Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Follow the Trail

Three days have passed since I last failed in my attempt to save my neighbor Darnell. This feeling of anger is starting to make me want to head out there and clean house just a little bit more. The thought of seeing this man die in front of me, and the idea that my family may or may not be out there, is officially weighing itself on my mind. I'm feeling the need to head out on the city and search for survivors before nightfall because I don't want to be alone anymore.

I had no intentions of wandering too far from home, because I'd like to keep close to my shelter while not being too far from Pippo for too long. I packed the car ('95 maroon Maxima) with my hockey stick, my 9mm with ammo and two clips, along with some Nature Valley granola bars. During the time I was preparing my car for our upcoming mission I was thinking of where to travel. This is the point where I decided I would take a ride just about ten minutes away in an area known as Pelham Bay in the Bronx. I had some friends there and thought this would potentially give me an opportunity to see if they were still around.

During this drive I couldn't help but start feeling nervous and anxious. It was a true case of mixed emotions after what I had just seen. I noticed a trail of dead bodies leading through Waters Place and onto Middletown Road, but that is where the trail ended. At this point one can't help but think somebody may just be alive to have cleaned out all these walking dead. Now I find myself on Middletown Road driving passed a 7-11 which is actually vacant (there's a shock) to the driver's eye. I had decided to continue on to Crosby Avenue and head towards my favorite Pizzeria, Louie and Ernie's, to see if it was still in operation (I was truly worried about never having a slice of heaven again). Well, my hopes there were crushed fast because it was as dead as Darnell and Mary.

It is around five o'clock now and I realize this is a good time to start heading back and I'll take the I95 home instead of the local routes. Upon heading towards the highway I can't help but notice a man, who looked to be no older than 26 running from the Pathmark with some supplies and a baseball bat. Immediately I realize that no way one of these zombies were out playing softball at the local league fields. I said out loud in a radioless car, "This has got to be someone living!". I made a quiet left without trying to draw much attention and started heading in his direction. I didn't get a close enough look at him, and I almost wish he noticed my car, but he didn't or I am certain he would realize these living dead wouldn't have the neural capacity to drive. By the time I head back towards Crosby Avenue, I had lost him completely.

"Oh Christ!", I had turned onto a dead-end block with three living dead directly behind me. I check my rear-view mirror and realize it is best to take the safety off of my 9mm and get ready to shoot anything that I miss. It is at this point that I think to myself maybe this mystery guy running around with a bat would hear my shots and feel some sense of comfort to hang on longer knowing he isn't alone in this world. Although he might not be alone anyway. I put my car in reverse and step on the gas knowing I can at least get one and push the other two back. Gun in my right hand with my arm around the passenger seat headrest and head looking back I do hit one just as I had hoped and the other two are pushed back. I know I can conserve my bullets and it would be the best option not to draw any extra attention to the area in which this mysterious guy disappeared to. I am certain he survived this long that if he crossed path with these two zombies he would clear them out as well.

It's time to head back home and see how Pippo handled his longest span without me. I, unlike Robert Frost, will take the road traveled to find this guy and hopefully more survivors.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Girl in the Yellow Dress (2)

It had been three months since I found Stephanie on the roof of that Pathmark. Three months and we were surviving pretty damn well. It took us three trips to bring all of her belongings off of that roof and into my hide out. It’s funny even in the face of an apocalypse women were still concerned about their wardrobe. She had so many bags of clothing we almost didn’t have any space for it all. Don’t ask me how she managed to move all that crap up onto that roof. This girl was amazing, and in the three months we were together I was learning more and more every day how amazing she really was.

With the food I managed to scavenge from the supermarket on my weekly visits we were coming along pretty well. I never took Stephanie with me on my trips. She asked me more than a few times to come along, but I calmly explained to her “HELL NO!” I felt comfortable navigating my way alone, and I didn’t see the necessity in risking her life as well as mine. Besides, in the past three months she had grown on me quite a bit. That smile of hers which I woke up to every morning. The way she always put her hand up to her lips so gently when she laughed. The way her hair always had this shine to it even, though we were trapped all day in this muggy lifeless attic. We were safe up here, and I was damn sure going to be positive she stayed safe. She was the first woman in my life in a long time, and I was starting to fall for her, and fall hard.

My trips never took me more than one hour. She knew if I was gone more than an hour that something was wrong. But every week just like clockwork I was out and back again with time to spare. She never had reason to worry. Besides, the radios she carried with her, among the mess of clothes, allowed us to keep in contact while I was out. I’m glad she was smart enough never to contact me without me contacting her first. Last thing I needed was to be trudging through zombie infested streets and have a radio on my belt blurting out “Honey don’t forget the beans like you did last time!” and then I’m running for dear life. Bless her heart Stephanie really was a gift for me. I was climbing the roof the same way I had been doing for the past three months when my radio went off. No words came through; it was just the familiar static that comes when you press a walkie-talkie button once. Only the static continued, and didn’t fade away. Stephanie was holding the button down. I kept waiting for her to say something but she never did. I could hear this slushing sound as if someone was wading through deep mud. I tried to respond back to her, but of course her finger was still on the button so I couldn’t speak to her. I had to go back and see what the hell this was; this wasn’t normal behavior. I wasn’t happy about making it all the way to the rooftop and being forced to turn around, but something told me I should turn back. I could still hear the slushing noise and now there was a little something more to it. I couldn’t tell what the noise was, but I was already heading back to the attic to find out. I didn’t get a chance to walk very far before I was forced to stop. About 100 yards through the back parking lot that leads to the supermarket I spotted a group of 6 zombies all gathered around kneeling down. They were clearly feasting on something and I moved slowly forward to try to sneak my way around. As I moved closer to the group, the noises I heard through my radio became increasingly similar to what I could hear coming from the group. I lowered the volume on my radio so they wouldn’t hear me. And then my eyes saw it. Poking out through the kneeling legs of one of these creatures was Stephanie’s little hand clutching the radio. She followed me out. I can’t fucking believe she followed me out! I could see her body was ripped apart and there was blood staining her favorite yellow dress. It was the dress she was wearing when I found her. I always told her it made her look like she was wrapped in sunshine.

The noises I heard coming through my radio were the sounds of these things eating Stephanie. They ripped her apart and she was only a couple hundred feet behind me this entire time. How could I not have known she was following me? I lost every ounce of sense I had in me. In an instant, I was bounding towards this group of fiends that had taken from me the one ray of hope I had found in this wasteland of darkness. With my knife out I grabbed the first zombie by the back of his shirt, and drove my blade straight through the top of his skull. They were all so wrapped up in their fresh meat none of them saw or heard me coming. I kicked one zombie straight across the face as it looked up at me and I watched his head come clean off his body. The infection made them weaker, and their bodies were already heavily decayed. The last four stood up and came after me, but today I didn’t have the good sense to run. As one of them was getting up I punched it straight across the face. I watched its jaw dislodge as the body dropped to the floor in a lifeless heap of rotten flesh. It’s all pretty much a blur after that, but the next thing I remember I was kneeling by Stephanie’s body clutching her hand which still held the radio. I had clearly dispatched the last three zombies, but God knows I can’t tell you how. As I knelt there staring at her body which had been ripped open, she let out a cough. She was still alive! She was almost completely ripped to pieces and she was coughing up blood. I lifted her head and rested it on my knee. She kept trying to speak. “Sshhh, don’t speak. Just relax now.” She kept trying to say something. She used every last ounce of life she had to say what she had to say. Behind all the coughing and spitting up blood, I was able to make out one word…just one single word, “Pregnant.” I can’t believe it. My entire world fell apart, and came crashing down on me. I couldn’t say anything, but instead just took my knife and ended her pain before she could come back as one of these things. What was the world going to give me to end my pain now?

I said earlier that this world had lessons to teach us, and all of them were difficult. Now I learned that attachment, in this life, was only going to lead to pain. It was my fault she was dead. I talked her into coming down from that roof. She might have died on her own, but I wouldn’t have known, and I wouldn’t be kneeling over some mangled corpse right now. She wouldn’t have died in my arms, pregnant with our child. People always say you can’t dwell on the past, but it’s the past that constantly haunts us. If we ignore it, we never learn from it. Too bad this was one lesson I never wanted to learn.