Closer

by R.T. Allenson


Step lightly.

Each moment that passes between us is a heartbeat, striking against my chest with rhythm and sound. When my gaze alights to yours, the world is sullen and lonesome for I know that I will never have you. You who I love, but it is love unrequited.

I never pursued you, as much as I wanted. I longed for you, craved for you but your touch – the feel of you against me is forever lost in a cruel waking dream. A daymare of sorts; your presence lost to the quagmire of people, half-rotting in the callous world. The world is pale when you are away and only the dream of your once tawny eyes gives me the impetus to move on.

But here you are now, closer to me than I ever hoped – just a few paces away from my own shivering form as you draw near to me with open arms. And lo, how my heart beats for you! How my hands shiver from that look in your eyes; fearsome and full of longing. I only wish that it wasn’t so..that, that look in your eyes was love like mine and not…

…hunger.

Closer. You draw closer to me and to my heart, with those eyes – eyes that once was full of life and love for the world. Where once there were tawny eyes, eyes wherein I would surely die in…now there is nothing but a pale mirror broken and cold. Unflinching. Terrible. Closer you draw to me with those arms outstretched to hold me in place. With blood, still warm, dripping from your tortuous fingers and cavernous maw; the remains of a victim of your emptiness. Will I too, be yours? Will I sate your emptiness? How I wish that I was yours to sate your lonely heart’s emptiness, and not to sate your pitiless hunger.

There is hunger in those eyes and they draw closer and closer – each second spans an eternity, each footfall a forever and more.

Closer..Come closer to me, my love.

How long has it been since we last saw each other?

My memory of you is limitless and spans back as far as my childhood when you first held my hands for the first time. Mere children we were, oblivious to the world and its many intricacies but even then I knew what I felt for you was special. It was different, the feeling was different. There were so many others yet it was you who made me feel that way.

I dogged you, made myself your shadow as we grew up. I longed to be more than what we were – mere friends, neighbors. That wasn’t what I wanted. What I wanted was to be with you, just the two of us but that was near impossible. The same thing that drew my heart close to you was the thing that prevented you from being mine alone. You were too friendly. There was never a moment wherein it was just the two of us even if I was almost always with you. Perhaps I was…am to selfish. You don’t belong to me nor to anyone. But the things I would have done for you had you been solely mine.

In the fullness of our youth the distance between us grew, you were lost to me and taken away to places that I would never dare tread. I did not like the people you hanged out with and neither did your other friends, or your family for that matter. Why did you not listen? I was trying to voice out reason but whatever I said fell on deaf ears and you deemed me not privy to your personal life. Part of me died that day you told me off, but part of me wanted to see you go to ruin – payment for my broken heart. But…I never left you even when your words began to wound me. I truly believed that you didn’t mean whatever it was you were saying or whatever it was you were doing, I always held the belief that somewhere in you was the old you. The kind you. The man I fell in love with.

Eventually I had to leave, to better places. I regret ever leaving you when, I believe, you needed me the most. I told you where I was going and the reason for that but you wouldn’t hear it. Perhaps I hurt you too but…perhaps I was only dreaming this. You never cared for me or whatever I did anymore. I left you in the summer of ’99, without looking back because I couldn’t look back.

Such terrific distance. A picturesque parting. Only in dreams would such an impasse be overcome and that’s what I did – kept on dreaming. You never left my heart, clandestinely I tracked your every moment and your every transgression. It hurt me when I heard you fell into deeper trouble and how I longed to be at your side once more to try to guide you to the right path. Part of me still belonged to you, no matter how hard I tried to move on.

Oh Zocha, what a fool you were.

Come closer, my love. I long for your touch even if it would mean my death.

When I first heard of what had happened, I immediately thought of you. My whole family was lost to the dead, who had risen from their graves to walk with the living once more. Half-rotting ghasts prowled the streets, preying at the living and turning them into monsters – the deceased, rising forth in once infernal night to march soundly as living cadavers and corpses. The smell of decay hung heavily in the air as society and everything else fell into chaos, with the dead dancing triumphantly upon the wreckage of the world. My father and mother, attacked by one of the monsters in turn became monsters. I narrowly escaped their clutches along with the thousands of undead that now roamed the streets, with only my wits and a gun my only safeguard against the scourge from the midden earth. It was cold and lonesome and full of fear, but you made me overcome all that. I overcame everything, did what I did to survive and freed those who had lost their souls to the madness by giving them a true ending. Death can be so kind – to live as these monsters did, that is not living. It is a prison, hell in undeath.

It is a sad thing, very depressing to see them shamble about in their state. Such a lonesome place the earth is when everything is as cold as they were – the coldness of the earth and the breath of death denied. Such a lonesome, lonesome place filled with sadness. When you see the ones you love turned into ravenous beasts, lacking mind and soul, it is not hard to cry. It is not hard to think of ending your own life. But love…love let’s you persist and strive.

My love for you makes me go on and endure.

There was one, I remember…A little boy who had lost his way amidst the chaos of the end of the world. I accompanied him to where he lived where his mother, as he told me, was waiting for him to return. It was a school day after all when the dead rose from the grave. We narrowly escaped the living dead when we finally reached his home and the boy, not knowing, broke free from my grasp and rushed to his mother wherein he was promptly devoured. I looked away, helpless to do anything and headed towards my destination. The encounter left me drained but still, I carried on.

Do you know how quiet it is when the world has ended? Sure, the screams of the living and the guttural baying of the dead constantly fills the air but aside that, all is silent. There is an emptiness not unlike melancholy that fills each day when you walk the roads ruined – with the world haphazardly arranged, rendered by the clawing hands of the hungry, of oblivion’s kind. The silence is sickening and decaying; there were days when I feared that I too would slowly become like the undead. But there was warmth in my heart for my love for you was far stronger than the call of the dead.

Three days I travelled, either alone or with a few survivors. I didn’t stay with them long even when they called me a fool. I cared little for them but helped them either way. So many things I learned about life when I faced the dead. So many…

Eventually I arrived at our hometown where you still resided. Like the rest of the world, it too was lost to the monsters of the earth but there were fewer of them in comparison to the others. Empty magazines littered the roads and the corpses of the risen dead, burnt and returned to the earth from whence they came. I only had to destroy three or four, easily dispatched as I have learned much of dealing with the shambling kind. Eventually I reached your house, no different from the rest – abandoned and quiet. Presently I entered, careful and minding each sound I heard.

The walls held no testament of struggle nor conflict but the stench of death was ripe. Something still lived in this empty house and it was only a matter of time till I encountered it. I steeled myself, held my gun close to my breast and entered each room hoping to find you.

And then…a sound. I silently raced to the origin and found myself staring at a corridor leading towards an unknown part of the house. To the bedroom perhaps. I braved the darkness, half-rushing through the empty hallway and almost crashing into a door. Slowly, I entered the room and only beheld disappointment. Empty, like the rest. Perhaps I was only dreaming that there was a sound.

But this was real, this time it was real. There was a sound, from outside this time…resonating across the empty hallway. I had miscalculated; whatever it was that made the sound, it had me cornered in a most unaccommodating place. I entered the dark corridor and saw the sickening form of the undead, blocking out the pale sunlight from outside. It’s garbled utterance filled the narrow hallway, filled me with dread and for the first time I was afraid for this was no ordinary undead.

It was you.

The blood on your hands and the sickening paleness of your skin – they are  testament to what you have become. Such sorrow, such malice. By what cruel providence does one lose love to undeath? Who has broken the gate? And let the dead outnumber and feast on the living? It matters little now, love is now lost to me. But even so..

Closer…come to me, my love. Let me be one with you, at last…

Closer…and closer. Each step you take, each loping step is an eternity and I am filled with fear. Unthinkable terror of what will become of me, but this will be our marriage but still…

It is a terrifying marriage. And very painful.

Your nails dig deep into my skin and your cold breath is the breath of death. The coldness of my shivering form is only interrupted by the warmth of my blood gushing out from my neck as you tear at my skin to feast on my flesh. It is a painful marriage but you have left me with nothing else. I lived for you, survived for you. And here now, I die for you in the hopes that in death…or otherwise, I can finally join you.

Eventually the sensation passes and all is still. Your hunger sated, you leave my half-eaten body as I feel death’s shadow lean on me. Even this, I am denied. There is nothing else for me, nothing left. All else is darkness,coldness and silence.

Oh Zocha…what a fool you were…

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