Z365 – 012 – Protein Bars

I check twice that the door and windows are locked as securely as I can get them.

Adrenaline is making my entire body shake. The more I think about what happened, the more irrational it gets. Group-meth-murder-hobo-neighbors next door? Please. And yet, the memories of all that are all too vivid in my mind.

Fact is, I feel like I’ve screwed myself by running up into Mario’s apartment. True, it looks as if I’m safe in here right now—and have enough protein bars to last me for at least a month so I won’t starve but maybe grow a mustache. Yet I’m too afraid to check if anyone came up the fire escape after me, and I know that the hallway is blocked; not just to my apartment but the way down the stairs leads right by Kelly’s door, a.k.a feeding-frenzy central.

If I hold my breath, I can hear them, savaging what used to be Mario one floor below.

There’s nothing I can do right now.

I try the lights—and other electricity—but that’s out for good, it seems. There’s also no phone or computer—Mario must have had both with him when he dropped by Kelly’s. I try my own phone but it doesn’t get a signal.

Except then it does, connecting to 911—only that I get the pre-recorded message again about all lines being busy.

Desperate to… I don’t know what. Maybe hear a fellow person? I hit re-dial on the number below emergency services in my call log. Too late I realize I’m likely calling the restaurant where I got take-out what feels like forever ago.

It’s only when a male voice picks up that I realize my phone must have somehow thrown in the last number I programmed into my contacts in there instead.


I’m so dumbfounded that for a moment, I forget that I’m frightened out of my wits, and babble the first thing that comes to mind. “It’s Mal? Weird Girl.”

I get something between a chuckle and a hum. “Of course it’s you.”

I realize just how out of it I am when the asshole’s mirth doesn’t even rile me up one bit.

“I know this is weird—”

“Well, I gave you that moniker for a reason, right?”

Something inside of me snaps. Hello rage, my old friend.

“Well, excuse me, but I just ran away from one of my neighbors possibly killing and eating the other, who she has been banging quite loudly for hours! And there are at least two other people involved in this as well. Now I’m locked out of my apartment because they are eating the corpse that’s lying in the middle of the hallway, right in front of my door!”

The following pause is pregnant. I kind of understand why.

When his voice comes on again, it hasn’t exactly lost the tone of amusement but sounds more measured now, as if he was speaking to a madwoman… which, I guess, isn’t that far from the truth where he is concerned.

“Lady, I’m not sure what you’re on, but if you want me to call help for you—”

“Yeah, I’d like to see you try!” I huff. “911 is dead. If you can even get a connection at all. And I’m not hallucinating, fuck you! I’ve also got that guy who was with the CDC agent calling me, telling me to leave the city—”

And the line goes dead.


I have no clue whether he hung up or I lost the connection. 

It doesn’t matter, I decide. I’m in this on my own. Even if he were willing to believe me, there’s only so much he could do. 

I got this, I tell myself.

Maybe if I repeat it often enough I’ll start believing it?

I look around, trying to come up with a plan. First things first—I use the toilet, and go hunt for a backpack to fill up with protein bars. Even if all I end up doing is going to the next hospital or fire station, it might be a while before I’m back. Also, there are enough homeless all over the city that I can always unload the food on them and make some friends, I think to myself with a mirthless grin. That is, until I realize that I haven’t seen any of the usual vagrant suspects in over a week.

Is this somehow connected?

How could I not have noticed?

I balefully stare at my phone. Shouldn’t I have come across stories about that when I was looking up blood-vomiting junkies? Not a sexy enough story, I guess.

Next up: clothes. That’s a real problem. While Mario isn’t tall for a guy, he’s buff, so not even a hoodie or cut-off sweat pants of his will fit. I’m barefoot in my PJs right now, which obviously is the worst choice.

Slightly disgusted because of all the shit that’s lying around—making his apartment no worse than my own, but that’s my shit downstairs, and this here isn’t—I feel like I hit a pot of gold when I find some of Kelly’s clothes she must have left behind. It’s a fluffy bathrobe and some flip-flops, but I tell myself that’s better than nothing. Considering she’s easily two if not more sizes smaller than me, shoes and non-tailored clothes are my best bet, anyway. I may now look like a unicorn threw up all over me, but it’s better than a tank top and sleep shorts alone. Maybe Mario’s military-style backpack with all those extra loops and shit will contrast it all into where I appear slightly more sane.

Yeah, I don’t think so, either, but looks like that’s my life now!

I continue to root around for some other shit I can take, but except for a spare pack of batteries and a half-full box of bandages all I find is a pocket knife. Health nut that he is, he doesn’t even stock pain meds. Whatever. I shove all that in the outer pockets of the backpack and add two bottles of electrolyte drinks to top it all off. 

Guess that’s it.

I have no fucking clue what to do now but one thing is for sure: I can’t get back into my apartment, and I don’t dare stay in here. Whatever the fuck is going on inside this house, I need to get out of here.

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