Tag Archives: journal

Scars

May 1, 2011

I was looking at my scars today. For the first time, I felt a sense of detachment rather than horror. I wonder if I am ready to move on. I’d like to tell myself that it was only my flesh that was stripped away, only my bones that were broken–but I would be lying.

Then again, we’ve all suffered our wounds, be they physical or spiritual. No one has come out of this outbreak, apocalypse, rapture–whatever you call it–without their scars.

Sarah and her husband, Travis, made it out safely. Their child, however, did not. Luckily, it died shortly after it was born. If it was a stillbirth, the child may have torn apart her insides while still in the womb. She still hasn’t talked, even to Travis. He tells me that she’s always been afraid of the dark, but now she scratches at the walls and weeps, making animal noises from her throat. He confessed to me once that he thought about just letting her cut her own wrists one night. When they were first reunited, I felt such love and relief brimming from the man. Then, when he saw her, I think it dawned on him rather suddenly that he had lost the wife he knew that day she was kidnapped. I visit him from time to time. It was hard for him to accept my help at first. He’d believed for over a week that I had kidnapped her. But now I visit regularly to check up on him and Sarah. I believe he used to prefer being left alone. When I think of fortitude and perseverance, Travis comes to mind.

I see Toby from time to time, but he’s not doing much better, I’m afraid. The day after he found Sarah and I locked away, he looked for the bodies of his friends and buried them. Sometimes I see him passed out at their graves with a bottle of homemade brew in his hand. I’d give him blankets, food, the shirt off my back. He saved my life, after all. But Toby never accepts any of my gifts. He just wanders about town, completely lost. If he doesn’t find a purpose in his life, I fear he won’t stay alive much longer. I feel responsible in a way.

The zombies left town as quickly as they’d entered. I can’t explain it. They don’t follow any kind of a feeding pattern. Rather, they act somewhat like they did in life. The dog zombies hunt in packs; the people zombies stick to each other. I once told Eric about the novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. He’d never read it before. It’s about a man raised by Martians. He brings their philosophies to Earth, including a practice/concept called “grokking.” To grok someone is to understand them completely. To the Martians, this includes consuming that person, taking them into your body. I almost think that the zombies feel incomplete, that they want to take humans inside themselves to… become human again, I suppose. Of course, this is all just speculation, barely even a theory. I wonder, but I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll never truly know the answer. The only thing I know for a fact is two truths: (1) nowhere is safe anymore, and (2) we must cling to the living if we hope to brave our dead.

~ Dr. Z

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Filed under FEATHERTON II, Flash Fiction

Conviction

January 15, 2011

There are two people who have been making quite a stir in Juneau today, a husband and wife calling themselves “Travis and Sarah Scarborough.” They’ve been living out in the wild in Travis’s truck for over a year now and the papers have eagerly dubbed them “The Scarborough Savages.” There has been speculation on their identities, but it hardly matters now. As long as they’re human, I hardly see cause for concern. They’re no less dangerous than any other settler or squatter who lives in this city.

I’d like to question them for my own personal reasons, but they are difficult to reach. There is a constant mob after them for questioning and I’m just a part of it. I understand through the local papers that they hate other people, though I don’t know how much to trust those rags. If I could, it would be much better to talk with them myself. More than anyone, they probably know more about the zombies. I don’t know if I can reach them, but I have to try.

January 17, 2011

After hitting the streets, as they say, I’ve found from some good doctor friends of mine that Sarah may be pregnant and that they’re staying under the protection of that cult, The Rapturists that believes the zombies feed off sin. It’s amazing how large the congregation’s become. They believe that we are responsible for the zombies, that they are our “children,” in a sense. Basically, we made our bed and now we have to sleep in it. It’s a hopeless idea, but it’s caught on surprisingly well among the city people, basically the polar opposite of the so-called Border Guard. I can’t say I buy either story and I’m not sure if these two newcomers have, either. I just need to interview them to know for sure.

January 18, 2011

I had to give up my identification, paperwork, even some of my publications in order to meet with the Minister of the Rapturists. It’s a pain, but I was able to land an interview with their minister. Mostly, he spat some propoganda at me, wanted to see where I stood. I merely stated that I wished to ask them some questions to further my research on zombie behavior. He said he would talk to them about it and give them time to think. I wish there was more I can do, but I just have to wait here until the Scarboroughs make their decision.

January 19, 2011

I’ve been storming about the place, trying to speak to the Scarborough couple or at least get my paperwork back. Nobody’s heard anything about it. Or they all know about it and are just testing my patience. I’ve been sleeping on a bench in their entryway. I’ll be damned if they ignore me. I have to learn anything I can about these creatures. I only have this memory of Eric, this mission to keep the memory of the only man I ever loved.

January 20, 2011

I am freezing. The lobby’s not the best place for camping out. Every time the door opens, I have to double my efforts to keep warm. Luckily, entry and exiting from the premises is forbidden at night, for warmth but moreso for security reasons. A young woman by the name of Lucia has given me a blanket fresh from the laundry and some bread to eat. I’ve talked to her a bit about the Rapturists. She seems new here and doesn’t know much about it. When she tells me about the faith, there’s little conviction in her voice.

January 21, 2011

Today, Lucia and I talked about movies we used to watch before the infestation. It keeps me from thinking about the cold and the hunger. She named a few romantic comedies that I owned and I told her that she was more than welcome to stop by and watch them. I gave her my address and I thought she wasn’t about to take it at first. She seemed ecstatic to hear that and then sad. I felt she had something weighty on her mind she was about to tell me. However, her less-than-amicable husband, Jesse, came along and yanked her away. He’s a very prickly man and very suspicious. I suppose that one has to be a bit suspicious to survive nowadays, though. It’s sad.

January 22, 2011

I was given back my identification and papers and told to leave. My arguments were only met with large armed men. All this work, only to get swept out the door!

January 25, 2011

A surprise visit! Lucia came to speak with me today. She said that she was, in fact, Sarah Scarborough! She has agreed to be interviewed and recorded, though she said she didn’t know how much help she could be, the undead being dead. I assured her, they’re called undead for a reason. Hopefully, I can gain some understanding of the behavior of these creatures.

Lucia – that is, Sarah – does not believe her husband will agree to come, but I consider myself lucky to at least have her perspective.

January 26, 2011

After listening to the recording several times, Sarah’s perspective on life reminds me much of Eric’s. Eric believed in fate, that events in life were going to happen with or without our permission. It’s our job to meet this obstacles in a way that we would be proud of. Sarah is married to Travis, there is no way out of that bond before God in spite of what she may want or wish. I believe she loves Travis more than anyone, but I also think she is tired. Unfortunately, she had little to say about the zombies, but I wonder about their convictions, whether they are more than just corpses yelling for brains. Maybe they do have a purpose like the Rapturists believe. Then again, maybe it’s our duty to at least try to beat destiny like the Border Guard believes. I am torn on this, but I have scheduled another interview with Sarah.

She lived over a year with minimal contact with human beings, out amongst nature and zombies. Perhaps, if I ask the right questions, I can learn what I need to know about them.

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Dirge

March 7, 2010

I am keeping this personal journal for myself as a companion to my research.

We have begun our research of the ice worms on the Malaspina Glacier, just a few hundred miles from Juneau. Our encampment is an ideal place, far enough from the lake and tourism but not far enough that we can’t get to civilization within a day in the case of an emergency. Just dig in the ice and you can find dozens crawling around, like little piece of living hair. Our survivalist, Eric, pulled one of his chest hairs out to compare and laughed to find that his were bigger. If the worm was dead, I suppose it would look just the same.

March 10, 2010

Eric has been telling me about how he is an ancestor of the vikings. He takes great pride in his Norwegian heritage. The man even looks like a viking. He’s a giant of a man with a beard down to his stomach which cradles the frost. The only difference is that his hair is more of a blue-black rather than the stereotypical blonde. He’s what they call a “Dark Norwegian.”

March 11, 2010

I’m enjoying Eric’s company but I feel that Nancy is the only one serious about her work. Our first job is to count ice worms in different areas at different times of the day. It’s daunting, though I know this information is necessary for our studies. Nancy glares at us often when we are chatting behind her, carrying the instruments while she does the measuring. Then again, she says that we’ll never get anything done if she lives the resarch to us. I’m okay with this and I’ve been happily carrying our tools around while chatting with our behemoth friend.

March 12, 2010

I am writing this the next morning. I’ve always been a lightweight, but the cold is soothing to hangovers.

Eric is a wealth of information. He’s a huge fan of  Norse mythology and celebrated fan of Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the barbarian. He said that there were two stories about ice worms that he had read, one called “The Lair of the Ice Worm” featured Conan but was not written by Howard. The other, preferred by Eric, was called “Valley of the Worm” and was about a man named Niord who battles a giant ice worm and dies. The story, he says, is a celebration of a man’s pride and spirit, much in the style of eddas like Beowulf.

Since he offered some of his vodka, I reluctantly admitted that my interest in ice worms had been birthed from science fiction writers like Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds. I recalled one story in which ice worms were used to terraform the planet by excreting the bacteria used to birth new life.

This inevitably got us talking about the end of all things. Apparently, the Norse peoples would clip or pull the nails from their dead so that a ship made of nails wouldn’t come from Hell and bring about the end of the world. But, Eric said, even with everyone doing all this, the end was still inevitable. I wonder, then, where did they get the nails from if they took them from every dead person?

March 13, 2010

Today, while listening to the radio, we heard a hoax program about zombies. I wondered what brought on this “War of the Worlds” style program.

March 14, 2010

It’s on again. We checked every station. It’s on every station. Why?

March 15, 2010

We haven’t been able to get ahold of our employer, but we called family. They say that it is all real, but that it is safe up north. They are all heading up north. Nobody believes it’s actually zombies, but there’s obviously something going on. Nancy can’t reach her husband and kids. She’s scared shitless. We all are. If it’s some kind of epidemic, we’d be safer out here until it blows over. Nancy has decided to go home and we don’t blame her. We’re packing up.

March 17, 2010

Eric is dead. He shot at a polar bear right in the head and it just kept coming. not sure how the bears keep finding us but we’re lost out here. had to abandon equipment. zombies????

March 18, 2010

Ice worms come out at night. We must have killed tens of thousands just walking around. Read a story once about ice worms that lived on another planet. Ice worms were brainless but secreted chemicals to give information to passing ice worms. Like how bees find flowers. Nancy is yelling at me about writing in my journal, but we need to rest sometime. I don’t talk to Nancy anymore. I only talk to the worms. At least the worms don’t have any teeth. Or nails.

If they did have mouths, what songs would they sing for us?

March 19, 2010

Rescue team found us. Zombies are real.

March 28, 2010

I’ve had a few days to think. Living bear corpses hobbling around the glaciers and tearing into Eric with bloody nails. All still vivid memories. I’ve spent several days studying zombie books since my release from the hospital. This may sound crazy, but it occurred to me that Eric never got to sing his story as he died like Niord did. If only to honor him, I’m opening up my journal again. I shall be his Grom and sing his tale. If I can research more about these undead creatures, maybe I can make sure that Eric’s death was not completely in vain. I’ll start experiments on the ice worms promptly. After all, they don’t have any teeth. Or nails.

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Journal of the Great Explorer Hidalgo Francesca IV

Dear journal,

I fought for my life today at every turn. The wicked jungles of North Southeast Pan-Africasia have thrown everything at me. This morning I awoke to I rabid chippendale trying to gnaw through my heavy sleeping bag. Luckily, I sleep with my trusty shotgun, blessed by the Pope and autographed by Dick Cheney. The poor bugger didn’t know what he had coming to him.

Unfortunately, the noise woke up the jungle’s fabled Yeticabra, an animal that enjoys feasting upon the flesh of primates. I probably should have guessed that this was the Yeticabra’s hunting grounds, what with the chimpanzee remains I decided to use as a pillow. But this was no time for regrets, dear journal!

The battle lasted for seventy hours. The Yeticabra gnashed its buzzsaw teeth at me and I unloaded my blessed shells into its ugly face – to no avail! It was a bloodbath, journal,  though mostly because I started beating the Yeticabra over the head with the chippendale’s dead body, which (as it turns out) is actually like a fat little blood balloon. I knew, however, that the Yeticabra was going to outlast me. But from out of nowhere, some wild ninjas killed the Yeticabra. I didn’t see them, of course, but I know they were ninjas because I got hit by a full on blast of awesome to the face. That and the shurikens. I mean, that’s kind of a dead giveaway if you think about it.

Journal, I am so glad to be alive today, writing this while crushed under a massive boulder and gnawing off my one crippled and useless arms. Lucky, indeed. The jungles of Pan-africasia are unforgiving to those less careful than I.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XII

Diary for a Pet Rock

9/10/09

The small rock in the plastic bag with the number “7” on it… I’ll call him number 7, if only because it sounds cuter than the other names I came up with (Mortimer and Inigo Mantoya, to name a couple).

Anyway, the rock itself is light in weight with smooth edges, like a lazy triangle. It would be a good skipping rock. It is almost rust colored, but not red at all, more yellow and brown. So I guess it’s not rust colored at all. It has dark spots. These are holes or lesions. They have almost a greenish hue. There are lighter yellow spots as well. The more I look at number 7, the more yellow it seems. If it were a gem, it would be a topaz. But it’s not a gem. It’s a rock, somewhat muddied but no less beautiful.

9/11/09

I gave number 7 a bath today. As I write this, he is drying off. I feel voyeuristic watching him like this.

He glistens from the moisture. He is darker, of course, but not as much as I expected. Other rocks–granite, for instance–become a much darker color. Number 7’s transformation is much more subtle. His yellow accents become more pronounced, a deeper shade. It is the color of toffee that has fallen between the seats of a movie theater. He dries off quickly and I can see this beauty fading. He must have been something to see in whatever river he came from. Now, he is preserved from eroding, but the deep color has left him.

9/12/09

Under the artificial lighting of my lamp, the rock looks more brown. I almost thought I saw red accents but that’s probably the dark just playing tricks on my eyes. I’ve started looking at the rock from the narrow sides rather than the broad ends. We tend to just see rocks as they would lie on the ground, heave and broad, but number 7 is quite thing (as I stated before, he would make a good skipping stone). Still, he is not just flat. His body curves and warps as if someone had constantly tried to twist him slowly for centuries and managed to gain a more subtle shape. This is no mere paperweight. This is a piece of geological history.

9/13/09

I guess if Number 7 was a person, he would be kind of scrawny with frecles. He’d get picked on all the time in school and he’d get picked last in gym class. Not to say he’s not athletic. Number 7 loves the outdoors and climbing trees. When he gets older, he gets into mountain climbing and dabbles a little in rock climbing. He likes to be high up in the clouds, where nobody is around and he can enjoy the solitude of his own thoughts. Number 7 gets married but it only lasts three years. Though he’s a very quiet and thoughtful person, he never developed his people skills. His wife got tired of trying to break through his shell, which was at first why she adored him; but she got frustrated when she realized she couldn’t change him.

9/14/09

Number 7 would make a louy arrowhead. No, really. He’s all soft edges, no sharp corners. He’s not one of those rocks that you step on and they jab into your foot bone (ow!). No, he’s one of those rocks that you just glance at, maybe pick up and throw. But an arrowhead? It might leave a nasty lump, but most things would if you shoot it with enough force. Number 7 just isn’t the weapon kind of rock. I doubt you could whittle him down into one, either. Just a big ol’ softie.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XII

-empty-

My mind is not running at full capacity. Would that I could sleep! But no! I must be steadfast, keep my mind pure and alert. For when I wake again, I will be another person entirely. Another entity, another mind, another body. I cannot sleep, not ever.

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I was an only child. When I was little, I used to make brothers and sisters out of everyone just to feel like I had one — neighbors, classmates, friends, cousins, G.I. Joe dolls. They were all my brothers and sisters. I even took surrogate parents where I had them, even though my own parents were not absent. I became a collector of impermanent things, ideas surrounding people.

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They say I’m insane. Insanity suits me well. What I can’t abide by, however, is this jacket they’ve put on me. Who would have thought a genius such as I would be admitted into an institution? Not I! But then I suppose perhaps I haven’t decided the meaning behind it yet. They have. They know exactly what it means to them. To the woman who gives me pills, I’m another patient; the man who feeds me, much of the same, though I think he resents my propensity for not distinguishing meals from hands. Whenever I bite him, the woman comes to visit. I am more important to them, then. But they don’t want to worry about me as I am, so they give me pills. I sleep, I change into something dreadful. I’m changing into something ephemeral. They don’t want to care for someone important. They want someone they can forget about.

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There was a boy down the street, Marco. We used to be so close as children. His family had a swimming pool so I came over more often. In a way, looking back, I think he was more important to me than I was to him. He changed schools and I didn’t see him for over two months, even though he lived just nearby. I saw him, briefly, from my yard sometimes. Those times didn’t count, except to make my loss of him much deeper. I was invited to his birthday party after that long dry period. He was surrounded by friends from his new school. I was ignored and I felt ashamed. I kept trying to get his attention and he kept ignoring me. Finally, when his mother said it was time to swim after cake and presents, he pushed me in the pool. Everyone laughed. I almost cried with shame, but at the same time, I was noticed for once. It was the last time.

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I won’t be forgotten! But the new me tries so hard, tries so hard to be empty.

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I had no brothers or sisters, though to me I had hundreds. To them, maybe I was just another person. Just another empty blob, so eager, like a puppy.

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I’m a puppy! I’m a puppy… the man who feeds me likes this new me. He didn’t like the person I was, now I’m new. Now he likes me. He likes me. He shuts the door behind him when he leaves.

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From The Travelogue of Dr. Thaddarin: Revisiting the Tlaktal

My discovery began with a rumor from a gun merchant in Koalrak, the nearest populated city to the Bitu Desert. He told me that the Tlaktal tribe had developed a type of guerilla warfare to fend off the two warrior tribes that lived at the top of the canyons and in the desert, Filak and Tlanjo respectively. This shocked me somewhat, not because I did not believe the normally peaceful tribe was capable. They knew the terrain well, after all. Rather, I was surprised that the impoverished tribe was able to find the means and the weaponry to battle its brutal sister tribes. Tlaktal, after all, had been experiencing a sharp decline in population due to ethnic cleansing. The numbers aren’t exact, given the Tlaktal’s propensity for hiding away, but the death toll is irrefutable. Much has changed since I lived with one of their communities, studying their culture and customs. I decided to find out for myself the condition of the culture I so closely integrated myself into for four years.

When the Tlaktali do not want to be found, they are difficult to find. I began at the settlement in which I’d lived, seeing a few familiar faces, mostly some of the elders. I was afraid the rest had been killed, but they assured me that this was not so. Apparently, they had consolidated into one main tribe, the whereabouts of which were shrouded in secrecy. The elder there had been there when he was younger, and vaguely remembered its whereabouts. He said, however, that many of the elders were simply to old to make the journey. I stayed for dinner, spent the night, and helped with the farming. The father of the community drew me a map from his memory. I matched it with my own map I’d bought in the city and found some similarities. It was possible to find this hidden tribe.

After days of searching, I came across similar landmarkings from what the elder had pointed out in his map. It wasn’t long before I found myself being watched by men with rifles. Luckily, they did not believe that this lone traveler was a threat. However, I was eventually blocked from proceeding any further and warned at gunpoint to leave. My knowledge of their language earned me little sympathy, but I was permitted to enter their underground city on the condition that I would be killed if I was a spy. I complied.

The city was an enormous cave, half natural and half dug by man. Out of a few tunnels, there were men hauling out wagons of ore, the sound of metal on stone ringing through the halls.  There was a mining operation here. A young man called out to me, though I did not recognize him. His name was Klto, and apparently I had played with him when he was a boy. He vouched for me, though my armed guards still seemed uncertain. They came to an agreement to lead me to the Grand Father of the tribe so that he could decide. The Grand Father, upon hearing the story from the young man, began to discuss the plight of their situation and the threat of extinction at the hands of Filak and Tlanjo. I explained to him that I was not a gunrunner. To say he was disappointed would be an understatement. He showed off his weapons to me to show off his considerable power. I expressed the appropriate ammount of humility and told him that I might be able to help if he explained how he obtained his power.

First, I was shown the top of their canyon, a heavily guarded nook in which  men were carting over melted down metal into a funnel. The funnel, I was shown, narrowed down until it dripped into a great hall with a pool of cave water at the bottom. The drops of metal would rapidly cool on the way down from the hot desert sun to the cool air of the cave until the mostly-hardened pellet hit the water. The slant of the cave then caused it to roll down to a deeper area of the pool. At least, I was informed that it was very deep. I could not tell for their was a hill of metal pellets that rose almost to peak right out of the water. Originally, Klto said, they had divers that retrieved the bullets. Now, they simply scooped them out of the water and into their ammo pouches. I was stunned. The Tlaktal had developed an almost infinite source of ammo. The guns they had purchased from traders with their resources  of metal and livestock at first and now were taking from the enemies they had killed. Never in my lifetime would I think to have seen a contraption, an operation so ingenious and destructive as this. Though my experience as an anthropologist begged me to remain uninvolved, my emotions compelled me to do otherwise. I told myself that I would need to study this tribe longer, especially at this moment in their history. In hindsight, I think perhaps I was only fooling myself.

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