The Boy That Sits In Her
I stare into the depths of her soft blue eyes, they are the same shade as Rory's were. Her freckles cover the bridge of her nose, as pimples had his. Her hair is cut short, it is the same length his was kept. He had braces, and a thin lower lip. She has crooked yellow teeth, and a dimple on her left side of her face. They both wear a look of sorrow. His body was limp when I held him last. His lips and fingers were blueish grey. He smelled as sour as the morning dew tastes and his voice had a slight sway to it, like he didn't quite know what he was saying.
My hands shake as I raise the gun. The trigger is icy and firm. I wish the gun would melt in my hands. If only there were someone to tell me what's right and wrong. But all the adults are dead, and the ones that aren't have gone insane from isolation.
The metal fence behind me is being raddled. Not by the wind but by lurkers. That's what we call them... they're not exactly zombies, they're like brainwashed humans. But they bite. And if you get bit, it's like you get brainwashed too. Their eyes are cloudy and mouths wide. Their body's stiff and forced. Their skin is bruised and scarred but they don't seem to notice. They don't speak, they just make little grunting noises and occasionally chatter their teeth.
A nearby swing set creeks. I recognize the pattern. It was where we were when the smoke began to spread. Orange mist covered the ground, we saw a man step into it... He breathed it in. Then he began to tremble, shiver almost. He jerked his head back and forth uncontrollably. His arms flailing like they were trying to smack a fly. He dropped to the ground. Then began to sit back up again, calmly. His breathing began to slow. We thought he was having a seizure. But when he began to scream we knew it was something much worse. His screeches were like sirens, he was wailing in pain, he began to cry, while he howled. It was the first time I had ever seen a grown man cry. With the last words he could manage to spit out, he told us to run as far away from the smoke as we possibly could.
Before the smoke me and Rory would go to the swing set almost everyday. I would push him back and forth, back and forth. I could feel the cloth on the back of his shirt, as I would let go of him. Higher and higher I would push him until I was scared he would fall. His hands flew out
"I feel like I'm flying!" he would say.
"Maybe you should be a bird when you grow up." I would joke. His giggles ring in my ear, slowly I begin to fade back into reality.
My mind goes blank. I am holding a gun, pointed at a little girl's head. Am I insane? This isn't me. Is it? I don't even know who I am any more. Why am I pointing a gun at this girl's head?
My eyes scurry down her body. She is unarmed. Her puffy eyes indicate she'd been crying. But why? My eyes fall onto her neck. She's been bit. She's infected. She is dangerous.
I feel a shiver roll down my spine. Is this real? What on earth would Rory think of me now? She hasn't turned yet, so maybe she is one of the immune. Her hands shake and eyes dart around, trying to escape from her body. I move closer, she doesn't flinch. She is scared, but not of me. She's scared of becoming one of them.
We Aren't Dead Yet
The floor shakes beneath me and it occurs to me that the world is spinning. Faster and faster everything begins to blur together. Shit. Why can't I shoot her? I've shot tons of people who were turning. But I can't shoot her.
Her nose scrunches and she attempts to stealthily blow one of her longer strands of hair out of her eyes. She still feels! She felt her hair fall into her eyes. She still has a chance.
"What's your name?" I demand.
“Why does it matter"
“What is your name!” I push the barrel of my gun against her forehead.
“Amber… but my friends call me ‘A’... or they did.”
"When did you..." her eyes follow mine to her shoulder.
"About sixteen hours ago, I think."
"I've been breaking out in rashes, but aside from that, no."
My breath slows. I can't kill her, not when she still has a chance.
"You can stay with me for the night, If you begin to turn... I will shoot you." She nods her head.
“You’d only be doing me a favor.”
I beckon her to follow me. We ran a half mile to get back to my hideout. I memorized the pattern to get to it... Left, right, right, left, right, left, left. I took a few extra turns by accident, but managed to find my way back. She didn't talk but I knew she was behind me. Her breath stabbed the air. By the time we arrived it was around two. After living in a world full of lurkers for around three years, you tend to know the time based off of where the sun is in the sky. The sun is about the only thing that hasn’t changed. We sit down and for a few minutes we stare at each other awkwardly. She’s the first person I’ve talked to in about a year.
“Are you hungry?” I say standing to get a can of food from my makeshift pantry.
“What do you have?”
“Really? You’re living in a world of zombies and someone offers you food, and you ask what they have?”
“It’s gonna be my last meal, I wanna enjoy it.”
She’s right. She could die tonight, but she’s still got six hours left before we find out.
“Well I’ve got cake.”
“It’s not a celebration.” she says materifactly.
“Better than nothing.”
We sit down on an old blanket that used to be white. It looks more like a burgundy color now, from all the dirt mixed with blood. I hand her a slice of cake and sit down once again. She tries it in small bites, trying to savor as much as she can. It is almost silent, but the thumping of my heart keeps me alert.
“Where are you from?” I ask.
“Kentucky.” She says without looking away from her cake.
“How about you?”
“This is my home.”
“Oh.” She says it like it would offend me. She looks up, her face is starting to go pale. She is turning. She knows it too. She has the same blank stare that Rory had.
“Do you have any more cake?”
“Not that I know of.”
The night swallows
The hours are passing fast now, we have been talking about our lives, and how they used to be. We’ve talked about family, memories, clothes, and food. The dark begins to surround us, and the only light source we have is a small fire I started. Her questions go in one ear and out the other, slowly I nod and shake my head.
“Did you ever have a boyfriend?” No.
“Were you considered popular?” Yes.
“Did you get good grades?” Yes.
“Did you have any siblings?” I froze. I hesitantly turned to her. She was his age. She was his height. She talked like him. She looked like him. She was the closest I’d been to him in two years.
“I did.” I croak.
“You remind me a lot of him…” my voice trails off “I guess that’s why I couldn’t shoot you. He was just like you. We used to be super close. But he… he turned. I… I had to shoot him.” My throat goes dry. It felt good to admit what I had done, even though it hurt me to remember. All the memories of Rory flow through my mind. When he said his first word, when he learned how to swing, how we would race, draw, laugh, scream, and when my bullet touched his forehead. I get so caught up in the moment that I only half realize Amber start to gag. She’s coughing blood. Lots of it. I hadn’t realized how cold it is, until she began to shiver. She was almost paper white, and her eyes began to widen.
“No. No. No. PLEASE! Stop! Please stop! Don’t turn! I can’t lose you again! I won’t kill you. I can’t.” I scream. She stops to stare. Her gaze unsteady.
“Where am I?”
“Georgia, you’re in Georgia.” Silence. My eyes begin to haze.
“AAAAEEEKKK” A shriek escapes her mouth.She starts screaming and shouting.
“Stop. Stop! I don’t want to shoot you… I won’t. I can’t lose you again.”
“You never lost me.” Another yell escapes her mouth. “I’m always with you.” She hollers in pain. Her lips tremble, her eye twitches. “Shoot me.” She collapses to the ground, she is already gone. I raise the cold murderous gun.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
Hi Kiera, I enjoyed your story, it was so intense. I liked the way it focused on one element of a zombie apocalypse, and probably the most difficult...the paradox of a mercy killing. I also liked that the actual shooting is left out the story, I wouldn't say the ending is open ended, as we know the protagonist has done it before, so is capable, and more importantly has to shoot. It's almost like a feeling of censorship (the act is so brutal we, as the reader, is spared having to see it). Great story, and I hope the feedback was useful....
Thank's so much this really made my day. I will definitely will be using your feedback in my future work. -K.B. Shepherd
Hey Kiera Welcome to Reedsy and this is an amazing first story. Surviving zombies is a nice concept. Keep writing. Would you mind reading my new story? Thanks.
Thank you! I really enjoyed your story, "Zombies," it was very captivating. -K.B. Shepherd
The part about pushing the sibling on the swing really caught my attention. I could feel that feeling, just as I do when I push my kids on the swing. The whole story read to me like a metaphor for being pushed too far. Having to shoot a sibling. Having to survive zombies.
That makes me really happy that it was relatable to you! -K.B. Shepherd
Good job. I love the sequence and conclusion. I think it would help to establish ages for your characters. I also think getting the timeline into sharper focus could help. But I loved the tone, plot and conclusion.
Thank you. I will most defiantly be using your feedback in future work. -K.B. Shepherd
Hello, Kiera. I really enjoyed the story. The themes of the pain of losing a sibling, going through it again and again, the desperation to save someone so that you might find some peace, and failing to save yet another life were very well executed. The implication that the protagonist was forced to grow up without any adults in the apocalypse was horrifying and I mean that as a compliment. On the other hand, I was confused when you changed the tense without there being a solid reason to do so. For example, "I beckon her to follow me. We r...
I am actually really glad that you gave me constructive criticism. I do tend to struggle with staying in the present/past tense while writing. I also completely understand what you mean by describing the action and dialogue in the same paragraph. I will defiantly try to improve in these areas in the future. Thank you. -K.B. Shepherd
I am glad I could be of help. You're most welcome.
Worth reading! The miserable emotions and every little scenario were just perfectly distinct. Keep writing:)
Thanks for liking my story "The Cabin."
This has so much action packed into such a small story. I love how this is set up, a very interesting story and it definitely is something I enjoyed to read. Great job
Thank you! -K.B. Shepherd
Wow that was intense! 😮 I love how short and focused this story is—no overabundance of characters or a complex plot, just a moment of utter despair for the narrator. Awesome job, keep it up! 😙
Thanks so much! K.B. Shepherd