The following piece was presented at the Jersey City Writers’ monthly genre event–Worlds of Ruin: A Literary Celebration of Apocalyptic Science Fiction. Please enjoy.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written you a letter, and I’m sorry. I miss you. I’m still in our old place on Maple Street. The neighbors ain’t here no more. No one’s here no more. I’m really starting to think that I’m the only one left, Addie. Not just here, but anywhere. What a joke, right? Not a scientist or a doctor or a cop, just some regular ol’ Joe… from Brooklyn, yet.
I still got our supplies stacked in the living room and bathroom, with all those extra can openers you made me get, remember? Sometimes, I eat the canned pears in syrup you liked so much, even though I always hated them. They’re actually not too bad, once you get used to them.
When you was alive… I actually thought we had a chance in hell. My hope died when they got you last winter. From the sun and way I’m sweating, it’s gotta be summer now. I still can’t believe you’re gone – hell, there’s lots of things that are hard to believe, but you not being here makes this seem more and more like I’m having a bad dream, the worst. Heh, you’re probably complaining that I never said stuff like that when you was around. Yeah well… things change I guess. Sometimes a little too late.
It’s not fair, Addie. We lived through it all: the accident at the big bio-chemical plant, the ‘victims’ getting all deformed, turning into monsters, then even more monsters showing up. I remember the day the subways stopped, the day the power went out for good, the riots, fires, the military out in the streets. Everyone was dying, but we survived it all, me and you… until that goddamned day.
Oh Addie… I didn’t even have any warning, any chance to get you away. They’re so damned fast when they wanna be. They were on you in a flash, tearing you apart… like you was made of paper. Some hero I was, standing there with my eyes shut tight and my hands clamped over my ears. I remember waiting for the pain to start, a slash with a long, dirty claw or a sharp, hooked tooth… but it never came. You stopped screaming, then those wet, gut-turning sounds stopped too… so I looked. God, I wish I hadn’t.
One of those things was right in front of me, real close. It let out a hot, rotten breath right in my face. I just froze, terrified. I don’t know how long passed, but I just stood there, looking into this thing’s bulging eyes. I hadn’t realized until then that there’s no black in their eyes, no white either. Just a sick looking yellow. Then it just… walked away. They all did. I looked over to where you had been. There was nothing but a pile of meat and… hair and bits of clothes… I threw up.
Suddenly, it was like I went crazy! I turned to one of the bastards and ran up to it, beating on it’s broad, hunched back, cutting my hands on it’s rough, alligator-like skin while I screamed “kill me too, KILL ME TOO!” It turned around and faced me and… and I got scared and I ran. I ran all the way back to our apartment and didn’t look back.
I swear Addie, I cried for days. I wanted to save you Addie, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how; I still don’t know how. But I wish it had been me, not you. Sometimes I think of ending it myself, but maybe I deserve this for letting them get you. Anyways, I don’t think I have the guts to kill myself, if having guts is even what it takes to do it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried! I’ve made up my mind a bunch of times. I wanted to go out like you did. I went walking, alone and scared shitless, out on the street. Nothing happened. I’ve stood right by them and waited. Nada. I’ve even gone to the park, sat on a bench for almost a whole day. Zilch. They just stood there. That’s all they do, Addie. No sounds. No fighting with each other. They’ll kill anything else that moves, like the pigeons or squirrels, but they don’t eat them. They just leave them there. It doesn’t make sense! It’s like I’m not even there to them.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m already dead and this is hell.
Well, I made a decision today Addie. A very important decision that I want you to know about. I’ve watched and wondered, screamed and cried. I’ve tried dying and I’ve tried living. Nothing works. I don’t know why these things won’t kill me; I just don’t know… but I’m going out there today with our big kitchen knives and the fire ax from the hallway, and I’m going to make them notice me. If they still ignore me, I’ll take out as many of them as I can. If they do react… well, then I’ll be seeing you very soon, sweetheart.
I love you Addie. Wish me luck.