Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Me, myself and Meaghan

Hello there, newbie in the mix :)

Anybody feel like proofing this? I have never written before but figured I might try some short stories for the Zombie genre. Any help in corrections would be hugely appreciated. If not, let me know if you enjoy the story at least? Forgive punctuation if you would as it has changed when I copied it off a word doc. 

Me, myself and Meaghan

    The snow was pretty, but Meaghan thought the way the icicles hung from every edge the eye could see were the coolest. No pun intended she thought to herself with a slight tilt of her mouth as she sort-of smiled at the silliness of the thought. Look at me… still caring about grammar she mused and then the feelings of sadness crept in all over again. "Who really cares? Not like I’m ever going to get to speak with anyone again probably,” she whispered to herself as though hearing her own voice aloud would make her feel less lonely somehow. It never did.

    With a heavy sigh she steeled herself a moment and then pushed out into the Calgary winter. “Hey Mr. Franks,” she said casually as she walked by her frozen neighbor. A low moan was the reply and his unseeing eyes moved slowly in response, searching, ice crystals flaked off them as they moved. He however did not. She continued on up the street with her empty backpack on and bundled up to fight the -10 temperature out today. As Meaghan trudged through the snow, her tracks the only ones in the snow as far as the eye could see, she continued to nod and greet each frozen Zed as she passed them. It had become a way to keep what was left of her sanity she realized but that didn’t stop her from doing it. How else is a 15 year old girl supposed to cope with the end of the world and zombies walking all over it? she argued inwardly when the thought would enter her mind.

    It took almost an hour to reach the corner store this time because of the deep snow. Normally it was a 35 minute hike back before the Zed’s. In spring before the snow came it was even slower. The Zed’s were all over back then so it was very slow going and tedious work to get there. A freezing cold winter turned out to be a blessing, something she would never have heard herself say before.

    Before crossing the street she stopped and scanned the area. No prints in the snow, no movement… nothing. Shivering, she decided it was clear and she hustled around to the back door where she had jammed a wedge in the lock last time she had been there. The door hadn't moved a bit she noticed. Good, she thought. The snow had drifted a foot or more up against the door so she had to kick it clear before she could get in. Having made some noise outside the door she decided it was wise to bang the door and then open it just a bit to see if there were unwanted visitors inside. Meaghan waited what felt like ages but was actually only around a minute… nothing. No sounds, no movements, no moans or fingers pushing out through the door to reach for her. Excellent.

    Meaghan walked around in the dimly lit corner store and began filling up her backpack. Toilet paper, toothpaste, all the boxes of macaroni and Chinese noodles that were left. She grabbed a couple packs of matches and a few lighters from the counter and decided to take a couple magazines. The world might be over but she had become fairly good at pretending it still went on for real when she was back home in the apartment. Even as a child her imagination was very strong. She thought back to the time that her, Mr. Wiggins, Jody the T-Rex and daddy sat and had tea one time back when she was 5. It was a grand afternoon full of proper pleasantries and wonderful tea with biscuits. Her reverie was broken suddenly as a loud crash from the stock room shocked her.

   She stumbled backwards at the sound and dropped her bag as the horror of being in there with a Zed quickly gripped her. She furtively scanned left and right behind her fearing that they might be everywhere and she had somehow gotten sloppy and they had surrounded her. It was all clear though, just the empty store full of items unsold. Regaining her composure she lifted up her thigh length parka and pulled out the Bowie knife that used to be her dads and held it in front of her as though maybe the gesture would in itself create fear in the enemy and send them wailing. It did not. From through the swinging doors she could hear more movement. Quiet, subtle, but no shuffling or moaning which she thought strange. They always moaned and shuffled, she thought. She slowly worked her way to the door even though the entire time her mind was telling her to flee. For some reason she didn't, maybe it was because she was so tired of being alone… maybe someone was here? Someone was alive besides her?

    Meaghan stood slowly up onto her tiptoes so she could look into the window on the door. Holding her breathe she scanned the dark room beyond… nothing. Not only was it lame being so damned short… I can't see in the dark either, she cursed inwardly. Backing up a few feet she had a plan. She worked herself around a shelf that stood just a bit shorter than her own 5 feet and grabbed a big can of soup. With a grunt she hurled it hard at the door then ducked down and waited. The can hit the door with a loud “thunk” and hit the ground then rolled to a stop. Back inside the other room it was quiet. She waited for what felt like an eternity and then bravely -or maybe it was foolishly, she thought a moment after – she raised her voice, “He…hello? Is there someone in there?” More long and agonizing moments went by until she heard the hinges on the door squeak just a bit. Her eyes widened in horror and her breathe caught in her throat. No sounds. She was sitting on the cold floor with her back to the shelf, her breathe floating and turning to micro crystals in front of her face when she nearly leaped out of her skin. A tiny hairy face peeked around the corner and gave a loud meow. Meaghans sudden scream and body jerk sent the cat running away back the way it had come but the door had shut and it couldn't get in. The cat scrambled away to hide somewhere else in the store while Meaghan laid there panting, trying to get her heart to slow down. Stupid cat, she thought. Just a stupid God damned cat. “Holy crap,” she muttered.
     She gathered herself up and her bag and most importantly… her composure and then looked around. “Kitty? Here kitty kitty.. psss psss psss,” she called gently to entice it. Meaghan tried this several times while looking around but the cat was nowhere to be seen. Despondent, she gave up and set about filling her pack. Satisfied, she gathered herself up to leave but hesitated when she remembered seeing some pet food in one of the short isles. Pack on her back, she went back to the isle, grabbed the two small bags of cat food kibble and spilled them open onto the floor. “There you go kitty, stay safe and warm”, she said quietly.

The trip back to the four story apartment building that she had made home the past few months was uneventful and a bit easier as she could just follow her own tracks in the now deepening snow. It had been snowing for two days now and steadily getting colder. Having grown up in Calgary she knew that this was the start of a snow storm and she needed to get better prepared because the things she had up on that top floor suite weren't enough for a long cold snap that was sure to be on its way now.

    Meaghan had secured a ground floor window around the side of the building which she had set up as her way into the building several months past. It was partially hidden by a thick fir tree growing nearby so worked well to hide her coming and going in the event there were prying eyes out there. Today she just pushed the window open, tossed her bag in and then left it open as she crossed the street.

   Meaghan stood there looking at the small white house where she grew up. All her memories as far back as she could remember had been spent in this house. When she finally admitted to herself that her mom, dad and little brother Ricky weren't coming back she just couldn't bear to remain inside. The loneliness was eating her up and she kept hearing sounds that would make her think her family was home and things were all normal again. There was just too many tears while she stayed under that roof so she decided in spring to come across the street to the small apartment building and see if anyone was there. There was but they couldn't speak, only moan. Good thing they were locked behind their apartment doors. Meaghan had yet to kill a Zed and didn't think she had it in her anyway.

   A few long minutes later she entered her home. Instantly sadness filled her heart as she envisioned so many memories all around her. The hole in the wall by the couch from her brother when he kicked the football, the small stain on the living room carpet from when she spilled nail polish, the many different modifications her dad had made in the house such as new stairs, a wall knocked out to open up the kitchen area and the deck he built out the back sliding doors. So many memories. She realized then that what hurt her heart the most is that she wouldn't have any more like them. Come on Meaghan… toughen up, you need to keep on going. Survive, she scolded herself and shook off the demons that were plaguing her memories.

    Within moments she was running around the house grabbing things she knew she would need and running them across the street and tossing them in the window. More blankets, a small propane heater and a couple small tanks, dads cook stove, more camping gear from the garage and so on. On her last trip to the garage she stopped to consider if she had all she would need and looked at the old Jeep Cherokee dad would drive when he went on camping trips. The key was on the wall still. She decided to take it Just in case she thought even though she had yet to get her driver’s licence. She figured if she had to… she would figure it out. Her mom always said she was "quick on her feet" when it came to improvising on the fly. Meaghan took pride in that.

She was exhausted by the time she had taken all the gear up and down the 6 flights of stairs. She began moving things around and sorting through them. Extra blankets were hung up over the windows with nails into the walls. This kept light from inside shining outside at night time and it insulated the windows more. During the daytime she moved the blankets aside to let in as much daylight as she could to avoid dying inside. You could only handle just so much darkness before you start to wither away she reasoned. Her cooking was done in the small office room with the window cracked so smells and gases could vent. By nightfall she had settled back into her routines and shortly thereafter was sound asleep.

The next morning Meaghan took a trip downstairs to grab a few items she decided to leave by the window and just about had a heart attack when she opened the door to the cold apartment and she heard a “meow” at the same time a furry creature rubbed against her ankles. Startled she tripped over the cat and fell into a table in the entryway hitting her head and twisting her ankle. Meaghan yelped out at the two injuries, the ankle being the source of the most pain as it sent sharp spikes jabbing up her leg. As she rocked back and forth holding her ankle she could feel blood rolling down and across her forehead. The cat had disappeared. She remembered that it was the same one from the store. It must have followed her here and jumped in the partially open window. “Bloody thing… should be black the luck I’m having because of it,” she swore aloud. After a few minutes she was managing to get used to the pain in her ankle and had gingerly moved it with her hands a few times to decide if it was broken or not. While that hurt beyond belief to do, she decided it wasn't broken. There was no clicking or crunching sounds of bone or anything like that even though she didn't really know what symptoms to look for. Wiping her head of the blood with a towel from the apartment, she then hopped and pulled her way up all the stairs back to her apartment. Just as she was about to close the door, the cursed cat came darting in through it. Meaghan smiled and swore at the same time. “Damn cat. You are lucky you’re so cute”, she said with a grin but frowning trying to look mad. Deep inside though she was far from angry, she was elated. A friend had come to visit she thought. “Welcome to my home Mr. Kitty, please by all means… come in and make yourself comfortable”, she chimed in with a hint of sarcasm. “Please excuse me while I step out a moment and see about this leg you helped me bruise up”.

   Meaghan had gathered up dozens of towels from other apartments in the building over time and was using one now to wrap around her ankle and bind it in place. Once the modified cast was snuggly set around her leg she hopped out back into the living room and smiled as the cat had already curled up on a pillow at the end of the couch and was fast asleep. Sure wish I could trust so openly, she thought to herself. She hobbled and hopped her way down the hallway to Mrs. Chow’s apartment where she remembered there being some crutches in a closet. Mrs. Chow had not come back home like most of the people in the building back when the chaos had erupted. Her apartment was locked at that time and undisturbed but Meaghan worked her way into it with a big hammer to the locking mechanism. It took a few dozen swings but she eventually broke it and the door opened easily enough. Back then she was far less careful than she is now and often wondered how she managed to last this long with all the stupid mistakes she has made. Dumb luck she often decided. Just plain dumb luck. She grabbed the crutches from the closet, sat on the bed nearby and figured out how to adjust them to her height. Mrs. Chow was taller than her by several inches she knew already because she had also rooted through her clothing and found all the pants too long. The crutches were also set too long. In no time at all she was using them to awkwardly propel herself down the hall back to her place.

   That night Meaghan and Mike the newly named cat sat in the dark with the blankets pulled aside and watched out the window for a while as the snow came down and wind whistled about outside. They were wrapped up in several blankets and Mike purred happily while laying on her lap. “Mike” was the name she chose because she just needed to talk to a person and this would have to do. By giving the cat a human name it kind of helped she thought. They talked late into the night that evening until the blast hit.

   First there was a flash which made her snap her head up and look out into the black city then came the rattle of the windows and things falling off the walls and last the boom. Something exploded a few miles away in the city… must have been a gas station or something she figured. Fire reached high up into the dark for a moment then faded down to fraction the size. It burned bright however and lit up most of the city surrounding it. She figured the flames must be burning as high as her apartment or more even. Mike had run off to hide somewhere in the apartment while she stood at the window leaning on her good foot and watched. About a half hour had passed when she realized that the fire appeared to be spreading. Meaghan became a bit more concerned then and wondered what she would do if the fire continued to burn through the city. Was it possible with all this snow? She wondered. She watched for another half an hour before she couldn't stand any longer on her one good leg. By her math, if the fire continued to move as it was now… she would have to leave the apartment in a day or two. She did not sleep well the rest of the night.

    Meaghan woke up and could smell the smoke straight away. Then she remembered what had happened and jumped off the couch with blankets flying aside. She let out a wail as she put weight on her injured ankle which was now swollen to double its normal size. “Damn it” she cursed and started to hop on her good leg to the window. While the pain throbbed in her ankle, she looked out the window and gasped. The fire was raging now and had managed to creep along a third of the way towards her. It was spreading in all directions and there was no natural fire break in the area that she remembered. The wind was still blowing hard but the snow had stopped. The wind was the big problem as it was fueling the fire and spreading it along far too fast. “Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no” she said, shaking her head as she realized what had to be done.

   Meaghan slumped down into the couch and wrapped up in a blanket. Her breathe hung in the air a little bit. It was cold in the apartment she acknowledged but didn't really care at the moment. Mike jumped up onto her lap and gave her a meow and rubbed his head against her. “Come here buddy” she said and opened the blanket so he could go inside. “We are going to have to move Mike. But there is some problems here… I have a wrecked ankle, we are on the top floor of this building, I have a car but it’s across the street in the deep snow, I don’t really know how to drive and lastly… I don’t even know if the Jeep works” she summarized more for herself than for the cat. She sat there stroking the uncaring felines head for some time before she realized what had to be done. She made a choice to live a few months ago, back when the depression had hit her the hardest. Back when she was still in her family’s home and she sat there looking at her dads hunting rifle and had loaded it just as she had been taught. She had made the choice then that she still wanted to go on. To live. She didn't know why, she just knew she wasn't ready to go to sleep forever yet. Now, faced with this challenge she recalled the decision so she got up, blew out a big breathe and said “okay, let’s get this done” and then put on her winter gear.

    Bundled up in parka and snow pants, one snow boot on and the other foot wrapped up in a couple towels and taped up with duct tape she ventured out the front doors of the apartment. The snow pushed in as the doors opened stopping the glass doors from closing again behind her. The trek across the street felt like she was trying to climb Mt. Everest as the crutches got hung up in the deep snow many times or her feet would catch on the deep drifts and pull her down. She fell into the snow which was almost up to her knees three times before she finally made it home. Pushing inside she worked her way to the back garage door and went in.

    Sitting in the Jeep’s driver’s seat like she had done so many times as a little girl growing up she thought how funny it was right now, this moment. All her life she would sit here and pretend to be driving it like daddy did and was excited for the day it would one day happen. Her dad had told her that on her 16th birthday he would teach her how to drive using it. That was soon she thought suddenly. My birthday is soon. I wonder what the date is? Meaghan’s birthday was November 19th and it must have been getting close to November. November was always a cold month full of snow she reminisced. Oh daddy… I wish you were here to teach me like you promised. I wish you and mom and snotrag were all here. She spoke inwardly. Sadness welled up in her again at the thoughts but she pushed them aside and refocused on getting the Jeep started. Meaghan tried to remember all the things she had watched her daddy do and tried them. At first the motor cranked over and coughed to life but then died a few times. She pushed hard on the gas and turned the key again. The motor turned several times and started to slow down and started to lose its cranking power but just at what seemed like the moment the battery would die… the starter caught and the motor roared to life. Smoke filled the garage from the exhaust as she had pumped too much fuel into the motor and now it all came out as black and nasty as could be imagined. Coughing she hit the garage door opening button on the visor above her and nothing happened. “Oh yeah… no power. Shit.” She said. She quickly closed the jeeps door to keep out the fumes which were now working their way into the house through the door. She revved the motor a few times which seemed deafening to her after so many months of near silence all around her. “Okay, gas, brakes, shifter…gas at half a tank… okay then… let’s do this” she spoke aloud to herself. The lifted old beefy Jeep 4x4 clicked into reverse and then she began backing into the garage door. At first it groaned and surged a bit but then held strong while the Jeep throttled harder and harder but it wouldn’t give. Meaghan drove forwards again a few feet and decided to ram the door this time rather than pushing against it. With a roar of the engine, Meaghan held on and closed her eyes as she hammered the gas pedal to the floor. The Jeep squealed on the cold cement floor and bashed hard against the garage door. The truck bumped and leapt across the alley and smashed into the garage door across the alley and came to a stop as she hit the brakes hard. “Holy cow!" She said, startled at her first bit of driving. 

    It took a good 5 minutes for Meaghan to figure out how to put the truck into four wheel drive and work her way around the block to the apartment through all the deep snow. The Jeep made short work of it though. She was so thankful her dad was an outdoorsy kind of guy and had this machine. She was pretty sure her mom’s Honda coupe wouldn't have made it a single foot in the snow. She drove the truck through the yard over to just below her apartment up above. The idea was she would just drop all the stuff she needed over the side down into the snow. She couldn't possibly go up and down the stairs repeatedly. One trip was going to about do her in she reasoned. She was glad it was her left foot that was injured otherwise she had no idea how she would have been able to drive. Dumb luck again? She wondered.

  With the Jeep turned off to save gas and waiting down below, Meaghan started tossing off the patio to the deep soft snow below all the things she figured she would need. Not everything survived the drop such as her iPod or the small make up mirror both of which hit something hard and bounced off into pieces. The mirror she could do without but the iPod? Then she realized… she couldn't charge it up to listen to it anyways. Saddened by that she got to work loading the Jeep. By the time she was done, the truck was packed full and Mike sat in a cat carrier beside her that she had pilfered from another apartment in the building. When she started up the Jeep to leave she could see that the dark black smoke from the fire was only perhaps a block away. “Close one” she said and put the truck in gear. “Well Mike… where to?” she said to the cat who just laid in the carrier and meowed nervously. “Yeah… I agree, let’s go somewhere warmer” she replied and then put some gas to it. The Jeep worked its way through the snow and away from the fire.

   George stood on the hillside with his binoculars. “Good for you girl. Go find somewhere safe.” He whispered to himself. He knew she lived down there. She was the only other living person he had seen since the 'Deader’s' took over the planet. Being an old man and set in his ways, he had decided that he had no interest in introducing himself to her though. Instead he just kept to himself up here on the hill in his home and watched. He had lived there since 1968, raised his family there and held his wife’s hand while she died of cancer in her bed there too. No sir, George had been alone many years now… he could be alone the rest of them. He then turned and walked his old and weary bones back into the house. “Come on Chico… let’s eat some chow” he said aloud as his faithful and equally as old hound dog strolled in behind him. “I wonder if Billy will be on the CB tonight?” he mused as the door clicked shut behind him.

This ends short story numero uno. There will hopefully be more to come and they will all tie in together I am planning.

Thanks for reading.