When The Light Goes Out, страница 1
CHAPTER EIGHT From the beginning...
CHAPTER ELEVEN To the very end...
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN When the lights are out...
CHAPTER THIRTY Epilogue
Born to die Born to die darling you’ll live
No longer that your years
If heaven and earth are both on the market
Then hell will be nothing to fear
“Until the Last Light Fades” - Mandolin Orange
The problem wasn't that he died.
I mean, yeah. It hurt. So, so much. One minute he was sitting there, with an arm around my shoulders. The next thing I know he's leaning limp, and he's not breathing. I first realized this when he didn't flinch after I hit him, by mistake, in the teeth. We'd been watching a horror flick, and he knew I was jumpy. I didn't cope well with slasher films. He was aware that I'd probably wind up knocking on his door at midnight, asking if I could "stay with him" like a six and a half year old because the monster under my bed was trying to eat all the pie.
He hadn't been feeling well since about fourth period, I'd found him hacking out a lung only earlier that day. I begged him to go to the doctor, once classes let out. We could take a side trip to the family doctor, he was only a hour away by cab. I was seriously worried. My brother wasn't a smoker. He didn't believe in the cancer sticks, saying they were just a lingering form of suicide. But that didn't help the situation. It only made it more confusing. If he didn't smoke, how could he have cancer? And if it wasn't that, why was he coughing hard enough to bring tears to his eyes?
Again, that's not the moral of the story, children. The problem wasn't that he died.
Moving from under him, I recall placing a hand to his throat. Placing two fingers to one wrist, then the other. I didn't want him to die. While I found myself praying for a pulse, there simply wasn't one. It was only then that I ran off, picking up the phone to call frantically to the police. "Get an ambulance, my brother's not breathing," didn't seem adequate. "Get an ambulance, my brother doesn't have a pulse," didn't quite do it for me either. So I stuck with, "Get an ambulance, it's my brother," while trying to keep the tears in, and get the words out.
When I was younger, and my brother moved out of the house, I'd been heart broken. He was fresh out of high school, and getting ready for college. He didn't want to stay at home, but it wasn't to escape anyone. He was just ready to start his adult life, before I was ready to start mine. The boy meant the world to me. My parents, they were great, but it was my brother that I connected with. He was the one who helped me with my homework. He was the one who got me into my hobbies. Helped me with my problems. Not my parents.
I did love them. There was no favoritism, I loved mom, and dad the same. But still, I loved him, and he loved me. Yes, we loved each other. The way two siblings are suppose to love each other.
When it was my turn to go to college, I moved in with him. It was cheaper then a dorm, close to the school, and more fun then home. He offered the space before I even had to ask. He found that he hated living alone, but I was the only person he could think of, who wouldn't try to cheat him out of money. Obviously, I wouldn't. Our money was coming from the same exact place, until we got steady jobs.
From mom and dad.
I was so close to him, I realized, with him dead in the other room. So I looked at the phone, telling the lady that I wouldn't hang up, but I needed to go check on him. I couldn't leave him alone. So I put the phone down, despite her protests, and walked to the living room. Stopping dead in my tracks once I got there.
The problem wasn't that he died. He'd been there.
He'd been right there.
My brother wasn't the only one. According to the news, which I had seeing as I locked myself in my bedroom, cable TV and all reports were coming from all over the city. People everywhere were dying abruptly, and not staying that way for long. Ten minutes tops, they'd said. It was the coming of the end. Perhaps a little early, perhaps a little late. It really depended on your point of view. But it was a threat, regardless.
Even the 911 dispatcher, who'd begged me not to leave the phone, had hung up on me. "Lock all your doors."
"Don't go near those awoken."
There were various warnings from several different News Stations. These things, they knew, were dangerous. 'Things,' they called them. There was no name for the phenomenon, for whatever reason. There were reports of attacks, and one by one the stations started switching over to the "Technical Difficulties" screen. Static, rainbow lines, elevator music, while they tried to solve the 'problems.' There were problems with these creatures. Big problems. But they couldn't tell us what was going on, because they didn't know.
Unlike them, I knew what was going on.
I'd seen enough zombie flicks to understand.
The problem then, was that I knew zombies weren't real. They just couldn't be. The flesh eating, reanimated human bodies couldn't actually exist. It didn't make any sense. This wasn't Resident Evil, there was no Tvirus. No pharmaceutical company who tried to play God. There was no terrible accident. No nuclear explosion. We just needed to find out what the cause was, to find the cure. That's how problems were always solved in the movies. The truth of the cause was found, and thus the solution was born.
Meanwhile I was worried about my brother. I didn't know where he was. I didn't know if he was safe. I didn't know if I was safe, and I knew that should have been the concern foremost in my mind. But really I was worried about him, and my parents. Jeeze, my parents. I needed to contact them, somehow. But the land-line was outside.
My cell phone was inside, thank goodness. So I picked it up, speeddialed mom. The call even went through strait to her voicemail. Promptly I cursed, and threw my phone at the door. Almost bursting into tears at the thought of losing my entire family in one god-damned day. My father hadn't even pick up at work when I tried that number. No one picked up.
Dammit all. Dammit all to hell.
I wasn't safe, and I knew it. But what was I going to do?! I couldn't leave, as far as I knew my brother was a zombie. What then? Shoot my brother in the head? As if. I couldn't do that if my own life was threatened. I wouldn't do it if my own life was threatened. It wasn't worth it. I couldn't choose between my life and his. Hell, I didn't even have a gun. A damn good reason not to shoot him, thus the option of doing so was blown out the window.
No duh! The window, the best damn escape route when you've got a zombie in the house, and things are moving too fast to really think of anything else. The best damned solution, given you're awarded the best possible circumstances. There being no zombies outside would be a good one. There being a fire escape, or less then a two story drop, would also greatly raise you're chances of survival. A glance out the window showed no shuffling creatures. But common sense told me that I'd still die if I jum
The front door was the only choice then.
I smiled nervously as I made my way towards my bedroom door. This wasn't how I'd expected to spend my weekend. I'd been planning on going to the movies, maybe pick up some stuff, if I had the time. I'd seen an awesome bomber jacket last time I passed by the "acquired taste" shop. I wanted to buy it, I had the money. But there I was, searching frantically for something to protect myself with.
I settled on the table lamp.
The table lamp, to protect me from zombies. Ingenious, no? No. I had to unplug it, not think about the fact that it was short, fat, and hard to hold, and figure out the best way to open the door all at the same time. Bashing a zombie in the face wasn't the way I'd planned on using the blue lamp when I originally bought it. I hadn't planned on side stepping to the door, with shaking hands, and quivering knees, to protect myself from my dead brother.
Then something hit the door, and I screamed, quickly moving back towards the window. (Translation: I screamed like a boy kicked in the balls with steel toed boots. Promptly falling on my bottom in a display of frightened clumsiness, I hadn't experienced since my brother bought the Leatherface mask, and plastic chainsaw with lifelike sound effects when I was ten.) I was hoping that the door was strong enough to stay up. It sounded like whatever was there was body slamming the piece of wood, and when it started to splinter around the frame, I cursed myself for not investing in steel embedded doors when I had the chance.
Two groans, and a thump later, the door came down. I screamed, a high pitched sort of shriek, and shuffled back still seated twice as far as the creature stepped forward. Yes my friends, stepped. I was moving like a zombie, while the zombie was moving like a human. My brother, the zombie, simply wasn't moving the way that all those old movies led one to believe they did.
Who'd have guessed Hollywood would lie to all of us? I certainly wouldn't have.
I certainly hadn't.
Honestly, I wouldn't have even thought my brother was undead if it weren't for the fact that I'd been his pillow when his heart stopped not an hour before. He didn't look it. His flesh wasn't gray. He wasn't moving like he had two broken ankles, and a dislocated hip. He had no holes in his flesh. He'd have looked perfectly healthy, if not for red and brown eyes. No pupil. Just sclera turned red, and a pupil overtaken by the iris. It looked much like all the blood vessels in his eyes ruptured.
Perhaps he couldn't see now. Maybe he was blind.
Could zombies see? Did it matter?
Part of me wished I had time to answer those questions, but as the record stood, I didn't. I was backed to the wall, and he was advancing on me. Stepping closer and closer, with a grin that made one think he knew what was about to happen. Did he remember me? I preferred to think that he didn't. If my brother was about to rip my throat out, I wanted to die with the thought that it wasn't him doing it.
I comforted myself with the thought that I had something he didn't. Keys to the apartment, and bike.
I flexed my fingers tighter about the lamp, the closer he got. Two eyes said I was nervous, his terrible grin frightened me. What to do? Hit him when he came to bite? Fling the lamp and run? Try to get around him without hitting him? None of them sounded like they'd honestly work. So I settled on, getting to my feet, and combining the three previous options.
Apparently the two of us had the same idea, as he lunged forward right as I ran to the side. His hand wrapped in my trailing shirt. Not a well fitting thing at all. Honestly it was a three year old, teeshirt with the words "I'm no longer a danger to society" and a corroded, grinning smiley face on the front. It was maybe three sizes too big, extremely worn out, and happened to be my planned sleep wear. Luckily, I hadn't quite taken off my jeans to change into my sweats yet, so I still had pants, and wouldn't be running outside in just the top. That, would have been uncomfortable.
It was unfortunate however, that the shirt gave him the opportunity to yank me off my feet.
I was dragged across the floor by him, to where, I didn't know. I tried to brace my feet against the carpet, but all it did was give me rug burn. I screamed. I swung the lamp as hard as I could over my shoulder. I felt it hit, something, I wasn't sure what but he let out a horrible groan, and let go of me. I took the moment to scramble forward as quickly as possible, before I rolled over, and threw the lamp. Blue ceramic shattered on contact with his face, cleaving chunks of flesh clear off of him. I felt this pang of guilt as he fell down backwards, but took the moment to shove my feet in a pair of sneakers, and run out the door. I did however, pause to rest my eyes on him.
Now, he looked like a zombie, for sure.
Bloody teeth seemed to have bitten through his top lip somewhere during the fall. Part of his cheek was hanging open, showing what I assumed to be bone. I felt horrible. That was my brother laying down in there, bleeding if one could call it that. I'd put him there. But I managed to look past this, slam the door shut and lock in when red, and brown eyes snapped open, and he started to get up snarling at me as he did so. I didn't wait to see if he could take down the front door, as easily as he'd taken down mine. Instead, I ran as quickly as I could down seven flights of stairs, towards the exit, to the bike rack, to get the bike.
You thought I meant motorcycle when I said bike?
No, I'm not quite that lucky. Indeed, I was lucky to have more then a tricycle, but I'd never been very good on the Full Suspension Mountain bike anyway. Really, it was my brothers, and he'd given up on teaching me to ride it after I broke my ankle, falling off of it some years before. I didn't mind, I hadn't wanted to learn anyway. I was okay with walking.
If only I'd known that my life just may depend on that damn bike.
I spent the next five minutes trying every damned key, to undo the pad lock, holding the bike in place at the rack. It had been held there with a chain, and as I got the lock off, I was struck with an idea. The wonderful idea to keep the chain, because it just may be useful. So I went about wrapping it around my hand as best I could, before throwing a leg over the bike, and toppling over.
Damn bad luck, with the chance of flesh eating creatures traveling about the city.
I got up, dusted off my arms, and picked up the bike. I placed it upright, before throwing my leg over it again, this time keeping the other foot on the floor as I settled down. A genius idea really. It kept me upright long enough to get one foot on the pedal, and begin movement. Part of me was proud when I started moving, still upright. I was trying to remember the tips that my brother had given me way back when. As a beginner I'd probably be better off not going over lumps and bumps. Maybe there was a better bike to ride in the city, but I didn't care, it was all I had.
Where to go?
I didn't know. There were too many question to ask. Too many questions to answer. I couldn't answer them, that was for sure. I didn't know anything. I'd always prided myself as a well learned person, but I felt like an idiot. A child. I felt extremely useless as I swerved around a woman, walking toward me from the side.
Murphy's law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way.
Given that, the swerving of the bike didn't work in my favor. I crashed, painfully so, into a light post. The bike went in one direction, I went in the other, and tasted blood. I'd bitten my lip, my tongue, something. I didn't know but I tasted blood in my mouth, and my face hurt. A lot. I'd probably scraped it. Come to think of it, I'd probably scraped my arms too. They were burning like a fire. But it hurt to sit up. I didn't want to. I wanted to lay there, open my eyes in an hour, and realize that this horror in the twilight of eight PM was a terrible dream.
Until a groan broke the silence, and a broken ankle came within my line of sight. Broken, I knew, because people just didn't normally rest their entire weight on the side of their foot. Even if they could, ankles didn't naturally sound crunchy. I glanced up in time to see blue and red eyes, bloody te
Zombies, you shoot in the head, not smack in the chest. Smacking them probably just pissed them off even more. Indeed, it seemed to do so for the lady. After stumbling back, she lunged at me, and I couldn't help but think that she must have been very pretty when she was alive. One may find the thought morbid, disturbing, stupid but even with her throat ripped apart, blood on her face, and eyes not so normal she was very pretty.
Distantly, I recognized her. Maybe, she'd gone to school with me. A senior perhaps. Maybe a student teacher. But I definitely recognized her from somewhere. So few people had blue eyes anymore, that color blue was the prettiest. A sort of gray color that barely touched on green when she looked directly into the light. She was in physics with me. Two rows forward, one to the left. What was her name?
It didn't matter, I realized, when her fists wrapped in my sleeves. Pulling me toward her, herself toward me. Her mouth opened wide, and the scent that escaped was equivalent to that of milk past its expiration date. Meat gone bad. I knew her, I didn't want to hit her, but I didn't want the stinking hole anywhere near me either.