Insanity's Pawn

by Keragon Sharp

Chapter One- Shatters

This is it, Clarissa thought to herself. Last one and I'll be gone for good.

She was exploring a two-story house with a caved-in roof, full of rubble and decay, carrying a miasma of death. So far all she had found was a pack of fruit snacks, a can of beans, and a festering corpse full of small yellow meal worms who had decided to inhabit the rotting carcass. Of course, all she had taken was the fruit snacks and beans. What could she do with a disease-ridden dead body? She wasn't about to resort to cannibalism yet.

Although she was pretty sure that she had found everything in the abandoned house, she wanted to make sure to leave nothing unchecked. Wasn't that an old saying? Leave no stone unturned, that's probably how it went.

Clarissa was exploring what must have once been a small child's room- judging from the frilly pink bed sheets and Justin Bieber posters, she would guess about eight- when suddenly there was a large crash downstairs. She jumped up, whispering and cursing at herself. "I knew I should have locked the door. I'm so stupid!"

Taking the pistol out of the back pocket of her tattered jeans, she stealthily made her way down the stairs to the kitchen, where the noise had come from. She walked down the stairs, weaving her way around empty bags of chips and red and green splatters of she-didn't-want-to-know. Finally, she made it to the bottom of the staircase. Holding the gun to her chest, her finger on the trigger, she slowly turned her head around the corner, and to her surprise...

A scrawny cat was hunched over on the floor, eating what Clarissa presumed was a dead mouse. At first she was relieved, but those few seconds of bliss were quickly destroyed when she looked over to the open front door. A group of about six stragglers were jogging towards the door. The one in front looked like he was once a strong male, but now one part of his arm and another part of his bare chest was completely torn away, revealing the bone underneath. Behind him, a woman who had lost most of her hair- in fact, most of the skin on her skull, was following. The others were just as gruesome, sharing similar torn away body parts and red, glazed-over eyes.

Thinking fast, Clarissa quickly tucked her gun back into her pocket and ran to the back of the house into the dining room, hoping for a back door. All she found was a large window, though that was good enough. She picked up a chair and tossed it at the window, shattering it to pieces. She climbed over, completely oblivious to the scratches she was getting on her hands and legs. She ran to the front of the house, where the zombies had made it to as well. It seemed like they had picked up a few friends along the way, because the group had become a small hoard. She reached for her back pocket where her pistol was. But it wasn't there. She turned around to see it was lying on the ground where she had climbed out of the window.

"Damn it!" she cursed aloud. She knew there was no way she could go back and retrieve it without being overrun by the straggler mob. She had no choice but to run.

Dashing as fast as her legs could carry her, Clarissa burst past the mass of stragglers to her sanctuary; a tree she had made a base out of. She may have been fast, but the mob wasn't far behind. She made a quick turn onto the street her base was on. Thank God it's only two houses away! , she thought as she came to a sharp stop and latched herself onto the lowest branch, hastily climbing up.

But pain had caught up with her. She swore as the bark rubbed against her bleeding hands and legs, making her slip and nearly fall. To make matters worse, the horde of stragglers had also caught up. They were now clawing at her thigh, almost pulling her down. She could feel their grubby, diseased hands trying to pull her down. A wave of panic rushed through her; it was only a matter of time. They would pull her down, or rip her in half and feast like diseased, evil kings. She had seen them do it by themselves to cats and racoons. They would grab them with no mercy, and burrow their long, dirt-layered fingernails into the stomach, where all of the fresh, juicy intestines were. All of the blood gushing out, the heart and liver being relentlessly wrenched out... It wouldn't be long until she met the same fate as those countless numbers of animals.

But suddenly, something amazing happened. For a brief moment, the hands went away, and Clarissa felt as if she was being pushed upward. It lasted less than a second, but it gave Clarissa ample time to escape the stragglers grasp. Ignoring her agony, she climbed into the tree with a replenished rush of adrenaline. She swung onto the branch she was grasping, which was now nearly drenched with blood. She quickly went up two more branches. The fight was not over yet. She had a blanket tied to two higher up boughs where she stored her weapons. She grabbed a machete that was rusty and dull, but it could still do harm. She went back down and closed her eyes, tightly clutched the cold rubber grip of the blade, and started slashing away at the stragglers, ruthlessly hacking at them before they could even get a chance to retaliate or run away. She opened her eyes to see two on the floor, dead, and the others clumsily ambling away.

"Yeah, Get out of here, you stupid bastards! I could cut you all down if I wanted to!" Clarissa roared in triumph, mocking the bumbling idiots as they went back to their hideaways. She didn't care where they were going, or if they were coming back. All she knew was that she had won.

However, though, her wounds and bleeding came back to hit her full in the face. A shock of pain and weariness surged throughout her entire body. If it weren't for the branch that was directly next to her, she would have quickly fallen to the ground. No, I need to go a little longer. Clarissa pulled herself upward, trying to get to her supplies. I need to get there, or it's game over!


The sun had already set behind the mountains, a purple dusk blanketing the valley. Clarissa had already bandaged her wounds, and was now eating the recently found can of beans and fruit snacks. Not much of a meal, but it was all she had other than a few other arrays of food. She looked up from her measly dinner to gaze at the street around her. It was terrifying how a place could change so drastically in three weeks. Many of the lawns were either growing wildly or dying. The trees and bushes had also flourished to their full extent, growing over the walls and doors of the nearby houses. And her house... Jesus, her house had become a jungle. Not like it wasn't one before, but now the hedges had grown over the front fence and the lawn had grown so much, it had even broken through the cracks on the sidewalk. Her father's old green truck that he had always intended on keeping had now joined the plant life, vines growing up over it. Clarissa never even knew that plants could actually do that. Two windows had been smashed in, a door was missing- what would anyone want with a door?- and all of the tires had popped.

The spot next to it was unoccupied, seeming almost abandoned. Her mother's car used to be there. It was a nice tan Infiniti, with seat warmers and a sun roof. It was so relaxing when Clarissa had the chance to ride in it. It was too bad that that was only a total of seven times. Other than that, her mom was always working as a photographer. She didn't know much about how the job worked- all she knew was that she would get requests from magazines or some other companies to photograph a famous building or monkeys or something like that. She had secretly kept her hopes up when the apocalypse had happened that she would return. The job that she had at the time was taking a picture of Los Angeles at night from a helicopter. However, the car had never returned. Clarissa knew that it had probably run out of gas, or been caught in traffic, but somewhere, in the back of her mind, there was a voice telling her that her mother had never actually cared about her. As much as she didn't want to think of that possibility, every now and then it came back to her, making her feel horrible and alone.

Clarissa sighed. "Oh how a city can change..." All these years she had loved zombie movies and shows. The Walking Dead, World War Z, 28 Days Later; they all seemed like such a grand adventure. She used to envy the characters in those productions, being able to show off their bravery and leadership in the most courageous and dangerous way possible. But now... now she knew how miserable it could be. No matter how sorrowful her life may have been before, or how cruel and deceitful her father could have been, she wanted it all to go back to normal. She tossed the empty bean can aside and tied herself to the large branch she slept on with a bungee cord that her dad had kept in the garage. At least her old bed was more comfortable than this. Her eyes became heavy, and it wasn't long before she could barely even open them. Taking one last glance at her sorrowful surroundings, Clarissa glumly muttered into the night, trying to falsely reassure herself, "Maybe it'll all be gone tomorrow... who knows what could happen in this hellhole... who knows..."

With that, she dozed off hoping that, just perhaps, she herself would not be there instead.


There was a white flash, and he appeared sitting on a tree limb above Clarissa. His yellow and red eyes briefly watched down on her, and then looked back up to gaze at what she had to deal with each day. Cars and houses were ransacked, plant life grew bountifully, and a dozen zombies wandered the streets, looking for there next meal. What a surprise. All this chaos, and he didn't have to lift a claw. He focused back on Clarissa, grinning. Snaking down to her, he quietly chuckled as she miserably tossed and turned in her nightmare-ridden slumber.

"What was it you called them?", he whispered. "Stragglers?" He laughed again, this time a little bit louder. "I couldn't have come up with anything better. It's a good thing I spared you." He noticed that she began to stir, awakening.

Another chortle escaped his mouth. "See you tomorrow," Discord mumbled before disappearing, "Clarissa Aresmith."