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    WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

    LA FIGLIA DELLA MORTE by Graham Williams
    December 9, 2013  Short stories   

    Dull light seeped through the yellowed Perspex of the school toilet skylights. It was late, but the summer evening would linger for an hour yet. In sepia, the cracked, grubby surface of a mirror reflected the face of a living dead girl. Framed by bedraggled hair, soulless eyes stared dully from sockets surrounded by half-healed bruise smudging. The mouth hung slack, the split, swollen lips revealed teeth discoloured by blood, blood which was now slowly trickling down the chin.

    A deep wrenching sob abruptly convulsed the frame of the girl and the sudden defocusing of the image shattered the illusion. She wasn’t dead, she just looked it and she knew it.

    Her slim hands plunged into the sink of cold, grimy rainwater, wrists stinging where rope burns stood livid against the pale, bony flesh. Ignoring the pain, the girl cupped her hands and began tentatively cleaning her face, trying to remove all sign of the past hour, knowing that it would take more than cold water to wash away the shame and the scars. She had known this for a long time.

    Turning from the row of sinks, the girl limped across the cold, tiled floor, wincing as she moved with the slow, unnatural gait of the systematically raped. Heavy boot marks stood livid over prominent ribs. Angry cigarette burns punctuated her body. All she wanted now was to curl up in the pile of blankets that made up her bed. She would stay hidden and ignored until, when they had gone, she would finally sleep.

    The men had been at the school for a long time now, two winters having passed since they settled. There had been three of them, and she had hidden. It was after two days that they had found her, a frightened schoolgirl who had been too afraid to leave when the outbreak gripped the country. She had stayed, certain her mother would come, and when it was clear she wouldn’t, she had stayed, too afraid of Them to leave. The school’s perimeter fences held Them back and, if she kept out of sight, They would wander off. She had lived this life for several months, eating and drinking out of the ample supplies in the school kitchen. She had made her bed up in a storage cupboard that opened onto what had been the staff room. Following their arrival this became the men’s communal area, almost a sitting room. They had set up camp beds in an adjacent classroom, but they often sat late into the night after she had crept to bed.

    The men had been kind at first, slowly winning her trust with their promises of protection and friendship. The girl stayed in the school during the day whilst the others went hunting for food and supplies, they brought her small gifts that they would find. Slowly, she began to be less afraid.

    Once the men had won her trust she had pleaded with her companions to find a few tools and seeds whilst out foraging. In her old life she had helped her mother on her allotment and derived a great peace from tending to plants. One of the gyms doors lead straight onto four netball courts surrounded by chain link fencing. It would be the perfect place once the concrete had been torn up. The men had returned one day with a pick axe and the oldest one had spent the following day breaking the concrete for her. The earth was dark and looked rich and when he was done she had a fair sized patch of earth uncovered. Over the next few weeks the patch had become a serviceable vegetable garden, complete with water butt and a small greenhouse.

    Her companions’ applauded her efforts as tomatoes and courgettes came into fruit and fresh vegetables supplemented their canned diet. They ate well that first summer, and for a while she thought she could be happy again.

    Then autumn had come, and it was on the night of the first frost that everything changed. Two of the men returned that evening. The eldest man, they told her, had been scratched by one of Them and they had had to kill him for his own sake. Even a scratch, they said, and within minutes, you would be one of Them. They had had no choice. It would just be the three of them from now on. Alcohol had been in abundant supply and the men began to drink heavily. She had fallen asleep listening to their increasingly slurred voices speaking of things she did not want to understand.

    Suddenly, the girl was wrenched out of her sleep and into the staff room. Before she had fully awoken, she had found herself being held face down over the coffee table. What followed had been terrifying and painful, and for days after she had avoided the two men as much as she could. Then it happened again; and again. Then one day the men returned early after having raided a sex shop and they began to degrade the girl in ways she could not fully understand.

    They left early these days, having to travel further and further for supplies. The long days kept them out there for twelve or thirteen hours if she was lucky. Once she woke, she would tidy the few rooms of the school that were now their home, tend to her garden and cook. She had to have a meal ready for their return. To fail on any of her tasks would bring violence, although the violence was almost a daily occurrence now. The men knew the girl couldn’t survive by herself and they made sure she knew that too, mainly with their fists and boots. The assaults would invariably end in her rape.

    For a long time, she had simply lain there as she was beaten and abused. They did terrible things, things the girl had never imagined existed, and she had slowly died inside. Recently though, the girl had found the fires of hatred kindled deep within her. Now, it was all that kept her going, waiting for the day that must surely come.

    An unusual day in the spring had given her the idea. One of Them had somehow found a way past the perimeter fence and, as the girl went to water her seedlings, she had discovered It, dully standing the other side of the chain link. It had spotted her and tried to force It’s hands through the fence, rotten fingers hungrily reaching for her. She had dropped her watering can and fled back into the school. It was still there when the men returned, grasping the fence. The men had dealt with it, hacking its head off with a spade before disposing of the body somewhere.

    That night she had suffered no torment, the men distracted by the event. She went to bed early, hoping that in her silence they would forget her. As she was drifting into oblivion she heard the men discussing how fucked everything would be if only one of Them ever got into the school. The girl had dreamed, and after waking the next morning, had remembered.

    The day arrived. It was autumn again, and as the girl went out to the garden, It was there, just the other side of the fence. She approached tentatively, afraid but adamant. The fire of her hatred raged and gave her strength. The girl reached the fence and stood inches from the grasping hands that strained against the fence, the links digging deep into the putrid flesh of It’s palms, as putrid fingers strained to reach her. Slowly the girl raised one of her hands and deliberately met It’s grasp. Pain cut through her arm as fingernails bit into her flesh. A febrile burning coursed from the wounds and up her arm. Gasping, she wrenched her hand free and ran for the school. She knew she would turn quickly and she had to make it to her room before she did, had to shut herself in to await the men’s return.

    It was the first time the girl had smiled in a long, long time.

    16 Comments

    1. I hate to think of what some people would do if and when the end comes. I don’t mean just zombies either. Excellent story, short but full of enough description that I could picture it all.

      Comment by Terry on December 9, 2013 @ 11:11 pm

    2. I’m with Terry. I always thought that half of the danger of everything falling apart would be other people.

      Comment by Gunldesnapper on December 10, 2013 @ 7:39 am

    3. Opps! forgot to say i enjoyed your story!

      Comment by Gunldesnapper on December 10, 2013 @ 7:39 am

    4. Wow, great story and really well written. I could picture it all.

      Comment by Joe from Philly on December 10, 2013 @ 10:12 am

    5. Yeah, fight the dead, FEAR THE LIVING indeed.

      Great story filled with truths about human nature.

      Comment by TheWarriorMax on December 10, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

    6. Great story. Write more.

      Comment by John the Piper's Son on December 11, 2013 @ 4:45 am

    7. Great story and whether its a zombie apocalypse or even just a repeat of hurricane Katrina, there are some people who are let their worst come out in the worst times while many people show their best.
      i just kept thinking if the girl was a little more creative, she could have just tried getting some zombie flesh and feed it it to her tormentors thus kill them while they get weak.

      Comment by bong on December 11, 2013 @ 10:45 am

    8. cant edit, sorry there was an “are” where it shouldn’t be

      Comment by bong on December 11, 2013 @ 10:46 am

    9. Brilliant – a very good story and I look forward to the next.

      Comment by Sara on December 12, 2013 @ 2:25 am

    10. The living are always worse than the walking dead. A very harrowing, but well written story.

      Comment by Jasmine DiAngelo on December 14, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

    11. Excellent job. I understand why the girl chose the path she did. Not only would she get revenge for what they did, she didn’t have to live with the hurt anymore. Terrible truth to how evil people can be.

      Comment by JamesAbel on December 17, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

    12. Wow. Powerful and depressing all at the same time. Well done.

      Comment by Kristen on December 20, 2013 @ 7:08 am

    13. Very good and disturbing. I was hoping this was leading to a NOTHING MAN story, before I saw the author’s name. I guess you reach a point where giving up an revenge are the only 2 thoughts one has ans you get both here.

      Comment by NAG on December 23, 2013 @ 11:47 am

    14. awesome! didnt expect that ending, i thought she was going to let one of Them in the school.

      Comment by katrinalyn on December 30, 2013 @ 11:08 am

    15. Great story kept you intrigued and ending keeps you wanting more

      Comment by Jayne Buckleym on January 2, 2014 @ 12:17 am

    16. Well thought out, compact, and spare. Looking forward to investing a bit more time on a longer story.

      Comment by Clement S on March 23, 2014 @ 4:36 pm

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