Love and Death are intertwined within me,
Like vines about a towering tree;
Though all wood must rot and fester,
The vines may still hang there forever.
Why wasn't she crying? She should be. She was scared as hell. Why wasn't she hysterical!
M-maybe she was crying. Maybe she just didn't notice because the rain had started to pour down, drowning the world of sound and blinding it with lightning and thunder.
Regardless, she had to keep moving, had to lift her heavy legs through the muck that now resembled a swampy pool with all the rain that had been falling down. It didn't matter that she had fallen again and again into the sludge in her panic. It didn't matter that she was covered in so much filth and blood that part of her wondered if all of her limbs were still there. It didn't matter that she was so cold that she could barely feel her toes and fingers.
She just had to get away… before he got back. Before he realized that she wasn't dead and was now missing from his collection of bodies.
A whimper escaped her throat at the thought of how she had woke, limbs intertwined with what she had thought reeds and large branches as if she had fallen asleep in the forest. Yet, the forest was not red, the reeds weren't supposed to be sun-golden and cherry-brown and highlighted pink, and forest twigs didn't start to sag after so many hours of death and rotting.
She regretted the scream that had echoed in that indoor pool, because he might have heard her. All she could do was scream though as she tumbled, rushed, whimpered and pulled herself from the cement made pool of bodies, a dozen or more perhaps in the dusty room. She wasn't sure, maybe there had been more. After all, those corpses were all in the processes of being hacked up as if their murderer was looking for some magic puzzle piece. A pearl perhaps lost in some poor fool's entrails or a diamond that must have been thrust between gray matter.
Why else would he, that murdering figure, chop up such souls so that those victims' eyes would forever be white and open, mouths almost frothing? In the back of her panicking skull, part of her wondered if the scream that had echoed the old building was even hers in origin. Maybe it hadn't been from her mouth… maybe it had come forth from another trapped soul in ripped flesh.
Elle almost felt the need to purge at the thought of the dead she had been resting with. She stalled, thigh high in the muddy water, hair matted against her neck in filth and rain. She threw a hand over her mouth and since there seemed to be nothing there to purge, she instead gagged.
She stood there afterwards trying to collect herself, insides strangely numb with a hand over her mouth, shivering. She was a lone figure towering in the middle of a blackened lake finally understanding: where was she even running to? She had no idea where she was in this lake surrounded by a forest. All she knew was what she was running from. From that old cement pool that perhaps was a milking pool in a barn once, but was now the harborer of blood and gore, dead eyes asking unknown things of her.
Looking up from her hell in the lake, the storm finally offered a little light. Illumination. It was a sign from some deity that perhaps they wanted her alive: a structure drabbed in tin. There, near the edge of the lake, hidden within the confines of growing bushes was an old ice fishing hut which must have been dragged off the frozen lake and abandoned to the summer some time ago. A small blubber escaped her throat at the sign of safely.
She didn't recall how many times she fell into the mud or turned her head to see if the devil in flesh was traversing through the mud after her, mad about his lost piece, until she got into the little confinement.
Luckily for her, the last occupant at least left some of his fishing treasures: a blanket and rusting flashlight among the pile of empty beer cans. It probably took hours or days, she had her eyes closed the whole time, before she was finally able to stop shaking and open her eyes.
Something was wrong.
Something was wrong with her.
Her limbs were still numb. Maybe it was shock. Maybe he had done something to her. Drugged her. Cut her. Sullied her.
She squeezed her thighs tightly together.
No, her left arm… was wrong and her neck seemed loose yet stiff like the muscles weren't quite right. She quickly reached her hand up to rub her neck and immediately stalled because felt something was indeed wrong.
She swallowed harshly, feeling a line in her flesh every inch or so like a harsh, thick bump as if these blemishes in her throat were stitches made of twine. She tried to pull in a panicked breath, yet her chest didn't rise right. In fact, her chest seemed dead to breath.
E-everything was wrong.
Shaking, she reached for the flashlight she knew was there, fingers fumbling with slime and probably blood under that. It took her three groping tries until the flashlight was finally in hand. Its light was faint, the battery probably aged with the acid bleeding from its casing in a white foam, but it was enough for her to see, a mirror harbored over the small sink in the hut, what she was.
A Frankenstein monster. Her neck stitched on like a doll head lazily to a procured body, her left arm not even hers if the skin color was any inclination, and little stiches of yellow or black twine seemingly to hold her together from oddly painted finger nails to the scar in her cheek.
But, before the lights faded she saw what she needed to see. To truly tell her what was wrong. What she was.
Her eyes were white with death.
She was a walking corpse.
She was already dead.
Screaming as the light went out; all she could think was how she really didn't get away from her murderer and what ungodly thing had led her astray, turning her into a walking corpse, a zombie for lack of any other thoughts inside her head.
© W. Plaatje