The First Days Page 1

Chapter 1 - Somewhere In Texas

1. Tiny Fingers

So small.

So very, very small.

The fingers pressed under the front door of her home were so very small. She could not stop staring at those baby fingers straining desperately to reach her as she stood trembling on the porch. The cool, morning air lightly puffed out her pink nightgown. Her pale fingers clutched the thin bathrobe tightly closed at her throat as she continued to stare at the child's hand grasping in her direction.

I knew we needed weather stripping, she thought vaguely. Texas weather could change so fast and this early March morning was crisp.

The gap under the front door was far too large. These new modern homes looked so fancy, but were actually not very well built. If they had bought the nice Victorian she had wanted there wouldn't be a gap under the front door. A gap large enough for that little hand to slide underneath.

The tiny fingers clawed desperately under the edge of the door.

The banging from inside the house had reached a steady staccato. It had a rhythm now, as did the grunts and groans. The sound terrified her. But what was truly horrible were those tiny, desperate fingers pressed under the front door of her home.

Straining fingers.

Straining to reach her.

Her voice caught in her throat as blood began to trickle out from beneath the door. Of course the blood would eventually flow out. There was so much. It had been everywhere when she had stood in the doorway of Benjamin's bedroom. The walls had been splashed red.

She covered her mouth with her hand. Another wave of chills flowed over her as her knees literally knocked together.

The rhythm changed with a new beat. A second set of fists banged against the door.

Through the thick, lead glass of the door she could see the dim outline of her husband's body. It was distorted by the thick smears of blood on the other side. She stared at it long enough to make out Lloyd's misshapen hands battering against the glass, then her gaze was drawn down to those tiny fingers scrabbling so desperately toward her.

She really should have insisted on Lloyd putting down weather stripping.

An angry howl from the other side of the door made her jump and her thick raven hair fell into her face. With trembling hands she pushed back her tresses. Her gaze did not move from those tiny fingers.

The pool of blood was slowly spreading toward her bare feet.

She should move.

But where?

The tiny fingers were now raw, tips of bone showing and yet they still sought her out.

There was a loud thunk! to her left and her gaze shot over to the window beside her. Mikey stood in the window hissing at her as he beat on the window with his fists. His torn lips were drawn back in a grimace as his dead eyes latched onto her hungrily.

"Why, Mikey, why?" Her voice was a plaintive whisper.

Why had her twelve-year-old son rushed back to try to fight his father?

Why hadn't he run when she had screamed at him to follow her?

Why wouldn't the pounding end?

Clutching her head, she swayed slightly. She felt something cold touch her toe and looked down to see thick blood welling around it. Stepping back, her gaze slid back to the fingers pressed under the front door. The tips of the tiny fingers were raw and skinless.

"Benjamin, please stop," she whispered.

He always did this. Every time she went to the bathroom, the persistent three-year-old would be on her heels. She could never relax and just go. She would have to talk to him as he lay outside the bathroom, one eye pressed against the crack, his tiny chubby fingers pressed under the door.

Was one eye pressed against the crack under the front door now?

How had he managed to get downstairs? There was so little left of him.

Lloyd always was a big eater…

She almost threw up and both hands flew up to cover her mouth.

Gagging, she stepped back from the door. Her body was trembling violently.

There was a loud clattering noise now, loud and painful to her hearing.

Covering her ears with her hands, she took another step back.

Why wouldn't it just all stop?

The clattering was louder now and her jaw hurt.

Oh, her teeth were chattering.

She closed her eyes, swaying.

Those tiny fingers…those tiny fingers…

Glass shattered and growls filled the cool morning air. Her eyes snapped open to see Mikey trying to push his way through the broken window.

"No, no, no…" She stumbled backward down the front steps and fell as her bare foot slipped on the slick dew-drenched grass.

Mikey continued to shove his way through the window and the glass ripping away his flesh. But he didn't seem to notice as growling and snarling he pushed his way through the shattered glass.

It was then she screamed. Screamed louder than she ever thought possible. Screamed like she should have when she had found Lloyd hunched over Benjamin, eating away her baby's tender flesh. Screamed like she should have as Lloyd had pursued her and Mikey down the stairs. Screamed like she should have when Mikey had turned back to try to defend her. Screamed like she should have when the front door slammed behind her and she realized she was alone.

She screamed until her voice died in her throat.

And still Mikey grunted and hissed as he slowly dragged his torn body through the window. Lloyd, blood-drenched and crazed, came up behind Mikey and fastened his vicious gaze on her. Determined, he began to crawl over his son, cracking and breaking the remaining glass out of the window frame.

Slowly, she stood. Her gaze strayed to the door.

Tiny fingers still searched for her.

Raising her hands, she pressed them against her face and watched as Lloyd and Mikey wiggled and jerked their way through the narrow window.

"Get in the truck now!"

She blinked.

"Get in the truck now!"

She turned slowly. An old, white battered truck sat on her perfectly manicured lawn just behind her. The engine was hot and grumbling.

Where had it come from?

"In! Now!"

She raised her gaze to see a tall, slim blond woman in a business suit and hunters jacket standing next to the truck with a shot gun in one hand. "Get in now!"

Looking back, she saw Mikey slip from the window, wet, bloody and battered. For a moment she remembered how he had looked when he had just been born. Her shriveled up little monkey boy.

After struggling to his feet, Mikey leaped forward.

It was then that she knew it was time to leave her family. Time to go. The money she had carefully squirreled away to provide her and the kids a new life would have to stay hidden in the closet. The suitcase she had packed for her and the kids for when she finally ran away to the women's shelter would have to remain in its hiding place in the attic.

Lloyd had destroyed what remained of their life together.

It was time to go.

Wrenching the passenger door open, she looked back to see Mikey hurtling toward her. She jumped in and slammed the door shut just as he impacted with the side of the truck. His battered, chewed face pressed against the glass as he bared his teeth and his growls ripped at her ears.

"Mikey," she whispered. She pressed her hand against the glass, blocking his gruesome face from her view.

She looked away.

The blond woman slammed her door shut and shifted gears. The truck roared into reverse as Lloyd rushed toward them, hissing loudly.

The blond shifted again and the truck lurched forward and accelerated down the quiet suburban street just as the sun rose over the tops of the houses.

She dared to look back, dared to see what followed. Falling behind quickly was Lloyd and Mikey: her husband and her son. And they were not alone. Others, bloodied and crazed, were racing out from houses, screaming either in terror or in hunger.

She tore her gaze away from the things running behind her.

And the tiny fingers she knew were still pressed under the door.

2. Together

The old battered truck sped around a corner and nearly sideswiped an SUV that was stopped dead in the middle of the road. Forced to slow down, the blond driver of the truck slammed the flat of her hand against the steering wheel and cursed under her breath.

As the truck glided past the SUV, the blond woman’s green eyes glanced into the parked vehicle and wished immediately she hadn't. A man sat in the driver seat, staring straight ahead. His eyes were wide, unblinking, his mouth moving in words that were too easy to make out.

"Stop, please, stop" she was sure he was saying.

But the woman hunched over him, covered in blood and gore continued to pull ropes of intestine up to her greedy mouth. As the truck passed by, the woman looked up, hissed and slammed her hand against the SUV's windshield.

She slammed her foot down on the accelerator and the truck lurched ahead. She stole a glance at the pale, fragile creature beside her. The woman she had rescued sat silently with one hand pressed against the bloody smear on the passenger side window.

"Hey," the driver said reaching over and tapping the stranger's knee.


The woman slowly turned her head and the driver saw that her eyes were glassy and distant.

Great, she was in shock.

"Hey, my name is Katie. I need your help, okay?"

"The man," the woman said in response.

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