The library man. I still didn't know who he was, but. . . did I actually want to? What did I hope to gain from reading about what little he left of himself upon those crumpled pages? Did I feel guilty for his death? Tch. He was the fool who failed to comprehend my gestures at communication. He wrought his own death. A fitting end for a coward. Indeed... well then... hmm? I do suppose seeing him how he currently was did stir anger within me. I suppose reading his words would bring me some solace and to him homage to his last breath.
There was a knock at the door. I looked up from the binder resting on my lap—away from the unsettling collective gaze emanating from its sleeves—and stared vacantly at the wall. What was she plotting?
Earlier today whilst mid-grapple, immersed in a fierce battle with my pilfered collection of cat food, I noticed her approaching in the distance. She was wearing that familiar look of ruthless determination, marching toward my residence with her pistol holstered at her side and her bag slung over her shoulder, swinging from side to side with each step.
I finally managed to slip one of the cans into a rear-naked choke; it struggled for a moment, wriggling in a panicked frenzy as I forced one of my crooked fingers under the pull-tab. Having accepted its fate, I peeled back the seal to reveal its goopy innards, equal parts precious and ungodly.
“I know yor in there an’ I know yor thinkin’, I can hear ya. Tho’ I must ammit that I’m not shore why ya been thinkin’ so clearly. Ya shuldn’ have s’much contr’l over ya min’…”
I didn’t know where I was, nor where the man’s (I don’t know what to call him yet), voice was coming from. As far as I could tell I was walking—not shuffling—unaccompanied down the paved sidewalk. I glanced down at my hands; they weren’t rotten, lacking color, yes, but no visible bones or festering lesions or peeling skin. Hands. I had two. How long ago was this memory? Memory? Is this a memory or has everything else been prescience?
“Reach out your hands,” I tell myself, “there is another world there, hidden behind this veneer of reality.” But my hands don’t lift, and that man’s voice continues in my head.
Our time is limited, dear friend. I made a promise that could not be kept. I was a fool-no, I will not allow myself to recklessly employ the past-tense so complacently; I am and remain incorrigibly foolish. I can only offer you a fool's apology: meaningless words of retrospection and regret that should be rightfully ignored. I ended Gordon's life and then injected you with false hope after leaving you for dead. Now, here I am, shamelessly opting to prolong the pain you've endured out of some form of guilt, believing that if I can save your life, my despicable behavior can somehow be redefined. Enough. Let us fade into obscurity together. Come, permit my selfishness once more and let us gaze upon times past, for these are likely our last moments on this depraved vessel.
I find that I have difficulty in writing sound, for the onomatopoeia at my disposal seems limited and fails to adequately produce the specific sounds I want to be heard. Or am I just a bad writer; one with a stunted vocabulary? My self-destructiveness rears its hydra heads again.
“Overcome it,” I grumble mentally, “no more wallowing in self-pity. Honestly, haven’t you gotten over such predilection?”
The sun has begun its descent, forcing shadows to stretch from any object fortuitous enough to bask in its glow. There is an inequality in the distribution of this prestigious light, for only the tallest buildings in this city benefit from its glory. As the sun rises and falls, these concrete towers consume its light with voracity, casting stifling shadows that obscure those less fortunate. This is the way things are, and all have accepted it as such; it is a daunting task to dethrone the kings of the sky: they are too numerous, too strong, their shadows reach too far.
Behold, a corpse walks upon the sidewalk, arms hanging limply at his side. Three cans of cat food occupy his bony fingers. He drags his feet with each step; his shoes peel against the grainy texture beneath his feet. There is dejection in his gait; he lacks the capacity for grace. Eventually, his shoes will have deteriorated completely and it will be his skin that peels against the sidewalk. He is just another monster in a world saturated with millions just like him.
“Open yor i’s chil’. Let me look at’cha, see if yor back in there. Open up.”
My eyes opened and a deep ebony skinned man came into focus, hovering mere inches from my face. He stared deep into my eyes, reading some hidden sign. Slowly his lips stretched into a grin, his yellow teeth shone between them.
“Yor confused ya bet,” Heghheghheghhegh, the man chortled, “but alivin’… sor’ove… but how wassit?” He turned from me, gently patting my forehead as he moved out of my view.
“I tried ta be ginnel wi’ ya,” I felt a tug somewhere at my chest, “bu’cha struggl’d more than I thought ya wud,” another tug, rougher than the first, “Wat fo’?” another tug, then another. A suture? Had I been injured? This man’s a doctor?
"All the others I’ve snatch’d came nice’n easy. Jus’ let me take ‘em. But’cha… had ta be quick in sealin’ ya back in, so’s I hope ya remembering yor’selve well. Ya alreddi caus’d me more trouble than I wan’ned.”
I guess not then.
A man stood at the entrance of the store. He wore a black down-jacket. A red beanie clutched at his skull. He cradled a large rifle in his arms. A female zombie rounded the corner and shuffled toward the front of the store. The man jerked the rifle up to his shoulder, paused momentarily, then pulled the trigger, confident and practiced. Her head burst into a red mist and she collapsed to the floor. He pumped his fist and shouted triumphantly as two more men emerged. The man on the left - denim jacket, excessive belt buckle, thick brush along his upper lip - scolded the man in the beanie. The second man - bespectacled and oddly debonair - stood indifferently to the right, arms folded. The two seemed to quarrel for a moment before the man in the beanie turned his attention toward his recently downed target. He removed a hatchet from his waist as he approached her body - wriggling and convulsing on the ground - and plunged it into her neck, which offered little resistance. The blade clanged against the concrete and separated her neck immediately. Her freshly detached head rolled from its perch and came to rest against the base of a shelf, her nose propping it up like a kickstand. He swung wildly at her body, still to writhing and splashing in the expanding pool of blood beneath her, hacking at her limbs with reckless abandon. Having completed his task, he wiped the blood from his hatchet with her blouse, rose to his feet, smirked at her dismembered body, and casually rejoined his troupe.
I couldn't stop reading, I just couldn't. I had to know what this man had been through. I had to know what had caused this cataclysm. This diary, it was a true page turner. It was a treasure trove of memory, of loss, of doubts, of rediscovery, of life. I suppose that since I had met this man before his death, I felt that he was writing to me, and that his words carried a sense of urgency. They screamed at me: "read us!" So I did.
"The hell you doing? Put the damn gun away!"
"Hoo boy! You see that right there! Right through her pupil, man. Like a damn bull's-eye!"
"Christ, you're going to get us all killed. Put that shit away."
"Ey, motherfuckers got Ed, boy. Tell me you don't wanna see they heads blow the hell up."
"You're entirely too enthusiastic."
"There could be a hundred in here and your dumbass just let them all know we're in here."
"We're fine. I wouldn't worry too much."
"Ey, listen to Dom and calm yo ass down, boy."
"Christ, just keep your guns holstered unless shit gets real, that's all I'm asking."
"The fuck you mean, 'holstered', boy? This ain't no wild west shit."
"Oh for the love of--Trev, you going to get that one?"
"Course, man. Imma chop a bitch right up."
"Like I said, too enthusiastic."