some fall in love. i shatter.

Beginnings & Endings (#15)

In Stories Volume 1 on June 11, 2012 at 7:02 am



#1

Every morning is a choice: stay and fight, or go.  Remain in relative safety and hope that someone comes to town who can help, explain what’s happened, save you; or go, leave this battered and hostile shell of a town and hope to find something better on the road.  Every morning has been a decision: stay to fight on at least one more day.  You tell yourself you don’t know what it is holding you but truthfully, you just don’t want to admit it.

James: your love, your partner for the last six years until twenty-three days ago when he took part in the last stand at the barricades.  He fell with the town and with nearly everyone else.  It’s pointless to stay for him.  He’s one of them.  He is not James.  He is not yours.  And yet part of him has to be, you think.  Even if the only part that’s left is the one that you need to extinguish to put him out of his misery.  You feel a certain responsibility.

Unfortunately, the zombies have become a way of life and fear became normal a long time ago.  Your knowledge of the town doesn’t do much anymore when supplies are running low and most days are spent just picking off zombies from the roof of a decimated grocery store.  You’ve encountered no other survivors but at least you have a barricaded house, a safe place to escape back to whether things go as planned or fall off course.

You’ve maintained a stockpile of rifles, handguns, bullets, axes, and various thing that may come in handy in a pinch.  You’ve cobbled together a collection of canned beans, vegetables, airtight containers of cereals, and any other shelf stable foods.  It’s monotonous but food is food and it’s a base to work from.  You know where things are bad nearby and where they’re quiet.  If someone’s looking for you, they’ll head here.  So, you ask yourself, what’s it gonna be today: stay or go?

If you choose to go, continue to section #2

If you choose to stay, continue to section #3
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
..
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#2

You load the Cherokee with weapons and supplies, things for killing and things for living though you err on the side of killing.  If you run out of bullets, you won’t last long; if you run out of food, you can manage hunger for awhile.  The food goes in the trunk, the guns and assorted melee weapons stay nearby, spread across all available seats.  Before you leave, you walk through the house that you shared with James the past four years and thought you’d be in for so many more.  The town won’t be hard, the house won’t be hard, but to leave the memories and the fading remembrances of him, the imagined glimpses of his shadow, is to abandon him to the abyss that you keep reminding yourself he truly is not coming back from.  You kiss a framed photo of him and leave it facing down on the dining room table.

The zombies don’t typically congregate in your neighborhood, so it’s uneventful when you raise the garage door and pull out to the street.  You’re aiming for Jasper, west across the state; it’s only ninety miles away and before your own barricades broke down, you heard they were putting up a solid fight.

You take your time navigating the streets.  Zombies sometimes fall over in the street and remain there, waiting, or they drag out something they think they can eat.  You’ve seen a dozen of them overturn a car with a dead cat underneath.  All this recommends you drive slowly as you pass through to the other side of town.  It’s a warm day and there’re more out than usual.  Some just walk along, some lay slumped against cars, some fight over scraps of meat.  They don’t pay much attention to you – they only see an inedible can driving by, not the fresh meat within.

You are constantly amazed at how recognizable they are.  For being flesh-eating monsters, they still resemble their old selves remarkably well.  Even after they’ve become monsters within, so much remains the same on the exterior: the face, the hair, the shape.  Pieces may be torn from their flesh but if you knew someone beforehand, they’re close enough that your brain fills in the gaps.  Everyday that you’ve gone shooting, you’ve picked off a handful of faces recognizable from a distance.  It doesn’t make it any harder to shoot them in those recognizable faces, there’s no forgetting they’re incapable of anything but murder, but you find it strange how that physical humanity remains.

You slam on the brakes!  James.  You saw him, or you think you saw him, down Tyson, crossing by that intersection and behind that building.  Was it him?  He’s a zombie, so even if it was James, it wasn’t exactly him.  The screech of your brakes has drawn the attention of a few of the monsters nearby and they’re coming to see what’s going on.  To see if there’s food.  You look at the hunting rifles bundled in the passenger seat footwell and realize there’s little time to make a decision: do you go after James or do you stick to your plan and continue to Jasper?

If you go after James, continue to section #4

If you continue to Jasper, continue to section #5
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#3

You can’t bring yourself to do it.  You walk through the house while making your decision and you’re confronted by too many memories to leave.  James making you breakfast on Sunday mornings, James falling asleep on the couch, you leading him groggily upstairs, James coming out of the master bathroom, clean-shaven but with shaving cream still dotting the space behind the bottom of his earlobes.  There’s no way you can leave this house because it means leaving him.  He’s not out there, not the real him, the real James.  You tell yourself a hundred times everyday that he left the world behind weeks ago.  Doesn’t mean you need to leave the house now.  It’s safer anyway.

Staying means fortifying; fortifying means eating; eating means stocking up on supplies, so you head for the Cherokee in the garage.  The nearby stores are beginning to run low on supplies.  You haven’t seen any other survivors around town but you’ve been pretty thorough on your foraging trips and a lot of people took a lot of things during those frantic last days.  You pull the spare map from the glove box and look over your notes.  Shop N’ Save: empty; Price Chopper: empty; Wegman’s: barely.  You draw red Xs where the two empty stores are located for quick visual reference.  So far, you’ve only ventured to the stores in Rahway since it’s so close and you know the streets so well.  Hapsburg isn’t too far away, neither is Diamond Park, and both have their own sets of stores.  They could be stocked or they could be empty; the roads could be cleared or they could be a gnarled mess; they could be safe or they could be overrun by those monsters or by survivors that shoot anything that moves.

The biggest gambles have the biggest payoffs, though they threaten the biggest losses.

If you go for the nearby stores low on supplies, continue to section #16

If you go for the far-off stores that might be stocked, continue to section #15
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#4

James was everything to you.  The love of your life, the one constant for your future, the person you pinned hopes and dreams upon.  You don’t know if you want to end his pain or try to bring hum back, but you can’t leave now.  Dead palms slap against the trunk window and you hear the groans of hunger.  Startled back into reality, you drive ahead two blocks and turn left slowly, putting some distance between yourself and those creatures while lining up to intercept James.  The buildings are all low and you have a good line of sight all around you.  He’s dangerous, you remind yourself, and a killer.  ‘I need to be careful’ has been a mantra of sorts and you begin repeating it to yourself as a reminder, your lips moving without making a sound.  Approaching the corner where you think he’ll emerge, you stop the car and cut the engine, sliding down in your seat so that you’re barely visible.  Moments later, he shambles into view; you’re astonished at how much he still resembles himself.

His face is mottled pale purples and whites but it’s largely intact.  His jeans and white t-shirt, the same ones he was wearing the last time you saw him, are in tatters and covered in blood that can’t be his as he seems to be mostly whole.  One arm, his right, has a great chunk torn from it; you can see down to the bone from where you hide.  That’s what got him.  It must’ve been just one and he must have fought it off after the bite, otherwise he’d appear more… devoured.  It’s not a word you like but it’s the only one that comes to mind.

James passes directly in front of you.  Your muscles are still, tense; even your lips have stopped moving.  You think you see something in his face, his eyes.  Was it a glimmer of recognition?  Could he possibly remember you?  Way back before communications went down, there had been rumors of a cure, of people coming out of this.  Your brain is spiraling as you realize your hand is on the door handle.  You shake yourself out of your odd reverie.  “What am I doing?”  What are you doing?

If you step out of the car, continue to section #12

If you stay in the car, continue to section #13
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#5
You put your foot on the pedal and continue on to Jasper.  What you saw was not James.  It took the visualization to fully understand that, to accept that he was one of them, and now you feel that you have his blessing to leave him and everything in town behind.

You’re lucky the screeching tires didn’t draw too much attention to yourself and it’s still fairly easy to navigate the streets.  You’d given up trying the radio weeks ago but now that you’re  embarking upon something new, you figure that it can’t hurt to give it a try.  Static… static… static… “If you’re in”… static… “Fort Broward is”… static… static… “repeat, danger, do not”… static.

You’re driving half-blind, one eye on the road and the other on the radio dial, your ears listening for hints of the first human voice you’ve heard in months.  What was Fort Broward? What was the danger?  Is the road dangerous but the Fort safe?  You’re fiddling with the buttons, amped on excitement and fear about the voice.  Your fingers twitch over the knob again when you see a zombie step into the road from behind an overturned vehicle.  Instincts get the better of you.  You swerve.  You hit the over-turned car dead-on.

You awake to the sound of an alarm clock ringing in your ear.  Your eyes are puffy and you hear your old dog, Stanley, growling nearby.  Your body feels tight and though you try to rub your eyes to see better, your arm is restrained.  You manage with your left arm and it all comes careening back to you.  That sound isn’t an alarm clock, it’s breaking glass; that growling isn’t Stanley, it’s that zombie grunting and heaving it’s way through the windshield.  You can’t move.  The seatbelt is jammed and you’re beginning to realize the pain of both legs being broken.

The guns are all so close, a .9mm just inches away, but you can’t reach it.  The zombie’s struggling harder for you, tearing it’s own skin away as the teeth creep closer.  Your right arm is pinned, you think it’s broken, and you just can’t move to get the left arm over.  As you make one last effort to swing your arm towards the gun, the zombie pushes through the glass and sinks her teeth into the arm you had suddenly broken free.  You howl in pain but the adrenaline keeps you reaching for the gun.  You shake the zombie and steady your incomplete arm to fire off six rounds into her head.  She slumps.  You slump.  It’s only a matter of time.

As you slip into darkness, your body replaces a heartbeat with the thumping repetition of ‘Fort Broward’ and the last glimmer of consciousness informs you where your starving body will soon be seeking sustenance.

THE END
If you wish you had done things differently, click here
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#6

It’s been over a day since you came back and while it seems most of them have drifted away in search of more readily available food, James remains.  You remind yourself it isn’t him, that James is not James, that James died weeks ago and this thing is nothing more than a monster that bears his face, and yet you can’t let the possibility go.  This is the mental muscle you’ve been flexing throughout town, through the wasteland of people that you used to know.  It’s been easy and you thought you were tough but now you’re thinking and realizing that you just didn’t care much for any of those people while they were alive.  They became easy to dismiss or dispatch but James was yours, your man, had been for years and would have been forever.  If he’s butting up against the house, maybe he still is yours.  Maybe, you think, he’s calling to me in the only way that he can now.  Maybe, you think, I’m losing my mind.  Maybe, you think, I’m going to get myself killed.

Even as you cannot decide on what you think of the thing outside, you know there’s no way you can ignore him and let him roam away to become lost again.  Fundamentally, there is no choice to be made here for sometimes things are chosen for you.  That is the power that love holds; it may allow you to decide how you go from A to B, but it will ensure that you go from A to B.  This thought overwhelms you as much as you believe in it, for how did love bring you here?  And where will love take you?  You shudder at either the possibilities or a breeze that may have blown through a crack in one of the barricaded windows.

But, you focus, how to get him into the house?

If you risk the fast and dangerous way, continue to section #8

If you attempt the slow and more difficult way, continue to section #7
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#7

You flex the muscles you’ve developed over the last few months and mentally it makes you feel stronger.  ‘Survival isn’t a game’ has been a mantra and now you’re putting that to the test.  Slowly and silently, you’ve pulled the wooden planks from the guest bedroom on the second floor, the one that looks onto the trampled lawn, right onto one of the spots that James’ been milling about with some regularity.  You’ve turned the green garden hose from the garage into a lasso and quietly lowered it towards the ground.  It’s just a matter of waiting for him to amble over to it.  Eventually, he begins coming your way and your muscles tense.  There’s only one chance to get this right.  Moving slowly, he places one foot inside of the loop, hesitates, and places the second one inside.  Without a moment to reconsider, you yank on the hose, pulling the loop up to his armpits and cinching the hose around his torso.  One foot braced against the window sill, you begin to slowly and methodically reel him in as he bounces and flails against the side of the house.  This escapade has surely drawn the attention of the monsters in the area but the downstairs is well-barricaded.

After a lifetime, his head comes into view, then his shoulders, his torso, and lastly his legs as he tumbles into the room.  Before he can react, you knock the old bureau onto his back, pinning him down while you first handcuff his ankles together, then handcuff his wrists behind his back.  It’s the only way to minimize his threat.  His skin is cold and flaky; you force back the bile rising in your throat.  You tell yourself he once loved you.  Finished, you push the bureau off of his back and look upon him.  He can’t get up, can’t even roll over, but his body bucks in a jerky way, fueled only by the desire for your flesh.  You know what you told yourself time and again but you can’t help still loving him somehow.  He would kill you in an instant and yet you love him, you love this thing, for the resemblance and the remembrance that it brings.  It, you try to say, it, not him or he, but this doesn’t do much good.  You reeled it in because you remember it as him; you believe in some sort of salvation because once, it was he.

You shed only a few tears as you guide it down the hallway to a bathroom where you clasp more handcuffs to rings that you’ve drilled into the walls.  You feel certain about the rings, you trust your own work; you also trust your own work on the deadbolts you’ve installed on the outside of the bathroom door.  You need some time to think.

Continue to section #9
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#8
Through the windowpanes of the garage door, you see him milling around the driveway as if he had found his way home.  Another two of them are on the lawn and three are in the street, but you can’t make out much else.  This is your best chance.  With the green garden hose in one hand, the other lifts up the garage door to about knee height and you’re bent down enough to see his feet shuffling forward.  You wish the old door wasn’t so loud.  You get the door about waist high and you catch him, eye to eye, which makes him shuffle faster.  You ready the garden hose, steel your nerves, and hoist the door up but you’ve mistimed it.  He’s too close and the door smacks him in the face, sending him to the ground on his back.  You sense them all looking at you, realizing your presence.  He’s struggling to get upright but there’s no time.  You drop the hose and grab his two legs, sliding his surprisingly heavy body into the garage.  He’s disoriented enough that you have a moment.  You grab the uncoiled rope, slam the garage door back down, and when you turn back around he’s almost on his feet.  Quickly, you begin to make a loop of the hose to capture him in when you realize that one end is stuck.  You look down to see the end of the hose snaking under the garage door.  You also see dozens of rotting fingers and chipped fingernails sliding into that open space.  Before you can stop them, they’ve lifted the garage door and there are many more than you had seen from the window.  You move for the door to the house but run straight into James and are knocked onto your back.  The hose still in your hand, you try to strangle yourself into blackout but you see their rotted faces pouncing and feel their jagged teeth clamping before you lose it all.

THE END
If you wish you had done things differently, click here
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#9

He’s been shackled and locked in the bathroom for days now.  At first, the moans and the sounds of his struggling against the restraints were too much to bear and you needed to stay behind the barricaded bedroom door for hours.  As the days passed though, his guttural growls turned into mumbles, then whispers, then just the occasional sound of the handcuffs clanking weakly.  You can’t continue like this.  It’s not about having one of them in the house, it’s about having him in the house.  One of them you would have killed or you could wait to see if it starves – if it dies of starvation – but you can’t do that with James.  He deserves something better.  Your eyes are red from exhaustion, your brain is tired, your thoughts sluggish.  This isn’t a reasonable situation, you tell yourself, I shouldn’t be forced into such a decision.  If you kill him, it signals an end to the return of normalcy you’d been hoping for and your embarkation into another terrifying world.  If you choose to release him upon you, well, that’s the literal end of the world and the rebirth into another, but at least you would do it with him.  There’s something to that, you tell yourself, isn’t there?

If you choose to kill him, continue to section #10

If you choose to release him, continue to section #11
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#10

He’s weak from hunger and captivity; his head just lolls and nods at you as if affixed to a marionette’s string.  You approach without fear for the shackles on his ankles and wrists are steady.  Caressing the back of his head, he makes trivial lunges at your face and your arms with his teeth but he can’t reach.  Even still, it’s stupid to be this close.  You can’t help yourself.  You need to say goodbye.  Running your fingers across the back of his scalp, they become caught in a tangle of dried blood and quite suddenly you no longer need to say goodbye.  You said goodbye a long time ago, before he was your captive, before he ambled back to the house.  This is not James, you loved James and you’ve made your peace with what has become of James.  This is just a monster that needs to be put down like any other monster.  You put the barrel of your gun to it’s forehead and you fire.  You don’t unbind him, don’t bury him, don’t clean the bathroom.  You shut the door and you walk away.  James is dead, this house is dead, this town is dead; everything.  It’s time to move on.

THE END
If you wish you had done things differently, click here
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#11

You kneel down to unclasp the handcuffs binding his ankles to the ring you screwed into the wall.  His feet begin shuffling but he can’t get anywhere with his hands still bound.  Standing, you reach around to undo the handcuffs on one wrist.  He begins mustering an energy born of hunger and bloodlust but you’re still able to easily brush away the cold and broken arm.  He bares his teeth but you keep just far enough away.  The last key, the last handcuff, your last decision.  Holding him back at the waist where he can’t bite you, you undo the last handcuff and free him of his captivity.  You step back, not from uncertainty but to savor the last few moments.  You loved him so much when he was alive, when the world was alive, when your future was alive.  That’s all gone now; the future and the world are wastelands.  He too is a wasteland but something way back behind the blackness in his eyes is telling you that you can be together again.  What else is there besides ongoing struggle and eventual death?  Violent death at the hands of monsters you never cared about.  At least this monster you cared about at one point in time.

Your back against the white tiles of the wall, you drop your defensive arms and let him come.  His rotted teeth come at the neck that you bend forward for him.  For a moment there is exquisite pain and a wet warmth.  Then there is numbness, there is cold, there is ravenous hunger.

THE END
If you wish you had done things differently, click here
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#12

You did see something in his eyes – some faint recognition. Something on his lips – a recollection of your name.  Slowly, you pull the handle on the door and pop open the driver side door.  Barely a sound is made.  You’re unsure what you’re doing but you reach across the seat for your Glock and a hunting rifle.  As you step outside of the car, you realize James has stopped crossing the street and is turning to look at you.  He doesn’t make an immediate move in your direction.  You think maybe something in his brain is still functioning, tying your face to the memories that are either dead or buried deep in his mind.

You’re so focused that only at the last moment do your hear the sounds of shuffling feet behind you.  You turn to see the three zombies that had been interested in your car earlier.  One  is upon you and you push away gnashing teeth with one hand while firing the gun against it’s temple.  It drops and you see the next two right behind him.  You fire off one clean shot, then a second, hitting both in the center of their foreheads.  Before you can turn, you feel two surprisingly strong hands grab your shoulders from behind.  There’s no time to do anything before the teeth come up against your skin.  You can’t even see if it’s James that took you under or if he stood still as another one came, attracted by the sound of bullets.

You like to think that it was him though, that he loved you so much he couldn’t bear to be without you, and that maybe you can be together again.

THE END
If you wish you had done things differently, click here
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#13

You realize the absurdity of your actions and slide your hand off the handle.  You wonder what you would have done had you stepped outside, but quickly you dispel the rhetorical question.  James is looking directly at you but not moving.  In your rearview mirror, you see three zombies approaching – the ones interested in your car a few minutes ago.  Another few come around the corner.  They’re somehow signaling one another.  There’s enough room to navigate the car but you need to get moving.  As absurd as it would have been to exit the car, you wonder if you were a little bit right about his recognition.  Were you too hasty to quit town?  Is it possible to stay and capture James?  Rehabilitate him or at least ease his suffering?

If you continue on to Jasper, continue on to section #5

If you head back to the house to regroup, continue on to section #14
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#14

The only choice now is to go back to the house, back to safety, back to the distant possibility of James.  You still don’t know how this call of theirs works but it can bring a lot of them to the streets and you don’t want to somehow be caught while trying to get out of town.  The house will be safe until their interest dies away.  They’ll follow you back but once you’re out of sight and with a diminishing scent, they usually dissipate from the area around the house after a couple of hours at most.

James has begun to slowly approach your car but there’s no time to linger; you can hear those behind you beginning to hit the car.  You rev the engine and throw the car into reverse, knocking the three down as you turn the car around to head back the way that you came.  James is moving faster now and you can see dozens of them behind him crossing the square.  Even if the rest lose track, he’ll lead them to you.  Somehow, you’ve jogged his dead memory and he still remembers the way home.

Continue to section #6
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#15

If you’re going to survive in a world overrun by zombies, you’re going to have to take the occasional gamble.  You check the garage windows and don’t see many of them lingering nearby, so you hit the garage opener and roll out slowly.  The streets aren’t bad in the neighborhood and you’re surprised how few zombies you see across the torn-up lawns of abandoned houses.  You wonder what it is they do besides eat.

The roads are fairly clear and it doesn’t take long for you to reach Hapsburg.  All of these towns have a similar layout so it isn’t difficult to locate the stores.  Zombies mill about but as long as you drive slowly, they don’t take much notice.  The parking lot of the A&P is a bad scene – a lot of survivors must have been hit by a swarm; the smell penetrates the sealed windows.

You park just below the rooftop ladder at the back of the store, scan to make sure none of them are nearby, and you climb onto your car and up the ladder.  Most of these places have a door on the roof that leads down to the store and this A&P is no different.  Fill up the duffel bags, drop them down to the car from the roof, and then haul off.  This has been your tactic since the beginning and it’s been working well.

Inside, the store doesn’t have much more than what there was back in town.  You walk aisle to aisle, ensuring that nothing is creeping along with the smell of you lingering like roast beef.  No threats – they must have sealed up the store early on, which could explain how so many had been slaughtered outside.  But just as there are no zombies lingering in the aisles, neither is there much food.  Some canned beans and vegetables, a few boxes of expired Cheerios and Corn Flakes, one bag of pretzels, a dozen or so frozen dinners.  It’s not a good haul, not what you had hoped for, but it isn’t bad either; it’ll feed you for awhile.

You’re dragging the duffel bag back towards the stairwell for the roof when you hear a noise.  The bag drops and both your hands are wrapped around your Glock.  You hear it again and figure it’s coming from the back of the store.  It’s louder but doesn’t seem any closer.  Could someone be surviving inside of a locked room?  Did someone trap a group of zombies somewhere?  Is it even worth checking?

If you choose to investigate, continue to section #17

If you choose to leave, continue to section #18
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#16

There will come a time when you need to venture further and explore areas that you don’t know the safety of.  Today is not that day and you figure that you might as well clear out the Wegman’s before moving onto uncertain locations.  You pull out of the garage unmolested and seal it quickly before any of them can stumble in looking for their next meal.  The streets are pretty clear of debris and the overturned, burned out husks of cars that remain are already on your radar.  That’s the beauty of staying in a town that you know: the knowledge, the security, the way that you know everything.  Images of James drift before your eyes, hovering in the air in front of the windshield as if he’s watching over you.  You presume that physically he’s still in town; all the others seem to have been lingering in the areas where they died and he went down defending the northern edge of Williamson, just a few miles from home.  You haven’t seen him though and you think maybe it’s better that way or you wouldn’t know what to do.

And then, as if he knew, James emerges into the intersection ahead.  You slam on the brakes, barely avoiding hitting him.  Slowly, he turns to look at you and you’re amazed at how much he still resembles himself.  His face has turned pale and purple, he wears a coating of matted blood on his torn jeans and t-shirt, and there’s a significant portion of his arm missing.  Otherwise, James still resembles James.  And somehow, no matter how much his brain has died or deteriorated, something about you is striking a chord in him.  He stares without moving – beating back the bloodlust, you think – and you do the same, until you notice more of them approaching, attracted by the sound of the tires screeching and whatever stand-off is going between the two of you.  You should continue on with your foraging plans as seeing the husk of James means nothing; he remains nothing more than a monster in the guise of your lover.  Former lover.  And yet, if he can recognize you, you begin to wonder if he would follow back to the house if you turned around and drove there now, giving him a bit of guidance. His eyes seem to remember you, you can almost hear him groan your name. What if he’s somehow alive beneath all that exterior death? What if there’s a sentient remnant of James?

Three pairs of hungry hands begin beating against the back windows and you need to make a decision.

If you turn back to the house, continue on to section #6

If you continue foraging, continue on to section #19
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#17

Leaving the bag where you dropped it, you keep your gun raised and step slowly towards the back office of the store.  There’s no window, the door to the office is shut, and the sound is growing louder.  A heavy thumping against the door.  It could be someone weakened by starvation trying to get out, or it could be one of them.  The thumping grows louder as you approach, more rapid, and you realize it isn’t one hand thumping but many.  You take a step back but the smell of rot hits you.  You smell them and they smell you.  They’re ravenous with hunger, you hear it in the desperation of their hits against the wooden door.

You’re walking backwards with your gun trained on the door when the whole thing shatters and a wave of monsters pours forward.  There’re far too many of them for you to handle.  You put down the first four that had ridden a surge of momentum from the group behind and they slow down the rest for you to make an escape.  As you turn to run, your left foot catches the edge of a pallet you hadn’t seen while backing up and you go down, the Glock sliding across the floor.  You’re quickly back on your feet but you’re not fast enough.  A hand grabs your shirt at the back, another your collar, another your sleeve, another the hem; a moment, then another grabs your pant leg, another your right ankle, another your left knee.  No matter how much you try to surge ahead, they hold you tight; in an odd way it reminds you of the way James would hold you tight in bed.  When you tried to pull away to get dressed for work, he would hold you from behind and not let you go.  He would pull you back, just as they pull you back, and promise to never let you go, just as they will never let you go.

THE END
If you wish you had done things differently, click here
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#18

Surviving means not investigating unnecessary danger, so you take the stairs back to the roof.  The beige bag is heavier than you thought and you’re sweating by time you’re outside.  You glance over the edge of the building, doing a full sweep of the perimeter, and see no danger near the car.  You normally haul the bag most of the way down the ladder before dropping it, in order to minimize the sound of impact, but since none of them are too close by and the bag is so heavy, you decide to just haul it over the edge.

The bag meets the trunk of the car with a boom.  That’s gonna draw some attention, you think, and before you can even swing your leg over the ladder, you see one of them emerge from the tree line behind the store.  You hadn’t checked there.  Now you really have to move.  You hurry down the ladder and as you’re only a few rungs in, your right hand slips from the sweat on your palms.  Your left foot moves off the rung and in a moment of panic, your other hand loses its grip and you drop.

You nearly blackout from the pain when your feet hit the roof of the car.  You drop to your knees and you’re helpless to stop yourself from rolling off of the roof and onto the ground.  You feel the radiant pain; you know your ankles are shattered.  The zombie from the woods has been joined by others and they’re speeding up at the smell of blood.  The gun is still in your belt.  You think of James.  You cry at it ending this way but you’ve known it would be along these lines.  Maybe I’ll find James, you think; he always said you were an optimist.

THE END
If you wish you had done things differently, click here
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#19

As much as it pains you, you angle the car away from James and put your foot to the gas.  “It’s not him,” you say over and over again, repeating it as a mantra to give yourself a necessary boost of power.  You don’t even look back.  It’s not him.

You clean out the Wegman’s in under 15 minutes.  The remaining cans of food barely take up more than half of one duffel bag.  You run on autopilot.  When you get home, you realize how lucky you are that there were no incidents because you would have gone down with little fight.  You probably wouldn’t have even realized what was going on.

James.  James.  You can’t believe that you saw him.  Saw him and kept moving.  Does that mean you’ve accepted that he’s gone?  Does that mean you can move on?  Somehow… no, it actually makes you want to hunker down even more.  As if he was a challenge you needed to overcome, you now feel fortified in the house.  He was the weakness, he was the tie to the old world, the you that wasn’t a warrior capable of fighting, killing, surviving, saving her own life.  Today, you proved that you could do it.

As the sun sets on another day and you walk the house, doing rounds to ensure that all the windows and doors are properly barricaded, you smile.

THE END
If you wish you had done things differently, click here

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: