I reached into the cooler to retrieve my last beer. It was warm and tasted awful, but it was still better than being sober.
From down the hall in our bedroom, I heard a thumping noise. Picking up the shotgun and flashlight next to me, I pumped a round into the chamber, and walked down the hall.
I stood outside the door listening to the soft groaning sounds coming from the other side.
My turning the knob caused the moaning to stop. I used the barrel of the shotgun to push the door open, the room remained dark. Even though outside the sun shined, no light peaked through the boarded up windows and the electricity had gone out weeks ago.
I shined the light in the direction of the moaning.
Tied to the bed was my wife.
“Hi honey,” I said.
The sounds of desperation that escaped her lifeless lips made me shudder. I leaned the gun against the wall and approached her. I knew she was unable to reach me, but that didn’t prevent her from trying.
I stood over her brushing the hair away from her face. I used to love to run my fingers through her soft blond hair, as we lay together in bed, kissing and caressing each other. Now it was a stringy red color, matted with blood.
Her eyes, once big and blue, would dance when she laughed. Now they were lifeless and dull. I wanted to believe that behind those eyes remained a spark of her former self. Some sort of remembrance of the life that she was once lived, of the life that we once shared.
I took her hand in mine and squeezed. Her skin was cold and gray. I tried to warm it by rubbing it with mine but she remained cold.
I shined the light on her stomach.
Where life had once grown, was now only an empty cavity.
Weeks earlier when the life as we knew it turned upside down, we did our best to survive, boarding up the windows, rationing our food supply while we kidded ourselves into believing help with some arrive soon.
But help never came
We agreed that I would be the one to go out to find supplies. I rationalized, that since the streets outside appeared deserted with no flesh eaters in sight and I had taken precautions she would be safe.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As I left, I told her not to open the door for any reason, but if I didn’t return by nightfall to assume the worst. Taking too long, she became nervous and ventured out.
She never got past the front porch.
Unable to see through the boards over the windows, she had opened the front door where our next-door neighbor stood waiting for her. As I entered through the back door, I found him head neck deep into her stomach. He had ripped her open like a bag of potato chips, pulling our unborn child from her womb like some kind of prize.
He didn’t hear me as I snuck up behind him, blowing his head off his shoulders. My wife lay there motionless in a pool of blood. I didn’t bother to check for a pulse, if she wasn’t dead yet, she would be soon enough.
I picked her up and brought her to our bed, our child still dangling from its umbilical cord as I carried her.
I looked down at what would have been our son. Still covered in embryonic fluid, he laid limbless, his arms chewed off. His toothless mouth made instinctual sucking or maybe they were chewing motions.
I ran my fingers through her hair again causing her to fight against the ropes, her teeth gnashing together.
I turned and left the room.
I walked back down the hall towards what was to have been our son’s room. In our eighth month of pregnancy, we had begun our nesting process in preparation for our new life.
We decided to paint the room a pastel green and create a zoo animal theme. Animal decals strategically positioned throughout the room. I bent over the crib to wind up the mobile. Rock a bye-baby played softly as elephants, monkeys and a giraffes spun lazily in a circle.
I sat in the rocking chair we had set up so as not to disturb the other during those late night feedings that would never come.
I pointed the flashlight at the wall, animal shadows danced across the ceiling.
I rocked back and forth, pretending to cradle my arms around my son who would never grow up now. Forever stuck in time as an infant. I sung softly, lulling him back to sleep with a lullaby.
There would be no baby’s first words (which I know would have been daddy), no first steps, or first tooth. No coaching little league games or finger paintings on the refrigerator. No teaching driving lessons while my wife worried at home.
No, there would be none of those things now.
The mobile stopped spinning and the music stopped.
I shut the flashlight off, sitting in the quiet dark.
I stood up and walked back into the bedroom. I picked up the shotgun aiming into my wife’s face. She snarled and growled at me spit hanging from her chin.
I took a deep breath, put my finger on the trigger, and began squeezing.
But I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I went back to the living room where my neighbor lay dead and headless.
I began kicking him with all my strength, my foot sinking deeper into his side. My boots made nauseating wet sounds as the skin split open, his internal organs spilling over my floor. I kicked until there was nothing left but a pile of gore. My leg went numb, but I remained unsatisfied.
I sat down on my couch, breathless, the metallic smell of blood stuck in my nose.
I lit my last cigarette, inhaling deeply. Least I didn’t get cancer I thought. The sound of my laughter sounded strange. I took my last drag, stepped on it, and picked up the portable radio I had been using to keep track of things. There had been nothing but silence in days so I kept it turned off to conserve the batteries.
I would only need it one more time anyway.
I went to the wall unit where we kept our cd collection. A minute later, I found what I was looking for and headed back towards the bedroom.
I opened the door. I didn’t have to see her to know she was looking at me.
Waiting for me.
“Hello my family” I said.
I didn’t bother to wait for the reply that would never come.
I set up the radio on our dresser, put the cd in, and pressed play.
Brad Paisley’s “When I Get Where I’m Going” began to play.
I climbed into our bed, the same bed where eight months ago we started our family.
Ten years ago, we swore to love each other for better or for worse, until death do us part.
There would be no better and I couldn’t imagine anything worse.
I also couldn’t imagine life without my family.
We had tried so hard for so long and if we were unable to be a family in life, then we would be a family in death.
I loosened her ropes and pressed my lips gently to hers. Only yesterday, she would have returned my kiss, but now she bit into my mouth, pulling back.
I felt my jaw become unhinged. I held back my screams as she turned her attention to my throat. My final thought as I saw my jugular vein spray blood all over her face was ’till death do us part.