20-Kim

It seemed like at least an hour since they left the hospital, but they hadn’t gotten very far before they hit heavily congested traffic, then finally traffic that wasn’t moving at all.

Kim could see the UW Tower up ahead and it hadn’t gotten any closer in at least half an hour.

“Barry,” Kim said, holding the nameless baby close to her chest.

“Yeah,” he replied.

“We’re not moving.”

“No kidding?” Barry was not amused.

“Why didn’t we just go to the five?” she asked. She could feel a panic attack coming on.

“Where do you think I’m trying to go?” he looked at her, incredulous.

“But you made a right onto University Way! If you’d just gone straight instead, we’d have hit the five already.”

“Oh yeah? What, were we just gonna fly up onto the five?” he asked, “There’s no on-ramp until 45th, Kim! That’s where I’m headed!”

Seattle, from above
Photo by Ryan Wilson on Unsplash

She took a deep breath, but still felt out of breath. He was right of course. “I’m sorry,” she said, “It’s hard to think straight when I’m having an anxiety attack.”

He gave her a long, worried look, then said, “Just hang tight, Kim. We’ll get going again soon.”

“Alright,” she said, not happy that she was making him worry.

She couldn’t remember the last time she had an anxiety attack. Of course, when was the last time she was responsible for a newborn infant? She looked down at him sleeping in her arms and wondered how the hell she was going to take care of this little guy when she can’t even get out of the city?

“He’s a quiet baby, huh?”

Kim looked up to see Barry staring at him in her arms. “Yeah,” she didn’t know what else to say. The poor kid had nobody else in the world to take care of him, and she had no idea where they were going or what they’d do when they got there. “He hasn’t cried once.”

Barry leaned in to get a closer look at the baby. “What?” she asked him.

“Can you bring him up a little bit?” he asked, “Into the sunlight?”

She didn’t know what he was looking at, but she lifted the baby up so the afternoon sunlight lit up his sleeping face. She looked up to see Barry staring intently down at him. “What is it?”

“He doesn’t look a little … like gray to you?

She took a closer look. He looked fine. Shriveled up like any newborn infant, but healthy otherwise. He did have kind of an olive look to him, maybe a little pale … no, it was gray. Just a little though. Barry was right, like colorless, but then she realized she didn’t even want to think about that right now. She pulled the baby to her shoulder and blocked his face from Barry’s view. “He looks fine,” she said defiantly.

Rocking him softly, she stared up at the UW Tower, willing it to get closer to them.

Barry sighed, but then they could hear some commotion behind them. Somebody was yelling and they could hear car doors opening and then slamming shut. Barry rolled down his window and stuck his head out.

“What is it?” Kim asked, her anxiety starting to creep back up her spine.

“I don’t know yet.”

As the people got closer, they could hear what one of them was yelling, “Get out of here! They’re coming! Go! Run! They are coming!” People started to pass on either side of them, and they could hear car doors opening and closing as more people abandoned their cars right there in the road.

Then the screaming guy was right there, passing the van on Barry’s side. Kim could see he was a Postal Worker in drab light blue and dark bluish-gray shorts. He was hitting the sides of cars as he went to make sure they heard him, that they knew he was talking to them, but most just seemed to ignore him. Some were getting out and following him though, and the looks on their faces were scaring her.

Barry got out of the van and stood on the edge of the doorway, trying to peer over the cars behind them as people continued to pass them on either side. Kim held the baby close and tried to look out her side mirror but she couldn’t see past a delivery truck that had gotten stuck forcing it way into the same parking lot traffic everybody else had been stuck in for who knows how long.

“What is it, Barry? Should we go?” He didn’t respond at first, a look of confusion on his face, but then she heard a loud smack — like a melon dropping onto a windshield. It didn’t sound far, like maybe three or four car lengths away at the most.

“Oh shit,” Barry said under his breath.

“What is it?

creepy hand on a car window
Photo by Aedrian on Unsplash

More smacks, one right after the other, then a crashing sound and screaming, blood-curdling screams. She couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman.

“Get out of the van, Kim,” Barry said, in an almost-whisper.

“What is it?” She asked again, but quietly this time, taking his cue.

“Just get out. We gotta run for it.”

They were halfway to the UW Tower when she realized she’d remembered to grab the bag of baby stuff, but none of her own. Running, yelling people were everywhere now.

A whoosh flew right past her — very nearly hitting her and the baby — and stopped her in her tracks, alarmed.

“Watch it, asshole!” Barry yelled at whatever nearly hit her and Kim turned to see it was a bike messenger. He had nearly bowled them both over. “Jesus! Is he okay?” Barry asked her about the baby.

She looked down and the baby was awake, but didn’t seem upset, just taking it all in. “Yeah,” she said, then looked up as Barry directed her down a side street.

“Where are we going?” she called after him.

“I don’t know yet,” he said, “Just away from those!” He pointed and she saw what looked like a small, young coed across the street taking a bite out of a policeman’s neck as he fell to the sidewalk.

Oh my God, she thought to herself, then felt the panic drain away. She didn’t have time for panic anymore. She was going to protect this baby, and to do that she had be on top of her game. So she reached down inside herself and flipped a switch, and just forced herself into lucidity.

It was as if everything slowed down all at once. All around them she could see the Rabid and their victims. They’d been there before, but she hadn’t seen them, and now she could see all of them … all at the same time.

The coed tearing into the cop’s neck and shoulder, as the life drained out of him. A balding businessman with a blood-soaked blazer that might have been beige once upon a time, tackling a frat boy. The rest of his fraternity screaming and running away. Crowds and groups of terrified pedestrians dodging scenes of carnage everywhere. Kim could see it all, and suddenly she knew where they needed to go.

She sped up and grabbed Barry’s hand, he turned, panic in his eyes, but she said to him firmly, “We gotta go this way,” gesturing with her head towards a dumpster they’d just passed about forty or fifty yards back.

Without thinking, he followed her, suddenly emboldened by her confidence.

Behind the dumpster was a small alley that they’d completely missed the first time they passed it. She took the lead and headed straight down towards the end of the alley, as Barry turned back and followed her backwards, making sure they weren’t followed or seen by any Rabid. “Are you sure this goes somewhere?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder.

a narrow alley
Photo by Mark Hang Fung So on Unsplash

“I saw somebody run back here,” she replied, then she saw a yellow flash and heard a door latch shut near the end of the alley. “Over there,” she gestured, not even looking to make sure Barry saw what she was pointing at — not that there were a ton of options in this tiny alley.

As she passed a pile of empty boxes, and a thick metal door, she could see that the ally didn’t actually end, but instead made a sharp right turn. Kim peered around the corner cautiously. She saw a shorter, less cluttered lane out to a wide street packed with cars and small groups of people trying to escape packs of violent Rabid — not always successfully.

She leaned back out of the view of the screaming and bloodshed and looked up at the big metal door she’d passed a moment ago. She turned to Barry and said, “Somebody just went in there.”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“One hundred percent,” she said confidently, “It was the same person I saw come into the alley. They were wearing yellow.”

Barry pounded on the door a few times with this fist, trying to keep it quiet enough to not draw attention from either street, but loud enough that people inside would hear them.

“Hey!” he said in a kind of whispered yell, right at the edge of the door. “Let us in! It’s just two of us.”

Nothing. No response at all.

Kim touched Barry’s arm and he got out of her way. She moved over to the door and as clearly as she could, she said, “Please. We have a baby here. Please let us in.”

She listened for a moment, then heard some kind of latch on the other side and the door swung open. Hands reached for them and pulled them both in, and with another latching sound they found themselves in the dark.

After a few moments, her eyes adjusted and Kim could see they were in the small back hallway of some kind of shop. There were three other people with them, a large man with a long black beard and bald head — who had clearly been the one who’d pulled them in — , and a man in a tweed sweater and round-rimmed glasses hugging a sobbing woman. The woman was wearing a yellow blouse.

Kim and Barry looked at each other and sighed.

Well, Kim thought, we at least made it this far.

READ 21-ALLAN | Read all the episodes in the Last Days series in reading order — the next episode publishes Monday morning (US) / Tuesday morning (AU/NZ)

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Chad Kukahiko

Chad Kukahiko

Hawaiian designer / developer / producer / director/writer and professional slashy, Creative Director of Hustler Equipment & Director: Oceania of We Make Movies