Dead Memories (Short)

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Dead Memories (Short)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:28 pm

DISCLAIMER: There is no moar to this one!

This wasn't a planned story, and it's not the one I've been working on since I finished a Price for Every Head, but I had a few scenes stuck in my head that I had to get out and a few halfway decent ideas, so I made this short earlier today, swung it by my proofreader, and I'm going ahead and posting it. Let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy, and as always, thanks for reading.


Dead Memories


The small town of Dawson was quiet, as it had mostly been for the last fifteen years. The sun was just beginning to rise over the mountains. The long shadows of the many pine trees were slowly getting shorter, and on that late summer day the birds began to chirp.

Grass grew tall in the cracks of the sidewalk and street pavement. The streets in that part of town were sloped gently downward toward the park below. Vines grew up the telephone poles and along the wires. Cars sat still, most of them parallel parked next to the sidewalk. Their paint was flaking off and rust was showing in many places. Most of them had lost their tires to the scavengers in the early days. Birds nested in the signs over the various business in this part of town. The buildings themselves were empty and covered with dust, serving as home to many mice, rats, roaches, and spiders. A rattlesnake was sunning itself on the hood of an old sports scar that sat abandoned at the bottom of the street near a corner of the park.

The park itself was overgrown. The once cultivated and pruned deciduous trees grew tall and wild. Numerous smaller pine trees and some saplings grew underneath them, a sign that in the years to come the mostly evergreen forest that surrounded the town, would swallow Dawson whole. A pair of male squirrels darted in the branches of a large oak, fighting over territory. The grass grew nearly waist high and was thick with weeds, wildflowers, and thorn bushes. The fountain in the center still held some water from the rainstorm that had gone by a few days prior. Soon it would be empty once more, the water getting drank by wild animals and evaporating away with the sun. A skeleton was bent over the edge of the large bowl of the fountain, its skull resting with the numerous pennies that sat on the bottom, most of them having been there for decades.

A young doe slowly came from behind one of the long abandoned buildings and entered the park with caution. It began to drink from the fountain, quenching its thirst. An arrow sailed through the air, piercing it's chest. It bolted, running in vain out of the park and down the street before collapsing to the ground. It died from a combination of a punctured lung and blood loss.

The young woman that had fired the arrow waited for about ten minutes before going after it to make sure it was dead, as it had died out of sight. A less experienced her would've wondered if she'd even hit the animal, but she had seen the bodily reaction from the arrow's impact, and had seen that same reaction enough times by now to know what it meant.

Helen stood up from the folding chair that sat on the pharmacy roof, stretching her muscles in the early morning sunshine. She'd been sitting there for close to two hours before making that shot, but it had been well worth it. She put the tarp back over her seat so it would be dry when she came back to it later, though when later was she had no idea- it could've been anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how long her food lasted her and how well her other hunting spots did.

She walked over to the back where the roof access ladder was, and climbed down it to the fenced in lot below. She walked through the gate of the chain link fence, then around the building to the sloped street, entering between a pair of parked cars. She then went quietly down the road, not uttering a sound and doing her best not to make any noise. It thankfully wasn't a very long walk to the park.

She reached the intersection and gave the car with the rattlesnake a wide berth before entering the park itself, sticking to the cracked sidewalk. The grass and weeds loomed over it's edge on either side. She encountered a small little turtle and it hustled into the grass, trying to escape. She continued on, smiling to herself at the sight of the cute little reptile- she'd always liked turtles.

She got to the fountain and went the direction she had seen the deer go, following the blood trail to the best of her ability. Thankfully it wasn't long before she found the dead creature. She said a brief prayer of thanks out respect for the animal and got down next to it, drawing her knife to field dress it.

A zombie laid on the ground a few feet away, so rotted it was unable to move. It's eyes were blind after having stared up at the sky for too long, and it's skin was shriveled and cracked. It had almost no muscle mass, and it the skin clung tightly to it giving the poor thing a gaunt appearance. Its hair was sun bleached and tangled, and its clothes were tattered, soiled, sun bleached, and torn. The best it could do was weakly rasp and try and snap in the direction it thought it heard her, but it barely had the strength to do either.

These days, the undead were almost a non threat. Though a few of the fresher ones still roamed the wilderness, most were like the sad thing stuck on the pavement a few feet away, waiting to be eaten by maggots and vultures. Not that she'd ever seen any creatures eat a zombie while 'alive'. The vultures would eat them just fine, but only hours and sometimes days after they were truly dead. Most zombies became too weak and decomposed to function after about ten to twelve years, and from her experience, they died for the second time after another two or three.

She ignored it's faint rasps and occasional, weak click of teeth coming together and gutted her kill, taking out the organs and bleeding it out to lighten the load for when she headed back home.

---

Helen woke up in the bed of the RV from another nightmare. Her heart was beating furiously in the dimness, the morning light filtering through the blinds on the windows. Her breathing was also rapid, and she was covered in sweat. She did her best to calm down and relax. There wasn't a real threat present at the moment, she had nothing to be on edge about.

Regardless, her nerves were still on edge after a few failed minutes of trying to regain composure. She tried to remember what she had dreamed about. She remembered Mars was in it (oh how she missed that dog), and the others too. Caroline. Allison and Terry...

Thomas.

She decided that maybe it was best to not try and dredge up the memories of her dream, lest it also dredge up the painful memories from the past.

She tried to go back to sleep, but when that failed her, she instead grabbed her solar watch to see what time it was. It was around seven in the morning.

She decided to go ahead and get up, putting on fresh clothes. She put her brunette hair into a ponytail and opened the blinds, letting light back into her home. She could now see her messy living space and yawned. She was about to head outside and check the area for any fresh zombies. She hadn't seen a living person in almost three years, and sometimes doubted if any existed any more. In the early days there had been plenty of survivors, but most had killed each other off rather quickly. Helen wondered if the various conflicts of humankind had finally been their downfall.

Shortly before stepping out of the RV, she stopped in front of the collage of pictures pinned to the wall.

There were a few dozen pictures held there with thumbtacks. Back in the early days Helen and her friends had found a mostly untouched instant camera in a desk drawer, and had used it to chronicle their survival in the end times. They'd only taken a few pictures a year to conserve the battery life and the supply of film, only having it on when they were planning on taking some pictures.

She looked at the oldest of the pictures first, finding all five of them and her dog Mars in the back room of a grocery store they'd stayed at fifteen years ago. On the left hand side was Helen. Next to her was Caroline, a rather tall girl for her age with glasses and brown hair like Helen's. Next was Terry, who had often cracked jokes about being the token black man of the group. Allison stood at his side, holding up a peace sign. Her curly blonde hair fell down to her shoulders. At the end was Thomas, a bit of a nerdy kid with light brown hair. His eyes were gazing up at the ceiling and his tongue was sticking out of a wide open mouth. Mars was in front of the five, the mutt's reddish brown coat slightly muddy, though he smiled happily despite.

She had often tried to wrap her head around how they'd survived as long as they had. They were only thirteen when one of them killed their first zombie for Christ's sake. It was a sheer miracle any of them had lasted long enough to lose their virginity. Yet somehow, they had.

She found a group of pictures from when they had first decided to stay in Dawson, a couple of years after the outbreak and lots of wandering from small town to small town. At that point Mars had died trying to save Caroline from a group of zombies. The pictures showed five kids with their hair grown out of about fifteen sleeping out in an RV up in the mountains and walking down to a town called Dawson to scavenge for what little supplies remained.

Her gaze next lingered on the photo they'd taken the day before Caroline had died, when they were sixteen, and Alice and Terry had just gotten together. Their rule had always been to avoid other people, having discovered early on that many harbored evil and ill will in their hearts when there wasn't a government to tell them what to do. Caroline had broken that rule, having found a boy about their age whose name Helen couldn't remember. They'd welcomed him to their camp with open arms, happy to have someone who was a local on their side. That night he'd raped Caroline and murdered her with a kitchen knife, then tried to do the same to Helen. Thomas had gotten to him first. Helen still had the cut scar below her left eye from where he'd tried to stab her. Thankfully he'd missed her throat, though her cheek wasn't so lucky. Alice had been the one to stitch her up.

Her eyes wandered to the next set of pictures. They'd found the Dawson Public High School a few days prior, finding the gym full of dusty old prom stuff, preparations having been made for a high school dance that had never occurred. Terry had been the one to suggest that they have a dance of their own, despite the fact there would only be four people on the dance floor. They'd had a great time with it anyway. Helen and Thomas both had been mad however when Terry had found them making out in the girls restroom. A picture of his discovery was pinned on the wall in fact, and Helen couldn't help but laugh at the memories of that day, even if it hurt to do so.

There was a large handful of other pictures that revolved around that span of years when the four of them had lived in near isolation together. Most of them were photos of mundane moments, but others were of happy times, like when Thomas had made a bridge across the creek by cutting down some small trees with a hatchet, or of Allison posing with her baby bump. She and Helen had both been very careful to not get pregnant, not wanting to raise a child in such a world, but she supposed that Allison and Terry hadn't been quite as careful as she and Thomas had been.

The pictures from the last five years however had only Helen and Thomas. Allison had died during labor, and her child had died less than a day after. Helen found Terry hanging from a tree one morning less than a week later, dead. For three years Helen and Thomas had lived in the RV, alone. Allison and Terry's RV was still there, of course, but neither of them had ever gone back into it.

They'd done what they knew best to do, but in the end it seemed nothing good ever truly lasted. Thomas had gotten bitten by a zombie only three years prior. After he and Helen had come to terms with his death, he had told her he was taking a walk. He never came back.

Helen still mourned all of them. Mars for his defending nature. Caroline for her smile. Allison for her quirkiness, and Terry for his kind nature. But most of all she missed Thomas, her nerdy knight in shining armor, the boy who she'd grown up with into adulthood, and that had saved her life so many times over.

She felt herself beginning to get emotional, and before she could help herself she began to sob at the dead memories, cursing herself for even looking at the pictures on the wall.

---

It was getting late, and Helen needed to be getting back to the RV.

She crossed Thomas' bridge, noting that it was beginning to look a little rough in it's old age. Soon she might not even be able to walk across it without having to worry about it collapsing.

Shortly down the trail she heard the scattering of some birds and froze. She knocked an arrow on her bow and waited, hearing something coming slowly through the brush. It grew closer, and she pulled back the string of her bow. Soon enough a figure came out of the bushes, and she almost fired, until she realized it wasn't one of the undead, but rather one of the living she'd stumbled upon.

She froze up, this time involuntarily, not sure what to do. It had been so long since she'd seen anyone. Should she say hi? Should she tell them to freeze? Should she try and hide behind the bushes before they saw her? Should she shoot them? She honestly had no clue what to do.

It was a young man, about her age with bright red hair. He had a short beard and carried a rifle in his hands, so far he hadn't noticed her in her camouflage clothing and motionless stance. He turned and saw her and likewise froze.

They stood there like a pair of idiots, staring at each other for a solid ten minutes at least, the shadows of the pine trees growing longer and longer.

Eventually the ginger man spoke, "H-hi." he said, his voice cracking, "You-you're the first person I've- that I've seen in... well, years."

"Same." Helen said quietly.

They stood there a moment more in silence, before he told her, "Name's James. W-what's your's?"

"Helen... are you gonna shoot me?"

"What?" he asked, "Of course not. First person I see in almost four years is a pretty girl and you think I'm gonna shoot you?" he said, his voice returning to him.

She blushed. Nobody had called her pretty since...

Thomas.

A torrent of emotion tried to come to the surface, but she repressed it to the best of her ability. She had loved Thomas, that much was certain. Would've probably married him in normal times, but normal times didn't exist anymore. She had loved Thomas... but he was gone. All she had left of him was a cairn and memories. She couldn't let someone calling her pretty get to her.

"I'm glad you aren't." she replied, "So... where are you headed?"

"Nowhere." he admitted, "I've been out on my own a while. The map says there's a town up ahead, Dawson, right?"

"Yeah." she answered.

"So what about you? Where are you going?"

She paused, unsure of how to answer. The rule had always been to avoid other people, and she'd already fucked that one up big time just by talking to this... James. That was his name, James.

"Home. I live at a campsite just North of here. I assume you have a tent or something?"

"Yeah, I've got a hammock." he said.

The rule had always been to not trust people, but she didn't care anymore. He seemed harmless, and they both needed the company.

Besides, all she really had to live for was dead memories.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Dead Memories
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters
the Watcher

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Re: Dead Memories (Short)

Post by idahobob » Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:10 am

It's too bad that there is not MOAR to this short. It feels like there are possibilities that could be explored.
People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."

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Re: Dead Memories (Short)

Post by bodyparts » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:12 am

A very good short. Thank you for sharing .

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Re: Dead Memories (Short)

Post by DAVE KI » Tue Aug 27, 2019 4:46 pm

Yes I agree, a very good short :D . Also a very good start to something epic. :wink:
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Re: Dead Memories (Short)

Post by 91Eunozs » Wed Aug 28, 2019 11:30 pm

Nice... really nice.

Great short story, with possibility for a lot Moar if you choose to develop it further.
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Re: Dead Memories (Short)

Post by cusm » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:07 pm

Great story, thank you. I agree with the others too bad it is not longer.

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Re: Dead Memories (Short)

Post by Hunt4lyf » Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:27 pm

Great beginning, give us MOAR!

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