It’s been a while, but I finally managed a weekend off and I thought I’d celebrate with a #FridayFlash. This is #12 in my Zombie series, a collection of stories that will eventually become a novel of short stories. Read this and if you like, the rest of them are HERE. Enjoy!

The Weight of Words

By Jason Warden

“We made it out, but didn’t survive. We made it out. Dead. Alive. “

Colin had repeated that so many times it’s hard for me to say when we stopped thinking about killing him and started planning  it. We all got to the point where the very sound of his voice was enough to make our hands become fists, our teeth become fangs, our souls forget we’re the good guys.

Colin was always weird, ever since grade school, but not in a dangerous way.  He wasn’t someone I’d go out with, he was just kind of there; ambient noise in my otherwise pretty kick ass life. He was the artsy type, a bit eccentric but a good kid. I don’t remember him ever being kept after class or sent to the office. He just never figured out how to fit in. I didn’t sleep the first night, mostly I was scared, but also because of Colin never stopped. Late that night Mr. Townsend reminded me about last year’s talent show.

“I’ve never heard kids so quiet,” he said.

Me either, and that’s the truth. Colin read a sample of his poetry; some garbled, unintelligible treatise on the philosophy of Nietzsche and Lovecraft. Weird stuff, and all of it set to some creepy music he’d composed. It sounded like an electric cricket eating Funyons. But even then I  didn’t give him a second thought. We all go through shit. He was just a Freshman then, but when you’re trapped in a ten by ten cell twenty feet off the ground, there’s no room for weird. That shit will get you killed, and it did.

He was the most expendable that’s all. When it came time to do it, that’s really all it was about. Mr. Reynolds, the shop teacher, got us in there, and he was probably the only one who could get us out. Mr. Townsend, was the principal and even when our hands were ready to kill, that still meant something I guess. I got a free pass because I’m a girl. That or one of the two men knew my father.  Colin, he was a wimp and wasn’t going to do any of us any good, besides, by the fourth day in there with no food or water, our nerves all but screaming for nourishment. It just became a collective decision, one I wish I could say I regret.

***

“We made it out, but didn’t survive. We made it out. Dead. Alive. “

“We made it out, but didn’t survive. We made it out. Dead. Alive. “

All night long, over and over. By then he was even saying it curled up in the corner asleep. I sat up, ready to throw something at him, but saw Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Townsend had beaten me to it. They were talking in whispers I couldn’t make out.

“Will you shut him up?” I asked. “I’m busy dying here.”

The two just looked at me and nodded. It scared me a little, but when things get that real, anything, even watching a classmate’s brains tore out, beats dying of malnutrition while listening to that crazy shit.

They did it with the leg of a chair. They bent it back and forth until the metal gave and after they were both satisfied it was sharp enough, Mr. Townsend held it just above the skin of Colin’s temple. The sun was still just a crescent on the horizon when Mr. Reynolds brought the hammer down. There was a sound like an egg breaking, then, blood. Blood on the walls, blood on my face. It spurted in time to Colin’s spasms, but didn’t last long. Apparently the heart knows what the heart knows, and when it knows it’s dead it doesn’t argue too long or hard. I slept after that. It was peaceful. Quiet, and I woke up feeling better than I had in days.

I sat up, looked around, and found myself alone and covered in gore. Most of Colin was gone. The body, ravaged, was in pieces all about the room, an arm, Colin’s arm, lay by my head along with my compact, already open and waiting for me to look. I didn’t need to, once I saw it open there beside me I remembered what had happened. I also realized I wasn’t breathing. I tried to scream, but nothing came out.  I looked at my reflection anyway. The slack expression, the wilted gray skin, even my blank eyes, all of it said – Them. They’d chased us here. If not for Mr. Reynolds we would have been one of them four or five days earlier, but he’d welded the door shut. A great plan until we realized we had nothing but a hammer to break it loose. They must have went out the window, that’s where the blood leads anyway, and the door is still solid. That’s where I’m going. We never risked it before because of the fall, but now that death is behind me, all I can think of is Mr. Reynolds and how he went on and on.

“Every inch of weld holds a thousand pounds.”

We were trapped, dying, and all he could tell us was how hopeless it was, that, “Every inch of weld holds a thousand pounds.”

I keep hearing it, even in my sleep. I have to find him. I have to shut him up.

Advertisements