I wake up in a puddle of blood. At this point I’m not sure if its mine or not.
When I look around me I am surrounded by bodies and for a fraction of a dream I don’t know where I am. Then the smoke clears.
My left arm is swollen, beating out a pain that feels like someone playing snare drum on my funny bone. The bass drum, that’s in my head. My eyes are half shut and my face is puffy. In one eye, my left one, my vision is milky. All I can smell is a vomit, decay cocktail. My teeth are gritty and sticky and the taste in my mouth, it’s like lumpy milk.
I try to move my fingers and the snare hits a drum roll. With my right hand, I’m touching my face gingerly, as if I were reading brail. I feel the back of my head, and there is a lump the size of small third world country. My hair is sticky and stiff with dried and wet blood.
Emily is dead, her eyes staring into the gloom and when I see her laying there, face bloody, neck gaping like a silent scream, I’m thinking she looks pretty. Pretty and tragic.
Sarah is still laying where I left her, also dead. Her shaggy-dog hair framing her head.
I don’t know how long I have been unconscious, but I can feel hunger pains scratching at my insides. The fire has gone out and I search around for the matches without luck. After examining the body hanging up, I can see that it has started to decay and is the source of the smell. I cut it loose and drag it over to where Haley’s remains are. I cut chunks of Sarah off and cram them into my mouth until I am satisfied, then I drag her body over to the pile.
What I can’t work out is there are only three bodies here. Haley, Sarah and a headless male body I assumed was Ben, only now I can’t figure out if its Tony or Ben. I examine the body but its dark and hard to make out. Headless, naked, blotched and bloated with decay, they all look the same.
I make my way back over to Emily, drag her out of her own blood and lay down beside her. There is a long, smudged, reddy-brown streak mark on the floor stretching from the puddle to the tips of her hair. I lay my head on her chest and gently rest my bad arm across her waist. If only it could’ve been like this from the start.
I haven’t noticed the noise outside for sometime. For some reason I think about the bell. My old routine, my ritual. The thing that helped keep me sane. That seems so distant now though, the memory as milky as the vision in my eye. When I think of how I must look, of me ringing the bell, it reminds me of the hunchback of Notre Dame. In my sanctuary. Emily, my tragic Esmeralda, in my arms.
I fall asleep for God knows how long.
When I awake, I get up and decide I need to clean Emily up a little. She has blood smeared all over her face and throat from where I bit her. I go to the bathroom and the water is still running so I take off my shirt and dampen it. For the first time since everything happened I realise that I am utterly alone. No more Haley, no more Tony or the priest, no more Ben or Sarah and no more Emily. Just me. Surrounded by the dead both inside and out.
I walk back out to Emily and clean her up as best I can. I know she is dead. I know, I killed her. Accidentally, like out of self defence. But still, she is all I have left now.
I know that pretty soon I will be running out of food. I know that pretty soon, the bodies will decompose beyond recognition. Leaving only me. Little old me.
I lay Emily’s head down gently and I kiss her on the mouth.
I walk over to the bell rope and, with my good hand, I grasp it and give it a good pull. I ring the bell in the hopes that someone, somewhere might hear it. That hunger, the kind that sits just behind your eyes, that craving, nagging hunger, I know its not far away.
And even though I am okay for now, I know that soon, I’m going to need some fresh meat.
The bell clangs and clangs and clangs. And as the sounds ring out over the rest of the town I wonder, just how long will it be, before I am hungry again?