short story

Abandoned Storage Building

This is another prompt entry for Wordbound.

Lately I’ve been behind on these prompts but I finally caught up. Honestly, I have this week and the previous week’s entries completed but I only wanted to post one at a time sooooo I chose the one I was most interested in which is my zombie inspired entry. ^_^ 

Wed Feb 15, 2017

Put a character in an abandoned building or space.

Jared removed his gun from its holster. The last thing he wanted was to fire a bullet and attract another swarm of monsters but what choice did he have? Unlike Riley, he was just some ordinary human with a gun. No special supernatural abilities. No supersonic hearing or ice breath or whatever else Riley and her friends could do. Just a stupid non genetically altered idiot who thought it was a bright idea to throw himself in the middle of the city’s sector which just so happened to be infested with flesh eating monsters.

Jared slid the door closed behind him as quietly as possible but still the sound of metal on metal clanked loudly behind him, echoing off the walls of the abandoned storage warehouse. He paused for a moment, shoulders hunched up, ears seeking out the disturbing yet familiar sound the creatures made once they noticed a living thing nearby and rushed forward to devour them. Luckily he heard nothing, nothing except his own heavy breathing and the pounding of his heart in his ears.

One cautious step at a time, he walked to center of the building, searching for the hallway leading to the storage rooms. Somewhere in there was storage room 419 where the medication their newest addition to the group needed. She was a little asthmatic girl who he regrettably had to leave behind with the others during her latest asthma attack.

He was her only hope.

Her dying mother told their group about the storage room where she, her husband, and her daughter stayed during the beginning of the outbreak until they ran out of food and scoured the city for more. The memory of her reaching up, tangling her weak fingers in the dangling strings from his grey hoodie and squeaking her dying wish was forever engrained in his memory. Thinking of it now made him shudder.

He shook his head, forcing the memory away. He needed to stay focused, needed to be fully aware of his surroundings if he wanted to make it out of this alive.

She was counting on him, that little girl who had witnessed her own father tear a chunk of flesh and meat from her mother’s shoulder with nothing more than his bare teeth before turning them on her, right before a bullet pierced through his forehead, ending his life for good. The bullet that Jared shot, the same one that caused the remaining monsters to take notice of them.

Still, no one else volunteered on this mission. They were all so cold, hearts hardened from the terrible things they’d witnessed throughout the past couple of months. No one was willing to stick their neck out, not for some asthmatic child they barely knew and saw as a liability. No one but him.     

His search lead him to a dark hallway, ceiling lights flickering, barely lighting the pathway at all. He pulled his flashlight from his pocket and shined its dim light down the hallway. When he was sure nothing was there, he shut it off, returning it to his pocket to conserve the batteries for as long as possible. Beside him was a storage room, the metal door down and locked shut with a massive padlock. The room read 103.

His eyes instinctively went up, cursing silently to himself. The room he seeked was on the fourth floor and he had no clue how to get up there.      

Then there was a sound from above that made him collide into the wall beside him as he tried to take cover. Was it one of those monsters or another human living in the building? At this point, he didn’t know which was worse. The last time his group encountered other humans, they lost two of their members, the other humans betraying them, practically leaving them to die as they ran off with their stolen goods.

Humans were worse than the monsters, he decided. They were deceitful. Ruthless. He wanted to trust them but every time he did, they ended up stabbing him in the back. But what was even worse than them were the genetically enhanced. The once humans that were experimented on, causing some to have special abilities and others to transform into monsters. The ones like his friends but not quite as forgiving as they were, seeking anyone and everyone to use their abilities on and make them suffer the way humans had secretly made them suffer for years.

In the distance, he saw the old rickety elevator descend. The rusted gate for a door concealed whoever was inside it, the wood of the elevator cracking loudly until it slammed against the ground and went silent. The light above the elevator flickered momentarily, an obnoxious beep ringing out causing Jared to cringe from the loud sound.

He raised his gun and pointed it to the elevator door, waiting for it to open. If he’d kept count correctly, he had three bullets left and he much rather not waste them now if he didn’t need to.

The door never opened, instead it was pried open, revealing a girl with an unruly pixie cut, manhandling her way out the half opened gate.

Jared immediately lowered his weapon. “Riley?” He called out before thinking better of it. The elevator had created enough noise to attract the monsters to their location, the last thing he needed to do was shout her name across the abandoned building.  

Her eyes darted across the open space, spotting him pressed up against the wall to her right. When he jogged over to her, she didn’t look the least bit surprised to see him there. “Loud much.” She muttered with her usual emotionless tone. She looked bored, even bothered, but her eyes told a different tale, a flicker of relief amongst the amber specks in them. “Why’d you leave on your own?”

“The others didn’t seem that interested in helping.” Jared placed his gun back in his holster but remained alert of his surroundings. So far there was no sign of anything out of the ordinary but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a stray monster lurking within one of the storage rooms.

“That’s because it’s obviously a suicide mission.” Riley tugged at her fingerless gloves. She pulled the velcro apart, repositioned the gloves farther back onto her hands before strapping them back into place.

“And the alternative is the girl dies.” Jared’s eyes fell to Riley’s fingertips. The skin around her nails were dark with a flaky ash subsistence still clinging to them. She never noticed him staring but spotted it herself and quickly rubbed the subsistence on her black jeans.

The last time he’d seen her fingertips that dark, flames were shooting out from them, engulfing every monster stupid enough to nibble at her sister’s lifeless body. During her rampage, she’d disfigured four comrades, one including a pregnant woman who had just joined their group. Ever since then, she’d avoided using her special abilities, not wanting to lose control again.   

Riley rolled her eyes. “Yeah well she’ll die eventually when the inhaler is empty.”

Jared ignored her heartless statement. “Are there monsters up there?” He glanced upward, squinting through the glass windows but he saw nothing in the hallway on the second floor.

Riley curled her fingers into a fist, moving them out of his line of sight. “No, stupid,” she spoke loudly, “I had to get rid of some outside after you slammed the door shut.”

Jared’s eyes trailed to the front door, remembering just how loud it had been when he closed it earlier. Still, he figured it was just his nerves playing tricks on him, not that the sound had actually attracted monsters to their location.

He turned back to Riley, her attention had already shifted back to the rickety elevator. “By the way, nice job. The place is surrounded with them now.” She dragged the gate back a little more, creating a slightly larger opening but then gave up. The gate wasn’t on the track correctly. Jared doubted it would even close back when they got ready to use it again. “It’s gonna make it harder for us to escape now after we find that stupid inhaler.”  

A smile crept onto Jared’s lips but it didn’t stop there. Laughter clawed its way out of his throat and he didn’t bother holding it back, not now that he knew they were already surrounded. “So you’re here to help then?” He asked, his laughter dying down. “You getting soft or what?”

She turned to him with flushed rosy cheeks and a look in her eye that made him wonder if she could make him magically combust into flames. Slamming her boot down, she spun away from him, turning her back on him. A couple of seconds passed by, the tension in her shoulders subsiding before she opened her mouth again. “Let’s face it,” she paused, clenching her fist against her body, the only sign that she was still pissed from his remark. “You’d be dead without me.”

Riley squeezed herself in between the gate, disappearing into the darkness within the elevator. Jared didn’t argue with her. He knew it was true. On too many occasions, more than he could keep count of, she’d saved him from sticky situations. Even when she wasn’t using her abilities she managed to. It was something he would never forget but didn’t have the stomach to thank her out loud.

He too squeezed between the gate but it was much harder for him to fit between the two rusted pieces. She gave him a dull look, her hand hovering beside the control panel. “Going up?” She asked. He nodded and she jabbed a finger against the number four, bringing the elevator back to life. It creaked loudly again, lifting them up past the second floor before screeching to a halt.

Riley huffed. “What now?” She stuck her head out the gate to see what was preventing their progress. She opened her mouth to speak as the lights in the building went out, plunging them into complete darkness.

The elevator jerked, bouncing up and down as if it was about to fall. With a racing heart, Jared lunged forward, snatching Riley back from the elevator’s opening. They stumbled back into one another, Riley tumbling on top of him as they crash onto the floor.

She froze for a split second, her face so red he swore he could see the heat behind her cheeks glowing in the darkness. “What are you doing?” She finally spat out, pushing herself up and away from him, sliding into a corner to create more distance between them.

“I pictured you getting your head cut off.” The minute he said it he knew it sounded dumb. Even in the dark, her dumbfounded expression confirmed this.

The elevator bounced again, their eyes shooting up to the roof. “I saw monsters.” Riley blurred out. She was already on her feet, pushing with all her might to close the gate but it wouldn’t budge. “They’re probably on top. Help me shut the door.”

Jared joined her, pulling the gate while she pushed yet still it didn’t move an inch. “What are we going to-” His words were cut short, a monster’s claw snagging the sleeve of his hoodie and nearly yanking him out the elevator.

Riley screamed, something Jared never thought he’d live long enough to witness, which made him even more afraid that this was the end. His feet slipped from underneath him, his hands wrapped around the edges of the gate to prevent himself from being dragged to the roof of the elevator. She grabbed ahold of one of his arms, pulling him back until the fabric on his hoodie ripped, momentarily setting him free.

The monster reached again but this time Riley lifted her fingers, pointing them at the monster, and engulfing it in flames as well as Jared’s entire sleeve.

Jared slammed his burning arm against the wall, patting the flames down until they were all gone, leaving his gray hoodie in smokey shambles. The force of his body against the wall was enough to make the elevator fall for real this time. It dipped a few inches before catching against the wall and stopping again.

Jared stood completely still, not wanting to send them plummeting to their death again but Riley rushed over to him, nearly wrenching his arm out of its socket. She lifted it to eye level and examined it closely. “Are you okay!?” She croaked, her fingers trembling around the burnt fabric between her darkened fingertips.  

Jared flinched from her touch. He could tell he was burned from the pain searing up his arm but he hoped the darkness concealed that from her. “I’m fine.” He insisted, tugging his arm from her grasp.

He wanted to rub his arm and sooth his pain, but the slightest touch had him grinding his teeth together. “Thanks for saving me again.” He dropped his arm to his side and forced his attention to something much more important than the pain emanating from his arm. The fact that they were trapped in this elevator with no power and the slightest movement could send them falling again. To make matters worse, monsters were crawling around on the roof of the elevator, waiting for them to slip up so they could make them their lunch. “Got any bright ideas?”

I enjoyed writing this so much that (depending on the next prompt), I think I’ll try to continue the story. Maybe I will even if the prompt doesn’t work for it. 

It’s actually funny, when I first started plotting out this entry, Riley was a bit different. I have to say I like how she turned out: clever, tough, with a hint of motherly instinct covered by her hard exterior. At first, I wanted to play with the idea that she had split personalities caused by being experimented on (like her and her sister were two different people until the experiment caused them to merge into one) but it just didn’t feel right.

So naturally, her sister had to die.


She didn’t have to but it sort of happened while I was writing. I wanted something in her past to mold her into who she was today. Something that made her tough yet soft on the inside, human. 

Jared was fun to write as well. I like that the roles were reversed for them. He, unlike the rest of his group, really cares about saving this little girl’s life even if it cost him his own and even if eventually she’d die in the long run. He holds onto humanity even in a world that’s been turned upside down. 

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