When the hunger begins to devour us we never hunt alone; when one of us has a focus in mind we have a tendency to accumulate a mass of bodies. There are no memos, no phone trees nor are there any invitations; I don't even think the expression heard through the grape vine takes any precedence in deciding whether or not to follow. We just see someone walking with what looks like determination and walk in the same direction. It always seemed like a good idea at the time.
We are not exactly the quickest when it comes to walking, most of us will drag our feet or jerk in a direction in hopes of getting somewhere; I like to believe there is an art to walking, I've tried many different styles until one suited me best. Yet no matter what walk I choose, it still does not make me look any less dead. A few hours of walking had passed before we reached the city; the only thing that entered my mind as we moved through the streets was 'I wish we could move faster'.
The city was desolate, but I guess I should not be surprised; the world is dealing with a zombie apocalypse after all. I imagine the streets were once filled with shoppers and bustling businessmen; a few images of a lively world flash in my mind, they do not feel like memories, just pictures that fill the vacant sidewalks. My gaze turned to the corner of Miller and Waites and I see the ghosts of students crossing the street and heading towards the library. I glanced back and saw the doors to the library boarded up and the windows cracked. Everything seems a lot grimmer now; death tends to have that effect on things.
A soft breeze blew past us bringing with it a newspaper and a few pieces of trash. Our heads snapped to the right and I found myself taking a deep breath; I was entranced. The scent of life does not smell of flesh and blood, it is the essences of who you are; the life energy that you possess is what attracts us. The scent of life does not tickle me deep within my nose but pulls at the base of my skull; my mind is drawn to it, electrified by the buzz that radiates from living human cells; I do not need a visual reason because the desire is already there; I like to think it's romantic, never having to be influenced by what my eyes fall upon. Of course what I yearn for in the end isn't exactly what I want, but my body thanks me for it, I guess that's a small win for me.
I do not like hurting people, you could say I am extremely pro life, but when you die and become what I am, there is this primal need, this hunger, that over powers you; everything you once were is quickly forgotten and the need to survive takes over. I don't want to think about everything I've done, I'm pretty ashamed of it actually, but when ever I feel that hunger pulling inside, my thoughts sing to me; Frank Sinatra's That's Life fills my head and some how I feel numb once more, I feel calm. This is my life now and I'll just have to accept it. Yet once I get passed the violent need, I find myself thinking that once again this is romantic, or perhaps even poetic. When I take someone, we are close, almost intimate, and we share something of oneanother. We share our companionship; for one short moment neither or us are alone. They will look into my eyes as I look into theirs; their light will soon fade and they will enter an eternal sleep, I ensure they will not die alone. They give me life as I give them rest; I try to comfort myself in thinking that I am giving them an escape from this mad world. I try to comfort myself with these thoughts, and try to find the silver linings; some days I just give up for a short moment, but then I move on and hope something will make the guilt go away. Once again I think "That's Life".
It's difficult to describe what life smells like because everyone has their own unique scent. Who you are will ultimately define the outcome of your essences; some will smell of electricity and roses while others will smell of ginger and ocean water. I have never found a scent unpleasant but then again my hunger will overpower anything and like hounds, we follow this new bouquet of life essence until we find the source, a hospital. The doors had been locked and the windows covered with wood, but the scent was there, thick and tempting. M pulled at the boards
uncovering the glass doors; he held a piece of wood in his hands and with one swift swing the glass had been shattered.
A miasma of life assaulted my senses as the glass settled on the ground. I closed my eyes and was submerged in lavender, salt, rosemary, orange, lightening, and rain water; I was in a wash of essence that could barely be contained. My hunger could no longer be controlled and neither could my body. I was compelled forward, M at my side, and ran like a predator towards it's prey. We veered to the left and launched down an aisle of canned food where our beacon called to us; there were five that I could see, guns at the ready with hands shaking and sweat forming on their brows.
The feast has begun.
I feel rabid, my hunger has taken control of my limbs, I try to fight the urge to launch forward and latch onto my prey like a lion; there is this sensation inside me, telling me to let go, but I can't. I pause for a moment and watch as my comrades burst forward and bring two of the living to the ground. The crack of gunfire rips through the air as I kneel to the ground griping the head of one of our victims. I ignore her screams and wrench her neck and slam her head against the floor. I ignore the rest of her body and seek the most prime piece of a human being, the brain. Some would say the heart is the most important part because it keeps us alive and holds the deepest and most meaningful of feelings; yet the brain allows us to recognize those feelings, to feel emotion, it allows us to hold on to memories that make us feel human. With the brain we become more then simple life forms, but most of all, it will allow me to feel human again. If I consume a brain the memories it holds will be given to me, like a film reel in my head, I will relive those memories as if they were my own. For one short moment I feel significant, I become warm and I feel happiness, pain, lust, and grief, I feel like I belong; when I feast on a mind, I am granted a single moment of life and that is all I want in this meaningless existences. I want to feel alive.
I crack open the woman's skull like an egg and reach inside; my donor's brain was warm and alight with memories.
I bring it to my lips and take a bite.
I am a girl in her teens. I can feel the wind blowing through my hair and smell the salt of the ocean water. The fish are not biting; yet I feel relaxed and sheer comfort as I sit back in my chair with a bottle of coke in my hand.
I am a young girl with pain shooting through my arm; the tears are hot on my face as they flow like a river down my cheeks. I stare up at the tree I had fallen out of; I know that I will climb it again when the cast is removed.
Moans fill my ears as I quiver with sensation. His hand is caressing my breast as the other is laced through my hair, our bodies move in a slow intimate rhythm, dancing a romantic tango; I feel a deep hunger to quicken the pace but the look of sheer pleasure on our faces satisfies me in a way that nothing else can. My heart quickens.
I am twenty-two and pulling a young boy away from the lawn. The spattered blood on his face is mixing with his tears as he watches our mother die before our eyes; the screams of our father echo in the air. The boy is young with warm black hair and large blue eyes; he is my thirteen- year-old baby brother. I begin to wonder what will come of the world as I drive the two of us away as quickly as I could; I feel like nowhere is safe.
It feels like my entire body is humming. My mind is awash with images and emotions; it is overwhelming but I embrace and accept the electrical buzz radiating through my limbs. I feel exhilarated. I place the remainder of the brain in my pocket for later indulgence and glance
around. My eyes drift close as a scent hits me; it was strong and comforting like the first sip of a glass of rich red wine. My body felt calm and my head felt lighter as the smell of lavender and lightening wafted through the air; I opened my eyes, my gaze falling upon the origin of this heady life essences.
I stepped towards him, reaching out, and it was at that moment that I understood his desperation, his unbearable want for something; I felt that desperation for his memories, for his flesh. My fingers twitched as they gripped the back of his red hoodie; his scream pierced the air as I pulled him from the shelf. His body fell backwards with his head hitting against the ground; I dropped to my knees and grabbed his wrists to keep him from fighting; I hate it when they fight, it makes my guilt that much stronger. I watched as his head turned to face me.
My body sat motionless; my hunger began to fade away.
His sky-blue eyes burrowed into my own paralyzing me; my eyes had grown wide in a pathetic attempt to take him all in. Why had I stopped? Why now?
He was petrified.
His lips began to quiver as his eyes grew red; he was frightened, but then of course, I would be to if I had a zombie pinning me down and gawking at me.
Shit, I'm being creepy; rule number one for being in the company of someone, don't be creepy. I slowly release his wrists and rise to my feet. He remained motionless, his eyes beginning to water as the blood drained from his face. I have seen many things in my dead-life to disturb me, yet seeing him, a lovely change to my uneventful life, on the ground shaking in fear, disturbed me more then anything else. Tears began to roll down his unmarred cheeks as I loomed over him.
‘I wonder if he likes Frankie Valli...’
“Oh God! Don’t eat me! Please!”
I didn't like him being afraid of me. A flash of images assaulted my mind.
I am twenty-two and pulling a young boy away from the lawn. The spattered blood on his face is mixing with his tears as he watches our mother die before our eyes; the screams of our father echo in the air. The boy is young with warm black hair and large blue eyes; he is my thirteen- year-old baby brother.
"Ro...meo" the name slowly left my lips. He was the boy, the young survivor that witnessed his parents’ savage death; no wonder he is terrified of me. My eyes seek his once more and I find his gaze is fixed on me, he was still scared but I seemed to have gotten his attention. I try his name again.
"Rom...eo" that sounded a bit better but still needs improvement. I take a step towards him but his body stiffens, his eyes rip away from me as his attention is quickly captured. I follow his gaze and suddenly I have this sinking feeling inside of me; the dead had finished their meal and had risen to their feet with their noses in the air. I turn to Romeo and take a deep breath, lavender and lightening; this isn't good, he smells too enticing.
I look around franticly until an idea formed in my brain. I dropped to my knees and dug my hand into the wound of a fallen comrade; I crawl towards him as he stares at the black dead-blood in my hand. I reached forward with my soiled hand and ungracefully smear the rancid blood on his face. He remains paralyzed as I finish tending to him; leaning forward I take a deep breath only to discover his beautiful life essence is defiled by the smell of death. Perfect, he'll fit right in, I hope. I
peer over at the others and see that their attention has grown listless; the hunt was over.
I pressed my finger to my lips and gazed at him, attempting to hush him. His body still quakes but gives me a subtle nod. I hold onto his wrist and pull him to his feet as I rise.
This is very unlike me. Even I can't imagine it. My hand is still wrapped around his wrist as I pull him towards the exit. We walk slow allowing a gap to form between the dead and us; Romeo is looking down, his eyes never leaving the ground. I look at him in fascination; his skin is pale out of sheer terror but his eyes are bright with life, he is everything that I am not. A need to comfort him rises in my throat; I look around for inspiration but merely turn my head and look at him.
"It...be...ok." Amazing, three words at once, a new record for me. He lifts his head and stares at me, I can still see the redness in his eyes; I tilt my head in an awkward nod and wait for a response. Romeo looks away and back to the ground; I don't think it's working.
The sun had long since set and the air was getting cooler, it didn't bother me because I can't feel it, but I hear the chattering teeth and see Romeo shivering underneath his sweater.
"Almost...home" I say. He remained silent. My eyes move away from him and see the dim lighting of the airport. It's not exactly the most romantic place in the world to take a boy but it's better then nothing. As we arrive I once again take hold of his arm and guide him in a different direction. We departed from my fellow dead and head out onto the tarmac.
The airport is grimmer at night, even I feel skittish sometimes. I can only imagine what Romeo must be feeling. I glance over at him and see his eyes darting from shadow to shadow. The emergency lights only power certain areas of the airport thus darkness has become apart of our night life; I find it almost fitting to have this twisted mixture of light and darkness. We are born into the light and we die in darkness and I'm stuck here in the middle with a piece of both worlds. It sounds poetic but it really isn't.
We reach the stairs leading to my home, a 747 commercial plane, it's nothing fancy but it is mine and that's all the matters to me. I try to be the lady and open the hatch for him, but Romeo simply glances at me and walks in without a word, his arms wrapped tightly around himself. We stand silently in my plane, the glow of the emergency lights illuminating the cabin, the seats were filled with trinkets and objects I've collected to keep me company; I gestured towards a row of leather seats. Romeo stares at me, a look of wariness and confusion in his eyes. I'm not surprised that he's confused because I am too but at least I'm trying to make light of the situation. I move over to the seat across from his row and sit down; I look up at here and furrow my brow, beckoning him to sit. Romeo looked over at his row and sunk into the window seat farthest away from me.
I'm at a loss of what to do.
‘What ever you do, don't scare him; he already thinks you're going to kill him in his sleep. Don't be creepy.’ I turn my head towards him and look into his eyes I should say something.
"no...eat" I point at my mouth making a biting motion and shake my head. "I...not...eat...you"
His lips stop trembling and merely stare at me. I tear my gaze away from him and look straight ahead; I'm terrible at this.
"What are you?" his voice was small but I could hear it clear as a bell. I turn my head and look at him; Romeo is staring at me with a nervous, yet puzzled look about him. ‘What am I?’ I ponder this for a moment; I don't know what I am anymore, one day I'm eating people the next I'm rescuing a gorgeous man and bringing him home with me. I give him the best answer I could manage. I shrug.
He shakes his head and looks away muttering, "I must be dreaming or insane because this isn't real"
This is definitely real; I wish it was a dream, as sick and twisted as it is, because I want to wake up from all this and feel the sun on my face. I want to have Romeo wake up beside me and smile.
Yet this is real and I find myself wanting him to believe that I am real; I don't like the idea of being imaginary. I rise from my seat and walk towards him. Romeo's head snaps to the side watching my every step, I reach out to him.
"Get away from me" he yells as he pushes himself into the wall. I reach over and take his arm; he cries out in surprise as I pinch him.
"What the fuck was that for?" he exclaimed. I don't bother taking a step back if he decides to return the favor. I won’t feel it.
"Not...dream...ing" I concentrate; trying to articulate the words I want to say. Grammar is key.
"No kidding," he snaps. I wince, he's angry; maybe I shouldn't have pinched him. I take a step back and sit down once more.
We sit in silence for a while, him staring out the window and me staring at him. I want to say something but I don't know what to say; I have been alone for so long that I've forgotten what it's like to have a real conversation. I want to hear his voice again.
He turns to look at me, his eyes were not flaming or full of mirth, but with fear and sadness; I felt something twinge inside of me.
"Safe" I say, staring into his large blue eyes; I point at myself and say, "Keep...you...safe"He scowls at me but his eyes held no anger or resentment,
"Oh really? I feel as safe as a chicken in a lions den." Romeo stared at me straight in the eyes, waiting for a response. I sigh; this is going nowhere, if there is one thing I remember from life is that it's impossible to reason with a man sometimes. At some moments they need their space.
I stand and walk to the old record player I found in the city; it was one of my prized possessions that allows me a moment in time to imagine I'm some place else, I don't care where because anywhere is better then here. I flip through the pile of records I frequent the most, searching for the perfect mood setter; I want something calming and beautiful. My fingers brush against a record and I pause. Perfect. Pulling the vinyl from its sleeve I place it on the turntable and pull the needle to the starting position. These movements come so naturally to me because I have repeated them so many times that they have been burned into my brain; I would sit some nights, for hours, staring at my records as they spin and radiate ballads and bridges. I would close my eyes and listen, imagining I'm dancing or lying in a field looking up at the sky. It was my escape. Some records I have played so often that I've memorized where every word is sung on each raised line. It's a great pass time.
I push play.
There is a pause of airy silence before a calm serenade of music filled the cabin; I closed my eyes and swayed to Frankie Vallie. I breathe in the echoes of piano as I turn around and walk towards the front of the plane. I pause to look at Romeo, his brow is furrowed and his eyes filled with questions that I do not answer; instead I say three words before I disappear into the night,
"Keep you safe."