10 October 2013 - 03:54 PM
I stood there over the freshly covered grave breathing hard from the exertion of digging and the severe lack of food. Dana crafted a wooden cross from two broken branches and placed it at the head of the mound.
This man I buried saved my life and I didn’t even know his name.
“There. I found these flowers on the side of the road. Paul? Are you okay?” Dana asked me, her face was dirty and her clothes were tattered. It has been a hard winter with food and water growing scarce. She’s lost a lot of weight, we both did.
“Yeah…it’s just…we never even knew his name. Now we can’t even put one on his cross.” I spoke. I meet this man several months after the outbreak. I had lost everyone I ever loved and was on the verged of completely giving up. No food, no water, and no transportation to get away from the flesh eating mass that always seemed to be on my heels. Then this man showed up.
He was mute and couldn’t speak but he was strong and resourceful. He taught me to fish for food, to purify river water, to avoid the wandering hordes. He kept me alive and gave me a new reason to stay that way. Other survivors. There were other people out there that needed help and if this man with no words could save me, then I should save others. But there was something I needed to do first.
“I found his wallet but the ID is damaged. The name is missing but there’s an address. It’s not too far from here; he must’ve wanted to stick close to home.” I said.
“Yeah? And?” Dana questioned.
“And I’m going there.” I stuffed the ragged ID card in my pocket and began to pack up my supplies.
“Are you crazy? I came from that direction, it’s swarming with a major horde. You’ll never make it there. Paul, please, we don’t have much weapons just a machete and a gun with one clip, it’s not enough.” Dana pleaded.
“I’m not going to clear them out I just want to make it to his house. Maybe there’s some paperwork or bills that would have his name on it. And then I’m going to put his name on his gravestone. He deserves at least that.” I was determined even though in the back of my mind I was wondering the same as Dana. Will I make it out?
“Paul, he’s dead. A name won’t change that…”
“After everything he’s done for us he deserves to be named. To be mourned properly.” I knew the significance of mourning properly. I lost my 17 year old daughter in a car accident just a year prior to the world changing. I would stand at her gravestone and stare at her carved name for hours as if the action alone would summon her to appear in front of me so I could tell her that daddy loved her and I was sorry I wasn’t there.
The other driver was drunk and swerved into her lane while she was visiting an out of state college for possible enrollment. The asshole lived while my daughter who had so much potential died alone on the pavement. I couldn’t bring myself to attend the trial or even look that man in the eye. I just wished him dead.
“Dana, a name is important. How else can you remember that person? I’m going. Are you coming?” I asked her. She looked scared but she began to follow me.
The walk was long and arduous, I could feel my feet rubbing raw inside my boots. On the outskirts, there were only random walkers milling about. I used what I learned to avoid them without a confrontation fairly easy. There was no point in taking them out, using up what little energy I had only to draw more in.
Moving from house to house, we took this opportunity to gather any supplies we could find. The pickings were slim.
“Paul, this is crazy. This whole place is surrounded by them, we should leave now.” Dana was nervous. She hadn’t been with them long, we found her on the side of the road only three days ago nearly dead from starvation. She was in the kitchen and opened the door to the pantry; she let out a scream.
A walker was inside and lunged at her. I was there in an instant and drove my machete through its partially decayed skull. Shit! The scream. I ran to the kitchen window to see an army of walkers turned in our direction. They were coming.
“I’m sorry I didn’t think…” Dana apologized. She was shaking.
“Don’t worry about that, let’s just get out of here alive. Follow me.” I led her out a side door on the other side of the house. The scream attracted them from all directions. I saw Sahara Street in the distance, that’s what I was looking for. We ran for it dodging walkers left and right. 1016 was a small non-descript house with a broken fence and uneven walkway. The door was unlocked and as I walked inside another scream sounded behind me.
“Paul!” A walker had her arm in its mouth. It ripped through her flesh and nearly bit her arm in half. Another was on her from behind and sank its teeth into her slender neck. Blood gushed and she gurgled a scream.
I tried to reach for her but the mass engulfed Dana. She looked at me. I mouthed ‘I’m sorry’ and closed the door. I leaned against it. Fuck! I questioned if this was really worth it.
I turned to the dimly lit room; furniture and books were scattered in the living room. The house was ransacked most likely from other survivors looking for food. A name. All I needed was a name then I would collect whatever was left of Dana and bury her beside him.
Picking through the papers in the kitchen I came across an old newspaper clipping; it was yellow with age and brittle but it was very significant. It was the article that detailed my daughter’s death. It had her picture.
“What the hell?” I leafed through more papers and came across a medical record of sometime. The man’s picture was posted above a name, “David Harris”. Why did that name sound so familiar? The medical record documented that David was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor that was not operable. His prognosis was grim, only 3 years to live.
“David.” I tried out his familiar name. I was still confused about the news article until I found a journal entry in the kitchen drawer.
I was at my lowest. I had always had a hard time living in this world of words and not being able to speak them. Now this? A brain tumor? I’m dying and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. I guess… I guess I wanted to take my death into my own hands. I didn’t want to take anyone with me though. 17. God. She was just 17 years old. What have I done? I got drunk and just wanted the madness to end. I thought the cliffs would be a perfect spot to drive my car over but I never made it there. The accident was my fault and I lived. She didn’t. Her father wouldn’t even look at me. I tried to apologize so many times but I know it wouldn’t have made a difference. The judge took pity on me since I was going to die in three years anyway, I didn’t go to jail but this house is the only jail I need. This body is my jail. I’ll just sit and wait either for death or a chance to redeem myself. I’m sorry.
David killed my daughter. But he saved my life over and over again. He died saving me. The horde outside grew larger and there was no other way out. At least I was able to give him a name…and I accept his apology.
11 October 2013 - 08:45 AM
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