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The Distances Between Us

Novel By: Riuku

A seventeen-year-old boy struggles to survive in the zombie apocalypse while dealing with the death of his mother, his increasingly hostile father, and his autistic brother. In order to cope, he begins to write short stories any chance he gets. View table of contents...



Submitted:Jan 9, 2013    Reads: 22    Comments: 1    Likes: 2   

"I'm going to write," I mumbled. Rather carelessly.

"What do you mean? Like a journal or something? Look. I don't think there's time for that now. Let's get to somewhere secure, and then do what you will," father reasoned, placing his large and hairy hand on my shoulder.

"That's what I meant," I replied. I tried to smile, but it did not work very well. Instead I ended up twitching, and one of the girls in our group, Caroline, saw me with a bemused face. I simply turned away but I did not want to look at father either. So I stared at the wall. A wall that could come tumbling down any second, because I knew they were outside. They followed us here and they did not want to leave, not anytime soon. I almost convinced myself they would never leave, until they picked clean the flesh off our bones. Their desperate groans signified their eternal hunger, and a simple glance at their eyes showed disgusting gray matter that would, ironically, retain your attention. They were emotionless.

I could hear the knocking on our walls and I swear I would go crazy thinking that they were other survivors, normal humans. But they were too slow, and inconsistent those noises, that they had to be from a creature incapable of forming any sort of order. Father told me that Mother would be relieved and healed, but her fever seemed far too deadly, and with no medicine or doctors around--her death was inevitable. Father also told me that the military would be coming in to save us soon, but he mentioned that two days ago. Another hopeless lie. The last lie he told me was that my brother, Matthew, would be fine.

Matthew always smiled when he saw one. He was defunct and I finally came to terms with that. Half of the people in our group argued that we should put a bullet in his brain and mercifully end his suffering. And while I agreed with that notion, I wondered..."did Matthew really suffer?" Less than a week ago, I had always ignored my mentally handicapped, autistic brother. Despite being five years older than I was, at twenty-two, the family treated him as if he had always been the baby. Homeschooled, well-fed, spoiled, and obviously a dimwit; I attributed those qualities to the fact that Mother and Father overprotected him. He had never been my problem, but now I did not know what to think. Did I love him like I loved Mother and Father? I never really even knew him. He sat in front of the television and occasionally constructed legos and he had his steaks cut for him and he feared dogs and he disliked it when his food touched and he would sleepwalk and he tried to kill a kitten once and he is my brother.

Now, Matthew existed for this group as nothing more than a constant annoyance, a threat that endangered us all, and a bumbling idiot--another, useless mouth to feed. He was a fence and I was on it, and it was going to crash down sometime soon.

Our group of twelve had holed up for the night in an abandoned supercenter owned by a now-dead friend of Father's. I did not know his name, but it was unimportant now. I tried catching some shut-eye but it was impossible with the occasional moans from outside. We were in the storage facility because it sure as hell was not safe in the store, so it proved to be a difficult place to comfortably sleep in.

Either way, I pretended to sleep because I knew Father would be angered if I had not.

As I slept (with one eye open), I noticed father sharing a drink with Mr. Haulden. I did not like it when father drank, but he rarely did. Mr. Haulden opened up a bottle of whiskey and took a large gulp, and I could hear the disgusting sound of the fluid going down his throat perfectly. I glanced at him to see him squint and then burp, satisfied. I disliked this man because earlier today, when we arrived in the storage facility, he aimed a gun at Matthew. It was uncalled for, but it seems that Father and him put aside their differences for this drink. And now that I think about it, I almost wished he pulled the trigger. It would have made everything much simpler.

"God," I murmured. Perhaps too loudly, but I did not care. "Please God. Please."

The floor's cold embrace made me numb as I prayed, and a single tear escaped, but I licked it after it trickled down the side of my nose so that nobody would notice, even though nobody bothered to look at me. Its salty taste made me squirm and twitch yet again, and I looked over at Caroline, who still looked at me with a puzzled, concerned expression.

Caroline was once Mr. Haulden's neighbor, and she escaped this whole outbreak or whatever it was with him. Her parents were at a business meeting in Idaho, so if she needed something, she was instructed to ask Mr. Haulden, the man with the guns. Caroline's pale countenance actually appeared beautiful in the dim room, and I felt that when it would be daytime again I should look at her properly. But by now she definitely thought of me as a bizarre boy, and nothing else. Not even intriguing, just bizarre. I stared at her and she stared back at me but we did not say a word. Later I turned away and my neck began to hurt.

The other people in the group I did not really know. One was a family of four with two young boys whose names I did not know, and the other two were a homosexual male couple that Mr. Haulden did not even want to let into the group, but he had become more tolerant of them after they saved his life yesterday. He still snickered anytime he spoke to them, with a look of disgust and a rather unwarranted tone. Father was not too fond of them either, understandbly so. But he did not condescend them in the manner Mr. Haulden did.

When Father fell asleep, in a drunken state, I took out a journal I had in my backpack. It was hard to see, but I was intent on writing, so I snuck out of the storage room into the well-lit aisles of the supercenter, climbed to the top of one where I would be safe from whatever those cannibal creatures were, and began to brainstorm about what to write. It's a good thing I was short and skinny, because otherwise I would have been cramped up on top of the aisles. After approximately ten minutes, I put the pen to the paper, and began.


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