Inspired by The Daily Post: Escape!
I stand in the middle of the empty street. The abandoned cars littering the sidewalks are covered in a thick film of dirt and dusty grime. The houses of my suburban neighborhood stand alone, no human presence in the overgrown yards. In the distance, the sound of a dog barking, the only sign of real life around me. Then I hear it, that familiar slow scrape along the pavement behind me.
Scrape. Plop. Scrape. Plop…
I turn to find it slightly hunched over, slowly moving toward me. The eyes are hollowed by a living death, a festering gash across the cheek. That once thick and beautiful mane of auburn hair is dirty and plastered around the face in clumps. I used to panic. I used to turn on my heels to run as fast as I could. I saw them as monsters, until one day, I found someone I knew and I watched him turn. That’s when I began to see them as trapped souls. After that, I sought to set them free. There was no cure for this, no waiting around for someone to fix it. They weren’t human, but they weren’t dead either. To let them continue to wander the Earth, forever in limbo, seemed cruel.
The steel of the blade glimmered in the afternoon sunlight as it sliced through the still air. That was not my neighbor, I tell myself. It might have been at one point, but it’s not anymore. It’s over for her but not for me. I’m stuck here, in this prison, living in what’s left of this wretched world. And I miss her. I miss her perfectly planted tulips and her homemade cookies and her beautifully written Christmas cards. I missed all of them, but I know I’ll miss them the most. Only if they are actually gone, I remind myself. I try not to think of that strong possibility as I turn my back to the setting sun and stand there waiting.
My mind flashes back to when it all started. We saw the same news, but a thousand miles of distance separated us. I promised I’d get home. I swore I’d make it, and as I started the arduous journey back, I thought of how much I hated myself that I hadn’t been there in the first place. He was still here, waiting for me. He’d been ticking off places to look for them, hoping against all the odds that they were still alive. He was close to the end, though, when I finally knocked on that boarded up door.
The roar of the engine breaks through my thoughts. A black car rolls up and I get in. He turns his head towards me and nods. I sigh in relief. He’s not bitten. I look in the backseat. There they are, both of them are still alive, really alive. Miraculously we’re all together. Who knows how long that will be true, but as he shoots the car up the empty street, we’re all safe. For now, we can escape.
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I have a love-hate relationship with watching The Walking Dead. For starters, it terrifies me. It’s an irrational fear, but a world full of zombies is my absolute worst nightmare. Yet, despite sleepless nights, I couldn’t help watching the show. I tried a few times, but I always wanted to know what happened next. So I started saving the show for afternoon viewings. Turns out, it wasn’t restful to watch that kind of stuff right before bed. My mind would run nutty and I would swear I heard someone creeping up the stairs. Why I ever thought it was a ‘walker’ is beyond me. That’s just a wild imagination in complete overdrive.
My greatest fear in life is losing my kids and that’s just amplified by the horrifying thought of them as mini biters. I would often have dreams that I was the only living person among a world of walking dead and that I would have to watch my children turn. That’s an unpleasant night’s sleep, to say the least!
As a child, whenever I had a nightmare, my mother would always tell me that it was just my imagination and that I could always change it. So today, in broad daylight with no lurking shadows around to freak me out, I changed my dreams.
This time I escaped. We all did.