A Run Down Memory Lane
You know what else has a sense of humor? Birds. They decide that the ass-crack of dawn is the perfect time for a symphony. And when you're not a morning person, it gives you the urge to reach for you bow and arrows. They were waking me up, including the sun that was warming my face. I groaned, shoving the heels of my hands against my eyelids.
Just let me be dead in peace. Was that too much to ask? Still, it got me curious, enough for me to open my eyes. My curiosity became confusion. I was in the middle of the woods. Dew stuck to my clothes and skin, and the sun did its best to dry it. I took a breath, inhaling the lovely sent of leaf litter
I assumed the afterlife held nothing. Just a dark, endless void. I mean, not that I was complaining. If anything, I felt right at home. As far as afterlives goes? Not bad at all. The only downside were my painful muscles, with my entire body feeling as stiff and taut as a bowstring.
A few feet in front of me was a small campsite, its fire having been snuffed out hours ago. There was a squirrel pelt tossed off to the side, and its bones scattered in front of me. That might've been what I'd had for dinner last night. To the other side of me was a backpack and longbow, but they weren't mine. No, my supplies were far more sturdier-looking. Did another dead person share my fire?
I was struggling to find any logic here.
I cleared my throat. "Hey," I shouted. "Anybody here?"
My echo was the only answer. I hummed under my breath. Well, you know what they say about curiosity…
I stretched forward, ignoring the protest in my joints. Right before I grabbed the backpack strap, I froze. Quick as a shot I jumped to my feet, staggering backwards as if I could get away from my own hand. Mechanically, I also lifted my other arm into view.
…I had both of my arms. Not just one.
I shook my head rapidly. Okay. That's unsettling as all get-out. But…But you know, maybe that's a perk when you die? You grow another limb like a freakin' lizard? Maybe death didn't care about past flaws, preferring the way you were born.
How pretentious was that?
I shook my head again. Once, twice, a third time. As I tried to apply logic to it, I grabbed the backpack, plopped down in the dirt, set it on my lap, and started rifling through its contents. My palm flew to my mouth, eyes widening. My growing confusion almost made me fling the bag away altogether.
Suture kit, gauze, iPod, charge cable, water bottle, tin can lids, fishing line, flint and steel, and my old revolver. With my just-as-old hunting knife holstered to my hip…And the backpack…
These were my belongings from when the apocalypse had started.
Logic was out the window. And that wasn't good, because how the hell was I supposed to make sense of anything?! I glanced this way and that, head spinning from all of these random, disconnected discoveries.
I was trying to concentrate, but it was pretty hard to do that when obnoxious growling met my ears. The corpse probably heard me yelling a few moments ago. Without thinking much of it, I took the bow off the ground, nocked an arrow, and aimed upwards. The corpse dropped, with the arrow lodged in its eye.
The bow in my hands was both familiar and foreign to me. I chuckled fondly as I ran my fingers over the intricate etchings along its limb. I had carved those marks years and years ago, proud of my own craftsmanship. But it made for a weaker bow, causing it to eventually splinter. I had to make a new one. Live and learn.
This trip down memory lane helped to ground me some. I stood up and walked over to the corpse to yank the arrow out. I turned it over in my hands, and my nostalgic grin fell.
Would I ever see my boyfriend again? Would he end up where I am now? Or does everyone have their own personal afterlife, peaceful but doomed to never see anyone again?
As I contemplated this deeply depressing realization, I put my arms through the backpack straps and draped my bow around my chest. I picked up the rest of the arrows, wondering how I should stash those away without a quiver. Cleaning the blood off the one, I stared down at the corpse, feeling like I was missing something pretty damn important. Staring me in the face. The corpse, I mean. It was staring lifelessly at me with its remaining eye.
...Why the fuck were there corpses in the afterlife?!
For the hundredth time in the last several minutes, my eyes widened, brows raising to my hairline.
Next thing I knew, I was running to my destination, as if I knew exactly where I was going. And that's what freaked me out even more. As soon as I started, I realized I knew these woods like the back of my hand.
I just ran, until I skidded to a stop at the edge of an overlook.
I panted heavily, sweat sticking to my skin as the southern sun grew hotter. I stared at the city ahead of me.
Atlanta, Georgia. In all its decaying, apocalyptic glory. Even from here, I could hear the drone of the corpses milling about, growls echoing off the buildings.
I stood there until the sun was high in the sky, until sweat matted my hair, until my legs practically screamed at me to give myself a rest. My eyes kept going from one thing to another, a repeating circuit.
My backpack straps, the old bow string around my chest, my hands, the city. Over and over again.
Logic finally dawned on me. Somehow, someway, I was still alive.
I think I've been brought back to the beginning.