Tuesday, November 05, 2013
EIGHT | YOU AND ME
Got a light in your eyes, I can see it
Look into my mind to believe it
-Lana Del Rey
Denson and I are sitting in the living room, the soft glow of the burning logs in the fireplace setting the tone for our conversation. Louis' bright red firetruck rests lazily on the coffee table. The three men who accompany him are outside the door, presumably to keep watch - although I know they are there to prevent me from leaving.
I shift in my seat, my eyes diverting back to Elvis' dark corner; the one he always emerges from. Denson takes a sip from a metal canister and then slips it back into a pouch in his black jacket. The residue leaves a red tint on his lips. He leans back and examines me.
"So how long have you been out here, Katherine?" He asks, my name sounding so foreign on his tongue.
"I want to know where Phillip is." I answer coldly, putting extra emphasis on the little boy's name.
"I can't answer that question, Katherine, because I don't know who Phillip is." Denson says, unfolding his arms from his chest and laying them on the armrest. "Why don't you tell me?"
"He's the boy that was with me. I heard him screaming upstairs!" I jump from my seat but Denson doesn't move, doesn't even seem threatened by me. "What did you guys do to him?"
He nods his head and then looks up at me. "All you had to do was say that Phillip is the boy upstairs." Denson smiles and gets up from the chair. My heart stops and without thinking, I grab onto the man's outstretched hand.
"I want to see him! He's all I have, I need to see him" I say through tears and sobs. In this new world, all I had were those who stuck by me. Maggie. Phillip. They are all that matters and I want them by my side again. I can't walk this wasteland without them. "What did you do to him?!" I scream, letting go of Denson's hand and backing away.
Through the strands of dirty hair and with tears fogging my view, I spot Elvis standing still behind Denson.
"Elvis!" I run to him and fall on my knees in front of him, not unlike a worshipper of Christ. "Please help me! Please!" I beg like a child, grabbing and pulling frantically on his crisp, white jumpsuit. The King. He stands so proud, looking down at me with such sorrow and sadness. But he doesn't say a word. I confided in him all these times and now he stands in front of me in my darkest hour and he doesn't say a peep. Not a word.
Denson creeps in behind me and rests his hand on my shoulder. I snap around, expecting him to hit me or tie me up but he only carries the same look as Elvis in his eyes. He pities me.
"Don't look at me like that!" I yell, getting to my feet and facing Denson. I can barely recognize my own voice. I feel something stir in the pit of my stomach. Something weird is going on and it is scaring the fuck out of me.
"There's nobody there, Katherine."
"SHUT UP!" I clench my fists and I can feel all of the muscles in my body tense up like a steak does when you cook it too quickly. I'm heating up, I can feel the fire burning in the pit of my stomach like an insatiable hunger.
"Katherine - You have to calm down!" Denson says, his arms extended out in front of him like a negotiator. As if I was the one scaring him. He came into MY cabin and changed MY world. He had no right. "When's the last time you've had some, Katherine? You need - "
"You did this!" I bark through barred teeth, spitting like a mad dog. "You took Maggie! You hurt Phillip!" I grab the wooden table that sits between the chairs and swing it at Denson. The red firetruck falls to the floor and shatters. I run towards the staircase, towards Phillip.
I make the landing and turn left into Maggie and I's bedroom. The shutters are open again and there's a warm breeze coming in from the barren wasteland. My eyes scan the room until they rest on Phillip, lying on his back on my bed. I run to his side and I kneel down besides the bed.
"Oh Phillip..." He's so pale. I run a hand in his untidy hair and gently tap on his cheeks. I want a response. I want him to open his eyes. "Phillip!" Move. Breath. Phillip, why won't you move.
And then Denson's voice echoes behind me. "He's dead, Katherine. So is she."
Dead? She? But...I look over to Maggie's bed and find it with her lying in it. Still and peaceful. And pale. As if she had been drained of her blood.
"Maggie!" I can't stop crying and can barely say her name. Gooseflesh run along the sides of my arm like wild horses chasing after game. I go to her side and lay down beside her. I brush a few white hairs away from her eyes and seeing her makes me smile. She's finally back. I lose myself to the blissful feeling that rushes inside me at the sight of Maggie and completely forget that Denson is here. That Phillip is dead. That Maggie is dead.
"They're..." I turn towards Denson, "...dead?" I say the words but I can't bring myself to believe them. It can't be. I must have been poisoned by the air outside. That must be it. "I'm hallucinating," I whisper it, almost to myself. I run my hand through my hair, tugging at it just a bit to make sure I'm not dreaming.
Denson snickers and cocks his eyebrow. "That's funny."
"What did you say?"
"Oh, I just said how funny your last comment was. You see, we've been watching this place for weeks now, Katherine, and do you know what we saw a lot of? We saw a lot of you talking with nobody -"
He keeps talking but I don't hear him. I hear Louis, laughing because we just surprised him on his sixth birthday...
"Happy birthday Louis!" I say, kneeling down to his height. He smiles as I hand him his present.
"What is it?" He asks, unable to remain calm.
"Open it and see!"
Louis drops to the floor with the box in front of him and proceeds to tear at the wrapping paper. I laugh while mom takes a polaroid shot of the moment Louis sees the red firetruck. He squeals and jumps in my arms.
"Thank you! Thank you!"
Louis' tight embrace leaves me almost breathless but I manage to say: "I'm glad you like it!"
Mom walks into the living room with my other brother beside her. He's always beside her. "Okay now it's Phillip's turn to give you his present. Go on, Phillip." My mom says, whisking my brother towards Louis.
Just as Phillip hands his present to Louis, my dad walks in the living room with the phone in his hands. "It's for you." He says, slurring his words. He'd obviously been drinking. Louis, Phillip, and I stop what we're doing to watch.
Mom gives him the evil eye and grabs the phone. "Hello. Oh, hi Maggie. You still picking up the kids tonight? Great. See you soon." She hangs up, and all three of us are looking at her.
"Don't all look so excited." She says sarcastically. "I thought you loved spending time with Granma?"
"We do," Phillip says and turns towards me, blood dripping from his mouth. "It's just that Katherine's going to kill her. And then she's going to kill me."
I go to shout, to say something but I find my voice lost. The room starts to spin and my vision becomes blurry as if I was the one drunk. Mom goes out of focus and I stumble forward and fall onto the wood floor, right at Denson's feet.
I roll over and crawl towards the wall. My stomach churns and I feel like I'm going to vomit. I lean against the wall and tuck my knees in.
"What just happened..." I say, shaking all over, from within.
Denson inches forward, excitement in his eyes. "Did you just remember your old life?"
"Yes." I answer calmly. I'm in shock; This isn't making any sense. They're not my family. We just met. "I didn't kill them! He says I did, but I didn't. I couldn't." I look over at the beds where they lay quiet and still as stars in the night's sky.
"You did kill them Katherine," Denson says as he approaches me. His words stab me in the heart. I look up at him and I don't see malice in his eyes, but rather concern. "When we found this cabin two weeks ago they were already dead. You went out exploring one day and we searched the place, found these two bodies. They were your family, am I correct? Blood had been drained from both their bodies and that's when we knew." His eyes meet mine and a smirk appears on his face.
"That's when you knew what?" I say, forcing the words out because I'm starting to figure it out. All of those memories I've supressed are all coming back to me in rapid, succesive flashes.
Granma Maggie, picking us up at home. We had to leave Louis because he had eaten too much cake and wasn't feeling well. Before leaving, he had handed me his firetruck. Then the Great Shake happened while we were on a long deserted stretch of highway. The earth shook and cracked all around us. We were safe on what we later called Highway Island. We were surrounded by fissures and fountains of lava. All we could see for miles was darkness and death. All we had was the car and the little food that was in it. After a few days we had to leave. And that's when we encountered the ghostly figures for the first time.
They were just like us in appearance but they were also shadows, unable to walk in our world as they were still bound to the one they called home. At first they stayed away from us and as we trekked our way over and around the new landscaped of our Earth, they slowly started approaching us. A month after the Great Shake, we were attacked in the night. I was attacked.
When I woke I was different. I felt a tightening in my stomach and had sudden urges to feed an ever growing appetite. It was devouring me from the inside. Granma Maggie, Phillip, and I kept on walking and they were oblivious of what had happened to me. On the outside I hadn't changed, but something within me had.
Several days later we found the cabin. We made good of the cans and dried food we found. I ate and I ate but still that tight pressure in my stomach continued to grow. One day, Phillip was sleeping and I was arguing with Maggie downstairs. I can't remember what happened that made me snap but I grabbed the frying pan and smacked it across her head. I cried. I hated myself as I saw the pool of blood forming around her head. The smell of it was intoxicating. My nostrils flared and I felt my stomach tighten like never before. I was so hungry.
"STOP IT!" I yell, zoning back to reality, back to now with Denson. He's looking at me again with that strange expression. "What is it you knew, Denson? What did I do?"
"You and me, we're the same Katherine." He says, smiling. "We're vampires."
SEVEN | ALL YOU NEED
All you need
Is some peace
While you are here
-Lana Del Rey
I wait outside of the cabin, in the scorching heat as Phillip struggles to leave the place he's come to associate with security and comfort. I keep reassuring him that I'm here, that I won't leave him - but he can't bring himself to step outside. The lava that erupts every so often from the fissures combined with the completly absent landscape and dead vegetation is most likely not helping the situation.
"Phillip, you can't stay there forever. Come on, already." I stomp my foot and cross my arms, as a desperate sign of frustration. Something I never would have been caught dead doing when Earth was still buzzing with life.
"It's..." He looks around, his eyes constantly jetting back to the black skies. "It's...I can't, Katherine. I just can't."
"Phillip! We can't stay here! It's not safe anymore. Those men will find us again!" I gesture for him to step outside but he just shakes his head.
"Why are you afraid of them?! Why can't we just fight them!"
"Because...Because they scare me, Phillip." I drop my pack and let out a deep sigh. This isn't the time for us to fiddle around outside. Those men can be watching us as we speak. "But I'm ready to venture out."
Phillip's eyes suddenly go black and his pupils grow to the size of quarters. He tilts his head and I spot blood around his collar. It seems fresh. He claps his hands togheter and snaps me out of my daze.
"You aren't ready at all." I see a flash of tears and twisted lips before Phillip turns and runs back inside the cabin. I retrieve the small axe from my pack and run in after him.
I scan the kitchen and the adjacent rooms quickly, my heart pounding so hard against my chest that I can feel it resonate throughout my body. What the fuck had just happened? For some reason, as my eyes adjust to the dim-lighted cabin, I come to the conclusion that something is off.
"Phillip! Where are you?" I scream out loud, but he doesn't answer. I think back to those dark-roasted eyes settled on me. "Don't leave me alone!" I yell even louder, my fingers clenched togheter in a fist. Tear suddenly break and I crumble to the floor. I sob and dust rises from the wood floors with every shallow breath I take.
I'm alone. Everyone is leaving me.
I crawl towards the corner in front of the staircase and curl myself in a ball, my knees tucked tightly against my chest. My messy hair falls around me as I bury my face in my knees. It feels like the whole room is spinning around me, faster and faster.
The cabin suddenly starts to shake violently. Old picture frames fall and crash on the floor, as does the vintage chinawear that sits over the counter. The windows rattle and the stairs creak furiously and I just wrap my arms around my knees and bring them in even closer. I don't look.
"STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!"
Voices begin to echo and bounce off the walls. First I hear Maggie, telling me about what happened to Earth when I first woke up. Then Louis, my six year old brother, telling me how much he loves his present. I had bought him a red firetruck with my allowance, I remember it vividly. And just as quickly, Phillip's voice rings out and it is one of distress.
"PHILLIP!" I scream, lifting my head, my eyes opened as wide as quarters. Hair falls sporadically in front of my face, dancing to the rythmn of my heaving. "PHILLIP!"
I jump to my feet as I hear the pleas for help again. It's coming from one of the upstairs bedroom. "PHILLIP!" My feet hit the stairs before I even have time to grab the banister. I reach the second floor landing in three seconds and I immediately go for Phillip's bedroom.
I take a deep breath and open the door. There's nobody there. Just then, another scream comes - from Maggie and I's bedroom. I collect my wits and remember that Phillip is only thirteen. Something is attacking the people that I now call my family and I need to defend them. It took Maggie and now it wants to take Phillip. I won't let it!
"I'm coming Phillip!" Before I even exit Phillip's room, a man appears in the hallway. And it isn't just a random man; it's the one that looked up at me the day Phillip and I were visited. The one with the crisp trenchcoat and the strange look in his eyes. He's holding something in his right hand and it seems to be Louis' firetruck.
"What do you want! Leave us alone!" I scream and back away. That man genuinely scares me. For someone who survived an earthquake of apocalyptic proportions, he's pretty damn clean. Plus, there's something about the way he moves, it's almost snake like. He doesn't seem surprised to see me, I would even say he seems pleased. Our eyes lock and he starts walking towards me.
"How about we start by introducing ourselves?" He says, extending his hand, "My name is Denson."
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
SIX | TEENAGE WASTELAND
Let's get out of this place,
Cause you're starting to waste,
Within this teenage wasteland.
- Lana Del Rey
The Great Shake has disturbed most of our atmosphere and the rising dust clouds have cast us into a hazy darkness. We are rarely visited by the sun and as I contemplate my ragged state in the bathroom, I notice just how much my pale skin reflects that sad reality.
My conversation with Elvis kept me up most of the night, thinking about strategies and plans for Phillip and myself. I figure our best option would be to leave the cabin and go searching for more profitable grounds, if any still exist. Those four men who found us will surely come back and I don't want us to be here when they do.
I close my pack and head downstairs where Phillip is finishing up the chores around the kitchen. He lifts his head when he hears me and smiles. I smile back and throw my pack on the chair beside him.
"Are you heading out?" He asks me, and puts down his rag. There is genuine concern in his eyes.
"We both are," I start, waiting for his reaction. He only gives me a sideways glance, slightly puzzled by my declaration. "Those men are going to come back. I think I know a place where there are more survivors, we're going to head out there today."
"What do you mean, "other survivors"? Katie, we can't go out there, you told me so yourself." His voice is strained and I can tell he's trying to hide his fear. He's trying to be brave for me and it warms my heart.
"I told you that because that is what Maggie told me - and she isn't here anymore." I see him look away, towards the view outside the window. "I didn't mean it that way, Phillip. It's just...Maybe Maggie was wrong, maybe there is more out there then we know."
When Phillip looks back at me, his eyes are filled with tears and the skin on those puffy little cheeks are turning red. He couldn't play tough any longer. "Katie..."
I run to him."I know it's scary, Phillip. I'm scared too, you don't have to hide it." I get down on one knee and, like Elvis did to me last night, I hold onto Phillip's hand and look into his eyes. "Hey, everything will be okay. I promise you, I'll find us a safe place to live."
He nods and looks away. "Is there any more Mapleroots?" And accompanying his words was a low grumble in his stomach.
I hold him at arm's lenght and smile. "We're going to have to find some. On our own." I answer him, wiping away the tears in his eyes. I get back up on my feet and sling the pack over my shoulder, trying desperately not to display my anxiety. Because I have so much of it building inside me.
What if we don't find anyone? What if I am unable to distinguish what is Mapleroots and what isn't? I've never seen it's original state, only the hot brews that Maggie prepared for us. I've gone out exploring once and it almost got me in trouble when I spotted the people by the fissures. Maggie had warned me about them later, told me to stay away, that they were not what they seemed. It scared me to think what could happen to us out there, in the wastelands.
"Are you ready, Katie?" Phillip asks, tearing me out of my mental exhile.
I take a second to examine him. My Phillip; with his dishevelled hair, his turned up nose, and cute-as-a-button smile. I have to fight for him, to make this new world seem less of a burden on him. We are going to make it.
"Let's go." I say, as calmly as I can.
Monday, October 07, 2013
FIVE | MY BEST DAYS
I asked you beside me
I have you, yes I have you
- Lana Del Rey
The fireplace is crackling and spitting embers on the wooden floors of the living room. It's warmth is making me drowzy. I bury myself further in the blankets and keep my eyes on the starless night sky that looks down at me through the foggy windows. For a moment, I imagine myself in my old victorian bed. Just for a moment.
"Are you just going to stare out the window?" He says, snapping me back to reality.
I shift in my seat and place myself to face my guest. His presence alone comforts me, reminds me of times back home with mom when we would sing his songs on rainy Sunday afternoons. He came to me in times of need, and for that I will always be grateful.
I smile. "It's surprisingly easy to get distracted when you're alone."
"Where's Phillip?" Elvis asks, his eyes masked by those dark sunglasses.
I look towards the kitchen. Shadows from the fire's light bounces off the staircase. "He's sleeping." I reach for my cup and take a sip of my warm Mapleroots tea.
"So," he says, and gives me that trademark smirk, "why did you call me here tonight, cupcake?"
That nickname. It gives me butterflies in the pit of my stomach everytime he says it. And with that charming, southern accent.
"I just wanted to talk. It's lonely without Maggie."
"Maggie," He whispers, "have you found out what happened to her?"
I take another sip of soothing, hot Mapleroots tea and set the cup down on the table. When I look back up, there are tears in my eyes. Elvis gives me a sympathetic smile and I return it in kind. The only time I come close to feeling joy since her dissapearance is in moments like these; having a chat by the fireplace with the King.
"Phillip doesn't understand what I'm going through. I mean, it's understandable, he's never met her. But losing her and then having Phillip suddenly wake up is all so confusing. He's not at all what I thought he would be."
"And how is he copping with this new landscape?"
I roll my eyes and sigh. "A lot better than me. He's only thirteen -"
Elvis cuts me off. "And you're only sixteen, cupcake. And this sure ain't Memphis anymore." His tone is smooth and comforting, and I know he's telling me this to reassure me but at which point does his exitence becomes my imagination?
"But I need to be there for him." I shrug and look away, slightly bothered by my own conclusion. Maybe he is just part of my imagination. "Like I need you to be there for me. Are you really there, Elvis?"
He smiles and leans forward, taking my hand into his. He rubs it gently and looks into my eyes. "I'm here cupcake. Now tell me why it is you really called me here tonight."
I take back my hand and slide off the couch. I kind of push Elvis as I make my way around him and into the kitchen. I lean against the counter and take a deep breath. Phillip and I can't possibly make it on our own, we don't have the knowledge that Maggie possessed. I don't know where to find Mapleroots or how to salvage toxic waters. It was always Maggie who had done that. Always Maggie.
I turn around to face Elvis, his handsome face almost completly covered by darkness. All I can see is that signature smirk on his lips.
"I wanted some advice..." I look away, "about what to do next?"
Silence. He loses his smirk and for some reason, the air shifts in the room. I first notice the dying fire and then a sudden heavy weight on my body.
"I'm not a tour guide, Katherine Elizabeth Calvert. Nor am I here to meddle in your affairs. You will have to find your own way through the wastelands." He says, with finality.
"But i'm -"
And he vanishes. The fire roars back to life and I feel the air around me get thinner and lighter. The cabin remains eerily silent as I contemplate his last words.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
FOUR | LAST GIRL ON EARTH
No one lives forever
But that's no reason to give up
- Lana Del Rey
"I don't think she's coming back, Katie." Phillip chimes in, as I pace around the living room. Katie. Nobody's called me that in well over seven months; it soothes me when he reminds me of home.
Phillip's resting carelessly on the kitchen counter as if Maggie hadn't been gone for four days. Something terribly bad happened; I know it and he knows it but I can't believe it.
"No. She has to come back." I feel my heart beating through my chest and I can't stop fidgeting, and I hate when people fidget. "Want some Mapleroots?" I ask Phillip.
"I'm not thirsty." He answers, and jumps off the counter. "What is your plan if she doesn't come back?"
"She will. I mean, she has to..." I walk into the kitchen and rest against the counter. I blow away the strands of rebellious brown hair that have fallen in my face and contemplate the situation. I don't know what I would do if she doesn't come back. I can't take care of us. I just can't.
"Katherine," Phillip says with urgency, his eyes glued to the kitchen door, "There are people outside the cabin."
My heart tugs at me, and fear like I've never experienced before ravages my inside. I run towards Phillip, grab him by the hand and drag him behind me as I lead us towards the bedroom upstairs. A sudden burst outside fills the windows with a bright light and we are momentarily blinded.
"WHAT IS THAT?" Phillip cries out and I feel his grip tighten.
"Just stay close to me!" I feel my skin burn when the light touches it but I say nothing to Phillip.
I run up the stairs with Phillip behind me and we find shelter in Maggie and I's bedroom. I start moving furniture in front of the door and Phillip soon helps until everything in the room is blocking that entrance.
I tiptoe towards one of the windows and see the little one following me. "Phillip, stay away from the windows!"
"I want them to go away!" He yells.
"Shhh, I want to see who they are." I whisper, peering out of the window. Just when I look out, one of the four men turns his head and looks up straight at me.
Phillip continues with his eerie chant. "I want them to go away! I want them to go away! I want them to go away!"
I turn towards him and shush him. When I look back out the window, I find that all of the men have dissapeared. In a instance, they vanished. Phillip had wanted them to go away.
"How did you do that?" I walk up to Phillip and put my hands on his shouler. "Phillip, how did you do that?"
"I don't know. What happened? Did they leave?" Phillip shrugs my hands off of his shoulder and hugs me. "Did they leave, Katie?" I hear Louis just then. I hear sorrow and pain, and I can't have Phillip living this way.
I return the gesture and wrap my arms around him. I ruffle his untidy black hair and give him a kiss on the forehead. "Yeah, they left. I scared them away!"
"Race you to the last Mapleroots?" Phillip says, looking up at me. A smile forms on his lip and it amazes me how much that makes me happy. I want him to be safe. What happened today opened my eyes; we need to arm ourselves.
"No need, you can have it. I'll go out tomorrow to get some more."
He gives me one last squeeze and we begin to remove all of the stuff we used to block the door. Maybe Maggie won't come back, maybe she will. But after tonight, I don't have to worry about it any longer.
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
THREE | FIND MY OWN WAY
We don't need anybody when we're down
We don't really find it hard to get around
We'll find our own way back to town
- Lana Del Rey
I wake up in a puddle of my own sweat for the third time this week. I must be down with the flu or something. I manage to pull my legs to the edge of the bed and struggle with the remaining part of my body. I don't want to move; what's the point anyways?
As I finally push myself out of bed, I notice that Maggie's bed is empty. She's normally awake and at it before I even finish my dreams but this morning something catches my eye; the old woman's bed is untidy and the blankets seem just thrown about. Maggie never leaves her bed in this state.
I tiptoe towards the door and peer out, listening for any odd sounds from the hallway or below - but there is nothing. I check in on Phillip and see that he's still as ever, his shiny black hair glued to his forehead with sweat. It's a shame his eyes are closed because he was blessed with the most beautiful blue eyes; the colour of the ocean. I sigh and bow my head. Poor Phillip, I think to myself.
With that thought in mind, I close the door and make my way down to the main floor. I half-expect to see Maggie resting in the living room, with a generous helping of Mapleroots, the only thing that is still eatable in this God-forsaken wasteland. It's a tedious process to extract the juices from - I guess you could call it a fruit - but Maggie had excelled at it. I also suspect she may be out exploring for hidden treasures, such as canned goods. Those are a gem nowadays.
Knowing she may be out for a few hours, I decide to tidy up the place before her return. Maggie does alot for us - Phillip and I - and the least I could do is help her with the chores. The cabin is small and we don't do much to dirty it, but soon before long I find myself dusting the place and whistling my favourite Nancy Sinatra song.
I get lost in the nostalgia and begin to dance while cleaning, even giving in to bursts of laughter here and there. I'm spinning in circles in the living room when a male voice catches me off guard.
"Who are you?!"
I stop, search for Elvis, but when my attention rests on the staircase, I realise it isn't he that is talking. It is Phillip.
"I can't believe you're awake..." A lump forms in my throat and tears well up in my eyes. Phillip hasn't moved a muscle since we found him let alone utter a single word. He looks so distraught, scared.
"Where are my parents?" His voice is cracked and strained. Regardless, it carries with it a certain worry. I look into into his eyes, blue against blue, and I try to form a smile.
"Whoa, Phillip! It's okay, let me explain."
"What is this strange place?" He backs up as I approach, tears forming in those beautiful blue eyes. "Who are you?" Phillip asks again. I know him but he doesn't know me. The feeling is strange and now I understand how Maggie must have felt when she found me, when I awoke to this new world.
"I don't want to hurt you. Maggie and I found you. There's been a terrible tragedy, Phillip. We're all that remains, and you must trust me." I extend my arms forward in sign of solidarity. He keeps backing up, afraid and skeptical. "Look outside if you want, there is nothing left but fissures and ghostly figures that prey on the livestock."
Phillip remains still on the third step, his big blue eyes locked on mine. He doesn't look away, doesn't blink. My heart flutters with excitement and fear, as I cannot predict what Phillip will do next. It must be hard for a thirteen year old to process this much information. To come to the conclusion by himself that his entire family has perished.
"What are you thinking about, Phillip?" I ask, taking a few steps towards the staircase. He keeps his sight on me but doesn't move. I'm only a few years older than him, surely he doesn't feel threatened by me?
"Is this hell?"
I can't resist. I rush up the stairs and wrap my arms around him. He buries his head in my embrace and begins to sob. I can't help but to imagine Louis in my arms - my adorable six year old brother.
The sun sets as Phillip and I cry in the creaking staircase, waiting for Maggie to come back.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
TWO | ELVIS
Elvis, where are you
When I need you most
White comp sequin jumpsuit ghost
- Lana Del Rey
"Have you lost your mind, child?" Maggie screams, dropping the blankets on the sofa. I've never seen her get so pale so quickly before. She looked stricken with worry.
"Don't talk down to me like that! I saw some of them down by the mill. They were lurking around the fissures! Humans, Maggie." My eyes open wide, with excitement or fear I do not know. But for the first time in six months, I feel alive.
The tingling in my body reminds me of summers by the cape and the rush of blood to my head brings back feelings of hope; a feeling I've so desperately searched for since the Great Shake. But again, Maggie seems unconvinced.
"You were crazy enough to wander off, and crazier still for approaching the fissures. That's where they come out from. Are you trying to get yourself killed, Katherine, because I know -"
"I am not crazy. I know what I saw. Maggie, please believe me. Please." I cut her off. She despises signs of disrespect and I usually don't display them but I am sure of what I saw. I know I saw humans. I clasp my hands togheter in sign of mercy. I need her to believe me, to validate that there is still life out there, that we're not the only ones left.
She rests those fading blue eyes on mine and I can't tell if she's glaring at me or pitying me.
"Katherine, I don't want you out and about, exploring the wasteland anymore. There are things you don't quite understand yet but I can assure you that what you saw at the fissures, those humans, they are not what they seem to be." Maggie finally said.
She picked up the blankets and continued on as if I had said nothing. She made her way up the stairs and left me in the kitchen. But I couldn't doubt her, though, not after what we've been through.
Maggie had found me in New-York, even though I was from California. I was pretty roughed up and it took her several months to get me back on my feet. I had and still don't have any memories of the Great Shake. Once I was able to walk, we made our way north - Maggie thought the colder temperatures might mean lesser chances of being surrounded by fissures and eruptions. We found Phillip somewhere in Canada, he was unconscious. We carried him in a stretcher Maggie made with branches and twine. She was handy and I admired her skills and determination to never let go.
Then we found this place, two months ago. We placed Phillip in the smaller bedroom upstairs and ever since, Maggie has been feeding him liquids and keeping him alive. He hasn't moved, he hasn't spoken, and he probably never will.
And she was doing that just now, when she left me in the kitchen. Going up the stairs to care for Phillip, while I stayed down here, hopeless.
"Are you there?" I turn towards the darkened living room.
He steps out from the shadows of the corner, dressed in his white jumpsuit. He's handsome and his hair is particularly well groomed tonight.
"I'm always here, Katherine. What's wrong, little one?" Elvis answers, with his comforting, southern charm.
"I don't know what's wrong. Last night I saw Buffy - well - Sarah Michelle Gellar...anyways, I saw her in the bathroom. She was just looking at me, her head slightly tilted to the left. I thought it was cool seeing you and didn't think much of it, but after seeing her last night i'm starting to wonder..." I look away from Elvis, my voice trailing off, "am I crazy?"
He chuckles a bit and then answers me. "I've been dead for thirty six years. What do you think, cupcake?"
Monday, September 30, 2013
ONE | DARK PARADISE
Every time I close my eyes
It's like a dark paradise.
- Lana Del Rey
I only have one cup left to wash and then I am done. I look at the pile of dishes beside me and the floral patterns on them remind me of the past; when all was good and normal. I shake the memories away and return my attention to the porcelain cup Phillip has been drinking out of for the past six months.
I scrub it clean and then rest it to dry with the other plates and such. I wipe the counters and the table, making sure no crumbs have evaded the cloth. I finish up the rest of the chores under the watchful eye of our only candle and then slowly make my way up the cabin stairs. They creak and groan, which use to tire me, but now I see it as a sure warning in the event that our cabin would be breached.
A small breeze welcomes me when I step on the landing and I peer inside Phillip's room to see if he is moving, but he isn't. Not yet. Maybe not ever? I try to drown those thoughts but they always seem to resurface every now and again.
I gently close the door and make my way to Maggie and I's room, which is nestled between the bathroom and the room I just visited. The cabin isn't very big but it has managed to keep us safe and away from them since the Rising began.
The flame flickers in the breeze as I set the candle on the small crate besides my bed. I'm careful not to wake Maggie - waking her from her sleep has brought many a fights in the mornings, which is something I prefer to avoid. While keeping that fact in mind, I tiptoe towards the window to close it when I feel Maggie's eyes on me. I stop at once, and turn to her.
"Why do you insist on going to bed so late, Katherine?" Maggie says, pulling herself against the headrest. "I couldn't sleep either, don't worry." She continues, a smile forming on her face. Maggie; with that pretty white hair, those wrinkly eyes, and her fiery temper. An ancient tree with young leafs, my mom would have said.
The breeze catches me again. I return Maggie's smile and continue towards the window where I close the shutters and lock the cold winds out. The climate has never been the same and as I peer out the window, I can't help but to say the same about the landscape.
"Where are you, Katherine?" Maggie says, noticing my silence.
"Back home. With my parents and siblings. We're playing horseshoes in the backyard for Louis' sixth birthday." I don't look away from the window, from the barren view in front of me; the dead trees, cracked earth, and continuous fountains of hot, liquid magma that erupts from it. I prefer to be at home, before the Great Earthquake and the Rising of the ghostly creatures.
Maggie doesn't understand that.
"Come to bed, child. It will only give you nightmares to think about that."
"Yeah, you're right." I sigh and make my way back towards my bed. I blow the candle out and snuggle into my blankets. "I don't know what Phillip and I would do without you, Maggie."
"You're welcome, sugar. Now get some sleep."
***ECHOES OF THE WASTELAND***
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
CLICK ON THE CHAPTER TO READ!
One: A Sad Welcoming
Two: Travis Who?
Three: Dying on the Job
Four: Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
Five: One by One
Six: This Night Sucks
Seven: Strip! Strip! Strip!
Eight: Kill Her, Jason
Nine: Rid Me of this Sinner
Ten: Into the Corner
Eleven: The Name is Jason
Twelve: I'm Fighting for All of You
Thirteen: Rot in Hell
Epilogue: He'll Haunt me Forever
I hope you enjoy the read! And check out other short stories on my blog by clicking on the titles on the right! Feedback ALWAYS appreciated!
Candles are out,
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
THE INFECTED: BLOG STORY
To read PART ONE, click here
To read PART ONE, click here
Click on the chapter to read (in reading order)
1. Piecing the Puzzle
2. Across the Sea
3. Inside the Boat
4. Another Girl Lost
5. Point the Finger
6. A Genuine Smile
7. Peas and Pods
8. We Become Three
9. Something About Greta
10. Prisoners of War
What Happened To Greta Price
Part 1: Q&A
Part 2: Filling the Gap
Part 3: Island-bound for Eternity
11. Leave No Prisoners
12. Web of Lies
13. It's Been Awhile
14. Campfire Confessions
15. Digging Deeper Down
16. Voice of the Past
17. Killing Bastards Again
18. Decisions Are Made
19. Mother and Daughter
20. Leaving Fogo Island
I have already begun fleshing out the details for part 3 and you all should be reading the first chapter of The Infected: Tokyo Kin very shortly!
Enjoy the read!
Candles are out,
Labels: The Infected: Blog Story, The Infected: Blog Story - The Complete First Part, The Infected: Fogo Island
twenty: leaving fogo island
"He's been searching for me ever since I left Tokyo, Charlotte. He's unstable and dangerous." My mother tells me matter-of-factly, as she leads me out of the cabin and into a veritable war zone. Guns fire every which way, people are screaming and pleading for mercy while I hear engines roar off near the shoreline.
"Where are we going? I can't leave Felix, mom!" I yell above the gunfire, unable to see in front of me. I grab onto my mom's hand and follow her through the smoke.
"He's already at the docks, Charlotte! DUCK!"
My mom shoves me to the ground and my forearm is split open by broken glass that litters the forest floor. It stings me bad and soon I feel a burning sensation coarsing through my arm.
I get on all fours, trying to breathe below the smoke clouds. I see feet running by and people dropping to the ground with open, still eyes.
"MOM!!" I shout again, focusing on the people rushing by me. I suddenly feel someone grab me by my wounded arm and pull me. The pain is unbearable and I almost pass out.
"Don't fall asleep, Charlie! Hurry!!" The male voice orders me, compells me to fight.
The man leads me through the smoke as branches whip me across the face. We're going through the forest. Away from the shoreline, away from Felix.
"No... no going...wrong way." My head lolls back and I can feel warm liquids rushing up my throat. The man who's carrying me doesn't respond; we just keep moving further into the forest, away from the man I love. The father of my child, the one who got me through this all. I gather my strenghts and push myself away from the man.
I fall back onto the forest floor, both my arm and my leg sending shocks of pain throughout my body.
"Charlie!!" I hear someone scream my name from a distance. I open my eyes as wide as I can and notice that the man who was taking me away was my father. In the flesh.
The other voice finally comes closer and I spot my mother emerging from a cluster of pine trees. She's not alone either as she is quickly followed by aunt Lucy and the good doctor, standing tall behind the two short women.
"Leave her alone, Charles. She's coming with us." My mother says with authority. She kneels down beside me and asks me if i'm alright. I simply nod.
"Oh Sarabeth, always assuming you have control. You think you, that bitch, and the dirty Paki can stop me? You underestimate me again." My dad answers back. I'm still in the middle, still invisible to them. What a fool I was to believe my mom actually cared. They're still so busy fighting their egos.
My mom rubs my back and gets back up, her pistol aimed high in front of her. Aimed at my father. As much as my mother has changed, my father has remained the same. Standing there in the snow with his full suit and his proud grin; displaying the most class and charm I've ever witnessed.
"I should have done this years ago, Charles. You don't care about Charlotte, you only care about what is inside her. What it can be used for. She doesn't know everything but she will soon."
My mother flips the safety and holds the gun tighter. She looks down at me. "Block your ears, baby." She says with tears in her eyes. "You've done enough harm, Charles."
I shut my eyes tight just as the gun goes off. I scream and even years from now I will remember the feeling that tugged at my heart. I hear my dad slump to the forest floor and felt hands grabbing me and lifting me to my feet. But I don't remember being brought to the submarine that awaited us, nor seeing the dozens of dead corpses lining the shoreline. I scream and scream. All I do is that. I've lost it.
My body is broken. My mind is broken. All I do is scream. Fogo Island was suppose to be our haven. Felix and I were suppose to be togheter forever here. Oh Felix, when will I see him again. Oh Felix.
(to be continued)
Friday, February 08, 2013
nineteen: mother and daughter
It's been a few hours since Aunt Lucy left with the armed man. She had been so nice and genuinely caring, yet she gave the order to terminate my pregnancy like she was ordering a value meal. No second thought.
Dr. Chatterjee had tried to calm me down. Told me it was for my own good. For the greater good, he had said. It left me wondering what exactly was wrong with my child. If it was still alive. I haven't felt it kick in awhile and even now when my adrenaline rushed, still I felt nothing stirring. I'm alone, contemplating these thoughts over when a soft knock comes at the door. I half-expect the good doctor to walk in with some form of medieval abortion contraption.
I turn over just as my mother walks inside the cabin and closes the door shut behind her. She hadn't changed. Still stiff and punctuated in her movements, not a graceful bone in her body. She turns and realise I am not sleeping, that I am looking right at her.
"Charlotte..." her hand slides in front of her mouth as tears find a nest in the crease of her eyes. She comes towards me but I protest.
"Don't...don't come near me."
"Charlotte..." She stutters, "I'm your mother." She sits down on the swivelling chair that the good doctor uses. I'm surprised that she cut her hair short. Just like I did.
"I'm just...Mom..." I break down. I don't know why but everything I held in for the past months finally come rushing out. And unlike before, my mother actually comes to comfort me. Wraps her arms around me and tells me everything will be okay. And I believe her. I'm warm in her presence and I finally feel safe. I never felt safe in her arms, never felt loved.
"There's so much I have to tell you, Charlotte." My mother whispers in my ear. I can't let her go. I hold on tighter.
"I'm so scared. Tell me..." I hold back the tears, at least long enough for me to ask, "...tell me you didn't really do this, mom. Tell me, please!"
She gently pushes away, keeps me at arms lenght. Her beautiful blue eyes lay down on mine. "I never wanted this to happen, Charlotte. You have to believe me."
"But did you do it?" I manage to ask through sobs.
She takes a deep breath. Never in my life had my mother and I have such a serious discussion. She would ignore me, belittle me, and compare me to the perfect neighbours. She seemed so different now.
"Your father and I were involved in the creation of a powerful weapon, the Tip-Shiziku virus. We were working with the Ministry of Defense, particularly with Robert Scott. Several years ago, before you were born, something fell in the northern valleys of Guam." My mother takes a breath. I can see she is nervous, a tangible tension begins to hover. "We didn't know what it was at first. Governments were trying to harnest it, companies trying to process it. Everyone wanted a piece of this new arrival. Your father and I were sent to investigate the possibilities of extracting source material from the fallen object. We were on the verge of discovery, Charlotte." She says that to re-assure me, she sees the mistrust in my eyes. The fear.
"What we found changed the course of history. What came out of that...meteorite or whatever...what came out of it attacked us. It happened so quickly but whatever it was, it wasn't human. We contained it, tested it, probed it. What we didn't do was quarantine the site. Within days the village was sick. The elderly and children went first. Then gradually everyone but the scientists perished."
She takes a break, gets up from the bed and walks towards the window where she lingers for a few minutes. I've never seen my mother in such a state of reflection before.
"The people didn't stay sick." She turns to face me, her hand formed a fist and it was clenched near her heart. "They came back from the dead. That's when your father realised the importance of that living tissue. The importance of having it in US hands -"
My mother was cutoff by aunt Lucy, who had just entered the cabin. Blood streaked her clothing.
"Sarabeth, they've knocked down the pillars. They're about to come in."
"Start up the engine and get the kids. We leave in 5." My mother's eyes shine bright like fire. Aunt Lucy nods in acknowledgement and then runs out of the cabin. My mother turns to face me.
"We'll have to continue this later. Looks like we've got company."
"Why...why are you guys running away from the dead?" I ask, confused and left wondering. I'm tired and exhausted and can't think straight. The last I heard, aunt Lucy was going out with armed men to fight off the walking dead. I hadn't thought of another scenario.
"It's not the dead," My mother answers, cocking her handgun. She looked so fierce. "We're running away from your father."
My heart tugs inside my chest as my eyes widened with concern.