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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This Prison We Share

“Can we carry this love that we share
Into the open air?” (x)

As Anna’s fury began to drain away, like the puddles after thunderstorms, she was left with emptiness, no feeling but the throb of her cheekbone. The silent rooms around her yawned out, the music that Cally loved so much silenced. That was all her fault. She’s destroyed the music, and laughed as she did so; and the expression on her face would be something Anna remembered forever.

Oh gods, what had she done? She hadn’t meant to push the girl so hard, to cut her so deeply. Months of being cooped up on house arrest were driving her wild, but Cally was sweet and vulnerable. Snapping on her was like taking a magnifying glass to ants and watching them burn, for a lack of more interesting things to do.

Anna slipped out of the doorway, treading past the evidence of their fight; Cally’s broken records, lying smashed on the stone floor. Never again would their music fill the rooms, removing their grim reality and replacing it with hope. Now the walls pressed in, a reminder of the prisoners they were.

Anna slipped inside the room, moving to the end of the bed. In the gloom, Cally’s form was a dark island in the white seas of sheets. Even asleep, her forehead was tied up in unhappiness, and the moonlight illuminated silver tears trails staining her cheeks. She looked broken, tiny in the expanse of the room. The girl was so coiled up within herself, it seemed like a desperate attempt to hide; to make herself less of a target. Anna looked at her, and the dam inside her broke.

“Oh, gods.” Her voice, riddled with guilt, shattered the words. Lifting up the sheets the girl slid in, pressing herself to Cally’s back, wrapping her arms around her protectively. The girl stirred.

“I’m so sorry,” Anna whispered, again and again. “I’m sorry, Cally.” She was trying to heal wounds with words, perfectly well knowing nothing she said would be enough. “Cally, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” The girl in her arms turned to face her, her hair dark in the moonlight. Cally’s fingers brushed against her girlfriend’s cheek, where the bruise was already swelling. She said nothing. Burying her face in Anna’s shoulder, her thin fingers dug in and clung, and she drifted off to sleep.

Anna stayed awake. The fragile body in her arms, so tiny and easy to miss, was infinitely precious. She kissed her cool forehead, wishing she could smooth out the worries that lingered there. How long will the two of them remain like this, locked up in this tiny cage? With Anna as the feral beast and Cally a mouse of a girl, there can surely be only one ending to this story. Anna shiverd, holding the girl close, and wished things were different.

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.

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’.

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.

Valentine’s Day

A quiet knock at the front door sends me stumbling from the living room. As I fumble for the lock, I glance up and am startled by the darkness outside; it’s way later than I thought. A shiver of apprehension prickles up my back as I open the door.
My dark garden is unaffected by nearby streetlights, creating a black and grey world. I blink several times as I wait for my eyes to adjust, feeling like there’s a heart pounding in my throat. In the shadows I finally discern the outline of a body. Motionless, the dark figure stands on the garden path, their hands cupped around something.
“What do you want?” I intend my sentence to be a command, but my voice falters and rises into a squeak at the end. I clasp my shaking hands behind my back.
The figure steps towards me, and for a moment fear crystallises my mind. A million terrible scenarios unfold in my mind, and time slows to a crawl. I watch their body slice through still air, creating ripples and shifts that flow out from them, a tsunami flooding from the epicentre, a scent in the air that slams into me like a wall.
There’s too much saliva in my mouth. I swallow heavily, but the smell is overpowering, impossible to ignore. My feet lead me off the porch and out of safety. The closer I get to the figure, the stronger it becomes until I feel like I’m drowning. Deliciously sweet, metallic, cloying – everything I want. Blood. Fresh blood, and I can’t breathe.
“I got you something,” the figure whispers. At the voice my fear abruptly vanishes and I want to laugh at my paranoia; in my old age, I’m growing foolish.
Grinning wolfishly, I reaching out. My fingers brush her cheek and I kiss her. Her smile brushes against mine, her wicked scent hiding behind the far stronger one. She laughs, a breathy giggle.
“You don’t want it to go cold,” she chides, raising her hands to offer me the treasure cupped between them. I gaze at the flesh in wonder. Whole, warm, perfect. It’s so fresh it was practically still beating.
“You did this? For me?”
Her sticky hand ghosts up my arm, her breath in my ear. “Aren’t you lucky to have a girlfriend that spoils you so?”
I can’t articulate the words, so I press my lips against hers to let her understand what I’m trying to say. Her bloody hand tugs at my hair, pulling me close so we are pressed together. After a moment she yanks me back.
“I didn’t go to all the trouble of killing someone just so you could let my gift congeal.” She reprimands me sharply, cupping the human heart in hands stained the colour of rust. My mouth waters, and I take it from her graciously. As I sink my teeth into the thick muscle, I can’t help the loud moan that issues from my throat. It’s heaven; it tastes like it smells, but so much richer. Its been far too long since I feasted on human flesh. I tear off another mouthful, the warm blood filling my mouth as I bite down.
Her sharp teeth gleam white in the darkness. I chew and swallow, my eyes rolling back in my head.
“Oh, god…” I mumble. She’s there, hot body wrapped around me, lips on my throat. Her voice is an echo within my head.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, my love.”

Her Confession

There’s a tear on her cheek
As she tells me her story
There’s a wound inside of her
As she confesses her pain

Each word falls like a stone
Such heavy truth that has been her burden
They line up across the table
The building blocks to who she is now

And though I asked for the truth
I never expected this
I didn’t know the deep oceans of her fear
Faced by her past and burdened with guilt

I am aghast, unhinged, stunned
All I can say is ‘I’m so sorry.’

That Day, This Story

On that day, you didn’t lose yourself
You weren’t defeated, or broken
Or made to be any less than what you are
Nothing was stolen from you.

What happened was this:
You made a bad decision
And you regret it, and that’s okay
Because one hasty word
Or one poorly-planned action
Is not the end of your world.

If you feel like you’re falling to pieces
Throw the fragments away
Get rid of the old ending
And grab some white paper.

This story is your own.
Only you get to choose the path
So take control