A New World

Melissa adjusted her rear view mirror as her Volkswagen cruised along at 70km/h. The speed limit was 70 and she had no intention to break the law. Not that the law mattered much anymore. The law hadn’t mattered since the outbreak. Driving happily with her music blaring, she was almost oblivious of the events that had destroyed much of the human race 3 years ago. Well, forced oblivion. She knew of the things that had occurred, but her kind wasn’t much affected by it. No, she was wealthy enough to be fine. Her silver Golf glistened in the sunshine as the green trees whizzed past, the brilliant blue sky visible over the hills in the distance, with wisps of clouds speckling the blue. A beautiful day by any measure, and Melissa was enjoying the scenery of the country side. Had she been going slower and fully taking in the views, she would have noticed the infected man trudging along the road. More disease than man at this point, he was ravaged by the disease to such an extent he barely had an any skin on him. But the sun was shining and the music was loud. It was a lovely day. 
The vibration in her pocket startled her, she had forgotten to take her phone out of her jeans and sync it with the car stereo. She wriggled and wormed to get the oversized phone out and glanced at the caller I.D. It was Ethan, her boyfriend. He, much like her, came from a well off family and so had survived the outbreak with ease. 

“Where are you?” He asked. He sounded incredibly worried. 

“I’m still driving babe!” She shouted over the excessively loud melody of I Kissed A Girl. 

“How about you turn the damn music off please? Ethan asked annoyed. 

She killed the music so they could speak better. 

“You should be here by now, you know it’s not safe out there.”

“It’s just such a beautiful day baby. Relax, I’ll be at the compound soon” she assured him. 

“Hurry up and stay safe.” He scolded her. 

She rolled her eyes and told him she loved him before hanging up. She glanced to the side to put her phone on the seat. By the time she regained her concentration on the road, there was not much time for recovery. She saw the figure on the hunched figure on the road and swerved to miss it. She veered off the road and pulled at the steering wheel to get back on. She overcompensated and lost control of the automobile. 

Her head was pounding and her vision blurred. She could feel a warm but steady trickle running down her face. There was an explosive pain in her legs and her right arm felt warm. She had driven back off the road and hit a tree. The car uprooted the small tree and proceeded to roll several times before landing on the roof. Her disoriented state prevented her from realizing the exact details of her predicament. She disengaged her seat belt and crashed to the roof of the car. She tried to open the door but to no avail. Melissa scanned the car in the hope of finding her mobile phone but could not locate it. She felt dizzy and the grey cloud in her head turned to black. The sun still shone, and it was still as beautiful a day as ever. 

It was the meat. The beef more specifically. But not the top of the line prime cut, the infected meat seemed to stem primarily from cheaper sourced beef – commonly sold in small corner shops and wholesalers. No one could pinpoint what exactly it was that caused the sickness. What everybody did know, was what the sickness did. Those who ate the meat became discoloured first of all. After the discoulouration came the death of brain function. The infected would be unable to move or talk, and simply just be non responsive. The body decomposition was next. The bed sores would become infected and spread over the whole body. This was the last stage of the outbreak. From here on out, it was best to put the person out of their misery – saving them, and yourself. After decomposing, the brain activity seemed to spike, causing the previously dead person to function. Once they “came back”, they were different. No longer was it the friendly and talkative old lady down the street. Now, the rotting corpse that was once her, seemed to be violent. The special forces had tried to contain the infected, but any contact with their blood led to the spread of the infection. Soon, the army and other branches were in shambles. The rich moved away to quiet and remote compounds and locked themselves away. Those that weren’t so fortunate, were either torn limb from limb and eaten, or turned into these monsters themselves. 

Melissa awoke, confused, to the sound of the car door screeching as it’s hinges were worked open. Relief flooded her heart and she could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. Ethan knew the road she took and had come to find her after he could not reach her again. Thank God! She lifted her head weakly and waited for Ethan to save her from the wreckage. She was pulled out and set down beside the car on the grass. The sun was blinding as it glared down on her. Her eyes began to focus and she looked upon her saviours.
 Their decomposing faces loomed over her, skin hanging loosely from the skull, rotten teeth filling the abysmal holes that were once their mouths. The smell overpowered the disgusting site and Melissa felt sick to her stomach. Apart from the horrid smell of decomposing flesh, the smell of death was rife. She cast her gaze to the hills, where the blue sky met the green hilltops, and white clouds floated casually above all. They tore into her stomach first, to feast on the glorious abundance of innards available. As the crowd of infected increased, the amount of flesh available to eat decreased. They began to fight over what was left. They had emptied her stomach of its contents and had eaten the legs to the bone. Once everything was gone they would undoubtedly gnaw at the bones. One optimistic feeder scrambled away from the fighting group and set to work on her face. He bit a hole in her cheek and pulled her succulent tongue out through the hole. What a feast it was. A feast fit for a king. Or the rich, one might say. 
~ Alexander Hickey

Survival of The Fittest

Isaac could see the blood gushing from his leg but strangely enough, couldn’t feel it. It wasn’t adrenaline causing the pain blockage, but rather the fact that he was more focused on the fuselage protruding from his shoulder. A piece of the aircraft had penetrated his shoulder at some point after the plane fell from the sky over the Kerguelen Islands. No inhabitants were around to help the downed aircraft. Being around 3300 kilometers away from the nearest populated location, not much help was to be expected. The shock from the crash subsided and Isaac screamed. With noone but the dead around him, he screamed and screamed and screamed. 
The fire in his shoulder woke him. Dazed and confused from the trauma of the crash, as well as the copious amount of blood lost, he struggled to focus on the figure in front of him. Isaac’s eyes adjusted to the sight of a man holding blood drenched metal looming above him. 
“Don’t move.” The figure said. 
“You’ve lost a lot of blood. I’ve done what I can, but there’s not much else to do”. 

“Whe. Where is everyone else?” Isaac asked weakly. 

“You’re the first I’ve found alive.” Came the disheartened reply. 
“I’ve, I’ve seen you before. Where do I know you from?”
“I was a flight attendant on your flight. You must have seen me handing out drinks. My name is Matthew.”

“I can’t feel my arm. What’s going on?” Isaac asked timidly. 

“I made a tourniquet with one of the seatbelts.” Matthew informed him. 

“It’s to stop the bleeding from your shoulder.”

“Thank you. Help me get up. It’s getting dark and we need to see if anyone else needs help.”

Nobody else needed attention. It was a small chartered plane. 3 of the 5 individuals on board were dead. The pieces of human strewn amongst the bits of metal from the aircraft lay scattered in equal amounts across the terrain. Seeing this, Isaac felt the warmth of the vomit travel up his throat, and watched it spray out his mouth and into one of the many puddles of blood soaking into the earth. 
Looking into the dark night sky and seeing the dire situation they were in. It was clear to both Isaac and Matthew that nobody was coming to save them any time soon. They slept huddled together under a tree, covering with large branches and leaves they managed to scavenge. 
“Hey. Matthew. Are you awake?” Isaac asked staring into the night sky. 
No reply from Matthew. Isaac could feel the tears welling up as he felt the desolation and despair closing in on him. Soon enough the warmth of the tears fell fast on his face. 
The early morning sunlight woke the pair up. Isaac couldn’t move. The injuries he had sustained were covered in yellow puss and a putrid smell emanated from them. They were getting infected. Matthew suggested he would scavenge the wreckage and see if there was a first aid kit with medical supplies and clean water for them to drink. Isaac lay still. Deep in his thoughts about the death from infection he felt was imminent. 

Matthew had never seen such a bloody mess. Had he any food in his stomach he would have thrown it up. One of the bodies was intact, but for the most part, legs and arms were littered about the floor. Torsos with heads attached lay motionless, wasted in pools of blood. There was no first aid box around. Isaac would have to pray and hope to God someone came soon. They sat together. Matthew did his best to construct a make shift shelter to keep them from the elements. He used more branches and logs to build a roof of sorts to protect them. They had not eaten a proper meal since before the flight left. Isaac needed to eat to gain some strength back to try and fight off the infection. 

“Why not take a walk around and find us something to eat?” Isaac suggested. 

Matthew obliged and spent the best part of the day trudging around the island, ducking through thick shrubbery and hordes of insects. But to no avail. There was nothing worth eating. He didn’t know what berries and wild growth was safe to eat, and why risk getting sick by just eating it. Hungry and beaten, he made his way back to Isaac. He informed Isaac of the food situation and they agreed on what to do. Matthew made use of dry wood and constructed a fire by their camp. He walked, with a sense of purpose, back to the crash site. There wasn’t much left that hadn’t started to rot, but he found meat that was still in tact that they could eat. The meat was just about on the fire when they both grabbed onto a piece each and tucked into their fellow passengers. 

The skin was slightly burned by the hot flame. The flesh itself was deliciously prepared almost medium rare. The meat was fragrant but after the first few bites they began to enjoy it more and more. Blood dripping down their chins, they looked at each other and laughed. Matthew picked up a leg (he thought of it as a drumstick) and bit deeply into the calf. All inhibitions had left. They were enjoying their meal. They no longer even thought about what they were eating, they were merely content they were filling their stomachs. The abundance of blood from the meat seemed to be quenching their thirst too. Neither man could remember a time they had eaten anything more delicious. 
What little was left of the passengers lasted them 3 days. At first they were repulsed by what they had done. But why should meat go to waste. The hunger had begun to set in again and they had finished the human they had, and had still been unable to find any animals to try hunt. Not that they could hunt. They were physically weak and had no tools. Isaac had grown much weaker and the infection had begun to spread. Matthew looked at him pitifully. If he let the infection completely consume Isaac, there would be no more edible meat left.
He lay a hand gently on his next meal before getting up to look for something to do the job. He found a suitably sized rock and set about it. The first hit cracked Isaac’s skull with a satisfying thud. Matthew did not stop and bashed and bashed until Isaac’s brain and skull were a mushy mess and his body lay twitching. All that physical work had made him hungry. Time to cook and eat. There was enough meat on Isaac to last at least another weak. 

~ Alexander Hickey

The Cost of Failure

The cigarette burnt steadily in the ashtray. The sound of the second hand progressing around the clock seemed to grow louder and louder. He stretched a shaking hand to the table next to him and clasped the whiskey bottle, already open. He filled his glass, rather than pouring a tot. Just as soon as he filled it, the glass was empty. He couldn’t have an empty glass, could he? He topped it up again. This time taking a small sip from the glass. He put the whiskey bottle, now nearly finished, on top of the folded newspaper sitting on the table. The newspaper that had driven him to drinking like this. Well the newspaper didn’t actually make him drink, what he had done had caused that. The newspaper merely made it known to the world. 
Everything he had done was to help. He wasn’t by any means poor growing up. But even at a young age, he always wanted to ensure those around him that he cared about, had enough too. Since starting his company, he had made it a point to hire family, and friends he was still close to. That way he could make sure they were looked after. He took a drag of the cigarette, staring vacantly at the blank wall. The wall that had once had countless beautiful (and expensive) works of art adorning it. The art was one of the first things they had taken away. Well his family was the first to go. But the art followed quickly. Be shifted his gaze from his naked wall to the newspaper. The article that had outed him for inside trading had ruined him. Damn Mike Springsteen. Mike had been a close friend of Dexter since University and had started working with him as soon as the company birthed. Mike had, however, decided to sell Dexter’s secret to multiple newspapers. All that for money. The very thing that drove Dexter to do it. Money to help his workers. His family. 

Dexter was close friends with James, owner of Jammie Pharmaceuticals. James had, in passing, said that they had patented medicine that helped slow down cancer. This in turn would make shares in the company go up. With this new found “knowlege”, Dexter bought an incredible number of stocks to then sell off once their value increased. Mike, being the kind of guy he was, thought Dexter did it for his own betterment – and went to the newspapers with this information. Now, after investigations and interrogations, Dexter’s stock trading company was unraveled. His assets had been ceased and he was facing criminal charges. But at least he had his whiskey. Well at least while he could afford it. He gulped down what was left in the glass and proceeded to drink from the bottle. 

He had worked his whole life to provide for those he loved and now he had nothing. Nothing to give to them, nor anything for himself. Even his bad decisions had been made with everyone else in mind. He didn’t care about money himself. He just knew everyone else cared immensely about it. What Dexter cares most about was his son. His wife could barely look at him when she stormed out, taking everything she possibly could – signaling the fact she would not be returning. He could live without his business and the fancy things. What he couldn’t live with, is life without his wife and son. A liar and a thief. That’s what his wife had called him. He would no longer leave behind a legacy of goodwill and charitable actions. Now all that would be left behind when he goes are the misdeeds and bad decisions he had made. 

On unsteady legs, Dexter Alexander stood. Bottle in hand, empty though it was. There was nothing left for him. He was a fraud. A cheat. His wife took his son to her mother once the police had come around the house. He had lost his company and all the friends that he had hired. He walked out to the balcony of his penthouse apartment. The cars on the street zoomed past, but they were merely a blur. After the sip that finished the whiskey, the cars and street became closer and closer and closer. 

~Alexander Hickey

Night Drives

“Wanna go for a drive?”

“Yeah why not.”

“Let’s go then.”

The engine of the BMW came to life with a rumble. Smoke pouring from the dual exhaust. The moon hung low in the sky, casting a pale glow over everything. A starless night, further enhancing the beauty of the sole light giver that evening. The only sound was that of the sports car, sitting and idling. Feeling the gear knob to ensure the transmission was in neutral, Pete gave the gas a small pump, bringing the sound of the engine to its full splendour. He turned the steering wheel, causing the loose gravel under the tires to crunch. Pete pulled off slowly, edging his way out of the driveway. 

The illumination of the dials on the dashboard casting a red glow in the cabin of the BMW. The leather seats feeling crisps and cold in the brisk night time. The speedometer needle climbed steadily as Pete increased the pressure he put on the gas. They looked at each other, not saying anything but simultaneously agreeing to go faster. He changed down a gear now he was on a straight road and the 8 cylinder engine let it’s power be known. The exhaust screamed as the needle rose at an incredible rate. His hand tightened on the steering wheel, the left occasionally dropping to shift gears. The darkness outside seemed to be chasing the car as the trees whirled by. They loved these night time drives. They had been taking them as frequently as possible ever since Pete had received his driver’s license. He knew the roads well. So well that as his vision blurred he didn’t need to take his foot of the accelerator. 

“I miss you man.” Pete said to his brother. 
“I miss you so damn much.” His voice broke a little with that sentiment. He turned his head to the passenger seat, slowing down as the car was getting to the destination. He knew what he would find when he looked. He wasn’t surprised. Am empty passenger seat. It was always the case. 

Pete stopped the car on the sidewalk and got out. He climbed under the chain link fence and walked the short distance left. He sat down on the small mound at the spot he visited daily. Often after taking the night drives that were tradition. He touched the headstone and rested his head on it for a moment. Eyes closed. The wind rustling the trees around him. No other sounds. No movement. Stillness. He could feel his brother there. A tear rolled down his face. He wiped it away and looked up. He could see him standing across the grave. This was the way they always ended their drives. Pete knew Josh wasn’t really there. He knew that every day when they talked, it wasn’t really him. But that didn’t make it any less real. He had driven his brother home. As he did every day after seeing him. 
~ Alexander Hickey

Guilty Conscience 

What’s the price of a night out? A hundred dollars? Fifty? More? Less?For me, the price of that night cost a lot more than a few bucks. The drinks I ingested cost me 3 lives. Obviously not my own, but I took them. My first time driving drunk – I questioned what was the worst that could happen. Well evidently the worst that could happen was killing three strangers when I fell asleep at the wheel and drifted into oncoming traffic. 

Shhh dammit. Stop. I’m getting there. Sorry reader. This “confession” or whatever you want to call it wasn’t my idea. You see, they want retribution for what I did to them. They’re slowly driving me crazy. I know they’re not real, but they’re real to me. So please bear with me. You see, they’re here with me. Not EXACTLY, but I can see them. And they talk to me. They won’t give me a moments peace. I suppose if I don’t do it myself, the sleep deprivation caused by these ….. Ghosts? Figments of my utterly guilt ridden subconscious? Whatever they are, the sleep deprivation caused by them will do the job. By I suspect they won’t let me go as easily as that. 
Oh God. I can’t handle this. At times they “appear”(?) as they did before the crash, but other times – like now – they come to me as they were after meeting the front end of my Chevy. The most chilling of them is Betty. I know her name from the newspaper article written about my grand performance post alcohol. She was 12, according to the Daily News. And she stands before me bloodied, crying and clutching her stomach. Her stomach where she was dragged across the tarmac after flying through the windshield. I can see her innards. And the blood! Oh God. Her blue, sun dress stained permanently red as she bleeds both internally and externally. She looks at me. Never saying a word, but I can feel the blame radiating from her ghostly figure. She was such a small child. Fragile looking. Pale skin crowned by what was once (I’m sure) beautiful locks of brown hair. Her parents are probably worse for wear. Her father’s head was completely obliterated by the impact against the steering wheel (which idiots don’t have airbags in their car?). And because of this, I am virtually staring at a man with a bloody stump for a head. Imagine if you will, stepping on the head of a plastic doll. Now imagine that image with bucket loads of blood incorporated into the mix. That pretty accurately describes one of my torturers. His shirt is bloody, I’m pretty sure I can see skull fragments and brain smeared on it. Definitely can’t unsee that. His wife seems to have broken her nose and neck during our tangle. Her head hangs at an obscure angle. Sad, mourning eyes staring sadly at me. Her profuse bleeding matches that of her family. Her khaki pants covered completely with blood. At this point I’m not even sure what colour her shirt actually was. For what it’s worth, it’s red now. 

They’re standing here behind me now, as I sit at my desk and write this. They don’t talk, but I know what they want me to do. I seem to be putting myself through punishment though – destroying my liver and lungs. Each poison making it known it is entering the body. The whiskey burns my lips and throat as it slides down. The cigarette burning my throat and eyes with whisps of smoke. And I write. I must admit, the writing has helped. If anything, this has been a sort of penance. I take responsibility for my idiotic actions and will set out to rectify my mistake. I remember that night like it was yesterday (’twas 2 weeks ago for the record, dear reader). I still don’t know why I decided to go out and drink. I do that perfectly fine here at home. I guess it was fate. Just as it must have been fate that made me drink my fair share of beers and shots of tequila. Well. The past is the past. I suppose I did, however, learn from my mistake. 
Oh gosh. I’m rambling. Amazing what the pen does once you put it to paper. They’re growing rather impatient with me. I fear I must go before I see whether these ethereal beings can repay me for killing them. The mayonnaise will probably smell ripe by the morning. What a shame. Egg and mayonnaise sandwich as a last meal. One last thing before I go. A further confession. I don’t know what the point of this was. Everyone knows I am riddled with guilt. I guess this is a ……. Explanation of sorts. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a bullet in the chamber with my name on it. 

Warm regards
~ Alexander Hickey

The Cycle

“What we do in life,echoes in eternity.”

~ Maximus 
I didn’t expect that at all. The movies completely failed to even remotely depict what happens. I didn’t feel at peace or like I was drifting between realms. There was definitely no bright white light or out of body experience. There was just the feeling of fear. Raw and intense fear. It was happening. There was no going back. And it was cold. I was alone, scared and cold. There were no angels leading the way. Just darkness. Warmth finally washed over me when I lost control of my bodily functions and pissed myself. But I suppose that doesn’t count. 
The coffee shop looked familiar. But it didn’t at the same time. I felt I’d been here before, but couldn’t remember coming. The old American style booths, with the red leather seats. The black and white checkered linoleum floor shone bright with wax. There was noone else in the shop. I was alone, but felt crowded. It was warm, but there was also a lack of heat. There was a coffee mug in front of me. Black coffee. Steam rising from the mug. I don’t like black coffee. The bell above the door rang out. I didn’t look back but knew who had walked in. The streets outside looked equally as familiar as the coffee shop did, but I couldn’t put a name on the street we were on, or the town we were in. No wind outside. The trees lining the desolate street were still. Rusty cars lined the side walk and not a soul moved. I could hear his footsteps as he walked towards me. None of the shops outside looked open. Just empty. He had reached my booth. He sat opposite me. 
I knew who he was, but his name eluded me. Maybe I had known him as a kid growing up and never encountered him again. Whatever the case, he was a familiar face. Or maybe he just had that face that looks familiar. We sat in silence. He too, had a coffee mug in front of him. Steam rising, presumably from black coffee. I analyzed him. He seemed to be doing the same. Fairly good looking guy. Nothing special. Medium length brown hair. Strong chin and jawline. Almost none existent lips. But his eyes. I couldn’t read into them. They just seemed to be black pits of emptiness. I felt I was getting lost in them. An abyss. He finally broke the silence and said my name. “Jake.”

“Where do I know you from?” I asked. 

“You don’t.” Was his reply. 

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Where do you think you are?” He asked. 

“I’m.. Uh.. In Har.. Uh.. I don’t really know.”

The realization that I had no idea where I was hit me. 

He smiled at my confusion. His teeth were sharp. Only when he smiled did his eyes come to life. It seemed almost like a fire was kindled deep inside them. The fire in his eyes scared me. I felt the fear deep in my bones. Down to my very soul. 

“Is this hell?” I asked. 

“Haha, no not at all Jake. This is a fate much worse than hell. Let’s go take a look.”

I was looking at me now. We weren’t in the coffee shop. I wasn’t okay. By me, I mean the me I was looking at. I could hear crying in the distance. It was a woman’s sobs. It pained me to hear them. She seemed beyond console. “Who is that?” 
“You’ll see.” was the reply.

A familiar voice rang out. I could finally place the voice. It was my step dad. I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying. I could still only see the not okay me. I looked closely at me. I was lying in a pool of my own sick. And there was a seemingly large wet spot by my crotch. 

I asked the familiar stranger what was going on. 

“The fate worse than hell,” he said. 

“Is that you’re fated to watch the devastation you’ve caused by your actions for eternity.”

The environment grew brighter and I could make out we were in my bedroom. I still lay in a puddle of vomit. My step dad rushed to the vomit soaked me and shook me desperately. My bed was unmade and the covers had piled up on the floor. My basketball medals and trophies glistened in the beautiful morning sun. The dead me was still being shaken by my step dad. Finally I came to see who’s pained cries I heard earlier. My sickly old mother collapsed next to her husband and desperately tried to wake me. She has been sick but now she looked as if she’d given up all hope. The few strands of hair she had were plastered to her tear soaked face. The big burly man she had left my real dad for was still shaking me. He had thrown the pill dispenser I had made use of to the other side of the room. The bottle seemed to gleam smugly at its victory over human life. Chunks of sick stuck to his shirt. Looking at myself, I knew they were clearly too late. 

“I hope you enjoyed the show. The encore is forever.” The strange man said. I looked back at myself. Dead and soiled. 

Suddenly it all went black. Light slowly drifted back and I saw, again, myself lying on the floor. I could hear the sobs and the familiar voice. It was happening all over again. 

~ Alexander Hickey

His Name Is Death

Fear not death, for man is worse. 

Since our birth, mortality our curse. 
We are born to life, and then we suffer. 

On our own, and with no other. 

We walk the path, we have no fear. 

We also know not, that death is near. 

Death shall come, rain or sun. 

Reaping souls, seems all so fun. 

Life’s a game, we cannot win. 

We live our lives, drenched in sin. 

Because of this, what comes after?

God in Heaven, or Satan’s laughter?

Death is cold, and he comes fast. 

Our time on earth, will never last. 

Bony hands, they take your soul. 

Noone left on earth, the goal. 

~ Alexander Hickey