Rok and I have been sleeping in the same bed for a few nights. I ended up with a bruise on my shoulder from the nightmare that first night, but it’s fading now. He’s been suspiciously nice to me after Pancake died. We only talked about it a little. I mostly feel guilty for not having my gun. If I had had it on me I could have shot the zombie before he did too much damage to the fawn. Rok says that I can’t know if having the gun would have made any difference. Rok has been adamant to get me to stop thinking about it. He gave me a present he said he had been saving for a special occasion. It was a bag of art supplies he got from a supply store before we met. All of the locked cases were broken and looted, but there was still a lot of the good stuff left for him to take. I’ve been doing some art which is nice, but it pales in comparison to the sleep I’ve been getting. Sleeping in the same bed seemed odd for a bit, but I find it relieves some of the anxiety I feel in the morning. I usually wake up with some feeling of distress. I think it’s because my subconscious spends most of my REM sleep focusing on life before the apocalypse, and the transition back to reality is always a little jarring. It’s also comforting to wake up and find someone living beside me. It feels normal. I’m not sure how Rok feels on the situation. We usually sleep with me as the big spoon. We were alternating for a bit, but once I woke up with something pushing at my back. I’ve never heard Rok string so many curse words together. He lifted me up still laughing and moved me over to the other side of the bed. I’ve stayed there.
Something bad happened yesterday morning. I went out to the backyard to feed Pancake some carrots and fruit I saved from dinner the previous night. A zombie must have gotten into our yard again because when I got outside, he was taking a bite out of Pancake’s little shoulder like he was a big mac. My hand fell to where I keep my small pistol, but the space was empty. I always have it, even in the house. The only time I don’t keep it on me is when I shower or sleep. Even then it’s in arm’s reach. I ran back into the house to find a weapon. We keep a stash in a drawer of a cabinet next to the back door. I pulled out a small semi-automatic and fired through the still open back door. The zombies head burst, and he dropped Pancake who hit the ground still flailing. I went to see what the damage was. His neck was torn open at the throat, and he was bleeding out quickly. His face and chest was slick with blood, and he was making this noise that sounded like, well, it sounded like what it was, a wild animal dying in pain and fear. I knelt down and tried to hold the wound closed with my hands. It ripped down from his shoulder to his neck, and it looked like a toy that had been torn down the seams, but he was still flailing his legs and struggling to get to his feet, unable to support his head which stayed lolling back and forth on the grass. His hooves were slipping continuously in the slick grass, toppling his body to the ground with a sickening thump that pushed more blood over my hands.
I have never cried in the apocalypse, at least not like this. Trauma and shock has made it easier to distance myself. Even my experiences were always somewhat second hand. I was never forced to kill another human. I saw awful things, but they were never that close to me, and there was never any tactile feedback. Something about the feeling of the hot blood pulsing over my hands made me undone. Completely. I kept one hand at the wound, trying, pathetically really, to hold it closed, and with the other I lifted the fawn and held him close to me letting his head fall at my collarbone. This was probably the most idiotic thing I’ve done in this mess, but I really couldn’t be bothered. I felt a bit of moisture on my neck, and I realized Pancake was licking at my collarbone. I made this small, pathetic, noise, and I pushed the side of my face to his little head for a moment. Than I set him down on the ground and quickly emptied the barrel into his head. I never look away when I shoot, I never blink until the target is on the ground, but I closed my eyes this time. I made my way back inside the house and found Rok loading the dishwasher. He looked shocked, and it took me a moment to realize he was staring at the blood that spread out across my chest and arms.
“Is it yours?” he said. I shook my head. That seemed to be enough for him; he took me into the kitchen and sat me on the counter. I saw him look out the window as he ran the cold water over a dishcloth. He ran the towel over my face and hands while I sobbed like a baby on the counter. I think it was one of the kinder things Rok has ever done for me. He threw the bloody towel in the trash, we don’t keep anything that gets blood on it. The cold water calmed me down, and I took a shower which helped. I wasn’t in the mood to do anything or watch ZTV, so we watched some dvds Rok had collected, some classic films and a few b movie gems. We just spent the day on the couch. I went to bed somewhat early, for me, but I woke up a few hours in from a nightmare. It was jarring because I usually dream about life before the apocalypse. Or if I have a nightmare it’s a stress dream about some mundane shit like forgetting to study for a final exam. But this nightmare was completely different. I saw the situation from this morning, but instead of seeing Pancake, Rok was on the ground where the fawn was with the side of his neck torn open from jaw to shoulder. His mouth opened and closed without any sound, and his boots slid in the blood soaked grass as he struggled, convulsed, spasmed. I knelt down and tried to reach my hand to his shoulder to try and hold the wound closed, but I couldn’t seem to reach him, like how it can be impossible to run in a dream. I couldn’t get my hands to close on the wound, but I could feel the blood pooling around my knees and climbing up the fabric over my thighs. The blood was coming in waves, and it was hot, and the smell of iron was sickening, and Rok’s boots kept slipping on it over and over. When I woke up, I was sitting straight up with my hand around my shoulder. The skin there felt sore. I climbed out of bed, and into the hallway. Then I walked back into my room to grab my gun. I knocked on Rok’s door and heard a sleepy “yes?” from inside. I slipped inside and place my gun in the drawer in the bed side table. Then I slid into bed next to him. He didn’t ask me anything, he just wrapped an arm around me. Unfortunately, he brushed my boob in the process.
“Shit, I’m sorry,” he said, sleepily.
“It’s okay,” I said and adjusted his arm so it lay across the indent of my hip. We fell asleep there for a few hours, but I woke up again, restless and anxious. I got out of bed and moved to the other side, so I could lie with his back to my front and wrapped an arm around him. I fell asleep faster and deeper that time. It’s better to be the big spoon.
I used to have a habit of having cereal and milk in the mornings and watching tv. I miss it so much. We got some semblance of tv up and running now, but the canned milk isn’t doing the trick. I’ve been daydreaming about finding a cow, and having our own milk. I don’t know if we could make it taste like pasteurized milk, but maybe we could get something similar. What does it even mean to pasteurize milk? It sounds gross. I’m getting desperate though. Our quality of life would be so much higher with just one cow. I regret every hamburger I’ve ever eaten. Just one cow…just one.
We’ve suspected that the infected follow patterns when they move. Nothing spectacular, but they seem to ebb and flow at least. This guy, who we’ve named Eric 3, has been going to work every day. Or something like it. He walks up the street and waits outside of a door of a nearby office for an hour or two, and then walks back to the neighborhood. It’s not a long walk, and he’s easily distracted, but he does something like that every day. He’s not the only one. Several of his friends do the same. They walk up and down the street and meet there. I’m guessing they’re just the ones that live close. Perhaps that is the extent of what’s left in their heads. Rote memory. Faces of loved ones and favorite experiences are gone. Now what’s left? The daily grind. The things committed to the subconscious because they were too boring to actually think about.
That is not to say that they don’t run after living things, and just today, Eric 3 ate his friend, who fell over on the steps of the office. This is just what they have left when nothing else is going on. This is their neutral. It’s sad. I almost wish that they didn’t do anything at all. I wish they were just up against fences all day, or standing in place. But some of them still have something left that humanizes them. It makes them harder to kill, for sure.
When you think about the brain of an infected, you think, well, I don’t know what the hell you think because it’s really just not obvious what’s going on there. I mean, but all accounts, they should be completely dead, not walking dead. I guess there’s still some function in the lower brain, and enough in the upper parts to keep them going. What we found out today is that they are actually capable of being knocked out. This is good news, because it let us strap a camera to one of them. We wore thick clothing and as much armor as we could. Several pairs of rubber gloves. Then it was done. We switched it on and ran home.
Back at the fort, we turned on the appropriate channel. The image was grainy and unappealing, and mostly of the ground in front of the infected where we left it. At the time, we weren’t sure if they could be knocked out, and all of this was a bit of an experiment. I mean, take something that should be dead, but isn’t, and tell me when it’s just sleeping. It’s not easy.
After about four hours, the sun was starting to go down and the project was looking like a failure. Then he started to stir, and then he got up. It took a while. I’m not sure how much of this was luck and how much was skill, but we got a Zombie Cam up and running. It’s been awesome so far. We’ve been glued to it.