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With A Smile on Her Face

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Looking back on it, she supposes that maybe thing could have been different. But she doubts it. S*** was already going down the tube, and the rest simply had been caused by it. All the death, the schism between the living and the dead. Her breath came in short gasps, leaving in wispy puffs of water vapor. Wouldn’t be soon before long, and she’d be caught. Halfway between the dead lands and the border. Halfway to freedom. Her numb feet caught on a tree root, and she went forward, hands reaching out in front of her. Something soft and wet greet them, and she opens her mouth to scream, but bites back. She barely could get her breath now; it wouldn’t do for her to waste her breath on senseless yelling.

She scrambles up and starts into the automatic jerky run. Her knees were already killing her, the result of an accident when she was ten. There is a brief burst of gun fire, and she ducks, still moving even when she falls again. Her jeans are ripped and muddy by the time she makes it to cover. The roar of an automated plane fills her ears as she lays pressed underneath a thing of concrete. She lays there, her limbs frozen with fear. Somehow she drifts off to a protective sleep, her chest still heaving.

In her dream, he was talking to her as she lay lounging on their couch. Her head was on his lap and they were just watching TV. She was trying to listen to what he was saying, she knew it was important and that she should listen, but she just couldn’t hear him over the TV. Finally after ages, she could make out two of the words. “Border, safety.” Meaningless to you and me, but they meant everything to her. With a gasp, she wakes up, barely keeping herself on the ledge. The light was watery and gray, the landscape pitted and deformed. She is behind schedule. There is still enough cover for her to move, but it is only dark enough to find a place to hide. That is pushing it, but her spot at the moment is only good enough to keep herself covered from the automated planes, not soldiers.

Trying to keep herself from panic, she takes a breath and slowly lets it out. Then before she can talk herself out of it, she slips out of her hiding spot, and darts across to an abandoned trench. She drops down, landing crouched, before rushing to an over hang. Her hands scrape at the ground before she spots a shovel, lying discarded. Picking it up she digs furiously and quickly until there is a decent size hole, which she promptly ducks into, just as the sun crests the horizon.

The day passes with a few close calls, but nothing that makes her crawl out of her hole searching for safety. Sure she wants to, but she is shaking so hard that all she can do is curl into a ball. When she isn’t busy being scared pantless, she dozes off, her dreams filled with death, but mostly of him. Of his hair, his lips on hers, his velvet like voice.

When it’s finally dark, the voices of men finally quieted down, she crawls out of the hole, starting her run once again. This time it goes more uneventful, but as she nears the border, the fence, she can feel her heart pound even harder. Excitement? Fear? She doesn’t know, doesn’t want to know. She turns off her thoughts, emotions, trying to let instinct take over. Don’t step there, step here, duck there.

Somewhere near the fence, she breaks a simple string. Doesn’t even notice as it twanged, and set off an alarm that clangs in a far away barrack. The man who responds to the call simply glances at the monitor of the camera to see what had set off the alarm. With a click of a button, he sends an automated plane to take care of the matter.

As she mounts the fence and begins to climb, the roar of an airplane is suddenly on top of her. Before she has the chance to react, bullets riddle her body, and she falls to the ground, gasping. As her bowels let go, she distantly thinks about how messed up it is that she can’t get over the fence simply because she is shot. And infected, oh yes, she is quite infected. A carrier of the disease, there are plenty of them, but not enough to make them widely freed. When you became infected you lost your memories, your sense of being. She had seen the infection work firsthand after giving her boyfriend the disease.

She lays there, staring up at the inky dark sky, as life slowly leaves her. One good thing, she’d come back eventually, and the trip would start all over again. She dies with a smile on her lips.





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