Tuesday, August 25, 2009

#0057 | 8/25 | 3:00 PM

The pain worsened inexplicably twelve days ago. The steady thrumming of my blood became a tangible whip sliding between my muscles. Lifting and fitting. Screaming and ripping.


Yeah, I started ripping into my wound. The pain was fucking intense, a strobe light in the still desert, I started screaming and before I knew it, my hands were bloodied. The tips smeared with tissue and red liquid. My tissue and red liquid. I'd started shredding at myself. Fingering into the barely healing wound, and ripping out whatever progress I'd made.

Ho, ho, ho.

It was night when the pain struck. Struck and went aaaalllll ttthhhhee waaaaaay hooooome! The screams were bad. Even in the stark madness of pain, my ears caught the shrill ring as it bounced and bounced around this little room. And the pitch hurt like a bitch. Fuck, I damn well sounded like a bitch. A little bitch crying in the dark over some scratch the family dog had given me.

Anna was fast to react, considering she'd been asleep just seconds before. She jumped up, and in the darkness of the night managed to see what I was doing to myself (I probably would have assumed something was attacking me) and tackle me. She tried reason, covering my mouth and restraining my arms. The cat, I recall her pleading. The fucking cat will hear you!

Dwipity - dwipity - dwipity - doo.

I was too far gone then. Something had gone wrong. Seriously wrong. Amazingly wrong. And I was just a burning man screaming for his life. A burning man screaming in the middle of a forest stalked by predators of the dark.

Anna dropped away from me after a few minutes of violent wrestling where I basically writhed under her uncontrollably, socked her once on the left cheek, and kneed her ribs. My scream punctured the night air and she swiped up an assault rifle from the bag.

And boy do I remember this part cleanly.

She straightened up and turned to me, arms holding that weapon. Her frame rounding the form of the rifle so perfectly, she looked almost divine. The steel weapon was no longer as shiny as it had been in days past, and she herself looked tattered and sleep deprived, but the scene from my tearing eyes looked so unbelievably deadly in the darkness of the room, I almost stopped screaming.


But the moment passed and that ice cold dagger plunged into me from my right side, a tearing sensation somewhere between my ribs, and I was screaming the good scream all the same.


And that's when she brought the weapon down. On my head.

Don't get me wrong, I wanted her to shoot me. Anything would beat getting out of the hell I was in then. A bullet in my noggin would fix me right the fuck up. Stop my screaming, save Anna from having to take care of my sorry ass, leave more of the oh so limited food supplies for Anna. Well damn, at the time it sounded incredibly right.

So shoot shoot shoot Shoot SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT S H O O T

But all the shit I was thinking then were excuses; deflections. Maybe I convinced myself then that I wanted Anna to shoot me for her own good. For the benefit of her survival. But that's some bullshit. I wanted to die then. I was in more pain than I'd ever experienced before and I wanted to die. It doesn't get much more simple than that.

Boopity - boop.

But Anna didn't shoot me. She knocked me out with a heavy sideways blow from the rifle's stock. And all I heard before the thump that put me between this world and some gravy was the zipping of moving air across a strange shape. And a baited breath.

Anna doubled my pain medication after that. Whatever the fuck was eating at my leg, she aimed to kill it dead. Daily baths in alcohol and water. A hardy regiment of antibiotics. Shit.

Ten days later was the first time I woke up again. And only because she wanted to see if her daily routine was working or not. She eased up on whatever the hell it was she had me on and

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

#0056 | 08/12 | 07:26 AM

I ate heartily this morning. Our breakfast consisting of a cluster blackened bananas and graying oranges accompanied by cold soggy soup in a thermos and hard chocolate bars that tasted slightly stale. Disgusting. Yet so delicious. I ate more than my share. Anna didn't seem hungry.

Anna had awakened surprised. Maybe I'd been spending far too long playing the little spaced out monkey. She didn't seem to know what to make of my newly emerged consciousness. But she at least seemed warmed by my sudden spiked appetite; I caught her nodding blandly as I scarfed down the decaying fruit. I wish I could say her own comparably small appetite encouraged me, but I didn't push anything.

She offered me pills, or rather suggested I take some. I brought them out from under their stashed location between the sheets and held them loftily in my palm, feeling their light weight. Then I placed the two bottles on a tray beside the bed. Her wavering eyes made that easier - easier to put the bottle away.

And the monkey retreated. He wasn't gone, but damn if he wasn't hanging off my tailcoats now, struggling for his weakening hold. I couldn't get him off yet, but I recognized that I would soon.

And that hopeful thought only brightened my mood.

We talked. The first time we'd talked in days. Really talked in weeks. She told me her worries, her fears. About the neighborhood she had spent the last days scouting. About our dwindling food supplies. About the Freak she'd shot down two days ago, as she explored a 7/11 market a few blocks away. And about her growing apprehension over the fact that she had yet to come into contact with other humans since settling in the hospital.

And for my part, I didn't have much to share. So I listened, and talked when it seemed right. And after an hour went past, Anna's eyes seemed brighter. Full of some light I couldn't quite define. More aware. More awake. But I knew it related to companionship.

What a stupid term.

Anna said she was going to explore a little further today. Try and circle a larger part of the city in her scouting trip today. Try to find more accessible resources. Try to find a safer hideout where our immediate safety wasn't guaranteed by a damn cat. Maybe even make out for any survivors.

It worried me. Letting her go alone like that. God only knew what sick deprived bastards she might meet out there alone. But I wouldn't stop her. And seeing the heavy rifle holstered against her back abated a few of my more pressing concerns. Not all of them. But most.

Anna suggested I get out of bed today. Try walking a bit. Get used to the idea that my recovery time might not be promised. I should try and make an effort to make travel - at least over short distances - possible.

And I suppose it made sense while she explained it. But the moment she stepped through that door and I sat there for a few minutes, feeling the building headache, the early waves of rising merry ache spreading up my side, and those two beautiful little bottles sitting there within reach, her sensibility might as well have been insanity.

Yeah okay fuck that, maybe I'm just being lazy.

Hey, I tried to get up at least. Single movement - push my legs over the side. Okay, check. Bring them down to the floor. Check. Rise into a standing position, and here's the straw that broke the camel's back.

That manageable pain that had been moving in slow motions up and down my side kicked into turbo. Bearable pain was suddenly unbearable and I plopped.

Yeah. Plopped. Plopped.

The moment of intense pain drew my breath, I let go of the bed for weight distribution, my spine snapped for a second and then sagged, and down I went.

Wasn't too bad. There was this wonderful bed to catch my fall and all. But had it happened in the hall or across the room, I'd be royally screwed until Anna returned.

The pain was rolling now. Arcing and moving in graceful motions down my thigh, up my side, between my ribs. Fire touched something that I secretly suspect was a lung and I started in a furious coughing fit. All the while the pain in my skull escalated, each pulse of my heart now a steady thrumm against my temple.

Nice way to start the fucking day.

#0055 | 08/12 | 03:57 AM ~ Tripping

Dawn would arrive soon. Within a few hours span, the night would recede, and all the horrible creatures of the night would go back to their creepy little corners. Or attics. Or basements. And sleep.

For another day.

I groaned. And winced. And I'm pretty sure I pissed myself a little. Just a little. Maybe.

I wasn't doped up, this particular moment. Anna was asleep, lugged out against the room's wall. The one with the secret one-way mirror, which had never been much of a secret to begin with.

And Anna, bless her benevolence (She who brings thee happy pill, and I shall pop), hadn't awoken from an afternoon nap she had laid down for. She had been too tired. Too pooped.

Ha ha... poop.

I let her rest, she deserved the respite after all. Who was I to try and jar her from her dreams, to awaken her to the maddening sound of a giant fat cat rolling around downstairs.

The pills were within arm's reach, two nice white little bottles full of Oxycodone, sitting innocently on a tray beside my bed. Fuck yeah, I was freaking set.


Only a few hours ago, as I held one of those beautiful bottles in my grasp, getting ready to pop the lid and down four of those bad boys, a paralyzing fear overtook me. Had I still been buzzed, it never would have happened. heck, if had tried to take the pill even two minutes earlier, I would have swallowed them without remorse (being sure to chew them open - to release the good stuff).

But I sat there in the early evening. Anna's soft snores reaching me. The Freak-Cat downstairs beginning to make its rounds. And a certainty overtook my need to get fucked up. And that certainty was this: Alex, Alex, Alex, no. If you take those pills, you'll never get that fucking monkey off your back. You don't see it yet, but how could you? That little motherfucker's already there, and he's covering up your eyes with his feet, and he's taking a huge shit all over your shoulders. Take those pills, and he wont just be hanging on to you, HE'LL FUCKING DIG HIS CLAWS INTO YOUR EYES AND NEVAAAR LET GO!

And for a moment I could see it. There was this white demonic monkey on my back, his brown tail wrapped around my neck like a noose, and his cries sounded like a Freak's.



I tried to put the bottle away. Tried and failed. I wanted those pills. Needed them. They fucking made everything all better. No. Better than better. The pills made me fade until I didn't have to think about the fucked up reality. And that's what i really wanted.

To fade motherfucker, fade.

And that monkey was there. I couldn't toss the pills. Shit.

So I compromised. I simply held the pills. I didn't take them, and I didn't toss them. I just clutched them in my hand, like some perverse talisman designed to push away the night.

And for the first hour, things were fine. Hey, I couldn't sleep but at least I wasn't mindlessly popping pill after pill until I overdosed. Because that's what would have happened, I realized then. I wouldn't have just taken four pills. I would have taken four, and then chugged down the rest a few minutes later. Two bottles full worth. And chewed those bastards, to get the fastest effect.

And I don't know if that would have killed me or not, but I think it would have. And Anna would wake up to find a still and stiff body lying in the bed the next morning. About as cold and dead as you can get.


And after the first hour, the pain came back. And fuck, maybe I'd been too high to remember is right, but that shit hit me like a bitch.

It started with a throbbing pain down my side. And that shit drummed and drummed. And spread and spread. Like a wildfire, it galloped up and down my side, spreading the word of raw nerve endings like a devout Mormon spreads their bible.

About the time the wave of pain started licking in chest, my ribs, the headache started. And as if I didn't have enough problems already, that little intrepid tap dancer turned into a full rage jackhammer within the hour. Tumbling and smashing the frail little thing in my skull, until I was near tears.

At one moment I blinked and there was my hand, reaching toward my face, a pale little pill held between two shaking fingers, trying to deposit it in my mouth.

And my jaw was hanging wide open to receive this little Holy Spirit!

I snapped my mouth closed and tossed the pill away, toward a far wall. It hit with a little tick and bounced down quietly to the floor. I tried to toss the rest of the pills but I found I still couldn't do that. The monkey was still here, that lone pill was a fluke, and it would take more willpower than I had to toss the two bottles in a similar fashion.

So again, I compromised. I lifted my aching side and stuffed the two bottles in between my sheets and my self. Laying on them, they were left out of reach, unless I ventured to get myself up, and that wouldn't happen.
Let's have no more accidents, ya' hear?

And that fucking monkey saw all this was the most livid expression you'd ever hope to see on an ape. It screeched wildly and jumped up and down, its efforts sending the spreading ache from my wounds racing.

I twisted in the bed and listened to the night. To the distractions that would get me past my hour of need. And what I heard wasn't exactly reassuring, but it was a distraction nonetheless. Something to focus on outside the hell that was now my body.

And that something was the cat. It was meowing loudly, purring and spiting into the quiet of the night, and before I had enough time to question this, I knew why.

A feral scream. A Human-Freak, had entered the building. I turned down, toward the north, where I think it was situated. It was hard to be sure. The echo made it difficult. But soon a series of thuds made me think I was right. The Freak was inside, and it was moving.

Anna shuffled uneasily in her sleep at the sound of the scream, but surprise, surprise, she did not awaken. She must have been more weary than I'd believed. Regardless, she missed the show. Or missed hearing the show, as it is.

The moment the Human-Freak screamed, the Cat doubled its efforts at making noises. It screeched, meowed, and even started banging something. Each noise sending a dull echo across the building halls. And the Human-Freak picked up indeed, because the next moment, all you could hear were the dull thuds of it speeding down hall after hall. After its meal.

But who was to be the meal tonight? Well after a few tense moments when all I could hear was the Human's running steps and the Cat's impassioned calls for attention, silence held. And in those few moments of silence, I found the pain which had recently been tormenting me, so ignorable, it was almost funny.

Or would have been, if not for the deadliness of the situation and all.

The Human screamed the feral inhuman scream. Then there was an enormous slam, the walls of the building themselves shook, and dust toppled from cracks. Then silence. And a few minutes later, the slow and steady movement of the Cat, heading back to its nest. probably carrying its new meal with it.

Damn. I'd never seen it, or want to, but to see that Cat hunt must really be something else.

And that left me alone with my thoughts again. Thoughts and pains which suddenly seemed entirely manageable. I eased back unto the bed. I found my body had broken into a cold sweat, and goosebumps were riding me up and down. But it wasn't so bad. Sure, it was bound to get worse, but dawn would arrive soon an

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

#0054 | 08/11 | 01:13 PM

Anna was talking. But I couldn't hear her. Or maybe it was that I didn't want to hear her? I was too buzzed - too busy riding the numb wake, enjoying the nothingness the numbing euphoria wrought for me.

So while she talked, I hummed. The Simpson's tune to be exact. Again and again. For almost an hour. After twenty minutes, my soggy thoughts sort of twisted the pace around and I just started repeating the beginning over and over.

And over and over.

Anna knew I wasn't listening. I think. She's not retarded. She must have known that in between the stupid smirk that adorned my face and my toneless hum and jive, that I was somewhere else. Far away. Miles and realities away.

And although I didn't catch much of what she was saying, a few words pierced my happy place's walls every once in a while. But they were bare fragments without thought. Simply things for me to stretch and squeeze as I hummed.

Anna probably needed to talk. Needed to get a few things off her chest. She's only human. Only human living in the fucking shambles of society. Fending off coarse death at night and caring for a useless sack of shit by day.

And in the numb happiness of the drugs, I was able to acknowledge myself as that: A useless sack of shit. Because that was the truth after all. I was a selfish, selfish bastard. Consuming our limited resources and burdening Anna with my care.

I popped another pill.

I assume a lot of the pill's effects were probably more akin to a placebo. Because in less time than it could possibly have taken for the white tablet to dissolve in my stomach and take effect, I was already riding a renewed rolling wave of I don't give a flying shit.

You expect the pill to fuck you up, and that's what you feel. Mind over matter or something. But I guess that really only goes to show how fucked up I am.

And teen's like The Simpsons. So I hummed the tune some more.

And almost ten minutes passed by before I realized Anna had stopped the deaf chatter. And all I could hear was the silence of time. That silence not really being a silence at all, but a stark ominous feeling. A dread. The disquieting sensation you felt when you heard nothing in a location that should have been buzzing with sounds. Like a downtown district. Or a crowded football field. Or a factory.

Or in the middle of the woods. When you're being hunted and you don't even know it.

I opened my eyes and saw Anna wipe at her eyes. Had she been crying? Should I have been comforting her?

I probably would have felt ashamed, maybe like a huge ass, if I could actually feel something that is. But presently I was a blank log and the only thing that occurred to me was to ask her to not stain the bed's covers. Thankfully, my retarded ass didn't speak.


I blinked and she was gone. I nodded my head in a jerking motion and realized I had dozed off again. Blanked out. A few had gone by. The stupid Simpsons tune was escaping my lips again.

The fact that Anna had wandered off again didn't worry me. She did that a lot. Had done it before she had tried talking to me. I didn't exactly know where she went, but I assumed she was scouting the area. Looking through the buildings, scrounging for supplies, trying to get acquainted with the area.

But she had left her weapon. I noticed, with a stupid grin stretching my features, that she had left her assault rifle behind, laying against the chair she had sat on. I clucked at her in a hushed disapproving tone. And in the voice of some forgotten southern Colonel, promised to reprimand her later. Write her up. To give her fifty! And eight laps around the track. No dinner to boot.

I saluted the air.

I didn't care. Or couldn't. But I should.

I really should, a deep part of me thought dazedly. It was dangerous for her to simply wander off without a weapon. All sorts of shit could happen if you didn't have a metal shooter on hand. She needed the rifle if she was gonna go bucking off and play adventurer. So what if it was day out. If she stumbled across the odd Freak that had chosen to spend the day in the hospital, she would be fucked. Like a Panda. Or a kite.

I suppose these thoughts came from the part of me that really liked Anna. Liked, as in that warm summer way. Only even that part was half fucked up on the pills.

Right ol' adventurer, ol' Sam? Or Ann? Anna?

So I got up from the bed. The pain was nominal. Bearable. I picked up her rifle with an easy sweep (part of me thought the bend would send my ass sprawling, but no roger, I got the bitch) and started toward the room's door.

Steady steps. That was the key here. Go too fast and down I would go. Go to slow and one of my legs might fall asleep. And down I would go. So instead, just go-go-go.

I stepped through the room door and found myself in what resembled a small doctor's office. Cramped by tables and transportable boards. A room in disarray. Pamphlets and papers littered the floor. In one corner there appeared to be a nurse's uniform and doctor's coat, yellowed, and crumbled. And alone.

I took it all in with a placid smile. My sight gliding across the room until I caught sight of the door on the other side. I proceeded with my careful shuffle, clutching at the rifle like some high school trophy.

And about halfway through the room, I spot one of those movable blackboards. And to my surprise (okay, maybe not surprise. More like curious bemusement) I found my name, ALEX, scrawled neatly in the middle of the board. Surrounded by the word useless, like some grammatical halo. It was scrawled out messily, and each one had a different capitalized letter.

uSless, UsLess, usLeS, useLESS, USEless, UselesS, USlESS, UsLeSs.

Eight different scrawling of the word jutted out from the center; from my name.









The date. And that struck, because I realized I had been here, for roughly eight days. Here at this hospital. Here and there. And there and here.

So for eight days, Anna had been scrawling this... this symbolic embrace. Adding another "useless" per day?

My thoughts turned unusually thick and I turned around. Back toward my room. Things were happening. I could feel it. But my state of mind didn't allow me to process it. I scuttled back to the bed, placed Anna's rifle against her chair and crawled into bed.

A cold sweat clung to my body as a rough headache started from the back oh my head. My side was paining me. Each breath burned slightly.

I retrieved two pills from the side of the bed. I held them for a few moments, debating whether to pop them or not. It didn't seem smart. To cloud my thoughts now. Now when I needed to think. To bring reason to the strange thing I had seen.

But another part of me craved the pill. Craved what it represented. And I guess that part was growing stronger and stronger because just when I decided to put the pills aside and face the growing pain, I swallowed them. I was surprised. Who wouldn't be? When you decide to do something and your body does a 180.

And as I sat there in bed, waiting for the inevitable wave to hit me, I think I agreed dumbly.

Moments before the sweet, sweet nothing appeared, I acknowledged that I was indeed useless.

#0053 | 08/11 | 06:20 AM

Anna came back a few hours ago. She found me toppled on the floor next to the two bags filled with our rations. I was moaning softly. My fingers coated with delicious orange crumbs.

But I was really hurting by then. To be honest, I didn't even know I was on the floor. I had thought I was in some tunnel. Rotating and rotating.

But that was just my head spinning.

I think I was crying? And licking my fingers. And crying. And licking. And crying some more.

Anna came back with a small yellow backpack she assured me was filled with a few necessities she had picked up from scavenging another building. I can't really remember the name of the building... Willmer? Whaler? What the fuck ever.

She helped me back on the bed and produced three small white bottles from one of the pack's outer pockets.

More pain killers, she said. Two of which were Oxycodone. The last one's label was written in a foreign language, German, and was unreadable by either of us.

She gave me three of the Oxycodone tablets. I swallowed them dutifully, although I'll admit, I was kinda disappointed. Pills? The fuck? Just stick me with a needle, baby, and send me to happy land.

But it wasn't so bad. I chewed them gingerly in my mouth - breaking the tablets apart to quicken the pain-killing effect - before sending down to my old friend stomach. I imagine he was shriveled and half-dead by now, our meals were only getting more and more meager. Chased it down with a lukewarm chug of water, and less than thirty minutes later, I was riding an extremely sturdy and energetic horse called HAPPYHAPPYHAPPY, and I rode that playful motherfucker to snoozeland.

I woke up hours later with a pain in my stomach that had me wanting to eat a horse. In my confusion, I searched the room vainly for HAPPYHAPPYHAPPY before I realized heavily that it had only been part of my drug-induced fantasy.

Which sucked.

I'd slept the night hours away it seemed. Anna was sitting cross-legged against a wall. Her head slowly slipping off her shoulder, her balance shifting in a direction that would send her slumping to the floor.

I tried to get up, to righten her balance, to make sure she didn't fall.

But i underestimated my condition and the one who went falling was me. With a thud, I landed on my side, but thankfully not on the side riddled with three bullet holes. Nonetheless, the impact sent a fresh wave of pain over my body.

My fall alerted Anna. She helped me up and prepared for us some early breakfast in the form of two blackened bananas and a can of chilly.

The mere sight caused me to gag inwardly. Yet I ate the meal slowly, savoring the sensation of something going down my esophagus.

She brought out two juice packs (Pineapple, Mmmmm) and gave me two more pills to follow it down with.

I looked at them in my hands for a few seconds, cupping them tenderly while my mind went blank. And then I placed them in my mouth, chewing them in a hope to recreate the quick effect of yesterday.

I was happy for the numbness to follow. I didn't want to be awake.

Monday, August 10, 2009

#0052 | 08/10 | 01:41 PM

My headaches have ceased.


Yeah, eased. Not ceased. Not forever.

Which is a good or bad thing, I'm not sure. Well, the being free from the pain is definitely a plus. Something I really do appreciate as I lay silently on the bed, letting the cruel seconds of the midday sneak by.

But there was something about the pain. Something that sharpened me. kept me on edge. Kept me aware.

Anna found something earlier. She approached my side with a rueful smile and showed me something she'd scrounged up from downstairs, under a tossed bed. A small little dark bottle with a green liquid inside. The label read Methadone.

Never heard of it.

She produced a single syringe, free of any wrapping or container; instantly drawing fear from me - not that I feared needles or shit, but something about an unclean needle had always-

She stuck the point into my arm and pressed down, sending the green liquid into my flowing being. My thoughts having growing wildly distracted in the pain, I hadn't protested as much as I'd have liked.

For a few terribly minutes, I imagined an air bubble traveling through my bloodstream. Tumbling and moving. Ironically, beside many other pockets of air, only these were contained safely within red blood cells, and this one was not. It hit my brain and then everything would rock and shake.

Rock and roll baby.

And I'd be dead. But not before I screamed every obscenity I could muster while I writhed in agony.

But that death never came. And minutes later, I was in relative heaven. My pain forgotten. I think I jizzed myself a bit.

Anna seemed awful busy. She left soon after I zoned out. A strange expression locked on her face. I couldn't quite make it out (I couldn't make out anything in my state!) but if I had to choose a word...




Fuck, I felt high as shit.

She was gone for most of the morning, I know that for sure. She picked up the stock of a rifle, a cartridge or two, and wander off. Out the door. Into the hallway. Into the building. And from there, out of my knowledge.

I didn't care at first. Not exactly.

When she stepped through the door, a horribly loneliness dropped into the pit of my stomach. I felt something large and cold grab my heart and pull left, then right, and then squeeze once or twice.

But the loneliness subsided - my thoughts were without depth for the moment - and the euphoria resumed. Only occasionally broken by a shallow recognition of how alone I was.

But it always went away.

By midday, some of that much needed depth was returning. Clarity. Precision.

I checked my wounds first. I'd been moving around in my happy stupor. Rolling and howling. Kicking and humping. And it seemed I'd disturbed my wounds accidentally. Nothing to bad. A little wet. A little red. A little jab. And a little more clarity.

That's what the pain brought.

Anna still wasn't back.

I was hungry.

I pushed off the side of the bed and waited a few minutes. I wasn't sure I was ready to be off the bed yet, but dammit if a bag of Cheetos wasn't lying less than two feet away, beside the bag.

I pushed up to my feet - something that took so much effort and energy - I had to stop and consider whether I could really continue. I decided I could. I took the step.

Had to let go of the bed, but I was alright. My balance was pretty good. And the pain that was starting to pound from below, well that really only helped with more concentrated focus no?

I reached the chips and all that was left was the bend down.

And that really was impossible. I realized it fairly quickly. If I tried, I'd plop down and wouldn't be able to get back up. I'd end up fall on the bag, stacked with cans and guns. Hurt myself, and who knows when Anna would reappear to help me.

I missed Anna.

I stopped regarding the out-of-reach bag of chips to consider this thought. It was foreign. Strange. Out of place. I didn't usually regard Anna like that. Consciously at least.

And I was definitely conscious.

The buzz was nearly almost completely gone. I found I missed the feeling. The unexplainable happiness it brought. The good it instilled.

And at least if I was high, I wouldn't feel bad about caring for Anna.

There. Fuck. I did it again.

There had to be more. Methadone? Whatever, morphine would suffice. This was a goddamn hospital. There had to be at least a little left stashed around, I'd have Anna look for more later. Maybe near where she'd discovered the bottle.

As soon as she got back. I'd started to feel anxious without realizing-

Ah, fuck it.

Dammit, I want some Cheetos.

#0051 | 08/10 | 06:45 AM

I'm having more trouble taking everything as seriously as I'd like. Blame the reality mind-fuck if you will. I certainly do.

It's actually really dangerous to sit here at night, the pain in my leg a worsening ache, hearing that fucking cat scuttling around downstairs and snarling in rhythmic cycles. Then the almost-silence suddenly being broken by a terrifying primal scream - a human-Freak entering the building; entering the Cat's territory.

I understand the danger - life or death, the line between being stay the fuck out of a Freaks way come night time. I've lived it for about a month. Morning to noon, and nightmare to dawn. And aside from my little escape from reality, I'd say I came out of the fucking apocalypse relatively sane.

Peace of mind, peace of mind.

So it's a problem when I take a deadly situation and put it between a rock and a suicidal place.

I started laughing.

The middle of the night - I can't say exactly when, but not too early and not too late - I sat there awake listening to the cat snarl and snarl, when a new sound broke the monotone of the still night. A bestial scream; a human-Freak.

Anna was asleep at the foot of the bed, lying curled up like a little kid. The scream changed that.

She swung up alertly, although her sagging and weary eyes betrayed just how tired she must really be. Still, her moment of wild awareness ceased when she took in that the room was empty. Her attention turned to the candle, which bathed the room in a pale glow, and then to me.

Where she was calm, I was almost pissing my pants. And I think I might have to, I'm having trouble controlling my bladder recently. Blame the bullets.

I guess she must be used to it, she's been conscious these last six days. I can't say the same. She told me the cat wasn't a hunter, it was a waiter. Skulking the building's hallways, it waited for food to come to it, not the other way around.

The scream startled me, but Anna cued me in fast enough.

The Cat's snarls ceased as soon as the human-Freak's scream echoed through the walls. I guess then all that was left was to wait around a corner or something. It uses the snarl to lure others in - and then waits to jump them while they search for it.

With a single ghostly finger resting between her lips, she told me to wait for it - for the Cat to earn its meal.

A few minutes went pass, with us sitting uncomfortably, our ears strained to pick up the faintest of sounds. Below us something was knocked over. Something scraping against something else. Another wild scream reeking of rage and hunger.

And then finally a particularly loud crunch. A quiet yelp in the dark. And the most blood-curdling shriek I'd ever want to hear. It bounced around the walls in tumultuous waves and before long it was impossible to tell from which direction it originally came. The pitch rose and fell from ear popping levels to pathetic whispers, only aiding the overall brick shitting effect.

Something large crashed against something else. Sounded a lot like a body. Although I suppose it might have been a tray. The smash was barely discernible between the skull-rattling shriek, but more unsettling all the same simply because it could be heard at all.

Then silence.

We stared at each other, Anna and me. I couldn't see it on my own face, but I saw raw fear and displacement swirling across her features. She was here and yet not completely.

I reckon cracked panic was molded on mine.

Then the silence was broken by the clunky sounds of movement. Something large moving slowly and yet urgently downstairs.

"The Cat'll take the carcass downstairs - to the basement. It's probably in two pieces by now. Once I found the upper half of a dead human-Freak stuck between the stairs."

I stared at Anna - at her explanation really - her words calmly articulating insanity. It just sort of struck me then, seeing the terror in her eyes yet hearing her placid tone, how retardedly silly this all was.

Being stuck here, in the dark, while a gigantic hairless cat pulled its feast into the basement.

No, it was beyond silly. It was absurd.

So I started laughing - laughing at the absurdity of the situation. At the impossibility that had befallen the world. And mostly at the thought of a giant fat cat moving around a hospital at night.

Anna stared at me in horror, and moved to silence me. Her hands covered my mouth, muffling my laughter but not silencing it.

I couldn't help it. Her actions did nothing to placate me, in fact, her urgent stricken expression just made the situation all the more hilarious, and spasms of laughter just flew forth.

"No! Please, shut up. Please!"

The sounds of movement from downstairs had ceased. Now the situation was beyond dire. It was life threatening. A single snarl sounded in the building. Curious, no doubt.

Something strange was happening. My laughter was causing my body to shake; spasms I guess you could say, except a searing pain was starting to churn. Like a dagger at my side, the more my body struggled against Anna's attempts to silence me, the more the pain bit.

The laughter was out of my control. The pain was starting to seriously hurt; a piercing white hot ache. And the Cat was not returning to its basement.

Anna kissed me.

In a simple movement of her hand, she removed her fingers from my mouth - my laughter rocking boisterously then for a terribly loud second in the quiet of the building - and then her lips were on mine.

My eyes nearly popped. And the laughter stopped right away. The contorting spasms ceased, the ache more than already fading but long forgotten.

My entire body went rigid, and I might have crapped myself a bit, I can't remember.

And when her lips were gone, all I could do was sit there panting like an idiot.


She indicated quiet with a long finger, gracefully climbed from the bed, reached for her gun, and marched to the door. And there she waited - waited in case the worst happened, and the Cat really came for us.

Had I cracked? I didn't feel insane. Although I guess I didn't feel a lot else. Maybe that's what insanity was? Feeling nothing and not being able to help yourself?

If it was, the kiss had been just what the doctor ordered. For the first time in a long time - maybe since I left the house a month ago - I had felt a really powerful emotion.


And suddenly, nothing was funny. And I could help myself.

Five or so minutes went by like that, Anna at the door and me trying desperately to mask the noise of my panting, before the resurgent shuffling reemerged. We feared the worst - but the noises grew gradual, and eventually disappeared.

The Cat had returned to its den. It had chosen to not pursue its curiosity.

And so curiosity did not kill the cat?

I guess this cat would kick the hell out of curiosity.

Anna returned to my side, dropping the gun into the open bag. She checked my wraps and wasn't surprised to find fresh blood staining the bandages around my abdomen. She clucked in disapproval while she added new cloth.

All the while all I could do was be a tense awkward mess.

Afterward, she climbed back on the bed, and curled up near the foot, just as she had been before awakening, and told me to sleep.

And before long, her breaths turned relaxed, deep, and rhythmic.

And all I could do was stare at her dark lumped figure as she slept. Suddenly, sleep seemed out of reach.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

#0050 | 08/09 | 03:44 PM

The pre-dawn hours flew behind me and by the time I opened my eyes again, it was already midday - the afternoon loomed not far ahead. A stranded shiver of time, of safety, barraged on all sides by death and terror. Or terror and death.

Whatever rocks your boat.

Anna was sleeping lightly, her back pressed against the eastern-most wall. Her rifle cocked in the direction of the door. She snored lightly, a petite noise that filtered through the air, and sounded incredibly out of place.

And it was quiet.

The candle beside the bed, the one that had been the small source of light in the dark, was down to a pathetic knob. Burned out perhaps hours ago in a glaze of oil and wax.

My headache had subsided somewhat. It wasn't gone - and I figured that it wouldn't be gone for a great while, but it had calmed. There was no longer a raging storm in my head impeding my thoughts. Now it was merely a gusty wind, at times kicking order and reason around, but no longer leaving me a stump in the woods. And that was good.

I took the chance then, to examine my body. Something I hadn't really gotten around to earlier.

I was sort of surprised to find I was dressed in white and gray pajamas. Very comfortable, but definitely not what I'd been wearing when Colin shot me down. Well, if Anna had dressed and attended to my wounds, I suppose it's only natural that she would have to deal with my bloody and torn clothes...

Still, the thought made me awkward. But not in an entirely bad way.

It looked like the shot to my leg had hit me close to the hip. Far above the knee. The other two, the ones that had hit my abdomen hadn't been too far from that one. One right beside my appendix scar and the second an inch or two above it.

Gun shot wounds nonetheless, but none as bad as what I thought had hit me that day. And certainly none bad enough to cripple me permanently. Had my knee really been shattered, or any other bone been severely mangled, I imagine my chances for survival would have quickly become slim to none...

Anna awoke at the sounds of my shuffling. Her eyes perked open quickly, aware and acute, surveying everything quickly. A search for danger. But when she saw none, her posture relaxed and she yawned.

I tested my muscles. With each movement, my leg sent a wave of fresh and sharp pain upward, but my movements seemed fine. My toes wriggled and squirmed. I wasn't paralyzed, although I admit, that had been another worry.

"I'll get some food out if you want? Are you hungry? You haven't eaten much these past days. I didn't bring much food that I could force down for you, but I've at least kept you hydrated."

I wasn't hungry, but she ignored me and after a quick rummage in the bag, fetched two cup noddle packages. Chicken flavor. She poured tepid water in them from some water bottles and let them rest for a few minutes before handing one to me.

We didn't have forks, but she handed me a dull metal spoon and had me eat it with that. The spoon was useless, I ended up having to eat most of with my hands.

The soggy meal tasted horribly in my mouth, and as I chewed it down, I realized I hadn't brushed my teeth in weeks. My breath must have been horrid. We ate in silence and when we were done, Anna merely chucked the foam cups unto the floor, in a space she seemed to have set aside for trash.

"We're in the Winchester Building... it's the most eastern one. Smallest one too, only two floors above ground. We're on the second. I thought that would be best... I chose this... room because it's windowless. Seemed more defensible. But I guess it also means we're more cornered, huh..."

I asked her about the Cat-Freak then. Earlier I had nodded off, mostly because of my restless headache, but as reason returned to me, it occurred to me that I had acted incredibly stupidly.

Anna told me there was a Freak in the building. An infected cat - and the way she had described it, it wasn't something I ever wanted to meet down some dark alley. Yet, given that there was a wild dangerous creature so near, I fell asleep, with no real pause or concern towards our safety, given the Freak-Cat might only be a few walls away. In retrospect, that was more than just stupid on my part. It might as well be suicidal.

I asked Anna about the Cat, questioning what had happened after I fell asleep earlier and where precisely the Cat was now.

She stretched slightly, pushing back against her arm until I heard an audible crack and a short sigh of relief.

"The Cat... is probably in the basement level now. That's where it sleeps the daylight hours away. I know you probably want to kill it but that's a bad idea, for a lot of reasons. For now at least..."

I asked what she meant and she met my gaze with something deep, something like concern.

"I already told you this but, killing the Cat would be... tricky, if we were to attempt it. First, killing it at night would be stupid. The ammunition fire could draw Freaks, more active Freaks, to the building. Because of the situation, I haven't really taken the opportunity to cover our scent. The Cat... is strange. Unlike the human and dog Freaks, it doesn't hunt by scent. In fact, luckily for us, it might almost completely devoid of such a sense. That's the reason it isn't actively hunting us."

I asked her what Freaks she feared the gunfire might draw. Human seemed likely, but perhaps there was a another dog pack situated close by?

Her response was in smile.

"Well of course, who knows what might be out there at night wandering around, but what I worry we might get the attention of are flies. There's a nest of them one building over, in the Stanford Building."

Flies? Infected flies? Shit...

"Yeah. Nasty things. Not something we want to have descending on us. I caught sight of them a few days ago. I was coming back with some of our supplies from back at the school when I caught sight of them. I was a little late. Just past sundown. And I saw these gross huge bugs crawl out of the windows and ascend into the sky. They're the size of a... large dogs. Maybe three feet tall? Whatever, that doesn't matter. The real horror show started a day later."

I asked what she meant and a haunted expression contorted her features for a second, fear contrived with disgust. And my heart missed a beat.

"A few hours past daybreak, I went out, to the Standford Building. I wanted to get a better grasp of exactly what the flies were doing-"

I interrupted her then. I asked if she was crazy. Why the hell would she ever willingly enter a building crawling and combing with infected creepy-crawlies that could fly.

"I wasn't going to just go right in. The Standford Building is the hospital's main administration building. The entrance is a glossy lobby with glass walls. Plenty of sunshine, I thought I might be able to get safely in far enough to get a gist of the... situation."

I placed my apprehension aside for the moment. After all, these were events in the past. She obviously survived the idiotic decision. But I decided to talk to her later regarding the fine line between safe behavior and suicidal behavior.

"The glass lobby walls were smashed open. A cascade of glass adorning the floor... And imagine my surprise when I found the lobby was piled with skeletons. All picked clean. Skeletons and bones of variously different animals. Human... dog ... bird... And then imagine my surprise when I saw a small huddled body lying near the lobby reception desk. Huddled... and shaking."


"So I run over the glass and I get to the body, thinking I'd discovered a survivor. I flip the body over and I find a girl. Early forties? Late thirties? Who knows, she looked tired and worn. But as I touched her, her eyes opened and I saw death in those eyes, Alex. Conscious death. She tried to scream, tried incredibly hard, but all that sounded was a hoarse exhale of breath. Her mouth was cracked, torn viciously at the edges."

Anna was staring at something invisible in her hands and I realized that she was reliving something immensely traumatic. Something she desperately needed to voice. To put into another person's mind, so that her own mental burden could be eased, if not at least sightly.

"The skin above her left eye, her forehead, suddenly bulged outward. I heard a quiet crack. Might have been a crick. And then her body went upright and she vomited. Red and black. Blood and bile. She wretched unto the dirty hospital lobby. And then, I almost vomited too, not because of of the sight of the vomit, but because of what was in the vomit. Maggots. Small little white wriggling maggots. Moving amongst the fluid."

I couldn't blink. Couldn't turn away. Couldn't stop listening to a tale that should never be. I was disgusted. And cursing softly in my mind.

"I dropped her then and stepped away. I realized then, what had happened to her. The flies. They had caught her during the night. Caught her and jammed something down her mouth. And judging from the wriggling shapes moving beneath her skin, that something was maggots. And then I realized what all the bones around the lobby meant. Prior hosts. Others things that the flies had caught and stuffed with maggots. I think that's how they reproduce, Alex. They catch you, stuff maggots down your throat, bring you back here, and the maggots grow in you. Eating you from the inside out. And eventually, all that's left are the fucking bones."

And we were silent for awhile. My breathing seemed irregular, awfully excited, but she had told the tale calmly. Only the way she was staring at her hands any real indication of emotion.

"The flies stay away from this building because of the Cat. All Freaks stay away, actually. The Cat is an... opportunist, I guess you could say. But maybe situational hunter might be a better term... it doesn't go outside the building. Ever. It waits for food to come to it, and then it tries to surprise and over power the prey with a burst of strength. The small spaces of the hospital halls are its friend. They prove to be ample space for it to corner food."

So she keeps the Cat alive so that other Freaks, the flies, wont descend on us. But even if we wanted to kill the Cat, the method would only raise problems. Kill it at night and nearby Freaks might be attracted. Go down into the basement and kill it during the day and it's like walking into enemy territory. The Cat could end up catching you by surprise.

"We're pretty safe here. You haven't seen it, but the passage doors beyond this room, the one that leads to the hallway, are narrow. The Cat is huge. Just waddling around, it takes up almost all the hallway's width. It wouldn't go out of its way to come here, unless it knows we're here. Which it doesn't. So there's no problem there..."

My head was still pounding, and my sudden unease, the story of the flies, had set my heart racing in a strange way. The blood was flowing quickly; jumping. And my head started to burn. Somewhere near the back of my skull, the pressure throbbed and beat with my heartbeat.

Maybe my expression had started to reflect my growing pain. She crossed to the side of the bed and pushed me down, into a more lying position.

"Rest. Now. You shouldn't be getting so excited. We're safe for now. So just relax. We wont be going anywhere for a while with your body like that. So sit back."

I was going to argue but a particularly bad knock of pain hit and before I knew it, I was lying back. The pillow doing small wonders for the throbbing.

"Oh. Do you want to use the bathroom? I... I've had to change you these last days after any accident. But if you're awake, I guess I could bring a bucket, or..."



#0049 | 08/09 | 04:04 AM ~ Awake

And I woke up.

Nothing too dramatic then. My eyes suddenly popped open and I saw...

Nothing! No, I wasn't blind. And I wasn't dead either. Although at first I wasn't quite ready to throw either off the table...

I was in the hospital room. The same one I had awoken in five days earlier to find my entire reality had been naught but a disease induced delusion. The same clean and sterile hospital room in which a genial and distant Doctor Lucas Henry had sauntered in and informed me that I was infected with this or that. The same room I'd been locked within with armed guards at the door...

But it was dark. The only source of illumination in the room now was a pale and deathly candle that lay atop a tray beside my bed. It flickered and danced in the night, at times far too low in luminosity and at others, far too bright.

It was too bright then, when I first looked upon it and I had to shield my eyes for a few seconds at they adjusted. My eyes burned (seared might be a better term for it) and my entire body seemed like one giant aching sore. Which was nothing compared to what my head felt like. Jesus Christ on a jackhammer, I'm surprised I was interested in the room at all and not simply passed out solemnly in a daze.

But my eyes adjusted, and with them came awareness... and confusion.

This was indeed the same hospital room I had been in yesterday... the bed's position was the same. The same suspiciously obvious one-way mirror lining a large portion of the wall. The same glass-coated door lined against the bed's facing direction. Yes, it was all familiar.

But at the same time, it simply couldn't be.

The lights were out. The room lay in shambles. Contrary to the clean and sterile atmosphere previously projected, the room appeared rather dusty and cluttered. Various things littered the floor of the room, magazines, bags, packs, wrappers, wraps, and clothes. The suspicious one-way mirror had a rather large pronounced crack running horizontally against the whole thing, wall to wall.

The restraints were gone from the bed. Automatically, my hands had gone for my head, in some useless ingrained response to monster headaches that I had picked up as a kid, and it was minutes before I realized what was odd about the situation.

I had been able to move my hands, my arms. I was no longer bound to the bed. In fact, I noticed a haggard pile of small leather looking wraps were tossed aside beside the bed.

And then there was the two most discerningly worrying things about situation. One was the strange little candle that flickered and danced and lit the room with a small source of light. For although without it, I knew for sure I would be lost in the dark, it seemed so ominous. So evil. The way it simply lay there. Out of place. And...

It's smell. It was a scented candle. And before I could help it, I had inhaled a deep breath. The musty aroma filling up the space between my nostrils and brain quickly and I associated the scent to decaying spruce and oak. An offensive odor. But not intolerable.

And besides the strange candle in the room, what bothered me most was the lack of personnel. What had happened to the guards? The doctor? The nurses? Why was I sitting here alone in the dark? Where had everyone gone to?

And then my mind shifted to a sterling gem, and I thought bitterly, they don't want to catch it. Whatever I got, they don't want. Maybe it mutated, changed. Is it airborne? The fuck do I know about diseases? They had to cut the power and evacuate the building? The guards didn't even have time to put a bullet between my eye-

And then I heard it. The snarl. The same one that had been ringing my ears since yesterday. Getting louder and louder. Each piercing snarl bringing more pronounced responses of fear in my pulse. In my already far too scattered trail of thoughts...

My face turned toward the door then. Because, before, these snarls had been easy to place in origin. They had come from my head. As I lay there in that bed coughing and sweating my life away, it was easy to judge this sound, this horrible sound, as one originating from my deluded mind.

But then, the snarl I heard did not originate from within my head. The deft and silent echo that hit against the walls told me that the snarl, and whatever it came from was out there. Beyond the walls. Wandering the halls beyond my hospital room door.

Maybe I should have thought then the reasonable: this isn't possible.

I should have simply closed my eyes, put my head under my pillow, and blew enough air that I passed out in a semi delirious state. I should have done exactly that, and allowed my death to come easily and without knowable cause.

But I didn't. Because, and I remember the sentiment quite well, I though: Oh my lordy fucking Jesus Christ, what the fuck- a... fucking Freak?

The doctor, Henry, had visited me. Informed me that there were no such things as Freaks. That they were simply part of my deteriorating mind trying to break away. Escape the pain. Escape reality.

Fantasy in other words.

But Jesus Christ.

I didn't know then, and I don't know now, but the possibility that whatever had snarled wasn't really beyond those doors, that noise wasn't real, hadn't totally occurred to me. And that was probably a good thing.

But the memories were real enough, and no matter who exactly told me that my memories of that hellish month were false, I could still remember. I could remember the human-Freaks, tearing my family apart and that little infected newborn I'd seen back at my old house, the dog-Freaks devouring a human-Freak and the sound they made when they perished into the fire after days of stalking us.

I'd been told those memories were false. Fabrications. Fantasies. Good day.

But Christ, hearing that primal and inhumane snarl, my mind snapped straight back to survival mode.And suddenly, I was smacked straight back into the world of the End. A world crumbled by disaster - the apocalypse! A world where the Freaks roamed by night and the survivors struggled by day.

Was I in a delusion? Had I regressed? Snapped? Or had the disease, CJD2S4, had it claimed me a permanent victim? Fuck the cure, hah...

Or had that even been real? The whole waking up in a hospital bit. Had that been the delusion? Had my month as a survivor been the true reality?

The snarl again. Closer. Louder. A vibration on the walls, against the floor, on the bed. Tender. But causing my hands to shake so much.

I tried to move then, to get up and move, but I sunk like a stone and almost ended up knocking my head against the floor had I been an inch closer to the edge.

I realized then - I was weak. I hadn't noticed, but I was sweating buckets, and my heart rate didn't seem... normal; erratic. And my body, Jesus...

By the dance of the candle light, I could make out bandages, bands, and wraps. They were layered around my legs and my abdomen - and they were dyed dark red.


"You were shot."

In the quiet of the darkness, the voice was terribly familiar. I glanced up from my ruined body, and found a familiar face standing at the half-opened door. She was holding an assault weapon that contrasted with her frame horribly. That accompanied with her wild hair she had tucked into a ponytail and her torn and worn clothes made her appear slightly comical.

But I wanted to cry.

It was Anna.

But not the Anna I had known for the past five days. Not the careful nurse who had been very careful to avoid contact whenever possible. That Anna was afraid of me, I could see she detested even being in the same room. Maybe not scared of me specifically, but terrified of what resided in me.

But this Anna before me, this scruffy and weary-eyed Anna was full of grit and love. I could see it in the half-glow flicker that was her face as clearly as an astronomer could peer in a telescope and see the moon.

She was pointing the assault rifle at me.

"Colin shot you. You've been out for five days, Alex. Don't worry. He's... he's dead. Monica and Henry too. I couldn't save Henry, Colin popped him too fast. But I managed to get Colin before he got me. And then I found you... propped down in the bushes beside the porch."

So many questions. Many I was sure I didn't have the nerve to ask. Many I didn't want to give a voice. Mostly they were questions for myself. Was this real? Was it ever real? Or am I still seizing in that hospital? Am I dead? Or maybe I've gone homicidal and those guards are gunning my frame as I sit there, dumbfounded and insecure?

"Your... your wounds weren't that bad. One in the left leg. Two to your abdomen. But none hit bone or any internal organs. But the blood scared the fuck out of me at first. I'm not a doctor like Henry, and he was dead. I don't really know the right way to treat bullet wounds, but I was there with Henry when he saw to Monica all those days ago. And I was there when he needed help changing her bandages and such..."

And there was something else on my mind as she spoke. Her story was filling the space between my brain and skull and filling me with odd relief. It was far too easy to believe in her words blindly. It made sense (right?) and it eased my soul's turbulent chaos in a deep and spiritual way.

But I couldn't seem to forget something that was suddenly making quite the ruckus in my mind. It kept playing again and again, like some cliche backdrop in the climax. Anna killed Monica. She tried to strangle her and she injected Monica with infected blood. She admitted it. She laughed while she said it. She...

"I had to get you away from there. The fire wasn't spreading beyond the school, thank god there hasn't been any heavy winds lately, but we had to move anyway. Just to be safer, sure, but we couldn't stay there beyond nightfall. The Freaks, they'd come in hordes at the smell of the smoke, the burned remains. We had to leave, and in a hurry. You needed medical attention, the hospital seemed like a good idea."

I asked her which hospital she had brought me to, although I suspected I already knew the name. She answered St. Rudnick Hospital. The same answer I had read off the other Anna's name tag. Her name had been printed as Anna Santiago, and I realized then that Anna had never told me, or any of us, her last name. I almost asked her if Santiago was her last name then. But I stopped myself, the words deafening in my open mouth.

I decided that I would rather not ask - I really didn't want to know, because I suspected if I asked, I would be right. And the line between reality and fantasy, that was already far too thin and spotted, might completely disappear. And where would I be then? Where the hell, indeed.

My mouth hung open like that for a long time. I must have looked pretty stupid.

And then that snarl sounded through the walls again and Anna moved toward me, toward the bed. She ducked and started rummaging through an open large bag.

The inside was lined with wrappers of food and water bottles. Clothes took up a small part of the bag. The last chunk of the space, a good half of the bag, was filled with two more assault rifles and their stacks of magazines piled messily on each other.

There was a second bag beside that one, this one zipped up and closed completely. But I assumed that its contents were probably very similar to the first.

Anna had stashed as much of our supplies as she could and somehow managed to carry not only me, but two heavy bags to a hospital miles away from the school?

A small part of me wondered how many trips she'd made.

"That's a cat you're hearing. Infected Freak-Cat. Unsightly fucking thing. It's wandering the halls, but it's alone. I guess infected Cats aren't like dogs. They don't form packs, but they do whole themselves up in narrow places. You should see it, the thing's huge. Swollen and disgusting - it looks like a giant mass of girth with whiskers. Slow. But vicious."

She sang out the words in a hurry. Answering to questions I had never asked. Maybe she mistook the dubious uncertainty in my eyes for confusion over the snarl?

I was really wondering exactly how much of that night I'd been shot was real. For example, that night, I could have sworn Colin had blasted away my left knee and a sizable chunk from my right shins, before going on to destroy my chest. Yet I awoke today to find I'd really only taken three shots, and none of them were fatal or permanently crippling.

So that night when I'd heard Anna proclaim she'd practically killed Monica - had that been real? Or just another delusion? As real as my five days in the hospital had been?

"I would just blast the damn thing, it's rolling around the hallways, just making a lot of noise. But I can't risk the noise. These things aren't exactly quiet. And the racket might attract some unwanted attention in the night. The Cat's bad enough, but the last thing we need is an army of Human-Freaks descending upon us while we piss ourselves."

She was extremely animated in the dark. Quickly, she rose from the bag, moved toward the candle and cupped the flickering light in her thin hands, gazing into it in the dark. It gave her face a creepy effect. Shadows that danced and moved across weary features.

Was it beautiful?

Maybe, but not in a way that I would have been able to appreciate two months ago, before the End.

But now, with my heart racing. A furious pounding in my chest while I sat there, questioning my own sanity, while an infected monster rolled around nearby, I found her to be breathtaking. Maybe not beautiful, but only because beautiful was never meant to encompass such a situation.

"Just rest for now. The Cat can wait. You've been out cold for five days, but that wasn't anything due on my part. I couldn't find any anesthetic for you. I found some pills and bottles in some rooms, not much since this place was one of the first to be looted, but some. But I didn't know what they were - so I couldn't risk giving them to you. Maybe it's a good thing that you didn't wake up - that saved you the pain. Though you scared the hell out of me, just sleeping that long."

How empty, I thought then. I really was in pain. I was sweating. And I was shaking. And there was a nagging throbbing coming from someplace down below.

But my head was worse. It was clogged with something nasty and heavy. And a steady drumming that made my thoughts spin and slam into an unbearable mess. Most noticeably, it made my thoughts lined. I could really only consider one thought at a time. And my thoughts had traveled from my sanity, to Anna, to the strange snarling that sounded in the dark. But now they centered on Anna again and my eyes grew heavy.

Shadows danced and weaved upon her face, and before I realized it, I was asleep. My last thoughts being of the face one could see on the moon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

08/08 | 10:27 PM | ASLEEP7

"Quick! Administer the new compound! We're losing him!"

Huh? Oh shit... am I finally dying?

"Don't fucking point that thing at me, we can't afford to let him die. Pump it straight into his fucking brain if you have to, just don't let his heart stop beating!"

No, no. Please. Just let me die. God, I can't even see anymore. Everything's just a white blur...

White... isn't that made up of all the colors? Shit, I should have paid more attention in art class...

But that's wrong then. A white blur doesn't fit this situation at all. There is no innocence in my death. No beauty for the eyes to conceive. There is no reality to my past.

Everything was a fucking lie. I shouldn't be able to see white. Nothing in my life is as central and true as the color white.

The color of this long ordained moment should be black. Pitch black, and impenetrable. A nothingness in which I can lose my lies into.

"One, two, three. Breathe dammit!"

Hah... am I a romantic or what?

"Dammit, Anna! Don't just sit around, give him another shot. No, two! This is crucial, we need to-"

Anna? She's here? Hah, I thought she went home earlier. Maybe the shift changes during the weekend?



I really dislike you Anna. I dislike your hair. Your frail smile. And the way you always seem to become stronger than me. I dislike your confidence and way you trust me so easily. I dislike the way you look at me. I dislike your secrets and your lies.

I really fucking hate you Anna, hate you for never even existing. Dammit Anna...

So why can't I stop thinking about you?

" octor! The d sage will never work. The mu ation your trying to trigger. t's idiotic! How will the mu agen adapt? The host will just reject the thing!" "Wit his im ne syste in that sh pe? H h."

" do 't c re wh he becomes, as ood s d a any ju t d it!"

Their w rds... Their sca tering...

F mil ar... Ch ist... t fam l ar.. A I re ly dy g? O ju . .


"He o fa go e. J t br g im adju e et g r ed."

"Alex? Alex? Can you hear me? Are you still useless?"


08/08 | 11:11 PM | ASLEEP6

My fevers only gotten worse as the hours passed. I can't stop shaking at this point. My fingers keep jerking, open and closed.

Every few minutes, the spasmodic coughing will subside and I'll start being optimistic. Oh look! It's finally passing. This little bug of mine. The new compound is kicking in. Storming through my veins and killing that fucking disease.


And I'll settle back, and try to sleep...

And then the spasms will start, my entire body will shoot forward and I'll struggle against the constraints of the bed for a bit. Futile, I know, these things are solid.


Every breath burns. My skin feels so cold... icy almost... but my insides, dear good lord, on fucking fire...

The nurses (Anna and Elissa) wont come inside as they had before. First of all, they all come in chaperoned by a guard. Either Sean or Hector. Second of all, they've started wearing Hazmat suits. The medial staff and the guards.

Is my health that brittle? Have I suddenly erupted into contagion?


Henry came in around midday, his usual genial smile hidden behind the plastic face of the suit, he asked me a few questions, none of which I answered. Not because I didn't want to communicate (GOD I WANTED TO COMMUNICATE) but because I couldn't.

I can't hear a damn thing anymore.

Only that fucking snarl. The break and clash of something in my head. Getting closer. Leaning into me. Something infected. Something inhumane. Something that never was.


The doctor just looked at me, incomprehension dawning on his face. Maybe I was saying something? Maybe...

Maybe it was gibberish? Maybe a prayer? Maybe just a plea to die...

He left quickly, flanked by a guard at his shoulder.

And I can't help but feel I am dying, and it's so scary for that to be a relief. But it is.

The burn will end. The monstrous sounds will end. And I'll finally be nothing again.




Burning. My body is burning. And I'm infected with a degenerative brain disease, is it too much to assume my sanity is being torn apart, as the seconds fly by?

If I close my eyes, it's really easy to imagine I'm back at the burning elementary school. The crack and boom. My searing body contrasting for the flames. My icy skin a testament to the chilly night air.

And the feral snarl, the danger and fear, of the night.

God, I

08/08 | 01:51 AM | ASLEEP5

Maybe I'm imagining things... but...

Well, I'll start with my fever. I've been sick since yesterday, but the meeting I had earlier with the doc... I don't really know how to say it, but fuck, it made it worse.

Sounds stupid, I know. But... Well, before talking to him, I was just a little warmer than usual. Nothing too uncomfortable, just a little warm. The air felt a tiny bit stifling, and I could feel that nonexistent humidity, but again, nothing really. But then I talked to the doc, and as soon as he drew attention to my small fever, it seemed to heighten.

I started to sweat far more profusely. My breaths began to burn. By the time he was out of the room, my body had broken out in a cold sweat.

Fucking weird.

I was hoping it was just the tension, that maybe my temperature might drop given enough time. That maybe all I needed was a little relaxation away from the stress.

I took a nap. Yeah, fuck it. I needed some rest.

But when I woke up, my whole body was writhing, and I was screaming.

And for a fraction of a second, where in I was awake and still numb enough to continue screaming, I heard my own voice piercing the sterile quiet of the hospital room I was in.

A Freak's scream. Horror piercing reality.

I bit down hard enough to draw blood and immediately, the scream ceased. My writhing body relaxed rigidly into a sweating, tense mass. But the bindings had done their job. I had not gotten away from the bed.


I glance up after a minute of laying there, cursing after each heavy breath, and I see two people, standing out there, beyond the door.

One is the nurse, Elissa, she has a rather large needle clutched in one hand, and a strained expression captured on her light features. She arguing with the other person.

And that other person is a guard. I can't see his face from the direction, but because he isn't balding, I think it's safe to say it's Sean out there. The 'real' Sean. He's blocking Elissa's path into the room. His large shiny submachine gun pointed easily into the room. Toward the bed. At me.

God, it hurts... am I really getting better?

After all... the last thing that's bothering me, and I really do hope I'm only imagining it...

A snarl.

It almost sounds like a cats. Distinctly feline, yet also distinctly dangerous. A sound meant to denote danger. Stay away! But far more feral. And far too similar to the dogs of my delusion. I heard it first as I awoke. Then five minutes ago. And again just now. At first it was faint, but I think it's getting louder...

I'm not sure...

Friday, August 7, 2009

08/07 | 05:50 PM | ASLEEP4


Huh... Oh... I'm sorry.

I... I guess it was too much for me. I sorta blanked out yesterday. After Doctor (FAKE) Henry talked to me... a day ago(?), I guess I just sorta shut down. Too much. I spent the next day in a numb daze. Seeing nothing. Being nowhere. Just sitting in this damn little room. Hearing the periodic clip and click of this damn machine next to the bed. The quiet punctuated by the occasional shuffle of the guards beyond the door.

Anna came in a few times, but I couldn't muster the energy to look at her. I kept expecting her face to twist and distort. Become something I never knew. But that's not too far off right?

Or what if she smiled and told me it's true. That she really injected Monica with infected blood. And she really strangled Monica and shot at Colin that night. All the while laughing that sick laugh I heard when she was confronted by Colin.

And then she opened her uniform, slowly and sultry, and revealed the bullet holes. Blood trickling from the largest hole over her heart.


She was never who I thought she was. And worse yet, she was never even real. And that really gets me. I spent a good part of yesterday dwelling on just that. I never knew a person who wasn't real. Christ...

God. Shit...

'Anna's' job appears to be the routinely change and administration of my IV dose. Once a day, she also takes a small amount of blood, for whatever reason.

But she clocks out at night. At night, another nurse comes - and imagine my surprise when I caught sight of this one. Her name's Elissa Rodger. That's pinned happily on her front. She's a nurse, like Anna (HAH), and I know her from my delusions too. She's the mother of the family we found butchered on the school's roof after the dog's visit, the night after Hector turned.

She entered blithely, smiled at me warmly, but just like Anna, she seemed strangely acute while near me.

I guess I can see why.


Then morning came today, and with it Anna. I happened to catch sight of the guards near the door as she entered and a thought struck me. After all, if Anna, Henry, and Elissa had been in my delusion, what about them?

"Are they named Sean and Hector?"

It was out of my mouth before I could think about it. And as soon as it was out, I realized how stupid I sounded. Suddenly asking such a weird sounding question. What would she make of it, as a medical professional? Would she think I was rambling gibberish? Falling back into delusions?

Ugh... Immediately, I wanted to clear up any misunderstandings. But as I turned to face her, her expression caught me off guard: dumbfounded.

"The... guards at the door? Yes. Yes, I've asked their names. Sean and Hector. How did you know?"



Doctor Henry appeared at midday. As he had the first I'd awoken here. He hadn't appeared yesterday, but I figure that probably had more to do with my mental state then. With the same genial smile he had then (FAKE), he asked me if there was anything I'd like to report. Any medical questions I might have.

I told him no, not because that was the honest answer, but because I didn't want to see him. I wanted him to go away and stay away. His face... the resemblance... it honestly sickened me.

But Henry, with the same stupid smile that never touched his eyes, simply looked down at the little clipboard he carried, and noted that I'd been running a tiny fever, and I had been coughing more than usual. Then, with the tone of a teacher scolding a brat, he asked me why I hadn't mentioned that.

Fucking machines. I told him I hadn't really noticed. He nodded, crossed something off on his list and then asked about the question I'd asked Anna earlier. About how I'd known the guards names were Sean and Hector.

Just a hunch, I'd told him. More spite than tease in my voice. But his features sharpened and he dropped the friendly (FAKE) smile for a few moments. His eyes burning with something like condensed disgust.


But as soon as I spotted it, it was gone. The doctor told me to rest. Tomorrow they would try another dose of the fluid running nonstop into my arm. He warned me that it would be best if I was rell-rested then.

And then he left.

I really am running a fever. As soon as he left the room, I dropped the tough guys act and sort of crumpled. My chest sorta burned with every breath and I was sweating more than usual. I buried my face in the pillows, not much else I could do, and tried to sleep.

The pillow's tag stuck out near the end of the pillowcase. Fully within my view then. But instead of washing or drying instructions, the little tag was scrawled with a familiar word: useLESS.




Wednesday, August 5, 2009

08/05 | 11:04 PM | ASLEEP3

I couldn't sleep after talking with... 'Anna'.

But how can I refer to her as that? She's not the Anna I knew. Or thought I knew. And here, I'm left wondering if the Anna I knew was ever even real. Or just some fucked up figment of my damn imagination.

Anna Santiago, as her name tag reads, is a junior nurse at St. Rudnick Hospital. She came back in at dawn to draw some of my blood into a tiny little vial. I tried to question her further, to draw some shred of evidence that she was the same Anna I knew, but she just smiled serenely and wouldn't answer any of my questions.

I think someone outside, beyond this little room, berated her for speaking to me so freely. So openly. And why the fuck not. I'm infected apparently.

Anna too, was careful when she drew blood from me. Latex gloves and every time I fidgeted, she jumped a bit. Which I'm pretty sure made her dangerous with a needle. But we got through it, and she retreated out of the room.


I'm still bound down with a strange series of gray bindings and wraps. They press my body to the bed. I was going to ask about getting these fucking things off at first. I thought that would be pretty do-able. I mean, it's not like I'm a raving infected Freak.

And then, when Anna exited my room at dawn, I caught sight of someone standing outside the room, just beyond the door. A certain person dressed in military camouflage and toting a large shiny metallic submachine gun.

And then there's the fact that there's a rather large glass covering the wall opposite my bed. Extremely shiny. But also extremely obvious.

I've seen them before in a scared straight program where I was led into a police interrogation room as a kid shoplifter: a two-way mirror. I didn't need to turn off the lights and hold a flashlight to it to be sure. I'm positive.

I'm a prisoner. I'm infected.

The doctor Anna mentioned came in around midday.

He was an elderly fellow. Graying hair, kinda short, a happy little grin captured on his sharp features. But his smile didn't reach his eyes which were unnaturally focused. Watching every detail.

Yes... I knew this man's name too, even before he introduced himself as Dr. Henry Kiper Lucas II.

Son of a bitch.

With a smile, he urged me to call him by his first name, Henry.

I sort of wanted to cry then. Maybe he noticed that, because he backed up a few steps (BECAUSE I'M A DANGEROUS CREATURE RIGHT??? CAN'T BE TOO CAREFUL WITH ME) and asked me what was wrong.

I couldn't answer. Jesus Christ, how can you answer that?

How can you explain to this phony little loon that you'd known him before. That you'd both been survivors of the end of the world? That you'd both been captured by slavers, escaped, and joined together as companions? That you'd lived together in the empty remains of a once bustling city. That you'd faced the danger of mutated creatures together every single night?

Simple: you didn't.

And I wanted to cry.

The doctor, Henry, explained to me that roughly a month ago, a few days before the time I started to relay my days in this manner - I was infected by a new and dangerous disease: CJD2S4 - a variation of Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease.

The good doctor sat in a little chair beside my bed, and with a painful expression of mourning on his face (FAKE. FAKE EXPRESSION - IT DIDN'T TOUCH HIS EYES), he informed me that I had fallen victim to this new disease, and gone into a horribly violent psychosis.

In my dementia, I'd murdered my family. Locked myself in my own home for a week. Escaped wildly, attacked random people, entered a school near my home, attacked many of the students before locking myself within the school's halls, and finally setting the school's central building on fire.

I was captured then, and was brought to the hospital. To be treated for my disease. I had been treated with a new compound, the good doctor explained slowly (Because he thinks I'm stupid - he thinks the disease rotted parts of my BRAIN) and, so far, the new formula was demonstrating incredible success.

The compound that was now being constantly administered through my IV had brought me out of my psychosis, away from the End-of-the-world post-apocalypse I'd imagined.

Henry promised me that, though this formula was not the cure, this was certainly the correct course. From here, the cure would be attainable. He explained, that at this point I was immensely important. Hundreds around the glove could already be infected with this disease, as it spread rapidly through fluid-to-fluid contact.

And he got up, leaving me behind in my silent stupor.

I couldn't talk then. Everything was coming to fast. Freaky - as I'd 'imagined' it, had never existed. Everything that I thought had happened in the last month had never been? And the others... Anna, Henry, Hector, and Sean... were they just shadows of reality my mind reflected into my false world?

What the fuck?

I'd killed my family? I was the infected? I...



08/05 | 01:12 AM | ASLEEP2

"Are you awake?"

Who's tha- Holy fucking shit. Wow... Ugh...

My head... Fuck... God, fucking jackhammer-

"Hey... can you open your eyes?"

Leave me alone... I... I want to slee... Wait, what? Who's that?

"I guess you can't. That's alright. Just rest. You need your sleep. The doctor will be in to see you tomorro-... well I guess it's later today."

That voice? That voice! Anna? Anna!


I opened my eyes then.

Bright. Blinding. I had to close them again. I tried to sit up but there was something on me, restraining my movements. It held me back. Held me down.

But... Anna! She was so close by. What's going on? Wasn't she shot? Wasn't she dead? Anna... what?

I saw a figure before me. A slender shape in the light, standing somewhere to my side. But-

My eyes searched for her face and our eyes met. Her eyes widened then, and for the first time, I took in the rest of the room.

White. Clean. Spotless. Sterile. A hospital room. I was lying on a tidy little bed in the middle of this large room. An IV stuck into my arm. A gray little machine beside the bed rounding off strange figures and graphs. A series of gray straps ran around the bed, tying me down.

And Anna... she was standing beside the bed. Dressed as a nurse. A little tray in her hands. A vial with crimson liquid beside a syringe and little packs.

I tried to rise again but the straps held me back once again. At the sight of my efforts, Anna took a step back, but didn't retreat.

I called to her. My voice was raspy, but coherent nonetheless. My throat ached strangely, like I was dehydrated. But I had to call her. Anna, I eventually had to spit. I asked her what the hell was going on.

Hey eyes widened further still and her response only confused me:

"How... how did you know my name?"

Then she blinked and she grabbed a little tag that was pinned to her front:

"Ooh. You read my name-tag. Yes. My name is Anna. I'm a nurse at this hospital... "

What? But... what?

She... Anna's a nurse? But... she... How could she be a nurse? She... She... Wasn't she a college freshman? No wait. Beyond that, wasn't she shot? How is she...?

I voiced my questions to her then. I asked her why she was dressed as a nurse. I asked about her wounds. And I tried to ask about Colin. About Monica. About where the hell we were, but her expression silenced me.

Incredulity; she was looking at me as if I were stupid.

"Don't worry. I know you're confused. You... You've been sick, Alex... you... you were infected by Frea-... by a... a variant of Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease... It's called CJD2S4. A very serious degenerative brain disease... You've been sick for the last month."

What? I've been infected? By CJD2-what the fuck ever? What's that? But... what? What the hell? When did I get infected? I... What... but... Henry? Oh shit, Henry! Is he alive? Did he survive? What about Colin? And his mom... MONICA. Oh my god, was she really infected? Did... did Anna really inject her with infected dog blood???

Too many questions running through a beaten path. My head ached, and my eyes watered just keeping them open. But I had to ask. About my gun shot wounds... about the others... about Anna... about...

What the hell was going on?

"You've been... you were admitted to this hospital a month ago... after you... after... your family..."

A month ago? A MONTH AGO???

What the hell? That... that isn't possible... I...

I asked for the date.

Anna... Anna told me it was Wednesday. The fifth of August. 2009.

One day after Colin shot me. One day since Anna was shot by Colin. One day since I lit the school ablaze...

Impossible. What the fuck is going on?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

08/04 | 01:37 PM | ASLEEP1


God. It's so hot.

Where's Colin? I... can't see him... Well I can't see anything... but...

Anna? Henry? Are they alive? God... my fucking eyes are too heavy...

What's going on?


Am I dead?


What's... going... on? I feel so eavy...

Wh t?

"I think it's working."

Wha 's going on? Who's that? What's w rk ng?

Uu gh... My head... Wh t's... going on

"Quick! Call Lucas! This is it. This is what we've been waiting for!"

W at? M t oughts... Wh 's Lu as? Wh t t e fu k?

"Careful. We can't loose him. Increase the dosage. We can't let this chance go to waste. This is the breakthrough we've been waiting for."

W t t hell? D mn... w t's g ing. . On? W ell

"We've got him."

ell it a

Th ? ?

T that's