Sunday, August 9, 2009

#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.


  1. YEAHQG!!!!
    Thank you for updating, and they has sex naow?

  2. Oh finally, reading now.