A Rare Find ( Part 3)

As her mandible clenched tighter around my muscles, adrenaline pumped from my endocrine system and shot my nerves into overdrive. The burn went away and I became hyper aware of the barrels pointed at my head and at the woman attached to my arm. Quickly, I reached around to my gun, which hung by it’s harness around my neck, and pulled a capped dart from grip chamber. With my teeth, I pulled the cap from the needle and slammed the tip into the infected woman’s back. Almost instantaneously, she goes down; her jaw slackening and her fingernails unhinging from my flesh.

“Stay where you are!” My team moved in. I held the woman half in my grip before putting her down on the ground and standing up to face my teammates. “Hey,” I put my hands up, which were covered in blood, and looked particularly guilty of a crime that I didn’t commit. “Hey, I–” I felt something pierce my uninjured arm. “I–” I looked over at Charlie, the one who had shot me and pleaded with him. “Charlie…man…” I fell to my knees and felt several arms wrap around me before I hit the ground.

I saw so many faces. They were cloudy and unidentifiable and moved too quickly to register. I was strapped down, soft restraints on both wrists but I didn’t strain against them. I was naked, covered by a sheet. Medical professionals pumped medications into an IV. My sensations were so muddled that I couldn’t tell in which arm the IV was in or even if it was my wrist or somewhere higher. I could tell I was being monitored, sedated and operated on. In which order, I’m not sure but I…..

It was quiet when I finally awoke. The lights were dim and footsteps were careful. I could tell the facility I was in was still abuzz but the wing I was in was hushed. The restraints were gone from my wrists. I raked my fingers across my chest and groaned out of satisfaction. Anesthesia makes my skin itchy and from what I was feeling, I had more anesthetic than blood. My right hand was immobilized by a tight sling and my neck was stiff, but that itch…god damn it. I arched my back and had my arm contorted to get that one itch on my spine just above my cheeks when the nurse walked in.

“Sir! Sir, are you all right?” She hurried over to me and pulled my arm from under me just before I could reach it. “Sir,” I struggled against her. “Sir, stop!” I ceased my defense and looked at her.

“Roll toward me.” She took a hold of my slung arm and carefully log rolled me toward her midsection. And somewhat lovingly, scratched my back. “It’s your sedative and pain medication.” Vulnerably, I relaxed and enjoyed the simple pleasure of being taken care of. Her gloved fingers rolling across my back wasn’t exactly the optimal skin to skin contact a real itch requires, but I could feel her short nails through the gloves and they did the job.

“Thank you and…sorry.” She had a red mark on her arm from where I had pushed her away in my initial struggle.

“It is quite okay. Most people that wake up from what you have recovered from are usually more shell shocked. So, you’re doin’ okay.” She smirked with one side of her mouth and rolled me back onto my back.
Wake up from what I recovered from… From a bite? Plenty of us had been bitten before and recovered with plenty of time to spare. Hell, I’ve been bitten before and recovered in a day and a half, what made this one so different? “Exactly what happened?” I looked at her, inquiring about her tone.

“Well…” She was a young thing, maybe twenty- two. Her blond hair was pulled back in a pony tail and her brown eyes were bigger than billiard balls. Her scrubs wrapped around her like they were measured and fitted. She was hot. And she was stalling. I could tell because she had said I recovered from a hard surgery. I was busy looking her up and down but I was listening and the only words my ears picked up were “hard surgery.” Now, she was jabbering on about her day. Hot and….not so opaque. I could see right through her, so I gently grabbed her hand when she stood to check the IV pump just to the right of my head. “What’s your name?”

“My name is Becca. It’s nice to meet finally meet you Mr. Rhys.” She genuinely smiled at me and unhooked a tube from the IV pump and replaced the capsule at the end with a freshly unpackaged one. “I’m going to go updated the doctor on your condition. Rest. It’ll be a little while…” Before she finished talking, my eyes fluttered and I was gone again.

– – – – – – – – – – –

“Hey… hey.” Someone was shaking my injured arm a little too hard. “Hey!” Her furtive whispers became unfurtive when she raised her voice. I turned my head over to the sound of her voice and opened my eyes.

“Hey. Hey!” I put my hand on her’s, which was messing with a strap on my sling. Her cold fingers seemed nervous. “It’s you.”

images

Holy. Shit. It was her. Her brown hair was now wet and I could smell the feminine floral scent on her skin. She had on a blue t-shirt that was two sizes to big and scrub pants that where one size too small. She was a mess. Though…not as much of one as when I first found her.

“You made it!” I grinned from ear to ear which made her more nervous.

“I did. I suppose. I’m glad you did too. I’ve been watching you.” She rolled a stool over and put her hands in her lap. She seemed scared. “Look.” She started talking and then quickly stopped. “I mean… look.” She began again but struggled.

“Hey.” It seemed to be a word we could connect on. I said it reassuringly as I struggled to sit up. She helped me with out thinking and quickly pulled her hands back once she realized what she was doing. “Look.” I began her sentence for her. “I know what you might be nervous about and there is no need.” I was intimate with the process of recovery. From the medical stand point to the psychiatric. I’ve been through it all and this beautiful creature was just beginning her journey.

Her chin was down and she was crying now, wrought with guilt. “I just feel so bad. I mean, you almost died. I don’t even know you and you almost died because of me.” She touched her cheeks with one hand and winced. The infected tend to clench their teeth and the side effects, even after being cured, were still there. Chronic pain and a steady habit of clenching are only a few of the leftovers.

I lifted her chin with my finger and thumb and got my first good look into her deep green eyes. “You see this?” I gestured to my wrapped shoulder. “This can heal. You can too, you know…”

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A Rare Find (Part 2)

These creatures that surrounded my team, seething with hunger, with anger…. waited. Their collective mind leaned back on its haunches and waited. More gathered, some slowly and some quite excitedly. I’m never quite sure what they wait on, but they always do. When there was more than one within proximity, they always wait until about five or six of them surround us to attack.

 

Now though, my team of fifteen faced….thirty, maybe more. Sputum and blood and viscous liquids spilled from the infected’s lips freely. Their stench was that of a corpse in the sun, rotting. Though along with the putrid smell came the smell of human. Came the smell of dirt. Of sweat. Of hard work digging deep into the bone on a hot day.

 

When the first one lunged, twenty nine followed. Their waxy skin stretched under excitement as each and everyone of them spread their cheeks wide baring teeth rotten and yellow.

 

We had several people on the ground around the convoy and several more atop the vehicles. Their guns trained, aimed and fired. Four went down in the first wave, several more in the second. I knocked off a few as shots rang above me; some tranquilizers and some bullets. Some dead, some saved.

 

It was a very formulaic process. Triage. Step one is to shoot them all. During step one, use your judgment as to whether or not you were shooting to kill or shooting to save. All of the targets had to be hit to move to step two. Step Two, sort and sift. Salvage what could be salvaged and discard the rest. We usually burned them out of respect. The infected we retrieved would go into truck one and overflow into truck two. They would be sedated for about two hours which was plenty of time to arrive back at Vaccilita. There they would go through decontamination and curing. The process of curing was on a case to case basis, but for me, curing took about a month before I could reenter. Reentry was the goal. Reentry was the key to the future. The key to healing this god forsaken race of ours.

 

When we arrived back at the facility, we unloaded the infected. Still sedated, still very stinky, very heavy sacks of potatoes. I laid one after the other onto decon tables that drained into the floor below. By this point, I was dressed with gloved, a buff, and plastic boots. It tended to get dirty and wet in decon. Several of my men stayed behind and helped unload.

 

I jumped into truck two and scooped the last infected woman from the back. Her eyelids fluttered and a small moan escaped her pink chapped lips. “Hey guys, we’ve got one just coming around. I would finish up in there.” I gestured to everyone in the decon rooms, placing the last of the salvaged onto their own separate tables.

 

The woman in my arms wrestled with consciousness. She was a small little thing, barely a hundred pounds. Her brown hair was still rich in color and her skin, though still stained with sickness and death, still held the promise of life. I could feel her strength resurfacing and took that as a cue to get her to a decon table. As I leaned over, I pulled her in close to get leverage and paused. I could hear her heart quicken. Inches away from her chest and I could still hear her heart beat.

 

I had no time to think before I felt her teeth sink into my right shoulder. The sensation of each individual layer of skin tearing beneath her teeth burned with admonishment. Her hands flailed, struggling to grip my arms and once she clamped down, her fingers snaked around my bicep yanking me closer.

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Stream of Consciousness

With the strokes of the piano coinciding with the beats of my heart…

Freedom feels like the seams of a thousand pen lines tracing into one. Their meaning, syntax, their rhythm become one

History becomes the past and singing off key just to get into it is the beginning of it all.

Going is the beginning.

Watch someone strum a single string of a guitar and feel the reverberation of it in your spine.

I’m no musician but I can feel.

Feel it…

It.

Love.

Strength.

Grief.

Relief.

It all comes in a wave and a crescendo. With a trough in between. Never in the same order, but something surprising. Something enthralling.

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A Rare Find (Part 1)

June 26, 2013

One of the most difficult parts when dealing with a large outbreak is to take care of the bodies. Whether it be a wave of typhus or sweeping plague of polio. The cure had to be created and the vaccine had to be distributed. In World War II, concentration camps had their own set of “special” prisoners that had the specific job of doing what was necessary in taking care of the deceased. They were dubbed, the Sonderkommando. And while I wasn’t forced into the job nor was I a prisoner, it was a difficult assignment.

The orders were simple. Capture all of the living infected and transport them back to the medical facility, Vaccilita. We traveled from city to city, suburb to suburb, collecting all of the still salvageable infected and bringing them back to the facility located just outside the safe zone.

The Zone wasn’t overrun by the military nor was it scary to live there these days. It’s been four years since the Outbreak and things have evolved into a functioning and comfortable place to live. There weren’t many rules to break other than the normal societal rules that led the world before the Outbreak. Don’t kill anyone. Don’t loot. Don’t break anybody’s things. You know, just don’t be an asshole. You could leave the perimeter with out many security hold ups. You could come back, only having to endure a quick DNA scan. There were even some people living back in their homes in the satellite areas near the Zone. With the more infected we captured and turned, the more space we needed to start living again. And the walls that were initially built to keep the ravenous infected out were nearly obsolete. There weren’t infected within fifty miles of the perimeter anymore. We were good at our jobs and our teams that took care of the rest were premiere.

6:15 AM

The sun was peaking over the horizon when the truck engines ignited. I had just poured my coffee and knew by the sound of the trucks that I had approximately three minutes before heading through the Zone gates for the majority of the day. We packed supplies for the team and kept them in the cargo truck that tailed the convoy, which consisted of two loading trucks and a lead pick up with a variety of navigational equipment and first aid. As a group, we were well trained and versed in techniques to avoid the bite. It tended to be an issue if we got bitten. Unlike four years ago, it wasn’t a death sentence, nor was it a threat to all human life, but it was dangerous, nonetheless.

The disease was a scary. It attacks the nervous system and burns pain receptors. It severs the brain to body connection and creates a rabid, seething killing machine in less than two minutes. But it’s not really the bite you have to worry about. It’s the infected. In their prime state, their disease won’t kill you. Their gnarly teeth ripping the trachea from your throat will. Their fingers digging into the skin and muscle on your back in search of a good grip on your spine will. Their ferociousness will get you before their pathogens.

tribal-celtic-tattoos_2202_46010248Which is why we have to stay vigilant. With every trip our goal is to restrain and transport thirty- five to fifty infected to Vaccilita for rehabilitation. That means we face danger and death and contagion almost every second on the job. Our job is to be constantly on the line. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Delivering these people into the future with a healthy chance at a new life is what I want to do. It’s what I promised to dedicate myself to since I was one of the cured.

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A Brief Release (Fiction)

1-21-13

extraordinary-art-deco-kitchenHis fingers caressed the trough of her back where her spine pearled down into two beautiful crescents upon which he laid both of his hands. He could feel her smile on his cheek as her lips pursed, leaving a trail of kisses down his neck. Fingers tightened and lifted the beauty up onto the kitchen island.

Spartan, with colors of light black and lime green, the woman’s apartment boasted elegance and simplicity. The kitchen was slick with the smell of cleanliness and roses and oversized glass balcony doors framed the couple in the dim light for the whole world to see.

She leaned back, letting the marbled counter top cool her hands. Her dress ribboned her body, as if it were an extension of the woman herself.

“You are a wonderful creature.” The words slipped his lips into her ear as he reached for her shoe. He lifted her leg, careful to get a long graze of silky skin against his cheek, and unstrapped her left heel. Placing her leg back down, he lowered to a knee and unstrapped the other while stealing kiss from her right stem.

“A beautiful creature.” Back on his feet again, the man peered into her eyes. Not for answers. Not for clues. But for something. Something pure and free. Their lips met, tentatively at first. She tasted of strawberries and menthol and he of desire. Their reticent nature soon faltered and passion flamed. As the fire burned, she wrapped her legs around his still belted waist and urged for movement towards the sprawling chaise lounge sectional. The chill in the air began to dissipate as her fingers slid underneath his belt buckle. The sliver clasp unlatched easily and the belt slipped out as she pulled sensually. Simpering, her elegance turned into artistry.

She moved up his flank, stretching out one lean leg over. Now upon him, she leaned down, touching their lips ever so lightly. Her crimson dress showered over his waist, leaving more intrigue only inches away. It was seamless. Like pieces of a puzzle, they fit together.

He laced fingers with hers and pulled her hands up over his head, bringing her face an inch from his. “A kiss.” He stole one. “Is worth.” And another. “So many words.” And as their lips were connected in a deep retreat, they joined as one. Rhythmic movements kept their emotions heightened and their physical intent clear. Her hips left him ravenous as she ebbed and delivered more and more every time she came in.

And their moment, of total escalation, peaked. The man and his muse had entered a realm of release and relief and freedom.

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A Swimming Catharsis (Part 1)

The moment your existence is questioned or threatened, the rule of priority of life sets in. You understand all of its implications, all its necessities, all of its sacrifices. The fight seeps through your skin permeates the air around you and provides you with the strength to make it through almost anything.

For me, a shark provided the clarity I needed to survive.

My girlfriend and I were on our vacation for the summer. A one week get away, down in the Duck area of North Carolina. Late August provided the cheapest prices for the nicest rental houses and proved to be the less populated season, with late June and deep July claiming fame to prime beach time.

It was a simple morning. Early and crisp, with the sun just peaking over the horizon. I threw on my dark swim shorts and decided to go for a swim before the rest of the vacationers lugged their coolers and umbrellas out on to the sand like beached whales. It was comical to see whole families walk uncomfortably across scorching sand, hands full of chairs that created wedgies, coolers that kept the beer cold, and suntan lotion for babies.

Now, though, the sand was cool between my toes. Traces of crab scuttles marked the sand, giving evidence to an active night before. I had one pole resting on my right shoulder. The orange flag attached to the end flapped aimlessly in the wind. Since I needed nowhere to sit to soak up the twilight rays, I had to mark my place somehow. I brought the flag with me every time we visited this beach because every set of stairs leading to the back of each waterfront house was notoriously similar.

Similar. It’s how life had been feeling lately. Not monotonous. Definitely not boring. My girlfriend was anything but a bore. She kept my life at a pace I could barely keep up with and I loved her for it. We were both field medics, saving lives and such. It was a beautiful and haunting job. The majority of the calls we went out on were traffic incidents. And I say incidents because it would astonish the layman as to how many auto accidents were not accidents at all, but road rage and retribution for a small cut off here or a missing turn signal there.

But back to similar. More like deja vu. Deja vu of me standing somewhere alone reflecting on my thoughts, of the world around me, of the multitude of problems everyone else had. What I had was simple. I had a job I loved, I had a girlfriend whose careful strokes across my forearm gave me goosebumps, and I had this morning.

With the wind blowing against my ankles, I jabbed the pole into the sand near the shore and waited a moment until the flag caught in the breeze. Its flapping was a familiar and comforting sound. As I walked to the water, the sand moistened. My hairs stood at attention in response to the coolness of the water. And just as the sun peeked over the horizon, I dove in.

The water jetted over my ears, down my back, and across my feet. The waves propelled me down and up as I pushed my way through the current. I always swam against the current so the swim back was easier and more relaxing. The waves kicked up sand and small shells, yet nothing bothered me. I swam with my eyes closed and listened to the churning ocean and clicking dolphins underwater miles away. As my head broke the surface of the water, I took a deep breath in and submersed once more.

And at that moment, it hit me.

A force, stronger than any I have ever felt, pushed my back into the melting sand on the ocean floor. As I was pushed deeper into the sand, I felt shells dig into my shoulders and puncture skin. And then the burning began. Searing, lightning, stinging pain in my left shoulder. I opened my eyes and spotted the monster on my left. It gnawed at me as if I was a piece of meat.

And then it really hit me. This was a shark. My heart skipped a beat at the realization and time slowed. Seconds turned into minutes, and minutes to hours. Albert Einstein had relativity on point.

I felt the animals teeth seek deeper into my shoulder and it began to swing it’s snout back and forth. I clawed at its slick skin, looking for a hook in the shark’s gills but I had no luck. It slung me forward, and gave me the advantage. Raking the sand for some kind of weapon, my fingers stumbled upon a shell large enough to injure. I grasped at it and hurled it at the shark. It made impact and startled the shark, making it loosen its grip on my shoulder but bit down harder lower on my arm. Blood coursed through the water and I could taste its coppery tang.

My heart raced and my body tensed. I could literally feel the shark’s teeth ripping though my skin, muscle, and tendon. I lost all sensation of my left hand and knew I was in trouble when the shark began to wrangle. Shaking me around like a rag doll until suddenly… it stopped. It let go and darted off into the darkness.

As I was released, I pushed my way up to the surface and gasped for breath when my face hit air. Cold air filled my lungs and it felt like God had granted me a second chance. Floating there for just a moment, I caught my breath and then realized that as I swayed my arms around in the water to keep afloat, that I was loosing massive amounts of blood.

I swam as fast as I could, thanking the current for not changing direction on me. I saw my flag. The orange one I had set up just a half an hour ago still waved in the breeze. When I reached the shore, I dug my feet into the sand to stand. Instantly, I fell to my knees and was pushed over by a small wave hitting the sodden sand. I felt weak, out of breath, almost childishly tired. I braced my self on my right hand to try and stand up, looking toward the sky for support, and that’s when I saw it.

Blood was pouring from the tattered remains of my arm. I froze. By tattered remains, I mean nothing. I had nothing where my arm should have been. And as I began to freak out, I could feel my blood leaving my body even quicker with the hastening of my heart. I flopped onto my back and pushed my self out of the surf as much as possible. I had to tourniquet this. Stop the blood flow. But with what?

I looked around. I knew I only had a matter of minutes, maybe seconds before I would lose consciousness and bleed out. My breathing shallowed. Grasping for anything, I felt the string around my waist. The one that held up my swim shorts would work. I fumbled with the knot, oh god. A wet knot is nearly impossible to untie with one hand. Some way, somehow, I unraveled the tie and yanked it out of my shorts.

Breathe, breathe.

I could barely move. All of my muscles ached and burned and not only was I losing blood from my missing appendage, but the bite on my shoulder was spilling my blood onto the sand as well. Biting onto one end of the string, I tossed the other end over the remains of my arm. Thankfully, I had just enough arm left to tourniquet. Quickly, I struggled to tie the string as tightly as possible. The bleeding had slowed, but not enough. I needed help if I was going to survive.

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Strange Allusions (Ode)

(I wrote this back in the day. It was actually put to music as well.)

Elegant Allusions

Love
It’s like a rock
A big big rock
Falling faster and faster
For you.
Me
I’m falling
For you.
Easy, it’s real easy
When you look at me
I lose all sense of reality
And I fall.
Simply head over heels,
They slip, my feet
Falling right from under me.
My hear throbs, my blood pumps
At the thought of your pretty blue eyes
The shape of your thighs,
The very things that make me shy
Away from you.
Dear, you are the epitome of love.
Beauty, elegance, strange allusions
To things I didn’t even know existed.
My eyes flutter at night,
Dreams of you make me shiver.
One day I hold your hand,
Your fingers interlace mine like silk,
Porcelainly delicate, I hold them
Like a life line.
The next day you kiss me,
Sweet whispers of remedy rest upon your lips,
Chastising me for an empty life.

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