Posts Tagged ‘reality’

My head is absolutely pounding. I can feel the lump growing on the back of my head. I’m laying down, I realize that when I feel the soft blanket draped over me. Despite my head, I am so comfortable. This is weird. This isn’t right.

Slowly, I begin to open my eyes. I’m staring up at a ceiling. There’s a fan and it’s on? I haven’t seen a ceiling fan or anything work for months. I rapidly blink my eyes until it comes into focus. Am I dead? Did the demon on her demon horse kill me?

Holy shit. I have to be dead. I shoot up. My head feels like it was trailing a million miles behind me. I’m instantly dizzy. Slowly, the room comes into focus. It’s small with off-white walls and minimal furniture. There’s a chair in the corner and fluorescent lights that hang on the wall. I look next to me and find a nightstand, there’s a tray with some food and a big glass of water.

My mouth instantly waters. Can you be this hungry if you’re dead? No, right? I am not dead. I have just woken up in the twilight zone of the zombie apocalypse.

I all but lick my tray within five minutes. I feel both good and sick at the same time. I want to lay back down and just stay this comfortable forever, but my sense of self preservation pushes me up. I wobble up onto my legs.

I look down at myself. I don’t have any pants. I just have my underwear and a t-shirt. A new t-shirt and once I really look myself over, I can tell I have been bathed. What the fuck?

I remember getting lost. I was separated. And then I started going bat shit crazy and seeing…things. And then there was the girl on the horse. I notice the IV stuck in the bend of my arm. Oh great. I get separated over a friggin blanket only to get kidnapped again, but this time they have drugs. Holy fuck. I don’t even know what I just ate and I’m being drugged.

I go to rip it out, but a voice from the door stops me.

“I wouldn’t do that, it’s what’s hydrating you,” says The Maiden. I sit back down, scared shitless. I watch as she slinks from the door to the chair, her freakish long hair hanging heavy around her shoulders. She’s no longer in her leather get-up, but it looking more like one of the Bennet sisters in her loose nightgown and slippers. “You were in pretty bad shape when we found you. I liked your hammock, that was a smart idea.” She crosses her legs.

“Uh, thanks.” I continue to stare at my newly cleaned feet.

“I’m sorry that I hit you, but from how you looked in that clearing, I didn’t think you’d come willingly.” She pushes a strand of her golden locks behind her ear. “The nurses have bathed you and given you clean clothes. What you had, well, I didn’t think you’d want it back.”

Small talk. She’s small talking me. “That’s all nice and everything, but who the hell are you?” I lock my eyes with hers.

She laughs. “They call me The Maiden. Probably because of my hair, and it invoking some bygone time.”

“And who the fuck is they?” I’m angry now. I hate people that small talk and circle talk me, both of which she was trying to do with ease.

“The people that live here with me. You’re in what used to be St. Luke’s.”

One of the bigger hospitals in New Jersey. We had really travelled that far west? “You live here?”

She leans forward. “Yes. Some of us stayed behind when the world went to shit. We stayed with what was left of the patients. We killed those who turned. We kept this for us. We knew it’s value.”

“So you were a doctor?”

She leans her head to one side and smirks. “No, I was a patient here. I was towards the end of my recovery when this all fell apart. The ones that stayed helped me get better until I was able to then help them.”

“And how do you help them?” I draw my knees up to my chest. I do feel better, but I still don’t trust her. The last time I found a little bit of heaven in this world, I wound up being McGrady’s bitch for months.

“Surely, you realized I was different when I rescued you.” She waits, baiting me.

“Yeah…they didn’t try to grab you. It was like they didn’t even know you and your horse were there.”

The Maiden gets up, crossing her arms over her chest. She moves to the foot of my bed. “That’s because they don’t notice me.”

I feel a distinct chill go straight up my spine. I swallow as I look at her. Her gaze is unmoving. She’s creepier than I first thought. Her eyes are absolutely piercing, a deep blue, almost green that makes her seem almost other worldly. “And why is that,” I finally manage to say.

“I live in the in between.” She sits down at the foot of my bed. “I died when I was first brought here. I was legally dead for over a minute and then they brought me back. I live somewhere between here and what’s ever after this. In some way, I am part of them.”

“Oh thank God,” I burst out. This sounds so much better to me than her being a true hell demon.

The Maiden laughs. “What did you think it was?”

“Hell demon. I thought you came from hell to punish me for everything I’ve done since this started.” I stifle a nervous laugh.

“I seem to get that a lot lately.” She stands up. “Get some more rest. Tomorrow I’ll show you around.”

With that, she slinked out of the room and for the first time since Shelby died, I got a honest night of sleep.

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I cleaned myself up as best I could, dropping the rest of my stuff by the stream. I knew the next thing I needed to do was find a place to sleep. I hadn’t slept in two days. It was what I had to do and once I got to sleep, I knew once I woke up that I needed to find food. I was beginning to border on delirium, something I figured out once I had begun to hallucinate.

It began as I worked to gather up some branches. I figured if I could just build a small fire to warm myself up for a bit that I could then work on sleeping. I walked along the stream, I was so terrified of losing water again. I found small branches and some twigs that I gathered. I bent down to get the best stick I had seen the whole way and when I stood back up again, I saw him. I saw him watching me from across the stream.

I dropped everything. I wanted to run back to my stuff and just keep running. He stood there, staring at me. Almost through me. I knew that look, he had had it so many times before. In my life before.

“You’re still mad at me,” he says as he digs his hands into his pockets.

I nearly fall backwards. I have lost my god damn mind. It has finally happened. It only took the Undead, killing my students and then getting kidnapped and raped almost daily for me to finally fucking lose my damn mind. Dealing with John’s indifference seemed like one of the easiest things I had ever done in life. But, he was right, I was still pretty fucking mad at him. I don’t respond, I just stare at him.

“Your man, he’s a good man. He loves you.” John takes a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, lights one. He’s next to me suddenly, offering me one. I refuse in shock and fear. “Come on, we always used to smoke together.” He hands me the one he already lit. I take a long drag, letting it completely feel my lungs. I can taste the tobacco, smell it. It tastes so good. I exhale slowly. John lights another one and joins me.

We sit down next to one another. I feel like I’m in the middle of the fucking twilight zone. I keep taking long, slow drags of my cigarette, enjoying it more than I should. “I know he’s a good man,” I finally say.

“You deserve him, Lizzy.”

I feel my heart skip a beat at the sound of my name on his tongue. I breath in. God damn it. “Yeah,” I finally manage to say.

“You have to let me go. You have to let go of how fucking terribly I took you for granted.” He’s staring straight ahead at the water.

It’s taking every bit of me not to burst into tears. “I loved you,” I blurt out despite my best attempts to not go that route. “I loved you so much. And all I really wanted was your attention. That was it.” Fuck, now I am crying.

“I know.” He finally looks at me. His eyes are filled with regret. “I was stupid, I was young and there you were, this beautiful girl filled with so much love and kindness. And you wanted to give it all to me with no expectations.” He takes a long drag, exhales, letting the smoke billow out around him. “That was one thing I wasn’t used to. What I was used to were girls that always wanted something, my money, just the label, the image – whatever. You were the first girl that was in it, just for me. And that was scary, that was big and I didn’t know what to do with it so I fucked it up so bad that by the time you did ask me for something as simple as my time, the whole thing…us were already in pieces and I hadn’t even realized it.”

It took him dying…to realize this now. Fucking guys.

“So I did what any guy would do, I pushed you away. And I hurt you again and again.”

I nod, sucking hard of my cigarette. I’m scared if I try to talk I’ll just be a hot mess. He’s pressed every button and opened up every wound he gave me in the years that we had dated. I wanted to hate him, so badly.

“John, it’s another lifetime at this point.” I keep my gaze locked with his. “It doesn’t matter anymore.”

“But it does, Lizzy. I loved you too. I loved you so incredibly much that there were days that you were all that I thought about. And I need you to know that I mean that and that happened. You matter, Lizzy. You matter very much. And if nothing else, I need you to know that, believe that and when Javier finds you – which he will – I want you to stop dwelling on me.”

I look away to stub out my cigarette. When I turn back, he’s gone. I promptly burst into tears, big heaving sobs. I tuck my knees into my chest and I just want to die. I fucked it all up, I fucked up keeping my kids safe, I fucked up basic survival and I have been fucking up my relationship with Javier too.

John’s Story

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John Reardon was what I thought going to be the love of my life. He liked beer, movies and cars. He used to drive me crazy with his indifference towards me and how it always seemed to be something else. He was born on November 8, 1983 and before he died he was working as a copywriter for a small PR firm in New Brunswick. What I loved most about him were those moments where he would show how kind he truly was like when he would lovingly talk Mouse down from her place atop my pillow. He ran hot and cold and I found a thrill in trying to figure that out. He died trying to get to my school the day that this shit all hit the fan. I buried him in the kickball field along with some of my students and my boss after Javier beheaded him.

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’ve been separated from the group for about a day and a half. I’m starving, but more so incredibly thirsty. All I want is a drink. I’m deep into the woods now. I think our old house is somewhere behind me.

The hordes have thinned out. It’s the strangest thing. At first there were what felt like hundreds and then the more I ran and the more I worked through, the thinner the groups got until I was back out into open ground. The family of deer that crossed my path may have had something to do with helping me get this far. Sorry, Bambi.

My legs are so sore and swollen. I just want to sit, but if I stop it means they can come back. I don’t have it in me to deal with a horde.

I have to find water and a place where I can rest. I’ve thought about tying the blanket up amongst the trees and sleeping for just a little bit, but then if I fall that will be the end of me. I need water.

I need to focus on the water. At least I’m focusing on me and survival now and not my crappy life I had before.

I never realized just how crappy my life really was before all of this. There have been nights since this all started where I used to lay awake and think about my perfect life before, but it was far from perfect. I actually had started to hate teaching. I hated every moment of it. And as much as I wanted to believe that my boyfriend loved me and was my happy, fairytale ending…in all reality my boyfriend didn’t even really like me and probably just used me for comfort and companionship when he needed it.

I don’t know what’s worse, having been secretly holding onto that behind Javier’s back this whole time. Romanticizing the whole thing. Or actually even missing that perfect life I never had.

God, I am so thirsty. I just want water. I would kill for water.

And as crappy as life had gotten after all of this happened, it actually got better in a lot of ways. I have Javier. I have kids. I have a life that I wanted.

And I’m not teaching, though now, I actually find myself missing it.

I’m so damn thirsty. I wish it was summer. If it were summer there would be leaves and even though there would be minuscule amounts of water in them, I would be pulling them off left and right until this super cotton mouth went away.

I feel like I used to feel after a very long night of binge drinking. Only at least before feeling this way, at least I got to have some fun and not have to fight for my life. This wouldn’t be so hard is this was up hill.

Damn it, I wish I listened to Javier all those times he tried to tell me how to find things out here. I wonder where he is. I wonder if he’s looking for me. Of course he is. And he’s probably worried too. I know Javier loves me. John would have left me out here to fend for myself, giving me some lame excuse about a hang nail stopping him from rescuing me.

Enough. I’m not doing the comparing men game now.

By the sun I know it’s past noon. I have to make it up over this hill. I need to find water. You can’t live without water after what, 3 days? Shit.

“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.

I was never good with writing about myself. I liked to write stories. I liked to record things, but when it came to writing a paragraph about myself I would freeze, but I want you to know who I was in my life before all of this happened to us. Before the world just fell to pieces, leaving us to pick up those pieces and try to move on as best we can.

Liz’s Story

Miss Burton

I was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey on December 16, 1983. My brother Ryan followed me four years later. It was just us and my mom since I was a teenager. My parents had divorced after pretty much never getting along. We barely saw him after that. It didn’t matter though, we both had always been closer to our mother.

I always wanted to be a teacher, it was the one big dream that I had since childhood. I was hired right out of my masters program to work at Alcott Elementary. I started out as the kindergarten teacher, but after doing it for several years I found that I liked the older kids better. I was happily enjoying my time in fifth grade.

In my life before, I was looking forward to marrying my boyfriend John. Had things been different, I would probably be planning my wedding right now, but that was…life before.

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.