My father wanted me to write the great American novel. I remember him asking me when I was a kid whether I was g** because I wanted to write stories and didn’t care for playing football. I used to blame him for me being fucked up but in the end I found out that it was just his generation that caused him to think that way. He grew up on a farm, nearly got drafted to Vietnam before he jumped into the Navy with both feet. Yeah, I used to blame him for a lot of things.
Finally, when I was 33, he told me to write. He finally approved of my “hobby” I was elated. He thought I would write the great American Novel. Sorry dad, 75% of America is dead or undead…I might soon be one of them. I’d better get started.
Memory is very subjective. When I was a prison guard, I would always want to watch the video following a restraint because things happen so fast and you react so fast that you don’t have time to ink it in your permanent memory. Considering the long road I took to get here, the daily test of endurance, the endless says that run together as we ran together…I can honestly say that there is very little in my memory about any of it.
I can remember Becky telling me that at one point I took a shot at one of them right over her shoulder. She swears she felt the bullet all but graze her neck when I did it. It was the .357, a single action cowboy gun. I have some vague recollection of this exploding watermelon sound, the ceramic noise of the cranium as it clicked together on strands of shredded skin and hair when the reanimated corpse hit the ground. That’s what I remember. Strange details like that.
I saw my father, right before everything started going south. He wouldn’t let me see my mom. He told me she was gone. His hand was wrapped in a poorly constructed bandage, the blood like a dark message beneath the gauze. I never asked him what happened. I knew, so did he. We said our goodbyes. My Brother was on a business trip. His wife was with him. I haven’t heard from them and don’t suppose I ever will. All I have is my adopted family, friends that managed to find me or I them. We found each other and we ran. We ran for the woods in the vain hope that we could live long enough to see an end to things. Maybe even a return to normalcy. Whatever. Anyone who thinks anything could ever be the same after this is too stupid to live anyway.
When we were driving for the Stud Mill road we came through Old Town. There is a church out on one of the back roads, it’s been abandoned for years. People were inside. Some of those, “things” were up the street. We stopped, tried to get the folks inside to leave. They stayed. They told us that “demons” couldn’t bother them there. They said it was hallowed ground and that as long as the lord was with them, they would be okay. We left. There comes that point where you just have to save yourself and hope you live long enough to save a few more when you can.
You don’t have to be a building code inspector to see that two rickety doors and blown out windows aren’t going to protect you from a bunch of flesh eating corpses. I hope there is a God. I hope he’s watching. I hope that on that day, when the church people wouldn’t leave they got to see him whether he came to them or they went to him.
It’s not as painful as I thought it would be. I thought that anything that was so sinister in nature that it could reanimate the dead and turn them into a walking appetite would be so much more painful than it really is. Heather, that’s one of my friends. She has some experience in medical care. She and Nathan who was a nurse, they are caring for me while Becky watches on and I taste the salt of her tears in the air.
The wound is painful, the infection around it also. I can tell that I am dying though. Heather is making poultices, saying Hindu prayers and I’m sure that if there were incense around she would be burning that as well. I’m lost.
Isaac sits next to me…he is uncomfortable. Of anyone, he knows best what needs to be done. I try speaking but it comes out raspy and unintelligible. That right there should make him want to whip out his pistol and put one through my brain pan but instead he takes another drag off of his cigarette. The ember turns to a bright orange at it’s tip and I can hear a hissing sound as he drags. I look at him, my eyes plead with him “do what needs to be done!” and he turns away.
Sean is standing near me. I can barely see but my eyes are open. I cannot hear, not even the sound of my own heart beating. All I hear is the sound of my dry tongue as I swallow hoping for some moisture. Sean presses a water skin to my lips and I nearly choke on the water that streams from it…I want to die…
I remember it…I remember the little girl. She was holding her mother’s hand…but her mother’s hand was no longer attached to anything else. What was her story? I’ll never know…I tried saving her but they were closer than I was…much closer…I ended up fighting for my life for one second and it cost me everything…I can still remember the feel of those incisors as they dug into my arm…
James doesn’t smoke but he is smoking now. He and Sean and Isaac are talking in hushed whispers and tossing furtive glances at me. I wish they would just do it…I wish that it could just be over with…I am tired and doomed.
I wonder what it will be like to be dead? I wonder if I will see anything new? I wonder…