Three weeks ago, they had only mentioned it. One little attack on a little old lady wasn't worth even ten seconds on the national news. The only reason it even made it was the odd, cannibalistic aspect of the attack.
It wasn't just one attack though. By the week's end, it was nineteen. By the next day, it was thirty-four. Each day was like this. The numbers grew exponentially.
Then they stopped. No reports on any deaths, only specialists trying to brush away any worries the public had. They used large words, and spoke confidently, and most people believed them. The numbers had to have been climbing, but no one seemed to worry. The every day news, nearly every talk show ended with a few minutes of a PhD talking about this or that.
Mass hysteria, they said. Satanic cults, they said.
Even I fell into a catatonic trance from the false security. Everything was fine. If it weren't, wouldn't the government be doing something?
It wasn't until I saw one at school that I found out how big a problem it had become.
Its skin - tinted sickly green, like a Sea Foam Green Crayola marker - was missing chunks or strips. I could see muscle. Congealed, almost-jelly like blood ran a thick trail down its arm and the dried variant splattered its tattered shirt. It was out in the yard, moving at a slow, shambling rate.
Several of my classmates had recoiled, others making interested comments, and a select handful of "brave" students even raced to the window.
Something primal in the back of my mind clicked on. Maybe it was fear. I couldn't tell you. All I knew was that it said run and I wasn't about to disagree with it.
I was halfway down the main hallway before Mrs. Faloon could even begin to yell at me to come back. She had enough on her plate with the kids who were now opening the window and calling to that mass of gore and pus. The sun was bright and pleasant when I burst through the door and out into the parking lot. Finally I was trying to think, and realized how stupid I was for doing this. I ran simply because some strange, vague hunch had told me.
I waited there, panting lightly. I'd catch my breath and head back in. I was in for a detention anyway. Might as well soak up a little sun. That was before a scream rang out, several more following it. I waited, paralyzed, for what seemed like eternity.
The fire alarm screeched its warning and I could hear the dull roar of four hundred and seventy-four pairs of feet clamoring to get out, just as they were taught.
Before the sea of people flooded the halls, I saw one of my classmates. Bright red splashes covered their clothes. A few more shambled clumsily to join the first.
The fear began again: this time renewed, pure, and urging.
I didn't live too far from the school, but the further I went, the more of those... things I found. They were slow, thankfully, and stupid. Avoiding them didn't prove too difficult. The sights they brought, that's another story.
Blood everywhere, bits of flesh and clothes, people screaming silently with huge gaping holes in their throats. They look at me with pleading eyes as those things feast on them.
Quietly, I whispered a prayer for them. God help them.
I rounded a corner, my feet hitting the sidewalk hard. My legs ached and my lungs held the start of pain. I stopped only a moment, but even that was too short. It'd already caught my eye.
One of those things - it was a monster, really - had my mother in its arms. She watched me with wide eyes. They were scared like a deer's. She tried to cry out to me.
I lunged forward and clawed at the thing. I pulled and tore at it like a wild animal. I don't remember when it sunk its teeth into me, but I know it did.
The pain was white hot and spread like fire up my arm and through my body. I collapsed. The creature bit more at me, teeth ripping way at my side, my legs. The fire rippled with each bite. My eyes screwed shut and I was screaming, but I can't remember hearing anything but the blood thumping in my ears. The bites became more infrequent and the hand with the first bite turned cold and numb.
My mother, bloody and crying, dragged herself close to me and touched her hand to my face. I couldn't feel it, the cold had spread. Soft gurgling noises, like listening to a drowning person, faded from my ears.
Everything went icy and dark.
It's a wonder how much you retain once you become one of those monsters. You wouldn't believe it. And you relive it every second of every day. It's a long, long road from humanity, I should know. My belly's filled with it.