Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Twentieth Entry: If It Were A Snake

October 21st

I am once again torn by my feelings.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty quiet as things go around here. The tension levels seem to have settled nicely; not gone away by any means, but leveled off. There have been two more incidents of zeds in the mall, one suicide, and one accidental death (a little girl fell down a staircase in the residential area while her mother was sleeping, neighbors who came running managed to get the woman away before her reanimated daughter could bite her), but the kind of simmering dislike of the security force has not boiled over into violence yet.

I am starting to think Ash may have been right. How much longer can it be before someone on one side or the other strikes out? What will happen then? My stomach sours at the very thought of having to leave here for good. Yes, I am being melodramatic.

Plans are moving along to try and do something for the kids for Halloween. Alex has been stockpiling candy, and the plan is to do trick or treating around the shopping area with Mallville staff and store employees handing out candy.

Alex told me that there are around 500 kids in Mallville (he did not specify what was being considered a kid though). That just doesn't seem like very many to me; it's only like 20% of the total population. Of course I have no idea what the national average is, was, so maybe it's a lot, I don't know.

The park move-out went surprisingly well, and with no time to spare, as we had our first rainstorm last night. There are now five people living inside Insert Coin. Chris and Molly Trevor, and Bryan and Toni Rogers and their pre-teen son Bishop. They're all really nice, and I've gone down and spent a couple of evenings with them, Tara even joined me once.

Chris was a contractor, and Molly a web designer before the end. They came here after the end of the first month when it became clear that the government had basically abandoned us, and they had run out of supplies in their house. They were one of the first people to have to set up camp in the center park.

The Rogers have a different story. They were in town on a vacation/job interview; Toni was a weather girl in Lovelock, Washington who was interviewing with a local station to be an anchor. The good news is she got the job, the bad news is that before the celebratory vacation was over, all hell broke loose and they could not get back home. They stayed in their hotel for a few weeks before the remaining staff, who were also hiding out there,asked them to leave. Bryan said they were very nice about it except for the guns they were holding.

Bishop is an interesting kid, a geek in the making. I hope he gets the chance to bloom into full geekhood. He was the only one of the five that set his tent up inside the store, and I'm not so old that I do not understand the desire for privacy at that age; hell, I still desire privacy sometimes. He asked me if I could bring out some of the video games for him to play.

“If I brought them out here, you'd either have a bunch of people wanting to play, or someone would try and take them from the store,” I explained.

“Oh,” he said, looking sad.

“Do you like to read?”

“Yeah, but I only had a couple of books with me at the hotel, and the people at the bookstore won't let me borrow any.”

“How does this sound. I'll loan you some of my books, and I'll get you a DSi and some games out of the back. The only catch is that you need to keep them out of sight. I don't want you getting hurt if someone tries to take it from you.”

His face lit up like I offered him the keys to the Batmobile, “Oh, I promise. I'll only play in my tent with the sound off and a blanket over my head to block the light.” Spoken like a kid experienced in after-bedtime gaming.

I told Bryan and Toni of my plan to make sure it was okay. They were very grateful, Toni even cried a little, which got the attention of Chris and Molly, so I let them in on it as well; it's not like Bishop was going to be able to hide it from them anyway. Bryan and Molly asked if I could maybe loan them some books to read too.

I ended up in my storage space down in the parking level going through the boxes of books I have accumulated over the years. I brought up a small shopping bag of maybe a dozen books. I tried to be varied. I ended up deciding on a couple of “Stainless Steel Rat” books, some Heinlein, a couple of “Shadowrun” Novels, and some collections of short fiction. I almost tossed in a collection of zombie stories without thinking. I used to love zombie stories.

I'm not sure who was more interested in getting into the bag when I put in on the sales counter, the kid or the adults. Molly and Toni both kissed me on the cheek, which prompted a dirty look from Chris that lasted just long enough for me to worry before it turned into a smile and a chuckle. I consider it my good deed for the week.

Something big happened last night, and for the first time in months, it did not involve guns or the undead. I realized that for the first time in years, I love someone other than Sharon, and for the first time ever someone loves me back.

I've never really been in a relationship before. I've dated girls, and I've even gotten a few into bed, but never a real relationship, at least nothing I would call a relationship. Certainly nothing where the term 'I love you' was used.

It was just another night at Tara's. We were debating bringing a few decks of cards down to Insert Coin and trying to strike up a card game with them when things got serious.

Tara had made pasta with Alfredo sauce for dinner, and even though it was really good, and I could easily have eaten more, I refused her offer of seconds. I know she's getting extra supplies through Alex, but I still don't want to put a strain on them.

After we finished doing the dishes, Tara kind of stood in the way, blocking me in the kitchen, “Can we talk?” she asked.

Shit, this is where she dumps me She's grown tired of me, and would rather go back to being alone all the time than deal with me. Or so I thought.

“Yeah, sure,” I actually said, trying to sound nonchalant.

“We've been spending a lot of time together, right?”

“Yeah, it's been fun, but if you want to spend less time together, that's fine,” I blurted out.

She ignored that part, ”And we agreed to just be friends, right?”

“Right, 'cause you're into Alex, and I'm after Sh-”

“I know who we each like,” Tara cut me off, “I've been doing some thinking., and I was kind of wondering if you maybe have any feelings for me other than just friendship?”

“I'm not sure I know what you mean,” I said, honestly unwilling to believe what it sounded like she was asking.

“I know that you are in love with Sharon, and I'm still in love with Alex, but it doesn't look like either of us has any chance there. I've really enjoyed spending time together, and I really like you as a person, and,” she paused for a second before taking a deep breath and continuing, “and IthinkIloveyou!” she blurted out like one big long word.

The words hung I the air between us; I had to take time to process this. Did someone really just tell me that they love me? Did a beautiful geeky woman just tell me that she loves me? Has she been hinting at this, and I've just been too unwilling to accept that someone could feel that way about me.

Let me be honest here, I've gone out on dates, and I've gone to bed with girls, but I've never had what I would term a “girlfriend”. I usually end up straight in the friend-zone, even if it is friends with benefits it still never becomes anything serious.

A minute probably passed (although it seemed like an hour to me) between Tara confessing to me, and my responding. Her eyes had completely lost their normal confidence, the look that she gives everyone when it is not just her and I alone, and looked on the verge of panic, and she was biting her lower lip. I think she was taking my silence for rejection. I had to come up with an answer; do I love her?

The answer came to me like a light bulb going on over me head. Yes, I do feel love for her too.

“I,” I took a breath, “I love you too.”

“Really? You're not just saying that?” there was an almost pleading look in her eyes

“Yeah, really.”

She threw her arms around me, and held me tight. She kissed me hard, and I kissed her back.

“What about the others. Do you want to keep this a secret?” I asked her when the kiss ended.

“Alex and Sharon both think we're sleeping together at the very least anyway, so why bother? It's not like Alex is interested in me anyway, but if you want to keep it secret, I understand,” she sounded slightly dejected as she said this, but I'm not sure if it was the idea of Alex's lack of interest, or the idea that I wouldn't want people to know that bothered her.

She was right though. Ever since catching us hugging in the hallway a couple of weeks ago, Sharon has been persistent that there was something more than just food and geekery going on between Tara and myself. Maybe she saw something that Tara and I were not, or at least something that I was not seeing.

Sharon would make little comments a lot, especially if Tara's name actually came up in the course of conversation. Most of her comments were actually kind of mean, like she's a little bit jealous that someone else could be interested in me. Her big thing, of course, was the age difference, Tara being a full ten years older than me and all.

When Sharon would bring this up I would generally point out to her that there was nothing going on between me and Tara, and that the age difference between her and Alex was greater to the point that he could be her father if he had her at a young age. This has generally resulted in Sharon calling me an asshole, and then not talking to me for awhile. I was very thankful when she stopped and went back to just being snarky.

“ I have no reason to try and keep it a secret,” I replied,” but what if things change between Alex and Sharon?”

“If they become available again, then we will have to re-evaluate our situation.”

“Who would you choose between me and him if we were both willing?”

“Don't make me choose, that's not fair,” Tara kissed me tenderly on the lips, “I'm not asking you any questions like that.”

Fair enough. I couldn't answer that questiont anymore easily. Right now I'm not sure I could even give an answer. I don't think I am thinking clearly; I've never been in this type of a situation.

“Do you still want to go play cards downstairs?” I asked.

“No, I think I'd rather stay in with you,” Tara said with a smile.

I ended up spending the night with Tara. We did not go all he way, but we did get to know each other better. I'm not going to go into any details about that though. A gentleman doesn't kiss and tell...and neither do I.

Of course the real fun was this morning when I came home. Sharon was already up, and was laying on the couch, reading a volume of “Battle Royale” for the umpteenth time. She didn't lower the book, so Kazuo Kiriyama's face sneered at me as she spoke, “Did you have a good night?”

“I was at Tara's.”

“I know where you were.”

“Is that a problem?”

Sharon put the manga down on the coffee table roughly, “What you choose to do with your life is none of my concern.”

“Why do you hate me being with Tara so much, it's not like you have any interest in me. It's not like you have ever had any interest in me.”

“What did you want me to do, pounce on you naked? I've waited for years for you to make a move, yet you have no problem telling Darth Cougar how you feel about her,” Sharon suddenly exploded at me.

“Okay, fine, maybe I should have spoken up sooner. It doesn't matter though, because you're with Count Sigler now,” I snarked, trying with great effort to keep a level voice.

“That's right! Alex isn't afraid to tell me how he feels.”

Now it was my turn for a small explosion, “Alex isn't afraid to tell anybody how he feels,” I yelled, “about anything!”

“No, he isn't, and you know what? Neither am I! I love you, I have always loved you, but you've never bothered to notice; you've flirted and teased and been jealous when I've dated anyone else, but you have never just told me that you have feelings for me, and now it's too late. That doesn't change that I love you though, and I care about you, and I don't want to see you get hurt by her. Have you see the way she looks at Alex?”

“I know exactly how she feels about Alex. I also know how she feels about me.”

“Well then you better tell her to keep her claws in you, and away from him. While you're at it, maybe you should keep some distance from me for awhile too!” Sharon got to her feet.

“I live here!”

“Well maybe you should go live with your darling Tara,” she stormed off into the bedroom, and slammed the door behind her.

“That's my bedroom!” I yelled at the closed door.

“Asshole!” her voice replied from behind the door.

I stood there for a few seconds, breathing hard, trying to slow my breathing, and regretting the whole scene. I still regret it. Sharon and I have had our fights before, but never like that.

“I love you too,” I said quietly to the closed door.

Apparently I did not say it quietly enough, because Sharon must have heard it. “Fuck you!” she bellowed from behind the door.

So that is where things stand. Tara loves me, and I love her too. Sharon finally admits that she loves me, and then curses me out for my never telling her. Love was there in front of me all along, but to be honest, and maybe I'm just still mad from the argument, I don't care all that much.

Sharon had every opportunity to approach me is she had feelings for me, so she is just as guilty as I am for us never pursuing a relationship. Tara did not sit around waiting for me to suggest taking our friendship to another level, she asked me. Maybe it's just a maturity thing, who knows?

I think I may finally be happy with Tara, and while that may not last forever I don't know how much of a forever is even before me. I'm going to enjoy what I have, and take everything else one day at a time right now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ninteenth Entry: A Dream is a Wish?

October 7th

I had a really bad fucking dream.

It's three in the morning, and I cannot go back to sleep. I came down here to Insert Coin to be alone. I need to think. I need to get this out of my head.

Last night was nothing special. After finishing up with clean-up duty, I went over to Tara's to give Sharon and Alex some alone time (he still won't take her back to her place for some reason, I'm guessing he's a slob). We watched some Cowboy Bebop and had popcorn, it was nice.

After that I went back home, and thankfully Alex was gone, and Sharon was already asleep. I brushed my teeth in the kitchen in an attempt at being quieter, grabbed my blankets and pillows from where they had been wadded up on one of the kitchen table chairs, and went to bed on the couch.

I woke up, or at least thought I did, and found Tara standing over me wearing a short black nightgown. “Hey sleepyhead,” she said to me, as she bent over and kissed me gently.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as I sat up.

“ I live here, remember? Why don't you come to bed? You fell asleep on the couch.”

“Because Sharon's in there,” I replied, completely confused.

“Why would Sharon be in our bed?” asked Tara, looking confused.

“She lives here. Hashmir gave her apartment away when she was missing. He gave it to Parasite because she was living in her store, remember?”

“Have you been drinking?”

“I wish,” I replied.

“What's wrong with you? Did you have a bad dream or something?”

“Life is one big bad dream this year.”

“I love you too,” she replied, sounding a little hurt, “Are you okay?”

“ I guess. Why do you live here again?”

“Because we decided to both live in your apartment while we saved up for a house,” Tara was starting to look worried.

I held my hand up, but there was no wedding ring on it.

“So we live together, Sharon has her apartment back, what about the zeds?”


“The zombies? The undead plaguing the Earth?”

“Have you been playing 'Abandoned 2 Die' again? What is it with you and zombies?”

There was a knock at the door then. Tara just stood there looking at me like she did not hear it, so I got off the couch and went to the door to answer it. Opening the door revealed Alex Sigler standing there in a University of Michigan sweatshirt with an M-16 clutched in his right hand.

“Come on! It's happening. We're surrounded. It's fight or die time!” Alex yelled at me.

“What? Surrounded?”

“The zombies, a whole horde of them. They're about to breach the fucking building! Let's go!”

I turned to look at Tara who had come up behind me. She was now wearing a black sweater and blue jeans, and holding an M-16 in each hand. She offered me the one in her left hand, holding it out by the hand guard.

“But you told me-” I started.

“We've known this was coming. We'll survive it, we've survived everything else,” Tara reassured me.

I took the rifle from her, and found that I was suddenly wearing jeans and a gray short sleeved shirt. Tara ushered me into the hallway where Sharon was standing dressed in a pink t-shirt that exposed a couple of inches of her stomach, and blue jeans; she too was armed with an M-16.

Everything shifted, and I found myself down in the shopping level. We were crouched down behind a makeshift barrier made up of benches, large potted plants, and rolling kiosks. Directly around me was Alex, Sharon, Tara, Maria, Gerry, Mitchell, and Milton along with other people I recognized, but did not know. We were all crouched down, waiting for the onslaught to come through the doors. For some reason the gate had been rolled up, and only the glass doors stood between us and the seemingly endless number of zombies outside. All of the outside lights looked like they were on, and All I could see out there were zeds.

“Why are the gates up?” I asked.

“Someone's helping them. Someone wants this to happen. Some fucker is working against us. If we have to fall back, we can lower the gate at the end of this hallway though,” explained Alex.

'Why don't we just do that now?”I asked.

Before anyone could answer me explosions made the ground shake. The glass doors at the end of the hallway exploded inwards in a flash of fire and smoke; glass showered down over all of us. The smell of the smoke was quickly followed by the smell of the undead as they rushed in.

“Fire!” screamed Alex.

Our guns bellowed again and again as we fired at the oncoming zombies, and they dropped in waves, but there were rows and rows behind them to take their place, many stumbling over their dead again compatriots as they came towards us. Finally the first one reached the other side of the barricade.

“Fall back!” bellowed Alex, and the call was repeated again and again by others to make sure it was heard.

We kept firing as we backed towards the end of the hallway. Funny thing, our guns never seemed to need reloading during all this. Once we were past the line in the ceiling that conceals the bottom of the rolled up gate, it thundered down, crashing into the floor. A couple of seconds after it was in place, the first zed crashed into it, rattling it against its tracks.

Gunfire echoed through the shopping level.

“What caused this?” I yelled over the din.

“Kaur did this. He had to be the one that had the computer roll the gates up, and he's certainly the motherfucker who called back his guards. Do you see any security officers here with us?” bellowed Alex, pulling me away from the group assembled near the gate. No one was shooting through the holes in he gate, instead waiting for someone to tell them what to do next.

“But he'll die too!”

“He's insane. He's evil! He's somewhere secure, don't you fucking doubt that for a sec-” Alex suddenly fell forward onto me.

I pushed Alex back off of me, and saw that the front of his sweatshirt was stained with a spreading circle of blood, all but obscuring the university logo. Looking over his shoulder I saw Alexandre Rontreal standing in his white and black uniform, his smoking handgun still pointed in our direction.

“No one stands against Hashmir Kaur, not the council, and not you!” Rontreal yelled, and then ran away.

Alex looked me in the eyes, ”Fuck,” he gasped weakly, and his knees gave out.

“Alex!” chorused Tara and Sharon both, and they rushed forward to try and catch him, both going down to their knees with him as he fell to the floor.

“Why did you do that?” asked Sharon, looking up at me with tears in her eyes.

“I didn't do it. It was Rontreal; he shot him in the back,” I explained.

“I know you were jealous, but you didn't have to kill him!” Sharon shrieked, getting to her feet and throwing herself on me, “You took the person I loved because I didn't love you.”

“You should have loved me!” I bellowed in response.

“I could never love you; you're pathetic!”she looked me in the eyes, but her eyes were no longer hers, they had gone all milky, “So now I'm going to take someone you love!”

Sharon pulled away from me, her skin had gone all pale and gray. She turned to where Tara was still kneeling over Alex's body. Tara looked up in terror as Sharon dropped onto her.

The two of them fell over into the unbelievably large pool of blood. Tara screamed my name over and over, begging for me to help her, but I couldn't move. It was like I had been turned to stone.

Sharon's teeth sunk into Tara's neck, and her screams turned into strangled gurgles as her throat filled with blood. The whole time this was going on Maria, Gerry, Milton, and Mitchell stood over by the gate looking mildly interested, I looked at them hoping one of them would help.

“I knew you didn't have the guts when it came down to it,” spat Maria disgustedly.

“ Damn! Catfight!” hooted Milton, the mall's lights flashing off his gold teeth.

“Are you really just going to stand there?” asked Gerry.

“I warned you,” said Mitchell.

I looked down at Sharon and Tara again just in time to see Sharon rip apart what was left of Tara's neck, the spine snapped with a sickening crack. She held up Tara's head for me to see. Tara's eyes still begged for help.

Sharon tossed aside Tara's head and it landed with a loud thud, a sound I should not have been able to hear over the background noise of gunfire, but I heard it clearly all the same. She got to her feet, and started to slowly stagger towards me, her face a blood-soaked sneering mask of rage and fury.

“You'd better put her down,” said Gerry.

“He hasn't got the balls,' replied Maria.

“You are so fucked,” chuckled Mitchell.

“Man, smack that bitch up!” called Milton.

I found I could move again. I brought my right arm up, but the M-16 was gone, having been replaced by an golden colored aluminum baseball bat with a bend about halfway down its length, like someone had been trying to beat up the pole of a streetlight with it.

“It's you or her, man,” offered Gerry.

Sharon's outstretched arm were almost close enough to grab me when a wave of revulsion went through me. I swung the bat hard. Her left arm crunched as the bones snapped. She staggered but did not fall.

“See? You are pathetic!” spat zombie Sharon.

“Don't make me do this!” I yelled back at her.

“Then give up and die!” she yelled back, her voice going all gravelly.

I swung the bat again, this time at her head. It cracked like an egg, and black ooze started to run out and over her face.

“Don't you love me anymore?” asked the Sharon thing in front of me.


“Then stop fighting. I want you inside me.” it purred in a rotted disgusting way.

“No!” I howled, and swung the bat.

The Sharon thing went down this time, but I did not stop. I kept swinging the bat down onto her again and again until her head was a smear on the shiny floor. Only her blood was not the black ooze that had come out of her head wound, and her skin was no longer gray, it was her normal pale pink, and the blood was bright red as it mingled with Tara's and Alex's blood.

She hadn't been a zombie after all.

“Damn, son, that's cold!” yelled Milton.

“Maybe you do have a spine after all,” commented Maria, admiration in her voice.

“Like I said, you are fucked, and now you're all alone. You have nothing!” Mitchel spat, and started laughing.

Then they all started laughing as I looked from them to the bodies on the floor, and back. I started to scream the word “no” over and over as the gate behind them rolled up all on its own, and zombies flooded in.

I opened my eyes to pitch blackness. I could feel them around me, the undead were all around me. I groped for the lamp on the table next to the couch, and after almost sending it tumbling to the floor, I managed to turn it on.

I was alone, no zeds, no Tara. I was drenched in sweat, and I was crying. I wondered if I had screamed, but when Sharon did not come out of the bedroom, I decided I must not have.

Deciding I needed to be alone, I came down here to think, and write it all down before it had time to fade. Putting it all down on paper has given me time to think about it.

Does it mean anything? Is it just my jealousy? Is my mind trying to tell me something? Is it just that I've been under more stress these last few months than I realize? Am I becoming emo?

I don't think I'm going to get any more sleep tonight, I think I'll play some Smash Bros. to try and clear my mind. I wish I had some booze.