One Last Shot


Chapter 1: 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 intruder. 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 and 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 and pushed on. 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 became unbearable and Evelynne regretted selecting this house to search. But still, she pressed on and pushed open the door. It was barely holding onto its 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 bestrew 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 crude inscriptions near them. They were a camp, but unlike the other camps, their goal wasn’t survival. It was to kill everyone who was not 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.” She 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 had been aiming. “And she’s still a perfect shot! Boss will be pleased,” Evelynne sighed with relief. If she had not found the gun, she knew how angry her boss would be. 

Lighting a match and throwing it over her shoulder, she sprinted away. The gunpowder on the ground ignited and after a few steps, she heard the explosion. Evelynne grinned. She loved explosions. 

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 better be worth it. Now show me what you’ve got.” Evelynne pulled out the AK-47 and fired three rounds at a target on 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,” Wyatt gestured at a few other agents who were standing near them. He ordered them to attention. “These fools here weren’t 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. He sounded like a rat chittering and Evelynne almost laughed aloud. Hunter was Evelynne’s brother and the only person 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 three 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 thin mattress, a rusty table and chair, and a battered cupboard to store her few belongings– her clothes, weapons, and some books. She did not 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 lost her parents to the apocalypse, and Hunter was the only family she had left. 

The apocalypse was started by an unorthodox medication, a serum originally intended to cure Alzheimer’s disease. The scientist who created it did not have the approval to test it on people and instead paid a patient’s family handsomely to become his guinea pig. Initially, the serum seemed to work, and the subject reported diminishing symptoms. The scientist became more and more confident in his serum. However, after a while, side effects began to kick in. These side effects 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 were not 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 were never seen leaving their house. Eventually, their neighbours called the police to report the stench of rotting flesh coming from their house. 

When the police broke into the house, the floors were streaked with blood, and there were bloody handprints on the walls. 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. No severe wounds were inflicted and the officers only sustained a few scratches while shooting and killing the zombies. But those scratches proved disastrous, and within a few days, the officers and their families were infected. A pandemic had begun.

 It was announced on the news, and people were strictly instructed to remain indoors and not leave their houses. But most were sceptical and didn’t obey the instructions. They didn’t live long enough to realise that they should have stayed inside. But staying inside did not do much good either. The zombies could easily break into 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 the most ferocious, ruthless and violent. Other camps never fought with them and kept mostly out of their way. Although those camps feared the Garshorn, they also hated them to the core. Other camps would never kill humans, even if they were from rival camps. But the Garshorn showed no mercy to anyone, killing without hesitation. They were brutal, lacking any sense of empathy, kindness or human emotion. They were like machines, killing on command. Many were sadists who derived pleasure from causing pain. 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 emotions that they could kill their own family members without shedding a single tear. Oftentimes, they were made to. They became monsters like the rest.

When the apocalypse had first begun, Evelynne’s parents, unfortunately, were part of the sceptics. They didn’t believe a word about the supposed “pandemic”. Even though the government had advised everyone to stay indoors, they still left the house. One day, her parents did not return. Evelynne put two and two together. Devastated, Evelynne and her brother gathered their things and made plans to find a bunker to live in. The entire city, as one could imagine, was filled with zombies at this point. Knowing this, Evelynne and Hunter took their parents’ firearms with them to 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. After their first month, the bunker’s occupants had come to a decision that everyone should be taught to fend for themselves. 

It was during their training that Evelynne and Hunter met Wyatt. Wyatt had seen potential in the siblings and wanted to recruit them. “Recruit us for what?” Evelynne had asked. “For a camp. I don’t know why nobody else is concerned, but the apocalypse is showing signs of slowing down. 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 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. They agreed, not knowing that they would come to regret their decision later on. 

The sound of a gunshot startled Evelynne back to reality. 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.” Hunter 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, 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. I feel like I’m about to snap, I can’t take it anymore! Being here, having to kill so many people!” Evelynne’s voice was slowly getting 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’s impossible. We’d be tracked down and killed within the hour.” Hunter reasoned, shaking his head. 

“Well, there’s gotta be a way, and we’ll find it. We have to!” Evelynne headed 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 for god knows how long. All the same, she had to eat. Grimacing, she washed down the meatloaf with swigs of stale mead (well, at least there’s that) and headed back to her tent to find whatever sleep she could.

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 approaching 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. 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 had shot. Then, she picked up the bullet and put it in her pocket. She doused the area with lighter fluid from a canister that she, like most Garshorn, carried as fuel. She 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 burnt the body. The rest of her team filled her in on their findings. She learnt that they had found a small grocery store that was still fairly well-stocked. 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.