I didn't know what day it was, but I liked to think it was a Sunday. All the people I currently called family were seated at the slightly tilted table, a mishap that'd occurred after my uncle had sawed off a leg for reasons best left unsaid. The table, covered with three mismatched cloths, was lined with plastic, silver and the occasional gold piece of cutlery. Even the assorted candles were wrong. With nervous fingers I reached out and threaded my thumb through one of the countless holes in the fabric in front of me. Finally Sanguinary cleared his throat and began to speak.
"It's nice to see you all here alive." He cast a wary look around the table before landing on my sister's girlfriend. "Except you, Mary."
"Uncle! Don't you dare speak to my baby like that!" Nikita cried. She grabbed Mary's arm and lifted her stiff hand until it was placed against her cheek and glazed lovingly at the corpse. Sanguinary just rolled his eyes.
"Hey, if you're talking about dead, don't go forgetting Oswald now." Sniper said, motioning toward the dazed-looking man behind him. I peeked up from the table cloth to look at the pug sitting across from me, still creeped out by the fact he'd only just came out of the closet yesterday and told everyone he could talk.
"Sniper, you really shouldn't let your pets stand near the table."
"You made an exception for me." He raised his eyebrows, causing his squashed face to twitch.
"Oh my! I'm late! I'm so sorry!" My twin brother cut off Sanguinary as he rushed into the room. "I was looking through the trunks for the perfect outfit." Darrel spun around so the cream coloured vintage dress flared out around him. After a few turns he stopped and curtsied. He stayed in his bow until an awkward applause made its way around the table.
"I told you not to leave." Sanguinary glared at Darrel with his good eye, the other having been ripped out and eaten. "You can't just walk around anymore, not with all the-"
"Dinner's ready!" Benny called out as he walked into the room, arms full with a plate of steaming meat. Sanguinary growled at being interrupted again, but Benny just grinned. He shot me a glance and winked as he put the plate on the table. "My specialty; roasted horse I found on the side of the road!"
What a charismatic chef the ex-hobo made.
Sanguinary's face softened. "Looks good, lad."
"Thank you, sir." Benny nodded at Sanguinary. "It's the least I could after..." He trailed off and blushed in humiliation.
"Don't worry. It's a but a scratch compared to others."
Benny nodded. "Thank you, sir." He and Darrel quickly took a seat either side of me. Sanguinary began to cut the meat and pass it around.
"Would you like to say grace, Lee?" Like every night, the question was directed at me, and like every night, I refused by shaking my head. Sanguinary sighed and took it upon himself to thank the lord. Towards the end, when everyone said 'amen', I just whispered it inside my mind. I wasn't trying to be rude or disrespectful; I just haven't talked since I was seven. Ten years ago. Everyone, including myself, knew I could if I wanted, but only I knew what I'd say, and it wasn't pretty.
"Well, I have an announcement!" Nikita sang as she stood. "Mary and I are getting married!"
Darrel snorted. "Yeah, and I'm pregnant."
"Hey!" She protested. When she couldn't think of a proper argument, she turned to Benny for help.
"Look, since there's currently no government, Niki can marry whoever she wants." He pointed out. Niki smiled gratefully at him while Darrel scowled. "Also, whereas you can't change the fact that you don't have a set of functional ovaries, Niki actually can get pregnant."
Darrel paused for a moment. Then he huffed and wiped away an imaginary tear. "A man can dream!"
"Darr-" Sanguinary stopped when Darrel glared at him. Even though his name was Darrel, he insisted everyone call him Darcy. "... Darcy, you shouldn't say things like that. This is a family dinner, let's try to get along."
Darrel silently nodded and began to nudge his piece of horse with his silver fork. Sanguinary turned his attention back to Nikita.
"Good for you, Niki. Do you have any ideas about the wedding?"
She instantly nodded and launched off on her tirade. "Firstly, Mary and I decided it would be best if Sniper were my best man and Oswald Mary's." Sanguinary half listened while Sniper lifted a paw and high-fived Oswald.
"And I want Lee to marry us."
I almost choked on my horse. I shook my head furiously, trying to refuse, but Nikita insisted. Sniper twisted his snout into what I assumed was a smirk. "Oh, snap! She's got you good!" Oswald laughed deathly behind him.
Benny smiled. "I think it'll be good. Might actually get to hear your voice."
"Yes, it'll be a good experience for you." Sanguinary stared expectantly at me, and everyone else joined in. Except Darrel.
He stared at me with hate.
"I refuse!" He protested icily. "Lee shouldn't have such a role just because he can't speak. In fact, not speaking should make him less qualified for the job!"
I stared at my brother, wondering what'd gotten into him. Darrel was universally known to be vain and concocted, so why did he care about Niki's wedding?
"You should hire someone else for the job." He continued, and I immediately understood. "Like me, for example."
Nikita frowned. "I dunno, Mary's pretty adamant about having Lee..."
He scoffed angrily. "I know what's this is about! You don't want me to marry you! I'm too fabulous!" Slamming is palms on the table, he stood. "Well, I've had enough! If you can't accept me for who I am, then I can't accept you as my family!" He stormed out of the room.
Everyone was quiet until Benny broke the silence. "Talk about PMS..." He muttered.
"I just don't understand him anymore." Nikita shook her head. "What'll we do if we ever have children like him, Mary?"
Another awkward silence rained down upon us. No one wanted to tell Niki the truth, but I think Sanguinary, as the matriarch of the family, felt it necessary. He opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a womanly scream emitted from the hall. Everyone quickly stood and rushed out, but quickly froze at the sight they saw. Darrel was sprawled along the ground, seriously wounded. Blood flowed out of the gash at his side and stained the wooden floorboards. The woman on top of Darrel snarled and made to bite him. He lifted his hand in a futile attempt to stop her, but she just bit his hand, her mouth taking four fingers and half his palm. Darrel screamed as she chomped down and when she ripped upwards, I saw why.
She'd taken his skin and everything under it with her. All that was left was bloodied bone.
A beautifully terrible splatter of red took place on the wall where the woman's head once was.
"Get Darrel inside now!" Sanguinary shouted and Nikita and I swiftly grabbed Darrel and dragged him into the dining room. "Benny, take care of the kids while I check the perimeter."
Benny looked as if he wanted to argue, but quickly composed himself and nodded. "Yes, sir." He and Sanguinary went their different ways, with Benny entering the room a second after us. He immediately began to dish out orders.
"Lee, go get your brother some bandages, he's bleeding heavily."
I just nodded and walked into the adorning kitchen. There, I used the old, worn wooded counter top to stand on as I rummaged through the cupboards for the first aid kit. I'd just grabbed it when I heard an untamed growl from the dining room. Forgetting the kit, I jumped down and ran into the room just in time to see Oswald's usually dull eyes take on a snarling hunger as he lunged at Darrel. Sniper yelped and tried to intercept him, but missed and hit Nikita instead. Oswald made his way to Darrel. Suddenly there was a flash of silver and Oswald's body fell to the ground, his head thumping as it hit the ground separately.
"Oswald!" Sniper cried. "You killed him!" He accused Benny.
"It was him or Darrel." He said as he cleaned the blood off his machete. "The choice was obvious."
Sniper paused before nodding. "You're right. I... I'm sorry." He wiped his tears away. "It won't happen again."
Sanguinary returned then with weapons, extra ammunition and thick planks of wood.
"Quickly! Barricade the house!" He shouted as he dumped the timber and weaponry on the table. "A whole lot's coming from all directions."
Everyone gasped at the unsurprising turn of the events except me. It'd been years since Armageddon came and went; it's about time we were eaten.
"Lee! Get that emotionless expression off your face and help Benny!" I immediately followed my uncles order, might as well let him believe he has a chance of surviving till tomorrow.
"How is he?" I heard him quietly ask Niki. Nikita was in tears by now, and he shook her.
"He's lost a lot of blood and is in pain. Since there's no doctors around to treat him, I don't know if he'll heal." She sobbed. "Al-also, the woman... Who-who… bit him… I think- I think she might have bled into him."
Sanguinary's face twisted into a look of love, pain and duty.
"Are... Are you sure?" Nikita nodded as more tears found their way down her face. "Very well then."
He disappeared through the door before coming back a small pistol. Cocking the gun, he positioned the barrel at Darrel's temple. Darrel's eyes shone with betrayal, but their light quickly disappeared as Sanguinary pulled the trigger.
Everyone in the room turned to face away for the dying body of my brother. Everyone was silent. They knew what happened was wrong on so many levels, but was the only thing they could do. Benny was the first to leave, moving to finish nailing wood to the windows. Sanguinary was next, joining Benny. Nikita ran to Mary and started to cry more heavily, Sniper going to comfort her. All that was left was me, who hadn't even flinched when my twin was brutally killed. I stood there, staring, /trying/ to make myself feel something. Hurt over Darrel's death? Betrayal that Sanguinary killed him as merciless as the foe we were fighting? Pity that my kin would die in such a disgusting manner?
Those around me didn't say anything, but they didn't need to. There's no way to tell your 'family' that they're nothing more than companions you're using for survival. Even more, there's nothing they could say to change my mind.
I was no better than the flesh-eating undead approaching us.
The thump on the door noted their arrival.
"Niki. Get your brother out of here." Sanguinary ordered quietly. "And take Mary with you."
Nikita immediately followed his order, picking up Mary and placing her and Darrel on a stretcher. Sanguinary's eyes passed over me and I could see him debating whether to tell me to leave or not. Another pounding against the wood interrupted him and he began to prepare himself for the upcoming battle instead. Benny followed suit while I picked up a sole hand gun. There was more banging and soon we heard the groans. I guess Sanguinary thought I was finally a man as he started yelling at me to get into position. I took place a metre from the window just as a hand burst through the wood. Other arms joined the first and in the midst of limbs I recognised a single, tormenting gold bracelet. My heart lurched when I saw the rough engraving.
Lee Harvey, age 7 - 29.11.12
My mouth dried as I remember the haunting memory of the last time I spoke; a piercing scream as everyone I loved was slaughtered. There was a final pound and at last the window collapsed. The body sporting the golden band was the first to enter, and the all too familiar figure walking towards me. What was once my loving mother was now a rotting piece of animated flesh. I finally opened my mouth, but all the words I wanted to say were stuck. Built up tears from over the years streaked slipped through the cracks in my armour and made their way down my face, blinding me as I fumbled around my gun to turn the safety off. As it approached, I looked up and felt my heart, and any emotion I'd ever felt, die inside me.
"Just go away." I managed to wrench out before pulling the trigger.