by Olivia Tejeda
Living dead. That’s what I am. A zombie. A corpse. It took me a while to realize it, but now that I know, it makes sense.
I try to pull myself out of this brain-dead stupor, but its allure is undeniable. I’m seduced into surrender, and I let it bury me. I don’t know what time it is, or even what day. Something deep inside me wants to claw its way back to the surface and escape the pain, but I know it’s futile. I lie in the darkness, twitching and shivering.
Something was wrong. I ignored the foreboding and focused on everything else that needed my attention. Now I’m paying the price.
When I wake again, I want to get my bearings, but a hazy film crusts over my eyes, blurring everything into a jaundiced fog. Whatever’s left of my body twinges with pain. My joints feel too big for their crumbling sockets. I feel a deep ache in bones I never think about, my femur, my clavicle, my nasal concha. I hear groans and labored wheezing. A fire fills my nostrils and burns a path to my lungs as I gasp and realize it’s me. I’m making those disgusting snorting sounds. I think my nose has fallen off. Everything goes black.
Nightmares trap me in a leaden limbo filled with fear and anger. What’s happened to me? Who did this? I think of that Goth freak at Safeway. She had a zombie look, and she was standing so close I could feel her tainted breath. I bet she put this voodoo whammy on me when she saw me staring. I didn’t mean to stare, but I’ve never seen so much metal in one face before. Is that what my zombie future holds? Is that what I’ll become?
My pulse flutters, and I try to move again. I strain to shift my legs off this suffocating slab, but their dead weight exhausts me before I make any progress. What remains of my will to live begins to decompose. More shivering. More pain. More darkness.
A tiny crack of light wakes me and slowly widens until I’m squinting into its brightness. I sense that my misery is reaching its end. My salvation is near, or my damnation, I don’t care which anymore.
An astral image looms closer until it’s shadow overtakes me. I see it reaching toward me. I can’t move away. I give up and wait for its touch to end my suffering.
A hand rests gently across my forehead.
“Your temp’s back,” my husband whispers.
‘”Huh?” I grunt.
“This flu is kicking your butt. You want more Dayquil?”
“Dot yet,” I slobber, grateful for the attention, “but I deed more tissue.”
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