After the End
After the End
I was not in shape until a few weeks ago. I'm not even sure how I lost all this weight, whether it was all the running or lack of food… I'm so hungry these days! But then everyone is. I suppose that's the sort of thing you have to put up with at the end of the world. I could put up with the growl in my stomach if I wasn't so worried all the time. I suppose worried is the right word. Everything that's happened has been so horrible that I've gone a bit numb, and even normal things like worry don't seem to make much difference anymore. The world is the way it is, and I must run and hide, or leap and attack, or dodge and kick and scream and run, whatever it takes to survive. I no longer feel fear or grief; the only thing left is anger. If they would just leave us alone then we could lie down in our dark corners and die on our own time. Instead they pursue us with the intent to kill, and we have two choices, run away, or run after them. It feels good to go on the offensive, almost good enough to distract me from how hungry I am. If they would just stop, I might have time to eat. Then I'd really feel better.
That's what we're doing now. Running, that is, not eating. Maybe we'll eat later. Right now we have them in our sights and I am channeling all my rage into my pounding feet and pumping legs. They don't just try to kill us when they come across us, they actively hunt us down, as if it's all they have left to do in this decrepit wasteland. Well now it's our turn. We will catch the enemy, and we will tear them apart, and then finally we'll be able to rest. The sun reflects off the acres of pavement and threatened to burn out my eyes. I had a pair of sunglasses a long time ago. I might have had some again if not for the monsters. They give us no time to keep track of anything these days. They run toward a ruined terminal now and we adjust our paths accordingly. We outnumber them, that's something, but even numbers are small comfort for the knowledge that you could be running toward your own living death if you manage to catch them this time. The first of the crowd always fall first, sacrificing themselves so that the rest of us might have a chance to overrun them. Filthy creatures. I can see one of them now, glancing back at us. Pale eyes, mottled skin stretched over brittle bones, clothes torn and shredded from inattention. He yells at us in fury and we scream back, a wordless cry of defiance. Though the plague may have taken you, we will not fail! We will not succumb!
Into the building we rush, past the tall windows that filter the scorching sun, over hastily piled barricades of chairs and benches that are the only evidence a defense was ever mounted here. Now it doesn't matter, we are on the offensive now, and the plan is simple: to eradicate what is left of the rotting flesh that was humanity. I can smell them, rich with the scent of death. My anger only rises and I scream louder. They scream in return, a clap of thunder on a bright day. Through hangars and over tarmac, back to more large terminals. I was in an airport when the plague first came. Oh the end of the world was so quiet! Now all there is the slap of feet on tile and moans of pain and anger. They'll never stop trying to kill us. Why do they hate us so? What disease could possibly affect the mind so much that all they can think of is destruction? Well now we've got them. We'll make them run and hide. It feels so good to be doing something. I feel as if I could run forever and never slow down. My stride's not the best, I hurt my leg pretty bad at the beginning, but we're all wounded in some way. But now we've got them. This concourse is a dead end; they'll be trapped, and we'll be free. They know it too, the noise is getting louder and they are moving slower. The one who turned earlier turns again and I see the rare thing in his eyes. Fear. He'll find no fear in mine.
The certainty of victory frees my mind up to wonder at the irony of it all. In all the stories, they chase us. I want to laugh at the triumph of reversing such a foregone conclusion, but something sticks in my throat and all I can muster is a scratchy moan. One of the enemy yells and more thunder rolls, but there is a train of thought distracting me from the chase now, a slender thread that I must catch. It is elusive, and the effort to follow it slows me down until I am barely shuffling along. Fortunately the loss of me to the crowd is not significant, the monsters have been whittled down to two and these last shall quickly go. Ah, but they've found a side passage and the chase begins anew. But the joy of running seems to have been lost to me now, and the anger has faded somewhat too. The hunger does not abate though, and I would never leave my family, my friends. We have survived in this hell long enough to survive a little longer. I run with them, screaming after those who would kill us all if they had a chance. But now the thought has been planted in the back of my mind, and it pursues me as steadily as I chase these fiends. What if the survivors are not chasing the zombies?
What if the zombies are chasing them?