I need to tell you everything, just like how I used to. I’m holed up somewhere, but I may never be safe in the open without you here. You won’t know where I am; I ran away shortly after you died. I couldn’t live with what I had let happen to you and now, I don’t think I can live with myself.
It seems like years ago since we had that tiny flat together. It was shabby with only one bedroom and bathroom, but to us, it wasn’t too shabby at all. You always put me first, when we first arrived you said that I could have the bed and that you would sleep on the sofa. That sofa was a bugger: you knew it was too small and the protruding springs dug into your thighs, bur you bared with it because you were proud like that, Blaze.
You didn’t know it yet, but pride would be your tragic downfall.
Just six months ago everything became real. When the quarantine happened, I started to discern bizarre rumbles in the night from below me. I thought nothing of it, perhaps it was just the caretaker locking up for the night. It was then that the rumbles became louder and louder each night, growing closer and closer to our floor. They weren’t rumbles anymore but growls, low, beastly growls. I was paralysed in bed with fright. It was the first time since I was a child that I was terrified that something may be coming to get me, only this time it wasn’t fantasy.
The next day, I told you about it over a cup of black coffee held with shaking hands and burnt toast untouched. Whilst my eyes were wide with fear and my face a ghost, you never twitched a muscle in your cheek. You told me with that flippant look in your eye, “Try to eat less cheese before bed, Blitz, or maybe watch less news. Those zombie things are getting to your head. I have everything sorted for they come, don’t worry about it.” You smiled then and dumped your empty cup and plate into the sink, before patting my shoulder. “We have everything we need. Father left his things from the army- even the dagger that was his lucky star in combat, which he gave to us before he passed away. Don’t worry your head right now.”
Then you heard the growling at night too and you did worry. Even though you didn’t say a word, I could see the cracks in your apathetic mask. You stopped making any breakfast at all, you started to spill the coffee when you poured it into our cup, all the while the muscles in your cheek twitched. You knew everyone felt the same way, you could sense it. We were all thinking the same thing, but we didn’t want to admit it, we didn’t want to admit that it was the accidentally unleashed, government bioweapon finally coming to settle our fates.
It was that night when the worst of it happened. I was asleep with my eyes open, dreading to think of the noises that would creep up on me again- I had every right to dread what I would hear. As around midnight, I was continuing to stare at the ceiling with my eyes wide-open, not a wink of sleep inside to drug me into unconsciousness.
That was when I faintly heard scratching on the front door. My body locked. My muscles knotted together like a rope, my limbs folded in on themselves like paper, and my heart crawled out my mouth like a creature out of hiding, only the real creature was just outside our front door, scratching and clawing for entry.
You swung open the bedroom door, so violently you caused the whole room to shake. The moonlight illuminated the figure of you in the doorway and glinted on something patent in your hand- Dad’s pistol. I didn’t back away from you, I knew that as my twin you would never hurt me. Instead, I sat bolt upright, and we both looked into each other’s shadowy eyes. We shared the same thought: something wanted blood.
“You can’t do it!” I exclaimed in a heat of frenzy
“It’s the only way,” You reasoned and glanced down at Dad’s shining pistol, before flipping on the silencer. “I’ll do it peacefully, and after tonight, everyone will forget the buggers were even there at all.”
“You can’t. Please, Blaze, don’t do this,” I pleaded to you, my eyes starting to sting, my body beginning to rattle. “You’ll die- I-I can’t have you die; you mean everything to me. We’ve got to stick together!”
You came over to me and pulled me into an embrace. “Dad did this every day. He would want me to be a hero like him,” You whispered to me. “I have to do this. Try to get some sleep. In the morning, I’ll be back. I love you, Blitz.” You kissed my forehead and left the room.
“I love you too. Be safe,” I uttered back into the darkness, and those were the last words I spoke to you when you were alive.
When the scratching had stopped, you went out the door into no man's land and did your duty. I waited buried under the covers of my bed, wanting nothing more than for the sun to filter through the window and for you to walk back into my room, telling me that it was all over, that we didn’t need to be frightened anymore. I wanted us to turn on the news on the TV and for the government to say that somehow all the mutations had been miraculously destroyed.
Paradise lost. I peeked out the covers and watched the neon-red numbers of my alarm clock increase by the hour, that soon turned into hours. As the night transitioned slowly into dawn, I sat up in bed biting my nails until they became nothing but sore stubs on my fingers. You don’t know how ill I was, Blaze! My body shivered between hot and cold, and I threw up into the toilet once. My legs were convulsing with this feeling that I needed to do something, I needed to find you because as the sun crept from the hills, you were nowhere to be seen in the morning light.
I didn’t bother with clothes; my only focus was to get to you and make sure you were safe. I rushed into the shadowy living room and began to take apart threadbare sofa where you slept, in hopes to find Dad’s weapons; there was no way that I could go out to those things without being armed. There was nothing except under one of the seating cushions, where twinkling before my eyes was the double edge of Dad’s lucky dagger. I carefully wrapped my fingers around the hilt, engraved with his initials, as if touching Dad himself.
“Lucky dagger,” I whispered under my breath, kissed the blade and filled with the spirit of our father, sprinted out the door into a warzone.
Expecting to meet face-to-face quickly with a mutation, I had come out poised to attack, yet none was in my line of sight. The block was subdued in a strange silence, a silence that lodged a deep lump in my throat. Though, it wasn’t the silence that unnerved me the most. No. What the hardest thing to swallow was the bitter stench stifling the air.
Metallic, wet, thick. The reality of what it was could not be faulted, even though I pinched my arms so desperately to escape what I wanted to be a fever dream. You should never smell the crimson fuel that keeps the human body working on the outside where it doesn’t belong. You should never smell it lingering in the air of a flat block you call ‘home’, because when you do, you know- you know without even seeing.
With a hammering heart, I dashed down the stairs, my instinct following the smell to where it could be. Splinters of wood impaled into my feet like shards of glass. With each step, the wooden boards creaked so loudly under my weight that any of the mutations hiding could get me and kill. I could hear them now, their beastly breaths, their grinding jaws that crunched bone and squelched flesh. They became louder as I came nearer, the number of them increasing, until on floor I had stepped into the Nile of your blood.
My legs the consistency of jelly, I trudged through the red river, following its source to the door of the storeroom that was slightly ajar. I peeked through to see eight of them crowded around something I couldn’t see. Something else twinkled in the distance, something small and patent. A pistol. Dad’s pistol.
I threw my hand to my lips, a howl of anguish escaping on instinct. The mutations snapped their heads up and noticed me, amber eyes glowing in threat, glowing for murder. They snapped their razor-sharp, reddened teeth, and I ran, I ran with hundreds of mutations coming around the corner for a taste of your blood.
I tumbled up the stairs with bile rising in my throat, and once reaching our door, slammed it and locked it shut. The last thing I remember was throwing up and collapsing in a heap.
That day everything was found out. No one could stay in those flats anymore, though the government had more pressing matters than a single flat and homicide. We were only a minority to them, after all.
So, we all agreed and set the flats, our homes, on fire. It was fair, it was just, it was justice.
We stood upon the hills, watching as black, billowing smog massacred our home. I remember the stench of death that attacked my nose and throat; I remember choking out the sounds of a dirge that coughed up all our heartbreak; and I remember laying Dad’s dagger in my hands, wishing I could have been given the luck to save you. I should have heard you struggle; I should have fought them off you; I should have not let you go in the first place.
Half a year later, I hold Dad’s dagger in the same way. Its hilt feels like pride and bravery, as its blade stings my eyes like sunshine. I see your face reflecting at me between its double edges, but I know you’re not there.
Your beloved sister, Blitz.
This is my submission for @elliemccul‘s contest #rollthedice, prompt 3. If you want to get involved please see this post
My dice rolls... 1. Smog
P.S. I’m sorry that this piece is so long- this is the longest piece I’ve posted on here. I’m sorry if that puts you off reading, but my idea fitted a short story better!