Read When The Light Goes Out Online
Authors: Jack Thompson
CHAPTER EIGHT From the beginning...
CHAPTER ELEVEN To the very end...
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN When the lights are out...
Born to die Born to die darling you’ll live
No longer that your years
If heaven and earth are both on the market
Then hell will be nothing to fear
“Until the Last Light Fades” - Mandolin Orange
The problem wasn't that he died.
I mean, yeah. It hurt. So, so much. One minute he was sitting there, with an arm around my shoulders. The next thing I know he's leaning limp, and he's not breathing. I first realized this when he didn't flinch after I hit him, by mistake, in the teeth. We'd been watching a horror flick, and he knew I was jumpy. I didn't cope well with slasher films. He was aware that I'd probably wind up knocking on his door at midnight, asking if I could "stay with him" like a six and a half year old because the monster under my bed was trying to eat all the pie.
He hadn't been feeling well since about fourth period, I'd found him hacking out a lung only earlier that day. I begged him to go to the doctor, once classes let out. We could take a side trip to the family doctor, he was only a hour away by cab. I was seriously worried. My brother wasn't a smoker. He didn't believe in the cancer sticks, saying they were just a lingering form of suicide. But that didn't help the situation. It only made it more confusing. If he didn't smoke, how could he have cancer? And if it wasn't that, why was he coughing hard enough to bring tears to his eyes?
the moral of the story, children. The problem
that he died.
Moving from under him, I recall placing a hand to his throat. Placing two fingers to one wrist, then the other. I didn't want him to die. While I found myself praying for a pulse, there simply wasn't one. It was only then that I ran off, picking up the phone to call frantically to the police. "Get an ambulance, my brother's not breathing," didn't seem adequate. "Get an ambulance, my brother doesn't have a pulse," didn't quite do it for me either. So I stuck with, "Get an ambulance, it's my brother," while trying to keep the tears in, and get the words out.
When I was younger, and my brother moved out of the house, I'd been heart broken. He was fresh out of high school, and getting ready for college. He didn't want to stay at home, but it wasn't to escape anyone. He was just ready to start his adult life, before I was ready to start mine. The boy meant the world to me. My parents, they were great, but it was my brother that I connected with. He was the one who helped me with my homework. He was the one who got me into my hobbies. Helped me with my problems. Not my parents.
I did love them. There was no favoritism, I loved mom, and dad the same. But still, I loved him, and he loved me. Yes, we loved each other. The way two siblings are suppose to love each other.
When it was my turn to go to college, I moved in with him. It was cheaper then a dorm, close to the school, and more fun then home. He offered the space before I even had to ask. He found that he hated living alone, but I was the only person he could think of, who wouldn't try to cheat him out of money. Obviously, I wouldn't. Our money was coming from the same exact place, until we got steady jobs.
From mom and dad.
I was so close to him, I realized, with him dead in the other room. So I looked at the phone, telling the lady that I wouldn't hang up, but I needed to go check on him. I couldn't leave him alone. So I put the phone down, despite her protests, and walked to the living room. Stopping dead in my tracks once I got there.
that he died. He'd been there.
My brother wasn't the only one. According to the news, which I had seeing as I locked myself in my bedroom, cable TV and all reports were coming from all over the city. People everywhere were dying abruptly, and not staying that way for long. Ten minutes tops, they'd said. It was the coming of the end. Perhaps a little early, perhaps a little late. It really depended on your point of view. But it was a threat, regardless.
Even the 911 dispatcher, who'd begged me not to leave the phone, had hung up on me. "Lock all your doors."
"Don't go near those awoken."
There were various warnings from several different News Stations. These things, they knew, were dangerous. 'Things,' they called them. There was no name for the phenomenon, for whatever reason. There were reports of attacks, and one by one the stations started switching over to the "Technical Difficulties" screen. Static, rainbow lines, elevator music, while they tried to solve the 'problems.' There were problems with these creatures. Big problems. But they couldn't tell us what was going on, because they didn't know.
Unlike them, I knew what was going on.
I'd seen enough zombie flicks to understand.
The problem then, was that I knew zombies weren't real. They just couldn't be. The flesh eating, reanimated human bodies couldn't actually exist. It didn't make any sense. This wasn't
, there was no Tvirus. No pharmaceutical company who tried to play God. There was no terrible accident. No nuclear explosion. We just needed to find out what the cause was, to find the cure. That's how problems were always solved in the movies. The truth of the cause was found, and thus the solution was born.
Meanwhile I was worried about my brother. I didn't know where he was. I didn't know if he was safe. I didn't know if I was safe, and I knew that should have been the concern foremost in my mind. But really I was worried about him, and my parents. Jeeze, my parents. I needed to contact them, somehow. But the land-line was outside.
My cell phone was inside, thank goodness. So I picked it up, speeddialed mom. The call even went through strait to her voicemail. Promptly I cursed, and threw my phone at the door. Almost bursting into tears at the thought of losing my entire family in one god-damned day. My father hadn't even pick up at work when I tried that number. No one picked up.
Dammit all. Dammit all to hell.
I wasn't safe, and I knew it. But what was I going to do?! I couldn't leave, as far as I knew my brother was a zombie. What then? Shoot my brother in the head? As if. I couldn't do that if my own life was threatened. I wouldn't do it if my own life was threatened. It wasn't worth it. I couldn't choose between my life and his. Hell, I didn't even have a gun. A damn good reason not to shoot him, thus the option of doing so was blown out the window.
No duh! The window, the best damn escape route when you've got a zombie in the house, and things are moving too fast to really think of anything else. The best damned solution, given you're awarded the best possible circumstances. There being no zombies outside would be a good one. There being a fire escape, or less then a two story drop, would also greatly raise you're chances of survival. A glance out the window showed no shuffling creatures. But common sense told me that I'd still die if I jumped. No fire escape. Seventh floor. Wonderful.
The front door was the only choice then.
I smiled nervously as I made my way towards my bedroom door. This wasn't how I'd expected to spend my weekend. I'd been planning on going to the movies, maybe pick up some stuff, if I had the time. I'd seen an awesome bomber jacket last time I passed by the "acquired taste" shop. I wanted to buy it, I had the money. But there I was, searching frantically for something to protect myself with.
I settled on the table lamp.
The table lamp, to protect me from zombies. Ingenious, no? No. I had to unplug it, not think about the fact that it was short, fat, and hard to hold, and figure out the best way to open the door all at the same time. Bashing a zombie in the face wasn't the way I'd planned on using the blue lamp when I originally bought it. I hadn't planned on side stepping to the door, with shaking hands, and quivering knees, to protect myself from my dead brother.
Then something hit the door, and I screamed, quickly moving back towards the window. (Translation: I screamed like a boy kicked in the balls with steel toed boots. Promptly falling on my bottom in a display of frightened clumsiness, I hadn't experienced since my brother bought the Leatherface mask, and plastic chainsaw with lifelike sound effects when I was ten.) I was hoping that the door was strong enough to stay up. It sounded like whatever was there was body slamming the piece of wood, and when it started to splinter around the frame, I cursed myself for not investing in steel embedded doors when I had the chance.
Two groans, and a thump later, the door came down. I screamed, a high pitched sort of shriek, and shuffled back still seated twice as far as the creature stepped forward. Yes my friends, stepped. I was moving like a zombie, while the zombie was moving like a human. My brother, the zombie, simply wasn't moving the way that all those old movies led one to believe they did.
Who'd have guessed Hollywood would lie to all of us? I certainly wouldn't have.
I certainly hadn't.
Honestly, I wouldn't have even thought my brother was undead if it weren't for the fact that I'd been his pillow when his heart stopped not an hour before. He didn't look it. His flesh wasn't gray. He wasn't moving like he had two broken ankles, and a dislocated hip. He had no holes in his flesh. He'd have looked perfectly healthy, if not for red and brown eyes. No pupil. Just sclera turned red, and a pupil overtaken by the iris. It looked much like all the blood vessels in his eyes ruptured.
Perhaps he couldn't see now. Maybe he was blind.
Could zombies see? Did it matter?
Part of me wished I had time to answer those questions, but as the record stood, I didn't. I was backed to the wall, and he was advancing on me. Stepping closer and closer, with a grin that made one think he knew what was about to happen. Did he remember me? I preferred to think that he didn't. If my brother was about to rip my throat out, I wanted to die with the thought that it wasn't him doing it.
I comforted myself with the thought that I had something he didn't. Keys to the apartment, and bike.
I flexed my fingers tighter about the lamp, the closer he got. Two eyes said I was nervous, his terrible grin frightened me. What to do? Hit him when he came to bite? Fling the lamp and run? Try to get around him without hitting him? None of them sounded like they'd honestly work. So I settled on, getting to my feet, and combining the three previous options.
Apparently the two of us had the same idea, as he lunged forward right as I ran to the side. His hand wrapped in my trailing shirt. Not a well fitting thing at all. Honestly it was a three year old, teeshirt with the words "I'm no longer a danger to society" and a corroded, grinning smiley face on the front. It was maybe three sizes too big, extremely worn out, and happened to be my planned sleep wear. Luckily, I hadn't quite taken off my jeans to change into my sweats yet, so I still had pants, and wouldn't be running outside in just the top. That, would have been uncomfortable.