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New beginnings

John still hasn’t reappeared.

Now I’m starting to get worried. It’s been over a fortnight since he went missing. Over a two weeks since I got a bullet through the gut.

I’m fine, though. I’m being weaned off of the morphine which means I am in a constant state of pain at the moment. It’s not as bad as when it first happened. The pain is no longer sharp and searing but more of a dull ache that won’t go away. If I could compare it to anything I would compare it to a tooth abscess.

However, I’ve been told to ‘embrace the pain’ as pain is a sign that I’m alive. Roman showed me a picture of my stitches with John’s old polaroid camera that he keeps locked in his safe box in his bedroom. I look absolutely brutal even though I am going to have a beautiful ragged scar. Rita is brilliant at what she does but she can’t sew stitches for shit. A war-ravaged torso. Rita’s hands shake a lot which is why she was training an apprentice. It is dangerous for her to have so much power over someone’s life when her talent is being stolen by arthritis.

Roman and I have been on good terms since our conversation a few days ago; he hasn’t really left my side which has been okay. I haven’t been as painfully bored as per usual which is great. The more time we spend together, the more I begin to enjoy his company. He knows how to make me laugh, really laugh. I never realised it before but he is genuinely funny. He knows how to make me truly belly laugh, which is incredibly painful as laughing involves abdominal muscle movement. I never really enjoyed his company before because I guess I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to affiliate with anyone with a pulse...or no pulse. I haven’t just gained a necrophiliac tendency. Necrophiliac tendencies, ew.

Even though I’ve had the company of Roman, the bloody part time comedian, I can’t help but worry about John. As far as he’s concerned, I’m still on death’s doorstep and getting closer to the pearly gates every second. I hope he hasn’t done anything stupid. Or reckless. He’s not as young as he used to be; his immunity is pretty bad which means he gets every illness that goes around. That’s why he rarely leaves the base because if he were to be in close proximity to an infected. Please John, don’t be dead.

My death could have been the one thing that finally tipped him over the edge. At the end of the day, I could never have allowed myself to die. I genuinely believe that he may have topped himself. If he had killed himself, I would never have been able to forgive myself. Not that I would be able to do anything when I entered the eternal slumber but I still wouldn’t be able to cope with that. You know, if there is something beyond life that encompasses some form of being.

“That scar is brutal, fitting for an ice maiden. Brutal but refined. Beautiful like its wearer.”

He smiles at me as he always does. I begin to blush. I’m not pretty. I don’t know how to accept any form of compliment, especially when his hand is so close to my who-ha. He notices my blushing which makes him giggle even more. His giggle makes me giggle. Next thing you know, we’re both laughing again. I guess the reason I am so willing to bear my soul to someone is because I need someone. I need solid proof that I am needed . That I have a reason for living and I have not taken the difficult route for no viable reason.

“It still aches, you know. It feels nice having your cold hand on an injury that feels like it is burning. How massive are your hands?”

“You know what they say. Big hands, big...”

“I don’t need you to finish that sentence. Ha, I thought you were going to say the other saying, you know ‘cold hands, warm heart’.”

“That would explain your freakishly warm hands, ice maiden.”

“Ha ha, very funny. It would fit. I hate when you’re right, you dickhead.”

We continue to giggle and we stop, we just stare at each other. This is awkward. I have never felt this awkward around him and I think he can sense it as well. Something changed the moment that bullet tore through me. It’s for the better in some cases, Roman, but bad in other cases. At the moment, I am at my most vulnerable and I’m becoming more emotionally bonded to people. Damn it. It feels like a better thing, more human, but it is the kind of thing that will get me killed, for real this time. A head injury or something.

“Roman, can you help me with something in here? You can continue flirting later.” I introduce Rita, the cock blocker. He grunts. I can’t help but giggle at the way he rolls his eyes and grunts like a bloody farmyard animal. He smiles. Roman gets up and leans over to kiss my head, yet again, and I act on impulse. I lean up and my lips touch his. We stay like that for a few seconds, just our lips touching, and then he backs away. I’ve shocked him. I’ve shocked myself. Did I actually just kiss him?

Yes, I think I did. I kissed Roman. Oh god, I shouldn’t have done it. Played right into his hands. Uh, I’m screwed. Screwed. Screwed.

“Wait a minute,” I hear him say from the kitchen.

He walks back into the living room and kisses me again. This time with more...passion. I can’t believe this actually happening. I would blame it on the morphine is Rita had given me any. I want this. I actually want this. It seems John was always right; I was just too stubborn to even consider it. When he finally breaks away for air, he just smiles and kisses me on the nose. I’ve never been kissed on the nose before. I don’t like it but then again, I have a ticklish spot on my nose. Who has a ticklish spot on their nose? In my defence, it is my only ticklish spot. Well, there and my feet but the last person who touched my feet ended up dead so take from that what you will.

He walks into the kitchen again, with a beaming smile plastered on his face. This must be what he has wanted for the longest time. The longest time. If I hadn’t of been shot, I would never have allowed the thought to cross my mind. I would have spent the rest of my life mindlessly resenting him due to fear. The way I figure it, I have survived death. Fought it and won. I’ve done it once, I can do it again. So, death can come at me and take its best shot because I’m stronger than even I know. I have no reason to be frightened of dying anymore. Loss is still a threat but death itself is something I no longer fear because I know I have a choice. I’ll always have a choice and I’ll always choose life until I can’t anymore.

“Miss Daniels, good to see you looking so lively.”

The dulcet northern tones continue to linger after the last syllable is uttered. Erin. Everyone’s favourite ex-social worker. She still believes that she still serves a purpose even though what is the point of having someone to safeguard children when they’re dropping down like flies? I don’t understand but John felt she needed a reason to go on. She feels like she has to protect all of the children because she couldn’t protect her own. She lost her son a month into the outbreak and she has never forgiven herself. I think that’s why she’s always had a soft spot for Roman; they would have been the same age and he could pass for Erin’s son. They have the same eyes.

“Erin, I was wondering when you were going to make an appearance to brighten my life. So, where’s my get well present, you bitch?”

She goes bright red; I don’t think she understands the concept of sarcasm. I think that’s why I enjoy tormenting her so much? So gullible. I’ve tried the whole ‘gullible’s written on the ceiling’ and she falls for it every single time. I shouldn’t torment her but I get so much satisfaction out of it. My way of taking my pain out on others. Oh, I am evil bitch when I want to be.

“I’m kidding, Erin. Sarcasm. Sarcasm, Erin.”

“Oh, yes of course. I’m sorry it took me so long; I had some business to take care of, looking for some more flats or places of accommodation. I’ve found a lovely little bungalow if you would like to exchange. There’s more room and it’s closer...”

“Thank you, Erin. Yes, if you can sort it out. The amount of blood and...hm...other bodily discharges freak me out as I have told you many times. I want the bungalow...please.”

“I know but this bungalow is perfect. Perfect for you to start off. I was surprised to find it, it had been ransacked but it is sufficient. It is perfect for you to settle down. You know, have children...”

“No,” I interrupt “ The bungalow would just be a starting point. Is John with you? Have you seen him? Did he come with you?”

“No Elektra. I haven’t seen him in a while; I know everyone’s worried about him but he can look after himself. I’ve seen that man survive things I ’int thought possible. He’ll be fine.”

What she says reassures me. She has known him for twenty-one years, eleven years longer than I have so she must know a thing or two. She has been there when he’s been through loss and joy. He’s been through a lot, we all have, but he hasn’t given up yet so he’ll be fine. I mean, he has to be otherwise it’s not just going to be Rita and I that are affected. John and Erin, before the outbreak, had a brief romantic relationship. It was complicated because Erin had a son and John had a wife. But it still happened. However, that the thing about the end of days; it’s a bit of a romance killer especially when death becomes involved. Recalling old times. That’s the reason he wanted Erin to feel like she had a purpose. He was protecting her because he knew what grief could do to a sane person, not built for this kind of a world. A world where it is dangerous to cough or sneeze. Where you can’t step outside of the house without being terrified that the virus may have become airborne overnight. Where death is commonplace.

I’m not the only one that John saved from the flames.

“Rita tells me you should be able to walk about soon. That will nice for you, being mobile again. Not be trapped in bed.”

“Yeah, it will be. I am sick of the sight of this room. They’re planning to shove me in the garden for a few hours to take my mind off of things. Is it warm out there? Are they shoving me out there to give me hypothermia in the hopes of killing me off?”

“No, they are not trying to kill you to my knowledge. You don’t seem to understand how much your injury has traumatised people. The younger children look up to you and Roman. The poster people of survival. It scared them to know you’re just human.”

“Well, we’re not invincible. Nobody is and they need to learn that, Erin. Never let them become complacent or think anyone is above dying. Anyone can die. Anyone. Including the ‘poster people’.”

I may have come across as harsh but it is the gospel truth. Nobody is above dying and everyone does. There is no point in placing faith in people to live for eternity just because they have constructed a tougher shell. The moment you find yourself above death is the moment you expose your vulnerability. Fate hates complacency. The kids look up to Roman and I? Why would they? Roman, okay, he protects them and acts as eye candy for the girls and a role model for the boys but me? Me? What the hell have I done to deserve being admired? I’m hardly ever around. I’m obnoxious, bitchy, sarcastic and detached, I think that sums me up sufficiently, so why would kids look at me and think ‘damn, I want to be like her when I grow up’?

That is seriously messed up.

The awkward silence. I don’t know how to follow up my previous comment and Erin is looking at me as if I have committed genocide. Why do people keep looking at me as if I am some evil neo-Nazi who kills puppies? They say the kids look up to me? The way people look at me would suggest otherwise. They look at me as if I am some sort of pariah. Am I a pariah? Maybe I am. Maybe. However, the definition of a pariah is ′ a person who is generally despised or avoided'. I am not avoided. There have been times when I have desired to be avoided but that never happens; something always drags me back here. A catch-up or an accident. I can never avoid this place and I guess, I wouldn’t change that for anything. Maybe I’m not a pariah but I may just be a virago with a sociopathic nature. That could fit with me. Plus I like the word ‘virago’ better than ‘pariah’.

“You are right Elektra. They need to accept that but I won’t be the one to tell them. If you feel so strongly about it, you tell them. You might not see yourself as influential but they listen to you. I’d better go, check on the bungalow. I’m glad you’re okay. It’s a miracle you are.”

“Fine. You know me Erin, miracle worker- London division. I do love to defy odds especially when I’m needed. I’m too loyal for my own good. Too loyal to die, I guess. Bye.”

She opens her mouth as if to say something but closes it. I don’t think she can find anything to say. I seem to be shocking people a lot lately, some people for better reasons than others. But then again, what is a good reason?

She wants me to talk to the kids. She wants...me...to talk to the kids. Me? Yes, I feel strongly about it, granted, but I’m not the only one. She knows talking to the kids is my own form of torture; having all of those faces, still full of hope, believing in me and I have to destroy their faith and scare them. I will say it again, torture. The sadistic bitch.

Roman waits in the doorway, watching Erin leave out of the back door. He is too nosy for his own good, he’s not stupid. Well, I’m conflicted on that one; he eavesdrops everything. He’s not stupid but I wouldn’t call him the brains of Britain if you get my drift. He just turns to me and smiles. I am dreading this moment; now I have to answer for my actions. Oh god. He is going to relish in this.

“Rita’s sent me to come and get you. She’s even got the wheelchair out for you, you lucky thing you. You ready, Lex?”

“I am not worthy, I am not worthy. Of the decrepit wheelchair. Yes, I’m guess I’m going to have to be.”

“Let me help you up. Get them little feet working.”

“Little feet, my feet are bigger than yours. You and your dainty little ballerina feet.”

“I’m still growing. My feet are just in a period of stagnation. Ballerina feet. Ballerina feet?”

“A little help please? You know if you don’t topple over because you’re too tall for your feet; the base not being wide enough.”

“I’m going to get you for that.”

He comes closer to be and begins to kiss me again. He said Isla was the one who wanted a physical relationship. I finding that to be false but then again, I was never in a relationship with Isla. At least I don’t think I was. Alcohol does release inhibitions but that’s the curse, you can’t remember which inhibitions have been released and onto whom. Ha, I’m kidding. Well, maybe. As I said, alcohol what a bastard. He seems to put more pressure on my lips as if he is trying to get into my knickers. He is a passionate person anyway but ...whoa. Aye aye. He begins to move his hands from on my face to my chest to my stomach to my... I pull away. I have only just kissed him; god, I’m not a slut. If he wants that then he’s got to put a ring on it. I have a feeling I’m going to die a virgin at this rate.

“I’m sorry. I just get so...pent up.”

“I know you do, considering you were just about to try and mount me. Wow.”

We both look at each other and burst out laughing yet again. Maybe being with Roman will be easier than I anticipated. He still hasn’t questioned me which gives me some form of reassurance. I guess he’s just satisfied to be able to get that close to me; to be so close to getting into my knickers. Men may deny it but that’s the ultimate aim at the end of the day, isn’t it? I just go on what I’ve heard growing up. The many men that have left have only been interested in their next shag. Procreation and all that jazz.

Maybe this is the right thing? To just take things slowly with Roman? Just getting to know him for who he truly is?

I’m prepared.

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