Archive for the ‘Home Sweet Home’ Category

I have a lot of time to think and even to listen these days. I try not to think of my old life, the one that was happy but lonely, stressful but rewarding. Most days I lay here and I think of how I can get out of the one that I am currently in.

McGrady visited me this morning reeking of stale cigarette smoke (where the hell does he keep getting them from), dirt, sweat and zombie. I was terrified for several moments that it was one ofthosevisits. But once he sat down on the foot of my cot, I knew it was one where he wanted to have one of those weird conversations with me.

“Elizabeth,” he began, is his usual authoritarian tone. I kept my eyes on the floor. “I know you don’t like me very much.”

That’s an understatement.

“But, I hope that we can at least be friends. I watched you grow up. I went to your birthdays. I was there for you and your mom when your dad left.”

Can I hit him now?

“This doesn’t have to be like it’s been for the past few months. If you show me I can trust you, you don’t have to stay here.”

Ka-ching. I look up at him. “What do you mean?”

He lit a cigarette, taking a long drag. I watched as the smoke billowed up into the hair, hanging there heavy and foreboding. “You can be moved to where your mother stays, if I can trust you.” He caught my gaze with his deep blue, penetrating eyes. It was almost a dare the way he said it, almost as if he was saying, “I’m moving you, but cross me and you will never forget it.”

I played stupid. “How would I do that?”

He was at me before I even saw him coming. His hand wrapped around my throat with such force that I could feel the air being squeezed from it. I felt the back of my head hit the stone behind me. I felt dazed and unclear, but he held my gaze.

“It’s been two fucking months. Your friend has already fulfilled her deal with my son, but you have yet to. You want your mother, you want more freedom than you better fucking give me what I want or things will get a lot worse.The world is very different now. There are no more rules, just the ones that the stronger men make. You live in my world now.” He released me, and I fell forward gagging for air.

I watched his feet as he hovered over, probably debating whether or not to kick me for good measure. My blood boiled. I have always hated men like him, but now I was at the mercy of one, one that had lived under my nose for years, ate dinner with me and my mom and had even came over my house for a drink or two when I had moved out. My hatred for him thickened, coating myself in a thick mask that bore resentment and a deep-seeded anger.

“I understand,” I choked out. I watched his feet as he left the cell. I shuddered as I heard the lock turn behind him.

  1.  Get pregnant. I have since willed my ovaries to just…STOP. For the love of all that is left in the world that is good, they just need to be old and shriveled until I find a way out of this entire cluster-fuck.
  2. Develop Stockholm Syndrome for McGrady. It’s just not going to happen…ever.
  3.  Begin to talk to inanimate objects. Think Tom Hanks a la Castaway. There will be no Wilson during my imprisonment.
  4.  Stop blogging. These past two months of nothing, no outlet whatsoever was the absolute worst.
  5. Forget my kids or Javier. I want my little makeshift family back.
  6. Allow myself to pretend as we did when we were at my house that life had not changed, that the world was not dangerous.
  7. Get bitten (duh). It could happen. I haven’t figured out why yet, but McGrady has been hoarding the Undead somewhere. During the night, I see the men leading them on leashes like some rabid dog. Their eyes glow, big and bright in the dark. It’s unnerving.
  8. Let Bonnie go over the edge. I know she’s teetering.
  9. Give in to being a prisoner for the rest of my life. I will find a way out of this.
  10. Forget those I’ve loved before. I don’t want to forget my old life, or the kids we lost or the people and of course, I want to always remember who John was.

I haven’t been able to update. There has been so much that has happened over the past few months that I don’t even know where to begin. The world is worse here then it ever was when we were at Alcott and then my home.

The internet went down sometime in February and so did my hope that the world was going to recover from everything that has happened. The internet (obviously) has eventually returned, but I fear that my hope for a life again – a real life outside of this bunker is gone and anything that is left in my life are just shattered pieces of a happy life lived by what now feels like a completely different woman.

I know that the children are safe. They live in a heavily guarded area outside of the bunker with the older women. My mom is there and sometimes when I am outside she steals a smile and lets me know tht things are as okay as they can be within this life.

I’d like to tell you that I killed McGrady. That I found someway to stab him or choke him to death or some other gruesome death by my own hands. I haven’t. It’s worse than having killed him. I’ve had to give into him. I pray every time that he comes to me that he will get tired of me, want another girl – something to free me from him.

But it hasn’t happened.

Instead, I pray each month that I get a period like I am some 15-year-old kid who’s too into her boyfriend to tell him no, but too scared of her mom to ask for birth control. I feel defiled each time he comes into my room. Afterwards, I can smell his breath on my skin and his cigarettes in my hair.

I have yet to find Javier and these days, he’s the one person I want to see. I dream about him. I dream about our talks and the times where we weren’t yet friends, but there were hints that one day we would be.

Has anyone seen that crazy Spaniard?

Once we heard McGrady’s voice, Javier grabbed his weapon and was out the door. He yelled at me in broken spanglish to be careful and lock the doors. I wasn’t understanding the need to lock the doors. If this was an Undead threat, they would find a way in no matter what. Their thirst for flesh would drive them to their own death (again) if it meant that they might get one of us in trying.

I ran to the back of the house to let the family who sleeps in my yard in, but they’ve already gone to another house. Bonnie and I start locking everything even though we both know how stupid it is. Vincent and Shelby run upstairs and are glued to the window in the guest room that faces the street. Bonnie and I join them, feeling very vulnerable again. This is not like our little makeshift fortress at Alcott Elementary, this was a house with many easily broken windows and a crazy plethora of different ways for them to get in. We watched as the men emerged from McGrady’s house heavily armed with guns and mele weapons. We watched as the hordes came through the burning fields. The majority of them are runners – the thin, agile kind who are ruled by an even more potent never-ending hunger that surpasses the “normal ones.”

That was over a month ago. I haven’t seen any of them since. The Undead hit hard and fast, almost wave after wave. It seemed like it would never end. It took several hours of near-constant bombardment before McGrady’s lines began to fall.

It was then that they fell back and began to make a run for those of us in the houses. McGrady ran in, he grabbed us and we followed him without so much as a thought.

We ran to the cars that he kept prepared for this sort of thing . I got shoved in one with my mom. McGrady hopped in the front to drive. He took us deep into the surrounding woods, past the hordes of the Undead. We get out, he pulls on things and moves things and then suddenly we’re undergound in some sort of bunker. It’s longer than it is wide and reeks of damp, dank soil and mold.

I’m separated from my mom almost immediately. I can hear the others following in step behind me, but I’m not entirely sure. They start dividing us up and putting us into rooms. I’m in one before I realize it’s a cell rather than a room. I’m farthest away from everyone almost as if I got locked up in solitary confinement.

It takes this month to get my laptop back.

Happy friggin’ Birthday, Javier!

It’s been over a month since I last posted. So much has happened, so much has changed. I don’t know where to start or how to even explain everything. It started with Javier’s birthday….

I sat watching McGrady from the window for some time that day. He was going through another group of survivors that had turned up. I watched from my office window as he picked through the gore-covered car. Whoever they were they certainly must have been through hell to get here. He okays the younger men and women to come through, but stops at the older women in the group. They couldn’t be older than my mom, but he’s quick to separate them from the group and remove them from the compound. The younger group walks in clearly still in shock and almost unaware that a chunk of their group has been taken. Each are given a yard assignment and tents. They’re to stay in McGrady’s daughter’s yard.

I don’t see the older group after that. Sometime later, Nick, the oldest McGrady boy turns back up. I make a note of it, deciding to bring it up to Javier later that night. The entire morning just felt very strange.

I finished what I needed to do for Javier’s birthday party. Vincent and Shelby were bubbling over with excitement! We all were so eager to have a day that was filled with celebration other than gloom and doom. We decorated the living room with the construction paper chains we made.

I then finish making everyone a microwaved cake in a cup. Javier comes in around 3 and we all yelled surprise! He lit up when he realized that everything was for him. Vincent and Shelby give him his tool belt. Javier gushes over it, nearly being moved to tears over how we remembered and went through so much to give him his day. Bonnie brings out my cakes in a cup and we all try for our best “Happy Birthday” en espanol. Javier is completely overwhelmed and he laughs with honest joy at our horrible rendition.

We enthusiastically eat our cake in a cup, enjoying it more than we would have had this been a normal life. We used some of our generator time to plug in my CD player. We dance around to a mix of the Beatles and the Foo Fighters.

Javier eventually pulls me to him as we jokingly mimic the tango to Everlong and then Here Comes the Sun. Bonnie, Vincent and Shelby all stopped and laughed with us. There was a moment where the song ended and a weighted silence fell. For a moment I thought that Javier and I would kiss, but Shelby squealed instead – “look! We’re finally going to be a real family now, with a mom and a dad!”

Javier and I are quick to pull away from one another. Bonnie opens her mouth to interject, but she doesn’t have any time to. Just as she began to speak, we heard McGrady’s voice coming loudly and assertively through his bull horn.

“All meen need to assemble women and children are to seek shelter, lock your doors,” his voice boomed.

I am thankful that we had gotten here when we did. Winter has finally found us and I am glad that my fireplace is workable. We’re warm, fed and have books to read and games to play. As strange as this world has become, at least here, we have some sort of semblance of normalcy. I just want to hold onto this little piece of my old life for as long as I can. I know life here is fleeting just like everything else, but I still can’t help but hope, just like my mom hopes that Ryan will come to us.  In the meantime, she has taken Armand and has found happiness in having someone to take care of.

I’ve transitioned nicely into the more maternal role that I have to be now. It was something I hadn’t envisioned for myself for several more years, but need outweighed the plan.

During the day Shelby and Vincent go off with the other kids. There’s talk of starting a school for them. I’m having trouble wrapping my head around that. Sadly, they all have the amount of education that they would need in a world they this – they can read and write. My mom is quick to remind me, “what about when this is over,” she asks consistently.

And that’s where I get stuck. My mom holds onto such copius amounts of hope including the idea that things are not as bad out there. But I have to disagree.

The military bombed an entire development and a school to try and control the hordes and that was just some small suburb in New Jersey, I can only imagine what the cities are like. I wish I had my mother’s optimism, but I just don’t see how its possible that life will be restored anytime soon. At least, not life the way that we knew it.

I don’t argue with her though. I know her hope is one of the things that keeps her going. I don’t want to take that away from her as infuriating as I find it most days.

It’s Javier’s birthday tomorrow. I don’t think he realizes that I know. Bonnie and the kids have been working on a tool belt for him. I’ve been trying to get the ingredients together for some sort of microwaved cake. Javier is softening to life here, softening to me and to the kids. It’s amazing to see.

My mom was waiting for me on her front porch. Her face light up when she saw me. We hugged for what seemed like hours. She ran her hand over my G.I. Jane look and laughed.

“Is Ryan with you,” I ask.

She shakes her head. “I hold out hope,” is all that she says.

We go inside where I get my first shower in a month. There is even hot water. My mom makes me lunch and it is warm and good.

“How do you have all of this?” I don’t even look up from my food.

“We always knew Mr. McGrady was a nut. He’s been prepared for this for years. Once the hordes hit, he wiped them out. We spent the next several days burning the bodies in the field and barricading ourselves in. Then he set us up with generators and running water. The food has come from his stockpile and from the people who have found us and chose to stay.”

I’m nodding as I eat. I can’t believe McGrady was able to do everything the military failed at doing. Thank God for bat-shit neighbors is all I can think.

I spend the rest of the day with my mom. Eventually I venture outside. Several of the kids have found their parents here, however Vincent and Shelby stay with me. Bonnie and Javier join us too. We go to my house where Mouse greets me happily at the door. I sweep him up into my arms and nuzzle my face into his soft tangerine fur.

Bonnie and Shelby claim the guest room. Javier and Vincent take the office while Mouse and I take my bedroom. We get to lay in my bed for the first time in weeks and feel normal if only for a little bit. Javier comes in sometime later. We sit in my bed and talk about life and how much everything has changed. We agree that for now this is where we are going to stay and that if we were to leave Bonnie, Vincent, Shelby, Armand and my mom were all to come with us. Mouse too if we could feed him.

In the morning my mom comes over with our box of rations for the week. All of us bask in the heaven that is powdered eggs after having lived on school preserves for a month.

We begin our life here as some sort of patchwork family.

Javier kept driving. We only stopped when we saw cars that hadn’t been in the epicenter of the bombing. Most of them have already been picked clean. We look for one that hasn’t had its gasoline siphoned out. Our bus runs on diesel and we know that we can only sustain it for so long. Most of them are a no-go, but we eventually find a van that was a little bit off the street. It has half a tank of gas when we turn it on. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Bonnie and I lead the way out of the neighborhood with the van. I’m excited to be going home to see if my mom is there. If Ryan is there…I’m also scared that they both will be there, maimed or worse yet…Undead. We fall quiet. She’s anxious too. She walked most of the way that we’re driving to get to Alcott Elementary from her school. I can tell from her withdrawn demeanor that her adventure to us must have been just as horrifying as our time at Alcott was, burying students and cleaning up left over zombie-goo.

Once we’re out of town I think we all begin to calm down a little bit. There were fewer people out here so hopefully that means fewer zombies and no mega-hordes.I’m expecting my street to be dead. I’m expecting some damage and carnage, but what I am not expecting is a complete barricade at the beginning of my street.

I stop. Javier stops. We all get out except for the kids. Mr. McGrady, my seventy-something year old neighbor greeted us, brandishing an assault rifle.

“HAVE ANY OF YOU BEEN BIT,” he bellows. I can see his five grandsons pop up on the other side of the barricade complete with matching assault rifles.

We all instinctively put our hands up and stand still. “None of us have been bitten, Mr. McGrady.” I never could bring myself to call him by his first name.

“Who’s with you,” he barks.

“Two coworkers and the kids I  have left from my class.”

He nods and begins to walk over to us. He looks over each of us before he boards the bus. He takes stock of each kid and our supplies. After about fifteen minutes, he gets off the bus and comes to me.

“I believe you. We’ll let you in, but it will cost you the supplies.”

Javier and I look at each other and then back at McGrady.

“We’ve fortified the perimeter. We’ve made this work. We have food and running water. Your mom is here,” he adds.

At the mention of running water, Javier was ready to even throw in the bus as payment for our admission and I was already walking in once I heard that my mom was waiting for me.