“My solace has been shattered,” I thought as I peered out over the mass of putrid flesh meandering and swaying and shuffling; then, “Fool. Did he really think that he could have made it to safety out there… alone in the dark?” I wondered how it happened…
There, see? There he is, sitting at the base of the emergency door. Is he hugging his knees and rocking?
No? Too cliched, too... too-ish? No. He is standing at the door, head hung low in defeat. He tries the push rail again... it’s locked. It was locked before, why would it suddenly not be? Or, did he push the rail to serve as an ellipsis? He turns around to check if I’m coming for him.
“Why?” he thinks, “why was that zombie going down the stairs? Down stairs? It wasn’t chasing after me…” he shakes his head to rid himself of the unpleasant thoughts. “It isn’t possible; that doesn’t make sense. Those damn creatures live off of eating our guts out. They don’t think. They don’t. They can’t!” He slams his fist against the door. “But… it’s eyes; they were as though they were shaking their heads at me in disgust, in disappointment.” He presses his fingers strong against his forehead, a grimace runs tight crinkles into his face. Slowly, he breathes out and mutters to himself; “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or quake in terror at demons, for the Lord, your God, for he shepherds your soul; he will never forsake you,” The grimace remains. His faith has been tested and he feels it slipping from him. He knows his prayer isn’t reassurance enough. His body begins to shake and tense, beads of sweat run down his brow, his heart quickens. He clasps his hands together and hunches over them as he continues his desperate and panicked prayer, “Have mercy on me my Lord, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until this disaster has passed.”
An uneasy calm has been restored. Remembering his fool’s errand, he sets out down the aisles, creeping silently by title upon title. His hands float by their spines, his eyes searching for only one holy word, ah… here—deliverance?
Such a heavy tome—he blows off the layer of dust that had started to accumulate—yet still only ink on paper; bound by a machine. He turns it over onto its spine and randomly places his thumb between the cover boards. Closing his eyes, perhaps for dramatic effect, he opens the book at where his thumb was. His eyes alight on his omen: “And you will grope as the blind man in darkness, with none to save you.”
The last rays of light elongate the shadows cast upon the floor. Slowly the sun sets below the horizon.
A crow perches on the man’s skull, its talons dig holes into his cold, dead flesh. It caws out for its murder, not seeming to care that it is surrounded by the walking dead, nor my foul presence at its breakfast—wait, when did I come out here? And why?
Glurp-ish-like goopy sound.
The crow holds one of the man’s eyes in its beak. Shaking its head back, it swallow the eye down into its crop, then cocks its head at me and stares deep into my eyes.
“I understand, Poe, I understand.”
We break from each other and it returns to picking off flesh and I notice that the man was holding a book in his hand as he was carved open by molars (is that even possible?), for one lays open on the ground far from his hand. Blood and dirty foot prints smear its gold-rimmed pages. A Bible? Had his faith been so strong?
Had it stayed with him as he struggled to free himself from the oddly powerful undead hands that grasped at him; from the repeated blood-thirsty bites at his clothes, seeking flesh? Perhaps the first bites didn’t break skin, but they still shot pain through his rapidly overloading nerves.
He raged, he howled, he wailed. His eyes darted around, frenetically seeking his savior. His arms and legs flailed about, clawing, shoving, kicking, punching at the creatures that sought to rend his flesh from his body.
Something crunched down on one of his fingers, he tried to jerk it back and felt it rip from his hand. He slammed the Bible he held in his other down onto the head of the assailant; a resounding chunky crunch rang out and he saw it drop to the ground. He was not yet forsaken—nope. There is no dead zombie on the ground near him; didn’t happen—blood spurted from where his finger had stood. Teeth sank into his neck; he felt a tear in his shirt form; a break in his skin below his Levi’s; another pair of teeth suddenly gripped his Adam’s apple between them—————“where—I—G—gurgle.
Did his faith survive his deliverance? Or was this punishment? Clumsily, I knelt down to inspect the pages of the book, my eyes scanning disconsolately over the words. Where was his god while he was being mutilated? Oh… here. Underlined by a smear of blood: “The prudent see danger and seek refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”
I wanted to sigh. Of sadness, of defeat, of regret? I don’t know. I can’t sigh so I don’t know how it would have felt. I looked around at my brethren. What drove them? Why didn’t they attack the crow? Why didn’t they attack me? Though I acted and moved differently from them, they still considered me one of them. I didn’t like it. I’m not one of them. I couldn’t stand the sight of them. I turned my gaze away and back at the dead man. What was that? Sticking out of his left breast pocket was a pocket book. Couldn’t be, not in an actual pocket. I glanced around to check for witnesses, then… I took it.