I’m sitting on the toilet in the master bathroom hunched over holding my phone while video chatting with Mia, my oldest son’s mother. I take a deep breath while she speaks, my face does not hide the moment we are in. She stared at me through the phone, she knows I was never good at hiding my emotions, she can see the worry that is written all over my face. 

“All of your windows are blocked off? You’ve been checking them constantly?” She asks. 

“Yea, I got all that covered. And yours is all blocked off?” I ask her.

 “I have an estate, none of them are getting past the gates or at least not that I think they will. And if they do I have a few guns waiting for them.” She says firmly. Mia was always strong, even now she showed her strength at a time most people were panicking and losing their heads. Exactly seven days ago some type of infection was let loose on the city of Columbus Ohio. I say let loose because many of us have suspicions that Betacore let this virus loose with permission of the United States government. Betacore is a military funded company that deals in creating weapons, but they also work in investigating various diseases. It was not a secret the company was well known here, and they funded many science programs for school kids. It doesn’t matter now, what’s done is done. We still have power and all services in the house, but no one knows for how long. Whatever this virus is, it infected human hosts which turned them into a zombie like being. I say zombie like because the human host is not thirsting for brains. Most assuredly the human host becomes violent when agitated by quick motions, loud sounds, or when it is time to release the spawn mist from its mouth. They move in hordes looking for humans who have not been infected and force the virus on their prey by opening their mouth as they stand close to the victim releasing this mist that travels into the victims nose or mouth infecting them. It takes about four hours for the host to become infected, and when they do they still look human. The only difference is the infected has small red blisters around their mouths and have a yellow hue to their eyes, the blisters get bigger are are bright red when they are ready to infect a new host. An infected that has no bumps around its mouth is newly infected. We learned this through the emergency broadcast system. Two days after the infection the broadcast went out to stay inside and not to go out until the military said it was safe to. We also learned that during the day, the infected moved very slowly, like those old zombie movies. The theory was that it had something to do with sunlight and how it affected the virus in an infected hosts body. But if you got close to one, they had small burst of speed as they reached harm you. I learned this first hand when I went out to help a neighbor who was infected and I didn’t know it until I was close to him. Fortunately I escaped. The infected are also not able to infect while in direct sunlight, they can not release the mist from their mouths at that time. That was another thing that was fortunate for me, that it was during the day that I was attacked. Had it been just thirty minutes after dark my neighbor would have been able to move as fast as me, and attempt to infect me, but I got away half scared to death. From talking to family who live outside of Ohio the military has kept the infection so far quarantined to Ohio. The infection started down on the University campus, we think at Betacore because the main branch is there, it quickly spread through the city. Within two days the infection spread to close to the borders of Ohio  in all framing directions but by then it was already guessed where the infection was headed. No one was allowed out of Ohio unless they were cleared of any possible infection. But how would they be able to check for something that got out so quickly unless they created this virus to begin with? It made you even question how the emergency broadcasting service was able to give out so much information about this virus without knowing what the hell it was. I think they thought they could control this virus and they lost control. No one will ever know, now we are just busy trying to stay alive and not become infected or be killed by one of the infected. When all of this happened I was lucky that I was at home, and I had both of my sons that don’t live with me because it was my weekend. My twenty year old daughter Destiny was able to drive home from work before it got too bad. And my youngest daughter Maria who is two was with my wife down the street at the grocery store. My wife Fatima and I work at the same place, we’re school bus drivers so we were are off for summer break. In respects to my family it was a blessing that all of them where near bye or at home when the infection broke. The boys were upstairs playing video games while I was downstairs sleeping on the couch when the news broke. I get them for most of the summer break. My oldest son Giovanni, his mother Mia lives in Grove City further out on a large amount of land she purchased years back, it is about thirty minutes away. She is a corporate lawyer, and one of the best in Ohio if not in the country. Michael my younger son’s mother Jenna lived not too far from us in Holly Hill, she worked at a warehouse where she had been for ten years and made good money, Fatima, Gia, Destiny and I live in Galloway Ohio which was about fifteen minutes from her. Yea we were really lucky, we heard about the nightmare unfolding, families in our area being killed or infected at home, others never made it home. The chaos was ridiculous when everything first hit, it wasn’t until days later that oddly things quieted. Things only got quiet for bad reasons. There was infected everywhere. And even though I suspected the government for playing a part in all of this I was glad they at least sent out valuable information that helped us even if it took a few days. Because it was on the first day that infection spread so quickly because it was at night when it struck. The infected moved quickly attacking any they came across. The way they attacked was aggressive, I saw it in the yard behind me. Mark and his wife along with their twelve year old daughter, they ran out of the house, Marks eighteen year old son took up pursuit busting out of the back door at Mark, he had been infected. The speed that Marks son was running was a little faster than a human, he charged Mark striking him with his body knocking him off of his feet. Other infected heard the commotion and the screams from the females as Mark fought to get his son off of him. Other infected ran into the back yard ramming themselves into Mark’s wife and daughter sending them to the ground. I felt bad for them seeing them being infected by the horde. I was ashamed to feel good that I had a privacy fence put up last summer. I didn’t know though if the infected would ever try to climb it or break through, so far that was not the case. The best plan of action for now was to remain quiet as to not trigger any of them. We took everything heavy that we could find in the house and blocked the doors and windows downstairs. I nailed whatever wood I could find I could to windows. We decided if we needed to get out, when that day came we’d go from the storage area on top of the garage. There is a ladder that drops down from the storage room above the garage and we knocked a big hole in my son’s bedroom to be able to get to it from the top floor, I parked the van in the garage. There is a bunch of stuff blocking the stairs that go down to the living room and front door. We keep the food downstairs in the refrigerator that needs to stay refrigerated, and other food stays upstairs with us. I go down with my wife when she wants to cook while Destiny watches the boys. My van keys I leave with her in case something happens to Fatima and I. So much to think about, but I don’t plan on my family being victims of the virus, none of them so we do what we have to do. 

“How is my boy? Is Giovanni holding up well?” Mia asks, the first signs of this ugly situation slip through when she asks about him, she fights it down but her eyes water up slightly. She decided that at least for now she didn’t want him to see her. Maybe because she knew she would break down upon seeing his face, or maybe she knew Giovanni would see in her face how upset she really was. She hadn’t talked to him or seen him since all of this started.

“He’s doing pretty good. He has been taking account of all the things that have been going on and what he hears on the radio, you know how that photographic memory of his works. He’s ok, and he asks about you, and worries about if you’re ok.” I saw her eyes shudder she tried to keep from crying. “Maybe you should jump in that Hummer of yours and come over and stay with us.” I said trying to help her understand that it would be a better idea. Tom a few years back bought a Hummer at an army auction, not the commercial vehicles mind you, no it was the military grade Hummer. He kept it at Mia’s place because he didn’t have the space at his. She had that big ass house and she may have had a tall privacy fence to keep her horses in and people out, but it just seemed like she was alone out there with just her and her younger two year old son Orion who she had by Tom who was some kind of rank in the army. Tom and I were not enemies but we never talked so I didn’t know much about him, I personally felt that he didn’t like me for some reason. They met at some party here in Columbus, but he lived in Kentucky and wanted Mia to move there with Giovanni when they discovered she was pregnant with Orion, but she chose to stay in Grove City which would be closer for Giovanni and me. Giovanni is a high functioning Autistic, and to have him move far from me could set him off, we were very close. Mia was always private about her life save for anything that went on with Giovanni, she was always good about keeping me in the loop when it came to our son. 

“Tom said that it would be best if we stayed put until the right moment.” She said her voice a little shaky, she cleared her throat forcing down the sadness that wanted to creep up and be heard. Even though she was out there alone she was by no means defenseless. She had a few hand guns and assault riffles that she enjoyed shooting off at the gun range. Tom got her more involved with guns as their relationship progressed over the years. 

“So that must mean he knows something?” I asked her. She rolled her eyes, I didn’t take offense because I knew what she was going to say next.

“He claims he knows nothing, but he won’t let Orion come to harm. He will tell me whatever when the time is right.” She said. The sound of helicopter blades could be heard off in the distance, I paused a moment. “What?” Mia asked concerned. “Are they trying to get in?” She thought that I heard the infected. I stood up hearing the helicopter come closer. 

“No, I hear a helicopter coming, sounds like a military one by the sounds of the blades.” I listened intently. “I hear someone talking, coming from a microphone or something. I think it’s coming from the helicopter.” I stood up, then looked back down at my cell at Mia. “Let me call you back.” I hung up and ran out of the bathroom.

“Honey do you hear that?” Fatima said coming into the bedroom. 

“Yea, they are trying to tell us something. I’m going out on the roof!” I said focused. Fatima looked at me worried. “It’s ok! It’s only a little after three o’clock! The infected can’t move any faster than a crawling baby! Besides, I will be on the roof plus this might be important!” I ran into my son’s room opening their window. I could hear the voice echoing through the neighborhood from the helicopter, but the loud sound of the copter was still drowning out the words to the point I still could not understand what was behind said. Jumping out of the window onto the roof I hunched down and slowly crawled up high to the upper portion of the roof at the peak, I saw the helicopter. It was black and pretty big. It had twin blades, one in the front, one in the back. I don’t know much about helicopters but I knew it was some sort of military one. I waved with both arms as the helicopter made its way toward me. As it got closer I realized it was a recording being played as the helicopter flew slowly over head. 

“The army, and Air Force have made  evacuation areas for any survivors to get to. The closest for this area is Bolton Air Field base located at 2000 Norton Rd which is not far from here going further Southwest! The other evacuation area is Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base and Air force base located in South Columbus on Minuteman Way! Both bases are heavily fortified and protected by Army and Marine forces! If you are able to make it to either evacuation areas you will be safe!” Was what the message was looping. I was waving at the helicopter but it kept on moving, their job was to only get the message out, not to help evacuate people. 

“So now they are saying to risk our lives to get to get to one of these places so we can get out of Ohio safely?” Fatima said. I looked down at the street watching the infected mindlessly walking about. It was so deceptive. At night they moved about swiftly in search of new hosts to infect. 

“The day is the best time to make a run for it, there’s less of them, and they move slowly.” I said calmly. My mind was already formulating a plan, I was going to get my family to safety and nothing was going to stop me. 

“We don’t have any guns.” Fatima said thinking out loud. She wasn’t speaking against me, she was thinking with me trying to figure out her own ideas to make sure we got to the base safely. I looked down seeing her bite softly on her lip, something that she did when she was thinking deeply. I adjusted myself on the roof sitting down placing my hands on my knees. Looking down at the slow moving infected my mind also raced for ideas. 

“I have my martial arts weapons, but none of the kids are skilled in using them save for you, I have only taught them how to defend themselves so far in hand to hand. But you with either the bo staff of a pair of sai would be useful. But even better those tasers I got you, Destiny, and Jenna, and the extra one I bought for myself. Giovanni is old enough to be shown how to use that one.”

Fatima looked at me concerned.

“Will tasers work on the infected?” She asked. 

“Yea, without a doubt. They might be infected, but they still have nerve endings, and their bodies are still made up mostly of water. The taser will work, but I can test mine on one of them to make sure.” 

Fatima’s eyes widened. She always greatly cared for me, her love and devotion was like no other woman before her. I used to contribute that devout love to her being Pakistani as if maybe if was cultural. But now I know that no matter where she came from it was the woman she was. 

“You don’t mean to go out there my love, alone? Let me go with you! I will help.” Her eyes showed the fear of losing me. Sliding down the roof I touched the side of her face showing a smile to ease her fears.

“We both can’t go. You need to stay with the kids.”

“Destiny is twenty years old, she is not a child!” She protested. 

“True, but she is not a parent. Both of us can’t go out there. Besides, I’m only going to the yard behind us, not far. I don’t think it will be such a difficult task during the day honey.”

“I just don’t like you going alone out there. The last time you went you almost didn’t come back.” She brought her arms close lowering her head, she forced herself not to cry. Just like Mia, Fatima was a strong woman, it was my preference for a woman to have that quality. I never liked women who enjoyed being told what to do, or who could not stand up to me when they needed to. Something caught my eye down the street, it was one of the infected. They were moving slow, but not moving like the others which made me suspect they were not one of the infected. They were dressed in police riot gear wearing the helmet gas mask style. He had a riot shield strapped to one arm, I caught sight of a bloody Chinese butterfly sword in his right hand. I stood up watching the suited man slowly and patiently walk toward the house weaving through the crowd of infected on the street. After seeing the butterfly sword I had my suspicions on who it was.

“B Dub?” I said under my breath, squinting my eyes for a better look,  Fatima heard me. 

“Landon is out there? Is he ok? Is he…?” 

“No he’s not infected.” I looked down at Fatima. “Bring me the escape leader honey!” I said urgently. Landon Knight was his name, but I called him B Dub because he was always eating at that popular wing place on Thursday through Saturday. He was one of my closest friends, and my highest ranked student in my combat martial arts class. He was already a skilled Jujitsu grappler before coming to my martial art school but he was looking for something more. He wanted to learn the full art of war, weapons, hand to hand, and strategy. I taught all of that. Had been for the last eighteen years. We just seemed to hit it off, he was an uncle to all of my kids, and a brother to me and the wife. He was a Columbus Police officer before all of this hit the fan. He came from a long line of men in his family that all were in law enforcement in either police, swat, sherif, or highway patrol. B Dub had only been on the force for the past year and a half, he enjoyed his job. I had said my goodbyes to all of my students that I was close to and wished them safety via phone calls when the emergency broadcast system alerted us all to stay in doors. When I tried calling B Dub it kept going straight to voicemail, I thought the worse had happened, his patrol area was in ground zero near Betacom, I was glad to see I was wrong. His parents and younger brother live a few streets over but they were in Hawaii when the infection started which was a good thing, it meant they were safe away from all of this. It took a good twenty to thirty minutes for him to weave slowly through the horde that was spread out on the street. When he got close enough I pointed to where he was, Fatima could see him now. Destiny came into the room.

“What’s going on out there?” She asked nervously. Fatima looked back at her.

“Landon is out there, but he’s ok.” She took the emergency ladder she got from the boys closet and hooked it on the window sill before tossing the rest of it out of the window. 

“Omg! Dad thought he was dead!” Destiny said trying to get a glance outside over Fatima’s shoulder. Fatima waved for Destiny to quiet, I sat perched on the roof staring at B Dub make his way to my front door. He looked up at me while grabbing the ladder and climbed up, he kept the sword in his hand climbing with one hand. 

“You sure that’s smart climbing up with one hand?” I asked him. He got level to the lower roof and stepped over onto it. 

“Those things are unpredictable, I ain’t taking any chances!” He said. His mask was smeared with blood and now I noticed that blood was also all over his riot armor and shield. He had a shot gun holster attached to the back of his armor and and a gun holstered at his side. “Damn it’s good to see you!” He said with great emotion. I smiled at him feeling good to see that he was alive. 

“I’m glad to see that you’re alive brother. Let’s go inside and get you cleaned up.” I patted him on the back motioning him to enter the window. When we climbed into the window both of my boys ran into the room excited and happy to see that Uncle Landon was alive and well. I gave him some of my clothes to change into and told him I’d help him clean his riot armor after we ate lunch. It was really good to see that he was alive. So many others that I knew were either dead, or infected which one I did not know because I lost contact with many of them one by one over the past few days. The only ones I wanted to keep in touch with now was my inner circle. Mia, my oldest son’s mother. Jen my younger son’s mom. And Jen’s dad who lived not even a mile down Broad Street past Betacom National Park. 

Jen got a call from her boyfriend during the night a few days ago, he begged for her to come and pick him up at his house at night, said that he knew he was going to be infected or die if she didn’t. So she went against her better judgement to his place, at a time when the infected were the most dangerous. Come to find out he was already infected and just didn’t want to be the only one. He tried to keep her hostage until he fully turned so that he could infect her as well. She got away thanks to a Good Samaritan who her her screams and he sacrificed his own life to help her get back to her car. She had to ram her way through many infected hordes before making it home. She hid out in the cellar of her basement and went up during the day to get whatever she could to eat. Out of all of us she was the worst off. I talked it over with Fatima yesterday and we both had been trying to think of the best way to go get her ourselves. As long as she stayed in her cellar she was safe, but her food supply would not last much longer, and her car was no longer reliable. There was so much shit to think about it was unreal. She was terrified and alone, and she was the mother of my youngest son. No way was I going to leave her to die. What would I say to my son if I did that? 

(Next: It just got worse)