Author: DiamondEyedDog PM
So there's a zombie apocalypse, life goes on. A brother on the Guard comes home to his sister who's contemplating an important life decision.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Angst - Words: 1,294 - Follows: 1 - Published: 04-17-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3014404
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"How long are you staying?" I ask.
My brother shrugs his broad shoulders. "I dunno Cass." He's putting his carefully washed and folded clothing away into the empty dresser drawers in his rooms. I see his eyes moving from his suitcase and then to me. If I wasn't here, I have a feeling the clothing would be going right back in the suitcase.
I lift defiantly, as if our argument had played out verbally.
"Mom doesn't do my laundry anymore," I said, mostly just to break the tension.
He laughed. "I'm sure she would if you asked her really nicely."
"No, she says that because I insist on being otherwise useless, the least I can learn to do is take care of myself."
My brother laughs again. I realize just how much I have missed his laugh. I'm amazed he can laugh at all.
"What's it like?"
"What's what like?" He busies himself putting his socks into neat rows in the drawer. I know he's avoiding the question, but I have to know.
"Are kids you know going?" He turns away from his socks and looks at me. I nod slowly.
"Three seniors. I don't know why they didn't wait for graduation but they didn't…" I trail off.
"Do you know what Guard they were appointed to?"
I shake my head.
"They'll be in basic for awhile. You know, just training. They won't see any action for a couple of months." He's trying to reassure me.
"One of them asked his girlfriend to marry him. You know, before he left? But her parents found out and stopped them."
"Did you think about asking Ashley to marry you? You know, before you left?"
My brother sort of laughs but it's more like a bark. "Are you kidding? Half the reason I joined was just to get away from that conniving little bitch."
"Are you serious Jason?"
"What? No, of course not. I joined because someone had to stop those damn Munchers."
"Do you think we're ever going to win?"
My brother turns around and narrows his eyes at me. "Of course we are going to win."
I don't know how, but somehow my mom actually managed to find bacon for dinner that night. I barely remember the last time I even looked at meat, let alone ate it.
"Oh my God Mom, how many coupons did those things cost you?" I ask, eyeing the four thick slices that have barely stopped sizzling and glisten with grease.
My mom looks at my brother and smiles. "Oh well, it was a special occasion." He's had this sort of far off look in her eye ever since he got home. It's like she's really happy but doesn't quite remember how to be happy, so instead she just looks sort of maniacal, and a little crazy. I guess we're all a little crazy.
"It's good to have home cooking again." My brother says, sitting down at the table. He helps himself to a slice of bacon, two potatoes and a few wilted leaves that represent what was left of the garden. Winter's coming on fast.
"What do they normally feed you?" I ask.
"Eh, some sort of gruel normally. If we're lucky we get bread. Meat now and then."
"The guy who came to our school, you know, to recruit, said you get meat every week."
"We get served meat every week, it's just usually not anything you want to touch. You know, sometimes its salvage from over the line."
"You're kidding right?"
"I wish. Mostly it's-" He catches my eye and shakes his head. "Never mind."
"What? Oh come on, tell me."
"Well, usually it's dog. You know, the strays that stay near the Line. As long as they're clean you know? I mean, if a dog's nice, they'll usually bring it back. But most of the dogs have gone feral now, don't exactly make good pets."
"But they're not infected?"
"Nah, the one's that are left are immune."
"Like the people."
"Pretty much." My brother and I are immune. They think it's genetic, and my mother's immune too. My father was not.
"How's your friend Grady?" I ask. Last time he came home, his friend Grady came too. Grady had sun bleached hair that he kept pushing out of his eyes.
My brother takes a big bite of potato and chews it slowly looking at me. "He's a communications guy."
"So?" I don't tell him that I don't actually need him to tell me how Grady's doing. Grady and I have been writing each other letters for months.
"So, communications guy are weak. They just sit up in their little towers all day hoping to catch a radio signal in the valley. Half the tower's don't even have snipers up there because they're so damn safe."
"I thought he was your friend." My brother stabs another piece of potato and doesn't say anything. "Besides, if a radio job is so nice and cushy, why don't you go get one?"
"Because we're not going to win this war looking for people who are already dead!" My brother slams his fist on the table. My mother and I both jump. "They haven't found a survivor in three months. This is it. We're all that's left. The only thing we can do is keep pushing them back. Keep trying to survive."
He finds me later when I'm in my room reading a book by my small table lamp. Electricity will soon be cut off for the night, and the only glow will be from the distant photosynthetic lights of the Line.
He leans against my doorway and looks down at me. "I know about you and Grady." I don't say anything. "I'm not against it, you know."
"Wouldn't matter if you were." I say. "We're talking about petitioning for a Joining."
"You're not eighteen yet."
"With parental permission, you can be seventeen. No new survivors remember? We need repopulate ourselves."
"I didn't mean you should get knocked up."
"Did you know they double your coupons when you're pregnant? You get first pick at Market too."
"First pick at Market is not a good reason for Joining!"
"I like him! He's a nice guy. Like you said, he's got a cushy job. I know he'll be coming home to me on leaves. I won't be-" My eyes stray to the telephone in my room. It never gets used. You can't even make calls out. Telephones only have one purpose. I only keep it in my room because my mom hates looking at it. It scares her. Twice I found it unplugged.
"She's getting worse." I lower my voice.
"Have you talked to the Doctor?"
"Says the same old shit."
"Don't use that language."
"Why? You do."
"No, but if you're going to have a-" he can't being himself to say the word baby. "Then you can't be talking like that."
"Whatever you do, just finish school, okay?"
"I was going to jerk. But why do you care?"
"It's what Dad would have wanted."
"Dad wanted me to go to college. And law school." I remind him. "You were supposed to get a MBA. Thing aren't exactly what they were supposed to be."
"He still would have wanted you to finish high school."