So Bloody Poetic

Sunrise

The sun rises and I begin to cry.

Of course, my life was always so bloody poetic. How the gods love their irony; the morning of my last day on earth begins with the most stunning sunrise I’ve ever witnessed. Oh,  yeah, sure! Humanity is lost! Everyone will die alone, shit-scared and without dignity; but gosh darn it, isn’t the sky just sweet today? The subtle blend of hues one hundred years ago would’ve inspired Monet to paint! Today’s sunset is predicted to be equally lovely… but luckily for me, I won’t be sat here in this truck weeping over the fucking colour of it.

I thought I was gonna die last night. When the city walls fell, I was so sure of it. But as Zack got closer to the apartment, flocking to the screams like hyenas to carrion, I went primal. Guess it was the ‘fight or flight’, but I don’t remember any of it – just disjointed snapshots, as distant from me as someone else’s holiday photos.

A broken-down door, muddy with footprints. Staircase – too many floors to count. A coiled bullet belt, empty. Glass-stained streets. Rotting carcasses; a dead baby, stomach bloated. A water bottle, empty. The most beautiful rusty old truck.  AK47, empty.

I do remember clambering into the truck. I drove through the night, didn’t stop once. The people by the side of the road were exhausted, desperate, dying. They plead, beg for the lives of their children, pray out in a foreign tongue. But how do you know that they’re people? Don’t trust anyone. Let them in the truck, they could start coughing and before you know it you’ve got Zack riding shotgun. Don’t trust. Humanity died the day they got out the grave.

The stupid fucking sunset blurs before my eyes. What good did it do? Running away bought me extra time, but ultimately I’m just as screwed. By the time the sun sets, I will be dead; whether by dehydration, human hands or Zack bite, it doesn’t matter. None of us matter. I squeeze my eyes shut, feel hot tears on my cheeks. When I look again, the rainbowed sky is so gossamer-clear I can see the morning stars.

A sunset like that is a good final memory.

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The Children Can Play

I came to this town to destroy it.

But then this little girl pulled on my finger
“Come down to the river with us!” the piggy squealed
I could’ve smashed her skull in like an eggshell
Snapped bones like breadsticks

But my human body was curious, and made me go with her

All the children of the town were there that day
Swimming, splashing, shrieking with laughter
They came to escape the heat and pesky parents
A naked boy ran up to me; “Have you come to play, miss?”

I almost smiled.

They were too innocent; I turned my back, leaving them to their happiness
They did not commit the crimes the town was guilty of
I could not smite these children
So I delighted myself as I tore the adults of that town to slivers
The King’s Justice.

And I left the children to play.

My Mother Makes Me Human

My mother knows so many things
She knows how to make plants grow,
And how to soothe the ravage beast inside me
She knows how to cook for Kings,
And how to draw me out from my darkness
She knows how to dress in style,
And how to make me appear human in front of dinner guests.

But I am only just beginning to realize
That my mother does not know everything
I am only just beginning to decide
That it is time for me to live without her

Everything You Want

“You shitty spoiled brat! Do you always get everything you want?”

I snap. My temper finally gone, I stride up to him and smash my fist into the wall by his head. “I didn’t want my dad to die!” I snarl. His expression freezes in shock. His mouth hangs open so stupidly.

Adrenaline is giving me borrowed power, sweeping away any boundaries I might have had. The pain is too recent, the wound too fresh. My anger fills every spare inch of me and my hands itch. Grabbing his lapel, I yank him down and throw him to the floor. “Don’t. Don’t ever think you know me. Don’t presume so much.” I hack up a glob of phlegm, spit it on the floor by his feet. “Keep away from me, you fucking freak,” I command him, and stride away with a new swagger in my step.

Reaper

The last words of a dying man. They’re supposed to be profound, aren’t they? Something that will sum up the life they’ve lived, be the conclusion that they’ve reached, the fatal punchline to their joke.

In my experience, there is nothing profound about them. They are always confessions; of love, of murder, of sin, of hope. Questions. A last minute redemption plea. In my job, I’ve heard them all.

You can always see the moment that they realise that they are about to die. Then the terror takes hold, the frantic fear that the secrets they’ve tucked into the creases in their cardboard faces, the urgent words that they never voiced out loud – all these things that are so important will die with them, and no-one will ever know.

That’s where I come in. I will come and stand by your shoulder, watch your time-torn face. Then bring in the king. Enter death as a beautiful woman. Enter death as a scar-flecked monster. The edge of a blade, a bullet to the heart, a needle in the dark. And kneel beside you, performing death’s wake. I am the reaper come to untie your soul.

I am the last person to hear you. I carry the confessions of generations. And your questions, as sweet as they may be, mostly go unanswered.

Except for sometimes, when I just can’t help myself. When you seem so lost and so scared and so hopelessly young that I want to cry, ‘No, this is a mistake – send her back, she is just a child’. It’s times like this when I will embrace you and tell you the story of your life. I will share with you the way that the last confession of your parents was one of love. They died with the words on their lips, just as you do now.

And I will move on, to my next body, to their last words. But the confessions take their toll, and the memories of humans fills my head. It is always the young ones are the ones that hurt me the most.

Raw Red Devil

“Charlie Bradbury is dead. She died a year ago – you killed her. My name is Carrie Heinlein. Oh, and guess what. Now I’m going to kill you, too.” Her eyes narrowed, and she carefully knelt before her prey. Dean’s posture was slumped, defeated, broken; his horror at her transformation so beautifully clear in the lines of his face. He’d given up, and the woman felt a perverse rush of joy, of righteousness. This is my revenge.
The hunter’s mouth flapped open, as though he was trying to speak, and anger seized her. With a snarl, she dug her dagger into the soft skin of his throat, and a slick of blood ran down his collar. “No, I buried myself,” she spat in his face. “When Dick Roman went down, his company belly-up, I figured that for once everything would turn out fine. I got my life back. Now you’re here, come to destroy my world all over again. Do you enjoy taking everything I have? Do you enjoy watching me be torn me to shreds?”
Dean opened his mouth to answer, and her hand closed around his windpipe, flawlessly painted nails gouging into his flesh. “Don’t answer that,” she hissed. “I don’t care.” She straightened up, throwing her dagger to the side with a clatter. She slowly pulled her gun from the waistband of her jeans, the delicious fear flaring in Dean’s eyes making her heart glow.
“Are you proud of me, Dean?” she asked softly. A lifetime ago he’d confessed to her that she was like a sister to him, and that made this whole thing so much sweeter. “Haven’t I come a long, long way from that cute IT girl who liked to play dress-up?” One corner of her mouth curved up into a sneer. “Remember, it was you who set me down this path. It was you who abandoned me to the darkness.”
“No, I never –” Dean croaked desperately, and her nostrils flared. She slapped him full across the face, her long nails raking lines across his cheek. “Don’t say a word,” she breathed, eyes wild.
“You abandoned me. I was drowning in the darkness until I realised the secret – don’t resist. Don’t push out the dark, breathe it in. Take it deep inside your heart and let it fester, let it rot, until you are reborn.” She spread out her hands. “I am the perfect version of Charlie Bradbury.”
Pressing the barrel against his forehead, one beautifully manicured finger held the trigger. A smile pulled her lips apart, a smile that had no trace of humanity. “Brother,” she scoffed, disgust rising like vomit in her voice. “As if.” Dean’s eyes widened, mouth falling open and urgent words forming on his lips –
Charlie Bradbury pulled the trigger… and Dean’s last words remained unspoken.

Watchful Moon

“Mama, I can’t sleep.”

I sit on the edge of the bed. Sophie’s feverish little hand sneaks into mine, all sticky with sweat. Her forehead gleams and her eyes are too bright, too shiny, and I can’t let her see how exhausted and scared I am.

With a weary smile I stand, drawing her curtains to let the moonlight flood into the room. Her walls are painted painting with silver and it feels like we’re underwater. Outside, it’s a clear night. The stars look like pinpricks in black cloth, letting light through tiny holes – perhaps the light comes from heaven.

“Can you see the moon?” I ask Sophie. She notes mutely, hands folded on her stomach.

“He’s there to watch over you,” I tell her softly, watching her face as she watches the moon. “He’s a kind old man that shines at night to show you that nothing is too dark for you to handle.”

Sophie’s chapped lips curve into a tiny smile, and my heart aches. I continue my story, choosing each word with care. “But sometimes we can’t see the moon. On some nights it’s too cloudy and everything looks dark.”

The last couple of months have been the darkest of my life, and I’m sure Sophie’s known that too. She knows that she’s not getting any better; she’s just not asking questions. I brush back hair that has stuck to her clammy forehead, and her eyes flick to me. “But remember, Sophie: even though everything is scary and you can’t see where you’re going, the dark is never too much for you to handle.”

She blinks, and I pray that I’ve got through to her. “Do you understand, Sophie?” Her chin dips with a nod.

“The moon is behind the clouds,” she says, unprompted. “When it’s dark, he’s not gone, just hiding.” I smile, so relieved – and the feeling of my heart tearing in two. My eyes prickle with tears.

“That’s right,” I say thickly, bending to kiss her skin. She’s like fire under my lips, her skin burning up. “You’re such a good girl. I love you very much.”

“I love you too, Mama,” she whispers, and I have to go. Fleeing from the room that has become her hospital, I fly down the corridors. I make sure I’m well out of earshot before I start weeping, great gasping sobs that want to tear me apart. Once I’ve begun I don’t think I can stop. And all the way through, the only thought in my head is ‘oh, god, please – I can’t lose her too’.

Grandma

In the kitchen my mother is standing
Broken, arms cradling the dead baby
Of her smoky childhood.
Her eyes are shattered snowglobes
At my entrance,
She wipes her bleeding cheeks and smiles
Nothing is wrong, she tells me
But I know better

I know what day it is; the anniversary
My grandma, wide-eyed, lying on the bathroom tiles
I was only seven.
I did not understand, only knew that my mother’s tears
Were the most terryifying thing I’ve ever seen.

Her Dark Revenge

“I know you…” I realise slowly. Throughout this whole scenario, something has been bothering me about this man. Now I can finally put my finger on it. “Tell me; why is your face familiar?”

His face is painted with the stupefied relief of someone who has is saved when they thought they were dead. I’m in no mood for his worship – I would rather see him cringe. Seizing a fistful of his greasy hair, I yank his head back and the pale yellow light falls on his face. He whimpers and I repeat the question.

“Where have I seen your face before, old man?” His eyes brim with tears, and I am disgusted. How could anyone this weak survived so long? Shaking him, I angrily demand, “Answer my question!”

“I used to – to be on the TV – a lot. I worked in – the govern – government.” Even thought his stuttering speech, I can hear the pride. The self-bloated, gloating satisfaction of being high up the food chain.

My anger takes even me by surprise, flushing through my body like a wave of pure hear. I pull back his hair till he screams and press my blade into his throat. “The government,” I hiss, mocking and cruel. “What a worthless life. How useful was it, eh? Your knowledge of politics. Tell me, how did it help you fight off the plague? How did it help you organise your relief strategies? How did it help you SAVE THE REST OF US?”

I’m screaming now, spittle flying from my lips in a rage I can’t control. He’s lost the look of someone saved. The emotion in his eyes is exactly what I want to see, the drug to my addict’s heart. “It didn’t. Because when as the world went to shit, you and the rest of your hoity-toity rich and famous ran for fucking cover while the rest of us scum died like rats.”

I laugh, gesturing at the ruins surrounding us. My voice sounds so distorted in the echoes, so… inhuman. “Was this part of your grand plan? Did you mean for all of this to happen, for millions to die? And what about us, the survivors? Tell me, old man, was I part of your plan?” I crouch down, the tip of my blade pressed into the heartbeat throbbing in his neck.

“No… no… no…!” He whispers, although I can’t tell if he’s begging for his rat-shit life or answering my question. My anger is cooling down, turning hard and sharp. I grip the knife handle tightly, the blade gleaming so beautifully.

“You ran for shelter and left us to die. This is everything you deserve.” With one fierce stroke I slit his neck from ear to ear, a bloody gaping grin, and I walk away.

The body sits upright, his eyes open and fixed in fear. The dim yellow light throws darkness across his skin and the blood gushing from his ripped smile is black: as black as the night, as black as his eyes, as black as my heart.

The Storm I Dreamt Of

I stare out at the city in ruins, the streets piled high with stinking rubbish and bodies. Flies move in swarms, devouring rotting food and flesh alike. The sun winks off a million shards of broken glass that line the sidewalks. To the west, thick black smoke rises sluggishly from the Court of Justice. We are the law now, and the scum cower in their homes. This is my world. I am the ruler of this city. But I can’t find the bloodlust I had before.

Arms wrap around my waist, a sharp chin on my shoulder. I breathe in Kit’s perfume, pressing into her embrace, reaching for her body. I want her comfort, I want to feel – something. Her sly voice whispers in my ear. “Look at it. Isn’t it wonderful?” I look, and can’t feel the wonder she does.

“It’s chaos.” My voice sounds empty, even to my own ears.

Kit laughs, her hot breath against my scalp. “It’s the storm you always dreamt of,” she murmurs, pressing her lips into my neck. She’s right. I’ve wanted this ever since I was a child. Having nothing makes you greedy, and in me it created a thirst for power and wealth. As I grew older I grew stronger, more ambitious.

My bitterness grew as I watched the rich, owning more money than they could ever need, while they pushed the rest of us into starvation. There was a storm brewing, gathering on the horizon, burning inside my heart. I vowed revenge on everyone that pushed me down, on the corrupt and powerful and selfish.

But this city – a burning hulk, spread out beneath my feet like a map – this lawless anarchy is out of my control. I thought that I’d created this storm, but now it’s taken possession of me and I am lost. This city is wild, power-crazy, and more people die every day. Their bodies rot on the streets and in houses behind boarded up windows. There is no rich or poor, there are no good and evil. It has become a war between the people – each man for himself. The heartbeat of the city is the constant throbbing of gunshots.

Kit’s warm hands reach for the buttons of my dress, her calloused palm sliding over my stomach. I’m so numb. No guilt; no triumph; no regret. The war is won, but I’m so lost. My hands itch to tear my skin from my bones, just to feel the pain, just to embrace the ache. Kit pulls my dress off my shoulders, her tongue tracing bare skin. I want to feel her. I need the heat of her skin on mine.

I surrender, closing my eyes so that I can’t see the hell I brought to earth.