Zomtropolis Chapter Thirty-four
Telecom handheld transmission:
It was happening again, me caught in a world of death.
Selena shook and convulsed in my lap, a yellow milky foam dribbling out the corners of her lips.
The zombies banged on the door to the laundry room, the incessant thuds making it difficult to concentrate.
“Selena, please, you have to stop,” I said, but why I said it I didn’t know. Probably just voicing my thoughts.
She kept shaking, her body bouncing up and down in rollercoaster-like waves.
Heart racing, I asked her if there was anything I could do. She didn’t reply, and her eyes were rolled back in their sockets. For a brief moment I thought she was trying to look up at me, but I had lost her beautiful brown-eyed gaze as the whites of her eyes became all I saw.
The undead beyond the door continued drumming against it.
Selena stopped shaking. Her body kicked out a few more jolts then lay still.
Tears in my eyes, I gently brushed her hair off her face and leaned in, listening for breath. There was none. I put her head on the ground, got beside her and started CPR. Each press of my palms against her chest grew more and more intense; each time it seemed her nonresponsiveness intensified even though I know now it had only been my imagination.
Why was this happening? How many times could I lose her?
I didn’t know what was worse right then: losing Selena from my life, but knowing she was alive somewhere, possibly happy, or losing her and watching her die. After all, they both ended with the same result: her absence from me.
Seems selfish, I know, but unless you’ve walked this road, you can’t say anything. More specifically, unless you’ve walked this road several times like I have, you have no right to say anything.
The zombies kept beating their decaying fists against the heavy door.
* * *
Around an hour later I was alone in that room. No longer able to look at Selena’s deceased form, I carefully laid her down in the janitor’s supply closet in the room and closed its door. It was cruel because she deserved a proper burial, but at the same time, I needed space and given all that I’ve been through, I decided to cut myself some slack.
The zombies had stopped their beating on the door, but they hadn’t left. Their hollow moans still filled the hallway beyond, their deathly groans coming in through the gap between the door and floor.
I lay in a foetal position on the ground, balling my eyes out over my loss.
Over my life.
Yeah, it was a real pity party, but you’d have one too if you were in my shoes.
I don’t how much time passed, but a dull thump came from the janitor closet. Immediately, I leapt to my feet and cautiously approached it.
Another thump came from behind the door.
No, it couldn’t be. Not like this. She was dead. She was–
Not Selena. Please, God, don’t let her become one of them.
The thumping grew consistent, and I could imagine her behind the door, stepping up to it, bumping into it, stepping back, then coming at it again. Over and over.
My baby. Not you, too.
If I opened the door, I could be dead really soon. If I didn’t, then there was a good chance the bumping into the door would grow more aggressive and alert the others in the hallway outside the laundry room that there was still something for them to get at.
“Please,” I whispered. “Please be okay.”
I put my hand on the doorknob and slowly turned it. I took a large step back as I let the door swing all the way open.
Out of the shadows, Selena emerged, her head cocked slightly to one side. Her mouth hung slack; her eyes remained rolled back in their sockets. She stumbled toward me.
“Selena?” I said.
She stopped, turned her head more in my direction, then adjusted her footing, this time coming more directly at me. A few seconds later, she raised her left hand. I touched her fingers. They were ice cold. Her hand gripped mine and she started to pull herself closer. I yanked my hand away and darted for the far side of the room, and scanned it up and down for something to defend myself with. Nothing. Nothing lethal, anyway.
Selena slowly walked toward me.
I stepped to the side. When my foot came down, it landed on the ground harder than I wanted. Her head immediately craned in the direction of the sound and then she started heading that way.
My girl was gone.
It was a feeling, it was a thought. Its reality sunk in quicker than I expected and immediately I knew I had to get rid of her otherwise I’d be her lunch soon enough.
I let her get close to me before carefully moving out of her way in a semicircle. My goal was to get to the closet she had just come out of. There had to be something in there I could use to defend myself with.
Keeping one eye on her, the other on the closet, I inched my way there, each footstep I took as light as I could possibly make it.
Once at the closet, I peered in and scanned the shelves. Nothing but a bunch of cleaning supplies, a mope and bucket, a broom, some boxes and–the broom.
I pulled it out. It wasn’t too thick, but thick enough I couldn’t break it over my knee.
Slowly, I kept my circular pattern and went to the far corner of the room while Selena was at the other, her head weaving side-to-side as she tried to find me.
I had only one chance at this, and I had to make it quick. I held the broom handle with one hand, leaned it on an angle and put my foot down on its head. Quickly, and as hard as I could, I stomped down halfway between the top of the handle and the broom’s head. Crack! The wood splintered, but didn’t break.
Selena turned around and faced me. She raised her arms, her fingers rigid like claws.
I stomped down on the broom again. It snapped this time, but not cleanly. I had to–
She was real close, like six feet away.
I flipped the broom over and came at it from the other side. The wood broke. I let the straw end fall to the floor, and I got the handle end ready.
“Please, Selena,” I said. “If you can hear me, you need to stop. I don’t want to–”
But there was no response in that dead face. No sign she recognized my voice. Not the slightest hint of contemplation.
So be it, I said, and came at her with the broom handle.
The sharp end plunged directly in her middle. I kicked out against her chest and pulled on the handle at the same time. The handle came out, bringing with it blood and stringy flesh. I brought it across her face like a baseball bat. The force of the blow was enough to knock her off balance, and with another kick I sent her on her back to the ground.
“Forgive me,” I said, and plunged the sharp end of the stick into her eye. Her body twitched a couple time then lay still.
I stumbled back a few steps and couldn’t believe how fast I had taken her down. For some strange reason, my heartache was gone. So was the confusion. Instead, I felt . . . nothing.
Just . . . nothing.
Who was I? What had I become?
I had to get out of there.