He was beautiful once–a creature drawn to our time from the days of marble and soft sunlight on the Mediterranean–beautiful, and mine.
When I close my eyes I can still feel his hands on my neck, or his lips pushing through the tangles my hair to whisper meaningless phrases that to me meant everything; mine was a happiness that I would never had had the hubris to dream I deserved.
The first time I sketched his picture he was playing with my feet, laughing and tugging at my painted toes and teasing while I tried to focus on the charcoal and textured paper perched on my naked knee. The sketch was good; the strong jaw was captured in a thick line of black that faded gentle gray beneath the softer curls of the hair outlined in pale drags of pencil to create the illusion of his flaxen locks. He continued his kisses in an exodus to my shin while I drew, relishing in my ever-so-slight frustration at capturing a moving target in shades of gray.
Vincent Condella fought to draw ragged breaths into lungs that shuddered in spasmodic waves, each one triggered by the sobs that twisted his face and pushed steady rivulets of tears from the corners of his red-rimmed eyes. He tried to focus on the cool concrete that pressed against his cheek, but it could not drown-out the fear and anxiety that shredded his heart…that pained him through every limb and fiber of his being. He opened his soaked and swollen eyes to glare at the room through his rotated perspective — the ninety-degree shift laying the depressing-looking cots on the wall at the same time it plastered the ceiling with a multitude of crayon drawings; the brightly chaotic figures in their primary-hued glory only made his sobs start anew. Vincent hurt so bad he had to cry out from deep in his stomach, or the loss would kill him.
Slater cursed silently as he watched the snaking rivulets of blood and saline wind over the concrete toward the rusted drain. The words of the medic were drowning in a haze of screams and weeping from the young man who lay bleeding and thrashing on the stretcher. A woman with a rag mask stabbed a thick needle through his corps fatigues and pumped him full of something thick and clear and the youth’s cries faded into a pathetic whimper. Slater shook his head as the medic addressed him again.
“Sorry, Doc…repeat that?” He focused on the medic’s green eyes, and tried to ignore the nurse who began to say a prayer through her mask.
The world rippled above the heat of the mid-day tarmac, and even the clouds had fled the sky for cooler climes. It was in these dog-days that even the living began to move like the walking dead — slumped, shuffling, and groaning through their duties. If he had been given the choice, this is exactly how Charles would have preferred to be spending his day. Instead, he was running as fast as his booted feet would take him over the tent-spotted fields outside the airport while trying not to drop his rifle.
He wasn’t the only one—another figure cut a swerving path thirty yards ahead of Chuck. He was moving far more deftly than Charles in shorts and an open Hawaiian shirt, and he only carried a small metal pistol which he used to clear people from his path with manic waves. Chuck didn’t expect the other man to stop running, so he saved his breath and didn’t yell. Instead, he focused on trying to plot which turns he could take to best outmaneuver his fleeing quarry; maps of tents and storage containers flashed through his head as he jumped over crates and discarded machinery. A crackle in his ear made him wince.
“Chuck … where are you?!” The voice whistled through the ear piece and died with a spit of static. Chuck pulled the microphone to his mouth and pressed the button on the side.
“He’s trying to get to the fence … Gonna cut him off … .” His words were clipped with his ragged breaths.
As he ran, Chuck pondered the absurdity of it all—the man had stolen a few bottles of narcotics and antibiotics from the med-center, and now he had to be caught. Chuck couldn’t help but think that this place made oblivion seem awful tempting; he could hardly blame the man.
Troy grew up on a farm where he mucked manure and slaughtered cows; his whole day was blood and crap and sleep before another day of blood and crap. His mother died when he was eight and his father, Jarvis, drank too much to forget his pain. After five years, Jarvis started beating Troy, so the young man packed his clothes into grocery bag and left home after stealing 100 dollars from his father’s room. The only other thing he took was a picture of his mother.
The black is oppressive once Brooks cuts the power for the night. No more fans whirring gently in the background or the grind of generators with worn-out carburetors to block out the moans that might be in your head…or might not be. Everyone get so frakking quiet that it makes you sick, and all you can do is huddle in the dark or scurry like rats to the fire pits in the rusty barrel drums that start-up like fireflies back when you could actually spend time outdoors without fear of being eaten.
You can hide in the dark, or talk in the light where things can see you.
Background: Mark was a television and radio traffic announcer for WSYR news when the outbreak began. He served in the national guard and spent a tour in Iraq as a communications officer. His military background (albeit minor) coupled with his communications training (SU Maxwell School of Communications graduate of 91) made him an ideal member of the Corpse Corps. His primary duty is to watch for zombie movement patterns from the top of the Mony Building (Codenamed ‘Olympus’ from which Crosshair rains down his lightning bolts), which he reports to Clipboard back at Central.