Zombie

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How is this possible? The relentless question pulsed behind my eyelids. I’d forced them shut, trying desperately to stop the world from spinning. It hadn’t helped.

“Abby, say something.” My sister encouraged, a reassuring hand placed on my knee. Desperation and hope lingered in those words. As if I could miraculously provide an answer that we both knew to be impossible.

Instead, I kept my eyes squeezed shut and mouth pressed into a hard line. It was all I could do to refrain from crying, or vomiting, or saying something stupid. Or all at once. ‘Just don’t be sick’ I promised myself unconvincingly. The knot in my stomach twisted and I almost checked for physical symptoms. It felt like I’d been punched.

Finally, I looked at my sister.
Her eyes were mirrors, grief and shock shining through their watery reflection.
I wished I could comfort her. But we’d both passed that long ago.

“It’ll be okay.” She lied. Her voice had become strained, a high-pitched tone that sounded like she’d rehearsed in my silence. I nodded, mouth twitching into a tiny smile. Grateful for her effort.

I looked at the clock for some reassurance. How long had we been here, trapped in this place where time knew no measure? One hour? Two? I couldn’t tell.

“Ready?” She asked. I nodded. We rose and hovered out of the room. We passed the waiting area, where an ocean of nervous faces allowed their gaze to follow us. I’d always pitied them, the families awaiting inevitable bad news. I never thought I’d be one of them. They seemed to be under spotlight, the room too bright to be comfortable. Maybe that was the point – to sustain the discomfort of the unknown. Not to forget what we were here for.

We passed a quiet, nodding receptionist. Her mild smile seemed part of the uniform, no doubt the novelty of her vocation long worn away. I wondered if she ever became bored with the constant sobbing. She had to work here every day, after all.

I lost track of our direction the moment we entered the first of many hallways. Every corner, every path was the same. Leading to nameless doors that mirrored each other, countless rooms concealed behind the walls. But my sister knew it well.

“You sure?” She asked once we stopped outside a grey metal door that looked like all of the others. I grunted monosyllabically. How could you ever be ready for this?!
It was ritual, I understood that. To make sure I wouldn’t back out. To have my consent, at being exposed to the horror that no doubt lurked the other side of the metal.

“Go on in, then.” She gestured, pushing back the door’s heaviness.

The hinges groaned, announcing our arrival. The lights flickered on, revealing the metal table with the body-shaped lump underneath the white cloth. I couldn’t predict my reaction. Screaming? Crying hysterically? I felt numb.

“When?” The word forced itself through my dry lips.

“Any time now.”

Its hand twitched.





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