Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Diary of the Returned - 7

Diary of The Returned

Dear R.E.T.U.R.N.E.,

Nine p.m.  There’s hardly room to breathe.  It’s hot in here.  Too many are pressed inside this family room.  Too many wait outside in the hallway, up the stairs, and a few even linger outside near the open door.  Their worried glances fall over Preacher James, who sat in the corner near the front.  They don’t trust him.  Should I?

Jacob stood calmly in the front.  Jenny was seated in a chair nearby with Marty on her lap.  The blind woman sat in a corner, ignoring me.  Her gaze was set on Jacob.  She was no blind woman.  She made him nervous now.  The preacher too.  Who was she really, and she looked right at me.  She can’t read minds.  Can she?

“You all understand why I have called you here to my house.”  A wave of murmurs was his answer.  “And I’m sure you have heard the rumor.”  Jacob paused for a moment.  “Nathaniel is coming here.”  Gasps and cries filled the room.  “We have spoken about this before, but I’m sorry.  It’s time.  Time to face our enemy.”  He looked around the crowded room and then glanced over at the preacher.  “We have to fight.  We have to fight him and win for us and for this world.  Nathaniel can’t survive.”

“But do we need him?”  One man pointed a finger at the preacher.  “He’s the enemy too.”

“Maybe,” Jacob agreed, “but we do need him.”

“After what he did to Marty,” a woman asked.

“Yes,” Jenny replied, surprising Jacob.  “I hate the idea.”  She glared at the preacher.  “We can’t win this without him.”

“What makes him so different,” another asked.

“And why is Nathaniel coming here,” someone else said.

“Because of me,” Preacher James said.  He stood up from his seat and walked over to Jacob.  “May I?”  Jacob glanced over at the blind woman, who had resumed gazing at him.  “Please?”

“Go ahead,” but Jacob only took one step away from him.

“I know that some of you don’t believe.”  The preacher glanced at Jacob.  “You don’t believe in the tree on my back.”  Groans and mutters were his response.  “It’s okay, if you don’t believe.  My flock does, and they are close by, waiting to help.”

“Sure, they are,” a man snorted.

“The tree on my back represents bloodlines.  Arcadia’s bloodlines, and I have gathered those represented here and now to stand and fight with me.  That is what draws Nathaniel here for he is afraid.  He can kill a Returned with the snap of his fingers.  I have seen it.  He can bend others to his will, but anyone, whose bloodline is consecrated here in Arcadia, he has no power over.  He is powerless, and with us all together, we can defeat him.  We can kill him.”  Now, he had their undivided attention.  “I would like to read some names, and I ask those that I call to stay here with Jacob and I.  We are the last line of defense.  If Nathaniel breaks us, we lose, so does the world and the living.”

“What happens, if we win,” one woman asked.  “The world sees us as a threat now, as its enemy.  What happens when this is all over?”

“You go home,” the blind woman responded, ignoring everyone’s gaze.  She said no more.

The preacher shook that odd comment off.  He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and started to read off a variety of names.  He was nearly done when I heard my name called.  He met my gaze and held it for a moment.  He then finished his list and placed the paper back in his pocket.  “It’s going to be a long night,” he said, “but tomorrow will be a very, very long day.  We need you all here by daylight.  Right, Jacob?”

“Right.  Sanctuary is not too far from here, so I ask that those, who were not called, to go there and try, try to get some kind of sleep.”

“Do we need guns,”  a young man asked.  “How exactly are we doing this fight?”

“I’m not sure.”

“You’re not sure, Jacob?  You’re asking those, who are not on the preacher’s damn tree, to sacrifice ourselves, and for what?  What?  Just to have us roll over and die,” another declared.

“You’re already dead,” the preacher said.  “All of you, or have you not figured that out yet?  Have you not died after returning and returned again?”

“Yeah,” one woman said.  “But if Nathaniel makes us disappear, there is no returning from that, so how do we fight someone, something like that?”

“I don’t know,” Jacob replied.  “We have to.  It doesn’t matter who is on the front lines or last.  What matters is tomorrow.  If we don’t find a way to fight him, to defeat him, then we don’t have to worry about returning ever again.  There will be no world to return to, no families, friends, no one.  This will be his world, and his world is Death.  So, I ask you.  I ask all of you to stand with me.  Fight, and if we must die, then we die, fighting not rolling over in defeat.”  Jacob took a step closer.  Now, he stood beside the preacher.  He gingerly put a hand on his shoulder, surprising the preacher.  “Stand and fight with us.”

In response, those around me slowly stood.  They were scared, skeptic, worried.  They stood regardless.  I stood with them, clutching you dear diary, but I stood.  And slowly, they parted, flowing outside into their waiting vehicles, and disappearing into the dark.  I remained along with those, whose blood pumped and pounded through this town called Arcadia.  It was up to us.

It must be two a.m. now.  I found Preacher James standing by the family room window.  He looked tired, but he was determined not to sleep.  He glanced at me, and after a long moment, he looked away.  Out of the corner of his eye, he watched me curl up on the couch nearby, but he did not say anything.  It was like he was waiting for me to speak first, and I did.

“Tell me about Nathaniel,” I said.

He sat beside me.  “Nathaniel started out as a normal, healthy baby.  He had everyone fooled, everyone except me.  When he was supposed to turn one, he turned eight.  He turned eight-years-old.  Nobody could explain it, and still, he was a normal, healthy boy.”

“If you were away, how do you know this?”

“Just because I was locked up doesn’t mean that I didn’t know what was going on.”

“You had spies here in Arcadia.”

“My flock are not spies.”

“So, he turned eight.  What does that matter?”

“It matters because when he was supposed to turn eight, he turned sixteen.  Now, he’s twenty-four.  Don’t be fooled by his appearance.  He’s not a normal, healthy boy.”

“It’s funny.”

“What is?”

“Marty severed that limb on your back.  Your tree.”

“What about it?”

“Haven’t you wondered why he came back as a twelve-year-old boy?”

“I have not.”  The preacher rubbed his chin.  “How did someone like you become a Returned?”

“I wish that people would stop asking me that.”

“I’m sorry.  If it’s a sore subject…”

“I was murdered.”  He fell silent.  “Someone killed me.”

“I’m sorry.”  He touched my hand.  “I really am.”

“Thank you,” but I looked away when saying that.  I did not want him to see the tear running down my face, but he did.

“Have you figured out why I have not aged?”

“No.  That I don’t understand.”  Now, I looked at him.  “How have you not aged?”

“Time is relative.”

“What?”

“Einstein.  He believed that there was no division between past and future.  There was just existence, and we exist beyond death.  We have returned to the now, but the now does not hold us.  If we believe that it does, then we age like others have aged, but if we let go, we don’t age.  We just exist.  Have you never read Einstein?”

“No.”

“Well, when you’re locked away for a long time, there’s nothing to do but read.”

“How did you get out?”  He moved away from me.  “How did you escape?”

“A guard screwed up.”  He resumed standing before the window.  “I seized the opportunity.”

“To do what?”  I now stood behind him.

“To kill myself.”

“Why?”

“Because I knew that I would return, and I did.  Why do you think Marty is twelve?”

“I don’t know.”

“Yes, you do.”  He stared hard at me.  “Why?”

“I think he’s supposed to kill Nathaniel.”

“Let’s hope so.  Now, you should really try to get some sleep.”

“What about you?”

“I don’t sleep.  Not anymore.”

“Good-night, preacher.”

“Good-night, R.”

“R?”

“I glanced at your diary.  I know who you are really writing for.”

“That’s private.”

“Sorry.”

“No, you’re not,” and I walked away.

I could feel his eyes following me out of the room and up the stairs.  He liked me.  I liked him.  I did not trust him especially after admitting to reading these pages.  These pages were not meant for him.  Did he know?  He remained standing in front of the window.

“And I looked, and beheld a pale horse.  His name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him,” the preacher said.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Diary of the Returned - 6

Diary of The Returned

Dear R.E.T.U.R.N.,

It was shortly after lunch when he arrived.  Jacob’s men greeted him outside.  They exchanged a few abrupt words and searched him.  His men at the preacher’s gesture stood back and remained where they were.  One escorted him up to the front door, but he did not walk inside.  The only ones in the house were Jacob, Jenny, Marty, and I, and he walked into the family room, greeting us as friends not enemies.  But he was no friend.

“Preacher James!”  Marty wanted to run to him, but Jenny held him back.  “He’s my friend.”

“He’s not,” but Jenny could not hold on to him.

Marty raced into the preacher’s open arms.  It sickened Jenny to watch the preacher hug and kiss him.  He met her gaze, and then the preacher gently pushed Marty back toward her.  He smiled at her, but she did not return his smile.  “I do not mean the boy harm, Jenny.”

“No?  You know why he is a boy, preacher.”  Jenny glanced down at Marty.  “Come on, Marty.  Let’s go upstairs,” and she stormed out of the family room.  “You should come to,” she said to me.

“She should stay,” the preacher said.  “You both know why.”  Jacob and Jenny exchanged looks.  “She doesn’t know?”  Now, he looked at me.  “You’re not going to tell her?”

I hated the secrets, the not knowing.  I realized then and there that they treated me like glass.  They were afraid that I was going to break or cut them or both.  Why would they see me as that, and what happened to Marty?  “I hate the secrets,” I said.  “Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on!”

“You’re part of the tree.”

“Preacher!”

“Jacob.  She should know.”

“What tree,” I asked.

“This one,” and the preacher lifted up the back of his shirt.  “This tree represents bloodlines.  Bloodlines from Arcadia.”

“You’re saying that I am from here?”

“You are.”  He looked puzzled.  “You don’t know that.  Jacob, can I have a glass of water?”

“You think you are a guest here?  Don’t you remember the last time you stepped foot in my house?”

“I remember.”  The preacher was not sure to step closer to Jacob or not.  “I was right, though.  If you and your family had just backed down, none of this would be happening right now, and we would not be here as this.”

“As what?”

“Enemies, Jacob.  I am not your enemy.”  Now, he approached him.  “I was never your enemy.  I was trying to save you.”

“What happened to your back?”  They now looked at me.  “There was an ugly gash on one of those limbs.”

“Yeah.  That would be from Marty before I…”

“Tell her.  Tell her what you did.”

“I brought him back, Jacob.”

“As a boy, preacher.”

“What?  Just tell me!”

“Before I killed Marty.  I was in prison.  I got out.  He tracked me down.  We went at it, and I killed him.”

“You make it sound like an accident.”

“No, Jacob.  Marty had to pay for his penance, for betraying me.”

“He has a wife.  He has kids!  You should have brought him back as a man!”

“Wait a minute.  That boy upstairs is a man?  He’s the Marty that I hear about?”

“He chose that age.  I didn’t, and I tried to bring your parents back.  I tried.”

“Don’t.”  Jacob moved away from him. He wanted to hit him.  He wanted to hit him hard.  “Don’t you dare.”

“They wouldn’t come back with me.”

“Do you blame them?”

“No.  I guess I can’t, but Marty?  He chose to return at that age.  I don’t know why.”

“You know what, preacher?  We don’t need you.”

“That gash on your back?”

“What about it?  What about the damn gash?”  I winced at Jacob’s tone now.  “What about it?”

“Whose bloodline did Marty cut?”

“Oh, and there in lies the truth.”  Jacob now glared at him.  “I swear that God led Marty’s hand himself to that limb, that limb, that bloodline that belonged to Rachel and Nathaniel.  Do we know if Rachel is even still alive?”

“I still feel her.”

“Of course, you do, Jacob.  Of course, you do.  Nathaniel might be evil, but even he would not kill his own mother.”  The preacher fell silent for a moment.  “What about Marty’s wife and children?  Where are they?  I don’t think they’re here in Arcadia?”

“You looking for them, preacher?”

“I’m just curious, Jacob.”

“They’re safe.”

“Oh, I see.  They’re with that government lady.  The same lady that was protecting Jenny in that facility.”

“Don’t provoke me, preacher.”

“I’m not.”

“You’re gloating.”

“And why would I be gloating, Jacob?”

“Because you’re right.”

“I’m going to leave,” I said.

“Stay,” they both snapped, so I sat down on a couch nearby, wishing that I could crawl away into nothing.

“What was I right about, Jacob?”

“I hate you.”

“I was right.”

“I wish that you weren’t, and in the beginning, you weren’t.”

“Right.  The beginning.  Six years.  Six good years, and then BAM.”  He slapped his hands together, hard, and I even jumped.  “All down hill for the next ten.  You should have let me kill him.  I hated the idea of making Rachel disappear, but that second time?  I was close, and we could have saved lives.”

“Marty stopped you.”

“Marty is a kid now.  You’re the man, Jacob, so what are you going to do?  You going to accept my help because once I walk out that door, I’m not coming back.  You’re on your own.”

“Maybe, we’re better off.”

“Look at me, Jacob.  I haven’t aged a day since I first returned.  Why do you think that is?”

“I don’t care.”

“Yes.  Yes, you do, and you know that.  You know that I know certain things.  I can do certain things.  After all this time, I am prepared for the final battle.  Are you?  Is she?  The fate of the world rests in our hands, and the final battle is almost here.  Are you ready now to stand beside me?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“We all have a choice, so make it.”  He held his hand out to him.  “Decide, Jacob.  Decide now.”

“After all you’ve done.”

“The past, Jacob, is the past.  This is the future.”  Jacob started to reach for his hand.  “Trust me.”  He pulled his hand away.  “Jacob, don’t.”

“Get out.  Get out of my house.  Now!”

“You’re making a mistake.  You’re going to sacrifice everyone.  You’re just like him.”

“Why don’t you say his name, preacher?  Say his name!”

“Fine, Jacob.  You’re just like Marty, and you too will pay for your penance.”

“Fine.  Now, get out.”

“He can’t.”  The blind woman entered the room.  She had been hiding herself for a long time, but now she made her presence known.  “You need him, Jacob.  Put the past aside.”

“How long have you been listening?”

“Long enough.”

“I’m not trusting him with our lives.”

“You don’t have a choice.”  She pulled her glasses off.  Her eyes were nothing more than white orbs, and they seemed to even flash white.  “He’s coming, and we need him.  We need everyone.”

“Who are you?”

“You know who I am, Preacher James.”  He seemed nervous, swallowing hard.  “Time to put your differences aside, boys.  It’s time.”

“Time for what,” Jacob asked.

“War.  War is coming to Arcadia, and Nathaniel is coming home.”

The Diary of the Returned - 5

Diary of The Returned

Dear R.E.T.U.R.,

I almost believed that it was over.  The bed was so welcoming.  My body was at ease.  My mind drifted like the soft breeze flowing through the open window.  My heart was light like a white feather drifting down into nothing.  I was at peace, but then the voices downstairs shattered all that.  This nightmare was far from over.

I had a choice.  Stay with Jenny at Jacob’s home, or go with the other to what they called, Sanctuary.  I felt safe with Jenny.  She took care of me.  I didn’t want to leave her side, and maybe, the blind woman felt the same.  She was here too, but in another room.  I don’t think she liked me, but she didn’t say anything.  She hardly said anything.

The voices were loud downstairs.  Jacob was holding another meeting.  I could sit in on them, if I wanted, but I didn’t.  I wanted no part of this fight.  I just wanted to survive, and then I noticed Jenny peering in on me.  She met my gaze, and then she was gone.  And I was alone, and I don’t think I can stay neutral for very much longer.  This fight might be coming here next, and then I would have to fight.  Or die.

I don’t think I was in the shower that long.  The meeting was still going on.  People were worried.  They were worried about their enemy, Nathaniel, but who was he?  And why were they also talking about a preacher, Preacher James?  This was too much.  Maybe, I should leave.  I could go anywhere.  How would they know that I was like them, but I heard mention of a mole.  The government had someone that could track us, and that was how they knew about me.  No.  I could not run.  There was nowhere to run to.

I found myself standing before Jacob’s parents’ bedroom.  I haven’t seen them.  He doesn’t really talk about them.  He left their room just as they had it.  There were a lot of pictures in here of them and Jacob as a boy.  There was a sense of happiness and sadness.  I was just lost in thought when he came up the stairs.  I didn’t know what to do, so I hid behind the bedroom door.  I wasn’t spying.  I was just admiring his family, and then I heard him talking.

“I don’t care that Preacher James wants a truce,” Jacob said into the phone.  “I will never forgive him for what he did to Marty.”

Marty?  He was the boy that Jenny took care of.  He must have been what?  Twelve?  Why was Jacob talking about him like he was a man?  What did Preacher James do to him?  Oh, no.  Jacob saw me.  He looked through the crack on the side of the door, and he’s hanging up the phone now.  And he’s standing before me.

“What are you doing in here?  Are you listening to my conversation?”

“I…  I was looking at your family.”

“Why?”

“Because mine is not like yours, which was why I left them.”

“You left your family?”

“I did.”

“And how is someone at your age a Returned?”

“I was murdered.”

He was quiet for a long time after that.  “I’m sorry, and the one that…  The one responsible?”

“He’s dead.  I didn’t do it.  I think.”

“Does Jenny know?”  I shook my head.  “How much did you hear?”

“Enough, but I don’t want to fight.”

“You don’t have a choice.”

“Jacob?”  He stopped moving away.  “What did Preacher James do to Marty?”

“Why don’t you ask him when he arrives here?”

I watched him pause by the dresser.  He stared at a picture of his parents.  I could see the tears forming in his eyes.  He quickly wiped them away.  He didn’t want to be a leader.  It was forced upon him just like this fight might be forced upon me.  “Was your family that bad?”  His question surprised me, and it took me a moment to answer.

“Yes,” I said.

“Why?”

“My parents didn’t think much of my future.  They were ready to have me married off and become a fat housewife.  We couldn’t hold one decent conversation.”

“I loved my parents a great deal.  When my mother died…”  He paused for another long moment.  “She never Returned, and my father couldn’t live without her.  He asked for my permission to let go.  That was the hardest thing for me.  Watching him disappear.”  He stared at me for a long moment.  “I never wanted this.”  It was like he read my mind.  “You’re different.  Jenny picked up on that.  I can to, but you don’t know what you are.  Do you?”  I shook my head in response.  “Well, when the time comes, I hope that you do.  Breakfast is downstairs, if you’re hungry.”  He left the room.

I watched him go.  I didn’t feel different.  I felt connected to this place, this town as if there were some kind of connection here, but my parents never mentioned living in Arcadia.  They never really talked about their past.  It was strange, but I never asked.  We never could talk to each other anyway.  We would always argue, and yet, I still remembered these beautiful memories of youth.  Where did it all go wrong?

The voices were finally quiet downstairs.  Jacob was probably back in his study, his father’s study.  Jenny was with Marty.  You would think that she was his mother, but she would correct me and say that she was his big sister.  There was a lot of history here, a lot that I didn’t know about, and they were all keeping that quiet.  Why was the preacher coming here?  Jenny hated him.  Jacob hated him.  How could you trust someone that you hated, and why did they need him now?  What did he have to offer to save all of them, or was it just another ploy?

I wish I knew.  Today had just begun, but I wished for it to be over with.  I wished to walk outside and enjoy the world.  The people here were leaving us alone, but we were on borrowed time.  How long would it take for the government to show up at our doorstep, or the people in this town, who were convinced that we were evil?  The fight was coming.  It was coming soon, and we have to be ready.  I would have to be ready, but when the time comes, would I be ready?  Would I know why I was so different?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Diary of the Returned - 4

Diary of The Returned

Dear R.E.T.U.,

It’s been almost a week.  I didn’t think you would be returned to me.  Apparently, they had to pry you from my fingertips.  They had to examine you, look for codes.  They thought I was a spy.  They were wrong, and I begged, pleaded for your return.  I never thought that I would see you again, but today, after lunch, I found you waiting on my cot by the window.

At first, I didn’t know where I was.  There were so many of us clustered in one space, and then we were driven here.  It’s like a medium square.  We have our sleeping chambers, bathrooms, kitchen, and rec room.  There is also the Black Room, but I’ll get to that later.  I know now that we are held in some kind of government compound outside another town.  She called that town, Arcadia, but how the hell did I wind up in Missouri?  Why am I here?  I want to go home.

Nobody would talk to us.  The soldiers stood guard outside, armed, and they won’t look at us.  They won’t look at me.  The only interaction we have with them is when they come in for another one of us to take, and that one is taken to the Black Room.  We never see them again, and the soldiers return to their stations shortly after.  It scares me.  It scares me a lot how sterile they treat us like we are the virus or its cause, but I was never sick.  It wasn’t me, but maybe, I am guilty by association.  Still, it’s wrong, but I remain their prisoner.

I cried a lot in the beginning.  Nobody consoled me.  They huddled with friends they recognized, or they stayed in corners, lost themselves.  Nobody had any words of comfort to give.  They knew that we would never leave here, and the numbers are dwindling.  I didn’t notice at first, but as she came and put her arm around me, I started to notice.  I listened to her words, smiled at her smile, but I was aware now.  And I started to see those brought with me disappear.  Soon, it would be my turn to enter the Black Room.  Would it be today?  Was that why my journal was left for me now?  Would these be the last words I write?  Please, God, don’t let it be true.

She said that her name was, Jenny.  I can’t tell her age.  She might be in her twenties, if not mid to late twenties.  She’s from Arcadia.  Her parents were gone, but her brother was alive somewhere.  She looked sad when she spoke about him as if something had happened to him, but she would not share those details.  She was one of the first brought here.  The only other one, who has lasted as long as her was the blind woman in the corner.  She barely spoke, and the soldiers left her alone.  But the rest of us?  She looked very sad when I asked her that, and I knew the answer.  My turn was coming.

Why are they doing this to us, I would then demand to know.  She shrugged at first but then grew serious.  There was one among us that hungered for control.  He could bend most of the Returned to his will, but it was the Living that posed a larger threat.  This virus, this epidemic was his doing, and her friends were trying to stop him.  That’s why they hadn’t saved her, and she didn’t believe that they would or could.  He had to be stopped.  The preacher was right, and then she would say no more.  Just enjoy today, and that would always be the last of our conversation.  Until tomorrow.  If I was still here.

I was in the rec room when it happened.  My next door neighbor, the woman that was taken before me, erupted from the Black Room.  She flew madly toward us, knocking the soldiers down that tried to stop her.  She screamed loudly.  She screamed that they were making us disappear.  He found a way.  He found a way to erase us, and as they caught her and dragged her back to that god-awful room, he stood there.  He looked government.  He looked like a twisted weasel, and he looked right at me.  And my skin crawled.  He would not forget me.  I would not forget him, and I wanted to cry again.  My turn is coming.

It’s the next day.  Jenny remained, so did the blind woman.  There were only four of the others including me left.  The soldiers marched in early.  Maybe, it was nine a.m., if not earlier.  They moved toward me.  I’m clinging to you for dear life again.  I think it is my turn, and just as they are mere inches from taking me, Jenny planted herself before them, blocking their prize.  I was amazed that they retreated from her.  Were they scared of her?  I didn’t think so, but she was someone important.  And they were told not to harm her.  Who was protecting Jenny, and would they now protect me too?  And because Jenny protected me, they grabbed the next poor soul, who had a complete meltdown as they dragged him out of the room.

Thank you, I forced out, but it was so hard.  He was disappeared because of me.  Would the others now go before me?  They looked at me with fear and hatred.  I couldn’t blame them.  How did I know that I made friends with someone with protection?  How long could Jenny protect me for?  When we are all gone, she says, they would bring in the next batch to do it all over again.  There were too many of us, and they needed to cut down our population.  She said that she couldn’t save me, so most likely, I might be the last of this batch to go.  But funny enough, I was okay with that, and that sickened me.

I tried talking to the blind woman.  She had very long, blonde hair.  Her skin was almost white.  She wore dark sunglasses over her eyes.  She merely looked at me and did not say a word.  She smiled or what smile she could muster, and that was it.  And I retreated to my cot to write some more, but I don’t know what more to write.  I am going to die.  I died before, but now, I really am going to die.  How do you write about that?  How do you write about the hours melting down into nothing, where you could hear a pin drop?  How do you sleep, dream?  How do you eat?  The end is coming, and I can’t stop it.  Soon, I’ll be in his hands, and he will close them over me forever.  I never wanted to live forever.  I just wanted a normal life, or this one.  I can’t have both.  I can’t have any life.  This is the end, and I can no longer cry about it.  And now she is staying away because it is down to the last two.  Who goes tomorrow?  Her or I?

It was late.  Very late.  I was asleep.  Sunk deep into black oblivion, my tomorrow, but I pulled myself out of it.  I dragged myself to the blinding light now shining over me, and she was yelling something.  She was pulling me toward the now open door.  Where were the soldiers?  Was that gunfire?  What was she saying?

Come on, she yelled, and I followed.  So did the blind woman, and the other one in my batch.  She still looked at me with hatred, but I didn’t care.  We were running now.  We were running toward the gunfire.  I wanted to stop, but Jenny’s hand tightened on my wrist.  We continued to run over the bodies of soldiers.  Were they dead?  Did it matter?

The Black Room hung open.  I shuddered as I ran past it.  I did not see the government weasel guy.  I hoped he was dead.  I didn’t even feel bad thinking that, and then I saw a large group of people appear before us.  They too were Returned, and she screamed a joyous scream as she finally let go of my wrist.  She ran toward one man, who apparently was their leader.  And she said a name.

She said, “Jacob.”


Next Chapter Arrives 2/22/15 at 9 p.m.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Diary of the Returned - 3

Diary of The Returned

Dear R.E.T.,

I never wanted to go back home.  Once I left there, I promised myself that I would not go back.  No matter what happened, I would not go back, but I was wrong.  The world has changed.  The streets are too quiet.  Too many eyes are watching.  The nights are not safe.  I…  I want to go home.

It’s been a week since the quarantine.  The supermarkets were mass chaos.  The mall shut down.  The little stores are barred and sealed.  The homes are barricaded.  There is no sign of life except black vans that now roam these country streets.  Their windows are tinted, and my skin cringes as they slowly, so slowly drive by where I live.  They don’t know.  How could they possibly know?  The only one that did was now dead.  They couldn’t know.

I had enough water and food for another week.  After that, I would be forced to go outside these walls.  The supermarkets were cleared out.  I don’t believe they got any more supplies in.  There is no sign of life out there.  No one would be in the supermarkets.  I’ll have no choice but to go home, but are the buses even running?  Maybe, I could hitch.  Would the drivers take a chance on me?  Would they trust me or try to kill me?  One more week, and then I’ll have to decide.  Maybe, the quarantine would be lifted by then.  Maybe, but I doubt it.

The news was dreadful every night.  The death toll kept rising.  The living kept disappearing.  So few returned, but they were still many.  And many saw them as the enemy, the ones, who tampered with the flu shots.  Why would they?  They were reunited with their loved ones, their families.  Why would they seek to destroy them?  No.  It can’t be true, but the riots were growing.  The survivors were angry, outraged, and many were burned at the stakes.  Some returned.  Some didn’t.  I am glad that they don’t know about me.

I thought I was safe.  Then, last night, this awful scream shattered my sanctuary.  I sat up in bed, soaked with sweat.  I raced to the window and almost threw it open, but then I saw those black vans.  They were parked right across the street.  They looked like soldiers.  They were hauling my neighbor outside, still in her nightgown, and she shrieked.  They zapped her with something, and she fell still.  Was she dead?  Did they kill her?  One man turned my way, and I hurried back into darkness.  Shortly afterward, the vans sped off, but I did not go back to sleep.  I am too afraid now to go back to sleep.

I had oatmeal for breakfast today.  Tuna for lunch.  I might have eggs for dinner.  I’m in the dark.  I’m too afraid to even turn on the lights.  I have a few lanterns for blackouts, and they are coming in handy now.  I only use the electricity when I have to.  I stopped watching television.  It was always the same god-awful news.  There were no more other programs, no more entertainment, or even Reality shows.  It was just the news, and I could not listen to it for another minute.  I could not.

I am just about to eat a hardboiled egg.  Then, I hear a noise.  A creak.  My apartment is on the top floor.  The store below me has been closed for over a week now.  Another creak.  I hurried over to the windows, and sure enough, the black vans are back.  They’re parked right outside.  Another creak.  They’re here.  They’re here for me.  God help me.  They’re here for me!  How do they know!

The door…  They kicked it in.  They’re taking me.  Where are they taking me?  I…  I can’t.  I can’t finish this.  I…  That light.  The one that hit my neighbor.  It’s so warm…  So….

So…

Sunday, February 08, 2015

The Diary of the Returned - 2

Dear R.E.,

They want me to wear a mask.  I thought it was humorous at first with all those sanitary hand machines.  We had to wash our hands in the bathroom.  Then, sanitize them.  Fine.  I was okay with that, but a mask?  I have to wear a mask like Michael Jackson did?

I could understand if I worked in a hospital.  Doctor’s office.  Maybe, even a food place.  But a mall?  A retail store?  I understand that there is this flu outbreak.  I got my shot.  I know that later, it came out that the flu shots were useless.  It was the wrong strain, but I’m not sick.  And most of the customers are not either.  At least, I don’t think they are.

I think they are jumping the gun.  I have hand sanitizer at the register.  When I’m done handling the money, I sanitize my hands.  I have tissues too, and if they need one, I give it.  But a mask?  Why a mask?  I cringed at the hospital when I saw patients wearing them.  It was like something out of a zombie apocalypse.  It’s stupid.  It really is.

What’s worse?  They threatened to fire me.  If I did not agree from the beginning of shift to the end to wear this stupid, itchy, white mask, I would be fired.  If I had a union, I would complain to them.  I don’t.  I make minimum wage.  Nobody’s protecting me, and I need this job.  As it is, I’m just able to pay rent and bills.  I can’t afford to be fired, so fine.  Fine.  They want me to wear this mask?  I’ll wear it.  At least, during the half hour for lunch, I don’t have to, but I hate it.  I really do.

The food court is so scary.  It used to be so boisterous.  Now, it’s a dead zone.  Some places are closed, walled in.  The ones that are open have staff that also wear masks.  There is one Chinese food place, where they don’t.  I kind of admire that, but the lady, who slopped my food into a tray today, had a look of hatred on her face.  Either, she hated her job, or she hated me.  And I wanted nothing more than to grab my slush and run, and I finally did.

As I picked through my broccoli and brown sauce, I looked around at the empty tables and chairs.  Again, I thought of the zombie apocalypse.  I really have to stop watching those movies.  Why can’t I watch a Rom-Com or something?  The food’s not even going down either, and that lady is still glaring at me.  Does she want me to choke on my food?

What a waste of money, but I’m not hungry.  Instead, I returned to work with the mask now plastered on my face.  I tried to appear sympathetic to the customers.  Some understood.  Others were offended.  I even got cursed out by one woman in Spanish.  I didn’t do anything.  This was what management wanted, and I need my job.  I can’t afford to be fired.  I’ll be on the street.  I’m not going back home.  I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is going to be.  There’s nothing that I can do about it.  There’s just nothing that I can do except jump when they tell me to jump, and ask how high.  And I’m hungry on top of that, but I have almost four more hours to go.

I hate my job.

I really do.

The Diary of the Returned - 1

Diary of The Returned (Fan Fiction based off ABC's Resurrection)
by, Melissa R. Mendelson

Dear R.,

I should not be angry.  I know that I should not.  But I am.  I am very angry.  I wonder, if writing once again in a journal would lead to another downfall?  He found the last one.  It hurt him.  It hurt me.  I try not to remember that night.  But I remember.  I am angry.

I saw him once afterward.  He stood in the middle of traffic, gaping at me.  Lost in bewilderment, he never saw the truck coming.  I never saw him after that.  Part of me is glad.  Another part is not.  I wait at night for his return, waiting for him to slip in through the corners of darkness, and wrap his hands around my throat.  If only I did love him.  If only…

I wonder.  Am I capable of love?  My family and I were never close.  I left the minute I graduated high school.  I never wanted to go back.  The men, whose company I kept, were nothing more than mistakes, scars that I still carry.  Maybe, I was a fool, looking for love in all the wrong places.  And then, I found him.  He found me.  He took care of me.  He owned me.  When I desired freedom, he yanked the chains.  He yanked them hard until they broke me.  And he broke me.

I don’t know.  The world’s different.  It’s been different for a very long time now.  Almost two decades.  I was able to slip back into existence.  Nobody knew the wiser.  My family and I rarely talked.  I picked up the pieces like they were nothing, and life is life.  I’ve always been a ghost here.  Nothing new.  I just live alone now, watching the world change.

Why am I angry?  Why do I feel this rage?  First, I was lost, confused.  Then, I was scared, hospitalized for awhile.  They thought it was trauma, and it was.  It was just not the kind that they knew of.  I valued the solitude.  It gave me time to think and plan.  And I planned.

Maybe, I’m wicked.  I wanted revenge.  I didn’t know how to go about it.  I was never that kind of person.  I don’t know what I am now, but I smiled when he disappeared underneath the truck.  I was satisfied.  I wasn’t angry.  I was never angry.  Until now.

Maybe, it’s the new laws.  Maybe, it’s the controversy.  Maybe, because when working in retail, I can see how we really are.  We look at each other, searching for the unseen enemy.  There is no trust.  Only suspicion.  If only they can tell who is really standing before them, but instead, they live in fear.  And so did I.

I should be scared.  Anger killed that.  Maybe, I am angry because I want to be left alone.  I don’t want to answer questions, give blood, or tell my story.  That is why I turned to you.  If anyone were to know my story, my truth, it will be you, but the hour is late.  Nine p.m.  I’m tired, so for now I will only say this.

Until we meet again.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Free Book Giveaway - Porcelain



 
 


    Goodreads Book Giveaway
 

   

        Porcelain by Melissa R. Mendelson
   

   

     


          Porcelain
     
     


          by Melissa R. Mendelson
     

     

         
            Giveaway ends March 05, 2015.
         
         
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.
         
     
   
   


      Enter to win



Melissa Mendelson’s Porcelain, a horror novella in her upcoming Notebook Stories series, features Paige and Shelli, sisters spending a seemingly monotonous summer together with family in a middle-of-nowhere town. Troubled Paige and troublesome Shelli, exploring the few entertainment options this little Hicktown has to offer, happen upon an eerie antique store, and here begins the story’s classically frightening arc – a large ominous window hides the store’s angry shopkeeper and his angry, potentially possessed porcelain doll. With resentment for the insane shopkeeper and well-intentioned pity for her sister, Shelli brings the doll home for Paige’s amusement – but who will become the real plaything as the tale unfolds? 

- See more at: http://www.gadflyonline.com/home/index.php/literature-review-melissa-mendelsons-porcelain-classically-thrilling/#sthash.qHIfeRlx.dpuf