No, it’s not broken, not at all. It’s meant to be like that; serves as a welcome reminder. The world we live in today holds so few certainties anymore; some things fade away, whilst others endure.
For instance, the memories I have of the times before the end are like a disjointed slide show, or a shoddily edited old 35mm film reel. You know, the ones we see with all the glorious conquests these days.
Random scenes with people I can no longer recall the names of, in places I couldn’t give you directions to. All existing in a world which lives solely in the stories that the survivors, us, tell.
I have but three images of my mother. Whether time or grief removed the others, I haven’t the slightest clue.
One is from my seventh birthday. I was crying for reasons unknown, she pulled in close to me and whispered soothing words, I wiped the tears from my eyes and blew the candles out. She smelt of cake mix and her skin was as smooth as a sharpened blade.
Another is from the final morning we had together. My reluctance to eat breakfast was testing her, I can remember the strain in her eyes. I had no idea why we had to leave so quickly that day; it would be years before I was able to understand the look she gave me that fateful morning.
The last image is the one I like to dwell on the least. I used to think she was wearing a red scarf, but time and adult eyes revealed the awful truth that it was her blood.
She had come back as one of them by then. The face I snuck a glimpse of as the man told me to look away, whilst similar to the other pictures of her, looks the least like her.
I remember the man striking her with the baton, I ignored his warning and watched as she died.
For the second time.
These days such horror seems so distant, so utterly alien. The things I have seen since then and over the course of so many years have withered away the ability to baulk at such sights.
But whilst my senses have been dimmed, one thing burns brighter than ever. The wish to keep alive those voices that were silenced in those days, months and years. We had plenty of false dawns in the struggle to reclaim our place in this world and, for many, they never got to see the world we live in now.
Those early days almost extinguished all hope we had. Some withered away, whilst others took evil into their hearts and used those dark times to create private fiefdoms or empires based on suffering and blood.
These places were the last to conquer, the hardest. Where they were found, they held no claim, other than to the body they were spawned within, they acted on instinct and impulse alone.
The others, though, were there because they felt they were owed something. They took advantage of the zeitgeist and acted out their depravity to every unimaginable whim.
This story, or at least the one that I can relay, is to speak for the silenced.
His is not the only one I have heard and remembered over the years. The other story I’ll impart with his, is from another who felt equally compelled to remember those he shared time with.
In life, there are no coincidences, no fate, no master plan; there is only a choice.
Many of us are able to make our own decisions; for some, that privilege was taken away, but it was a choice to someone nonetheless.
Sometimes though, lives, both in the past and present become intertwined. This is nothing more than chance.
So please, stay a while. The lights will remain on a little longer yet, this zone has been cleared of the last of the risen dead. We’ll get no further interruption.
Let me tell you a story.
This is not how he died.
This is how he lived.
Class Four: Those Who Survive can be purchased here:
Duncan P. Bradshaw is a UK based zombie author, and is man enough to accept that the apocalypse could happen any day. Tolerating his day job with as good a grace as he can muster, he gets through each day just so he can continue building his zombified world for the future Class Four books. Even when they are complete, new stories from this world will be written, painting a vivid picture of the British Isles under siege.