Viva i Morti

May 17, 2010
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She forced herself to look out the airplane window as it tilted sharply to the right. Wincing with a sudden jolt of fear, Haley closed her eyes and buried her face in her husband, Toni’s shoulder. Laughing, Tony stroked Haley’s hair and glanced out the window at their destination appearing as they flew down through the clouds.

“We are beginning our descent into Rome,” The pilot said over the loud speaker, “It’s 80 degrees and sunny; perfect weather for landing, thank you again for flying American Airlines.” Haley’s mouth gaped open in an excited smile and she sat, like a child on their first trip to Disneyland, tense with anticipation.

Everything about this experience was a first for Haley: First time flying, first time out of America, first honeymoon. The plane tires bounced off and on the runway before smoothing to a stop. Haley clutched Toni’s hand with anticipation as the crowd of passengers stretched and flooded out of the airplane. Haley fidgeted impatiently as she waited to get off the plane. By the time Tony and Haley got to the luggage-claim and got a cab Haley was bursting with excitement.

“Tony, we’re in Rome!” She exclaimed.

“Yeah baby, home for me. I can’t wait to show you everything.” He replied.

After settling into their hotel room, the newly weds headed out to explore Rome. Tony started by showing her secret novelties only a native Roman would know of, then for the remainder of the afternoon they saw the popular tourist attractions like the Coliseum and Trevi Fountain. The whole day Haley couldn’t seem to close her mouth, although the jet lag was obvious, she wasn’t about to let it ruin her only honeymoon day in Rome.

The next morning the two headed to the Bay of Naples where the Honey Moon Suite in the resort Viva i Morti. The train trip was long but Haley never lost her sense of wonder as their cab drove up large hills overlooking the ocean. The weather had an uneasy feel to it, it was one of those days where a storm was coming in and the sun behind the clouds discolored everything and the wind was sharp, blowing in all directions. Tony paid the taxi driver and Haley began pulling all of their luggage out of the trunk. Suddenly the sky lit up with a great bolt of lightning followed by a clap of thunder, Haley could almost feel the ground shake. At that moment a woman, foaming at the mouth, ran chaotically past the taxi, pushing Haley aside. Haley noticed the woman’s skin had an odd greenish blue tint and her eyes looked as if they were beginning to rot.

Hmm… thought Haley, that was weird. Haley pushed the odd encounter to the side and joined Tony in walking across the street to the front doors of the resort.

“Hello,” greeted the man at the front desk, “welcome to Viva i Morti, how can I help you?” His accent was thick and as he spoke he fidgeted nervously, pushing back his greasy hair or straightening papers or tucking in his shirt. As Tony spoke to the man about their room arrangements Haley observed the man, as he talked his face looked as if it was beginning to distort slightly, turning pale and his voice was slowly getting deeper and eventually sounded more like grunting. His posture stiffened and as Tony grabbed the key out of his cold hand, foam began to form at the man’s lips. With that, the two walked quizzically to the elevator.

“Italy has changed,” Tony said scratching his head. As the elevator doors slid shut the man at the front desk jumped onto his desk and ran out the doors ripping his shirt off. Haley and Tony were relieved when they got to their suite, Haley put down her bags and immediately went over to the balcony, she opened the doors and walked out, it looked right over the ocean and although it was almost dark at this point she was amazed at the beauty. She looked down and saw that they were the only room with a balcony on that side of the building, below them were only fire escape stairs.

The next morning Haley woke to the soft buzzing of the morning news, the foreign dialogue reminding her where she was. With a big stretch Haley rolled over and buried her face in the cool, white linens. From the window, she heard heavy breathing accompanied with deep grunting like growling. Haley, confused by the animalistic noises, found her way out from under the comforter and was immediately drawn to the balcony window, where an obviously sick man was standing, staring. Haley stumbled out of bed and ran to the window; before she opened it her attention was brought to the television, where even a foreigner could understand that they were sending out a distress call, a red alert. She watched as the news flashed images of sickly, gray-faced men, women and children attacking other humans, barbarically biting them and throwing them aside until they reached the next person.

Oh my gosh, she thought as adrenaline began to pump through her veins, I’m dreaming. Haley looked back at the man in the window, who at this point, was scratching at the window, his nails screeching against the glass.

“Tony!” Haley called, as panic overwhelmed her speech. Tony rolled over; his eye’s still closed and grumbled. Haley quickly locked the window and flew across the room to lock the door, she then grabbed the antique lamp, which stood at least 4 feet tall and shook the shade off of it. With the lamp in hand she jumped on the bed and stood guard, her eyes wide and her mouth tight with confusion. Although the blinds were closed, Haley could see through a thin crack between the drapes, that more and more sickly people were crowding the window. The banging of the people on the window drowned out the news which was reporting, “A Breaking Story: Zombie’s Attack Europe!” Tony, just now rubbing his eyes and stretching asked,

“Hay, what are you doing standing on the bed?”

“Um…” She laughed, “Zombie attack?” The words were awkward coming out of her mouth, she felt like a mad woman standing on her bed with a lamp, ready to attack those who have risen from the dead. Toni’s eyes shot open and he began to laugh wildly.
“And that is why I married you, always making me laugh.” He said hugging her legs. Haley relaxed her arms and put the lamp back on the ground when the window broke and murmuring people slowly began walking in. Their heads were tilted in different directions as if their necks were distorted and all of their limbs seemed to hang at unnatural angles.

“Tony!” Haley yelled, this time pushing aside the fact that she might be hallucinating all of this. Tony was on his feet faster then he could blink,

“Ah!” He exclaimed, “What do we do?” Haley began whacking the zombies, but her great efforts didn’t even cause the zombies to flinch, let alone slow them down at all. Amongst her flailing hits she managed to strike one of the child zombies right in the brain. The child collapsed, seized for a second and then was still.

“Oh!” She gasped, “I’m sorry…?” Was she sorry? Haley didn’t know, it was only a child, but on the other hand it was a zombie child. Haley had no time to think, she was striking zombies through the brain as they came at her. Bloody brains were gushing around the room, staining her silk, pearl colored robe.

“Haley, Haley! What do I do?” Screamed Tony, who was now also standing on the bed.

“The brain! Go for the brain! They’re zombies!” Haley replied without stopping her flow of stabs and whacks. After about 15 zombies had tried their hand at biting and infecting the newly weds, the room was silent. Haley stood on the floor now, catching her breath and staring at Tony. Toni’s face never hid emotion well and right now it was so distorted with fear and confusion that all Haley could do was laugh. She was in disbelief that she just fought off a herd of zombies.

“What now?” was all she could manage to say.

“Um,” stammered Tony, “I don’t know.” Haley walked quickly to the closet and slipped on her tennis shoes.

“Lets go,” she said with an over dramatized tone to her voice, like a movie super hero. Tony practically hid behind Haley, gripping his lamp fearfully, as she opened the door only enough to peer down the hallway. Everything was completely quiet, as it should have been if there wasn’t a zombie attack but in this case, it sent shivers up Haley’s spine. The couple stepped out of the room and ran quickly and quietly to a portion of the wall that turned to balcony, here they could see the lobby. This then explained why the hall was so quiet, the lobby was swarming with the rest of the guests, all appeared alive. Haley and Tony flew down the stairs and into the lobby where managers and attendants attempted to comfort the shrieking tourists and crying children. Someone fiddling with a television antenna finally got clear reception and the room grew quiet as a distraught newsman reported on the zombie attack. The whole report in Italian, Haley couldn’t understand a thing, she tugged at Toni’s arm as he listened intently,

“What are they saying, Tony? What’s going on?” She pried. The report ended and Tony rubbed his forehead,

“Well… It didn’t start necessarily with dead people rising. The virus is triggered in living people, there’s a special gene that only a few people have,” Tony continued, his face weary, “The genes are only in a specific Italian family, but once the virus has taken over then it can be transferred through saliva.”

“Who’s the family?” Haley asked,

“They aren’t releasing the name.” At that point Toni’s cell phone rang, “Its my mom.” Toni’s mom was a short, loud, very wealthy woman who descended from a very historically relevant family. Tony spoke nervously with his mother for not even a minute.

“Well?” Asked Haley when Tony was off the phone. Toni’s eyes began to fill with tears,

“Its us, it’s my family.” He murmured, “We have the genes.” Haley’s chin dropped and she pulled Tony into a hug.

“Haley, I have to leave, I have to turn myself in.” Tony stammered, “You cannot follow me.” Haley’s heartbeat quickened, she could feel the blood rushing in her fingertips and in her ears, she felt as if she couldn’t breathe and she collapsed onto the floor. Tony bent down cupping Haley’s face in his large hands, he closed his eyes and kissed her, smoothing her hair and stroking her cheek with his thumb. She looked into his crying eyes, she couldn’t form a sentence, her head was spinning and her stomach was queasy. Haley melted as Tony embraced her one last time, and with that he stood up slowly without looking away. Dropping his head, he walked to the police headquarters. Tony was sure the police would keep him quarantined until a cure was created.

The next 2 days Haley didn’t move, she didn’t sleep or eat, she only lay in a corner of the Hotel lobby. Officials had stationed “clean” people there and blocked off all entrances. She had no idea what was going on outside but she didn’t care; she was alone and had nothing anymore. For the next 3 weeks the Hotel was overpopulated with families, one of which, an English speaking Italian family took Haley in, offering companionship. One morning Haley woke up nauseous, she thought it was nothing, until she found herself rushing to the bathroom. Huddling over the toilet she vomited. Every morning this seemed to happen, either she vomited or felt extremely queasy. Haley figured it was the stress; she had fallen deeply into depression.

“Ms. Haley,” said Mercedes, the mother of the family that had taken Haley in, “You could be pregnant, don’t you think?” Haley’s stomach dropped and she couldn’t hold back the tears. Mercedes smiled and congratulated her.

“No!” Yelled Haley, “You think this is good? Its not.” Mercedes backed off bashfully and left Haley alone. Haley cried; she couldn’t bear two things. One: Having a constant reminder of Tony if she wasn’t with him and, two: The uncertainty of bringing a child into a world who might carry the gene. She cursed the child even though she wasn’t positive that she was pregnant.

Tony on the other hand barely had time to think about the separation, he was stuffed into a tiny jail cell with 50 other suspects of carrying the gene. When one began showing symptoms of a transition, they were tased immediately and taken to a confinement unit, where they would be studied and fed donor brains from the hospital. Tony spent his time simply crouched on the concrete floor of the cell, ignoring the remarks from the policemen accusing the suspects of being “animals,” “barbarians,” and “creatures.” The containment units for the infected people were directly across from the jail cell and made of plexi-glass so Tony could see everything. The zombies threw themselves against the walls of the glass, breaking their own bones and tearing their hair out. He shuddered at the thought of that happening to him, a week ago he was a successful photographer living his last days as a bachelor, which for him couldn’t pass fast enough. Doctors, scientists and policemen passed by the jail cell quickly in all directions, the environment was entirely chaotic. After a week of being in the jail cell, it had emptied significantly. Tony remained in his same corner, sores were forming on his back and legs and he had already lost a lot of weight. Tony finally was about to fall to sleep when he overheard a doctor speaking to one of the guards.

“It’s hopeless,” the doctor said, “our technology isn’t advanced enough to handle this kind of a virus, we’re just going to have to wait it out.”

“Tragic,” is all the guard said,

“Very. Don’t go around talking about this, we don’t want the prisoners finding out, causing a scene.” Replied the doctor. Tony boiled with anger and then sadness overwhelmed him. Not only would he never be let out, he would never be cured after the transition, he would be stuck in a plexi-glass room until he beat himself to death like the barbarian he would become. There was no hope for him. A day later Tony was released from the cell, not because they found a cure and not because he would be taken to a plexi-glass room. Tony was found at 5:00 when a sleeping guard woke up to a crying prisoner. The prisoner, Federico was his name, was sleeping along with the other prisoners when Tony slit his throat with a small dull pocketknife he found on the floor. Federico rocked back and forth, wailing as officials removed Tony three hours later when it was convenient for them.

Haley never found out about Tony, she cried almost every night for months and after that she barely took care of herself. As a mother, Haley did her best to provide for Em, her daughter, but Em was never loved as a child should be. Haley almost resented her daughter for being so much like her father; she couldn’t stand some of the simplest mannerisms, like the way Em would smooth Haley’s hair when Haley broke down, which happened randomly and frequently. Growing up Em hated herself, she met with a psychiatrist two times a week for her entire teenage life, and when she was 18 she left her mother, knowing that’s what Haley wanted. They lived separate lives, Haley alone until she died at 87 and Em married happily with two children whom she loved unconditionally.

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