Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Suffering of Fools

I awoke to the sound of Finn, squalling. We had managed to keep him quiet for so long, to teach him at such a young age to be silent, that his piercing cries sounded almost alien at first. My head pounding I looked toward his cries.

During the apocalypse, a man sees a lot of horrors. This is no great shock, no great revelation. It is one thing to see the myriad dead, even the living dead, but to see the slack and lifeless face of your wife is a much worse kind of tragedy. At once mundane, spouses perish every day, yet so incredibly personal, so incomprehensible, it is as if you are looking at a piece of yourself that has died. I belly-crawled to Finn who was wailing next to Colleen's body, clearly trying to elicit from her some reaction, some reassuring comfort. It was a pitiable sight, and for the first time since this madness had begun, I began to lose hope.

For years, Colleen and I had joked about being "Team Curry," but to us it was no joke. We were a team. For better or worse we had long since hitched our wagons together and had been hell-bent on making our way through our lives together. Her problems, my problems, they were always our problems. Looking at my wife, eyes open, slack and lifeless, I felt a part of me break and fall away. No more Team Curry.

I scooped up Finn, feeling how light and fragile and small he was, held him close and hushed gently into his ear. He calmed down almost at once, having learned, somehow instinctually, that there was precious little comfort left in the world, and to take what he could get. How in the world was I going to feed him? Take care of a baby in a world gone to rut and ruin?

But this was no time for planning, this was a time for survival, and revenge. To be taken by the undead, well, that was the heart of this particular darkness, but to be driven into this damnable silo by a living person, to be nearly shot and killed, to have lost my wife, to have endangered and possibly sentenced my son to death by a living breathing person; there was satisfaction to be had. I found that there was no pleasure to be had in ending the animation of the dead. Their soullesss eyes reflected no change, just a quiet indifference as they skulls were smashed in and their bodies dropped limp to the earth. The living however, I could make the living pay.

I looked around the silo, saw that the silo was about half full of grain. I estimated that distance to the bottom of the silo, and hopefully a door, and even more hopefully, a door that would swing out, was about twenty feet down. I would have to dive down, find the door, then come up and get Finn. Hopefully, the force of the grain expelling from the doorway would push the ghouls back long enough for me to get a running start.

I dove into the grain, pulled against the slick, hard kernels, but got no purchase. In a breath, I could only go about four or five feet before I had to turn back. It was hopeless.

Coming up for air, I looked to find Finn, saw him sleeping, curled up next to Colleen, moving fitfully against her body. I took in great heaving lungfuls of air, and noticed the quiet. The scraping, moaning sound of the pawing undead was, not gone, but faded. Very much faded. Cautiously, I climbed the rebar rings of the silo up the top and peered over the top. The gunshots from before must have attracted the mob of rot and ruin as they now swarmed outside the farmhouse. The vast majority of them were congregated toward the front of the house. Each of them stupidly clawing and grasping forward but none of them had yet breached the front door. I wanted in that house.

I climbed down, pulled the makeshift sling off of Colleen, knealt down and kissed her lightly on her rapidly cooling forehead. I grabbed Finn and put him in the sling, snugging him tightly against my chest, climbed up the rebar rings once more, and heaved myself and Finn up and over the side of the silo.

Cringing, silently cursing my damaged hand, and waiting for the bullet from the farmhouse to crash into my skull, I hurriedly climbed down the silo. I heard a shot ring out, then another, and another. Heart racing, I let go of the silo and fell the last ten feet to the ground, falling hard and not protecting myself with my hands as they were wrapped around Finn. Finn began to scream. The madman in the house put two more bullets into the silo above and the left of where I lay panting. Why would he be shooting at me when his home is surrounded by those creatures? I stood up, crouched low, and began to run toward the house, toward the man with the gun, and toward the hordes of undead, whose attention had now turned in our direction, and toward Finn's cries.