Kickoff written by B00H00LIGAN

End of the Living

Deadly outbreak


Soft gravel crunches under my flats as I head to work Saturday morning. It is late in the morning; the perfect time of day when the birds sing and the sun warms the sky. Bells jingle above the door to signal my arrival to the small café I work at. Cindy, my boss (but mostly my friend) welcomes me with a toothy smile. She is an older lady, but has a young personality that always reminds me of a toddler opening a new toy. "Good morning, Mae!", she says brightly, coming in to hug me.

"That it is," I say as I flash her my own toothy smile and return her hug.

"I thought I told you not to come in today!" Cindy exclaims with a small, teasing punch to my arm. "You've worked the past week without a day off,"

"You know I couldn't leave you to work Saturday alone. It gets way too busy, plus, I didn't have plans for today anyway," I counter while putting my white apron on over the yellow, off the shoulder sundress I am wearing. With that, the door begins to jingle as customers flood in
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for the best milkshakes in this part of the city. The day wears on slowly as I chat with customers and fill orders. A few hours later, while talking with Jim, the sweet old man who orders regular black coffee every morning, the power goes out. After a few minutes of trying to get the power to turn back on, and finding the back-up generator with no gas, Cindy calls it a day and closes the shop as the last customers leave. "Well, thank you for coming in today, Mae. I suppose I wouldn't have been able to keep up with all the fuss today, an old hag like me," She jokes while locking up.

"Now, now, Cindy, we both know how capable you are of taking care of yourself," I say with a kiss on her cheek. "I'm the one who is getting old and can't keep up!" With that Cindy laughs, light and loud. I wait for her to get into her car, and after she drives off, I then begin my bike ride home. It's an awkward distance to my apartment; too short to drive, too long to walk, so I usually opt on riding my yellow,
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old fashioned bike. On nice, sunny days like this one, I quite enjoy the ride to work. Trees and people blur past me as I rush by, ringing the small bell on the handles occasionally to signal to pedestrians who cannot see me that I am behind them. I notice, as I ride home, that the birds have stopped chirping, and the only sound I hear is the occasional honk of an angry driver and the wind bristling through the trees. I can feel the silence in the air, and it presses down on me.

!!!HHOONNKK!!! I jerk out of my thoughts of the odd silence when a car blares its horn at me as I sit, daydreaming, in the middle of the cross walk. "Sorry!" I yell as I give a sympathetic wave and ride off. Once at home, I sit on the couch and turn on Netflix. I don't have cable, since all the shows I could ever need are on Netflix, and so I remain unaware of the emergency news interruption that comes onto all channels a few hours later.

A few hours pass, and I am hungry. Looking into my cabinets, I realize that
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I need groceries, and badly. It is only around 3:30 PM, so I decide that a trip to the grocery store is doable, grab my keys, and head out the door.

On the way to the grocery store, I quietly scold myself for driving and not biking. For some reason, the roads are backed up for a long ways, jam packed with cars and frustrated drivers. I make it about 15 minutes from my apartment when I catch up to the line of cars. Parking, I sit for a few minutes before, one after the other, five police bikes zoom pass my vehicle, between the rows of cars. Seconds later, a large boom sounds that shakes my car, and slowly after, a mushroom of smoke rises in the air ahead. Quickly checking my mirrors to ensure there are no more reckless drivers, I unbuckle my seatbelt and step outside of my Volkswagen. "Hey!" A young man shouts from the vehicle behind me, "Do you know what the hold up is?"
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