The March of the Dead

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5

Walking along the road, I turned, hearing Aisha’s voice.

She called, her voice cold and callous, her words sending shivers throughout me.

‘Come back to me, Blinky ... I have a gift for you ...’

And I was certain I could see claws glinting in her hands in the darkness there behind me.

*

Sunday evening, I stood in the backyard with Mum.

She stared at that bush towards the gum trees glowing in the lowering sunset. Music came from the shed as Dad worked in there.

‘I wonder if he’s looking down at us from somewhere,’ said Mum. I hugged her side, but she didn’t react, just continued staring, her skin absorbing that orange hue, her hair a luscious brown.

Brown eyes stared out. I felt her warmth.

Back inside, Mum smiled and laughed, moving her chess piece forwards as Dad watched on. ‘Don’t go there, don’t go there,’ Dad said, leaning over, smiling.

That night I had no dreams.

I sat on the bus next morning, listening to songs on my mobile. In class, I noticed Aisha up the front, listening to Mr Hogan, but in my mind she sat beside me on my bed. Her warm breath washed up against me, the soft glow of my beside lamp colouring her soft pale brown skin.

I wondered what it might be like to kiss those full rich lips, to feel the softness of her face, to run my hand through her graceful dark hair. Those lips now inched and inched towards me.

But always in my dreams the man stalked from behind.

I turned, squinting at those footsteps in the darkness, while Aisha’s breaths slid over my face, her body pressing against mine. Her hands grasped my own, pressing them back on the bed as we lay. The graceful fall of her hair tickled my face.

And beneath me came the crunching of those leaves, his voice carrying over to me on the breeze on that darkened street. ‘Blinky ...,’ he whispered, ‘it has began ... the virus spreads ... and it shall take all ... until it has you, Blinky ... for it is you it desires ... destroying ... killing .... We come for you, Blinky ... Yes we do ... here is your death ... your death ....’

Her fingers slid through mine as we lay there, her hands soft, damp, my own fingers folding further into hers. Her silhouetted shape was rounded and soft above me. I felt her chest breathing in as she lay against my firm chest.

Aisha’s lips pressed against mine, so warm it was like I kissed something fresh from the dorms of hell. Throughout my stomach a light-hearted fluttering feeling buzzed, as though any time soon I’d just lift off, lift off and be carried up to the moon.

I spun back on that road, a tremor sweeping throughout me. There behind me the man neared and neared, so I turned forwards again, walking faster and faster, but on that breeze his laughter came, slinking into me, eroding me from the inside out.

Now her fingers clamped around my hand, and in the pleasant dim lamp light beads of sweat shone on Aisha’s forehead.

Her hot breath once more brushed my face, her skin porcelain as I drew and drew my hand further down her back.

My grin was wide and pleasant as I strolled with Kehlani along Morrison. Inside Game Zone, she jerked that joystick right and left, giggling when her avatar caused mine to fall off the building. The glint from the screen caused her own eyes to glow, making her skin—so pale and white—turn a murky bright blue.

But soon, inside the arcade, heads started turning towards the exit as strange yelling came from outside. People now strolled—some even flocking—towards the doors.

Further up Govan hill I rode, lagging behind my brother.

Back in the cave, his body was turning, turning towards me, and now I stepped through a wood in those dreams, positive I was someone else as I strolled along. I peered around, searching for something. In my hand was a small, yellow truck, and in the darkness of the woods that yellow truck was so cold it burnt my fingers.

On the street those footsteps neared from behind.

I turned into another lane, but there, up ahead, he stood, a nightmare shape among the falling autumn leaves.

*

On Morrison Street, the man stood there, glaring, eyes so orange they made the sun seem like distilled lemon juice.

Kehlani cupped her mouth, pressing up against me as I took her in with my long arms. I smelt her sweet perfume, and the fresh scent of her hair as thin strands pressed against my face.

‘Oh my God, what is happening to the people in our town?’ she said. Kehlani—I’ll never forget this—trembled like some frightened little creature as we stood there. There the man stood, shirt off, a set of garden sheers in one hand, a pillow in his other.

‘I need a new pillow.’ His voice rose an octave, popping at one point. ‘Why in God’s name won’t anyone give me a new pillow?’ With that pillow, he ran and ran at an older man, thumping it against the older man’s face as others ran in to restrain him.

I sat at Kehlani’s computer in her bedroom later that day. I Googled, I’m seeing some dick-head in my dreams all the time, and was soon reading all this bulldust about dream symbolism and visions and such. I shook my head, not supressing a grin, thinking indeed there were a lot of shitbags out there that believed this stuff.

I sat at her study well into the night, reading, as Kehlani, still dressed in her school uniform, her dress lying over her slender legs, read a novel on her bed. A warm, gentle glow lit the desk and cabinets in the bedroom while tingling music came from Kel’s headphones.

Seeing the beautiful girl lying there, I closed the laptop. Except, at this angle, it was hard to make out her face, just her slender frame, soft and warm in the light. The beauty of her legs, and her cherry blonde hair and darker streaks running through it were also caught by the dim glow.

I loved the way her hair fell over her cheek, creating a kind of barrier between her and myself. I pondered how lucky I actually was, and that perhaps there was a God looking down on me, looking after me from up there.

Mum, Dad, and I went on a trek through the Wingala Reserve around two months before the end of the world.

The day was so fresh and nice, I wondered for a moment if this land had ever been colonised by the British at all, and that I wasn’t walking through the land as it originally was with my ancestors

Sunlight glinted in our eyes. Grey backpack slung over his back, Dad stared back at us, his blue eyes glinting also. ‘I think we’re getting closer, crew ... not too long now,’ he said.

Mum, face damp with sweat and skin pale, gave a weak smile. ‘I hope so, Adam ....’ She squinted, tightening the straps of her backpack as we walked, the sounds of crunching leaves and snapping twigs beneath us. ‘My back’s starting to kill me.’ She chuckled.

Through the bottlebrush jumped, hovered, and twittered tiny black and blue birds. I marvelled at their small size in comparison to me. Mum grinned as she gazed at them. Looking at her, I wondered if those lines her smile showed had been used for some time. I felt a swelling of happiness in the pit of my stomach, as above us the hot morning sun shone down, blaring into my neck. It warmed my skin, causing my armpits to sweat right where my straps pulled over my shoulders.

My own back was feeling strong. I noticed my arms were a similar smooth brown to the leaves on some of the gums trees around us.

Soon we came out through the branches of some low wattle. There we stood up top of Lucy’s Lookout.

But Dad just stared out. ‘Holy shit ...,’ he said. ‘What the hell ....’

‘What’s happened, honey?’ Mum said, stepping out from behind him, her backpack tight against her back as she gazed out. At the lookout, large trees bloomed from the dirt between the rocks, shadowing some of the plateau. Large granite boulders shone in the sunlight. I knew the granite rock made up the mountains on the far side of the range too.

Midday sun beaming, I squinted as I saw it also.

*

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