Ball and Chain?
I soon see the dawn rising through the cracks in the boarded up window and wonder what today will bring. We both know that we don’t have a lot of time before the world wakes up around us and notices the movement inside. With these last few moments of peace and the room lightening around us I get up to search for clothes. I find an old olive green jacket and red hat to help cover my waxy pallor and a sun hat and big grey cardigan for Remi. We stayed too long last night and will have to move fast and find shelter before the sun gets too bright, staying in one place too long is dangerous. Remi and I make eye contact while I’m handing over the cardigan and hat, for a moment she’s the woman who caught my eye at the state fair all over again. Then the danger of our situation sinks in and with a slight smile and nod we turn to leave our haven.
Stepping out into the early morning light we are careful to keep to the shadows and try not to draw attention our way. We will both have to feed soon, but we want to be able to come back at least once to this house, to this remnant of days past. We will have to feed in another area in order to not draw attention to this quiet little corner. I can feel my brain starting to eat itself and know that again I waited too long to feed, it just seems so barbaric, I used to be just like them and now they are my prey. Remi keeps glancing my way, sensing my weakening state, smelling the progression of my molding skin. It has been putting a strain on our relationship, my refusal to eat until absolutely necessary drives her insane, especially when that smell starts triggering her hunting instincts. She always was a survivor, always willing to do what it takes to keep going. Honestly I don’t know if I would still be alive, if that’s what you can call it, without her. We don’t really talk about it, but sometimes I wonder if it isn’t just loyalty and desperation that keeps her with me. How much does she really need a reluctant zombie around?
The sound of her voice pulls me from my reverie, “Garret, how long has it been?” her whisper comes out as practically a hiss. “I dunno, longer than the last time I think.” I try to keep my voice even in the face of her irritation, but I know that it’s been too long and there is no excuse. We hunt separately to prevent one of us attacking the other, when she leaves to hunt usually I go exploring. I think she knows that I am not hunting when she does, but she pretends to not notice. That has been the name of the game from the start, she knows that if she makes a big deal I will just get more stubborn. I am hoping to make it far enough away before my instinct takes over. I don’t want to put Remi in danger or to ruin the relative oasis we just found. Our steps quicken at the same moment, both knowing that my condition speeds up our timeline.
We smell them before we see or hear them, it’s the fear and adrenaline that carries on the breeze. I soon locate them, they are young, barely adult. It doesn’t seem fair that this will be their fate, but I can’t avoid it anymore, I have to satiate this hunger before my body eats itself from the inside out. I see Remi head in the opposite direction, she knows how dire my need is and gifts this kill to me. The last thing I see through my red haze is the fear in their eyes, I can’t tell if they are male or female, but they are tender and sweet. I look down at the blood on my new jacket in shame, how has it come to this?