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General

NightCrawlers: Victims of a Parasite that turned into Nocturnal Cannibalistic Hunters whose only instincts are to kill and eat.


If there was ever a time that Datura needed to get blackout drunk, it was now. She wished for nothing more than to down every bottle she could get her hands on, forget absolutely everything, then puke her guts out the morning after. Before Datura shunned the idea—persuading her son away from just the thought of it—but now it was the only thing on her mind.


Could you blame her? She was stuck on the floor, with an arm and leg that were nothing but useless, surrounded by pillows covered in her sweat. On top of it all, She was so bloody useless that she needed help just to take a piss, the humiliation!


Datura struggled to push herself up into a seating position, no longer wishing to sleep. A couple of feet away from her was the kid and her mutt, working on her radio again. Onyx was babbling on about something stupid, an old tv show that not even Datura knew about. The mutt barked at Datura, causing Onyx to face her and smile.


“Hey, you’re wake! You were out for a pretty long time now.” Onyx commented, pointing out the obvious. “I got hungry, so I already ate, want me to warm you up some soup?”


“Like we have anything else,” Datura sighed, not looking forward to yet another bowl of soup, the vile shit they had been having for the last couple of days. Toilet water would be more enjoyable. Onyx always said something about beggars not being choosers when it came to the food she scavenged, but that wasn’t going to stop Datura from complaining. The food still tasted like horseshit.


“Aright, so it looks like our options are mushroom or chicken noodle,” Onyx juggled the two cans as she listed the slim options to Datura.

After Datura picked one at random, Onyx skipped over to her makeshift fire pit with enthusiasm. Where Onyx got all this energy from was a mystery to Datura, one she didn’t really care to solve.


“What are you working on?” Datura asked, already knowing the answer, but still wanted something to fill the silence other than Onyx’s humming.


“I finally figured out the wiring to get the radio to connect to the right frequency,” Onyx beamed, priding rubbing off of her with every word. “I bet you I can get it up and running before the night ends. I can’t wait to get in contact with some other survivors, I think the two of us have been alone far too long. Some more company will do us a lot of good.”


“Sure,” Datura squinted at the table where Onyx’s radio laid, it looked much more whole than it did before. Onyx started to move around the store after pouring the soup, running up and down the isles humming her annoying tune again.


“How do you even know if there is anyone left in this city?” Datura raised her voice for Onyx to pick up on it. “Anyone with enough common sense would have booked it at the first chance they got.”


“You never know, there could be others out there hidden in plain sight just like us.” Onyx came back around to her fire and threw something else on, but Datura couldn’t tell what it was.


“You haven’t found anyone else in any of your scavenges.” Datura shot back, her jaw feeling tight. “Out of all the places you have gone for the last couple of months, there has been no one.”


“I found you, didn’t I?” Onyx interjected with her kind tone, somehow sounding nice while contradicting Datura. It was a miracle the kid was still alive, she didn’t have a sour bone in her body. It was hard to imagine her out there fighting off the NightCrawlers by chopping their heads off. Her childish face watching them fall off their shoulders without shedding a single tear.


“I was nothing more than a meal lying in plain sight,” Datura waved off Onyx’s valid point. “Anyone in their right mind would have ditched this hellhole the day the central park outbreak happened. You should have ditched this city as well when you had the chance.”


“I never really had the chance,” Onyx commented, her tone turned more serious but still carried that happy charm. It was infuriating. “That’s beside the point. I found you and Dr. Doggy, and now we will find others as soon as I get the radio working. Easy as pie.” Onyx shot Datura a toothy grin, stirring the now bubbling pot of gross, canned soup.


“No, not easy as pie,” Datura scoured, forehead furrowing. The ignorance of this child was unbelievable. “Everyone is either gone or dead. Your just wasting your time with that stupid radio.”


“There were more than 80,000 people in this city, I doubt we are the only ones left,” Onyx fought back without losing her smile or changing her tone. “You just gotta have hope.”


Hope.


Datura no longer felt like being calm when being hit with such idiocy.


“No!” Datura shouted, enough to make both Onyx and her mutt jump. “You need to let go of your immaturity! There is no one out there waiting for us to call us on the radio, there is nothing out there for us except death! It’s time to stop playing the idiot and accept the truth!”


Onyx just stood there, taking Datura’s anger. The smile shattered, and her expression was just empty, but now at least there wasn’t that stupid, gullible look on her face anymore.


Onyx was still, but soon enough, she reached behind and grabbed a bowl and cup, poured the contents from the stove into them before bringing them over to Datura.


“Dr. Doggy and I are going to go on a walk,” Onyx said quietly and calmly, very out a character for someone who had just been yelled at. The sky was starting to darken, but that didn’t seem to deter her. With that, Onyx and the mutt left Datura alone with her meal and her conscious.


But there was nothing on her conscious. Datura knew she had nothing to feel bad about, it was about time that someone knocked some common sense into that poor child. There was nothing out there for the both of them, they were alone, and they were hopeless.


Datura drank her soup as angry as a woman could, gagging down the crappy noodles. It was embarrassing that she was forced to slurp her meals, her broken arm causing her to be messier than a baby. Datura appreciated that Onyx gave her privacy whenever she ate, allowing her to spill all over herself in peace. She even made her favourite tea. It showed the girl cared, the kind soul.


But that was her problem, her kindness was going to kill her. The way she opened her base to both a dog and Datura’s pregnant self. Onyx took on the responsibility of caring and feeding Datura, to which she couldn’t return the favour.


Why did Onyx even bother taking her on? Why did she decide to chain herself to a sinking weight? Maybe it was just that her stomach screamed pregnant, and Onyx instantly felt obligated to protect her.


That’s what got her son killed, and that’s what’s gonna kill Onyx too.

The door of the shop opened, the cold air blew to the back of the store. Datura opened her mouth to complain but stopped once she heard the panting of Onyx’s breath. She jogged to the end of the shop and went right to the shelf with the medical supplies, conveniently placed next to Datura.


“What the fuck happened to you?” Datura squawked, eyeing the large cut along Datura’s left arm, running from her elbow to wrist. Her initial fear was that it was a result of a NightCrawler attack, but the cut was too clean. The palms of her hands didn’t look much better, thinner cuts littered them both.


“I forgot to bring ol’ reliable with me, ran

into a Crawler and had to get creative.” She opened a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and poured a generous amount over the wounds, her hand twitching as the liquid made contact.


“How the hell do you get creative with killing a NightCrawler? Wasn’t your sword fanatic enough?” Datura could feel her heart speed up and her hand’s sting, despite the wounds not being hers.


“The dude popped out of nowhere, so I jumped through the closet window and used the glass to straight up to end him.” Onyx laughed as she wrapped her palms and arm. She laughed at a time like this. Datura was ready to let it go until Onyx decided to open her mouth again. “Make sure you take your Vitamin D supplement.”


“What?” Onyx looked up from bandages to see the pure anger on Datura’s face.


“You just rolled around in a pile of glass, and you care more about me taking my pill? How could you!” Onyx tilted her head, holding a confused stare.


“I never knew it was a crime to care about my companion,” Onyx had that stupid smile plastered on her face again, why the hell was it there again?

“How could you be more concerned with me when your the one who is hurt? The only reason you were out so late is because I’m a bitch who just drags you down.” Datura wished she could stand her ground, use her height against Onyx so she wouldn’t feel so small.


“Your not a-”


“No!” Datura shouted, cutting Onyx off. “How dare you be so reckless, running around looking for more strangers.” Her eyes were starting to water, but there was nothing Datura could do to stop it. These tears needed to come. “How can you be so happy when everything around you is falling to shit. How can you be so hopeful when there is nothing to be hopeful for.” Onyx bent down to Datura’s level, getting as close as Datura would allow. Her face was more sombre, a rare moment of complete seriousness from the young girl.


“Is this why you have been fighting me so often?” Datura wanted to say something back, but nothing intelligent came to mind, so she just grunted. “Datura, I do truly care about you. You deserve to have hope, I want you to have a future to look forward to.”


“The future is nothing but uncertain, no good to look forward to.” Datura managed to mumble.


“Uncertainty is what brings me hope. The future is unwritten, which means what we do now will build the path we take to the future.” Onyx leaned in closer to Datura, showing her a genuine smile. “Being happy is what makes it feel like everything I’m doing is worth it. Having you here makes me happy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”


Datura didn’t know how to respond, so she just opted to lean into Onyx’s embrace. There was too much for all her doubt to flood out with one straightforward conversation, but it was a good start. Datura was still jealous of how easy it was for Onyx to be happy, but the kid’s intentions were pure.


Once again, Onyx was doing all the work by making Datura feel better amid her tantrum. She wanted to say something meaningful, but there was only one thing that really came to mind.


“Your soup doesn’t taste like complete garbage.”


“That is because I am a master chef.” Datura snorted and shoved her slightly with her good arm.


“You're full of shit, you know that, right?”


“I think the word you’re looking for is passion.”


“Whatever floats your boat, Onyx.”

July 17, 2020 08:15

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6 comments

Djenat Remmache
22:10 Jul 23, 2020

Great story! Love the details, good job! Do you mind reading my stories and give me feedback ?

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Lynn Penny
00:24 Jul 24, 2020

Thanks! I would love to read your work :)

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Charles Stucker
01:14 Jul 27, 2020

These are Typos which snuck onto the page. "up into a seating position" sitting position "Your just wasting your time" You're just wasting your time. "But there was nothing on her conscious" conscience. "Wasn’t your sword fanatic enough?" Not sure what word you wanted instead of fanatic. When is this set? The radio detail makes me think "before the internet" as does a "city" of only 80,000. And Datura makes it sound as though this is a BIG city. The soup choices are another thing- modern would have so much variety on the shelves th...

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Lynn Penny
20:46 Jul 27, 2020

I’m going to keep this all and use it for my next draft for sure! This is my take on a zombie apocalypse in present day. Onyx is 19 but Datura is middle aged and still sees her as a kid. The radio plays into the ending (still trying to plan the details of how mine works) and I’m trying to showcase a long passage of time with the slim food supplies. Thank you for your dedicated breakdown of what you noticed, it really does mean a lot to me.

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Deborah Angevin
09:38 Jul 22, 2020

Loved the story, Lynn! Loved the unique naming of the characters too! Also, would you mind checking my recent story out, "Red, Blue, White"? Thank you!

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Lynn Penny
01:41 Jul 23, 2020

Thanks, those are my two favourite names. I'd love to read your work.

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