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."