Zomtropolis Chapter Thirty-one
Have you ever looked at a dead person?
Death . . . it’s one of those things our brains aren’t built for. We see the person in front of us yet know there’s no one there at the same time. It’s the same brainfreeze I get when I see the undead walking—ghosts, physical forms with no substance.
It was like that with Selena.
I let her into my apartment, not knowing if it was a ghost coming to haunt me or if, somehow, she was healed and back from the dead. Even stranger: back from the dead in a good way.
She didn’t shamble. Didn’t have gray skin. No bruises or cuts or gashes. Just my girl. And she was beautiful even in the filthy garbage bag she wore.
Just like . . . before.
When I opened the door, she ran in, shoved it close behind herself, then threw her arms around me and held me so tight I couldn’t breathe.
“You’re alive,” she said.
I couldn’t find the right words to respond. The best I could come up with was a gentle, “So are you.”
I didn’t know if I was holding a ghost right then or someone with special healing abilities . . . and I didn’t care. Not when it came to her. When you lose something, you’d give anything to get it back, risk it all and just be happy you got a second chance no matter how it came.
“You’re shaking,” she said as she pulled away. “Did they get you? You know, those people outside?”
I simply shook my head.
“Good. There was no one else to turn to and I knew . . . I knew you’d help me if you were still . . .” She didn’t finish, but I knew what she meant.
Then I processed what she said. “Wait. You knew I’d help you if . . . um, if what?”
“If you were still alive.”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you mean what do I mean? Still alive. Breathing. Living. Not one of those creatures.”
I furrowed my brow. Was she okay? Didn’t she know? “Selena, the undead have been around for a while. Don’t you know that?”
She appeared as if to say something, then held back. Her eyes searched the air, as if seeing something I couldn’t. “I came here. I saw those things.”
“Where were you? How did you–?”
“I was home.”
Déjà vu hit me like a punch to the face. We had a conversation like this before. She had on the garbage bag, but this time she wasn’t hurt.
“Selena, we’ve already crossed this road. Don’t you remember? This isn’t normal. We were just together. We were . . . and then . . .” Why couldn’t I tell her what happened? It was those eyes. Her beautiful brown eyes. The way she held my gaze told me everything: she didn’t remember. She looked at me with nothing but question marks for irises, her brow slightly furrowed as if I was the one with the screwed up memory. And to be honest, that very well could be.
The blessed relief at her resurrection fled and I wondered if I was truly talking to someone or, in reality, was merely talking to myself. This shouldn’t be so hard.
Are you supposed to entertain imaginary friends? Or do you give in to the delusion because if you don’t your brain—that created the delusion in the first place—needs to take part in the fantasy or it’ll fry itself from within.
All I could say was, “Are you real?”
Her gaze softened and she smiled just a little, in that way where you knew she was happy and thought you were cute. “I’m real, Marty.”
I took her in my arms again. She didn’t embrace me back right away, but after a moment, she held me tight.
Ghost or not, we were together.
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