Though she is only fifteen years old, the Martinezes are the twelfth foster family that Rainey has lived with in the endless orphan shuffle she has been caught in since she was found abandoned in a Jmart parking lot when she was only three. As far as foster families go, the Martinez family is kind and loving, although hopelessly ignorant and naive. While scrambling from the ravenous undead who are now feasting on their lifeless bodies, she realizes she might actually care for them, despite their mental shortcomings.
Rainey stalks her way through the suburb, slinking through the shadows to avoid the growing number of zombies. The power outage has given her an added coverage of darkness to avoid being seen, but she is not sure if they can smell her or sense her otherwise, so she keeps a wide berth by moving slowly and tracking even the slightest movements around her. In a few hours the sun will rise, so she hopes to escape the maze of carbon copy homes and make her way to the place she always knew she would go if something like this happened
So far in life, Rainey has been beaten dozens of times and molested half as many, which is par for the parentless course. She has survived alone on the streets among the desperate and deviant when she could no longer stand the system, which was often far more dangerous, but always got caught back up in it eventually. Her life has already contained more hardships than most people could endure, but she always finds her way. Because of this she is not as shaken, as even she might have expected, by the situation she has now found herself in. Nor could there be many as prepared for such a nightmare as she is, even though she is tiring of a life which offers little more than an opportunity at endless undignified perseverance.
Already she has killed four of the awful things using a hatchet she found in a garage shortly after the Martinezes were overcome while sleeping in a tent in their backyard. The power outage had been going on for several days, and it appeared it would go on several more. When Mrs. Martinez returned from a homeowners association meeting the day before, she informed the family that they would be taking part in The Great Neighborhood Blackout Campout, along with almost every other household in a ten block radius. Everyone else had been excited about the idea, but Rainey had already slept outside enough for a lifetime, so she begged to opt out despite their cajoling.
“Come on, Rainey. We’ll roast marshmallows and make s’mores and tell ghost stories. It will be a good chance for you to meet the neighbors. It’ll be fun,” they said.
As it turned out it was the perfect storm of circumstances for a zombie apocalypse to quickly take hold. No power meant no news and very little communication. And laying unconscious in a tent had made people even more vulnerable to getting attacked as they slept. But for Rainey, who had always dozed with one eye open anyhow, it turned out to be a good thing that her foster family forced her to participate. She had heard the commotion and gotten to safety quickly, which she may not have if she had been secluded from the noise inside the house, where the rabid monsters could have easily pinned her in.
When the space between houses began to increase she realized the suburban landscape was about to give way to the obscene arena of excess and consumption that stood between it and the city. Malls, box stores and chain restaurants were the buffer between urban despair and suburban malaise. It was a relief, since it meant she had time to reach her destination before the sun revealed the carnage of the dying civilization around her.
Living the life that she had, Rainey had spent a lot of time reflecting on how she would react to different end-of-the-world scenarios. She refused to become one of those people you saw in the movies who was obsessed with their own survival, and traded their humanity for more time in a crumbling hellscape. Long ago she had decided that if the world ever ended, she was going to enjoy herself as much as possible, then check out on her own terms.
When she was five and living in her second foster home, the family had taken her to Crusty Carmichael’s Pizza Palace to celebrate one of their biological children’s birthday. She had never seen anything like it before. There were robotic animals singing songs and games and a playground made of tubes and nets. It was like some kind of dream. She got so excited that she accidentally wet herself, after which she was scolded and forced to sit in the car for hours while the rest of the family ate and laughed and played inside. The chain had failed her in its promise of being a place where “It’s good to be a kid!”
If this was the end of the human race, that is where Rainey wanted to be. She made her way towards its glittering promise of good times, where she could enjoy the whole place to herself as the world outside got what it deserved.
A glint of light appeared on the horizon just as she was crossing the last block between herself and her destination, ducking into alleys and behind cars to avoid the carnage that was probably spreading all across the world by now. After arriving she walked around the perimeter, carefully inspecting every door and window, until she was satisfied it was completely empty.
In the back, above the dumpsters, she found an air intake vent. It was too high for her to reach, but if she could use it to make her way in, she would not have to compromise any doors or windows. At first she considered piling objects on the dumpster to reach it, but she realized that this would put her in too much danger. Inside the dumpster she found a large swath of discarded rope net that must had recently been replaced. There were also pieces of scrap metal that were probably discarded artifacts of a fresh repair, and she grabbed a heavy, flat piece of metal that was a few inches wide and almost two feet long, which would work perfectly for prying the vent away once she shimmied down some rope from the net. Thanks to a well placed drain pipe, she would be able to make an easy climb to the roof.
The plan went off without a hitch, and before the fullness of the sun’s light had crossed the horizon, Rainey found herself safely inside. Once there, she crept stealthily through the entire building, just to be sure she hadn’t miss any unwanted occupants before. There were none. The only beings were the animatronic critters who silently waited for someone to turn them on.
For Rainey, nothing less than the whole Crusty Carmichael experience will do. Yet once she turns everything on it will only be a matter of time before the undead are alerted to her presence there and force their way in. She estimates that once she flips all the switches, she will have about two hours before the place is overrun. Before she does this she will have to figure out how to make a pizza and operate all the contraptions, so that her final moments on this terrible planet are filled with the full bliss of having all of this all to herself.
While searching for some kind of manual or instructional dvds in the office she has a terrible realization. There is no power to turn on, and there probably never will be again. The dream is dead. There will be no triple sausage on thin crust, no singing/dancing otters and no whack-a-mole spitting out prize tickets to reward her reflexes. She might as well be locked up in the Martinez house waiting for her inevitable death. Without thinking too much about it, her hand pushes the front door open, and she walks out into the gnashing of teeth and gnawing of bones.