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The springs of the worn out mattress beneath me were mercilessly digging into the softest, most raw and tender, parts of my chest and stomach that morning.
I don't think I slept a wink last night. Not at all. Sure, my eyes were closed, my breath was steady, my body was still...but whatever it was that I was doing at the time...I don't think that I could really call it sleep. It was more like a 'deeper than normal' form of silent meditation. And what was I meditating on? I was meditating on how I could possibly get myself a better mattress so I could experience actual sleep again.
I could clearly hear a baby crying in the background, and sat up to rub the muddy exhaustion out of my eyes. The entire high school gymnasium was full, wall-to-wall, with emergency beds just like mine. Hell...some of them were even worse than mine. I don't know how many people were in this little safe house before I got here, but me and a truckload of other survivors were just brought in at about two o'clock this morning...and they had to struggle to make more room. You would think that traveling at night would keep us safe...but those things out there never sleep. So, who's to say?
The lady with the red blanket draped over her shoulders...I kind of remembered her from last night. She was sitting on the back of the same army truck across from me. Shivering. She saw her husband get lost in a giant swarm of those monsters in the street. She hasn't spoken a word since. I guess I wouldn't have much to say either after what she's been through. How do you erase something like that from your mind? That was her husband. They shared a life together. They were in love. To have it end in such horror must have been apocalyptic in her mind. All of those mindless creatures...biting and thrashing and tearing the flesh from the people we love in long, bloody, shreds of tender meat...it's too terrible to watch, and yet...too fascinating to turn away from. You never think you're going to be a witness to something so disgusting. When it happens...it's almost like you don't want to miss it. She's still trembling, that woman with the red blanket. Her eyes focused on the gym floor with a blank stare. It hurts to look at her sometimes.
So I simply try not to.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly where or when the outbreak began. The reports were all localized incidents at first. A 'crazy person' here... a 'drugged up psycho' there... nobody really connected the random murders to one another. Why would they? Denial easily creates excuses for just about everything. But then the incidents began to rapidly grow in number. The killings became more severe. They started happening two or three times a week in some areas, causing the need for law enforced curfews, and a hefty increase of police patrols at night. Then the major cities became infected, and the murder rate quickly escalated to biblical proportions. By the time all of the police stations and national security agencies began synchronizing their efforts to find out what was going on... it was too late. There was no containing the outbreak at that point. They were overwhelmed and overrun in every part of the country. And soon, every part of the world.
The media didn't want to use the word 'zombie' in their news reports for fear that it would cause a public panic. Right. Like the sight of demonic flesh eating creatures wandering the streets at night looking for humans to savagely devour without mercy wasn't enough to cause a public panic in itself. I mean, let's be honest...we've all seen zombie movies before. That's what they are. Who sees cannibalistic dead people shuffling along in a giant homicidal mob and thinks, 'Oh no... what's going on? What should we call these things?' Get real. Does somebody have a hidden copyright on the word zombie? I wonder. Weirdness.
This was my first day here at this place as a sanctuary away from the conflicts outside...but it wasn't my first day in this particular building. The army thought it fit to turn my high school into a habitat for all of the survivors that they could round up on the streets. The school was big enough to hold a large number of people with plenty of space left over. We had an enormous cafeteria and rations of food, operational indoor plumbing, plenty of bathrooms...plus a high roof so the military could maintain surveillance on all sides of the building.
Funny...out of all the times during my sophomore year when ALL I wanted was to run away and escape this place, I was actually happy to be safely locked inside at the moment. Even though this was supposed to be my Summer vacation. I guess I should be thankful though. Better in here than out there somewhere, trying to fight off a horde of the living dead with a stick.
I felt my cell phone buzzing in my pocket, and I saw my older brother, Cain's, number come up. "Hello?"
"Jake? Is that you?" He asked.
"Who else would it be? You called ME, ya dope!d" I grinned. "Where are you?"
The connection was a bit hazy and weak, but he managed to tell me, "I'm on one of the local evacuation trucks now with a bunch of other survivors. I'll probably be there within the hour."
My brother was living on campus at one of the state colleges nearby when everything went to shit. The whole area had been completely obliterated within a matter of hours. It was only about 20 minutes away, but if his rescue convoy was anything like the one I was on...they were going to be moving slowly, cautiously, through the infected areas and picking up more stragglers along the way. To be honest, him telling me that it would only take him an hour to get to where I was located was wishful thinking at best. Still, it's good to know that he's close by. And safe.
As I walked down the school hallway to get to the bathroom and clean up, I saw a bunch of people from the area that I recognized. And yet, after the trauma that they had been through...they were unrecognizable. If that makes sense. Sullen, somber, faces. Numb with the lingering shock of seeing people they knew and loved being attacked in the streets. In their homes. Some of them making a last minute narrow escape through a window or crawlspace. Some...having to leave their love ones behind.
The concept of self-preservation doesn't always make those decisions any easier. Not for any of us.
They were serving breakfast in the cafeteria. An obscenely long line of people, waiting for a chance to get a plastic plate full of sticky, hot, oatmeal out of what looked like a janitor's mop bucket. I was not impressed. I mean, either make me wait in line for something really awesome and tasty, or give me the crap stuff right away and let me choke it down without having to stand behind 50 other people while I anticipate how much it's going to suck when I get up front. I did notice that they had some biscuits too. And some warm toast and jelly. Maybe I'll just fill up on bread and leave the mop bucket oatmeal for the truly afflicted.
The wait for my brother was an impatient one. I didn't really want to talk to anybody there. I don't think they wanted to talk to me either. Everyone was sort of isolated by their pain, guarding themselves with a barrier of withdrawal that kept them from looking each other in the eye. The fear was overwhelming. Fear that if they began to talk, to engage reality again, that they would open their hearts up to 'feeling' something again. And that meant being vulnerable to the possible loss of their friends and family to this terrible plague of destruction. I can understand that. Maybe I could use the extra protection myself. Just in case things go wrong here like they have at every other safehouse I've been to so far.
As I looked out of a nearby window, I saw some commotion going on at the far end of the school parking lot, and I pressed my face against the window in an attempt to see around the corner. It looked like the latest convoy of survivors had finally made it in, and the soldiers were granting them access. AWESOME!
I raced down to the North end of the high school where the newest refugees were being brought in, five at a time. Naturally, there were plenty of other people who beat me down there, looking for friends and relatives of their own. But I didn't mind being patient now that the trucks were here. My brother played basketball. He was like 6' 3", so I was sure he wouldn't be hard to spot. I stood on my tip toes and I craned my neck. The soldiers closed the doors behind the crowd, and it crossed my mind to just grab my cell phone and call him to see if I could find him in all that mayhem. But just as I thought to reach for it...something caught my eye.
Something that paused all of my other thoughts and took hold of my focus, refusing to let go.
I guess he was one of the stragglers from the residential area surrounding the college or something. Certainly too young to be a college kid. I didn't know for sure, but...wow. I mean...seriously. Wow.
The boy was my age, give or take a year...with short, nearly buzz cut, blond hair. And a pair of the most amazing jade green eyes that I had ever seen. I nearly fell over with a swoon that literally took my breath away. I felt the wall press up against my back as I leaned against it for balance. His beauty was just so unexpected. It truly took me by surprise.
Was I staring? Was I blushing? Omigod...STOP that! Jesus! I could barely regain control of my senses as he walked by. How could a boy like that live anywhere NEAR me and not have had the pleasure of me drooling all over him like this before?
Our eyes connected, but only for a moment. And then he nodded. Just to acknowledge that he saw me. Nothing more. Maybe it was the way that I instantly fixated myself on his gorgeous face, but my stalker vibe was strong enough that he couldn't help but to notice. That's for sure.
I did what I could to try to contain my fascination...but when those boyishly pink lips of his blossomed into a gentle smirk, an adorable set of shallow dimples acting as bookends to his already stunning appeal...I felt my knees go weak, and my stomach flutter with a frantic swarm of agitated butterflies.
I may only be fifteen years old, but he was...hands down, the cutest boy that I had ever laid eyes on. Like...ever. And that's saying a lot around here, believe it or not.
Mesmerized, I let my eyes follow his every step as he hoisted a rather large duffel bag up on his shoulder and continued walking down the hall as if he wasn't the most beautiful male specimen to ever give grace to my hungry infatuations. Dear God...is he going to be staying here with me? If the people in this shelter thought the zombies were craving the taste of flesh, they haven't seen anything yet. Tasty!
"Jake? JAKE!" Came a voice from the crowd. I turned to see see my brother finally entering the building with the rest of the survivors, coming towards me with his little suitcase on wheels.
"CAIN!" My spell was broken, and I ran over to give him a tight hug around the neck. I was so happy to be reconnected with my brother again. "You're ok!"
"Of course, I'm ok. It's going to take more than a zombie apocalypse to keep me down, right? We Weavers never say die!"
"Damn straight!" I grinned as we gave each other a corny high five. I was going to help him with his bag, but he opted to carry it for himself. "Are Mom and Dad alright?" I asked.
"Yeah. I called them about three hours ago. They were moved to a secure location in the downtown metro. They're going to try to get a transfer in the next week or so to come back here instead. The military is trying to get all families collected in the same facilities but they don't want to risk overpopulation or possible infection. So it's going to take some time to straighten things out." Cain kept walking forward as I followed by his side. He was obviously exhausted, but kept a grin on his face to keep me from feeling like a bother. He said, "I have to go and get myself sanitized and triple checked for bite marks, so I'll come back and see you soon, ok?"
"Sure thing. I'll be in the gym," I told him. I had to let him go. The soldiers were very thorough about checking all incoming inhabitants. I had to go through the embarrassing process myself. Stripping down completely naked...being searched...and...handled. Then hosed down like some sort of animal. They tried to make it seem as humane and professional as possible, but you can't really be 'hosed down' by a bunch of strangers and feel like there's anything humane about it. It's just not possible, you know?
It was a minute or two later that I wondered...is that gorgeous boy that I saw going through that same treatment right now? Is he getting naked in front of some soldier, and allowing him to wander the curves and smooth glory of that hot, slender, body with his hands? Head to toe. With his face just inches away from his...
GOD! What a job!
I wish I could watch. I wish I could stare at the whole process through a one way mirror and fist my erection to the point of blowing my load right there on the glass! I can't think of anything hotter than stroking myself to the sight of that boy in his birthday suit from a place where he couldn't see me doing it.
Wow...I'm gonna break a few blood vessels down there if I keep thinking like this. I'm already starting to show.
It was going to take quite a while for my big brother to be processed along with the others. I heard that there was at least a count of 250 with the last convoy, and each inspection was sure to be quite thorough. They couldn't afford having a carrier getting past them and running wild throughout our only stronghold against the masses of undead creatures outside. But as I waited a short while for him to get through the checkpoint, I noticed the beautiful boy that I had seen earlier coming out of quarantine already. It was pretty fast. He had been processed, showered, and had gotten re-dressed. Somebody seriously just spent the last ten to fifteen minutes touching his nude body, and then wetting him down with luke warm water. I need to find out who to talk to about getting in on that somehow.
The boy went into the cafeteria to stand in line in order to get something to eat for lunch. From the looks of it, it was small, round, patties of Salisbury steak and hash browns. There was a container of green beans or two on the table, but it didn't look like it was going to last for much longer, even though they only gave half a spoonful to each patron.
I wasn't really hungry. I haven't had much of an appetite since last night. But just seeing that boy walking over to get a tray and stand in line...I suddenly found myself wanting to get something to munch on. Or...at least to suck on for a while.
Oh no...wait...that's vulgar. Hehehe! TRUE...but vulgar. He's too sweet for that, I imagine. He deserves better. How about I just start off by saying hello, and then move on to my more 'perverted' sexual thoughts later?
Might make things a little less creepy.
I started making my way over to get in line behind him, and caught sight of an old man moving to get there first. No no no! I did NOT want him standing between me and my future husband! Fuck you, old man! I saw him first!
I don't know if anyone could tell how fast I was moving, but if I had to run top speed and hockey check that old geezer up against the gymnasium wall, I would have. Get away from my newest obsession, you bastard!
Practically skipping two steps for every swing of my leg, I practially jumped in line behind the cutie in question before the old man even had a chance to complain. Yeah, maybe it was rude...but it was sooooo worth the few dirty looks he gave me.
The boy turned his head as my sneakers loudly squeaked to a halt behind him. He only glanced for a moment, then giggled shyly to himselr and turned his head forward again. I felt my knees dip involuntarily from the cute way that he did it. It really made me smile to hear him laugh.
A bit timid in his approach, he boy eventually turned back around and mumbled a gentle, "Hi..."
"Hey. S'up?" I responded. I was hoping that our conversation would go beyond that, but seeing as he was too shy to really say anything else...the pressure was suddenly all on me. And I don't deal with pressure very well. Especially when it comes to talking to one of the hottest boys on the whole damn planet. So I waited a minute or two in silence, and then I managed to say, "Salisbury steak..."
He seemed confused. "Huh?"
"That's what they're serving up there. Salisbury steak. Have you ever...um...been to this school before?"
"Oh...no." He said softly. His voice was a little shaky, but I liked that. It was cute. "I was in another district. I went to Eastern Hills."
"Ah, I see." I had absolutely NO idea where Eastern Hills was. But, really...did it matter? I wish I played a sport. Then I might have a broader knowledge of the surrounding schools in the area from joint games or something. "How come they didn't just take you there?" I could kick myself in the face for asking such a dumb question. NOW it sounds like I don't want him here. Smooth move, Jake.
"There was a safe house there, but security accidentally let in a few of the infected. Turned out to be a bloodbath over there. This place was the next logical building to make a sanctuary for people in need, I guess."
"Oh. Yeah. That makes sense." I felt the line inching forward, and I just...I wanted to make some kind of real connection with this boy before lunch was served to us and we were both forced to go our separate ways. I don't know why. It's not like I really expected this super-hot boy model type to really notice me and suddenly make me his boyfriend. My imagination can only stretch so far. And I say this as a guy trapped in his own high school during a worldwide zombie outbreak. But for the time being, I just couldn't stop myself from keeping close enough to him to give it a shot.
We got to the front of the line and he was getting his food. It smelled like...well, like high school lunch. And that's not really a good thing. Not today, anyway. "It's not as bad as it looks," I said. He gave me a sideways look. "The food. It's actually pretty ok once you get used to it. Well...the Salisbury steak is. Can't say much for the rest of it."
"It already smells better than the one at our school. Ours looks like cooked rat, smothered in horse snot." He said, and it made me laugh.
I think I was almost too infatuated to focus at that point. Geez...his eyes are REALLY green! You know that? A girlish giggle escaped my lips before I could hide it and I did all I could to stop my legs from wobbling.
"Well...see ya 'round." He said. And just like that, he took his tray, and he was gone.
Disappointment followed. A near lethal overdose of disappointment.
One conversation. On conversation, a few awkward glances, and a shared chuckle over our terrible cafeteria food. That was it. And yet...he left such a void in my life once he was gone.
I wanted to chase after him. That was too insignificant of an interaction for me to be even remotely satisfied. Please come back. Please? I was just now gathering up enough courage to talk to you. Arrrgh! What a waste of a truly golden opportunity.
My brother got out of holding after another 45 minutes or so. Don't know why it took him so much longer than it did some of the others, but I didn't really sweat it. He seemed happy to get a chance to talk to me without having to rush off. But by the time he found me in the gym, sitting at the top of the bleachers and playing with my lackluster meal, I had already let the regret of not talking to my dream boy the way I wanted to overwhelm me to the point of a minor depression.
Maybe I expected too much. I guess I was just searching for the touch of a silver lining in this dark storm cloud of misery surrounding us all in this place. The idea that I might be trapped in a confined area with a boy that had effortlessly surpassed every wet dream fantasy that I had ever entertained before. Something to reach out for. Something to think about. To use as a distraction. I don't know...the idea of him just helped to give me hope. You know?
Great. Now I'm acting like I've actually found the one and only true love of my life just because I saw a cute boy for the first time and he wasn't mean to me. Really? Is that all it takes to give me the shivers? Being nice? I don't know. I guess the heart clings to just about anything and everything when you're desperate enough.
Once the sun set over the horizon, Cain let me talk to Mom and Dad on his cell phone to let them know that I was alright. Naturally, they were worried about everything that was going on, but Cain was an expert at making them feel better. Even with a rapidly dying cell phone battery and a lousy connection. I wish I knew how to do that. Making people deny the horrors popping up all around them might come in handy for the day that I come out to them as being...well...'me'. If you get my drift.
Cain knew about me and my attraction to other boys. Somehow, I think he's always known. But he took the news well when I made my first effort to actually say it out loud. He just took it upon himself to take care of me, no matter what the circumstances may be. And, if nothing else, he had enough 'big brother' ammunition to tease me for the rest of my life if he needed it. Hehehe! When I came to spend some time with him after his inspection, I think he could immediately tell that something was wrong with me.
We were sitting in a corner, trying to find some privacy among a crowd of people, at the time. It wasn't as hard as you might think. Everybody was so preoccupied with their own problems that they simply shuffled right by us...most of them looking a lot like zombies themselves. I could hardly tell the difference. Their eyes had become so empty. Their stares so blank. I'll bet that all the petty shit that used to bother them all soooo much, the prejudices and the arguments and the complaints...the bills and the taxes and their religious dogma...I'm just willing to bet that it simply doesn't matter anymore. Which, of course, begs the question...
...Did it ever really matter at all?
My brother was telling me about how he and a few of his friends survived the lifeless takeover of his college campus. He seemed really jazzed about it. It was refreshing to see a genuine smile in this place. "Dude...me and Jamie bolted, right? We see those things coming in the glass door by the candy machines, so we run into the staircase. There's even more of them coming up the staircase. I still had this baseball bat in my hand, and Jamie had his hockey stick from practice. We go racing up the stairs to the roof and we shut the door behind us. We were just gonna chill up there until the military trucks arrived to take us to a nearby shelter. We know the drill. You got to stay visible, right? There were a lot of people hiding out around campus...but the problem is, they were hiding too deeply, you know? They wouldn't know when the army got there even if they were looking for 'em. We wanted to see them coming from a distance so we could signal them for a rescue and get a game plan together to meet them downstairs as soon as they were in the vicinity." Cain said, his gestures getting more animated by the second as I smiled and clung to his every word. "Well, we're walking around, thinking we're safe, right? The door's closed, we're high fiving each other and shit... and then we hear this creepy shuffling sound. So we turn around... and one of these fuckers had made it up to the goddamn roof!!! We're like, how the hell did THIS happen???"
"Holy shit! What'd you do?" I asked.
"Well, there was only one of 'em. So we figure we're gonna have to fight this thing and push him over the edge to get rid of him. So Jamie is like, 'Dude, you go in, and I've got your back!' Great fucking friend, right?" he said. "But I'm like, 'Ok. Whatever.' So I go up to it, and I swing the bat as hard as I can at his head. I'm expecting this thing to get knocked backwards on his ass or something like a normal person... but I guess these creatures get kinda soft and meaty after being dead for a while. So, DUDE...ONE swing, and I take this fucker's noggin head clear off! I mean, it was like I was swinging for the cheap seats with that one. It didn't even fall over; I batted his brains away so quick! Split open like a rotten pumpkin or something! It was crazy!"
"Are you kidding me right now? Come on..." I grinned.
"No! Jake, that's the honest-to-God truth! I was so stunned by what I did to it that Jamie had to run up and knock him off the roof for me. It was so weird. I never knocked the head off of something before. Friggin' CRAZY, man!"
Just as we were sharing a light giggle over the whole head busting zombie predicament...I saw him again. The beauty from earlier. Just walking down the hall like a...like a regular human. Was he pretending? Or did he really not know how gorgeous he was? Is that even possible? Those green eyes of his seemed to weaken the inner lining of my stomach, a bout of near nausea taking over as I fought to look away from him.
I wasn't fast enough.
He only gave me an inhibited smile as he passed. Just enough for those sweet dimples to cave in on both sides of his lips like cute little sinkholes. And by the time he had passed us, I was already dizzy with a serious case of post-apocalyptic puppy love.
I saw Cain looking at me with a sly smile once I was able to concentrate again. "What?"
"What was that?" he smirked.
"What was what?"
Cain looked down the hall at the gorgeous boy as he got further and further away from us. "Well, you certainly didn't waste much time calling dibbs on the pretty ones, did ya? Hehehe!"
"What? Hehehe, what are you talking about?" I blushed.
"Did you talk to him yet?" he asked. I didn't want to answer. I hated to think that I could be so transparent. But Cain just folded his arms. "I'm just gonna keep asking you questions, you know? And I'm going to get louder every time you don't answer me..." he said, already raising his voice.
"ALRIGHT, already! Hehehe! Just...shhhh! Ok?" I told him. "I..." He was waiting for me to continue, but...ugh! It was kind of embarrassing.
"Did you talk to him. Show him some interest?"
"...I tried, ok? Sort of. But I only talked to him once. And it was...uneventful."
"That's ok, little bro. It's only his first day here. It hasn't even been 24 hours, and already you're snuggling up to some young hottie." Cain said with a playful butt of his shoulder against mine. "Listen...the next time you see him, just be sure to get his name, and tell him yours. Chat him up a little bit. Practically everybody is a stranger to one another right now. They're all looking for something friendly and familiar and comforting to hold on to. You can start off by being that guy for him. That comfort. You know what I mean? It should be a piece of cake."
I shrugged my shoulders. "Yeah. I suppose so."
"Yeah. And if, by the end of the day tomorrow, he's letting you ram your hard cock up his tight bubbled ass, then that would be even better!"
"Hahahahaha!!!! What the...! God, Cain! You're such a jerk!"
"You know you were thinking it! Don't lie!"
He always knew how to tease me just enough to where his comments did the job, but never came off as mean or overly crass or offensive. He danced on the line every now and then, but never crossed it. However, once the giggles died down, I ran my fingers through my hair, and I gave him a look as the doubt and worry of the situation bled back into my conscious mind. "I know that you're probably going to treat this like it's something easy and that it's no big deal..." I said. "...But...with all that's going on, I really don't want to have to add a hurtful rejection and a possible heartbreak to my list of things to worry about right now. It's bad enough that I have to think about flesh eating ghouls waiting just outside the fences...I've got to worry about having my insides and my most potent emotions go rotten on me too?"
Cain put a loving arm over my shoulder and pulled me close. "First of all, don't think you're in love. You're NOT in love. Not with somebody you just met and don't even know. That's just dumb. So if you're bearing the weight of your entire romantic future on just one conversation with some young cutie you saw, by chance, in the hallway of this newly appointed habitat...don't. It's NOT that serious," he told me. "Now... if you guys get to talking in private, you can truly communicate with one another on a deeper level, ,more intelligent level, and there's this subtle 'thing' going on between you two that you just can't explain...Then awesome. If you find out that you've got things in common, you share an attraction, you make each other laugh, and there are genuine and honest feelings thatmaigcally begin to grow from there? THEN we can start talking about the fear factor involved and the tension behind trying to make it work. But for right now, he's just a cute boy that you saw in the halls, and you want to get to know him better. Take some of the pressure off of yourself. Relax."
"I knew you were going to treat this like it was a trivial thing..." I groaned.
"Right now, it IS trivial. The fun part is finding out whether you can build on that until it's more than just another pretty face and a tingle in the crotch for you. You can do this, Jake. Just go talk to him. Get up, find out where he is and where he came from, and talk to him. There's a population of damn zombies outside. It's not like he can really GO anywhere. So take advantage of your luck in this situation."
I squirmed a little bit, the possibility of meeting this walking love-poem-in-the-flesh eating away at my confidence as fast as I could produce it. "What if he's like, 'Get away from me, you faggot! I hate you!'?"
"Then you punch him square in the nose and you walk away. THAT would be the easy part." Cain grinned. "Listen... you know how people say they'd never date you unless it was the end of the world? Well, a zombie apocalypse is about as close as anyone is ever going to get to that particular scenario. So why not go for it? Take a chance. For the first time ever...all of humanity, the young and the old, are being faced with their mortality all at once. The little things don't matter anymore. The labels cease to maintain their importance. And if, by chance, we all die tomorrow...people are realizing that we will have wanted to have spent those last few hours doing what really makes us happy. Something that tells us that we at least got a chance to really live. And if there's a CHANCE that this boy is like you, and he's feeling just a fraction of what me and the rest of these scraggly camp of survivors are feeling right now...then you talking to him might just be what he needs right now. Just as badly as you do. It's the opportunity of a lifetime."
"Sooooo, you're saying...?"
"I'm saying, if you don't peel your butt off of this linoleum floor and go after him, you might as well throw yourself over the fence and let the walking dead have their feed. Without real passion and hope in your heart, without the promise of true emotion, you're just a big useless chunk of animated clay anyway. Am I right?" He sure knew how to phrase things once he got going. He looked at me and said, "No, seriously, dude. I wasn't kidding. Get up and go get him. Go. Quit being a wuss."
I stood up and dusted myself off. Still not sure that I could actually go through with all this, but willing to at least fake some sense of self security in order to try. More for him than for me."Are you gonna be here when I get back?" I asked.
"Oh gee...I don't know, Jake. There are soooo many places for me to get lost between here and the soda machine at the end of the hall. Just GO already! And remember...none of the bullshit matters when it comes to the absolute end of the world. Use that to your advantage. And get a few orgasms in before it's too late."
Ok...I can do that. I mean...it doesn't matter, right? Even if he finds out I'm gay and doesn't feel the same way, who cares? It won't matter. He might even embrace me anyway, just to sayhe tried something once. I mean...right? Or something like that. Who knows? Besides, this school is huge. Chances are I won't even find him again in all this mess. So I'm stressing out over nothing.
At that moment, I turned the corner...and, what do ya know? There he was! Sitting by a nearby window. Damn. The ONE time I ask fate to 'lose' somebody for comfort's sake, it smashes him right back in my face within the first five minutes of my unspoken request.
The whole high school was fixed up with searchlights and the like, and the gleam from their illumination was shining through every window, causing his adorable face to glow with all the splendor of an angel sent straight from Heaven's golden gates and down to our world. It made me weak in the middle as I attempted to fight the fear of getting close to him again and tried to approach him from a strategic angle that would give me a bit of an advantage in speaking first.
Yeah, now that I look at that last sentence...it looks stupid to me too.
An ice cold shower of hysteria and insecurity suddenly washed over my shoulders. And as I saw him turn his head to look at me and smile, I asked, "What's your name?"
No! Yikes! Could I have at LEAST said 'hello' first? What the heck did I do that for???
He grinned to himself, and although his expression gave me the indication that he thought it was weird for me to blurt out such a strange question with no warning and no build up, he said, "It's Alex."
"Alex. Ok...um...Alex. Cool. I'm...uh...my name is Jake."
"Good to meet you, Jake," He smiled. I was feeling a bit woozy from actually being able to interact with him again. Especially up close and personal like this.
I saw him look back out the window, and I turned to look with him. If nothing else, the small size of the window brought us closer together. Wow...he smelled like the yummiest flavor of cake. Yellow cake. Just out of the oven. I don't know why that was the first comparison that came to mind...but it was the only thing I could really associate with his sexy fragrance. "What are you doing?" I asked.
Alex scooted over a bit, and he gave me some more room to see. "The army is keeping the flesh eaters at the gates. They're trying to find a way in, but every time they try to climb one of the fences, the sharpshooters pick 'em off." He said. "There's too many of them to just gun them all down. I guess they'd eventually find themselves low on ammo if they tried to put ALL of them down. Which is never a good thing, I'm guessing."
"Heh, yeah. I guess so too." I said. My stomach was wiggling like crazy, begging me to just go for it and kiss him by surprise! Even if he got mad and beat the living shit out of me, I still would have gotten my kiss!
But I stood my ground instead. And I refused to run away. No matter what.
"So...are you here with your parents, or...?" He asked.
"Oh...no. Just me and my brother.
"Oh. Dude, I'm sorry..."
"No, no... Mom and Dad are alright. They're just being held at a different facility at the moment. It may be a week or two before we all get to see each other again." I told him. "And you? Are your parents downtown too?"
His smile faded slightly. "I don't know. I tried to call them a few times..."
He looked at me for a moment, then slowly shook his head. "I'm sure they're out there somewhere, though. Probably laying low until they can find a safe passage to one of the main military checkpoints. Or maybe hitch a ride with one of the rescue convoys. I'm sure I'll hear from them soon."
There was a brief, but incredibly sad silence between us. But after that, we actually began to talk a bit more with each other. It started slowly at first, but gained in momentum as our conversation slipped into a much more comfortable vibe. Cain was right. Once I got things underway, talking to Alex wasn't all that scary at all. In fact, it was downright fun. Apparently, he was being chased as he saw a fleet of military vehicles pass through his suburban neighborhood. It was just by luck alone that he was able to catch up to them and hop on before he was caught and devoured alive. But unlike the other people in this safe house...he hadn't been traumatized to the point of total emotional numbness. Instead, he embraced the fact that he was alive. He was thankful for the good fortune. And that little light of hope, twinkling brightly in those awesome green eyes...I think that was the most attractive thing about him.
"How do you think it'll all end?" Alex asked out of the blue.
"What? The zombie thing, you mean?" Alex laughed at me, and I blushed. "Oh...yeah, I guess that would be the situation to talk about, wouldn't it?" Then I looked out the window, seeing the masses of undead growing in number outside trhe fences protecting us. "I don't know. I mean, obviously they're not going to just...disappear on us. And I doubt there's a way for us to kill them all. So who knows? Maybe we just have to wait it out. Just...sit here and see what happens in the long run."
"Yeah. Maybe. Or maybe we could just..." His sentence was cut short. I don't know what made me do it. I just... I felt like I couldn't help myself anymore. He was being so sweet, and so cute, and so...amazing. We had been talking for the better part of an hour, and even though we had just met, I already felt attached to him in a way that BEGGED for an even stronger connection than the one I was looking for before. So, without being able to control my instincts any longer, I lunged forward and kissed Alex on the lips.
WHY??? That was so sudden! So inappropriate! So strange and wrong and assuming and...fuck! I HATED myself for doing it! I had a moment of weakness. I swear, that's hat it was. Seriously!
Maybe it was awkward, unexpected, and sloppy...hardly the intimate collision that I was hoping for. But as Alex's eyes widened, I felt myself getting lightheaded and my legs turning to jelly. I thought I was going to pass out at any moment. I had top hold onto his slim shoulders just to remain standing. I'm such a mouth rapist! Not one of my finer moments, I assure you.
During a moment like that, a nanosecond can seem like a lifetime. And his shock kept him from responding for more than a few billion of them.
"Okaaaay...so...I'm guessing that I just made a total ass out of myself, right? And I'm going to go crawl into a dark corner of this shelter and hide for the rest of my natural life now..." I said, already feeling the weight of rejection practically squeezing the air out of my lungs and creating extra resistance on my already labored heartbeat.
I turned to walk away from him, and Alex called out to me, almost as if he were stuttering from panic. "W-W-Wait! Jake... I...I mean...I..." I stopped walking, and slowly turned around, wincing from the emotional pain and bracing myself for whatever string of harsh words and insults might come next. "How...how did you know?" he asked. I was confused for a moment, but he rolled his eyes and said, "About 'me'. How did you know?"
It took a moment or two for it to sink in. And even then, it felt more like an extremely vivid wet dream and less than reality. But once I caught on to what he was actually saying with that question, a tidal wave of unrestricted JOY rushed into my heart to take the place of the fear and uncertainty that dwelled there just moments before...I still couldn't find any words to engage him.
I shuffled from one foot to the other, fidgeted with my hands, and toyed with my hair. I opened my mouth, but no intelligent words would come out. I just stood there, looking around, hoping to keep my body from shaking me to fucking pieces right there in front of him.
It didn't take long for him to notice that I didn't actually know about him at all. That I had just taken a chance. Quite possibly, the biggest leap of faith that I had ever taken in my life. And, thank God...he seemed really flattered by that. So...instead of pushing the issue, and witnessing me dance around with a jittery stomach and wobbly legs, PRAYING that he'd let me run away before it all became too much for me and I passed out on the spot...Alex simply said, "So... I'll see you tomorrow for breakfast? We can stand in line together."
I took the subtle hint and nodded. "Yeah. I'll... um... I'll be there. Definitely." Then I looked at those dimples, and repeated, "Definitely."
"K." He sighed. "G'night, Jake..."
"G'night, Alex..." I turned around, half dizzy, half happy, half scared, half erect! And I practically skipped around that corner before I did anything to ruin that very perfect moment. Oh my God! Oh my God!!!! I didn't know what to do with myself, but the smile that broke out on my face threatened to tear me open if I didn't keep it under control.
Was that it? Was it really that simple? Was that all I needed? A momentary weakness and a severe lack of good judgement?
As I came back to where Cain was sitting, I saw him examining my face for a hint as to how things went. I think I was so blindsided by the whole event that he couldn't read me at all. At least not from a distance. Worried for my emotional well-being, he looked at me walking towards him, and silently asked me what happened by displaying a thumbs up sign... and then a thumbs down sign.
Unable to hold my glee in for a moment longer, I gave him the biggest, most ridiculous smile of my young life... and I gave him the thumbs up.
Cain quietly cheered for me, and gave me an enthusiastic high five when I got close enough for contact. "Thatta boy!" he whispered. And before I knew what hit me, I was locked in his tight embrace.
When I went to sleep that night... those same bothersome springs digging into the softest parts of my chest and stomach... I squirmed around just knowing that Alex would be there in the morning. Waiting to grab a few musty old spoonsful of oatmeal out of what looked like a janitor's mop bucket. And that his smile would be tailor made just for me.
Even when the world comes crashing down upon us, and the threat of a true human apocalypse is oh so close at hand...there is still life in this place. Real life. And it begins with the potential created by me and Alex sharing just one awkward kiss by a high school window after dark.
You know, it may only be my first day...but I think I'm gonna like it here!