Eli Dies Twice

Submitted into Contest #76 in response to: Write a story told exclusively through dialogue.... view prompt

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Drama Sad Science Fiction

“Hey, check this out.”

“That’s definitely not edible.”

“Oh, Eli. What do you even know,” I scoffed.

“I know not to eat random things in the forest, especially when there’s weird growths on it.”

“I never even said I was planning on eating it. Besides, those weird growths could just be more food?”

“No. And I know you were thinking about eating it.”

“Okay, whatever.”

“I know you’re running low on food, but there has to be something else to eat around here.”

“I don’t know, Eli. If you’re right about the weird growths on those mushrooms—”

“I’m always right.”

“—Then this area’s probably starting to really get affected by whatever’s been causing the weird biological changes in shit. We’d better get outta here.”

“For once, a sensible thought comes out of your mouth.”

“Hey, I’m still alive, right?”

“...I guess. Hey, you’re not taking that with you, are you?”

“I dunno. You think it’s dangerous to just keep it?”

“I don’t know anything about the world anymore.”

“Yeah. I guess so. Before all this, you would’ve recited some poem about mushrooms to me.”

“I don’t remember poems anymore.”

“I know, Eli.”

“You shouldn’t be tramping through the forest the way you are. Too much noise, especially if you’re right about this place being particularly affected.”

“Okay, okay. Oh, shit.”


“Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck.”

“Oh, shit.”

“How’d one of those things find the camp?”

“Well, maybe it’s because somebody left the fire going.”

“Dude, do you know how hard it is to get that thing going? I wasn’t just going to extinguish it to go on a little walk!”

“Oh, so hard to do something our distant ancestors had to do all the time, and that people have done for millennia of existence.”

“Yknow, if it’s so easy, you try!”

“You know I can’t.”

“Maybe it’ll catch itself on fire and run away.”

“And burn the whole forest down on its way out?”

“Okay, okay. I get it.”

“So what’s your plan?”

“I throw a bunch of these rocks I picked up at the river at some trees over there and the sound lures it away?”

“I guess that’s not the worst idea you could have.”

“Well, when you come up with a better one, let me know. Hup!”

“That worked better than I thought. Forgot how good that arm of yours is.”

“I’m the MVP.”

“Whatever. Get packed up and get out of here.”

“You’re just mad my plan worked.”

“I hope you’re happy.”

“What? You mean for going into the forest? Of course I am. It’s the last place around here to get fresh water.”

“There’d be more places if you left this old place. More places to scavenge. More… everything.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Why are you still here, Eli?”

We are still here, in our old apartment, because…”


“Where else is there to go?”

“Anywhere else,” I almost heard him sigh.

“You know we tried to leave,” I protested.

“You tried to leave once. Almost a year ago.”

“Has it really been that long?”


“Well, I never.”

“Are you deflecting?”

“No,” I lied.

“You tried to leave almost a year ago. What was the issue?”

“The issue, Eli, was that downtown is crawling with those things. Anywhere worth scavenging is.”

Was crawling with those things.” 

“And they probably still are! All those things do is wander around looking for meat and people to- to-”


“They make my skin crawl. Not to mention the whole, yknow, fate-worse-than-death thing that would be getting absorbed by one of them.”

“At least they’re stupid. Somehow more than you.”

“That doesn’t make me want to go anywhere near a horde of them any more.”

“I just don’t know if you should keep staying here. The forest is obviously getting worse. Last week you found those glowing fish in the river.”

“They tasted fine.”

“And the week before that it was the weird goo in the dirt that dissolved anything you dropped in it except more dirt.”

“Okay, yeah, the forest is getting weirder. So what? The water’s safe—”


“—and leaving is dangerous. It’s an unknown. What if I just can’t find more water? More food? No, it’s better to stay here.”

“You’re running out of food, though. There’s only so many more apartments in this building, only so many houses around here, to scavenge from. Either way, moving somewhere else is inevitable. I just think, given that the forest seems to be getting more dangerous, that sooner rather than later might be better.”

“God, Eli. You really don’t get it! I don’t want to leave here. This is where we were living when everything was normal. Before the world fucking ended and everyone and everything went crazy. Before—”

“Jay. I’m sorry things aren’t like they were before. But they just aren’t, and you can’t cling to this place just because you think it’ll make you feel… what? Like there’s some semblance of normalcy? Something left of how the world was before? Like somehow, if you stay here, some part of how the world used to be will still be here? I’m sorry, but there’s nothing left of how things should be except all these empty buildings. You don’t even know if there are any other people anymore, or if they’re all...”

“If they’re all those walking flesh blob monsters that only kinda-sorta still look like a bunch of people melted together? How can you criticise me for wanting to have something left of what used to be when that is what we’re dealing with?”

“So… what? You stay here forever?”

“Not forever, just- just- longer! Just longer. When we’re ready.”

“Jay, I’m ready. I’m ready to leave.”

“But— God, Eli. Oh, God.”

“Oh, no, don’t cry. It’ll dehydrate you faster…”

“I don’t want to leave,” I heaved between sobs, “because I can’t take you with me.”

“It’s not your fault I died, Jay. But you can’t keep pretending I’m still here, talking to yourself like there’s anyone around. And you can’t keep making decisions based on guilt. Not when your long-term health and survival is on the line.”

 “Maybe you’re right,” I said shakily. ”I have to get what I can from the rest of the apartments in this building, at least. Eli kept a mapbook of the state in his old desk. I can try to stay in fringe residential areas to avoid any potential monster hotspots, keep an eye out for mutations and… and look for a radio. Maybe there are still other people somewhere.”

“Do me a favor, too, would you? At least bury my skeleton before you go.”

January 15, 2021 07:25

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1 comment

Cynthia Keeler
09:30 Jan 21, 2021

I love a good zombie story and this was really good. I kept question why the character who wants to leave doesn't threaten to leave without the other and then it all came together in the end. Nice.


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