Chapter 19: We Had This Coming
"Cure save us? Cure good?" The eyes of the lifeless often had a sort of depth and darkness that left the ones who stared petrified, easing their status as prey to feast into. But what Clint noticed in Frederick's eyes right then was something else: a glint of hope, perhaps.
"Cure good." He left his retort short but with a reassuring smile. Patting him on the shoulder twice, Clint stood up, raising the bottle in his hand above the centre of the table. "To the cure, my friends!" Though only Jules managed to repeat the little chant after him, and the rest were indistinct but excited mumblings, he could feel things were going back to normal again. If there ever was a normal.
The night was one of celebration all around Charon's camp. From the very next day then, everyone on the site would start receiving their antidotes, and all of that zombie apocalypse stuff was about to be wrapped up for good. There was a part of Clint that wished the cure was developed earlier. Back when he met his sons for the first time and lost them.
But there was no time to stay miserable due to all that happened in the past. There was only time to be concerned about rebuilding what once was, even better than the way it was from the lessons learnt. A brighter future. Maybe, all of this was nature helping them set things straight-- Like floods that once cleansed it all, a virus that brought out the worst in each.
Clint grabbed another bottle, leapt over the bench and gestured for Jules to come over. Treading through the lifeless forms roaming around with newfound energy. one that seemed to give them wings, he settled down at the foot of the oak for the night. Jules, much slower to follow him, crashed beside him and let out a sigh. Both of them were yet to get drunk enough for a celebration, but what better entertainment than deep philosophical discussions for a good drink? And what company better than a man who always looked as if he had it with life?
"So," Clint laid down on his back, watching the night sky, "what now?" After enough grunting and shuffles, Jules settled himself too, "I guess I finally get to rest. Drink beer all day, live on a beach, maybe." They both let out a small giggle yet were unwilling to look at each other. Perhaps, if they did, the grown men would have broken down into tears knowing everything they did pay off in the end. That it was the right decision not to give up. So instead, they decided to crack jokes one after another, staring at the moonlit sky.
That was when all hell broke loose.
Every lamp in the basement laboratory went off in a quick flicker, leaving Dr Elizabeth Harlem in the creeping darkness. Right beneath the composed Charon and the fierce Margo, she used to feel this protective armour in the friendly camp until then, but something about the night felt off. Not even being in a healthy state to make a run, and the eerie silence from the floor above made her requestion the need of checking up on the well-being of her mutated friends. Ensuring that the regular creaking of the floorboard was not to leave the room, she slowly stepped her way towards the few samples of cure she kept away.
"So, you must be the infamous virologist, Dr Elizabeth Harlem." Elizabeth froze right where she stood. The stuttering, husky voice belonged neither to her sentient accomplices nor the unaffected ones. She couldn't turn back for her life, but the throbbing curiosity to identify the unwelcome intruder nearly unpetrified her senses.
"I read about you. A cure for the incurable virus." In the faint gleam of the moonlight that seeped in from the vents, she could see the silhouette of the tall figure making patterns inside the room. He was not attempting to come any closer, but he neither moved farther away, disallowing the tension to break free, "Who are you finding the cure for, Doctor? The mindless or the ones without a heart?"
Elizabeth sensed a lump against her throat, holding her back from uttering a word. Amassing all courage that she could, he shuffled her feet to confront the untimely stranger in the dark. The shadows in the room hid his frame above the chest, leaving her unable to discern his face, "Who are you?"
The silhouette let out a little chuckle, but it was soon cut short, almost on a note of despair, "For a woman of Science, mademoiselle, you are not asking the right questions." His trembling hands held one another tight, attempting to conceal his weakness, "Does it matter who I am, Miss Harlem? It hurts, though, doesn't it? To not know what's behind the shadows."
This was a game. A vicious game of cat and mouse. Elizabeth knew it, but her chances of escape were too trivial. She had to find another way. "What did you do to Margo and Charon?" She asked as she put one more step closer to the drawer of cures.
"Oh, your friends. I asked them to wait upstairs. Do you want me to invite them over?" Lizzie was right. Her worst nightmares had come true. Whoever this was, he had sentient control over Margo and Charon too. Even if she was to run away, she would be strangled to death by her own friends. She took one more step towards the drawer. Her only means of escape was curing three possibly barbarous beasts with her weak, injured physique. Only if Clint and Jules were here.
Clint and Jules could barely feel their feet touching the ground, one after another, speeding away from the hordes of impending doom that chased them. They had no idea what induced the sudden switch among the mindless. It could only mean one thing, and that was a possibility they were not ready to reckon with yet. But it was the only thing that made sense: Something happened to Charon.
But what concerned Clint more was that the devastating consequences would be far worse. Charon and Margo were together. Things even Charon couldn't hold back against would have still been an easy drill for Margo. And if it was indeed something wrong with Charon, it could only mean one thing: It wasn't just Charon who went down. Margo did too.
And that was terrifying. All the way from the beginning, running away from things that barely made any sense, they could rely on Margo to appear out of nowhere and save the day. If there was something that even Margo couldn't hold against, it meant that all their battles and sacrifices were to be lost for the day that preceded the morning that would have set everything straight.
Clint could no longer hold all the thoughts in. Amid panting like a hound affected by rabies, he yelled at Jules that they needed to go back at once. Whatever it was that set everything wild, it demanded a confrontation. But leading a massive horde of zombies to a constricted house with barely an escape plan seemed like a definite suicide.
There was only one way. They had to split ways: One to distract the mindless, the other to brawl with the worst of them. It was suicide nonetheless, but it left a chance for at least one of them to survive. One of them had to be alive to protect the cure. They fought and defended too long to lose it all, only a few hours till dawn.
When Clint looked up at Jules, he knew, at once, that he wouldn't make it till the end of this run-- it had to be Jules who got the final brawl. A fragment of him wanted to seek revenge for all that happened in his life, but it was no time for decisions based on emotions. It wasn't something Jules would have accepted if they had any other choice, but it was apparent from his features that he knew it too, "I'll come back for you, boy."
The headlamps of the vintage Corvette lightened up the murky alleyway for a brief moment. And as soon as the wiper blades came to a standstill, the windshield turned misty by the light drizzle. Unfastening the seatbelts tucking him in, Cory stepped out onto the mild rain, a faint smile stuck against his facade. Fingers sliding smoothly over the hood of the vintage car, he walked over to where the crippled frame laid, shivering.
Pulling up the sleeves of his chestnut suit, he squatted on his knees beside the figure, rubbing his cold arms against each other, "Well, hello, Captain Raymond. Long time no see. Had fun?" Agitated, Clint tried to grab Cory by the collars, but he was too weak and slow to land a blow. Laughing out loud into the silence of the night, Cory took a few steps backwards from him, fully intending to further infuriate him, "The angrier you get, the faster the virus takes over, you know. Makes things easier for me."
Seating himself on top of the grey garbage can, Cory let out a deep sigh, "Did you seriously think that there would be a--" His hands swished in the air, seeking for the right word to fit right in the statement, "timeline where you and your little gang save the world?" He could not keep in his laughter, only pausing once in a while just to continue even louder, "Ah, such a mess."
Hands skimming over his glossy hair, he took a deep breath, putting on a mask of earnestness, "You would not have taken that ridiculous cure either way, would you have, Clint? You have things left to do." Leaping out of his seat, Cory started walking around his newfound prey in circles, "As calm as you pretend to be, you, Mr Raymond, are vengeful. You need to tear someone apart right from the core, but who? All those who were responsible for everything that happened to you-- they are all gone. But all that anger, all that spite, it's eating you away from the inside, isn't it?"
Cory, once again, squatted right beside him, offering him a chance at vindication, "But I-- I can help you. You know it. And I could use someone like you, Captain. We would set right what's wrong with this world. Together." Clint shuffled away from him, groaning in pain, seemingly striving his best to keep the manipulative monster away from him.
"It's useless, Clint, and you know it! Give in already."
Silence. Cory slowly stepped closer and closer to the weakling. Sitting beside him for one last time in the night, he stretched his arms towards the mangled figure. And when his hands felt the coldness of the once-righteous Captain, he knew he was closer than ever to his final triumph.
Well, that was way longer than I intended it to be. To be honest, I was struggling to finish even a single paragraph when I began writing this chapter. But then... something happened. However, there might be a bit too many grammatical errors up in there, but bear with me, won't ya (: I hope you guys enjoy the chapter! Love y'all ^-^
Cover Image: https://media.istockphoto.com/photos/zombie-hand-holding-old-wooden-board-empty-space-for-text-or-draw-picture-id1166085591b=1&k=20&m=1166085591&s=170667a&w=0&h=gLTbukgnaRJAnMoOh8CADejzDz5uEuIMv8ODexRhHss=
Okay, so, remember a challenge where we had to spotlight our favorite authors which was held a few months ago? To be precise, on the September of 2021. And the challenge word limit was 200, and I went out of my way to make a gigantic post of-- a lot of words? Well, last day, I found the lost draft that I thought was gone forever. And ah, it's a mess. So much of a mess that it almost hurts XD But I am going to put that up here. So here we go!
How could I possibly not notice this challenge before?! Alright, there is only one day left. So, we have to be fast. I will keep everything short. I don’t want to, but I think I will have to. Let’s hop right into it.
I just skimmed through some challenge entries this morning. I might have blushed a little, maybe jumped across my room in excitement for minutes on end, and perhaps played a happy dance. I don’t think I did, though. I mean, I am so mature and all, so... Yeah, I am still a horrible liar.
But I was surprised to notice that this name has not popped up anywhere: @Clarity. If you had known me for a while, you might probably know that I am a mad fan (a fanatic) of her work. I don’t think she is around these days, but she might probably remain one of the best storytellers, forever, in my heart. And if you are yet to read one of her novels, come on, what are you waiting for? Go! GO! GO! GO!
I am sorry for that. But next up in my list, it would be @CindyCalder. I haven’t read many of her posts, but she is such an incredible author. I don’t know if she had published any of her works before. But if she hasn’t, the publishers are missing out on some quality content.
And if I don’t mention this name in my list, I would rather be dead: @Mnezz. I mean, come on! She is the nicest person on all of Earth. The universe, maybe! She is the lifeblood of Prose. Without her, this community wouldn’t be what it is tonight. And of course, her spooky tales are a must read *chuckling*
Now, I have to mention this person too: @GLD. Yes, she is an amazing writer, and writes such amazing poems and stories. But more than that, she is such a wonderful friend. When I say that she has changed me even as a person, I am not lying. She has. I am lucky to have a friend like her. And I still feel that’s an understatement. And of course, check out her heartfelt poems and beautiful stories, you are missing out.
Wow, this post will go on forever. You know what? Let’s shift gears! Hold on, my dear friends. We are going lightspeed!!!
My pal, my buddy, my Bucky: @Amal_Z. My very first online friend with whom I could speak in my own language: @Sanjana_S. Her stories and poems are just *chef's kiss* And then, our queen, the epitome of self-love, my dear friend, Our Radiance: @Smruti_Swarupa. The young girl whose confidence and hard work I admire and respect: @Samina. Another online friend that I found in my aimless wander who loves a good debate: @Tushar. And when we talk about him, we can't avoid this man: @Hrithik. Also check out Miss @VRose's profile. She got some really, really good posts lined up.
Now, descriptions are not something that everyone can master, except these two. If you want to read a good character description to fill your mind, you go to @Sinha. If you want to read a good emotional description, you go to @HelenaTherese. And her micro-poetry is a must-read! And yes, my dear friend whose ambition and stories that inspires and motivates my lazy soul: @CalebPinnow. Now, if you are feeling a rush of positivity here, none of it stands a chance against the one and only Ms Nightmare: @LiannaC! Honestly though, she is such a nice person. But, we aren't still done with descriptions here. You want to experience the story on a deeper level with descriptions? Well, I got another two that can create such wonderful imageries and precise descriptions: @PaperbackFish and @HandsOfFire.
And now, it's time for heartbreak. There is one person who can top this least without an effort: @ajrfanz. But trust me. If he breaks my heart again, I am taking him down XD. But heartbreak doesn't end there. I got a bunch of people who can break your heart with ease. Someone who can break it with merely one or two lines: @LovelyNB. Someone who makes us cry and imagine such beautiful yet depressing scenarios simultaneously: @Zoe_n. No, it doesn't end there. I got two more! @arctic and @coldfront. They just like playing around with our heartstrings, I guess.
Now, it's time for siblings! We got lots of them. First off, my dear history mate: @ValiantRaptor47. With him, you got both informative and thrilling posts to read. What a combo! And of course, his sister: @Voidkin_Killer. It doesn't take a long time for her to crack you up with her fun rants. That brings us to our heartbreak and mending pair: @snivyth3 and @Laveenya. You read @snivyth3's poems, you heart gets broken, then you have to go to @Laveenya's profile and read a little something. It's like they have a little evil masterplan! And we have yet another pair of siblings: @VerityMonet and @Carissa. @VerityMonet is one of the most confident, resolved young ladies I am lucky to have met. And her sister, @Carissa, will never let her down too. You will love this duo.
Now, I have a bunch of writers (and good friends) who never ceases to amaze us with their writing abilities. First off: @Rob_Lee. Now this man knows how to craft a story, and he is not even leaving one of them as weak. His profile itself is a masterpiece. And he leaves some of the most heartwarming comments too. Next up: @nightscribbler. Her expertise over language is unmatched in all of Prose! And she is such an amazing person too! Next up: @ana_vega222. If you haven't read any of your poems, you are seriously missing out. Go straight away! Don't care to wait. Fourth up, we have @WhiteWolfe32. I mean, have you even seen his collection of poems? Have you read his chilling stories? Have you visited his super cool website?! Please don't say no. I can also name someone who never stops writing and gives us something everyday. He even has a few books lined up: @1912writer! He is one of our best young men!
Now, this has already crossed over a thousand words, and I not even halfway through. Alright, we are doing a quicker thing.
Some good friends who are not around these days:
@GinelleColour: A young Irish lady, an amazing friend.
@Mara_C: That one person who will pop up when you need it the most.
@MargeauxReed: If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here. She was the first person to send me a message, told me what all I had to do with my posts, gave me advices, supported me. I will never forget her.
@MsHannahTweets: I wasn't here when she used to be here. But I read every last one of her stories, and if you haven't, go straight up there. Trust me, you will never regret that.
@thesavyleelyon: One of her stories still has not left my mind, even after several months. I was excited to delve deeper into that story, but well, I never got the chance to.
@TheDreamer: We all know her. There used to be a time when she ruled over the challenges.
@NaomiAdams: That lady who helped me continue a series with her lovely comments.
@Acadec56: A young man who inspired me to do good, and stay as myself.
Some good friends who only stayed with us for a short while:
@Parise_25: A young lady, who had tons to say and write, but never did it. Her poems were always beautiful, and they always will be.
@Rodaina: Just two posts, and both of them are challenge winning stories. And her debut even won the Prose Monthly challenge!
@Shayna13: A good friend for a brief time. She had such wonderful stories to tell.
@Deeksharai: Another good friend who stayed for a short while. She had a book written in Hindi, and was one to stand up for the things she believed in.
@AnnieLParrish: She is a published author. Need I say more?
Now I have to tell about four others: @Celia_Himawari (Formerly @Cass_Wolf, a good friend), @SadieBug (a.k.a Breadcrumbs. I was Jellybeans!) and @Raing0at (or whatever his username is right now XD). And @KacieIuwara (She has a collection of such amazing tales!)
And when I say these names, I also have to say about one mighty young gitl: @mightymanda. There used to be a time when many of us used to be good friends, so... And she is back now, and she is writing more!
Oh my, I will have to list just the names, I guess XD
Some of the best of the best: @KMCassidy (stories are a must read!), @rlove327 (an English teacher and a wonderful author), @EstherFlowers1 (the one with the tiger pfp, need I say more?), @TW (The Wordsmith), @QuietSilence, @poetgreen, @Mfrobs (stellar writing, here it is!), @EvelynDawn (always encouraging!), @SharondaBriggs (the kind of person the world needs more), @KarenKitchel (leaves the most concise, perfect comments), @CatLady1 (she will crack you up.), @Scratch77 and @JulianRace (Masters of Comedy!), @Roses311Sublime (Just go to his profile, you will understand.)
Ernaline (probably the best poet on Prose), anarosewood (Well, there's the contender XD), @TeaRise, @chainedinshadow, @Thereisnospoon, @BonnieBoo, @VividHues (she is a lovely poet!), @LexiCon (If anyone can replace what @Mnezz do one day, it's her.), @tooldtocare (Her trilogy is a must-read!!! MUST-READ!), @James.
@ChristopherHow1: He built a website to write a collaborative novel on mother's love, and I am still sad that I couldn't be a part of it.
@AliPoetry: He even has a newsletter!
Some other lovely names who inspire me to write books:
@thniels: I read his entire book in a day. That explains a lot.
@goldenmel: I am yet to read her books, but I know they will be good!
@Taki: I am yet to read her books too, but I feel the same!!!
@Commentator: He also left me dangling midway through such an amazing sci-fi thriller, but okay, I will forgive him XD I just hope he becomes wildly successful one day.
@EllaCressman: She had a good thriller, gradually unveiling, but again, I could never get to the end.
Well, you know, life and its phases... *sighs* But I do love all of those people behind these names. And they will all forever have a place in my heart. Yes, even after I had written this post back then, a lot of new guests had joined us over here on Prose, and I adore them too. And I do have reasons to believe I had missed out on a lot of people even back then. But please know, guys, it ain't personal XD
To this little family I got here <3
Lots of love,
A Heart-Wrenching Conversation (Funny)
"Oh, are those--" I stuttered, unable to finish my sentence. My heart couldn't bear the pain of such a painful sight.
"Oh," she paused. I could feel the same pain mounting within her heart, "I love them. Why would they do that to such poor things?"
"They will all die down there."
"Gradually-- They'll lose the last breath of air within them, and--" Both of us found it incredibly difficult to hide the pain that crumbled our insides.
"At least, they won't leave this world alone. They have their friends right by their side." I pointed to their side where there were many more of them. "I wish I never had to see this."
"Me too. How can I ever forget them anymore? They'll remain a painful memory I have to--"
"It's okay. They're okay." I said, holding back the tears I wish I could let free.
"I know. It's just-- I love balloons."
"Me too." I sniffed. "Goodness, we really need to grow up!"
But honestly, that was a really hurtful sight. An arch, made entirely of balloons, just thrown away into the middle of nowhere! How cruel could they be to do such a thing? Ah, I'll never get over this trauma XD
But it felt so good to relish that inner child in me once again after a very long time ^-^ I mean, conversations like these are what we all live for, aren't they? Just the best. I mean, sure, I exaggerated a little (a little too much) for creative purposes, but I can assure you the emotions were pretty much the same XD
Chapter 13: Love & Hatred
The moonlight seeped through the foggy night, illuminating the drenched alleyways and the barren streets. The Elysee Palace stood in the shadows, lamps mostly turned off to evade unwanted attention. But even something hidden in the dark will eventually be stumbled upon, and they were no exception.
The lifeless corpse slowly crept its way onto the foyer. Her footsteps went unheard even in the silence of the night. Her decaying frame went unnoticed even in the bright glow of the moon. She pushed the glass doors ever so gently, letting herself into the quiet apartment. The room was unlit, sending the undead stumbling every once in a while. But when she tripped over for the third time in the night, the voices were loud enough to echo throughout the chamber.
It was then Andre opened his eyes. His hands delicately searched for his illusory wife by his side. Unable to find her, Andre rubbed his grogginess away, walking towards the noise, not knowing he was trotting towards danger-- A threat which could have been eluded. But Andre's love for his wife was blind enough to neglect his own health and well-being, and following his wife in the middle of the night was something he could always do without a second thought. How could he have known that he was walking towards a decaying corpse, but one that isn't his beloved?
The darkness of the room and the drowsiness from the sleep further affected Andre's illusions. The mindless undead that ravaged the world was almost non-existent in his thoughts. Thus, finding a silhouette resembling his wife nearby the refrigerator raised no suspicions in his mind. He walked towards the lifeless frame, compassion for his pregnant wife, the only thoughts wandering in his mind, "Lily, you need something?"
The disfigured woman spun around, almost as if in shock for a fraction of a second. Her lifeless grey skin and the carved out lungs- aside from her ripped hair and deformed arms- were enough to send Andre back to reality, crushing the looming drowsiness with the waves of an adrenaline rush. It struck him hard-- that feeling of being woken up from a terrifying dream. But the circumstances shifted in his misfortune-- reality being the horrible nightmare he wished he could wake out of.
His eyes widened with disbelief, but his legs froze in place. He wanted to scream, but his voice clung to his throat. His heart throbbed so fast that he could feel them upon his chest. Even as the frigid figure leapt upon him and sunk its teeth deep into his neck, he couldn't bring himself to fight. The pain seared through his entire body, but in fact, he had never felt more alive-- and the memories he rewrote to bring himself peace resurfaced, erupting him into a scream he held inside for too long.
A year ago.
Delilah Renee Dubois. He called her Lily. For Andre, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. And him, the luckiest man to win her heart. Everything about her was perfect. Magnificent. Blonde curly hair fluttering in the air, those deep brown eyes one can't help but stare into, her thin red lips, and oh, that smile. He could forever watch that smile by the sunset, staring into her eyes, if time was ever to freeze them for eternity. How much he wished it did!
They fell too hard for each other. Andre and Lily were the kind of couple someone on a tiresome evening walk couldn't help but notice. Trapped in a separate world where everything is perfect, unaware of whatever befalls around them; To whom happiness was a state and not mere moments. The kind of love that makes a young child fantasize about humanity. They never stopped smiling because they never had a reason to. As long as they could hold one another in their arms, time was too short, and the world was too fast. They never felt the years that went by.
When he placed that little handmade floral tiara above her hair, Andre found his memories rushing all the way back to their wedding day. It was ironic that a hopeless romantic like Andre would wish the day never ended-- when the two climbed upon the terrace because his whimsical wife was too desperate to watch the night sky. She rested her head on his shoulder, her hand on his chest-- her smile brighter than ever. One of those smiles that people gave out when their biggest dreams came true.
But when he held her by the side of the neck and left a gentle kiss on her forehead, Andre knew that was the last time he could keep her close. The last time he could feel her warmth. Standing by the side of the iron railings on the balcony, the evening sun graced them, descending down the horizon. He watched her smile with tears on her eyes, her arms squeezing his-- reassuring he would be alright. But her bleeding left arm wasn't as strong as her right. When she closed his eyes with her palms, Andre never knew not knowing the truth would leave him with hope. But when he opened them, she was no longer by his side.
"Lily," Andre found himself on the ground behind the buildings. He could see the balcony of his apartment five floors above. Though his back felt numb, he could no longer feel the pain. What alerted him was something else- his wedding ring. It must have fallen off somewhere, so he searched among the rubble and the dried leaves like a wild beast. But he stopped at the sight of something. Someone.
He knew those sandals like the palm of his hand. The beige straps, the ivory soles, the two pearls at the front-- they were too tight, right from their wedding day. Lily. Every time he came back from work to find her reading on the couch, there was a particular rhythm his heart followed. Like, a child about to enter the stage or a man walking down the wedding aisle. And once their eyes met and he could see her smile, his knees felt weak, and he dropped down right beside her to settle on her lap.
Andre limped his way towards her, unable to walk. Tears formed at the edge of his eyes as he clung around her legs like a desperate toddler unwilling to let go. But as he hoisted himself up and held her by her cold arms, gazing right into her eyes, he felt different. Those eyes no longer had the depth which one couldn't help falling into. He didn't see in her wooden stare a light of recognition. He was a stranger to his beloved. Even in the worst of days, there was something special about her eyes. But now, they were vacant. Void of emotions. She was not his Lily. He wished he could see her smile once more.
The sun peeked at the couple from behind the horizon. Signs of a new day spread across the blue-tinted skies. The trees surrounding them seemed to mourn the painful reunion of the two. Andre held her by the side of her neck, leaving a gentle kiss on her forehead. The dried leaves crunched under their feet as he pulled her frigid frame closer-- a hand behind her neck and one above her waist. Squeezing her tight one last time, he twisted her neck as swift as he could, dropping her to the moist ground. She was not his Lily.
As Andre walked away into the middle of nowhere, his trembling fingers wandering over the wedding ring, he could sense someone calling to him. A ferryman. Someone who promised to bring the world the peace it long lost. Someone who could deliver them from the chaos that killed his Lily. He stood before the cliff, watching the sun ascend the horizon on a forsaken world. No, this world doesn't deserve peace anymore.
Chapter 8: Within Walls
Phoenix Air Base
The makeshift conference hall descended into yet another awkward stillness, following the hour-long scientific exposition by Dr Elizabeth Harlem for the eighteenth time in the month. From the very day the military boys spotted her out on the barren wasteland, her life switched into a wildly different sort of turmoil than the one outside. The high-stakes rescue operation of one of the world's best virologists had to be chaperoned with soaring expectations. A cure for the incurable virus, to quote the exact words of General Phil Klezmer.
But out of all the presentations she delivered, this one stood different. Not because of her poor presentation skills somehow obtaining a professional steadiness and stature all of a sudden, but for the man who listened to her words-- Mr Dale Caruthers.
Dale was a senior in the university Elizabeth did her graduation in. Their fields and interests were as different as a dry desert could be from a fresh waterfall, but what was meant to happen had to happen. Fate brought the two together on a group project, and soon, the hot athletic Astrophysics dude was passionately in love with the brilliant, beautiful genius from Virology. The news spread like wildfire throughout the uni, but as time went on, the two had to diverge ways, knowing one staying with another could only shatter their dreams. A mutual agreement made of love so that their loved one could achieve their best. But here they were, time playing its games again.
"So, Lizzie, what you're saying is that we need a zombie-- alive?" Dale concluded on a confusing note, not solely because he was confounded whether zombies were actually alive or not, but also how they were supposed to apprehend and contain one of them. At first, it was almost impossible to kill one of these, and now they are evolving and hunting in packs. It would be a suicide mission to venture outside the walls and capture one among them. But Elizabeth was right-- she always was. If they were to find an antidote for the whole zombification stuff, one of the first things they needed was a zombie. To test things on, to know whether it will work the way they want to. But how?
"Yeah, you're right, Mr Caruthers. We need one. Alive." Elizabeth's response made Dale realise that years had passed since they passed uni. Mr Caruthers, that's how Lizzie wanted to address him. Not even Dale, not her unique, sweetest variation of the term 'darling', but Mr Caruthers.
But forgotten in the lost memories that soared across the silent chamber was another man who survived the horrors humanity always had coming. Brad Macroni remained uncharacteristically quiet throughout the entire session. He couldn't survive a day without someone appreciating how sarcastic he was, and his silence went unnoticed on a day when all that noticeable was love. But there was also something eerie to his quietness that the conflicted lovers in the room failed to see.
A low grunt was how it began. Brad fell off his seat, sinking his fingers deep into the concrete. He tried his best to remain calm, but a piercing headache was all he could feel. Like sharp needles prodding every inch of his skull, he screamed in pain, which grew crisper and crisper with every moment. His vision blurred. A shining light enough to send him into a seizure overthrew the dim, melancholic lighting of the hall. Teeth clenched, nails digging into the rugged floor-- it didn't take them long to realise they were in trouble.
"Brad, are you okay?" Dale slowly sauntered towards Elizabeth, standing between her and his old friend. He was no longer a friend-- he knew that within his logic, but his heart told him otherwise, "Brad, look at me." But it was too late. Brad Macroni was only a shadow, deep inside a carnivore, if not lost forever. Dale placed his hands on the holster, sensing the gun inside, preparing for the worst case. There was only one way out of the hall, and it wasn't an easy one. If there was any way he could contain his old friend within the makeshift chamber and defend his old lover until they escape the room, he would have done that. But when Brad looked straight into his eyes-- when the monster looked straight into his eyes, he knew it was hopeless.
His movements had to be quick. Dale clutched the hands of his old lover, shaking her out of the stillness that took over her. The moment Brad leapt at them from the top of the table, Dale took his gun outside the holster and squeezed the trigger as tight as he could. But the firearm hesitated to let out its true might, forcing Dale to push Elizabeth aside towards the door, and engage in hand-to-hand combat with the beast. He lunged the monster away with his elbows, added with a kick to the thighs to send him further away from the two of them.
But before Dale could retain his fighting stance, he felt a sharp pain on his shoulders. Canines sank deep into his flesh, almost scratching against his bones. He yelled in anguish and threw a punch to its right chin, sending it crashing against the whiteboard that Elizabeth used until then. If the creature were to rebound one last time into a fistfight, that would have marked the end of life within the walls. But Elizabeth got hold of the firearm, which had slipped past the chairs, and reloaded it yet another time. This time, whatever Brad had transformed into did not stand a chance. The fire scorched him to the very core, not leaving an inch of his body free. It was rage that took the form of fire from Elizabeth's palms. After all, love knew no bounds from the day it crashed on the shores of societal life. Murder was the least of crimes committed in the name of love.
As the burning monster crashed against the floor on the other end of the room, Lizzie threw the gun away, raising Dale from the ground. She clasped him around the hips to ensure he wasn't harmed when she shouldered him out of the room. Though the bite hurt him with such vehemence, Caruthers felt good to hold her tight like the old days, "Well, I think I got your zombie. That wasn't so hard, was it?" He gave her a slight smile despite the pain, trying his best to extract that precious pleasantness from her facade that he hadn't seen for long. God, she is still beautiful.
No matter how many times Andre cracked and popped his neck, the soreness remained, unwilling to leave him at ease. For the past few weeks, his sleep schedule had been messed up, and everything seemed to be going south. He was in desperate need of a break, but the horrendous circumstances barely left him any space to breathe. Nothing is ever going to be the same.
But at the very least, the narcissist has shown slight symptoms of letting down his humongous ego. There was absolutely no way the presidential house could keep the mindless creatures at bay all on its own. The helpless soldiers lay down their lives every day, listening to the mad ramblings of an old man. Antoine Quessmann was never a good President, but the apocalyptic event had driven him even more nuts. If they were all going to die any sooner than they were supposed to, there would only be one person to blame.
Peace of mind-- Andre whispered as he turned the doorknobs to the top-floor guest room. Although it took a great deal of patience and immense self-control to serve under an ignorant psychopath, it left Andre with the luxury of a furnished chamber and ample sustenance while hundreds roamed the streets in terror. After all, humankind has always wanted a place to return to. Something to call their own, somewhere to belong. The guest room wasn't essentially his home, but it played out all the necessary functions: a place to stay, relax and sleep, though the latter procedures weren't at their best.
"Hey, big belly! Having fun?" He spoke while turning to the couch as he tossed his official coat and ID onto the mattress. He had always loved taunting her from the very night they met each other. It wasn't a Christmas night or a Halloween, but only the tiresome evening of a regular workday. But love crept its way in, and destiny converged the two together in the grand calculus of the universe. They were often misunderstood as a duo of mischievous siblings rather than a bickering couple. But their senseless squabbles only bound them together even more, never even leaving a crack in their unbreakable bond.
"Dinner outside?" Andre smirked as he searched through the contents of his shoulder bag, "Honey, haven't you heard the news yet? Turns out, zombies are roaming the streets. If anything's getting served out there, it's us." He giggled at the uncomfortable joke, picking up the reports on the Phoenix Camp and walking off to the fridge. A ton of files to study overnight diminished his morale in a split-second, but the notion of having her by his side somewhat eased his conscious, "Sweetie, you can't skip your dinners every day." He spoke as he carried the supplies for the night to the dining.
"Come on now, don't be lazy. We can't teach our offspring bad manners, remember?" He spoke into the darkness of the empty cabin. After all, how could a couple of framed photographs react to all his little quips like his lost beloved?
Outside Phoenix Camp Wall
"To the barracks." Margo roared, her voice crisp and scary. They had run so far, and yet, a single misstep would have left them meals for the undead. The barracks were the only spot that could probably protect them from the massive, bloodthirsty cluster. It was only a few metres ahead of them, but Clint and Jules could already feel their legs failing them. The shock of the plane crashing down into the woods, the notion of Elena possessing a zombie legion-- it was too much for them to handle. And Margo being able to wade and rescue them from a giant gathering of the mindless, while being one among them, was a fact they did not know whether to be scared or comforted about.
"Why don't these things walk funny?" It was Jules who raised his concern. Obviously, the lies that the popular media speculate about the events that are yet to happen and even the ones that had happened often confuse the regular viewers into doubting their surrounding reality. As the trio darted further into the woods, they spotted the metallic door, able to save their lives. The distance between the footsteps grew wider and wider until a point they were almost hurdling their way through the rugged earth. The flesh-eating mindless beasts almost grabbed them by their clothes and pushed them back into the mushy dirt land many times, but life gave them another chance.
"Close the doors!" Clint screamed as he barely made it inside the barracks. Jules and Jessup were already inside, both being comparatively better athletes than Clint ever was. A severed hand joined the three behind the sealed doors.
"You can't be right. Phil would never do that. He can't." Clint almost protested within the darkness and emptiness that surrounded them. He was sure Phil could never do that. A biological weapon? Warfare? Domination? That can never be what Phil stands for. At least, not the Phil he knew. He could never do that!
But Margo's face remained intact. She led the two down the sealed doors through the darkness, careful with each step of hers. Any of these hallways could hide one of the undead, and she wasn't ready to take the chance. Her conscience remaining without flaws wasn't something she could solely rely on. If it ever affected one of her two accomplices, that could only end up with her having to kill them. And she wasn't prepared to lose another.
She ceased and shifted towards the two in front of another sealed door, "You don't have to believe me, Clint, but you will have to believe them. In fact, I am pretty sure you will be convinced without even a trace of doubt the moment I open these doors." And he was. How could he possibly not believe his own blood? It was all he wished to see from the very moment he returned to this godforsaken planet. He embraced both of his sons tight within his arms, not willing to let go yet another time. But he couldn't help but think, who are we even fighting against anymore?
Remnants of a Writer’s Block: Part II
For a passerby, the cottage of the Littles down the slanting road would have appeared uneventful. The couple, though old, always stood together despite their trivial and inevitable domestic clashes. As time passes, people trapped inside the walls of a building are expected to have their silly disputes. In that way, homes are no different from prisons. You are trapped with other individuals within the walls of a compound. Wherever you go, you return home at the end of the day.
Anyway, the Littles shared what one can call the conventional husband and wife relationship. Mr Little talked little, hands behind his back, and short-tempered. Mrs Little talked far too much, hands waving in the air, and perhaps was the most patient person on the face of the entire Earth. She loved cooking, while he loved building. She loved him, and he loved her.
But again, people trapped inside the walls of a building are bound to have disagreements. Sometimes, Mr Little walks out of the home, ensuring each step he took reverberates through the entire neighbourhood. And when one walks in, probably Mrs Hutchinson, they would find Mrs Little by the dining table, crumbled tissues beside her. Still, they were the most conventional couple ever to be made. Mrs Little would say something like, "It's not that he is heartless. He sometimes just doesn't understand. Men are always angry."
The Long Walk Home
It takes Li Hyun nine minutes to walk home from school. Through the busy roads with the loud traffic, that is. He despises that path. Though no one knew, he never took that road home. He slips through the back gate of his school, down the small muddy track behind the messy Andersons, and through the deserted longer route to the Seoraksan mountains.
That Friday evening, Li Hyun did the same. He never had many people to call friends. Except one, and he had been missing for a while now. So, his evening escapades had never been noticed by any.
As he leapt over the small fence behind the apartment of the Andersons, he reached his favourite spot. The path where maple trees lined up on both sides of the road. It looked just like how it was in the desktop wallpapers. There were differences, of course, but only two souls in the entire world knew about them.
The little boy pulled down the straps of his bag to the maximum. His coffee-brown eyes nearly glistened in the sunlight below his messy, light blonde hair.
"Do you have a minute, sir?"
Oh, I forgot them back at home. Would you like me to get some? Though the words never made it out of the chambers of his mind, Louie was sure that his expressions took no effort to conceal the emotions. He turned around, midway through his haste to the office, late as always. And he instantly regretted not taking the effort to suppress his actual emotions. The college girl who stood before him seemed to have popped straight out of a fairy tale. Was she glowing?
"Sir." She repeats, but it is not loud enough to help Louie discern that he was staring at her without the slightest trace of shame. "Sir," it was almost a shout on the second turn, and it successfully brought Louie back to his senses.
"Yes, yes! How can I help you," Louie paused, "ma'am?" Well, this is getting formal. Louie was never good with girls. Well, people, in fact. There should be a reason why he knocked out the very first person who had the guts to interview him. That man lost his two canines on the right side that day with a single blow. It's expected of an older gentleman, isn't it? It cost Louie a few bucks too.
"Uh, we are doing a survey, and if we could have a minute of your time, it would be great! It's okay if you're busy, you know." The smile that occupied her face the very next moment almost announced that it wasn't okay. And Louie had a hard time deciding between the girl's awkward smile and Katherine's sweetly threatening grin. But again, has any gentlemen his age survived the cute smile of a young girl? "I am totally free!" I am so more than done.
Well, the questions in the survey felt more like a personal attack than the sweet reception Louie had expected.
Do you hate your job? Hell yes!
Do you feel like your earnings are less than what you deserve? Am I even paid?
On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your current standard of living? Negative!
But the answers that made it to the paper could not be further refined. That's how good it was. There might have been a lot of things Louie was unaware of. Doing a survey wasn't one among them. It paid him even more than his job does!
Since the weekly challenges are returning to the fold, and that Christmas is nearly here, and that I am flooding with ideas, I decided to include all the unfinished stories, as of yet, in this segment of the series. Ah, it is a relief to get it out of my mind. Hope you enjoy the story! Now, let me go and do some serious research on Ted Bundy. And also, I have a Christmas story coming up. Let me try to finish the year with a bang ^-^ Lots of love <3
Remnants of a Writer’s Block: Part I
Failure. It's hard to accept. Ursula's burning eyes and clenched teeth said the same. The plated sword went straight through her chest, blood splattered on her armour. There she sits, knees on the snowing ground. Unable to see how this could have happened. How senseless? Did they ever stand a chance?
Hundreds lay behind her. Dead. As cold as ice beneath their rotten corpses. Yet, she stays up. She could never accept failure. Now, she puts up a fight against death. Why, sister, why? Just die. Die.
Herman laughed a laugh louder than the howling winds. The winds smelled of death, of defeat. A feud that lasted his whole life, and it ends without him having moved a finger. He only wished if he could be closer. Staring right into her eyes as darkness carries her away for one last time. Holding her by the sides of her gentle neck, whispering how arrogant she always was. Never grasping when to stop trying. Never knowing when to accept defeat. His stupid little sister.
Ursula stood again, proving Herman right. She didn't know how to stop. One might call it brave. Or perhaps, courage. Fools. Teaching their children virtues they never kept themselves. But Ursula was too naive to understand. And Herman too wise. He knew how the world worked. Knew when to turn around and grab the sword before getting stabbed from behind. He knew when to run and when to stay. But not his little sister.
And time has left them both at their righteous positions. One on the icy ground, putting up their final fight. And one on the balcony of their citadel, waiting for the other to fall down to their death. Their eyes met for one brief second before another arrow pierced right through her shoulder. Herman could hear her scream in anguish, but he wasn't sure. A battle cry, it seemed to be. But with none to follow. A single young girl against the greatest army in the West. It was only a matter of time.
If Ursula had a bow and an arrow, she would have used her last breath to send Herman plummeting down into the snow. He knew it too. Why else would he stand behind his two best guards? Fear, some call it. Or cowardness. But Herman knew better. It was wisdom. It was what a true King would do.
Another arrow pierces her left shoulder. This time, it sends her back to her knees. Kneeling. There was only one way this could end. And it was about time.
Blood isn't red. It's more of a crimson. Darker. And denser.
Blood isn't warm. It's cold. Almost frozen, that it sends a chill down your spine.
Blood isn't like water. It's thicker. Sticks to your skin like paint. Hard to remove once stuck.
Or perhaps, it's the royalty. Maybe, the starving children out in the streets have blood bright red. Maybe, the fragile slaves in the newest forts have blood with warmth. Maybe, the young women in the royal halls have blood like water. But not the blood of the king. His blood is cold. His blood is thick. His blood is crimson-- nearly purple. At least, that's how Naziya feels against her face.
She shoves the rotten corpse down from the dusty throne. As it rolls down the stairs, nearly detached, Naziya can see the purple stain it leaves behind. Of course, the rugs will have to be changed. So should the lights. And the tables. And Norvamyne. And it will. It has to.
Naziya never expected her to be the one to sever his throat in the end. With what time had left her, she no less than deserved it. And now, she has completed her purpose. Her destiny. Her wish. Her dream. Her life. A faint smile creeps its way down her little cheeks.
She has never felt this emotion in a while. The last time she did, she lost the only person who could have saved her. Or, in fact, saved the king from what was to come. He should never have killed the one she loved. He should never have hurt Naziya. Not again.
And there it is. A bit of fantasy, I know. For a while in between all this mess, I have to admit that I was kind of captured by the thought of being able to create an entirely new world right from our desks. I mean, creating new characters is something I love to do, but a different realm-- that's a whole another level! And I know I posted this about a day late, but what can I say? Life happens (: I hope something about the two short tales that never made it to the end will inspire your creative self to do something marvellous. Keep writing! Keep loving! And stay happy! Lots of love <3
Existential crisis, maybe?
Lost is the will to live,
so is the wish to die.
A desire to not exist.
Coursing through my veins
is a pain, uninvited.
like needles, sharp.
pale skin, tearing.
Blood, dark red,
dense, but cold.
I once had dreams,
where love ran amuck.
Hopes of a day,
where happiness stayed.
But now in the dark,
with shattered beliefs,
I see no path,
with lights at the end.
Lost is the will to live,
so is the wish to die.
A desire to simply not exist.
Yeah, I guess I wrote another... poem(?). I mean, the last thing I thought would invigorate the sense of poetry in me was a mundane session of accounting, but again, why not? I mean, clearly, I would have preferred being motivated at the sight of perhaps the most beautiful sight in my life, but this works great too! And the class desk was my pencil's victim on this one. It's turning out to be quite the notepad these days, I really can't help it. And I am certainly not tagging anyone on this stuff, but if you have stumbled down here, I hope you enjoy... whatever this is. Stay happy ^-^
December (In Preview)
As many of you might have noticed by this point, I have some serious issues with time management. I announce my return out of nowhere in a while and then disappear. I again announce my return out of nowhere and then disappear. Announce. Disappear. Announce. Disappear. Announce. I guess I might have made it clear enough, even though I did have a tendency to create an entire post repeating the words for all of eternity. How the nights drive us crazy!
Well, I have decided to bring it to an end. No, not the repetition, of course. I mean, yes, the repetition indeed, but not the one with words. But mine. No more announcing and disappearing stuff. That's why I ended the cycle with an 'announce' and not a 'disappear'. I know. That was such a clever wordplay. Sometimes, I am flattered by my own genius.
So, a few months back, I did something similar to keep myself on track with my stories, but it was much more of a preplanned thing. I was yet to get my writings written. But this time around, I did something different. I have already penned out all that I will be posting this month. And yeah, I know, I sound like an actual genius right now, but I assure you that it was pretty much unintentional. I mean, I just tried to get some stories done whenever I could get some time out of everything else, but it didn't turn out so well. So, here are what we are going to do this Christmas season! (I know almost none of you have any reason to be excited right now, but I am very, very excited to say this!)
December 12th, 2021- Remnants of a Writer's Block: Part I
December 19th, 2021- Remnants of a Writer's Block: Part II
December 26th, 2021- Jólakötturinn
Remnants of a Writer's Block is a relatively new idea where we will deal with two stories in every segment that never made it until the very end. And as of right now, I have five stories that didn't receive their much-deserved conclusion, if that's what we are going to call it. Four of those stories will be featured this month in the series. (But I might finish the last one among the unfinished ones, so there's that.) And the one on December 26th, it's a story that will be set in a Christmas atmosphere near an isolated village of Iceland in the 19th century. Oh, I am so excited about this! I hope everyone is doing great! Merry Christmas, everybody!
Lots of Love,
You-Know-Who (No, not the Harry Potter one. It's just, you know, you know what, never mind, it's nighttime here, so, Happy Christmas... season!)
We meet again!
It had been so long.
What can I say? Life is a mess.
But hey, I’m alive! Isn’t that great?
College is better than I thought it would be.
I love to talk, and my friends are in pain.
But it’s okay. They’ll adjust with it.
It’s me, after all.
How bad could it be?
What could be worse?
Never mind my brain.
He hasn’t changed much,
But so haven’t I!
Is this a poem?!
Uh, I don't think so...
Ah, I missed you all so much <3