.” He walked to the edge of the roof and looked down over the railing.
Footfalls came clambering up the stairs and Ms. Hopkins came bursting out of the stairwell. Brad followed with the dog crate in his hands. Barking and yipping could be heard as the two dogs were squished into one crate.
“We’re the last,” they yelled.
Patrick closed and bolted the door. “Okay,” he said. “Everything will be fine. The contamination unit is on their way. We just have to wait until they get here and take control of the situation.”
Joan sighed and looked around again. She wished she had brought a book or something to do while they waited. She glanced over at Patrick and saw him frowning at the ground. Looking down, Joan saw a red splatter that looked like blood. She looked to the right and noticed little red drops that seemed to come from the stairwell.
Joan saw the trail of blood and remembered the three zombies she had seen making their way towards the building.
She looked at Patrick. Someone had been bitten and was now locked on the roof with them.