I was born in blood, but won't begin at my grim beginnings. No, I'd rather start at my rebirth. Well, technically it was my third birth, but just like the mad world we inhabit now, nothing is really what it seems.
I awoke to myself in the local zoo while eating the remains of an African elephant. At that time I became aware that what I was doing served no purpose. I was hungry and eating to satiate that hunger, but no matter how much I ate, the pains of hunger never left. What I was not aware of, at that time at least, was that I was, no, sadly, AM a zombie.
It took a long time for me to truly have thoughts. Now, I can put together what were just sounds, shapes, and colors. It started with those- the colors. First I saw red, next came blue, white, grey, and green.
The blue I now know was the sky; the white, the clouds. The green was the color of the trees and bushes of the zoo I awoke in. But the most terrible to remember- the one that still gives me those old familiar stirrings- is the red and grey.
I can't bear to tell you about them now, for I fear I still have trouble keeping a grip on my thoughts once the bloodlust sets in. I will tell you eventually, though.
Instead, I will tell you that I have now traced how I came into that zoo on that day. I have retraced every step now at least a hundred times. You see, in the before, that zoo was a favorite spot of my family. We would go to see the birds, monkeys, and most of all the elephants. My son loved the elephants.
After I awoke, as I probed my animal mind- the mind that drove me before I awoke- I came to see how it was driven by my most base knowledge, needs, and memories. I went to the zoo so often when I was alive that my animal mind was able to walk there as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do. I had done it so many times that it was programmed into my psyche.
Now, it didn't take me one afternoon to figure this all out. Since I awoke, time doesn't work at all the same as it did before. I am just now starting to be able to track time in larger increments than one day (when it's bright) and one night (when it's dark and my whole body slows just a bit from a cold I cannot feel as you do, but am aware of from its effects).
At this point I figure I have been dead for a least a year and reborn for about half of that time. At one point I could track time also by the changes in my body, but lately the desiccation has slowed, though I could not tell you why this is happening.
But really, I should get back to the point of this story. There will be more to come, but this is the one I have to tell first if I'm going to tell it at all, though it is also the hardest one to tell as well. Others get more complicated, but this one tears at me so that the struggle to stay here- within myself- and not become the animal again is almost unbearable.
So, first there were the colors. The next thing to come was my hands. You get to sort of ignore your hands after a while, but when I first discovered mine again it was with the fascination of a child. At first all I saw was their motion. Next, fingers came into my awareness. Having those was like having a new toy. I sat on the ground picking up things for hours- maybe days. Dirt, stones, sticks, and...Worse things, bad things, all got touched, examined, and sometimes broken.
It took a long time for me to figure out that one was not like the other. One was full, useful. The other was weaker and... Less. I searched and poked and prodded to figure the difference out, until it became clear that one had fewer fingers than the other; two less, in fact. Not that a concept like two existed then. That came later. I remember holding my hand up to the sun and seeing the crescent shape missing on one hand, and the five-fingered perfection of the other.
This was when I finally started to get that something was just not quite right with me. I became acutely aware of the rest of me- my legs, my arms, my chest, my neck, my face and head. I searched them all, but could not find a reference in my mind to tell what was and what was not where it should be and I could not remember what state they should have been in. There was something on my chest which shined in the light that distracted me for a long time, until I figured out that it was attached and would not pull off easily. Its five pointed shape pricked my finger once, and blood so stale it was black seeped out and smeared onto the shiny object as I played with it.
At that moment a loud sound rang out in the distance. I started to walk towards it. Actually, my animal self began to walk towards it. My new self was telling the animal to run away as quickly as possible, but the animal was still much more in control, and my body began the long, slow, stuttering shuffle toward the noise.
I could smell the living blood before I saw the first signs of it. It shook me even deeper into myself, until the animal was everything. I kept trying to tell it to stop, to turn back, but it was ravenous. It was driven to feed, to tear, to destroy life. Eating, however, gave it no sustenance, and once it was done and the kill quit moving, I stopped to get my first look at it.
He lay sideways on the ground and the leaves cradled his body like the warm sheets of a soft bed. They partly obscured his face. His neck was torn open in a crescent shape and his left shoulder- the one facing up- had a ice-cream scoop sized hole torn out. Blood covered his red jacket, and the darker crimson on the bright red made him look like he was covered in blood.
I observed this all from my hiding spot in the back of the beasts mind. It would be so easy to slip back and away, to lose myself completely and let the beast take over completely. I think even to this day how many of us may be out there running like forgotten clocks. I wonder how much of us could be more like myself, yet who have given up and let the animal-us take over.
I decided then and there that I would not let him rule me. I saw his kill before me and knew I had to see him before my animal self returned to its usual path to the zoo and home again. I tried to take control of my body. I wanted it to bend down, to move the boy to the side, to look my kill in the face so that I could tell it how sorry I was, even if I knew the words would be impossible to get out of my ruined lips. I could not, however, get my body to listen to my commands. The beast was simply too strong. He began to walk away and I panicked. I let loose a scream that may have only been in my head, but it was enough to throw him off. He stumbled and fell right beside the body.
The movement and wind the splash of my body falling beside him blew the leaves hiding his face away. And I saw him. He was so young. His eyes held shut in frozen pain, but his face was uncovered by the blood that had fallen from his neck. It looked both pained, innocent, and oddly at peace. Like he had expected this eventuality and was relieved it had finally come.
Beside him the butt of a rifle peaked out of the leaves. A fresh kill -a small squirrel- was tied to his belt with a rough piece of twine.
I think about it often now. What if he had never had that gun? Who gave it to him? Why was he out hunting on his own? Where were they when he needed them? I have answered all of these questions for myself now, at least as much as they are possible to answer. I did not like the answer to a single one of them, but I'm getting ahead of myself again.