I've actually finished writing the first draft of Finding/Found and am now doing some hardcore editing. I wrote about a third of the story and then lost before finding and finishing it. Because of that the first part of the story needs some serious revision to make it flow more smoothly into the second part. Also I originally wrote it in the present tense but when I returned to it almost a year later I decided I wanted to write the story in the past tense so going back and changing tense for almost 15K has been something of a bummer.
Finding/Found is set in a not so distant world which has been ravaged by political and military unrest, resource shortages, and the inexplicable poisoning of farm land. Not that Austen knows this, kidnapped and experimented on by the government, before being abandoned when fighting broke out. Austen has lived for almost a year terrified of leaving the grounds of the ruined hospital complex, when an injured man stumbles into the hospital. Ian, Austen leans is kind and friendly and not the monster Austen had been afraid of. Ian is also convinced that Austen can to stay holed up in the hospital forever and offers sanctuary in a place far from the city. All Austen has to do is trust him. Yet things are even more complicated than just finding their way across an abandoned cityscape. There are cultists to deal with, Austen's own connection to the mysterious phenomenon known as the Shadow, and on top of that Ian has not been completely truthful either.
He crouched in the corner of the only stall, clutching at the front of his hoodie hard enough that his knuckles went white, shaking all over. He felt dizzy like he might pass out, all his sense focused on outside the door, straining to detect the first signs that whatever it was out there might be following him. His mind conjures up and threw at him every terrifying possibility, from soldiers to serial killers to giant mutant rats to zombies.
Please, he begged wordlessly to anything that might be listening, please let it not be flesh-eating zombies.
Around him the hospital was as silent as it had been for all the months that he’d been there alone. He crouched in the bathroom stall staring fixedly at the door until the lights automatically went out. The terror of the sudden darkness propelled him into action again, he rushed for the door and out into the hall where sunlight greeted him and stood at the top of the stairs shaking and panting, until he at least stopped hyperventilating. He froze and listens again, but there was still nothing but the sounds of an old falling apart building.
“This is ridiculous.” He said softly out loud the sound of his own voice shocked him into stillness again.
He immediately scolded himself, he’d an adult, it was probably just a rat and his mind had made him believe it was something bigger and more dangerous and he’d run off to literally hide in a corner. Clenching his hands into fists he forced himself back down the first flight of stairs. Once he reached the next landing he stopped, hands sweating, ears and eyes straining to catching a sign of anything out of the ordinary. There was nothing, so he forced his way down another flight of stairs and then finally the last couple steps.
He eased open the door the ground floor level, body tensed to run or possibly fight if he absolutely had to. There was no flesh-eating zombies to be seen though, and Austen made a run for the nearest nurses’ station and hid behind it listening intently.
He gripped the first weapon-like object he could find, which turned out to be a surprisingly sturdy metal chair, and forced himself out from behind the counter. He slowly advanced down the hall towards where he’d last heard the noise. Every move he made sounds like it was being broadcast over a loudspeaker. Still no unusual sounds greeted him, Austen began to think maybe it had all been his imagination. He pushed open the swinging doors the led to one of the burnt out sections of the hospital and froze
He could see feet, human feet, in black combat boots.
Boots like a soldier might wear.
Austen started hyperventilating. The body the boots were attached to was lying very still and Austen wonders if he’d just found a dead person. What would be worse, it the person in the boots was dead or alive? Austen didn't know.
When he’d crept out of the elevator those first few days, there hadn’t been anyone left in the hospital for him to find, thank God. He was not at all sure what he would have done with a dead body. There had been lots of blood though, lots and lots of it. The worst had been the smears where bodies had obviously been dragged away. Austen gripped the chair tighter and tried not to think about it.
Zombies! A little voice in his mind screamed at him. Here was a possible dead body lying on the floor and it was going to turn into a zombie and eat him alive. Austen hoped he was not going to be sick.
He stared at the body breathing deeply and after a few minutes inched closer until he could see the face then stopped dead and started hyperventilating again. At first glance all he could see was inhumanly large dark eyes and an elongated jaw. Mutant flash-eating zombie was all he could think of before his brain started working again and told him the person was wearing a gas mask.