Kayden removed his headphones and ran his hand through his unkempt, greasy brown hair. He looked at the bottom right corner of one of his computer monitors and saw that the time was creeping up on 3 AM.
“Not a bad effort for a Friday night” he thought as he signed off from his account and plopped on top of his bed covers. It was the middle of summer in Pontiac, Michigan and although the air conditioning was blasting throughout the rest of the house, Kayden preferred the warm night’s air coming through the open window in his bedroom. The sound of crickets from the park nearby created a peaceful melody that settled his mind after an evening filled with tense gaming.
Just as Kayden was about to fall asleep, he heard a noise coming from outside his window. He continued to listen, the crickets’ chirping becoming fainter as he realized that someone was crying in his backyard. Kayden got up from his bed and looked out the sliding glass door that led from his bedroom to the pool in the backyard. He turned on the patio light and saw a woman knelt over one of the lawn chairs.
“Are you okay?” he asked, opening the sliding glass door and making his way toward her.
The woman turned around, startled.
“I…I’m sorry. Is this your home?” The woman appeared to be a few years older than Kayden, probably in her early-20’s, and was covered in dirt.
“Yeah.” Kayden stopped a few feet away from her and crouched down to meet her at eye level. “What are you doing back here? Are you hurt?”
“I don’t know. I…where am I?”
“Um,” Kayden was struggling to maintain eye contact, having noticed that the woman wasn’t wearing anything under her loose-fitting, transparent white gown. She had long, dark blonde hair and the blue in her eyes was so light, they almost looked white. “Stonegate Estates,” he managed.
The woman stared blankly at him.
“Pontiac…Michigan.” He added.
“I’m in Pontiac?” she half-asked, looking around dazedly. “That’s where I died.” Her voice faded as she stood up and made a half-hearted attempt to brush some of the dirt off her arms and legs.
“You did what??”
“I died,” she affirmed, “in the Pontiac State Hospital.”
Kayden wasn’t familiar with the hospital she was referring to, but judging by the woman’s appearance and mental state, he suspected she could be referring to a local mental institution.
“I’m not supposed to be here,” she said under her breath. She looked down at her feet, her mind drifting into an abyss of forgotten memories.
“Where are you supposed to be?” Kayden waited a few seconds for her to respond, but the woman remained lost in her thoughts.
“How did you get here?” He tried again.
“I…I climbed out of my grave. Over there.” She pointed toward the back corner of the yard next to the small tool shed. Kayden thought he could make out a small pile of dirt and sod near the area she had indicated.
The woman’s eyes made their way back up to Kayden, slowly inspecting her own body along the way. “My body…it’s as if I never died.”
Kayden didn’t believe for a second that the woman had actually dug herself out of a grave in his backyard. He knew there had once been a mental asylum called the Clinton Valley Center located where the neighborhood now stood, but that place was torn down over 15 years ago. Kayden only knew this because he had looked it up on Wikipedia after a few kids from school had teased him about living in the ‘haunted subdivision’.
“Is there someone I can call for you?”
The woman laughed under her breath. “I suppose you think I’m crazy.”
“No…maybe a little confused?”
“That’s all right. Everyone thinks…thought,” she corrected herself, “that I’m crazy. My mother had me committed. She thought I suffered from a terrible mental condition.”
“No. I just really liked having sex. I don’t know why.”
Kayden suddenly felt very awkward.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.” She turned away from him and looked up at the stars in the night’s sky. “That’s exactly the kind of thing I used to say that got me put into the Hospital. What year is it?”
“2015.” Kayden couldn’t take his eyes off her. The young woman’s naked form had become even more visible as the moon’s light shone down through her gown, exposing her ivory white skin.
After several moments had gone by, Kayden started to feel sorry for the young woman. Clearly she needed help, and his staring at her was starting to make him feel like a pervert.
“Would you like to get cleaned up?” Kayden took a couple of steps toward her. He could smell the musty scent of fresh mud on her. He figured she came in through the side gate, which his dad never bothered locking, and must have just started digging the hole with her own bare hands. He wanted to get a closer look at the supposed grave, but didn’t want to give her the impression that he didn’t believe her.
“My sister is at a friend’s house tonight so we can go raid her bedroom for some clothes. She’s only a Freshman, but I think her stuff will fit you okay.” Kayden tried to be subtle as he evaluated if she could fit into any of his sister’s clothes. She was curvier than his younger sister, and a few inches taller as well.
“What’s your name?” Kayden asked as they began walking back toward the sliding glass door.
“Elizabeth.” The words appeared foreign to her as they rolled off her tongue. “And yours?”
“Thank you for your help, Kayden.”
“You bet.” He slid the door open for her and they walked into his room. “We’ll just need to be quiet since my parents are asleep. Their bedroom is upstairs on the other side of the house so we should be okay.”
Kayden escorted Elizabeth into his sister’s bedroom across the hallway. She chose a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt from the closet, and then he showed her to the downstairs bathroom.
“I’ll get you something to eat while you get cleaned up. Any requests?”
“Anything will do,” she responded, allowing her gown to fall to the bathroom floor. “I’m absolutely famished.”
Kayden turned around immediately, though he had already gotten an eyeful. He quickly decided that the synthetically enhanced women he was used to viewing on the internet didn’t come close to the real thing.
“Okay,” he said shyly as he closed the door behind him. “I’ll, um, see you shortly.”
It took Elizabeth a couple of minutes to figure out how to work the shower, but she eventually got the temperature to where she wanted it. She slowly washed away the dirt and grime off her body while trying to recall details about her previous life. Memories of her childhood and the psychiatric hospital flooded her mind, though she couldn’t organize them into any kind of timeline that made sense.
As she stepped out of the shower, the hunger pains in her stomach became severe. She hurriedly dried off, put on the clean clothes, and made her way down the hall into Kayden’s bedroom.
“I have pizza rolls, hot pockets, Doritos and Mountain Dew.” Kayden motioned Elizabeth to come over and sit with him on his bed. “I know it’s not very healthy, but…”
“It’s wonderful.” Elizabeth said as she sat cross-legged on Kayden’s bed and stuffed a pizza roll into her mouth.
“So, what year did you die?” Kayden asked nonchalantly.
“1952, I think.” Elizabeth took a drink of Mountain Dew. “This is interesting,” she said with a slight wince.
“You’ve never had Mountain Dew?”
“I had a bottle of Coca-Cola, once. My mother never allowed me to drink soda or eat anything with sugar in it. She believed it made my ‘condition’ worse. But one time I snuck over to the drug store with my friends after school and drank one. I liked it!”
Kayden chuckled at Elizabeth’s enthusiasm over a bottle of pop. As they continued talking, he couldn’t help but start to believe her story. He knew it was completely ridiculous, but the way she responded to everything he was telling her made it appear as though she really hadn’t been alive since the 1950’s.
“Oh my God!” Elizabeth’s eyes got wide. She bolted from the bed and ran back into the bathroom. Kayden quickly placed his can of Mountain Dew on the bookshelf and followed.
“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” he asked, standing outside the door.
After a couple of minutes he heard the toilet flush and Elizabeth opened the door, her face appearing pale and drawn.
“I’m sorry,” she said moving in toward Kayden for a hug. “This is a little embarrassing but I’m afraid I just ‘lost’ everything you fed me.”
“No worries.” Kayden took a moment to enjoy the feel of Elizabeth’s body next to his. He was 17 years old and had never had a girlfriend. “Would you like something different to eat?”
“No, thank you,” Elizabeth released Kayden from her embrace and headed back into his bedroom. “I think I’ll take a break.”
She started looking around at all of the things in his room, trying to distract herself from the pain in her stomach.
“Why do you have so many televisions?” She pointed to the two computer monitors on his desk and then over at the large television standing on his dresser.
“Oh, well the two you’re standing next to; those aren’t televisions. Those are computer screens.”
Elizabeth looked back at him, clueless.
“Would you like to watch a movie?” Kayden asked, changing the subject.
“Sure, I guess that would be…” Elizabeth grabbed her stomach and fell to her knees in pain.
“Are you okay?” Kayden rushed to her side.
“I…I guess it’s just hunger pains, but…the food you gave me. It’s just not…”
“No worries, I’ll get you something better this time.”
After a few minutes Kayden returned with a sandwich and some orange juice.
“This should work better.”
The smell of the food turned Elizabeth’s stomach, but she knew she had to eat. She was just about to take a bite of the sandwich when suddenly they heard screaming coming from outside the house.
“Help!” they heard someone yell out.
“Help me!” another shouted.
More and more screams filled the air as Kayden and Elizabeth ran to the living room so they could see what was happening. It sounded as though the entire neighborhood was shouting. They flung open the drapes to see dozens of people dressed in white gowns walking up and down the streets. Many of them were holding their sides, no doubt experiencing the same kind of hunger pains Elizabeth had been.
“Did you all come from the same place?” Kayden asked.
A look of terror grew in Elizabeth’s eyes. “Oh, God. I’m not the only one.”
“It’s okay. I’m sure we can help them.” Kayden placed his hand on Elizabeth’s. Her hand was ice cold.
“You don’t understand,” Elizabeth squeezed his hand. “Some of those patients…they were dangerous.”
“Well, I’m sure the authorities are on their way to lend assistance.” Kayden glanced at the front door to make sure the dead bolt was secure.
Elizabeth fell to the ground holding her stomach again. Kayden quickly moved in, placed his shoulder under her arm, and helped her to the couch.
“Oh no,” Elizabeth began crying hysterically. She scooted as far away from Kayden as possible.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I know why everyone’s screaming.” Elizabeth began shaking her head back and forth.
“Are they all hungry? Is the pain that bad?”
“Those screams aren’t coming from the patients…they’re coming from your neighbors.”
“Kayden. My hunger…the reason the food you gave me didn’t work is because my body doesn’t want it. The only thing that smells good to me right now…is you! I literally want to hurl myself at you and sink my teeth into you.”
Kayden’s temporary crush immediately vanished. He slowly stood up from the couch and backed away from her. “That’s not funny, Elizabeth. I mean, you’re joking right.” Kayden’s mind rushed through all of things he knew about zombies. Elizabeth certainly didn’t look like one.
“I’m not supposed to be here, Kayden,” Elizabeth’s voice became very stern. “None of us are.”
“Don’t worry, Elizabeth. I’m going to get you help.”
“I don’t think you can, Kayden.” Elizabeth began shaking feverishly, her eyes fixed intensely on Kayden. “I don’t know that I can hold myself back.”
Kayden looked at the fragile woman in front of him and figured he could hold her off if he really needed to.
“I’m going to go get my parents. Stay right here.” Kayden turned toward the stairs and began to call out for his parents.
As soon as Kayden placed his foot on the first step, he felt the weight of Elizabeth’s body on top of him. He was surprised by her strength as she held him face down on the stairs with her left arm while she bit into the right side of his neck.
“Elizabeth!” Kayden gasped, his blood gushing all over the stairs and the wall.
The hunger had taken Elizabeth over, her body and mind no longer her own. As she sunk her teeth deeper into Kayden’s neck, the memories of her past life suddenly disappeared, along with her humanity.
“Please, Eliz…beth,” Kayden choked out of desperation.
Annoyed that her prey was still attempting to talk to her, Elizabeth quickly flipped him on to his back, and ripped his throat out so that she could continue to feed on him in peace.
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