Posts Tagged ‘the maiden’

I moved in with Bonnie. Our first night together she told me about what happened after I killed McGrady. The place went nuts. The sons set fire to everything and killed most of the people. We were the lucky few that escaped before. Bonnie, though badly burned, survived because of Greg, the son that she had been given to. He was no supporter of his father and only had gone along with it so that he could help people get away from him.

With tear-filled eyes, Bonnie told me how Greg had protected and had even come to love her just as much as she did him. She had gotten pregnant after they had escaped. They had made a small encampment in the woods. He built her a tiny house and for them that was enough. They had wanted to have a family and grow old together. It was the simplest want she had ever had and the one she wanted most of all.

They were caught off-gaurd the day McGrady found them. Bonnie had been four months pregnant at the time. She was barely showing. Greg saw his father first. He acted quickly and got Bonnie out of sight and down to the ravine. The very ravine that The Maiden had found me in.

He doubled back just in time to meet his father. Bonnie found Greg several days later. He had turned. His father had stabbed him and let him to become one of the Undead, the sort of ultimate statement for what McGrady took as betrayal. Bonnie told me she wasn’t sure what was harder on her, the fact that she had to kill him, well the Undead him, or when she had to bury him.

After she had killed him, she bundled him into a blanket and dragged him down to the ravine. She buried him beside the water. She told me it took 107 arm fully of dirt to fully cover him. She had felt each one of them. We cried together.

When she finally fell asleep, I laid awake in my own bed, my eyes fixed to the ceiling. I had only two thoughts running through my head: I hadn’t killed McGrady and McGrady was still very much alive.

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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…”

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.

I hung up my blanket between two trees, creating a sort of makeshift hammock. I would be okay as long as it didn’t rain. I was high enough to be out of zombie reach, but low enough that if I got knocked out, the fall wouldn’t kill me. Once I had it set up, I shimmied back up the tree and crawled into bed. I can’t tell you how long I slept, but it was at least a day if not two.

My dreams were sparse and broken. They were often of my students I killed and sometimes of Javier. When I finally woke up, the sun was high over head, beating down on me. I could feel my skin burning, but after the long winter we had I simply did not care. It just felt so good to be warm.

I checked the ground around me. I didn’t see anything, but trees. I shimmied back down. Once I was on the ground, I hurried to the stream and gulped down water until until my stomach hurt. My next adventure would be food. It had been days since I had really eaten. I could feel myself losing it.

When I looked up from the stream, I swear I could see Shelby in the distance. She stood among the trees, watching me. I nearly fell over. I pressed my fingers to my eyes, thinking that I had really fucking lost it. When I looked back up, she was still there, only now she was with the kids that had died before we had even left Alcott Elementary.

I have gone completely fucking mental.

And then, like all idiots in any horror movie that was ever made, I decide to go to Shelby. They don’t move, but once I do finally reach them, they are gone. I find myself in a clearing. I look around, but I see no sign of them.

“Shelby,” I yell out. I’m only answered back with an echo of my own voice. I meekly walk a few more steps. This doesn’t feel right. I feel the anxiousness wash over me in waves, my stomach turning to knots. “John,” I try to scream, but my voice isn’t even a whisper.

I smell them before I see them. I choke down the water-vomit that is bursting to come out of me. I fall to my knees.

I’m exhausted and unarmed. My fucking ghost students set me up. I can’t say that I can even blame them. In my life before I had come to hate being their teacher and because of my own selfishness (on more than one occasion), they all died horrible deaths.

I closed my eyes. I deserved this. And at least this way, it will be on my own terms. I embrace it. This is the way out. I’m too tired and malnourished to fight my way through another horde. This is the end to all of this shit. I draw in a deep breath, stretching out my arms, invoking my best Mel Gibson a la Braveheart that I possible can. I wait for them to reach me and just as I think that that moment has come and I was going to be torn to pieces, I felt (and tasted) a fine spray of Undead goo splatter across my face.

I opened my eyes to a scene that I had only ever seen in the movies unfolding before me. Before me stood a giant white horse. Massive. Riding it was a woman with the longest blond hair that I had ever seen. I’m talking Jane Austen/Lizzy Bennet long. What really made her stand out was the jet black leather outfit she wore like some Mrs. Darcy bicker chick hybrid. There were more leather-clad people behind her on foot. She was clearly the vanguard, taking out as many of those reaking assholes as she possibly could with her long sword.

What was most astonishing about her and her horse was how they moved among the Undead. It was as if the Undead didn;t even notice them.

I stayed transfixed until I realized that she was moving among a legit horde without so much as a grab. There was one and only answer for this:

She and her horse are hell demons sent by my dead students to drag me to hell as punishment for being the world’s shittiest teacher.

I scramble to get up and away from the demon and her hell horse. I don’t make it very far. I feel the butt of her sword hit the back of my head. I’m dazed as she pulls me by the back of my jeans, placing my on the back of her horse. Oh God. She’s got super-human strength too. I am so fucked. The demon is going to kill me and probably more brutally than any of the Undead.

She pulls back. The people behind us are fighting off what’s left of the horde. Now that I am on the horse, the Undead notice us and start grabbing for me.

What the hell?

Then without warning all there is, is black.