Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fifty-Sixth Entry: Write Me A Letter

March 3rd

Daniel,

Today is exactly six months from what some people call VZ day. Evie even unveiled a monument to the memory of everyone who lost their lives defending this town. Your name is on it, so is Gerry's. In total there are 142 names engraved on it.

I know that 142 really seems like a small number given what was at stake, but I would trade a hundred more lives if it meant that your name wasn't on there. I know, very Sith of me, right?

I miss you so much, and I wish we had had at least a little more time. There are things I wanted to tell you; things I wanted to show you, but we just ran out of time. This letter is going to be the best I ever get, I guess.

The monument really is beautiful. It's about ten feet tall, carved out of what I think is marble. It looks kind of like a white version of the monoliths from 2001. It's hard to look at all your names on it, all of you who gave everything so that the rest of us could live.

Why did you have to go back out there? You were hurt, you should have stayed in the hospital. You should have been there with me. You should have been the first person I saw when I woke up! You should be here now, Goddammit! Why did you have to leave me like that?

I'm sorry. I know why you did it. You did it because it was the right thing to do. You always did the right thing, no matter the risk to yourself. You did it no matter what it would cost you. You were as close to an actual good guy as I have ever known.

Evie gave a really nice speech, but she had to stop a few times because I think she was starting to cry too. Maybe Grimm was right, maybe she really didn't understand the stakes of it all, but she does now. Any illusions that anyone here had that we were somehow safe and outside of what happened to the rest of the world were permanently dispelled last fall.

When I was shot, I was so scared, I don't remember much of anything from that night, but I do remember being scared. To be honest, I spent a lot of last year afraid; I know you may not believe it, but I did. Losing you and fleeing Mallville really threw my head for a loop. If it wasn't for the people I was responsible for, and the fact that I knew that you had survived and were out there somewhere, I probably would have completely lost it. When I found out about you and Sharon, I guess I did kind of lose it though, huh?

The last memory I have of you is you carrying me through the rain, blood streaming down your face. You were injured too, but you put me first. Doctor Lester tells me that you saved my life; if you had gotten me to the ambulance any later, I probably would have died.

I know, you aren't the one who got me to the ambulance exactly, but if you hadn't gotten me to Gerry I would have died out there on the cold wet highway. He may have carried me the rest of the way, but it is you that saved me.

They tell me that I was unconscious for almost two days. When I woke up you were long gone; back to the fight to save people like me. The TV was on in my room down in the labs. I was sharing a room with a woman named Cricket, of all the goofy names.

When I woke up, I saw that you had left your satchel behind in my room. I know you said that it was because it would be easier to not have it with you, but I wonder if maybe you knew somehow. You wrote like there was still more to come, but I can't help but wonder.

I also wonder if I hadn't gotten hurt if you still would have gone. If I was still out there with you, or even if I had been awake when you left, could I have stopped you? In my most selfish moments I like to imagine that the you I loved would have put me first, but I suspect you would have gone ahead and done what you thought was the right thing.

The TV was the last place I saw you alive and whole. There were only a few hundred zeds left, and looking back, they probably could have been eliminated without using “The Big One”, but I don't blame Evie for her decision. I'm sure from where she sat it seemed like better option than letting that many of them get into town.

Toni was reporting that the bomb hadn't gone off as planned; she looked panicked, but that was probably as much a lack of sleep than anything. She may not have taken up arms and fought against the zombies with us, but it was just as rough on her and the rest of the people from the TV station.

“I'm being told that a group is being sent out to try and repair the bomb,” Toni said, a look of disbelief on her face, and in that moment she lost her professionalism and became the woman I cam to know, “Is that correct? That's... that's suicide!”

Toni was down in the labs with the rest of us. Everyone had been cleared from above ground for the detonation, and Toni was standing in front of a wall of TV screens, all showing footage from security cameras around town. Toni was replaced on screen by a shot from one of the cameras mounted on the east gate. You could see the trailer with the bomb on it a short way down the road.

The rain had finally let up, and it was bright and sunny, and you could actually see the end of the zombie mob. Unfortunately they had already surrounded the bomb's trailer. I guess Evie was afraid that using the remaining vortex cannons and microwave guns might set the bomb off anyway, that's what she told me later anyway. She spent a lot of time with me after, I mean she spent time with the families of everyone who died in the battle, but she seemed to spend more time with me. It was like she was afraid that I would blame her, but it was your decision in the end. I doubt she could have stopped you anymore than I could.

The TV switched to a shot at the edge of town, and it showed two snowplows driving towards the gate. There were a dozen people perched on the back of each, and I wish I could say I was surprised to see that you were on one of them.

We should have used the snowplows from the start, they did a great job of shunting the zombies off the side of the road and down the hill. I'm sure a number of them survived that initial fall, but it certainly cleared a path.

After you drove out of frame in town they switched back to the shot of the zeds slowly moving under the gate, and over the city line. They were now officially in Lovelock, even if they had not made it to town yet.

Suddenly there were zeds flying backwards as the first snowplow drove into frame, and I got a glimpse of you again as you went past. You were easy to pick out with that bandage wrapped around your head. You looked so heroic, the swords strapped to your back, the rifle in your arms. That's the Daniel Morris that saved my life twice, and it's the you that you never acknowledged in your diary.

Your whole book makes you out to be some sort of bumbling fool; if ever there was an unreliable narrator, it was you! You never understood how much of a hero you were, or just how much you took on yourself that you didn't need to.

The snowplows carved a path through the mob of zombies all the way to the trailer with the bomb on it. The plows themselves blocked a lot of the camera's view of what happened then, but I could see that some of you climbed out and onto the back of the trailer and were firing into the mob.

The person who actually re-armed the bomb was a scientist named Frasier Monroe. There were a tense couple of minutes where the TV was just showing you and Beth and Gerry, and other people just as brave as all of you keeping the zeds from climbing up onto the trailer. Like I said, the snowplows blocked a lot of the view, but I could see you and another man standing at the back of the trailer defending that edge.

I don't know what happened, if you ran out of bullets or your gun jammed, but you threw it aside at one point and pulled those swords. You may have looked a little ridiculous wearing them (especially over your coat), but you looked awesome using them. I was as proud of you as I was scared as you hacked at the zombies below you. You were a cross between Conan and Anakin Skywalker; you really looked like you knew what you were doing with those swords.

Monroe had finished what he was doing, and you all started climbing back onto the snowplows. I saw one woman lose her grip and fall into the mob that was now trying to climb up to get to you. Beth reached over to try and grab the woman, but you pulled her back before any of the zeds could grab her too.

The snowplows started moving forward, away from town and away from the camera, but then each made awkward three point turns and came toward and then under the camera, carving themselves a new path . In my memory I can hear the wet crunching of the zeds being run over, but I know that was not a sound coming out of the TV.

“They're coming back now!” Toni exclaimed, even through the shot of the bomb surrounded by zombies stayed on the screen, “It looks like they lost someone to the zeds, but they are coming back. Did they do it?”

Someone spoke to Toni, but only muffled noise came through the speaker.

“I'm being told yes! They have reset the bomb, and as soon as they're at a safe distance it will be detonat-”

The view of the bomb disappeared suddenly, replaced by static.

“What happened?” Toni said, puzzled. She wasn't speaking to her audience, but to someone in the room she was using as a studio. A second later a heavy vibration ran through the underground labs.

Toni was on the screen again, she looked puzzled and afraid, “Was that?”

It was. The bomb had gone off too soon, and for a few minutes no one knew what was happening. Toni looked like she was listening to someone talk in her ear, and then Regis Stone, the normal anchor came into frame. He looked like someone had just woken him up; his blond hair was a mess, and he had no makeup on causing him to look vaguely undead himself under the harsh lights.

Stone had his own microphone, and roughly pushed Toni out of frame, “We are being told that the device known as 'The Big One' has been activated early. We currently do not know if the team that went out to repair it made it away safely or not.”

I felt this heavy weight in my stomach as I waited. I think everyone in the labs who was near a TV was feeling the same way. Cricket was asleep, so I was essentially alone in my room, but as quiet as it was outside my room I could have been the only person in the entire underground vault.

As it turned out, the bomb worked perfectly, and with the exception of a few broken windows, there was no damage in town itself. Almost all of the zombies were destroyed in the explosion, or in the resulting rock slide which brought a good portion of the mountain down. They are still trying to dig the road out, but I suspect that most of what used to be road there is sitting amongst the rocks father down the mountainside. Still, it can be repaired somehow, someday.

Stone talked for a few minutes, despite his appearance, he seemed a lot more at home in front of the camera doing this kind of coverage than Toni did. I mean she was only a weather girl after all. No, I have no intention of ever letting her, or anyone else for the matter, read this.

“Wait!” Stone almost yelled, “We can see one of the trucks!”

The screen switched back to the camera that had shown you all driving out of town. A solitary snow plow with two flat tires was driving into town. The blade at the front was scraping on the pavement, and left gouges in the road surface as it went. There was no sign of the second plow, but there were more people in the back. I thought I caught a glimpse of you, but I wasn't sure.

It was almost a half an hour later, a half an hour spent watching Regis Stone guessing what had happened to the other truck, before Beth came into my room.

Beth was out of breath as she entered my room, she was dirty, bleeding from her forehead, and looked like she had been crying, “Tara, you need to come with me,” she said, “It's Dan, he's hurt.”

I tried to get out of my bed, and fell to the floor. I was still too weak to walk. Rather than help me up, Beth ran out of the room,and came back with a wheelchair as I was regaining my feet.

“What are you doing?” A nurse was asking her as she pushed the chair into the room, “You!” she said to me, “You can't be out of bed!”

“Her boyfriend's hurt, he was in the group that went out to the bomb,” Beth snarled at the nurse, “She's coming with me!”

I was still tethered to the IV stand next to the bed, and was having trouble trying to work the bag free with my good arm. My other shoulder felt like it was full of broken glass, and even without the sling on I wouldn't have been able to use it

“Does she need that?” Beth asked.

“It's just saline,” the nurse answered, seeming uncertain how to handle this situation.

Beth grabbed the rubber tubing, and ripped it roughly out of my arm. I'm sure it stung, but at that moment the news that you were hurt and Beth's attitude had me numb to it. Beth helped me into the wheel chair, and then started pushing me down the hall towards the lab entrance.

“How bad is it?” I asked.

“I'm sorry, Tara, it's bad,” Beth said as she rolled me down the hallways, dodging around people as she went, “Monroe couldn't get the receiver to work, but he was able to set up a timer... it went off too soon.”

“We were almost clear,” Beth continued, “I mean, we were out of the blast radius, but the debris hit us; It was probably a tree, it was burning. Brent, our driver, he must have panicked or something; the truck rolled onto its side and went off the edge of the road. I was thrown clear, but I think the truck hit Dan as it rolled.”

“Is he going to be okay?”

“The doctor said he didn't know, wouldn't until he examined him thoroughly, but that I should find anyone who cares about him. I sent Barbara to find Pippa and Bishop.”

Beth rolled me into the large chamber outside the lab's thick vault-like door. I don't think you ever went down into the labs, but the room is impressive. Picture a twenty foot high ceiling with the Genetitech DNA logo carved into the shining white stone of it. There was no time to admire the room then though, Beth rushed me to the elevators that would take us up into the hospital.

Beth was almost hysterical as we waited for the elevator to get us to the surface, “Gerry, oh God, I didn't see him. I think he went over with the truck. There were only four of us from the truck left, Me, Dan, Monroe, and Ciaran. Everyone else was gone. I think Ciaran's leg is broken, but Daniel...”

The elevator opened onto the ground level of the hospital, and Beth shoved me out, and rolled me down more hallways towards the emergency room. There were no moving obstacles up here with everyone else down in the labs.

Beth nearly ran over the nurse who tried to keep us out of the room you were in. The nurse stepped aside at the last moment, and Beth and I barged into an operating room.

You were on the table, they had already removed your coat and shirt; they had been thrown into one corner of the room with your swords. Seeing the swords there on the floor told me all I needed to know... Sharon's sword, the one with Hello Kitty on it, was bent about halfway down its length.

What happened next is a bit fuzzy, but I am pretty sure I lost my shit there. I remember trying to get to you, and having a doctor who was covered in what was probably your blood trying to put me back in the wheelchair. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I know he was yelling at Beth to get me out of there.

I remember that Beth yelled back, and I think she came pretty close to punching your doctor. He eventually convinced her that she should get me out of there. I think he said that I shouldn't see you that way.

What I do remember clearly is how you looked on the table. Your jeans were torn, and looked burnt in places. The left leg of them was a dark maroon with your blood, and you leg was slightly bent halfway down your lower leg.

Your arm was visibly broken too, with the end of one of the bones ticking out of your upper arm, but it was your face that was the worst. It looked like your skull had been caved in, and a lot of your hair was gone, like it had been burnt off. I see you that way in my dreams sometimes, and I still wake up screaming for you. I always hope you'll be there to calm me down, but you never are.

It was hours before we were allowed to see you again. Beth found me some clothes while we waited, and helped me change in one of the empty rooms. Pippa, Bishop. Toni, and Barbara all came and waited with us while the doctors worked on you. We waited there for about six hours before the doctor finally came out to talk to us.

“We've done what we can for him,” the doctor, I don't even remember his name, said, ”He has suffered a massive head trauma; he's a strong person to even be alive now.”

Beth, who had gotten cleaned up, but was still in her dirty uniform, asked the question that I couldn't, “Is he going to survive?”

The doctor shrugged, “At this point, I don't know. Like I said, it's a minor miracle he's alive now. He's stable though, and there is still brain activity, but if he does wake up he may not be the same person you know.”

“Can we see him?” I asked.

“Yes, it may help him to have people who care about him there.”

The doctor led us to the room you had been moved to, with the zombies taken care of they were no longer moving people down to the labs. You had a double room to yourself.

You looked peaceful there in the bed. The blanket was pulled up just past your waist, and most of what we could see was covered in bandages. Your left arm was in a cast, and half of your face was covered by bandages too. There was a thick breathing tube in your mouth. The machine next to your bed seemed to indicate that you had a strong heartbeat though.

The doctor explained to us that aside from the broken arm and leg, and the wound to your head that one of your lungs had been punctured, and that they had to remove your left eye. If you pulled through you would have to drastically change your life, and that would be no easy task in this world.

The others came and went frequently to sleep, or eat, or visit other wounded friends, but I refused to leave your bedside. After the first night of me sitting there in that wheelchair they just reassigned me to the bed next to yours. I wanted to be there when you woke up. I wanted to be the first person that you saw, and I wanted to tell you that I love you, and that I was sorry about the last real conversation we had.

I was sorry that the last thing I clearly remembered calling you was a son of a bitch. I hate the last thing I remember telling you was to grow up. You were right of course, I was jealous, and I had no right to be, especially since you knew all about Oliver and everything.

I tried to stay awake as much as possible; not taking the painkillers they gave me helped at first because the pain was more than enough to keep me up, but after the second day the doctor realized I wasn't swallowing them when he looked at my charts and blood tests, and started injecting them into my IV.

Beth and Barbara came and visited a lot, so did Pippa and Bishop, and Zack and Margaret Hutchins. Beth brought Ciaran by once to see you, he was in a wheelchair because of his own broken leg. Evie came by a few times, but she never spoke, not even to me. I think she was visiting all of the wounded, reminding herself what the cost of our survival was.

Toni would stop in when she wasn't on the air, but they had her busy with coverage of the victory celebrations. Most people were celebrating, and I don't blame them. I'm glad that we won too, that we had done what the vast majority of the world had failed to do. Why did the cost have to be so high though?

You made a lot of friends while you were here, you know? A number of people I don't know came to see you. They all expressed their condolences to me, and hoped you would get well soon. I think you're right, I think Beth did tell everyone about what had happened between us.

I talked to you a lot. I told you about what happened to me after the explosion at Mallville; I had intended to let you read the letters I wrote you, but that's never going to happen is it? I think you heard me. I hope you heard me. I hope you knew I was with you.

It was five days before you finally passed. I was laying in my bed reading to you from a book called “When You Are Engulfed in Flames”, it was funny, and suddenly your heart monitor went from a steady beep to a constant tone.

I was at your bedside in a moment, and I pulled out my IV again in the process. I was calling your name and shaking you with my left arm when the nurses and doctors on duty burst in. They tried to bring you back, but nothing worked; you were gone.

That's when I found out that the doctors had been using the wounded to test vaccines based on Grimm's work. They had actually been able to save a few people who had been bitten, and virtually no one who didn't survive got back up. I think you'd be happy to know that you stayed dead; that you didn't become one of those things.

The doctor, the same one who had operated on you, called your time of death as 3:42 PM, and he apologized to me. One of the nurses turned off your monitor, and the room was silent.

The doctor ushered the nurses out of the room to give me a moment with you. He stood in the doorway. I didn't like his being there, but I understand that he was just worried that you might come back; he had his hand resting on the butt of the gun holstered on his belt.

They had pulled your breathing tube out while trying to resuscitate you, and your mouth was not covered anymore. You looked so peaceful there, like you looked when I would wake up at night and watch you sleep. I kept waiting for you to take a breath, but you didn't.

I said goodbye to you for the first time there. I had never really accepted you were gone before, I knew you weren't dead, but now I had to accept it because you were there before me. I couldn't keep hope somewhere inside that you would show up again; that you would come back for me after all.

I leaned in, and kissed your still warm lips for the last time.

I managed to not cry until after they came to remove your body. I managed to keep my composure until Beth wandered in about thirty minutes later.

“Tara...” was all Beth could manage.

Beth put her arms around me, which hurt like hell, and together we both cried. It was probably the last time Beth has spent any real time with me. Shortly after your memorial, we held one for you at Bacchus at Zack Hutchins' insistence, she moved out of the house to live with Barbara.

All by herself, Pippa was facing losing the house, so I moved in with her. I'll be honest with you, hon, it was awkward at first. Pippa alternated between apologizing for the way she acted before, trying to be friendly, and trying to avoid me completely. I needed her help with a lot of things (have ever tried to use a manual can opener with one hand? It's not easy), so we eventually got over our awkwardness with each other.

I'm staying in Beth's old room. Pippa insists that we leave your room and Gerry's room the way they were. She goes in there to keep them clean, and I hear her in one of the rooms crying sometimes. I go into your room and cry sometimes, partly because I miss you, and partly because of what happened last time we were both in there.

I know that eventually we are going to have to at least box those things up. I'm sure that having museum exhibits dedicated to the two of you in our house is not good for us. The therapist has confirmed this for me.

While we almost never see Beth, Barbara does come by every couple of weeks to see how we're doing. She tells me that Beth is in counseling too, but that she can't face either of us yet.

“It's not easy,” Barbara explained to me on one visit, “She's lost most of her family for a second time, and she feels responsible. I tell her that there was nothing she could have done about it, but she doesn't believe it yet.”

“How are things between you two?” I asked.

“That's not easy either, but I love her, and I know she'll get better eventually. I just have to hang in there, you know?”

Does that sound like anyone we know?

Pippa is doing well. She's also in counseling, hell, most everyone in town is in counseling now, even some of the counselors. Pippa's young though, and I think she's dealing with things a lot better than Beth or I am. She's been spending a lot of time with Bishop. They haven't announced that they are officially dating or anything, but she does tend to blush when I ask about him.

She's also doing well in school. Her teachers say that in another year she should be ready to join them down in the labs. I'll probably never see her once that happens, but it's good that she will be making a real contribution to our future. I think you would be proud of her.

Toni is still working at the TV station, and she seems happy enough. I have to admit that I don't really watch her on the air even though we did get a TV for the house. I don't think Pippa watches it much either.

Evie, or Doctor Byron, as you insisted on being formal about her, is a slightly different person than she seemed to be before. She's more serious now; She's still friendly, organizes dances, and she still insists on everyone calling her Evie, but I never see her on 7th City anymore.

The people at the hospital are still in contact with that church you guys stayed at; the one with the biker priest. Evie told me that the preacher, Reverend Thomas, says he and his flock will be praying for you. I figured you would be happy to know that they were still around. Maybe if you had stayed there, you would be too.

Sorry, I'm not writing this to make you bad. I don't really know why I wrote that.

I am working in the hospital now, but not in any sort of medical capacity of course. I am working with the Acquisitions group coordinating raids. Between that and my physical therapy I think I spend more time there than here at home.

My arm is getting better, but I'm pretty sure my therapist is the Marquis De Sade in disguise. Doctor Lester tells me that I am never going to have full range of motion again, but that I should be able to get about 90% back. There go my dreams of playing at Wimbledon, eh?

I do feel it is a bit of a triumph that I am able to write this to you though. This is what I was working toward, being able to write this letter to you in my own hand, not on the computer. I know my writing is a little hard to read, but it's not like you're ever going to read it, right?

I think the most annoying thing about my shoulder is that it aches when there's moisture in the air; all winter it was hurting. So now I have gray hair and achey joints? It makes me feel old. In my head I can hear you telling me that I'm not old, but I wish you were here to tell me in person.

It actually started snowing two weeks after you passed. The winter was pretty mild, and when spring came things didn't get too bad. We haven't had any external zed incursions in town since the fight, although the Acquisitions teams run into plenty of them.. There was one incident where a woman killed her children and herself, but they were destroyed before they could infect anyone else.

We didn't have any new survivors during the winter, and so far have only had 4 or 5 since the snow thawed. Maybe it's just us and that church left out there? I doubt it. There has to be more people surviving than just us.

Now that spring has come, they've started planting crops above ground. It's all genetically engineered stuff that would have gottne people all riled up before, but now we're just glad to have food to eat. Once the canned food runs out or goes bad we're all going to have to become vegetarians too. Try wrapping your mind around that, Daniel, a world with no more Chef Boyardee Raviolis! T'is a sad place indeed.

I guess that's really all I have to say to you now. I don't think I am going to write to you again; I don't think it's right to. I need to let you go so that I can move on too. I know you didn't save my life just so I could waste it sitting in my bedroom crying.

I'm not looking for someone new, but that doesn't mean I won't find someone eventually. Please don't hate me for saying that, but I don't want the last things I say to you to be lies. Know that where ever you are you will always be in my heart, and I will always love you.

I hope that someday, when it's my time to go, that I will find you, Sharon, Alex, Gerry, Maria, and everyone else we've lost waiting for me. I hope it won't be for a long time, but I look forward to seeing you all again.

Thank you for being my lover, my friend, and my hero, and may the force be with you, always.

Love eternally,
Tara Lafferty


THE END
April 2008-October 2009

8 comments:

Anthony said...

Whoa, ok...ummm I am really disappointed. Not in you or what you have written. Just so sad that Daniel was lost after all the pain and heart ache he endured. I mean you took Tara away, then Sharon, and then brought Tara back...to only let him die, a hero none the less.

Well written and great emotional depth...this, to me, is on par with Sir Doyle killing off Sherlock Holmes. Is there anyway we could persaude you to have Olie somehow have saved Daniel and continue on?

Void Munashii said...

I gave serious consideration to finding a way to let Daniel live (as I did with Sharon), but this is what happened. Whatever would save him it couldn't be Ollie, as he was out of the fighter after being shot by Dr. Grimm.

If there is anymore long form story telling to be done in the Mallville universe I expect it would be with Tara. Anything of that scope will have to wait until I finish re-writing the first two books though.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it.

VoltRabbit said...

Well, thanks for a great story. One less thing to look forward to on Tuesdays... sigh. Its been a good year.

I'm honestly saddend by the way Daniel went, I felt like I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. This comment of course my way of saying "well done".

Anthony said...

I thought about how to keep Daniel alive too, and first thing was Ollie's injury. Honestly, Ollie would NEVER save Daniel even if it was for Tara's benefit.
I don't think continueing on with the story and moving to Tara would just be fan service.
Maybe another person in the Mallville universe, someone that could rise from the ASHes to become an antihero. I could see that person restoring Mallville or even coming to lovelock, but not until a lenthy tour of duty in the wild.

Very nice work, and my Tuesdays have become darker. Thank you again for such wonderful work, I will be checking here and following on twitter.

Thomas said...

Good job and an emotional ending...didn't expect that to happen, but twas a wild ride. Great Work

Stormchild said...

Wow. What a gut wrenching end. Great story and thanks for sharing it with us.

herrin said...

Zombie stories are so overdone now. Everything is zombie this and zombie that. Somehow you still made it hold my attention. This is a great story. I can't put into words how much I enjoyed it, but it's the best thing I've read in years. Bravo and thank you.

T O'H said...

Oh boy... you have no idea... I started reading this like a year and a half ago or something... mostly after midnight... I loved every bit of it... i stopped for several months... I resumed it last night, and i got to the ending... man... WHAT AN ENDING... really made me so sad =( best book i've ever read...
Love ya man, I hope read something more from you. and really really you have my support, you're a great writter