Disclaimer: Characters don't belong to me. The title is from the song "White Knuckles" by OK Go, which is actually featured in the beginning of the movie.
A/N: I love this movie so much, I just had to write another little drabble about it. Let me know what you think! Also, I know the movie was filmed in 2009, so I assume the movie was set during that time as well, but since it came out in 2012, I'm going to take the creative license and set it in 2012 as well. Not that that's really crucial to the enjoyment of the story but...anyways, read and enjoy!
Cause Nothin' Ever Doesn't Change But Nothin' Changes Much
Marty Mikalski is a lot of things. Sure he's a burnout and good for a laugh every now and then and he's even okay with the fact that most people don't take him that seriously. But he's also smart and, if he does say so himself, he's a pretty good friend. But he's never really considered himself a very selfless person. He's still young, he figures now is the time to be selfish and think about himself instead of worrying so much about other people.
So when this terrifyingly calm and collected woman explains to him that his options pretty much boil down to being selfish and dying with the rest of the human race or manning up and dying for billions of people he's never met before, Marty wants to laugh in her face and tell her "look, lady, no one's dying here tonight." But those words freeze in his throat. People have died tonight. Not just people, his friends. His friends are dead because this woman decided that they would make the perfect sacrifice. Marty feels anger boil inside of him, nearly eclipsing the fear that he's been feeling pretty much all night. "Gosh, they're both so enticing."
Normally, Marty would have no problem dismissing this woman's words, refusing to give into her apocalyptic ramblings. His parents are Evangelists, he's had a lot of practice tuning out end of the world talk. But after everything he's seen tonight, all the monsters and the blood and destruction, he can't think of a single good reason to dismiss her words. But, if the world is going to end, Marty doesn't want to spend his last moments on this Earth paying attention to this woman. He turns to face Dana. And finds her pointing a gun at him.
"Wow." Marty looks at this girl, his friend, the only one he has left. Dana's eyes are wide and watery. Her fear is etched all over her body and her hand is shaking as she tries to level the gun at him. She looks so small and vulnerable and it just makes Marty love her even more. That's what he wanted to tell her, that was how he wanted his last moments to be spent. He didn't want to die without telling Dana that he really was a coward at heart and had been too afraid to tell her how important she was to him.
But all that's pretty much out the window now, because it looks like she's about to shoot him. Talk about unrequited love.
"The whole world Marty." Her voice is wobbly and the words stick in her throat. Dana does not want to be this person. She's never been good with responsibility. She couldn't even take the class hamster home when she was in grade school. Now the weight of the whole world is on her shoulders? How is that fair?
The mysterious woman is saying something else but her words are lost to Dana. All she can do is look at Marty, the metal of the gun feeling red hot in her hand. This cannot be happening. She must be dreaming. She's got to stop letting Jules mix her drinks. The whole setting is conducive for a nightmare, which is something Dana takes comfort in. The air smells like blood and fire and fear and those things underneath them…she can feel the ground rumbling as they shift and stretch, apparently eager to devour the entire human race.
Why does the key to keeping them down below lie in shooting her best friend? Dana is scared. Scared for herself and for the rest of the world; scared of making the wrong choice; scared of what her fear is going to make her do. Could she really shoot Marty? Could she really keep looking him in the eye and pull the trigger? Not Marty, not her Marty. But the whole world…the babies and the children and the puppies…Why is she the one who has to stand here and make this decision? She just wants Marty to wrap her up in one of his bear hugs; she wants to press her face against his neck just like she always does when he puts his arms around her. She wants to inhale the smell of him, the lingering scent of marijuana and aftershave and Marty. He's always been there for her when she's needed a hug or a laugh or just someone to listen to her ramble. How is it fair that the one person she wants to walk her through this situation is the person she has a gun pointed at?
"I'm sorry." Dana feels tears drop onto her cheeks. The whole world. She closes her eyes. Her finger curls around the trigger.
Marty watches her, feels his heart sink in his chest. She's going to do it, she's really going to do it. He tries to look on the bright side of this situation. Maybe he'll become like a saint or something.
There's movement behind Dana and he sees the beast in the shadows. The werewolf stalking down the stairs, his nose twitching with the scent of blood, his eyes bright with the promise of the hunt. His lips curl up, revealing bloody teeth. Marty thinks he sees pieces of flesh hanging down from his open mouth. Gross, he did not need that visual.
The beast is moving toward Dana, slowly, steadily, stalking her like a game of cat and mouse. This is it, the moment Marty knows will save his life. All he has to do is let ole Wolfman here get his teeth into Dana. He's not ready to die, not like this. But Dana is so helpless, so small and vulnerable, unaware of the creature behind her. She's defenseless.
The werewolf lunges for Dana and Marty hears himself yelling, "Dana, lookout!" He dives in her direction, catching her around the waist and knocking her to the floor. The werewolf lands on top of him and Marty screams as the claws slice into his back. The beast is jerking him upward, yanking him around like a rag-doll, rolling him onto his back. Marty tries to force the massive head away, to twist out from beneath the beast but the werewolf buries his teeth in his shoulder and Marty can feel his blood running like a river down his neck and onto the stone.
Marty is vaguely aware of Dana screaming and then the gun is going off, the pops echoing throughout the chamber. The werewolf howls before it turns and flees, running back up the stairs like a frightened puppy. Marty can hear the pounding of his heart in his ears, the whoosh of his blood as it leaks all over the ground. It's too late for him, he's going away.
Dana crawls across the floor toward him, dropping the gun down beside her as she reaches for Marty with shaking hands. "No, no, no." She pulls him into her arms, she presses her cheek against his. She strips off her bloody cardigan and presses it against the gaping hole in his neck. "Marty! Marty!" She cries, giving him a shake. This isn't right. This isn't how it should be.
Marty's eyes flutter open and he gives her a weak smile. "Dana." He says her name like it's a sentence all on it's own, a last rite, a prayer.
"I'm sorry." Her tears drip onto his face. She wants to scream, she wants to curse the gods above and below her. "I wouldn't have shot you, Marty, I wouldn't have." Dana says breathlessly, desperate to make him believe. She never could have pulled the trigger. She knows that now. She wishes Marty hadn't had that image of her burned into his mind as one of the last things he saw.
"I know." Marty says softly, his eyes fluttering as he tries to stay awake, to stay with her. But Dana can see the light going out of him. There's just so much blood. Too much. It's running across the stone, dripping over the sides. "Dana…" Marty tries to lift his hand and Dana grabs it in her own, squeezing painfully tight. "You're okay?"
Dana chokes back a sob and forces a smile, nodding. "I'm okay Marty. Thanks to you. You saved my life."
"It's better…" Marty closes his eyes and tries to breath, tries to finish his sentence. He can taste his own blood in his mouth, he can feel his body fighting against him. "For you. I would do it for you."
Dana's brow knits. "Do what?" But Marty doesn't respond. His grip on her hand loosens and Dana feels fear spread through her body. "No, no!" She grabs him, shakes him, yells his name. But there's no answer. "Marty! No! Don't leave me here alone!"
But she understands what he would do for her. He might not die for the world, but he would die for her.
Dana pulls Marty against her chest, holding him while she cries. Jules. Curt. Marty. Everyone who meant anything to her is dead. And the world turns on.
"It's for the best." The woman says from behind her and Dana turns her head slowly, letting her eyes focus on the woman. "The gods are quieting. They'll sleep for another year."
Swallowing, Dana gets to her feet. She sees the gun and picks it up, even though the threat is over. The woman is right, the gods are dormant again. She can feel the change in the atmosphere; the ground is still beneath her feet.
"Come with me." The woman commands, holding out her hand. There's a friendly smile on her face. "Let's get you cleaned up."
Dana points the gun in her direction and pulls the trigger. It's remarkably easy to do so now. The woman drops, a confused expression on her face. Dana tosses the gun aside and walks toward the stairs without a backward glance. She wonders how the woman likes dying because it made sense to someone else.
Somehow, Dana finds her way through the warren of tunnels and toward a door marked service entrance. Around her, she can hear the sounds of the slaughter still unfolding. She's surprised that there's anyone left alive after that madness. Maybe there isn't, maybe the monsters are turning on each other.
The sun is starting to rise as Dana pushes open the service doors and steps outside. The air is balmy, comfortable really, and there are birds singing to welcome the coming day. Dana just stands there for a moment, staring at the woods that stretch out around her. It's all so normal, it's so peaceful. She thinks about what she'd be doing in this moment if her world never had been flipped on its head. She'd be waking up with Jules, sitting in the kitchen and gossiping with her friend while they made coffee and started on breakfast for the guys. She misses Jules so much in that moment it's painful. It almost matches the pain she feels for Marty. How long before she's too weak to bear it?
Dana starts walking away from the cabin, in the direction she judges the road to be. If those dead zombie fucks are still around, they don't show their faces. Dana wouldn't really care if they did.
Instead of sticking to the road, Dana goes into the woods. She moves over roots and rocks, ducks under branches and boughs. Her body seems to be moving without any direction from her mind. She is surviving in spite of everything.
Eventually, the woods start to thin out and give way to progress: power lines and an actual road, complete with road signs that point her in the direction of a gas station and roadside diner. Whatever force kept them trapped seems to have expired when the sun came up. Dana has the feeling she probably would have just walked head first into the invisible wall of electricity if that hadn't been the case.
Dana is tired by the time the diner comes into view. No, she's more than tired. She thinks this what being born must feel like; the panic, the fear of what is going to happen next, the fight against the inevitable. Only she feels like she had to claw and dig her way out, that when she emerged bloody and new, it was of her own doing.
Without giving a thought to what she must look like, Dana walks into the diner. Three heads turn in her direction when the bell above the door signals her entrance. There's a waitress and two men wearing cameo and trucker hats. Dana doesn't give them a second glance, instead walking over to the counter and sitting down in one of the bar stools.
After a beat, the waitress walks over to her. "Honey, you okay? You need me to call you a doctor?" The woman gives her the once over, taking in her bloody clothes and the vacant look in her eyes. Honestly, she's kind of impressed this girl isn't already dead.
Dana looks at her. "Water. And eggs. Sunny-side up. With toast." So what if she doesn't have her wallet on her? It hardly seems important.
The waitress hurries off toward the back of the restaurant. Dana has the feeling she's about to be reported to the police.
For a moment, the only sounds in the diner are those coming from the kitchen and the TV set up behind the bar. The national news is on, broadcasting information about the presidential race. Eventually, the two men start talking again, doing their best to ignore her. Dana can't help but overhear their conversation; they're discussing some young intern at their work, though the focus is not on her skills or personality.
On TV, the reports are bleak. War in the Middle East, people killing each other over oil and land rights. Children in Africa being trained to kill. Husbands murdering wives. Children killed by their parents. Another gay man beaten to death. Women being trafficked across borders to become drug-addicted prostitutes.
It's enough to make Dana sick. This is the world her friends died for? This is the world being saved from the wrath of giant evil gods? Marty shouldn't have had to die for this.
She wishes things had been different. She wishes she had held onto Marty while the died together, instead of having him die in her arms. Dana thinks she's been on the wrong side this whole time. If the those ancient gods want this place so bad, they can have it. It'd probably be an improvement.