Time to go;
I clapped my hands over my ears and focused everything I had on getting the other me to move, she jerked like a fish caught on a hook and started walking backwards towards the back door, she stumbled passed me and out into the sunshine. I followed closely behind having eyes for nothing but her, my only thought was getting her away from that disaster and keep moving. I’m not ready to die. Again.
I stumbled her around the corner to the front of the pub and stopped dead, they were waiting for us, guns drawn, smiling faces passive. Three of them this time and they seemed to be staring straight at…. Me?!
Not the zombie me but the me, me.
“Freeze,” commands the ring leader though with no real authority in his voice. Confused I back up a step or two, surely he can’t see me-the-ghost and can’t expect a brain dead zombie to react to his instructions?
A man on the left steps forward and deftly captures my doppelgangers wrists behind her, avoiding her snarling, snapping jaws. Unperturbed by her murderous attempts he stood behind her, glazed eyes pointed vaguely in my direction.
I stared around me wildly, mind churning, trying to find a way out of the mess I was in, how could I free the other me with those guys standing over her? And what would happen to me, the ghost me, if they killed the zombie me? Wait, why haven’t they killed the zombie me already? What do they want with us? My invisible body was trembling, my breathing was shallow and fast, my thoughts were running into the same wall of questions over and over. I turned on my heel and tried to run but something hard and heavy hit me from behind knocking me to the floor. Burning circles bound my wrists behind me, my face was shoved into gravel coated in years of piss.
That was my last thought before I woke up here.
So where are we now? The short answer is, I don’t know.
I don’t know where we are or how we got there. What I do know is there are twenty two other people shoved in this cage with me. Yes an actual cage, barred all over, not an entrance or exit to be seen. Tall, short, fat, thin, old and young, we’re quite the group. None of us know where this is or how we got there, only a few of us remember the kidnappers. We haven’t been able to figure out how they managed to get us ghosts here and why we can’t escape. The bars glow an ethereal blue, which hiss and sizzle when we touch them. They burn.
I was all in favour of grabbing one of the kids by the scruff of the neck and shoving them through to see what happened but that idea got vetoed and now everyone is looking at me like I kicked a puppy in the face. It’s not like they’d die again right? What could kill a ghost? But no, they didn’t want to risk it. Selfish idiots.
The solid bodies are kept in a separate cage next to us. They don’t have glowing burning bars, so not fair, if only we could get them to find a way out of their cage and come and let us out. Several of us tried calling over to our other me’s and instruct them to find a way but it seems like the bars on our cell not only lock us in but our thoughts as well.. No matter how hard any of us try we can’t get through to the other usses.
Both cages side by side are in a pitch black warehouse, beyond the glow of the bars there seems to be no ceiling above us or walls around us, only the tell-tale of stale air, the smell of disuse and dust and the echoey nature of all sounds lets us know we’re in a cavernous room.
So I’m stuck here in this cell for god knows how long. At first I tried making conversation, I tried to be friendly, I even tried to help and find some answers but it’s like I’m some kind of pariah or something.
We mostly stick to small groups, the old with the old, the young with the young and me on the edge not caring to be in a stupid group anyway. The seconds ticked by and time crawled on pathetically slow. I found my mind drifting back to the conversation at Dorothy’s house, going through the words over and over again, picking them apart, hoping with everything to find a clue, not even a full answer anymore, but something, something that could even make a dent in the mountain of answers I was looking for.
But I came up blank every time, after awhile I began to doze in and out of consciousness, I don’t know if you could call it sleep, I just drifted out and lost myself in my thoughts until the commotion woke me up.
High above us spotlights clicked on, the blinding light was startling and people around me were stirred out of their own dazes. I stood up and shaded my eyes, squinting into the room to try and see what was before hidden by darkness but there were no giveaways. Footsteps followed the light, several people marching in time. It seemed to take at least a full minute for the footsteps to cross the floor and stop outside of our cell. By the time the procession came to a stop I was able to see clearly.
6 motorbike-ready Koreans stood in twos, the middle couple had a flickering form hanging between them. The same sort of glowing blue wrapped around the form from toe to top. The front pair moved towards the barred wall encaging us and as if like magic the bars opened before them.
I rushed to the opening, this was my one and only chance to escape, a few other brave souls with me thought the same. Yet as soon as we met the gap, a blue whip flashed out and slashed straight through a young man in front of me. His scream is something I will never forget. The sound cut straight through me like that whip cut straight through him. Cleaved in half, left to right, he slid to the floor in pieces. Pandemonium ensued. Screaming and shoving, the population of the blue cell ran to cower against the far wall, me included, though with more decorum.
The whip wielder grabbed behind him for the newcomer and unbound him from his other worldly bonds and pushed him in the cage ahead of him, though with no real malice. His every move seemed… lazy almost. His violent outburst seemed to have little more affect on him than swatting a bothersome fly.
The gap closed as the gang, moving as one stepped away from the bars, only then did I notice the zombie body of the newcomer, held between the third pair in the row. Again they went processionally to the other cage, it opened before them and the body was shoved in. The whole process only took a matter of minutes but it felt a lot longer. The motorbike gang moved away from the bars, just outside the reach of the blue light emanating from our prison, they stood themselves in a circle, backs to each other and lowered their heads like robots shutting down.
Slowly the shocked mutterings of those surrounded me died down and people began to drift back towards our newest roommate and the unfortunately split man. I floated over to get a better look, estimating him to be somewhere next to the newbie but there was nothing there.
“So, that’s my story so far,” I finish telling the newcomer of the group.
“Uhuh, I only asked if you knew what was up with those guys,” my fellow captive replies gesturing at the group of powered down robots.
“Weren’t you listening?” I say scornfully, flicking my hair off my face I march to the other side of the cell grumbling about ingrates, halfway through my triade the warehouse door clangs open again and in walks a man.
He was extremely tall, at least 6 and a half foot with dark chocolate skin, he was completely hair free, wearing a hawaiian shirt and boardshorts. In one hand he held a strawberry ice cream cone, in the other a handgun, he whistled a gay tune as he strolled across the room.
“Ladies and gentleman, you’re probably wondering what you’re all doing here, am I right?” the tall drink of hot chocolate said with a chuckle. “Sadly there is very little chance of you ever finding out.” At this he burst into fits of convulsive laughter. Drops of strawberry icecream landing on his socked toes sticking out of the jesus creeper sandals. He laughed so hard there were tears streaming down his face. A few of us in the cell exchanged a worried look, he’s more bonkers than a cat in a bath I thought to myself.
Once he had finished expressing his amusement he turned to the Koreans, gesturing with his gun he clicked his tongue and said something in a strange language. It was not only melodic but mechanical at the same time. The first syllable uttered had the Koreans jumping to do his bidding. They came over to the cage, we all back away warily but they swerved passed us to the zombie cage. I could see my double dumbly standing right at the front. NO YOU LOSER MOVE YOUR FAT ARSE AWAY FROM THERE. I screamed in my mind trying with everything I had to throw the thought from my mind to hers but it was no use. A section of the front wall opened up at their approach, his hand reaches towards the physical me. Shaking my head in sheer, stubborn disbelief, I see his hand about to clamp down on my other arm, the other me looking away not even paying attention. Just as his hands are about to close in, the newcomer’s zombie lunges forward teeth bared. The second Korean at the door steps forward with a taser and takes him down, they turn from my body and drag his from the cell.
I let out a pent up breath and sag with relief, god knows what those weirdos are upto. Mr Tall and Dark starts to laugh again as he and the rest of the gang follow the dragged zombie body.
“Well thank fuck they took you instead, they’ve probably got something really gruesome up their sleeves,” I say in relief turning to the grief stricken new guy.
The group look at me with disgust and start to comfort him as he pools on the floor in a flood of ethereal tears. Whatever, cry baby.
I go back to ignoring the masses and focusing on my inner thoughts but it’s not long before screaming breaks through my inner bubble. The new guy is rolling around in the middle of the floor, screaming in pain and anguish, tearing his clothes off.
I was so caught up the show I didn’t notice anyone sneaking up behind me “Pssshhht” the sound along with a poke in the spine make me jump a foot in the air.
“What the fuck?!” I exclaim turning to see what was attacking me now.
“Shut up!” Dorothy whispers with authority. “Don’t let on we’re here,” she continues, her disembodied voice coming from somewhere directly behind me.
“We’re getting you crazy kids outta here but we can’t tip off the overlords until the plan is ready to go”.
“How did you know where we were?” I stage whisper, my eyes still locked on the guy completely losing his shit. “Do you know what’s happening to him?” I ask gesturing with my eyes.
“They’re trying to put his spirit back into his body…” Derrick speaks this time. “It is not pretty on the other side either”.
“We’re just not meant to inhabit dead flesh,” Dorothy says sadly.
I shudder in revulsion, not even able to imagine what it would be like looking out of those cold dead eyes. “Why?” I ask.
“We don’t have all day,” Dorothy snaps.
“She needs to know!” Derrick counters.
“Please?” I beg, needing to know.
“Make it quick”.
“Okay, Dorothy, you set up the explosives, I’ll give Claire the run down”.
“Explosives!” I squeal, forgetting to keep my voice down but the rest of the prisoners are too focused on the dying ghost to pay attention to me.
“We’re blowing a hole in the cells, nothing that will hurt anyone, don’t worry. Now just shut the fuck up for once and let me tell you what we heard in the other room.”
I nod numbly for him to continue.
“It is Korea, North Korea to be exact, they’re trying to take down the modern world but they needed to do it from the inside, they don’t have the manpower to start a full on war. They’ve spent the past 20 years researching biological warfare, they stumbled on something to essentially bring on the zombie apocalypse. The problem is, in every model they ran, there were still too many survivors, zombies die out eventually and everyone of importance would just have to wait it out. They weren’t happy with their chances so they decided to try and make a controllable zombie army. The only problem is zombie’s can’t be controlled without a soul and they couldn’t kill a person without losing the soul. We’re the experiment right now, they managed to split the soul from the body, kill the body off but keep the soul around and are now trying to bring the two back together again but they aren’t ready, someone tipped their hands too early….”
“That’s enough explaining,” Dorothy interrupts. I let out a breath I hadn’t realised I’d been holding.
“What happens to those who are put back in their dead bodies?” I ask in a trembling voice.
“We’re not totally sure, every attempt has failed so far with gruesome results.” Dorothy adds. “Now let’s get out of here, you need to get everyone to move to the other side of the cell.”
In a flurry of hushed whispers I make my way through the cell, telling everyone to move over, we even bring the twisting, screaming ghost. Once everyone is in position the bars at the other end pop and start smoking. When they said explosives I was thinking something much more grandiose but a few cells popped out of place leaving us space to slip through so at least it worked. We all flicked out as we slid out of the holding cell, though they were able to see me when I was flicked out before so I’m not sure how helpful this will be. Once we were all assembled next to the zombie cage, we were able to throw our thoughts over the bodies and get them to move back away from the gate. This time the explosion was something much more explosion like. A loud crack and the entire wall popped free, clanging harshly as it hits the concrete floor.
“Get your bodies and get out of here right now,” Dorothy screams with authority.
We don’t hang around to see who got out and who didn’t, we didn’t see if the Koreans or Mr Tall came and recaptured them. We did as Dorothy suggested and got the fuck out of there.
It’s been a year now since the world ended. I still don’t know what happened to the others or the Koreans, I don’t know if they succeeded or failed. A small group of us escaped to the mountains, we’ve got a nice life here, the bodies have a stream to drink from and wildlife to eat but they still deteriorate every day. We don’t know how much longer we’ve got. The first six months we tried to find a way to reverse the death of the bodies, tried to make them truly human again, we gave up on that when Derrick’s arm dropped off from gangrene. There’s no going back, we just have to make the most of what we have now.