Last time on Hell Breaks Loose - Mitch watched helplessly as his neighbor was ripped apart by a wild pack of the dead. Nearly out of food, his mother demanded he not leave the house in search of more. Mitch, knowing she was sacrificing her health in favor of his, drugged her, and sneaked out of the house anyway.
After getting to the local grocery store, and filling his bag full of food and supplies for him and his mother, he was knocked unconscious by a strange dark figure, awakening later, how long only God knows. A pudgy man, covered in fresh blood entered the room where Mitch was tied to a steel table, prepping him for something...for him to be served on a platter to the dead.
A group of zombies found their way into the IGA, attacking the butcher who was ready to serve Mitch up. Mitch escaped after a brief struggle with the butcher, who met his end at the hands of his own customers. Mitch, crying, ran home to find he'd forgotten to lock the backdoor after he'd left the home, leaving his mother in a drugged sleep up in her room...and so we continue...
Hell Breaks Loose - Episode 4 - "See Mitch Run..."
Mitch sprinted inside, through the garage and into the kitchen. His forehead dripped with sweat and he felt the tears welling up behind his eyes again.
“No, no, no, no,” Mitch said to himself, denying what he feared may be true. He washed his hands through his greasy hair while panic flowed through his veins and stiffened his joints. He crouched low, having heard a slumping echo. When it wasn’t repeated, he stood back up.
The kitchen was torn apart. The cabinet they’d kept the dry foods, the little they had left, was open, bags and boxes of food ripped to shreds. Uncooked ramen noodles crunched underneath Mitch’s shoes as he walked through the kitchen.
The dining table laid on its side, chairs overturned, some broken into tiny wooden pieces. Fruit from the table’s centerpiece spotted the floor in intense oranges, reds, and neon greens, interlaced with crumbs and dirty, bloody footprints. The tablecloth was bunched into a tight ball, fraying with smeared red handprints blotting the trim.
Mitch’s eyes wandered around the mess before a thump above his head startled him loose again.
Mom, he thought. Oh God…
“Mom!” Mitch screamed.
He turned the corner into the living room and stopped at the foot of the stairs. He stared at the porthole window at the top. The sun outside was in perfect alignment, as though the sun itself was the porthole window. His gaze was empty but his ears were finely tuned to what was going on in his mother’s room. He could hear it plain as day, the ripping of skin, the sloppy and wet chewing, the fleshy slaps.
Mitch bounded up the stairs two steps, three steps at a time. He blasted through his mother’s door and stumbled backward with a scream.
A zombie, the one with no lower jaw, twisted its head, eyes wide like a kid with his fingers caught in the cookie jar, caught red-handed. It towered over his mother’s shredded corpse from the side of her bed.
The jawless zombie shoved a hunk of what Mitch thought was a bloody steak directly into its throat and turned the rest of its body around. Its tongue wiggled, dripping saliva from the tip.
Mitch looked beyond the zombie, to his mother. Her mouth was stretched wide, like she’d died mid-scream. Claw-like scratches covered her cheeks. Flaps of ripped skin hung from the gashes. Her blood drenched nightgown clung to her starved body.
Mitch looked into her cold, dead eyes and cried.
“Mom…” he said, starting to blubber. He covered his mouth to stop from puking while tears streamlined down his puffy and hot cheeks.
The jawless zombie’s knuckles cracked like popping popcorn as it contorted its fingers, readying itself to pounce. A muffled howl burst from its throat as it rushed Mitch.
Its fingers squeezed around Mitch’s throat as the two of them slammed into the wall behind. His head bounced with a hollow thud and he felt the lump above his ear from the incinerator lids scream with agony. Everything went white and hummed until his brain caught up with his body.
Mitch punched and pounded his fists against the zombie’s arms. He pulled on the zombie’s hands, doing nothing more than peeling away its dead skin, scooping through rotted muscle and scraping against the zombie’s bones. There was no give in its strength. It was like punching a soggy tree. Its muscles were stiff, bones brittle but rigid like bark.
The zombie’s fingernails pinched Mitch’s skin sending tendrils of pain streaking up to his ears and around to the back of his head. A warm dribble snaked down his neck, behind his shirt collar.
Mitch’s vision started to blur into a haze of whirring motions while pressure built behind his eyes. His head pounded as blood constricted around the zombie’s grip.
The zombie’s tongue lapped over Mitch’s cheek and nostrils. Mitch’s stomach churned as he got a nose-full of its humid, sour breath. He felt its sticky tongue leave a slimy wet trail as it went up and along his forehead.
He looked at his mom once more, lying motionless on the bed in a pool of her own blood, trying his damndest not to let the zombie’s tongue slide over his eyeballs. God knows where it had been. Her empty eyes welcomed him in. The fear that was forever locked inside was contagious, infectious.
It was his fault, and he knew it. If he hadn’t drugged her, she would have heard the noise from the kitchen and hid in the closet or the bathroom. She would have had a chance. Mitch doomed her. He killed her...
“Son of a bitch!” Mitch shrieked. “Why the fuck aren’t you dead!? Get your fucking tongue off me!” Mitch planted the heel of his foot into the wall behind him, placed his palms on the zombies bony chest, and shoved using the wall as leverage.
The zombie struggled to keep its footing in tune as Mitch charged it back, fueled by his self-hatred.
“Why the fuck aren’t you dead!? This wouldn’t of happened if you’d just stayed in your pine box! She’d still be alive!” Mitch screamed as he steered the zombie toward the window, pushing him and the zombie harder and faster.
The zombie clawed at Mitch’s face, abandoning its grip on his neck. Its fingernails sliced through his cheek, scraping skin underneath its ragged claw-like nails. Gashes on his forehead throbbed, pulsing a warm and dull ache.
Mitch lowered his head to avoid the slashing, focusing his gaze on the floor, and screamed as he propelled the zombie through the bedroom window.
Shards of glass sprayed over the top of his head. His knees slammed into the window sill. Blades of jagged glass stabbed his palms as he planted his hands against the sides of the window to stop himself from flying out behind the jawless zombie. Blood dripped down the wooden trim underneath his hands.
The zombie toppled end over end, flipping in a cloud of glittery sparkles, hands flailing violently. It landed neck first on the sidewalk in the front yard with a bony snap. Its tongue hung over its face and wiggled no more.
Mitch huffed, catching his breath before the pain in his hands reached his brain like a freight train with a cargo full of agony. He pulled his hands inward and curled onto his knees with a whelp. Rivers of blood flowed down his palms, along his forearms.
His fingers trembled like a sugar crash as he pulled chunks of glass from his hands and tossed them aside. He could feel the stiffness constricting his knuckles already. A cold faucet would be great about now, he thought. His palms felt like he’d dragged them across a berber rug for hours.
Footsteps clapped on the pavement outside, echoing into the bedroom. Hungry, frantic grunts followed not far behind.
Mitch wiped his bloody hands on his shirt and stood onto his wobbly feet. His legs were like cooked spaghetti noodles in a pair of shoes, unsure and with no whims of their own.
On the front lawn, dozens of the undead raced from the street, heading around the garage for the backdoor. They’d heard the screaming, the window exploding. They’d smelled the blood and they wanted it. Their sprinting was without hesitation or thought. Only hunger brought them closer like a school of piranhas, swift and without remorse.
Mitch blinked away the tears, not even realizing he’d been crying and looked at the bed. His mother's last moments were stuck on her face. It screamed pain and horror. Fear rippled in her eyes where dried tears crusted into the corners.
A whimper shoved its way up his throat.
“It’s my fault. I didn’t know this would happen. I didn’t know. I just…I didn’t know. I’m so sorry, mom. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” The more he said it, the more it hurt. A lump formed in the back of his throat, a lump of sadness and all the things he wanted to scream aloud.
“I just wanted to help you. That’s all I wanted to do. I thought you’d be proud of me if I could do this. I would’ve saved your life…but…”
He squeezed his fist taut, burning his knuckles a fierce white.
“I never meant for this. It wasn’t right for you to sacrifice yourself for me, starving yourself and giving everything to me! I just wanted you THERE!” he cried. “I just want you here.”
Mitch kicked the mattress.
“If you would have just eaten something, God dammit, I wouldn’t have left!”
He kicked it again and again.
“I wouldn’t have fucking left!” Mitch’s scream twisted into a childish whining tantrum.
Paint cans crashed in the garage. Their recycling bin spilled tin cans with hundreds of hollow clinks. The horde was pouring into the house, following the blood trail.
Mitch looked into the upstairs hallway, hearing the sounds from the garage. Any minute they’d be on top of him. He looked back at his mom and fought to both stay and to go.
“What do I do?” he asked his mother’s corpse, half expecting an answer. He buried his head into his hands and let loose the torrent of tears.
A dry wheeze scraped its way out from within his mother’s body, interrupting Mitch’s sobbing. Her mangled fingers squeezed the comforter covering her lower half.
“Mom?” Mitch asked, like a lost child in a department store approaching a stranger who looked like his mom, but wasn’t.
She sat herself upright and snapped her jaw back into place with a sharp bite.
“Oh my God, are you all right?” Mitch asked, taking a step closer.
His mother looked around the room. She fixed her eyes on Mitch, grin peeling back rotted teeth.
Mitch looked into her vacant eyes. She wasn’t in there at all. Something wore her skin, made her grin, and now made her crawl across the bed toward him. He backed away and looked once more into the hallway. Ramen noodles crunched underneath the horde’s fleshy, slapping footsteps in the kitchen.
His mother slipped off the edge of the bed and continued crawling across the floor. Arid sighs squeezed through her dead throat.
Mitch bumped into the closet door, rattling the loose, round knob. He had nowhere to go, no one to hold him and say it would be ok...no hope. His mother swiped for his foot to pull him to the floor. Dozens of footsteps slammed up the stairs in the hallway.
The horde was here...