Archive for the ‘On the Road Again’ Category

With one sweeping movement, he had her pinned to him, his mouth completely covering hers. In her mind, she screamed for him to let her go, but her heart wouldn’t let her. It had been six months since she had left him the last time and she had missed him more than she had imagined.

Her head wins out in the end and she pushes herself from him.

“No! You don’t get to do this again,” she yells, on the verge of tears. She’s too proud though to let him see her cry. She chokes them back with elongated breaths.

“Baby, don’t,” his voice filled with tenderness and love, both endearments she knows are fleeting.  “I love you, I want you with me.”

“It’s never with you, it’s behind you, it’s under you, but it’s never with you.” She begins to walk away and he grabs her by the arm, pulling her back. “I know how this plays out. I’ve lived it be played out twice already.”

“It’s different this time!” She’s wrapped around him, his hands running through her hair, kissing her forehead and cheeks. “It’s different. Baby, I want you with me. Beside me, next to me.”

“Bullshit!” She fits against him, both wanting the comfort of being close to him, but at the same time hating him for even trying to offer it to her and hating herself for even wanting it. “Bullshit! This has been two years of the same shit! You can not just jerk me around and tell me all of this shit and confuse me again. You don’t get to hurt me again! I’m happy now. Not with you. I’ve lived through the excuses and the bullshit and everything else that never made me any real priority or obligation to you. Maybe I found someone who doesn’t do that. Who calls when he says he will, who takes me out and doesn’t cancel on me, who spends time with me, who never makes me feel like I am any less than I am!”

He let’s her go. He steps back from her, realizing that she hasn’t been waiting for him this time. “What’s his name?”

She stops. “ Just fuck you, John. Just, fuck you.”

She’s up by her front door now. She’s away from him. It’s tearing her apart to do this again, but she knows that staying with him isn’t for her. She knows coming in second or even a third between his failing career and friends is not what is going to make her happy.

She has lesson plans and stuff to do for work and dealing with his melodrama is not how she wants to spend her Saturday afternoon.

That was my life before though. That was nearly two years ago. John was dead now and I’m standing in someone’s front yard armed with an axe trying to fight my way to a car with my things strapped to my back.

Javier is yelling. The walkers are everywhere. If I don’t keep fighting, they will tear me to pieces. I need to focus, but right now all I can think of is my life before. The mistakes I made in my life before and I judge myself in that moment because there is no need to even be thinking about it.

I just need to keep fighting.

“What? What’s coming?”

My mom is already running around her room, throwing things into a bag. Armand’s screaming has gone down to a dull whimper.

“Mom!” I grabbed for her arm to stop her. She’s in a panic, that is clear. “What’s going on?”

My mom stops, bag in hand. “Armand did this when you were…away. He would do this with the hordes. It was almost like he knew, like he’s just that sensitive.” She goes back to throwing anything she can into her bag, grabbing Armand to do the same in the boys’ room.

Javier comes in, he has Shelby wrapped up like a package in his arms. Vincent is behind them.

“Who knew about Armand?! Who knew that he could do that?”

“We all did. We were all there when McGrady figured it out,” Vincent pipes up.

“And none of you could tell me? Just like your top secret experiments in the woods! Or even Shelby,” I turned on them both, angry for everything that has just happened. “Is that what we do in this family! Huh? Lie and hide shit!”

“Leez, calm down! You have’n t exactly been in the best mindset since we left your house. Things needed to happen and we made them happen. Don’t yell at the kids because of that.” Javier stares at me, clearly angry. Vincent leaves the room.

“Oh whatever! We have a fucking horde to deal with now, don’t we?”

Javier nods. He puts Shelby down on the bed my mom had. Burying her would require too much time and time was one thing we knew we didn’t have. We pack what we can carry. The clothes that we managed to find, the food that we had and we throw it all into the car that we stole from the road. I go back into the house to grab the warm, down comforter that was on my bed. It’s too good of a thing to leave behind. I’m grabbing it and rolling it up when I turn and look out the window.

In the distance, underneath the gray cast of the moon, I can see the first of the horde coming. I am stunned, it is probably the biggest one that I have ever seen and it is headed straight for our little encampment. In the back of my mind, I prayed that we all were going to survive this one. I grabbed the bag of guns we found in a cabin not far from our house and with the blanket, I begin the mad dash down the stairs and out of the front door, only glimpsing in on a still dead Shelby as I went.

Today. I killed a student. And now I’m running from a mob of hungry zombies.

The closer I got to him, the faster I seemed to be walking. I was furious by the time I reached him and I think that he knew that. He put down the machete and the sac of small animals that he had found and no doubt killed. There was a small part of me that wanted to kill him in that instance, we had been through so much, seen so much and had been forced to do so much I just couldn’t believe he would let Vincent experiment on walkers like that.

“Leez, you seem upset,” he said, putting his hands on his hips as he absent-mindedly kicked at the dirt in front of him.

Upset?! You’re damn right I’m upset, you big Spanish jerk! I exhale, slowly before I even try to talk to him. Since we became whatever it is that we are, we always were able to talk about things. Why was I finding it so hard to talk and not yell about this? Because it’s disgusting and I’m disappointed that we would do that shit. I shake my head.

“Is this about, Vincent?” He reaches out, running his hands over my arms. His touch is both calming and warm, but I refuse to let him win like that.

“Of course it’s about Vincent! You’re mutilating walkers? THAT’S what you two do out there?”

He draws me closer to him. Oh, he’s good. “He’s curious. I’m curious. We need to figure them out. They’re dead, it’s not like they feel it.”

“You don’t know that. Just like The Man in the Ice, we don’t know what—”

“You’re right, we don’t. But you still have been out there for the past two days staring at him. He makes you curious. It’s not like it used to be Leez, we have to teach them to be survivors not shelter them.”

“But he’s just a kid.”

“He turned eleven last month. When I was his age I was already working to help my mother. We were not all as fortunate as you were. Childhood doesn’t exist in this world, anymore.”

He kisses me on the forehead, picks up his things and starts walking back up towards the house.  I watch as he goes. I look towards the lake. I am curious about The Man in the Ice. I wonder what would happen to him if we left him in there. I wonder what would happen to him if we took him out. Should we take him out?

I wonder over towards the lake and pick up Vincent’s bag. I look down at The Man in the Ice. He looks like he’s almost sleepy. His movements are pronounced and angry anymore, instead he looks like he’s just floating, minimally aware of what’s going on around him. In an eerie way, it’s almost peaceful.

I went down there again this morning after my mom and I had finished trying to cover one of the big picture windows in the house that we’re currently “borrowing.” I stood over him again, The Man in the Ice. He didn’t move much like he did before, probably because last night dipped into wait felt like single digits. His tomb is now too small for him to move and trash around in. Instead I stood watching as he laid there, his head tilted to the side as if he was just merely listening for my footsteps.

Today, he seemed all together docile. Vincent found me there, fresh off of his morning gathering session with Javier. Much like yesterday with Shelby, we stood side by side staring at The Man in the Ice. Until Vincent finally said, “Do you think if he’d froze solid and then we thawed him out that he’d come back again? Or would he just stay dead this time?”

I shrugged. I didn’t have the answers like I used to. I had gone from teacher to student in this world we now lived in. I was figuring it out just as they were. “I think the cold will kill him and make him stay dead,” I finally said.

“Yeah? I don’t know. Javier and I found one in the woods the other day. We pinned it down, cut off his arms, his legs – we waited for him to die and stay dead, but we kept trying to bite us. He was still alive. How can anyone stay alive after that?”

I turned and stared at him blankly. Javier hadn’t told me that their gathering missions had extended to experimenting and mutilating the Undead. What was that about? Does he want our kids to grow up and become the next John Wayne Gacey? What was next mutilating cats to see if they could turn THEM into one of the walkers? Before I could say anything, Vincent just went on, his words pouring out in complete word-vomit.

“I cut off his jaw. I thought maybe if he couldn’t bite us, he’d lose interest in wanting to. I thought maybe we could use him for something. We’re going back in a few days to check on him. See if we really didn’t kill him. Cool, right?” Vincent set down his bag of stuff they found for me to go through like I usually do. I watched as he walked back up to the house. I saw Javier then, coming out of the woods, his home-made machete slung over his shoulder. There was blood on his shirt.

“JAVIER,” I yelled, more shrill than I would have liked.

We’ve seen and done a lot since we left Alcott Elementary School nearly a year ago. We’re still moving around and hoping from place to place, always hoping that we stay at least several steps ahead of the herds. The cold has come and with it, it has made the Undead almost sleepy, but at the same time even angrier if we get too close.

The Man in the Ice was by far the thing that has unnerved me the most. We’re trying to reach more desolate areas because Javier believes that if we can find a place out in the country to stay that we will be safe for awhile because there were less people there before the dead started to rise.  I’m skeptical. We’ve seen what a good, strong pack of them to do to animals. I can only imagine what they could do to use if we got cornered in a remote area alone.

We’re by water now. A lake to be exact. At first we thought it would be a great food source for us, but once we caught a fish we realized how much it no longer looked like what it was supposed to. Has this plague destroyed everything? That was were we first saw the Man in the Ice. He had clearly been long dead. His face bloated and purple. So bloated that it forced his eye sockets to pucker over into each other, leaving this slights where his eyes had once been. His hands like pudgy, dead gobs still trashed at the ice that held him down.

Had he been alive, he would be fighting the ice to get out, to live, to survive, but not now. Even trapped down there, he still sought to fill that insatiable hunger that runs deeply in all of them. That realization made me realize how bad this all really is.

I’ll never be Miss Burton, fifth grade teacher ever again.

We woke up this morning to a biting cold that seems to have gotten worse as the day has warn on. The snow started recently. We haven’t moved much, Javier and I have decided that it’s best we wait out the storm before we start moving again. The Undead are worse than we’ve ever seen them.

Yesterday, Javier and Vincent went out to see what could be salvaged from the few houses we haven’t picked through. I’m not sure how, but they got separated and somehow Vincent wound up face to face with a Walker. He was quick to put it down, but when he came back to camp we could all see how shaken he was. He told us how much more vicious the Walker was. He said it was slower than usual, probably because of the cold, but that it had been much more aggressive and agile once Vincent was within its reach.

Much like us, they are starving. We haven’t encountered anyone since the escape from the bunkers. Other survivors aren’t moving around which means the herds have less to pick off. We were lucky last year with such a soft winter, but it seems that this year will be cold, very cold and very difficult.

My mom and I were doing the wash. We finally talked about our lives in the bunkers. It’s something we have both avoided talking about. It hurts too much and it scares me how far I had to go in order to protect myself and my family.

“I am just thankful his plan didn’t work out,” my mom said absentmindedly.

I stopped soaking the kids’ shirts and looked at her. I swallowed hard, I often think about how different our circumstances would be if he had succeeded. “I am too,” is all I can manage.

“Javier came and sat with us everyday. He watched Vincent like a hawk. He was terrified that McGrady to turn him into one of his boys. I wanted to kill McGrady myself, but Javier told us it was best to wait so we could make sure you got out alive. I just never thought by waiting we would have put you in that position.”

My jaw was on the floor as I listened to my mom. She continued.

“Javier made me promise not to tell you, but he had a plan too. He had slowly been poisoning McGrady. Javier was his right hand man by the end and every night they would have a drink. It was easy for him to slip nightshade into it each time. He just wasn’t using enough because he wanted it to make it look like McGrady just got sick one day and died. Don’t say anything to Javier, but I think he will always blame himself much like I do for letting McGrady do what he did to you and then putting his blood on your hands.”

She put the last of the wash in a basket to hang in what used to be an upstairs bedroom. She kissed my forehead as she brushed passed me.

I walked out the back of the house we set up in, towards the farthest corner of the yard and I stood there crying for the first time since we got out. I cried for a good twenty minutes.

 

We were spoiled for months in the beginning of all of this shit. We had our school and then my home. Since I killed McGrady we have had nothing, but each other.

The internet has been down for months which scares Javier more than he is willing to admit at times. There hasn’t even been a blip on my computer until last night. My mom and I had put what is left of the kids to bed. Armand was right out, Shelby followed and Vincent stayed up too late with Javier as usual. We have had the roughest week yet.

A hurricane tore apart what was left of New Jersey and with it, the deep, bone-chilling cold has come with it. We stayed held up in an abandoned house in a neighborhood that I had never been to. That’s all we’ve done all summer, is move from house to house to neighborhood to neighborhood avoiding the herds of the Undead and any outside person. I don’t trust anyone anymore other than who is with us.

At night now, it gets so unbelievably cold again. What we had for clothes are torn and worn beyond repair. Nothing can keep out the coldness that sneaks up on your body like long, cold fingers eager to grip at your skin, your nerves and even your bones. Shelby wakes up crying at night because she is freezing.

We’re going to need to get moving again, but we have even more concerns now. The hurricane tore down already dilapidated buildings, homes, leveled woods and I am sure flooded other areas. It’s going to be even more difficult to move about now and I can only imagine how this has affected the Undead. I have seen how this week among us humans has made us irritable and mean, I can only imagine what it has done to a bunch of flesh-starved Walkers.

God help us.