Afterwards, Then Nothing

I'm running on empty, as they say in the films. There's enough still in this world to rouse me in the morning, enough to make me stagger downstairs, but there's nothing, nothing, that can ever make me feel alive. I smile still, I talk and love and fuck and laugh, but it's all acting. It's all a script. There's no reason for me to feel happy, I look for days on end but I can't find anything to provoke a genuine grin. I'm a shell. I'm nothing. (There's nothing).

She. Oh God, she.

I'm living still for her, I tell myself. I'm living because I love her, (but I don't). Not really. Not anymore. Not since I realised that she didn't love the man I used to be. Not since she left me for not changing for her. I wanted her then, yes, because I was used to her, but I'm forever walking on eggshells. Forever stepping on her shattering disappointments, and cutting myself deeply 'til there's no way to stop the blood flowing.

Do you remember the day?

It takes your blood first. Teeth meet flesh meet blood meet death. Red turns to black as it infects every cell, as it permeates your life, spreading like ink through water, (like Hell through blood), and then, you're all but gone. For a few moments, until you bleed to death, or until your heart constricts, all you know is that it's in you, and you can't get it out. It has your blood, and your treacherous heart is pumping it all over your body. First, it takes your blood.

Next falls your body. Limp, useless (lifeless), still. A machine, now, a vessel. You are gone from this world, perhaps, but that which used to be yours now belongs to it, and it will use your body to continue it's reign. I saw you fall, but I never saw you die. Perhaps if I had... but no. It's better this way. This way I don't have your last, desperate plea for life etched into my mind. That look I knew you would have, beginning me to make it so it wasn't so. And I would have, I would have, (but I didn't know how), and still you are... It has taken your body.

Your memories next. Your mind. I see no recognition now, when I look at you. I don't fire a spark in your mind at all, do I? You don't remember me at all. (And you should, you should, because I was all you had). All you have now is your primal desire to feed and spread and hurt and kill and nothing, nothing, hurts more than the fact that this disease is wearing my friend's skin, living in his blood and destroying the memories I can never forget. It took your blood, your body, and your mind.

(And then it took my heart).

I'm walking now, quite numbly, with a gun in my hand and a single bullet. I dare not load two, God, can you imagine the temptation? (Head splitting open, brains and blood over the wood of the shed. My body falls to the ground and thank God, I am free). You've grown restless, eager to be outside and away, sinking your teeth into nameless flesh, being who you are and not who I'm trying to force you to be. This is better, because you are just an animal, a thing, and my best friend is long since dead.

I open the door, I hear your familiar snarl. You look to me through those unseeing, milky eyes. You don't know me at all. I walk over, I raise the gun and point it at your forehead. You stare at it, fixated, not knowing what it does or that you stare down the barrel of your own demise. My hand trembles, and I shut my eyes. I step closer, dangerously close. There is nothing to stop you from reaching out and delivering unto to me the same fate I gave to you. (Oh God, I killed you. I did it, didn't I?). Maybe I want you to.

I want you to...

...but you don't. Maybe you are surprised. I can feel the mottled skin of your face resting on my arm now, your savage teeth mere inches from my wrist. (Bite me!) I wonder how long it will take for me to die. I wonder if it will all start again, here, in this shed, another epidemic, another desperate day. (Please, Ed, kill me). I don't really care. But then I remember the gun in my hand. You are not my friend, you are a monster. And now I must destroy you.

(My hand lingers still, but there are a hundred ways to kill myself). More snarls, you can smell my living flesh. The hot blood pumping through my veins, the fear in my breath. I can feel you winding up, getting ready to strike. Like a monster, not my friend. My long dead friend.

(Player Two has entered the game).

One eye opens first, then the other. Shambling fingers pass me a controller, the black shiny plastic a sharp contrast to the purple-green mess that is your skin. I'm stunned, shocked. Why didn't you bite me? (Ed, is that you?) I lower the gun. There's no question of killing you now. It took your blood, your body and your mind.

(And then it took my heart).