Jim's not going to be fooled into thinking he's getting out of this alive. This. This, oh fuckin' aye, hell on earth, judgement. He's still trying to tell himself this is all a dream. Because he can almost, almost feel the hospital bed still under him, and the bumpy fabric of their sterile blankets bunched in his fingers. He's still there, yeah, sleeping, breathing (the stitches in his scalp fresh and oozing), and everyone's doing their thing. Walking from here to there, holding files and vials, jabbering doctor talk, white jackets going down to their shins, stethoscopes thumping on their chests. He was there because a car came across him and he cracked his head open something awful on the asphalt. And that he can remember that means something, doesn't it. Means his brain's still alright, means this isn't a hallucination. Fuck. Silence was like an infection in itself, creeping into your soul, digging out all the fears and gnawing at them like an old bone. He'd woken up (it was the light in the room, he can remember that too—too bright), he'd gotten outside (wandering, wandering), and the destruction wasn't the chilling part. Your mind saw it and discarded it. You were numbed Novocain clean of that distraction. But there's always that scene you'd catch out of the corner of your eye, a glimpse of an arm, hand, fingers, blood clawed down a wall just behind a fence or at the mouth of an alley way and you'd want to look. The human nature was stabbing you in the back (and how true was that, he thinks). Primal selves. Unsuppressed.
As time passes Jim begins to see things from far away. The broadcast didn't settle in his stomach well. "We are soldiers, we will protect you." Blah, blah. He had doubts, and Selena with him. But they get up and go anyway, on the road headed to "salvation". He feels the need to snort in the face of all this, like it was an animal at the zoo, banging at its cage, wanting so badly to eat him up. He found peace in stepping back and not looking too hard. Safety in numbers, because when you're not number one you're gliding on auto pilot, expecting someone else to drag you out by the scruff. He felt helpless and tired, hungry and injured. The only thing people expected from him, ever, was to hide. In metaphors and actuality he gave them that, without end. Until they reached the 42nd blockade. Until Frank died. Until he stood there white knuckling the baseball bat and forgetting to breathe, to even blink. He was going to do it, he steeled himself, he put his arms up, the bat with it, higher in the air for maximum force, just about to bring it down—("Jim! He's infected!")—and. They just blew him away. Thoughtless. They fucking blew him away. The blood flecked his face, a hot gush slapped across his chest. And that was that. Pause, catch a breath, lungs burning wild fire. The soldiers they were betting their lives on were just a bunch of paranoid little boys with guns.
Until someone who isn't snarling ribbons of red spittle between their jagged choppers and hunting you down with brainless, ceaseless insanity burning in their blood shot eyes rams a gun in your face... it's all clear cut. It's get to somewhere safe, look for a cure, travel during day light, sleep during the night, stay quiet, stay quick, stay smart. You knew who the bad guys were without question. But what was this? Salvation in the guise of a bored little army? Not even that. A bored little outpost, held together by a man just as nutty as your senile grandpa before he bit the big one? Friend or foe. Jim's dubious, cautious. And after all this why shouldn't he be? The Major would eye him up and down like a piece of meat one second and then throw him to the dogs (his boys) the next. Because he didn't want to give up the girls. Because he was fighting for more than just himself. The Major would stick that shit on his shoulders too, say that's exactly what he was doing too. Just insuring the human race's survival, rebuilding anew, all in a day's work. It's easy to say Jim was pissed, sure, but the resignation sunk in first. They tied him to a radiator along with another guy. The spiritual guru. Unquote. And he felt more sorry for this guy somehow than he did for himself. This guy was so sure of what was going on, had it pinned, had a name to it. "What do you do with a diseased little island?"
The boy's come in, guns in hand, and it's all over already. You can see the intent in their eyes. They lead them beyond the mansion, beyond the mine field lawn, beyond everything and God's eyes. Jim's moaning please, whimpering, pathetic. Even he thought so. Like in every movie he ever saw he had always wondered why they even tried the pleading bit, but now he knew. Desperation was fucking hideous. It was an ugly motherfucker. It was uglier than reality and the sneer on this sick fuck's face. The one Jim will never forget. He just won't let him.
You'll wait for your chance, just like you'll wait to get shot in the gut (probably wouldn't give him that satisfaction though). They stand them there, in the trees, on a path the people of the house probably used as a horseback trail, and here are more bodies. Dumped every which way and without care. If you weren't sure of what was going on in the beginning you've got the image now. The one, the one Jim won't forget, can't forget, argues with the other soldier. Wants to stick the guru with a knife, with his fucking bayonet, but the Bleeding Heart here won't let him. And when the sudden mercy gun fire goes off (mowing down the guru before the knife could stick) Jim goes down too. Hit the dirt. He saw his opening, wide as a tower block, smiling in his face, and went for it. And it worked. He could feel the anger trying to get loose then, trying to flood through his veins and twitch in his fingers, his legs, and clack his teeth together. It was starting to overshadow the sorrow. He jumped the wall, tore his shirt, but lived. Lived to get them back a little, to get revenge for all the wrong doings. He's running through the woods, hearing the snaps of bullets meeting tree trunk, and he trips. As he rolls over to gulp at the air he sees it, the jet. And that burns like betrayal. Knife to the back. The shock, the disbelief, the rage—almost hates to use that word, but it's perfect, seamless, flowing—floods in.
Diseased little island.
Jim takes his time. Lures them out. Bashes their skulls in, gets them torn up, gets them back. And when he finds him, that one, clawing at Selena, he's there in a heart beat, tearing them apart and bouncing his head off the brick wall, unflinching as rifle shots go off next to his face, drilling the wall. He just keeps smashing his head and breathing in his screams, tasting the blood he's spitting out. His fingers dig into the fleshy, fragile skin of his cheeks. He wants to tear his face off and watch the muscles underneath spasm. It's all run through in seconds, just seconds, and he's never not thinking of his parents, of his friends, of Frank, of all the people, all the fucking people. He's put his thumbs into his eye sockets and pushed them back as far as they'll reach. The screams are piercing and constant, even as Jim feels a crack somewhere in his skull and the hand that was grabbing for his shoulder slips and falls (flopping like a dead fish). Sweat and rain water dripping down his elbows, over his wrists and into the meaty mess of his ruined eyes. Ground beef. The last shriek dies midway with him. Jim stares. His thumbs slip out with a pop, greasy with the muck. Reminds him of the haunted house his Dad took him to when he was little, five, maybe. The one that had bowls of spaghetti, boiled eggs and so on behind black sheets. You'd stick your hand through and think you were touching some wonderful horrible whatever.
This was wonderful horrible whatever.
More of the wonderful and less of the horrible now.
He saw hope.
And he's fooled himself into thinking it was real.
But maybe it was.