The bullet left the pistol, as silent as the coming night. The look on Jacob’s face was serene and welcoming. He begged for death, and I was to be his angel of mercy. As the slug traveled the distance between death and life, it slowed until I could trace its path with my finger. As stealthily as it shot from the gun, it entered the bony casing around Jacob’s brain.
Only this time, he didn’t die. He sat there, staring at me, blinking and bleeding from his eyes, mouth, and nose─everywhere but the wound.
“There’s a storm heading your way, Bethany,” Jacob whispered, his voice a chorus of horror. “You will run, but you will not flee.”
From the bullet wound in his forehead, a pale, white finger emerged. As the digit pushed forward, Jacob’s voice turned into a dread-filled moan. The pitch of the voice did a dramatic Doppler shift into basso profundo and Jacob’s lower jaw bifurcated and dropped.
I kissed the tip of the pointing finger and then said, “Swallow me whole, my love.”
As the gaping maw engulfed my head, a blast of Hell’s own heat scorched my flesh. The acrid smell of death wafted into my nostrils and coated my tongue with the taste of sacrificial failure.
“Jacob,” I cried out into the bottomless pit of my lover. The cry echoed on in a spiral of chaos.
“Bethany.” The voice of Jacob shifted from that of a monster to that of a man.
As I traveled down Jacob’s hot, sulfuric gullet, the peristaltic vibrations threatened to tear me apart.
It was my turn. I zombie I.
I screamed at full force, my vocal cords threatening an existential exit from my being. As my voice grew in pitch and volume, Jacob’s bones cracked and his flesh tore. Dark, viscous blood splashed in every direction and offal spilled over the dry, cracked earth.
Carefully, I stepped from Jacob’s undone form, covered in the gore of my one-time lover, and dropped to my knees. With another primal scream, I let my hatred of the moment fly. As the sound echoed off the surrounding nothingness, the ground beneath me quaked and a voice called down from the heavens, “Bethany.”
Flames licked at my flesh to fry the remains of Jacob, to cleanse me of the past.
“I’m not ready to forget!” I shouted.
Again the disembodied voice called out, “Bethany.”
My eyes shot open. Hovering above me, Jamal looked down, his gleaming white smile a warm welcome back.
“You were screaming to wake the undead,” Jamal whispered.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Who gives a shit, B? It’s the apocalypse. Time is irrelevant.”
I punched him in the shoulder, a bit harder than I intended. Jamal’s inner geek came out to play and he winced.
“Toughen up, Gladys, it’s the apocalypse,” I teased. “And the relevancy of time is irrelevant when you have a child. Jacob needs to be fed.”
Jamal grinned and kissed my forehead. “Already taken care of, sexy pants. Your boy has a full tummy, a clean diaper, and is busy dreaming of…whatever it is babies dream of.” He dropped onto his back, hands clasped behind his head. “I wonder what babies dream about?”
I rolled over, kissed Jamal’s full, warm lips, and said, “Good night, sweet prince.”
“And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest,” Jamal finished the quote and wrapped a comforting arm around me as I drifted off.