As sickeningly cliché as I’m being right now, Will is the light of a life that I hadn’t realized was so devoid of illumination. At first, I’d dismissed his relaxed countenance and constant positivity as idiotic naiveté — which definitely wouldn’t last long in a world so grim as the one we had the misfortune of living in — but he quickly proved me wrong. His sunny smile brightens the dark void in my heart; his bright disposition is the perfect counterbalance to my constant cynicism, and the contrast between his tanned skin and my unnatural pallor when he wraps his arms around me makes me smile with an elation I’ve never experienced before. He is my solace, and for the first time since realizing there’s no WiFi for Netflix in a zombie apocalypse, I’m actually kind of enjoying life again.
I’m actually grateful you met the blond angel, because your thoughts in isolation, as always, were annoyingly depressing. Your days were monotonous, pockmarked with the periodic spikes of heart-stopping adrenaline that are inevitable in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead walk and stalk the living. Traveling alone left ample time for introspection, for contemplation of your purpose here, and you did exactly that all too often.
This is living, you guessed, going on a day-to-day basis, where every day is nothing but wake up, walk, fight, eat in no particular order, where the physical and social constructs that humanity spent millennia building no longer matter, and one can no longer enjoy the air they breathe because they’re busy using it to fight for their next inhale.
If I had eyes to roll at your hypocrisy, I would, because isn’t that exactly what the beings you fight are doing, stalking and devouring for no purpose other than a dark, insatiable hunger? Though, I have to admit, this is no hunger of your own; it’s mine.
And as if you were conceding as well, you would think about how they have it much simpler, because they don’t even have the capacity to think, to worry, to love, to fear. They’re monsters, you’d remind yourself, no matter what they were before they died, you kill them to survive, so they don’t hurt you or anyone else. So then the question you asked yourself was… How does one destroy a monster without becoming one?
That, that was just too rich, and I would silently, mockingly, chuckle my response.
We live with a small group of other teens, people that Will used to go to summer camp with before everything hit the fan. When Will found me, he’d been out scouting for herbs that apparently had medicinal purposes. He serves as the group’s medic — having been on track to becoming a doctor before the dead didn’t stay dead — and his father was apparently the god of natural remedies or something, because Will learned nearly everything he knows from him.
At first I was wary of them, and admittedly I still am, because even before the apocalypse started I was not one to trust easily. Will is an exception, however, and even though I’ll never know how he managed to worm through the cracks in my walls, I’m eternally grateful that he did, because I don’t know what I would do without him.
The baseball bat drip… drip… drips its crimson accusation onto the decrepit wooden floor, and thanks to me your heightened awareness picks up each drop hitting the ground like a gunshot hits a wall. Drip… drip… drip…
A familiar head of blonde hair lies a short distance away, matted with dark blood, and attached to a prone body with tanned skin dulled by the gray pallor of death, and I cackle at my victory over you.
I know something has changed, everything has changed, because the others give me these forlorn looks when they see me with Will. Perhaps it’s the fact that we have two new members in our little group as of recently, and the confused (and later pitying) looks they give me are changing the others’ perceptions of me, questioning my place even though Will vouched for my integrity when he brought me here.
Something has changed with Will, too, though, because the amicable guy I knew that could make friends with anyone is now speaking to nobody aside from me. Okay, that is a bit of an overstatement, but he no longer has conversations of sustenance with anyone, and when he does talk, it is like they cannot even hear him.
“Wait, so who is Will?”
A heavy sigh. “Will was our medic, I guess you could say, and the two of them were really close. They, uh… they went out on a patrol one day, and—” A helpless gesture to a lone figure standing stoically by the fence that borders the makeshift camp, hearing every word of the conversation unbeknownst to the two speakers. “—came back covered in blood and water, but alone. We all figured that something awful happened, and Will had to have died.” A wistful sigh. “We’ve stopped trying to ask questions about what happened, and we just… I dunno, play along. None of us have the heart to say it aloud…”
My dreams have begun turning into nightmares. At first, they seemed simply to be memories, such as the memory of when I’d woken up with no recollection of the first decade and a half of my life, — which, to this day, I still cannot recall — or the memory of when Will and I first met. Then, they got darker, like the other members of the group talking about a patrol gone wrong or something. Like me being infected and biting Will after our first kiss. Like me murdering him and then standing over his body victoriously.
The dreams and nightmares are never from my perspective, however. Well, they are to some extent, but it’s more like an alternate version of me, a more menacing one, one that exists inside me every waking minute of every day, like me but not me, as if it is me watching myself from a different, more sinister perspective that somehow manages to live in the shadows of my conscious thoughts.
I just thought you might want to know… his blood COATED your hands as you dragged his body back to our dumping grounds.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.