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The Suburbs

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

The moon cast an eerie glow over the desolate street as Emily stumbled through the darkness. Her heart pounded in her chest, and her breath came in ragged gasps as she sprinted, her pursuers closing in. Behind her, the sound of loping footsteps grew louder, a chilling reminder of the horror that hunted her. They hunted the sane, their goals only to seek the fresh meat.

The days had been rough. Rolling blackouts had picked at the delicate isolation everyone had grown to enjoy. Then the riots started. In that, she was grateful. Her little neighborhood was isolated from the violence downtown had been experiencing. Then it began that evening when Emily had decided to take a late-night stroll. How she regretted leaving her phone for solitude. The streets were empty; the silence broken only by her footsteps echoing against the empty neighborhood. The lights had been out all afternoon. As she turned a corner, she caught a glimpse of movement from the corner of her eye.

It looked at first like a mugging. Several people gathered around someone on the ground. She had heard reports of delinquents taking advantage of the blackouts. Here was a group that stood over someone laying limp on the ground. In the dark, the blood appeared oily black.

Without thinking, she sprinted down the nearest street, her heart racing, adrenaline coursing through her veins. The pack pursued her relentlessly. Their relentless pursuit fueled by an unholy desire. Emily’s mind raced as she tried to formulate an escape plan, but her surroundings offered no respite.

Buildings loomed on either side, their windows broken and dark, their doors boarded shut. The street stretched out ahead, seemingly endless, an unforgiving path leading to an uncertain fate. She had to find a way out—a sanctuary, safety, people. So many had preemptively already left their homes. She couldn’t begin to guess which was empty or which was occupied. She dared not call out for help, in fear of bringing the pursuers to her location.

Looking back, she saw no pursuers. Ahead was a bus stop with the taillights and bright LED lights of the bus casting light down onto the sidewalk. She sprinted. Hope. Help. Someone who could get her help. A method to report the murder she had witnessed.

Her run slowed to a trot. Then to tentative steps. The back of the bus rocked. The frosted windows gave a ghostly view of the events. Inside. Three figures were locked in a mortal struggle. One was being stretched out between the two attackers. One worked diligently to pin their prey’s leg down. The other had already succeeded in brushing aside the arms. The head bobbing up and down, red matter of god-knows-what came up with each bob. Red smears slid up and down the rear window as the victim thrashed in the back.

Emily’s lungs burned, her legs ached, but she sprinted from the scene, regardless. Her desperation giving her strength. Her only solace was the faint hope that she might find help or safety further down the street. The chilling howls of the crazies echoed behind her again.

Oh God, how do they know where I am?!

A snarl from hedges drove her to push her limits even further.

Emily darted down a long stretch that she knew would take her to a gas station just over the next rise in the road. Her heart almost gave out when she crested the top and saw darkness.

Where’s the stoplight?! But a string of red and blue flashing lights bounced crazily against vacant glass windows.

That’s right, there’s no power.

At the intersection ahead, next to the gas station, were a series of police vehicles. From one of the figures ahead, a voice boomed over from a bullhorn.

“Attention everyone. Due to the riots in progress, this area will be closed off soon. Please proceed to this checkpoint immediately. If you do not evacuate, we will not be able to ensure your safety.”

“Thank God!” she gasped out as she started her run down the hill. As she closed in, she could see more people running to the hastily created police blockade. Small strings of frantic families came pouring in through the night like rats escaping a flood.

Police officers were waving people through. On the other side of the vehicle barricade, there were two busses and a large tan military vehicle that people were lining up to board.

Emily let out a pained sigh. Her heart burned, but she was nearly there.

A set of headlines came barreling down the adjacent street to her left. She watched as the police officers’ responses went from signaling to panic. An officer fired. Too late, the truck came crashing through their cars. People screamed. The truck rammed into the back of the tan military truck. People had rippled away from the scene. Some were being picked up, injured, cried amidst the chaos.

Officers had started to storm the truck, but in their diversion a primal scream came from the neighborhood.

It was a flash-flood of bodies that came pouring out. A cacophony of screams mixed with gunshots and primal hunting calls in a cocktail of terror.

Emily darted behind a power junction. She peeked out above the green metal box. She watched as crazy people leaped and tore into civilians and cops alike. The buses began to lurch in an attempt to save who they could. Jammed between fleeing families and wild primal attackers, the police; were like pebbles in a relentless stream that inevitably carried away even their most stubborn.

“No, no, no. Why?” Emily trembled. But more hunting calls sang out from behind her.

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