"I don't know what's happening to me. I'm not alive. I'm not dead. I'm just...I'm just so lonely."
- Julie, Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)
It was pounding on the door as my father locked the wooden barrier.
"Honey, stay right there. It'll be okay," my now deceased mother screamed at me through anxiety filled tears.
It wouldn't stop banging its fists against the slab separating life from death. It won't give up until it has had its meal. Mother cradled me in her shaking arms. The last memory I have of her life were the tears that fell onto my worried face. Father held mother in his arms, trying to show that there is nothing to fear. I wish this was nothing to be afraid of. It choked on its own blood as it started to punch through the door. Mother screamed and buried her face into my hair. Father stood up and picked up his shotgun. There is no one more heroic than my now dead father.
He strode up to the splintering door and raised his shotgun. Its gurgling made me pee my pants. The horrific scene now smelled like desperation and urine. Mother held me tighter. Father pulled the trigger and it fell to the floor. With hesitation, father slowly twisted the loose door knob. It lay on the floor, staining the brown carpet with its infected blood. Father took a deep breath but continued to panic in deep confusion. Mother lifter her head and gave out a shriek at the sight of it on the floor bleeding.
"It's okay now, sweetie," father tried to smile for her. He took a step toward us but it sprang up and latched onto father's ankle. It chewed and moaned at the delicious flesh. Mother screamed again and father shot it one more time in the head. After that it didn't have a head anymore. Father limped over to us and fell to the floor. Summer's thick air clothed us in the moon's full orb, the only thing showing light. It bit him hard and good.
"Mom, what is happening?" I have to know. Its vacant eyes stared up at the ceiling.
"I don't know," she examined father's gnawed ankle, "I don't know."
The last memory I have of father is the look he gave me after he was bitten. No more heroism helped him puff up his chest. No, father is as good as dead now. He looked at me with the purest kind of fear I had ever tasted. We are all as good as dead now.
Father lasted days but he was killed that night. The wound on his ankle festered and became putrid with dying flesh. The hospital couldn't cure him. The police couldn't help him, couldn't help us. Mother did what she could, but that wasn't much. No one has an answer or a solution. Something terribly wrong was happening to our town; maybe even the world. The stench of carrion filled every corner of the atmosphere. I witnessed more things like the one that bit father, but mother never let me leave the house. Soon, the windows were boarded up.
Three days after our encounter with it, father's eyes turned a cloudy grey. Vacant orbs rested in his eye sockets. When he looked at me he never actually seemed to see me. A blank stare was his only expression. He threw up any meal mother prepared for him, but his vomit was a black bile that stained everything.
"Mom, what's happening to daddy?" I tugged at her black stained shirt. I needed to know. Father was starting to look like it.
"I- I don't know, honey," as always tears cascaded down her cheeks, "I don't know."
Television told us to remain indoors and to not go outside for any reason. Danger was loose, reeking chaos in our town. Father moved the killed thing into the dumpster outside. The last glimpse at it and I recognized my neighbor from across the street. I need to know what's happening. Electricity went out two days later and food became scarce. I decided that there was a war going on outside and we weren't winning. Mother continued to cry and father continued to fade. He was obviously in pain but he trudged on anyways, almost mindlessly. His wound was spreading throughout his entire body. The bandage around his ankle grew infected and moist. I was very worried about father.
"I'm afraid there's something seriously wrong with your father," mother told me often. She was watching him die and there's nothing she can do to save him.
Four more days later, father lost speech entirely. His new way of communication was his moans and groans. It's been days since he'd eaten anything. The summer's heat and lack of air conditioning made it look like his skin hung from his bones. I became even more worried about father. He had to be hungry, starving actually. Mother couldn't ignore his worsening condition. She offered him any food we had left but he refused it all with a soft groan. Father didn't want to give into this disease but there's no way he can win.
Father gave in to the losing battle the night he killed mother. I woke up in my room to chomping and grunting. The inhumane voices lead me to my parents' bedroom. Tonight was especially airless and sticky with sweat. I wiped perspiration from my brow. I opened the door with hesitation. Cracks between the slabs of boards on the windows let in streams of the murderous moonlight. Father was feasting on mother on the bed. Her chest was open wide and glistened with fresh blood. I licked sweat off my lips. A tingle of fear or sensation pricked into my fingertips. Father seemed more alive than he had been for a week at the moment. His grunting meant a momentary satisfaction, I collected. This can't be satisfying to him, but father was hungry and cravings lead him to murder. Not just any craving, though; a craving that isn't even satisfying to him.
I couldn't peel my eyes away from this scene illuminated by a phenomenon no one can explain. Right as he dug his hands deep inside her chest was when the door creaked. Quick reflexes grabbed father's attention. Life was standing in the doorway to potential salvation. However, there's no salvation from this terminal curse. I turned and ran. Father ran after me. A coarse scream vibrated past his peeling lips drenched in blood, drenched in death.
I was just in time to lock the door to my room. Déjà vu struck me, and father plowed through the door. He was more powerful. What is happening? I don't know, I told myself repeatedly. All I had enough to find was my aluminum baseball bat. Father limped severely but wasn't phased by his decaying ankle that snapped from under him. He collapsed three feet before me but still attempted to climb back up. I hit father with the bat until his head was bashed in and he no longer struggled. I couldn't see through my burning tears, but I'm sure I just beat father to death; literal death. I'm a killer and I killed out of fear, not self defense.
What is happening?
I knew he was gone because he ceased screaming and groaning. What are left of those empty, grey eyes; slush lost in his brain matter. I'm a murderer. I need to escape before somebody sees. The smell of him gave off an aura that he had been dead for weeks. I finished his downhill spiral with this infection I think came straight from hell.
Sweat still oozed from every pour in my body. I looked one more time at father and my mouth began to water. I can't be hungry after I just beat father to pieces. Instead, I threw up over his body; vomit that blended in with his brains. The hero is dead, I am the villain. I couldn't stay in my room any longer so, I returned to mother on the bed. A childish hope sprung in me thinking that maybe she still might be alive. I didn't look at her; I just crawled into bed next to her. The sheets were damp with her blood and everything was still. Silence filled the room. I took that as mother finally finding peace. She no longer needs to fear, in fact, she's one of the lucky ones since she was taken early. I still cried for her and for father. Does anyone know what is happening?
I awoke at noon the next day soaking with red paint. After I rubbed my eyes I looked at mother. She was still sleeping in her own fluids. I kissed her before I left the room. The news said that evacuation is mandatory for everyone at this point. I packed as much as I could into my backpack, including father's shotgun and my bat. I took one final moment to bid farewell to my parents. I shed a tear for each of them and left my house to never return. The small blue house with the giant oak tree.