At the first rays of light, noises began to penetrate my bubble of grief, the grey night turned to a foggy blue morning, I saw the first stragglers. Limping pathetically and covered in filth, clothes and skin alike were ripped to shreds. They stumbled along disjointly is twos or threes, they were dead too just not in the way I was. Which got me thinking, were there any others like me? And where was the other me? I had work to do.
I rose easily from my floating seat and automatically moved through the hallway to the front door before I realising I could have just gone through the window or the wall. This was going to take some getting used to. I drifted through the streets, semi watching the staggering groups merge below and start their pilgrimage. I decided to head back into town to see if the other me managed to make it home last night while trying to puzzle out my current predicament. The zombie apocalypse had arrived, that much was clear, now that the first wave of infection was over with, the dead armies looked much more peaceful than I thought they would. Hopping and wobbling along, groaning to each other occasionally, if you ignored the blood and shit smeared everywhere it could be any other Tuesday morning. They looked like they were communicating with each other, probably bragging about how many people they took down.
Twenty minutes from home, I spotted a familiar physique. Hobbling along, bare foot, dressed in rags with an eye missing. I looked like a pirate coming back from a one night stand. I even had my arm around Derrick from downstairs! That hussy!
“Hey!” I shouted, trying to get the other me to see me, clicking my fingers right in front of her face. My/ her eyes flickered briefly, I/ she sniffed and grunted in what I assumed had been acknowledgment of my existence, however she just farted and carried on stumbling through me, again there was no sensation of her passing through me, one second she was millimeters from my face, the next I heard her stumble on something behind me. I was pissed! Who does this bitch think she is? How dare she ignore me. Fuming I screamed an inarticulate cry, swizzling around to glare.
“They can’t hear you” a disembodied voice told me.
“Who said that?” I demanded, turning on my heel once again trying to source out the voice.
“I’m right here…” the voice said again, “oh, wait, hang on a second” it continued in a slightly embarrassed chuckle. A shadow formed right next to me, it was Derrick. He looked like a candle flame, flickering in and out of light and shadow, so cool. He was dressed in his usual Adidas tracksuit with an unruly afro and the start of a pot belly “You need to will yourself visible” he explained, squinting in my general direction.
“What does that mean?” I asked in confusion “can’t you see me the way I see you”
“Nope you’re still invisible, have you even tried to get anyone to see you yet? It was like the first thing I did” he scoffed in a lofty attitude.
“Well excuse me, I’ve had better things to do then play peek-a-boo with dead people”
“Oh yeah? Like what? Terrorize children? Steal candy from babies?” Derricks form pulsed in and out of view as he laughed darkly.
“I went to see my mum actually, she went and offed herself”.
His form solidified a little as a serious expression crossed his face. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know”
“Why do you care? It’s not like it was your mum”.
Derrick took a step back and looked down solemnly. “I haven’t even thought about her actually, my mum that is, haven’t thought about finding her… I should go see her, right?”
I’m sure he meant it as a statement but it was most definitely posed as a question. “How the fuck should I know, do I look like your conscience?”
“Conscience, wow, I didn’t think you even knew the word, ha” Derrick said in an infuriatingly sarcastic tone. “It’s not like that, I’m sorry you had to be alone when you found your mum and I well, I just don’t want to be alone like that”
I was shocked, I really was, me and Derrick had barely held a conversation before today, we had more a grunting good morning in the lift type relationship and here he was, asking me to do this with him? I really was tempted to laugh in his face and tell him to stop being such a baby but the mention of being alone again stopped me. As much as I enjoy a good internal monologue, only having that for eternity was going to drive me mad. “What do we do with the other usses?”
Derrick looked after our retreating forms in concentration for a moment. “Will you let me see you? I can’t concentrate staring into thin air”
I had forgotten while we were talking that he still wasn’t able to see me, I put all of my concentrated effort into willing myself visible, it took several long seconds, had I been alive I would have been sweating with the effort, finally I was rewarded with a soft gasp, I know Derrick had always fancied me and thought he’d be full of compliments for how I had stayed so damn sexy, dying not once but twice.
Instead I got; “you look like shit” and a rather raucous bout of laughter.
Face flaming, smoke nearly gusting out of my ears, I aimed my fist at stupid Dericks, stupid face. BLAM the hit connects hard with the line of his jaw. There is a sudden silent bubble around us as we both stare open mouthed in shock at my flickering clenched fist.
“You just hit me…” Derrick says stupidly.
“No shit, sherlock” I reply with scorn.
“No, I mean… you were able to hit me” Derrick says as points an accusing finger at me.
“Did you feel it? I mean did it hurt at all?” I ask tentatively. Despite my overall hatred of the human race and life in general, I have never been one to stoop to physical violence and the outburst shocked me a little.
“I… I don’t know” he stutters.
“How can you not know dummy? Either it hurt or it didn’t” I accentuate my words slowly like I’m speaking to a child, or a retard which I guess I am.
“Well…..” He dragged the word out far longer than I had patience for.
“Jesus Derrick, it’s not a hard question”
“The thing is, it hurt and it didn’t, I don’t know how else to explain it, I felt it connect and knew it should hurt but it sort of didn’t? But still also sort of did…”
“Does this hurt?” I ask as I slap him around the side of the head.
“Ow.. I mean.. No? I dunno, here I’ll hit you and you can see for yourself”
“Touch me and die… again” I fume, flinging myself out of his clumsy reach.
“Okay, okay” Derrick concedes, backing away slowly with his hands in the air.
Stupid good for nothing Derrick, I should turn on my heel and walk away from him right now but again the thought of the loneliness repelled me. However annoying he was, it had to be better than trying to talk to the mindless zombies. Speaking of, my other me was currently a few hundred feet down the road, walking repeatedly into a wall.
“Can we get the other usses um me’s? To come with us? If so…How can we get…those two to follow us?” I ask Derrick, bringing to conversation back to more important issues.
He looks off into the distance for a moment, shielding his eyes and screwing his face up in concentration.
“Do you really need her to come?” He asks finally.
I’d never been one to get sentimental over things… never kept birthday gifts or cards, I chucked flowers out on day 2, I didn’t have a single homemade anything in my flat, despite my sister trying to pawn off her kids scribbles on me. Yet for some reason, I couldn’t tear my eyes off myself and not in a ‘I look super hot today’ way. “Well I don’t really want her/ me out of sight… I know it’s totally unrealistic but I thought maybe, I could find a way to reverse this whole thing…” I tensed expecting more of his raucous laughter but he just nodded instead.
“I don’t want to leave me as well but I just don’t see another way”
“You two idiots are doing it all wrong” a screechy, high pitched voice comes from directly behind me, I jump and spin, my eyes searching the air, waiting for a figure to step out of the shadows but no one is within sight, no one with the power of speech at least. I glance over my shoulder at Derrick who just shrugs.
“Make yourself visible” he tries to sound threatening, glaring through my flickering form but he just looks like a stroppy toddler demanding he get a chocolate milkshake.
“Make me” taunts the screecher, you can hear the huge grin in her voice. Something about it.. I knew that voice…
“Dorothy?” I guess, giving up my visual search of her.
“Of course it’s Dorothy, who else would it be?! You two are just as stupid dead, probably more so… you need to flick out. Now!”
“Flick out?” Derrick and I ask dumbly in unison.
“Go invisible, before they see you, I don’t know why I even bothered trying to help you guys” she explains with exaggerated patience. Dorothy is the horrible old lady who lives on the ground floor, she owns about 6 cats and constantly smells of piss. She constantly complains about everything and once even wrote a letter to the landlord because and I quote ‘l breath too loud when I check my post box’. Clearly she had finally lost the last of her marbles though you would have thought dying wouldn’t be as much to a shock to her as it was to us, she’s so old, she must have had one foot in the grave for a while now.
“I know this must be hard on you Dorothy but really, the worst is over now, it’s not like we can die again and plus there’s clearly no one else out here that could see us, is there?” Derrick tries to console her, moving up next to me and randomly patting the air in front of him.
Dorothy gives an exasperated sigh now coming from around 10 feet behind us. “Number 73, the horrible chinese place that always stinks, look in the front wind… NOT AT THE SAME TIME” she interrupts herself as we turn in unison. Derrick and I give each other a look that says ‘let’s just humour her’
“I look then you” I instruct, glancing over my shoulder covertly. I feel Derrick shrug beside me as Dorothy continues whining on but I block it out, concentrating on the takeout place. At first I see nothing and was about to say so to Derrick but then I saw the sun glint of something within the depths of the shadows, I concentrate harder and see something moving, a darker black within the gloomy soup of the shop.
“Stop staring girl, you look like a simpleton” Dorothy pops my bubble of unease and makes me jump. I cough politely and force myself to ‘flick out’ as Dorothy called it, to hide my jumpiness. I can tell it’s worked when Derrick’s eyes start to wander in and out of focus.
“I think you should flick out too so we can go see what it is, there’s definitely something there.” my voice trails off at the ends seeing the patronizing look on Derrick’s face, it’s clear he thinks the old lady has gotten to me and we’re just being paranoid but decision made, he shrugs and flicks out. Dorothy makes a small noise of approval, or what I guess is approval, I’ve never seen her actually approve of anything before and together (I think, hard to tell when you can’t see each other) we drift over to the crumbly building down the road.
As we get nearer it’s easier to see there actually are people in there, 4 or 5 I would guess, they were strategically hidden in the shadiest of spots. all men, all in the same attire, all of the same height, with the same facial expressions and haircuts, they could be clones, if it wasn’t for the varying degrees of skin colour.
Something about the way there were watching the street with a pleasant expression but razor sharp focus in their eyes gave me the heeby jeebies. I shuddered in revulsion, something about these guys screamed GOVERNMENT, I would have been 100% sure, if not for their clothes. As I said, they were all in the same attire but not suits as you would expect. These guys were wearing black skinny jeans and slim fit long sleeve t-shirts, also in black, with motorcycle boots and leather jackets to top the ensemble. Two members of the team were situated either side of the large front window, hiding in the shadows of fake palm trees, they stared intently into the street, eyes roving the scene, occasionally looking into slick, heavy duty looking binoculars. Another pair sat directly behind the first two, large notebooks balanced on their laps, pens poised to note anything of interest, scribbling in unison every few minutes without looking down. And yes there was definitely a 5th person, walking up and down the length of the counter at the back of the restaurant, gesturing wildly with one hand. Either he was having a very heated phone conversation or he was completely bonkers, my thoughts on this were 50/50. The contradiction of mannerisms and outfits was jarring and my mind just could not comprehend what was going on.
“What the fuck?!” Derrick stage whispered from my left, perfectly echoing my own thoughts.
“Sshhh” Dorothy snapped harshly, I felt her grab my wrist and pull me backwards. How she knew where my wrist was didn’t enter my mind at the time but came to plague me later. Pulled along in her vice like grasp we marched the length of the street until we came to the cross section at the opposite end.
“Dorothy, what’s happening?” I ask with trepidation, cold fear dripping down my spine and coiling in my stomach, if I was able to puke, I’m sure I would have, as it was I was shivering with fear. What was it about that scene that caused such a strong reaction in me?
“I’ll tell you everything I know, just not now. Get your bodies and meet me back at my place in about half an hour, I’ve got some errands to run”
“How do we get them to follow us?” Derrick asked practically.
Dorothy sighed heavily “I don’t know why I even bother trying to help” she mumbled under her breath, sighing again she went on in a louder tone “they’re your bodies! Just concentrate on moving them like you’re in them still!”
The answer was so simple and right under our noses. I felt a flare of embarrassment but pushed it away, now was not the time.
“Okay Dorothy, we’ll see you soon” I said as I flicked back into sight, “c’mon Derrick” I said over my shoulder marching off in the direction I last saw our bodies stumbling in.