By Jonny Thompson


            Walter sniffed the rotted air intently. Nothing.

            No hint of the only thing he longed for, the only thing that would drive his feeble body forward.

            His feet shuffled along the gravel road, the rocks skinning his toes as they’d once done to the faded red running shoes that barely hung from his feet.

            Catching his foot on a rock, Walter crashed to the ground, his arms useless to do anything to protect him from the fall. With nothing between him and the ground, Walter’s face struck a discarded metal bumper strewn across the street.

            For a long moment Walter lay still, a black pus oozed from his nose and mouth.  His chest began to heave against the ground as he sucked in the dusty air that had whirled up as his body hit the ground.

            There was a time when this would have crippled him, maybe even killed him. But his body had adapted, now cold and unfeeling, with a beautiful numbness that prevented any sort of weakness.  He was an unfeeling mass of bone and muscle.

            Pressing his fist into the dry dirt, he pushed himself off the ground enough to drag his knees under him. Walter watched as dribbles of black pus fell to the ground, its thick mass so unnatural, that even the scorched dry earth seemed unwilling to soak it up.

            Walter half wiped, half smeared the congealed black mass on his face, unperturbed by what may have been left behind. Launching a foot under him he lifted himself back to his feet.

            His fist clenched tightly, the knuckles popping like trampled bubble wrap, as he sniffed the air once again. Nothing.

            Up ahead, Walter’s eyes barely caught a glimpse of the pack of Resting, nestled tightly between some buildings. He would avoid them as best he could, not wanting to get dragged down into their dull consciousness of interconnectedness. If he was unable to feed soon, he would need to find a pack. But while his legs still moved, he would remain a hunter.

            He watched as one of the Resting shot up, his head turning violently. One by one, other heads rose to attention sniffing the air, their faces filled with rage, overcome by their thirst for sustenance.

            Walter’s head snapped up sniffing deeply as the tangy aroma of warm velvety blood began to electrify his senses.

            How long had it been since he had felt the urge to hunt? There was a time when his body had felt possessed, rampaging through the streets with his brothers and sisters ripping away the warm flesh of those unfortunate few too weak to defend themselves.

            Walter began to shutter as the feeling of power now awakened inside him. The raw unhinge potential that transformed his decrepit body into the beast that struck fear into the eyes of those he preyed upon. His fingers itched to tear into their meagre flesh.

            Fueled with manic rage, he set off on the hunt. His legs no longer shuffled weakly along the ground but galloped forward, each foot pounded against the rigid terrain indifferent of what may be under them.

            His arms tore through the slower moving band of Resting, tossing them aside, plowing them over unbothered by their presence even as his foot trampled down on the chest of one of their fallen. The incident was unfaltering to Walter as he hurtled towards the intoxicating aroma.

            Unlike those weak enough to succumb to Resting, their senses diluted as they untrained their natural abilities, Walter’s senses were honed in and programmed for the hunt. He paused briefly as he rounded the corner of a building whose windows had been shattered, their remnants scattered now across the ground where Walter stood unfazed.

            Sucking in a deep breath he let the scent linger for a moment as he plotted his strategy for attack. The sticky metallic air indicated a herd of prey which meant more like him would be close to follow. A feed like this was long overdue.

            Sticking close to the building, Walter hopped inside a nearby building getting a better angle on his target. Surely the pack of war dogs Walter had just trampled through would be in hot pursuit, their mania would be key in disrupting the herd making for easy targets. But a proper feed would mean acting quickly.

            Moving through the buildings was slower and not nearly as direct as Walter would have preferred. However, the shattered concrete walls of many of the partially dilapidated buildings made it easier to travel discreetly.

            Checking the scent, he realized he’d gone far enough, as his hand gripped the tattered concrete and he hauled himself up over its crumbling walls catching the first glimpse of his prey.

            As hoped, he was now at their less protected back as he noted fifteen of their soft bodies fan out around a meagre-looking body covered in white. Walter set his eyes on his target as he stalked forward.

            The Resting who’d been void of sustenance for so long had lost all their competency for the hunt began to rush in like a surging wave, indifferent to anything but the meal as they flung their bodies into the herd.

            The herd had been prepared as they tightened their formation and fired projectiles at the uncaring mass of Resting, who would happily try and barrel through their defences uselessly.

            Ear curdling war cries rang out from the Resting which would surely signal for more hunters and Resting to come quickly. It would only be a matter of time before the scene would become a feeding frenzy.

            Walter snaked through the debris and fallen buildings as he reached the outer fringe of the herd, the fresh stench of flesh now only a few meters away.  Somewhere, something cried out causing his prey to turn and face him, its puny weapon firing heedlessly in Walter’s direction.

            If any contact was made, Walter hadn’t felt them, his milky white eyes burned into his prey. At first the recognition of fear shown across its fragile face turned to agony as Walter thrust his hand into its fleshy abdomen. Walter’s hand thrashed around tearing angrily at the innards of his prey, which sloshed warmly around in his cold hands, as he relished in the joy of the hunt once again.

            With greedy eagerness, Walter sunk his teeth into the supple tendrils of its neck feeling the velvety thick blood drain out into his mouth. He’d almost forgotten the invigorating pleasure of the sultry liquid which he lapped up like a plant starved of water.

            All at once, his senses began to tingle as he felt the sudden rush of power flow through him, like a drug he’d been missing for far too long, now rippled enthusiastically through him. In an instant, his senses heightened, a plethora of power he’d sorely been lacking since his last feeding.

            His rampage would begin soon enough as he released his hold over his preys tattered neck and cried out in exultation, which drew the attention of the herd. But it was too late he couldn’t be stopped.

            Walter spotted the threats around him, at the same time his hand, still buried in the abdomen of his slain prey, gripped tightly around something hard as he lifted the body above his head and hurled it into the sea of ravenous Resting.

            He watched as his starved companions shredded through the now limp corpse as they devoured the remains of his fresh kill. Their bodies lurched at the sudden surge of vitality coursing through them.

            The herd recognized a shift in momentum as another two of their party fell to the Resting which began to swarm incessantly around them, ripping them apart like rabid animals.

            Retreating swiftly, as more of Walters like began to appear, they backed away leaving their fallen friends to an excruciating end. Walter watched as they moved nearer to their impenetrable armoured shells which would soon make them untouchable.

            A hunt like this had been few and far between as of late and Walter understood they would need this if they were to remain strong and prosper in their new world.

            With elevated speed and swift efficacy, Walter circled the herd, slowly tightening the gap as he moved effortlessly nearer to the distracted prey. The Resting, now possessed, as they flung themselves at their prey were unable to dissociate their craving from survival.

            With a fresh vigour, so close to their armoured shell, the herd hastily fired projectiles, picking off the Resting one by one, their motionless bodies piling up from the ground. They seemed to focus on the pale body in white, quivering in fear as its head swivelled around in horror as it watched the brutality of the battle.

            Walter hemmed in behind the herd but was surprised when his prey, which seemed more prepared this time, turned, its weapon raised. Walter braced himself for an impact that never came, as from a mound of bodies, one of the Resting burst up ripping her boney fingers through its neck, as blood spewed out showering her in hot gore. A guttural war cry roared out as she harvested the splattered blood in her cradled hands and drank greedily.

            The herd distracted by the sudden disembowelment of their comrade began to pepper her with projectiles.

            Walter, seizing the opportunity, moved in to attack. With astonishing speed, he hurdled over stones, his feet crashing down against the uneven battlefield, noticing only now that he’d lost what remained of his red left shoe. Not that it mattered, as he stormed in on his kill.

            He saw the terror in its eyes as it fumbled with one of the useless toys that would do nothing now to save it now. Walter was too close. It fired as it hunched over in terror, the lone shot missing as it landed ineffectively into Walter’s gut. At least it should have been ineffective like all the others, only this dart caused shooting pain up through his abdomen.

            He tried ignoring the pain, as he raised his arms ready to shred through his prey when another fierce pain shot into his gut. His knees buckled as they lost their strength, collapsing to the ground, his momentum carrying him forward, dragging his shins across the ground sending searing pain up across them.

            Walter began to cry out in agony as the unfamiliar torment surged through his body. His eyes began to burn as sunlight flooded into them burning them from the inside out.

            He could feel his body begin to heave as black ooze vomited from his mouth and discharged through his pores, his eye, even his anus seemed to flare as Walter’s body wrenched in pain.

            A memory seemed to enter his mind which he recognized somehow as his parents.

            Cries of agony erupted from his mouth, the once unfeeling orifice now like shattered glass tearing through him annihilating his innards.

            In the seemingly unending sea of pain, a fresh jab lounged into Walter’s arm, just as his battered eyes began adjusting to the unyielding sunlight. A narrow pinkish face bore down over him, tears streamed his cheeks as he watched Walter with a mixture of fear, hope and sadness.             A needle stuck from Walter’s rotted arm as thick red blood was being pulled out of him.

            Walter didn’t have the energy to fight back or even move. All he wanted was for the pain to end.          

            “It will be over soon.” Said the man wiping his tears as a sudden cacophony of sounds hammered Walter’s head causing him to vomit more black pus and human flesh, tasting nothing of the glorious sustenance it had been moments before.

            “What’s your name son.” He said wistfully as a woman in army garb ripped him away from Walters side.

            The name come out raspy and painfully, yet deep down, he knew now it was true.  


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