Posts Tagged ‘on the road’

I awoke several days later feeling like I had before this all happened. I was starving though and all but hugged the nurse who brought in a tray of food and a cold, yes cold glass of juice. I ate everything. I dozed off again and didn’t wake up again until mid-afternoon. The Maiden was at the foot of my bed, ready to greet me.

“How long have you been standing there,” I ask as I push myself up. I take all of her in. She’s wearing her leather outfit again, her stark blond hair is tied back in a braid that falls well below her waist.

“Not too long, a couple of minutes.” She nearly glides across the room. “How would you feel about taking a walk with me?”

I don’t think she means to, but the way she moves and says that creeps me out. Take a walk? To where? Your hell demon pit? I stop myself, if she had wanted to really kill me, she could have done so at anytime, but then what would be the point? Why would she have wasted so much precious medicine to get me better to then just turn around and kill me?

I yawn and nod. Walking would do me some good.

The Maiden leaves me with fresh underwear, new jeans, a light sweater, socks and sneakers. I feel like I hit the lottery. She tells me to meet her in the hallway when I’m ready. The nurse had taken my IV out earlier when I was still asleep. I find a hairbrush and such in the bathroom. I nearly fall over when I find a tooth brush and paste and a faucet that has…running water. I begin to think that this is all a dream or that I had really died in the woods and that this was some whacked-out afterlife that I was experiencing. I decide to enjoy it while I have it – whatever the case may be.

I take my first shower since the McGrady encampment. It feels so good to be clean, smelling of soap instead of the earth and the Undead. I finish up, slip into my new clothes and meet the Maiden outside my door. She has a dog with her now. A massive one, which I am assuming is some kid of huskie. He’s got one blue eye and one green. He stays seated beside her until she motions for him to follow her.

I don’t ask and she doesn’t explain, the dog just patrols beside her as we walk down the corridors. The hospital itself seems like it was largely untouched. The Maiden explains that it was pretty much how it was before. There are wings for different injuries, traumas and yes, even deliveries. I find it hard to believe that there are people still having babies, but I guess to some all of this was just life moving on.

“We were lucky,” she explains. “This was one of the first stops that the National Guard made. They killed what had already become one of those things and sealed off the building from the rest. Major Levy, you’ll meet him eventually, knew the value of a hospital that was not within the bombing zones.”

I felt an uneasiness wash over me. The last time I dealt with military was McGrady. I clear my throat, “so they stayed,” is all I manage to ask.

She nods walking me over to a window. There are what seems like hundreds of people down below us, some are gardening, others seem to be visiting people in their small graveyard and the rest are heavily armed and patrolling the make-shift barricades that encircle the entire hospital.

From there, the Maiden walks me through to the general rooms where the people that live here seem to gather. It’s empty except for a woman sitting by the window. Her back is to us and she looks like she’s knitting.

“Most of us live in the old suites now. I’ll have Maggie move you into one. There aren’t many rules to stay here. You help with the chores and the gardens and the animals. You’ll also need a job of sorts. What did you used to do?”

I sigh. “I was a teacher.”

“Fantastic! So was I, English! You?”

Of course she was an English teacher. “5th grade,” I say.

“Well we don’t have many kids here, but I’m sure the few that we do will love to have you.”

I want to roll my eyes, but I stop myself, nodding instead.

“Liz,” says the woman in the chair. My head snaps up just in time to see the woman stand and turn toward us.

My eyes first fall to her swollen stomach. She had to be about eight months along. Then, I look at her burned, scarred face. Half of her face was gone, nearly melted and unrecognizable, but the other half was still there, bright and sunny as ever. Even her earth-green eyes still sparkled.

“Bonnie…”

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I was about halfway up the hill when I heard the sound of static. White noise. At first I thought I was going crazy. Then, I thought I was in my head again, in moments that have long since passed in my life. This time, I wasn’t though. I was very much in the present. I am very much aware of just how friggin thirsty I am and how endless this hill seems to be.

It’s not white noise, it just sounds like that. I start thinking back to girl scouts. I remember this sound. I start walking faster, my swollen legs hurting with each rushed step. I remember what that sound means. I know what it means. I’m only a few feet away from the top of the hill and when I’m there, I am going to look over and see exactly what I need.

Water. It’s there, sparkling up at me. I fall to my knees, I am just so happy. My mouth is trying to water at the knowledge that I am so close to finally having something to drink for the first time in two days. Then, I realize that to get down to that water, that I’m going to have to climb down from the top of the ravine that I have found myself on. If I could, I would probably cry, but my own desire to live is what gets me back up onto my wobbly legs and slowly over the edge.

Three points of contact. You always need three points of contact. Where did I learn that from? Nannying. The father always used to say that to the kids I nannied and I thought it was so stupid. He let his kids climb some of the most dangerous places and would always remind them, three points of contact. I guess he’s helping me now.

I get down faster than I thought that I could. I slide down the rest of the way, cutting my hands as I go. I don’t care. I am just so thirsty. My mouth is dry, it hurts to swallow. I straighten up and stumble over to the stream, plunging my face into the cool water. It’s incredibly painful to gulp it down, but it’s all my body wants me to do. There is no controlling it. Eventually I can drink and it’s not hurting anymore, it almost feels good.

When I can’t drink anymore, I pull my head back and sit back. I start cleaning the blood and guts from my hands.

I need to rest now and then I need to find something to eat. I have to take care of myself because I don’t know how long I’m going to have to do this for, this being on my own. It’s scary. I was one of the lucky ones when this started, I was with people, but now I have to figure it out. I have to figure out my survival and all I have with me is a dumb blanket.

I’m laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. My head is still swimming from the beer I had with my friends earlier. My phone will not stop dinging. I know who it is, it’s John. It’s been John all night. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. He could have spent the night with me. We had plans to see a movie and go out to dinner, but just like he’s always done, he cancels on me about an hour before he was supposed to be here. Another lame excuse about a migraine or was it the drinking plans with his buddies that he had forgotten about?

I can’t remember. The beer has gone to my head. That last minute decision to go out instead of sitting home, wallowing in my hurt feelings…again is going to make tomorrow very long. I probably should have stayed home. It just made me drink too much and made my friends hate him even more, for blowing me off…again.

It’s a shitty feeling to constantly be pushed aside. How have I become one of those women that gets so wrapped up in a guy she rides it out even though she knows the inevitable outcome?

Because you love him, stupid. And because you think that one day it’ll be different and he’ll love you too.

I exhale, long and hard. I roll over and pick up my phone. I read the messages since I had stopped answering. His apologies and explanations and how it’s always someone else’s or some circumstance’s fault, not his. He’s worse than my students. And then he’s calling me and before I stop myself, I’m answering.

And then he’s saying something like, “Why do you always think I don’t want to be around you?”

Maybe because you never are. Or you makes plans with me but then blow me off all the time. Or you just push me aside like I don’t matter to you, like it’s everything else and then me and maybe I’m just to the point where I no longer believe this is all done because of baggage from an old relationship.

I close my eyes really tight. I don’t want to cry. I squeeze them until I see stars.

And then I open my eyes and in front of my stands another one of the Undead. I just keep swinging the branch I had picked up. I’m exhausted. My arms are covered in rotting blood and bodily goo. I’m just so sick of this shit. I know I’m surrounded, and alone. And I realize just how angry I am.

I’m angry for what I had to leave unfinished in my life before this. I’m angry for what’s happened to me since then and I’m sure as hell angry that I’m separated from everyone, in the woods and dealing with an endless swarm of these flesh eating assholes.

As I push on, each one of them begin to look like John or McGrady or some insane hybrid of them both. I just keep beating them the way that they had beat me down, each in their own way. I feel better each time my branch just rams one of them straight across the face. Each time, I feel as though I’m claiming a part of myself back, so I keep fighting because I know that I have to and because for the first time since I killed McGrady, I actually want to.

I hate when you look back at things and wonder why you didn’t see any of the signs until you’re so stuck in a situation that you have absolutely not idea how you’re going to get yourself out of it.

McGrady used the facade of keeping us safe to lure us all into his trust. He waited for the perfect moment which happened to be the outright chaos of the hordes to get us into his prison. We’re all kept apart from one another. The men patrol us as some sort of sick prison guard type thing. The children, from what I can gather are with my mom and the older women that were with us.

I get to be the special “prize” for McGrady at the end of all of this. The women who are of child-bearing age are kept fed, healthy and made to walk for an hour a day under a heavy watch. We’re not allowed to speak to one another though Bonnie and I do seem to watch one another to check and see if we’re at least physically okay. We’re each assigned to a man. I think Bonnie has the eldest McGrady boy and it has been made abundantly clear that I am McGrady’s treasure.

Much like Javier used to visit me at night in the house, MCgrady now does. He tries to talk to me, to explain his reasoning, but I refuse to listen to him.

“The world must go on, Elizabeth,” he says in his hardened voice. He reminds me of my father when we calls me that. I cringe every time. “In order for the world to go on, we have to have more children. More able men to protect it and make it safe again.” He usually lights a cigarette and blows the smoke out of the side of his mouth. “Isn’t it easier this way? To just do it. To leave out the emotional commitment that complicates everything? It’s just business.”

I stare off at the wall, my hands in my lap. I beat myself up on the inside, wondering why we just didn’t stay at Alcott Elementary.

“I’m not going to force you, it’s never been my style. One day though and soon, you will surrender to me just like your friend did to her assignment and life will go on.”

Assignment? Are we cattle? Cattle to be bought, sold and impregnated for the purpose of “the future”…”the greater good.” I want to slap him, I want to reach across my little cell and claw out his eyes, but I go somewhere inside of myself that’s away from him and away from this world entirely.

He stubs out his cigarette on the wall, crosses the cell and kisses me on the forehead. “It’s just business,” he whispers into my ear.

I still feel my skin crawling even after he’s left. This is not how I want my life to go, not how I want it to end either. How the hell do I get out of this one?

Havier is cursing, somewhere between Spanish and English. Matilda is hysterical and trying to get off the bus while Bonnie ad I are oddly calm about this entire situation. The kids just don’t know what to do.

In a snap decision, I push Havier out of the driver’s sit and kick at the bottom of the steering column until the plate gives. The faster Undead are now closing in on the parking lot. I rip out everything that I need to.

Side Note: Mom, if you’re reading this, I would just like to remind you of Matt, the “bad boy” I dated in college. Remember how you had said that he was scum and had nothing to offer me, but a one way ticket to a record and the loss of my teaching career? Well, even though you were absolutely right, I feel that it is here that you should thank him for it was him who taught me how to hot-wire a car one boozey summer’s night.

And Matt would have been proud of me at that moment because I beat my best time from that summer. I did it in under two minutes just as the Undead were closing in on us. Matilda in her hysteria opened up one of the back windows and began swatting at the zombies with the broom that the driver kept there.

It only took several of the swarm to get at her. They grabbed her fleshy arms, gnawing at them as she screamed and thrashed around. The children moved away from her while Bonnie, Havier and I just watched in shocked horror as they pulled her through the window just as her arms gave out and completely severed from the rest of her body as it went crashing down to the pavement. The Undead became insane with the smell of a fresh kill in the air. They swarmed Matilda, ripping and biting at her until she finally stopped screaming all together.

Havier jumped back into the driver’s seat and floored it. He took the bus path through the back and out through the woods, completely bypassing the hordes. We spun out into the main street and that was when the reality of what was going on hit us in full force.

There was a collective gasp as our eyes fell on the burnt out houses and the burnt, decomposing bodies that littered the entire development. We drive in shocked silence, our eyes glued to the scenes of devastation and horror that we were so isolated from at Alcott Elementary.

We’re just down the street when I poke at Havier, eager to make some of this have some normalcy to it.

“Hey Havier,” I say, my chin resting on the top of the seat in front of me. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, Leez,” he answers, his nervous Spaniard side still not completely gone.

“Why did you always have us write your name with an H?”

He chuckles. “Because a J would have confused the kids.”

“But Javier is your name.”

“I know, but think about how many kids called you Miss B.”

“True.”

“Can I ask you something now,” he asks, somewhat calmer. I nod. “How did you know how to hot-wire a bus?”

I laugh. “Being 19 and thinking that I could change the “bad boy.”

“Did not treat you well?”

“Let’s just say that before all of this hit, he had a 10-year-old son that he could see once a month when his baby mama wanted to drive him to county and I’m still out the two grand that he stole from me.” Javier gives me that shock and awe look that I always get when I tell that story.

“You realize he must have been a sitting goose when all of this happened,” he finally manages to say.

“Sitting duck, yes.” I think for a moment. “You know as bad as it sounds, I kind of like that he was. Makes up for all the terror I felt for months after I left him.”

Hm. The apocalypse…at that moment, I found its likeability just a wee bit.