AN: I would like to apologize for it being a year since the last update. Life has happened, things have gone down. But now that all is hopefully back in order I'll try to keep it updated more often, if there is anyone still interested in this story. A big thank you to you if you in fact exists :)
Also like to say that this chapter is M for me putting Cara through hell and death and blood and all kinds of stuff that makes me a horrible person, enjoy!
"Is it far?" Dahlia glanced over at Cara who had been quiet for far too long. Dahlia had never been comfortable in silence, she lived alone but in a loud apartment complex. Just take one step out the door and there would always be someone to talk to.
"I'll tell you when" Cara didn't even turn her head. It hurt, for reasons unknown Dahlia wanted nothing but to see her face. She wanted to see if the person from before would reappear, but mostly she just wanted to see her eyes. There was something about them that wouldn't leave her alone.
"So what are you doing for a living? You have already seen how I make my money, and somehow I doubt you would be winning an award for outstanding citizen anytime soon" She glanced over at Cara again. This time she turned her head a little, so that she was facing the front window instead of the side one.
"I'm a writer"
"You're a writer?" Dahlia couldn't help but sound disbelieving.
Cara's jaw shifted but she kept her eyes forward.
"Yes. A writer"
"Okay, fine. So you just steal cars for shit's and giggles then?"
Cara finally turned to face her. Her eyes were cold.
"What can I say, it doesn't pay well… And it's none of your business anyway."
Dahlia stopped the car and Cara turned to look at her, confused.
"I'm sorry; I didn't mean to come off as…"
"No, it's not that." Dahlia broke her off. She pointed out the front window. "It's that."
Cara followed her finger out to the road ahead of them. "Oh…"
The road had turned into a frozen sea of colorful cars. Cara had noticed them before, two or three of them standing together, abandoned by the side of the road, but nothing like this. It was like everyone had suddenly decided to leave their cars and go for a walk instead. Dahlia had gotten out of the car and Cara followed her, never letting her eyes leave the wreck before her. It went on for as long as she could see, until the road turned, and who knew how much further after that. The buildings that ran along the sides of the road seemed to rise like giants and turn in against each other, closing out the sky above her as the reality of the situation finally struck Cara. It was strange that hundreds of empty cars could do this, while the things trying to kill them seemed to have failed. But the sight of this made it so much clearer in her mind, the grandness of the predicament they had found themselves in.
"We'll never get around this." Dahlia mumbled on the other side if the car. Her eyes were fixed on a point far ahead.
"No, we'll have to walk."
Dahlia looked at her, her eyes mixed with something that looked like fear and determination.
"Okay." She nodded at the back of the car. "Grab the knife."
Cara took the knife from the backseat. The blood had started to dry and the blade was altering between dark read and brown. Cara liked the brown better, that way she could pretend it was rust. She closed the door after her, along with the passenger door. She even sprinted to the other side to close Dahlia's door, which she had left open as she started walking away. It was silly and completely useless, but somehow it gave Cara some sense of order.
She caught up with Dahlia as she reached the first cars. They made sure not to touch any of them as the metal had gotten burning hot from hours in the sun. When they made their way deeper into the chaos an unpleasant smell started to creep onto them. It reminded Cara of that time a rat had died inside her wall and she had had to break it open to get it out. It was the smell of rotting meat. Dahlia stopped suddenly before her and Cara almost knocked her over.
"God, what is that?" She whispered and started walking slowly towards one of the cars. The door was swung open and something was hanging out. The smell had gotten overwhelming at this point. Dahlia turned around and pressed a hand over her nose and mouth.
"It's a head." Cara could barely make out what she said behind the hand.
"No it can't be…" She stared in disbelief at the thing. There was no way that was a head.
"It is." Dahlia whispered. "It's just…"
"Eaten" Cara finished. As soon as she could make out the form she felt her stomach turn. It had just looked like a piece of meat, but now she could make out the features and it made her sick. Chunks of meat had been torn of leaving teeth marks that looked suspiciously human. She studied the vehicles around them more closely. Three cars away she could see a bloated blue face pressed against the window. Black trails of dried blood made its way from the nose. It was the same in many of the other cars as well, most of them weren't abandoned at all, their drivers had died on the run. Many of the bodies she could see bore trails of being killed by those zombie-like creatures, but other's seemed to have just died in peace. They where hunched over their wheels like they had just fallen asleep. Cara turned to Dahlia, but the other woman was still facing the wall with her hand pressed against her mouth.
"There are still people in the cars." Cara said, moving towards her. "And they are dead. They are dead but still here. If those things are zombies, why aren't these?"
Dahlia turned around and lowered her hand. "Maybe it's that virus thing. Maybe it's affecting people differently. Some people dies, other's become crazy. And some…" She made a gesture between her and Cara, binding them together. "Some just go on living."
Cara looked at all the death around her. "Lucky us."
It was almost dark by the time they got to Cara's sisters place. The final part of the journey had taken them up a hill and when Cara drove the car round that last bend and up to the driveway of her childhood home all Dahlia could do was stare and marvel. The house was huge and as she turned in her seat she could see a view like no other with the city far below. From there it looked asleep, the calmness of it together with the setting and the violet clouds in the sky painted a perfect picture. A world untouched. A lie.
After they had found the bodies in the cars Dahlia seem to be able to do nothing else but stare into every window they passed, car and building alike, and soon wished she could stop. Because she found that more of them were inhabited by those blackening bloated corpses than she would have thought. She had been so busy looking out for the walking dead that it had never even occurred to her until now that there might still be actual dead people.
As they walked Cara had picked up a habit as well, only her was to look at her clock every other minute, and the more she did so, the more annoyed Dahlia grew. She understood the reason for Cara's obvious impatience but still couldn't help the way her jaws tightened every time the other woman looked down on that silly little thing. Like time would matter now anyway.
Eventually the cars had scattered and Dahlia had gotten them a new one, all free of people of any kind. She had learned at an early age that the ability to hotwire a car could be one worth having. Cara had offered to drive and Dahlia had agreed thinking that beyond the obvious reason, that Cara knew the way, now at least she couldn't constantly look at that damn watch.
And now here they were, in a stolen car in front of a giant house. Dahlia looked over at Cara, this was where she came from. Somehow that was hard to imagine. Nothing about Cara screamed wealth. She would never had guessed and a small part of her felt offended, like if Cara had deceived her, only played a part to fit in among the lower beings.
The inside was as overwhelming as the exterior, big open rooms with beautiful made wooden furniture, each piece looking more expensive then everything Dahlia owned put together. She didn't know if she should be impressed or if she should scream, but one thing she was sure of, she was going to have a serious conversation with Cara at one point or another. She had turned to crime because she had to, but Cara had all this to lean on, and it made her somewhat furious.
Cara had noticed the smell as soon as they entered the house. A fain smell of iron and raw meat. Her heart started beating faster, pushing blood to her head, beating in her ears, making it impossible to hear anything at all. But something told her there wasn't much to hear anyway. A certain emptiness in the air. She had always been able to sense when her sister was near, her father had said that they were like twins, only born years apart. But now there was nothing, nothing at all. She swallowed and pressed her hands to her ears and then let them slide down along the back of her neck, like she was trying to push down the blood in her head. She had sent Dahlia upstairs while she searched the bottom floor. It was riskier to go one and one, but it would be much faster, and right now finding Grace was all Cara could afford to concern herself with.
The rooms were all empty. All the knives hang neatly on their place in the kitchen, but Grace had kept a gun in a locked drawer that was gone, It gave her a strange mix of relief and despair. Hopefully it meant they got out in time, and were all alright, but some small part of her had hoped to have found her sister dead, and she hated herself for admitting it, but at least that would mean she wasn't one of those things.
She met up with Dahlia at the bottom of the stairs.
"Anything?" she though already knew the answer.
"No" Dahlia shaked her head slightly. "But there were clothes all over the floor and missing from the drawers, like someone had packed in a hurry. Maybe they left?"
Cara nodded and her eyes fell on the door nest to the staircase. The basement. She walked up to it and pushed. It was locked from the inside.
"Help me" she said and pushed again, put all her weight on the door, shoulder first. Dahlia joined her and on their third try the lock broke and the door swung open. The stench that met them was like a punch in the face and made Cara gag. Dahlia pressed her hand to her face and muffled out an "oh god". Cara reached into the dark and flipped a lightswich on the wall. Nothing. She flipped it again, and the a third time, still nothing.
"Grace?" She called into the dark, barely audible, like she didn't dare hear the answer.
She turned to Dahlia and pointed. "You see that cupboard by the door? There should be a flashlight somewhere inside. Can you see if you can find it?"
Dahlia nodded, went over and came back with a small flashlight. "You can't go down there." She said as she handed it over, her voice begging. She had already imagined the worst, just as Cara had.
"I have to." Cara swallowed hard. "I have to know."
She turned the flashlight on and took the first few steps down the stairs and was relieved to feel Dahlia's hand touching her own, taking it. They descended slowly, ready to turn back at any moment. Cara stopped suddenly as the beam of light reached a hand on the floor. It was a man's, bloody and holding the gun. Cara let the light trail along the arm and up to the face.
"Sirian." She whispered. "Grace's husband."
"He shot himself" Dahlia whispered back. "Whatever this is didn't affect him, or he felt it coming and decided to end it on his own terms. Maybe he was alone down here."
Cara took a few steps forward and let the light pass Sirian's body until it found another.
"Fuck, it's Carl, their son."
The boy had a bullet wound between his eyes, his hands were bloody, his nails broken.
"I'm so sorry" Dahlia whispered, tightening her grip on Cara's hand. "We should go back up, I don't…NO!"
Dahlia hit the flashlight out of Cara's hand, but she had already seen enough. Her niece was seated against the wall, stomach ripped open and a silent scream on he lips. Cara felt the taste of bile in the back of her mouth as she realized what had happened. Suddenly all the air seemed to disappear and her knees gave up under her. Dahlia caught her weight as she fell and dragged her back up the stares, letting them both collapse on the floor as they reached the top. Dahlia kicked the door shut behind her and scotched over to where Cara lay hyperventilating on the shiny parquet floor.
"He killed her." She pressed out. "His own sister. And Sirian, he… He…"
"We can't stay here" Dahlia urged. "You need air, we need to go outside, the smell…"
"Grace." Cara pushed out.
"It doesn't matter. You can't go back down there" Dahlia rose, took hold of Cara's arm and pulled her back up. "I'm so sorry."
The stumbled out the front door and sunk back down on the perfectly gravelled driveway. Dahlia took Cara's face in her hands and they breathed together as one until Cara's breath was back to normal. That's when the humming started. A soft sound from the back of the house.
They turned around the corner and came out on a big lawn behind the house. A figure sat huddled in the middle of it, rocking back and forth.
"Grace?" Cara whispered. The figure stopped moving. "Grace"
Cara tock a step towards her, but Dahlia grabbed her arm.
"Wait… Be careful, she might be… Changed" She saw Cara's eyes darken.
"No" She shook of Dahlia's hand and tock a few steps forward, calling her sister's name once more.
The woman on the grass turned slowly, revealing her face. Dahlia let out a gasp and saw Cara freeze in her tracks before her.
Grace's left eye was missing from its socket, replaced by a black gaping hole and tracks of bloody tears. It rested instead in the middle of her hand. By the looks of it, someone had tried to take of the nose too, and it hanged half attached to her face revealing the bone underneath the skin.
"Grace!" Cara screamed and would have run towards her had she not been stopped by Dahlia's hands.
"No!" Dahlia turned Cara towards her and grabbed her hard by the shoulders. "I'm so sorry, but you can't go to her!" Cara pushed of her hands, but Dahlia tock her hold again. "It's not her anymore. You can't risk going to her."
"She is my sister!" Cara removed Dahlia's hands from her shoulders and took them in her own. "She's not… I don't care what she is, she is still my sister"
"She could kill you, or bite you." Dahlia tried to find some sense in Cara's eyes, but they glistened in sorrow and rage.
Grace grunted where she sat and tried to get up, dropping the eye to the ground. Cara turned her head towards her and then away again, pressing her eyes together to entrap the tears. "She is my sister…"
"It's not her, not anymore"
"How do you know?" Cara threw down Dahlia's hands and turned to where they came from, storming off. Dahlia turned to look at Grace, who didn't seem to be going anywhere, before she took off after Cara. She reached her at the car, as she flung the backdoor open and picked up the bloody knife from its restingplace.
"Cara? Cara, what are you doing?" Dahlia approached her slowly, raising her hands just in case.
Cara raised the knife and pointed it's sharp edge at Dahlia's chest, at her heart. "How do you know? Huh? Who are you to say? Maybe she is still in there, trapped." She lowered the knife. "I can't leave her like that..."
Dahlia didn't know what to say so she stepped close to Cara and took her face in her hands. "Don't" She whispered. "Please don't"
"I have to, I always saved her" Cara stepped away and let Dahlia's hands fall towards the ground.
"Give me ten minutes. If I'm not back by then, leave" Cara took a firm grip around the knife and started walking slowly towards the house.
"Wait!" Cara turned around, face hard as stone, clearly expecting Dahlia to try to talk her out of it. "Sever the head from the body…" Dahlia looked down at her feet, not bearing to face Cara.
"That's what you have to do…" Dahlia swallowed hard, not raising her eyes. "To… To release her…" Another swallow. "You'll have to sever her head from the body, that's how you do it…" She finally met Cara's eyes. Cara nodded slowly.
"Okay, thanks…" She turned away again and headed for what was left of her sister while Dahlia got in to the car. She seated herself behind the wheel and stared at the little clock at the panel. Ten minutes. Was that all you needed to kill the person you loved the most? Would she be able to do that to her mother, even in this state? She doubted it. So would Cara be able to do it to her sister? She didn't even know her, so was she that person? Ten minutes…
She wasn't there anymore, it wasn't really her. That was what she had said. But who was she to assume that? Maybe she was there, stuck, helpless.
The car seemed too small, too confining, so she got out and walked restlessly around it. Without a though she started listening for any sound that could tell her what went on; a swing of the knife or Cara's call for help, but there was nothing but the wind in the trees. She looked at the time through the rear window. Seven minutes had passed, three remained. It wasn't like she was going to leave anyhow. She hadn't left her in the kitchen with the cut hand, nor in the garden when she had made her demands, so she wasn't planning on doing it now either. How it had gotten that way she had no idea, but there it was, she was willing to put herself at great risk for this person. She glanced at the house and got back into the car, staring at the clock once more. Ten minutes, twelve, fourteen.
Her hand brushed against the key in the ignition as the passenger door opened and Cara flew inside. She closed the door with a bang and threw the knife into the seat behind her. Her entire body shook and her hands traveled nervously up and down the outsides of her thighs, leaving bloody tracks. Dahlia couldn't take her eyes of her. Had she, had she really?
Cara stopped shaking and looked back at Dahlia, tears in her eyes. "I'm not a very good person… I'm a con artist. I take people's money. I live of other people's savings. I'm not a writer or a painter or a well doer. I'm nothing but a fraud" She brushed away the tears but others took their place and mixed with the blood her hand had left behind. "I'm not a good person…"
Cara's hands started moving again and Dahlia took one of them in her own. She could feel the blood on it mix with the sweat on her own, binding them together in a way. Cara might not be a good person, but to be honest neither was she. And no matter how it had happened, they where in this together. "What do you need me to do?"
The con artist looked at their combined hands and then up at Dahlia. "Help me bury her."
The thief nodded.
She had come here to save her, like she always did. But this was not the way she had ever imagined it to go. She had let the though of her sister being changed cross her mind, but she had never really seen it an actual possibility. So when it was there right in front of her, she did the only thing she could think of, the only thing she though Grace would have wanted her to. Because how sick it may seem she would rather have her sister at rest, then roaming the world as one of those things. Rather know that she was free, than the possibility that she was trapped inside that ragged body, forced to see through its eyes the pain it could cause.
Dahlia had helped her dig the grave, in front of the house beneath a big willow. It had been her sister favourite place, her husband had even hung a swing from one of the lower branched, allowing her to sit out there and read. Now it would serve as her final restingplace. When they where done Cara had gotten her sisters finest linen sheets to wrap the body in, and told Dahlia that she could leave if she wanted to. But the other woman had stayed and helped her lower the body into the soil. She had looked disgusted for a split second as Cara cradled her sisters linen covered head in her arms, but at that time Cara couldn't care less what she though. All she could think of was when her sister used to climb up beside her in the sofa when they where kids and lay her head in Cara's lap. She used to play with her golden hair for hours then. Now it was covered in dirt and blood beneath the fabric, separated from the rest of her by Cara's own hands.