Footsteps pounded the ground. The park was abandoned, as empty as the boy had ever seen it. It was just last week that he had been brought here by his parents to play in the playground. Now he was running to get away from them.
It had been three days since he first realized his parents were gone. He was in his bedroom reading a book. His mother was downstairs, watching television, and his father was working late. All was peaceful in the home. Suddenly, he heard a loud crash downstairs and got worried that his mom got hurt. Rushing out of his room and down the stairs, he stopped outside of the kitchen and noticed refrigerator trays and food scattered on the floor.
"Mommy?" he called out to her. "Are you okay?" There was no answer from her. She was hunched over in the refrigerator, digging more things out. He carefully inched closer to her, and that's when he heard the low moaning. It was muffled, as if she was trying to breathe but couldn't. He tugged on her nightgown and called again, this time louder. "Mommy!"
She stopped digging in the fridge. Slowly she turned around and looked down at him. He screamed. His mother was pale, with a swollen tongue, deep, sunken eyes, and her hair was falling out. She had a piece of raw meat dangling from her mouth, but when she noticed him, she let it drop out.
She leaned over and grabbed him. Before she could fasten her grip, he broke away and ran outside to the front yard. He saw his father sitting in the car. "Dad!" he screamed. "Something's wrong with Mommy!" He ran up to his father's car and opened the driver door. His dad fell out headfirst and hit the ground hard. He let out a loud groan and slowly pushed himself up to his knees. The boy screamed yet again. His father looked up at him with the same look as his mother. Again, a pale complexion, sunken eyes, but his dad was bleeding from a gash in his forehead.
The boy took off down his street screaming for help. "Something's wrong with my parents!" he yelled as he ran. He stopped when he saw one of his neighbors outside on their front lawn, just standing motionless. He started running toward the neighbor but saw that this man was just the same. Before wasting any more time, he continued sprinting into the night.
It's been three days. The boy had been surviving on snacks and drinks that he took from stores that had been abandoned since the outbreak. He had not yet come into contact with a single human who didn't look like his parents.
The boy continued sprinting through the park until he reached the other end. He noticed a pillar of smoke above the woods across the street. He looked both ways and then darted across the street into the woods. As he got closer to the plume of smoke, he was able to smell burning wood and...bacon?
He ran even faster toward the source of the smell, and found a clearing that was occupied by an older couple. A woman was cooking food on a propane grill, while a man stood behind her, looking around and carrying a rifle. He saw the boy first and leveled his weapon at him. "Stop right there!" the man said. His wife stopped and looked at the boy.
The boy stopped. "Are you normal?" he asked.
The man's wife came up to the boy and crouched down. "Look at you! You're all dirty! How long have you been away from home?" She inspected the state of the boy's clothes. He was covered in dirt and grime.
The boy looked down sheepishly. "A few days. There's something wrong with my mom and dad. I ran away."
The man lowered his rifle. "Well," he huffed, "come here and sit down." He motioned toward a picnic table for the boy to sit.
The boy walked over, disheveled, tired and hungry, and joined the old couple for the first real meal he had in days.