No Sympathy

Walking slowly around the empty house, Evelynne looked at the state of despair it was in. Furniture had been overturned, and shards of porcelain covered the floor. There had been a break in, and the occupants, for lack of a better weapon, had thrown their old china plates at the intruders. It seemed that the intruder had wielded a gun as well, for there was gunpowder coating the floor, and bullet holes in the walls. The place was filthy, the stench almost indescribable, like a mix of decaying flesh and mould. The bathroom tap was still running.

 “Someone must’ve forgotten to turn it off…” 

Evelynne turned off the tap. It didn’t really matter if it was on, water wastage was the least of the problems plaguing the world, but old habits die hard. As she walked further into the house, the smell got worse. Evelynne held her breath, but pushed on forward. She had to find something, anything that might help them. Failing to find an asset would lead to terrible consequences. 

As she moved towards the last room in the house, the smell was becoming unbearable, and Evelynne was regretting having selected this house to search. But still she pressed forward and pushed open the door. It was barely holding on to the hinge. What she saw inside that room was nauseating. It lay slumped against the back wall of the room, another lavatory. A bloodied, limp corpse. Multiple stab wounds were bestrewn across the stomach, chest and legs, the torso crimson red. However what horrified Evelynne the most was the dark red circle drawn on the wall behind the body. It was clearly drawn in blood, though she couldn’t tell if it was the blood of the victim or the killer. The circle was drawn around the victim’s head, and beside it, a coded message was inscribed. Among the symbols drawn, one was a smiley face, and another was a skull. 

“The filthy scum,” Evelynne muttered to herself. The Garshorn had been doing this for years, killing innocent people and leaving that crude inscription near them. They were a camp, but unlike the other camps, their goal wasn’t survival, it was to kill everyone who wasn’t a part of them. They were monsters, and Evelynne was one of them. 

Noticing that there was a gun lying on the ground near the corpse, she picked it up and inspected it. “AK-47,” she said aloud. “Maximum capacity: 30 rounds.” Evelynne lifted the gun and fired at the opposite wall. The bullet zipped across the room and struck the very centre of the old clock, exactly where she’d been aiming. 

“And she’s still a perfect shot! Boss will be pleased.” 

Evelynne sighed with relief. If she hadn’t found the gun, she knew how angry her boss would be. Walking out the door, she lit a match and threw it on the ground just as she sprinted out. The gunpowder on the floor was ignited. After a few paces, she heard the explosion, and grinned. She liked explosions, that’s just how she was. 

When she got back to camp, her boss, Wyatt, walked over. He fixed her with a stern look, and asked, “You’ve taken 30 minutes longer than you should have. Whatever you’ve brought had better be worth it. Now show me what you’ve got.” Evelynne pulled out the AK-47, and fired 3 rounds at a target at the far end of the training court in which they were. 

“Got this sweet shot.” She replied.

“Knew I could count on my best agent to find us something useful.” Then he gestured at a few other agents who’d been standing near them, and ordered them to attention, “These fools here weren’t even able to find anything. ‘Cept Hunter I guess.”

 He pointed at a boy with flaming red hair parted in an undercut. “If you can call an old nail clipper a ‘valuable asset’’ he said with a snicker – which, to Evelynne, sounded like a rat chittering, and she almost laughed aloud. Hunter was Evelynne’s brother, and also the only person that she trusted enough to speak her mind to – everyone else was too unpredictable. 

After she was dismissed, Evelynne headed back to her tent. Hers was one of the few that only housed one person. Most of the others had bunk beds, and their tents could have up to 3 people living in them. Since she was free for the rest of the day, she sat down on her bed to rest. Her tent was of a decent size – about that of a small bedroom, round, and made of canvas. The interior was occupied by a mattress, a small table and chair, and a cupboard

to store her belongings – these included her clothes, her weapons, and some books. She didn’t have her own bathroom though, everyone shared the large bath house at the end of the camp. Evelynne looked around her tent and sighed. Just a couple of years ago, she had a whole house, a proper bedroom, her own bathroom, and her whole family. She had lost her parents to the apocalypse, and now Hunter was the only family she had left. 

The apocalypse had started from an unorthodox medication, intended to cure Alzheimer’s disease. The medication was a serum, and the scientist who created it did not have approval to test it on people, but paid a patient’s family handsomely to become his guinea pig. The serum seemed to work at first, and the subject reported diminishing symptoms. And the scientist became more and more confident in his serum, but after a while, side effects began to kick in. Side effects that had previously been unknown to its creator. The skin of the subject began turning sickly pale and their speech became slurred. Their eyes became cloudy, their body stiff, their bones brittle, and they eventually became entirely unresponsive. They weren’t even breathing. The family was devastated, and sued the scientist. But before the case could even reach court, the family suddenly fell out of touch. They didn’t answer calls, and weren’t seen leaving their house. Eventually, their neighbours called the police to report the stench of rotting flesh coming from that family’s house. 

When the police broke into the houses, the floors were streaked with blood, and there were bloody handprints on the wall. Then they found bodies. Abnormal bodies. They were grey, pale, and worst of all, moving. Stumbling about the house, and consuming their own limbs. The moment they noticed the police officers, they attacked, they didn’t manage to inflict severe wounds though, for the officers only sustained a few scratches before managing to shoot and kill the zombies. But those scratches proved disastrous – within days, the officers and their families had been infected, and a pandemic began. 

It was announced on the news, and people were strictly instructed to remain inside and not leave their houses. But most were sceptical, and didn’t obey the instructions. They didn’t live long enough to realise they should have stayed inside. Not that staying inside did 

a whole lot of good either. The zombies could easily break into most houses, and soon, almost everyone was infected. There was no place you could go to avoid them completely. Staying in bunkers was the best option, but not many people managed to make it to those bunkers. Eventually, the zombies, for lack of food, ate each other, and eradicated themselves. 

Unfortunately, the damage was irreversible. Too much of the population was gone. The few lucky survivors formed camps like the one Evelynne belonged to. The camps weren’t united though, and whatever was found by one camp belonged to that camp. Sharing was unheard of, and communication between camps was all but forbidden. Over time, Evelynne’s camp had gained infamy for being by far the most ferocious, ruthless, and violent. Other camps never fought with them if they could help it, and kept mostly out of their way. And although those camps feared the Garshorn, they also hated them to the core. The other camps wouldn’t kill humans, even if they were from rival camps, but the Garshorn showed no mercy to anyone, and they’d kill without hesitation. They were brutal, lacking any sense of empathy, kindness or human emotion. They were machines, killing on command without hesitation. Many were sadists, deriving pleasure from causing pain. However, some members were kidnapped from other camps, forced into training, and put through hell, until they could hardly remember their past selves. They were so steeled against emotion that they could kill their own family members without shedding a single tear if they needed to. They were often made to. They became monsters like the rest. 

When the apocalypse had first begun, her parents, unfortunately, were two of the sceptics. They didn’t believe a word about the supposed ‘pandemic’. Even though the government advised everyone to stay indoors, they still left the house whenever they wanted. Eventually, her parents didn’t return one day. And Evelynne and her brother quickly realised what must have happened to them. And, though devastated, they gathered their things, and made plans to find and live in one of the bunkers near the city they lived in. The city, as one could imagine, was filled with zombies at this point. Knowing this, Evelynne and Hunter took their parents’ firearms with them so that they could fend off any zombies. Both had been taught how to shoot. Eventually, they made it through the city, and found a bunker. There were already many people living in it, but there was enough space to accommodate a couple of children. And so they stayed in that bunker for a number of months. And after their first month, the bunker’s occupants had come to a decision that everyone should be taught to fend for themselves. 

During their training, Evelynne and Hunter met a man named Wyatt. Wyatt said that he saw potential in the siblings, and that he wanted to recruit them. “Recruit us for what?” Evelynne had asked. “For a camp. I don’t know why nobody else is concerned, but as we all know, the apocalypse is showing signs of slowing down, and the number of infected that are spotted has vastly decreased. And I for one know that, when the apocalypse is over, the few remaining people are bound to split, competing against each other for the few remaining resources. So are you two up for it?” At the time, Evelynne and Hunter had been too afraid to reject any idea or statement spoken by an adult, and had agreed. Not knowing that they would come to regret it later on. 

The sound of a gunshot startled Evelynne back to reality. And an all too familiar coarse laugh echoed from outside her tent, closely followed by a loud thud. Wyatt had killed a man, the heavy thud gave it away. Evelynne stared blankly at the canvas wall of her tent, trying to block out Wyatt’s consistent, rough chuckles. Just then, Hunter walked into her tent. 

“Hey Eve, come out and have dinner.” Then he turned on his heel and started to exit the tent. 

“Wait, hold on, I need to talk to you.” Evelynne patted the bed, beckoning him to sit down next to her. 

“Oh, sure,” and he sat down. Evelynne heaved a sigh, and her voice became heavy. “I’m… I just… I can’t do this anymore. Wyatt is a complete and absolute arse. I mean did you hear him laughing just now? He just shot and killed someone! And he’s laughing?” 

“Well, yeah, I mean he always does that, I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but I thought you’d be used to it by now, we’ve been here for years already.” 


“I know, but I don’t know why I’m suddenly overreacting to something he does all the time. But I’m about to snap. I can’t take it anymore! Being here, having to kill so many people!” Evelynne’s voice slowly grew louder. 

“Calm down Eve, you know better than anyone what’ll happen if we tried to run. And keep your voice down, what if he hears you?” Evelynne sighed. 

“I know, I know, but I’ve been thinking, what if we could actually get outta here? Like just leave one day?” 

“Eve, as much as I’d like to, you and I both know that isn’t possible, we’d be tracked down and killed within the hour.” Hunter replied, shaking his head. 

“Well, there’s gotta be a way, and we’ll find it, we have to.” And she walked out of the tent. 

When she got out to the dining area, most of the others were already eating. She sat down at the table, and cringed at the greasy instant meatloaf on the plate in front of her. They hadn’t had proper food in god knows how long. All the same, she had to eat. So, grimacing, she finished her meat loaf, and washed her plate before heading back to her tent. 

The next day, she was dispatched with another team to search an old mall in the area. Her team agreed that she’d be the lookout and was to be stationed at the entrance of the mall. She was to kill anyone who came by from a rival camp. After a few minutes, she saw a man coming towards the mall. Evelynne raised her gun. When the man saw her, he put his hands up and started to back away. 

“Run”, she mouthed, then she fired, and where the man once stood was now a small spire of smoke. Evelynne walked over to where the smoke was and took out her knife. With one quick motion of her hand, blood started trickling down her arm. She lifted it, and let a few drops fall onto the grassy area where she’d shot. Then, she picked up the bullet, and put it in her pocket. Then, she doused the area with lighter fluid from a canister that she, like most Garshorn, carried as fuel. And dropped a lit match onto the ground. As the patch of grass burst into flames, Evelynne went back to the mall. Her team was waiting for her. When they caught sight of the flames, they understood that Evelynne had killed someone and burned the body. The rest of her team filled her in on their findings. She learned that they’d found a small grocery store that was still fairly well stocked. So the team left Evelynne as a lookout once more, and started off back to camp for backup to bring the supplies back. While waiting, Evelynne walked back to where the body wasn’t, and stared at the black scorch marks on the floor. The flames had dissipated, but there were still a few sparks on the grass, which she stamped out with the sole of her boot. Then, straightening up, she felt a presence behind her, and slowly turned around to face her boss’ penetrating glare. 

Evangeline Lee Yuu Hsi (Class of 2025) is an aspiring writer. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, with a touch of the macabre. She hopes to be able to write works that will send a chill down your spine.