Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fiction Tuesday - short story

BITTEN by Ryuki

A short story I wrote for my creative writing class that I actually like! The prompt was simply, “Write a story using a supernatural character who could not exist in real life.”

La la Dona

             The night was awash with the sound of rain. It dripped through the trees, sliding down leaves and along branches, through the grooves of tree bark, only to fall upon the underbrush and, finally, the ground. A few raindrops found their perches on other things—animal fur, beading on the feathers of birds, and a select few collecting on a lone woman. Though she sat beneath a tree, eyes closed and head relaxed against the rough bark of a tree trunk, she was not completely out of the rain. It trailed down her pale cheeks like tears, dampening her dark hair and collecting in her ripped, dirty, bloody clothing. In spite of the cold and damp, she seemed to be at peace. She could almost forget the open wound on her leg.
            It bled sluggishly still, with droplets of blood that mixed with the rain and dripped to the ground beneath her. The wound was a bite, and a bad one. The teeth marks were obvious, and they looked human. She hadn’t bothered to wrap her leg, since it was already infected. Any other “infections” that might develop would be superfluous. By the time the sun rose and the forest lit up once more, she would be gone. The infection that transformed the living into the mindless undead did its work quickly.
            She had been one among a group of survivors, a mix of a few people she had known before the outbreak of the infected undead and a few she had met afterward. Today had been their last stand. They were holed up in an old farmhouse, doing their best just to stay alive, when they were swarmed by a zombie horde. She had watched as everyone she knew died. And, in the bargain, she’d been bitten.
            Instead of fighting the inevitable, she had escaped into the nearby woodland. Zombies usually didn’t come out there—it was too difficult for them to maneuver around the underbrush. They preferred open areas, like fields and towns. There weren’t many humans in the woods for them to feed upon, either. Now, she just relaxed against the trunk of the tree, hoping to forget about the pain in her leg enough to fall asleep.
            Her eyes still shot open when she heard the telltale crackling of something making its way through the underbrush. Unconsciously, she reached for the bat she’d brought with her as a weapon. She’d been living in fear of death for too long not to react.
            What she saw, making its way through the rain and the forest, was a humanoid shape. Doing her best to crawl onto one knee, she steadied the bat in her hand. It could be another human, but it could also be a zombie. Either would kill her instantly, because of her wound or because she was a potential food source.
            When the figure came close enough, she was able to make out the deathly pallor that marked it as a zombie, and she rose. Intending to take it by surprise, she ran forward as best she could on her injured leg and swung at its head with the bat—
            “Wait!” The creature’s hands went up to protect its head. Ivy dropped the bat in surprise. The zombie gave a sigh of relief and lowered its arms. Then, to her astonishment, it actually smiled.
            “You’re the first one!” It said, sounding entirely too cheerful. “The very first one not to hit me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shot! Or cut. Or bludgeoned.” Ivy gaped, trying to grasp the situation. Never before had a zombie spoken to her. Never before had one ever shown a hint of reasoning. But this one…
            “What are you?” She asked, bewildered.
            “I’m a zombie,” it, no, he said bluntly. “But I’m kind of different!” Ivy couldn’t argue. After all, she’d never met a zombie who could speak in more than guttural groans.
            “I can see that,” she said finally. “But what are you—I mean—you’re talking!”
            “Yes! I can do that.” He nodded emphatically. “I’ve tried to tell people! But none of them would listen.” His smile faltered there, only to brighten again instantly. “But you! You stopped!” Before she realized what he was doing, he rushed forward and wrapped his arms around her in a bear hug. She tried to wriggle free, but to no avail. Finally, after she had yelled at him to let go, he released her and gave her an inquisitive look.
            “Do you have a sandwich?” She stared back at him.
            “What? No! Why would I have a sandwich?” He practically wilted.
            “I just… I’ve been looking for one…” He looked down at the ground and nudged a plant pathetically with his foot. Ivy, meanwhile, just felt dumbstruck. A sentient zombie had found her, somehow, and even though he was certainly older than her eighteen years, he was acting like a child. She knew she should feel revolted by him, but, somehow, she just felt really sorry for him, especially when he looked so pathetic about not having, of all things, a sandwich.
            “What’s your name?” She asked. “Where are you staying?” He perked up immediately at that.
            “Oh! I’m Wilson.” He smiled. “Alfred and I have a house! Would you like to see it?” Alfred? Ivy thought. Could there be another zombie with him? Maybe he could tell her how they’d managed to keep from going feral, since she doubted she could get a whole lot of sense out of Wilson.
            “Yes,” she said carefully. “I’d love to see it.” Her response excited Wilson, and he quickly grabbed her arm and began pulling her through the forest. Luckily, the house was close by. As they approached, it looked more like a cottage. It was small and well hidden among the trees, and it looked as though it hadn’t been touched in years, and certainly not since the outbreak of the zombies, which had been little more than a year ago.
            “C’mon, c’mon!” Wilson exclaimed, trying to pull her faster. Ivy gritted her teeth and sped up, ignoring the pain in her leg as she ran with him inside.
            As she had thought, it was just a one room cottage. There was no furniture inside, only a pile of leaves and grasses in one corner that served as a sort of bed. In the center of the floor was a gritty plastic tea set, the kind normally used by little girl for their pretend tea parties. Laying in front of one of the teacups was a single grimy sock monkey with a missing arm. Wilson flopped down on the floor next to him and held him up triumphantly.
            “This is Alfred! He lives here with me. Do you want to live here, too?” Ivy didn’t respond. She simply couldn’t stand on her leg any longer, and she all but fell to the ground next to the tea set. She grimaced in pain as she stretched out her injured leg, but she didn’t say anything else. She was feeling too forlorn.
            Alfred was nothing more than a stuffed animal, and, worse yet, her leg was beginning to feel tingly, like it was full of pins and needles. It was one of the first signs of the undead infection, or so she had heard. The running had probably only made it worse.
            “Miss?” She looked up at Wilson again, and he had a worried expression on his face. “Are you okay?”
            “Call me Ivy,” she said with a sigh. “And no, I’m not okay. I’ve hurt my leg, and… I’m turning into one of you.” His eyebrows furrowed together for a moment, looking curious.
            “One of me? A zombie? Will you talk too?” Slowly, she shook her head.
            “I wouldn’t really count on it.” She winced as a lance of pain went up her leg. “I’m probably going to be one of the mindless kind.” At that, he looked instantly crestfallen.
            “But, you are the first one! The first one to talk to me.” He gave her a sad, pleading look. She could only sigh. Something about him made her want to comfort him, but she couldn’t lie to him, either.
            “I don’t really get a choice, Wilson. I’ve been bitten, and I can’t stop it.” He nodded slowly, like he understood that much, but, for a long moment, he didn’t say anything else. Then, as he sat absently playing with his sock monkey, Ivy began to form an idea.
            “But what if,” she began, cutting through the silence, “what if you bit me?” He gave her a look that told her he was confused. “I mean, if you bit me, I might turn into a zombie like you, instead of a mindless one.” Once she explained it, he brightened immediately.
            “Yes! Those other zombies are really boring. Someone like you would be much more interesting, Ivy!” He practically beamed at her, and she gave him a wan smile back.
            “Yeah, I think it would be more interesting for me, too.” She paused for a moment, thinking it over. If she was going to do this, he would have to bite her somewhere that would reach her head more quickly than the other bite. If he didn’t, the other infection would take hold first.
            “Bite my shoulder,” she told him. “That will be the best place.” He nodded quickly, and, without warning, lunged for her. He was more enthusiastic about it than she thought. She felt the teeth break skin and she screamed in pain, making him flinch away from her immediately, but the damage was done. The pain was worse than when she had been bitten in the leg, and in spite of the fact that she heard Wilson yelling her name, Ivy blacked out.
            When Ivy awoke, she was surprised to find that she wasn’t in pain. Her leg and shoulder felt fine, without the least bit of pain. She kept her eyes closed for a long while before it finally started to worry her. There was no way that she should be feeling so relaxed, not unless—
            She sat up abruptly and opened her eyes. She was still in Wilson’s little cottage, and she saw that he was in his nest of leaves. She looked down at herself.
            Her hands were the first things that she noticed. They weren’t the pale peach she was used to. They had an almost green tinge, like dead flesh. Like a zombie. But in spite of that knowledge, she didn’t feel particularly different. Maybe a little more detached, and the pain was gone, but nothing else. She still felt like herself. Wilson’s bite must have worked.
            “Ivy?” The voice jolted her out of her own thoughts, and she looked up. Wilson, who had apparently woken up, looked at her hopefully. She smiled, and nodded.
            “I think it worked.” She half expected him to tackle her in his excitement, but instead, he smiled.
            “It’s really lonely, by myself,” he said. “Alfred doesn’t talk much, and the other zombies don’t talk, and the humans are afraid of me. But you’ll stay, won’t you, Ivy?” She thought for a long moment. Of the ways her life could have gone after being bitten, this was the most favorable, but if she left, she would face the same hardships as Wilson. It just made sense to stay together. And although he was silly and childlike, he was also warm and kind.
            ”Of course,” she said. “You and me, we’ll stick together. And we’ll find you a sandwich, even if we have to raid the remnants of an old Subway.” And somehow, the excited grin he gave her was worth being bitten.

La la Dona

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