The mornings were cold, dark and slow. Jenna felt a reluctance to leave the warmth of her bed and shuffle out into the cold and dark, especially now. She knew she was safe, for now, inside the house. But she didn’t know how long it would last. The Others, out there, were learning, or remembering, new things every night. One night, Jenna knew, they would find a way into the houses.
Then nowhere would be safe.
She would have to move, find some place new. Perhaps there were places out there where she would be safe, where she could sleep at night and not wake at every sound, every noise, reaching for whatever weapon lay to hand.
She had tried sleeping in the day, like the Others, but it had not helped. The nights, especially now in the winter months, were long and cold. She could see nothing, staring out into the darkness, watching each shifting shadows for the signs of movement.
At first, the Others had only come out at night, like some horror film cliché. Back in her old life, Jenna had loved horror films and stories. Now she was living it, she longed for some Regency romance set in a bucolic landscape of stately homes, and someone to exchange witty epigrams with, instead.
Lately, though, over the last few weeks, as she’d been out scavenging, she’d seen the Others outside too. They stumbled around in the shadows and kept to the dark places in what was left of the buildings of the dead city. Whereas before, they’d slept – or whatever it was they did – in the daytime, now they were moving about more and more.
They were learning, adapting, evolving or – Jenna’s biggest fear – remembering.
They were not the zombies of so much horror fiction of her youth, they were not human though either. Jenna didn’t know enough about any of what had happened to be able to classify the once-human beasts that now hunted and stalked her. All she knew is that they saw her as something needing eradication. She was the aberration, the virus, the pathogen, now, not them. It was their world now and she was just some irritant that needed removal.
On those cold nights, when sleep was ever elusive, Jenna wondered if, in fact, the Others were remembering, perhaps remembering too much of what they’d used to be when they were human. Perhaps that was why the sight of her, Jenna, still human and still amongst them, outraged them so much. Maybe that was why they tried so hard to destroy her… so they could begin to learn to forget what they used to be.