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Happy Birthday, Angie
May 6(?), 2012
Today’s Angie’s birthday. At least, if I go by my journal. I don’t know. I just don’t know, anymore. The days have reached a point where they all just… bleed together, I guess you could say. I easily could have missed a few days here or there. Nothing’s distinct anymore. Just wandering. Aimless, pointless, endless wandering. One town is like every other, Chicago is no different than New York. At this point, this tattered spiral notebook and the pen with which I write are the only things keeping me within the confines of sanity- if that’s what you call this. A few days ago (yesterday? Last week? Last month?) I screamed. And screamed. But she didn’t come. I kept expecting to see Emily walking through the empty, Angie’s delicate fingers clasped in her own. But they never came. They never came. But the smell did. The smell came back, and it’s worse than ever.
If this is indeed sanity, then I can only imagine what bleak depths to which I will sink should my admittedly fragile mind ever break.
I just entered a new town, a little rinky-dink one stoplight diversion called Milton Heights. Mercifully, there aren’t many of… of them, but they’re there. They froze during the winter, when I was holed up back in Colorado, but now the snow’s melted and they’re all black and rotted and smiling through their rotted gums ohGodohGodohGodohGodohGodohGodoh GodohGodohGodohGodohGodohGodohGodohGodoh
It’s been a couple months now since they started dying. Since the first news broadcasts of a quarantine around New York began to sweep the airwaves. First New York, then the surrounding states… then the whole country. I still don’t know what it was. I don’t think anybody did really. Maybe somebody in the government, maybe someone there knew, but I don’t. I only know that it happened.
Before all… all this, I was an atheist. But now… now I think there’s something out there. Something lurking on the edge of this world, peeking in at me and laughing. Whether it’s God or some Lovecraftian horror who lacks a name I don’t know… but it’s there.
I shot a dog today. A German Sheppard, its mangy fur caked with dirt, its chops painted with dried blood. It was… the damn thing was… eating… one of them. A young girl, judging by the ragged Sunday dress she… it… it was wearing. The dead have no gender. No identity. I saw it and screamed. I yelled at the creature, and it looked slowly up at me with a pair of lost black eyes. Those eyes were as cold and dead as the world around us. It had been a pet, once- I could see it in those stygian orbs. No doubt loved by some young child that now lies as still and silent as everyone else. I raised the gun to my shoulder with fumbling finger and pulled the trigger over and over until it wouldn’t fire any more. I was still screaming. And I was crying. These bodies shouldn’t be here. They shouldn’t be here, goddamit. They shouldn’t be littering the streets like discarded candy wrappers, grinning up at the sky in eternal damnation. But there’s no one left to take care of them. Those that would or could are among their number.
I cried for a long time, the salty tears running down my face as I crouched there on the marble steps in front of this town’s old library, my head hung low. The girl made me think of Angie. Angie, who would have turned seven today. Angie, with her bright optimism and inquisitive blue eyes, always sparkling with good cheer and a thousand questions.
That last night, when she was laying there in her bed, wheezing, her breath harsh and nearly nonexistent, her mother lying dead in the next room, static on the TV downstairs, I lied to her. I held her close to me, tears streaming down my face as I wrapped my arms around her and whispered falsity in her ear. I said it would be all right. I told her it would be alright. I lied to her. I lied. I said it would be alright.
They say a father should never have to outlive their child, but I’ve done more. I’ve outlived the world. Earth is dead. I am a sole survivor amongst a horde of the deceased- a single small diamond amidst a million worthless pebbles.
I dropped to my knees, and I placed the icicle barrel of the gun in my own mouth, holding it tightly in both hands as I kneeled there on the pavement, eyes clenched shut, tasting the cold, hard metal in my mouth, biting it, feeling the pain as it drove my teeth back into my gums. My fingers tightened, and I heard the thundering tear in the air and in my own head as the gun went off, and then there was only blind, screaming, all enveloping pain as I felt myself separate from myself, flying off in all different directions… and a sensation of brief, flowing freedom within a realm of endless blackness as death grasped me with compassionate fingers. And then the pulling came, dragging me back, dragging me back, goddammit, accompanied by the worst burning agony I had ever felt as the flesh reknitted yet again, reformed, coming together yet again as it has many times this last year. Death lost his grip, and I became one with the world once more. It didn’t matter. The pain was relief- a breath of fresh air. My vision returned slowly as my eyes came to be once again, first unbelievably blurry, then as clear as it had ever been. Very soon- too soon- it was over, and I pulled the shaft of the gun from my mouth, sobbing, looking down at the weapon which lay in my hands. I had carried it all these months, never really needing it. This I knew. But it gave me an illusion. The illusion that it protected me. That I did need it. That I needed it to keep from becoming like all of my friends and family when the truth is I will never become like them.
I don’t know why I have this curse. I don’t know why I carry this burden. Am I to forever wander this infinite graveyard, unable to pass on, to join those whom have left me? I can only hope that someday- someday in this bleak future- I’ll here a voice, and that there’ll be someone else out there. Someone like me. Someone. Anyone. Anyone.
I don’t have much more to say today except… well, happy birthday, Angie. Daddy misses you.