Authors: Camden McInnis
As we made our final ride into Sleepy Creek, I couldn’t help but think how shallow those kind of thoughts were. How immature and juvenile. I realized that I just didn’t live in Sleepy Creek. It was apart me, it was apart of all of us, and we were all the better for it. For all its weirdness and occasional narrow-mindedness, it was a fine place to grow up.
Which made it all the more heartbreaking as we made our way onto main street and saw all of the bodies.
Every house we passed, bodies littered the lawns and yards. People we had known for years—decades—laid out dead, their throats torn open, their bodies emaciated, drained dry of every scrap of life.
I tried to ignore them all.
I tried to ignore the creatures still feasting on my 4th-grade teacher, Mr. Applebee. I tried to ignore them tearing Ali’s mom apart limb-from-limb. I tried to ignore Stan being tackled to the ground, his voice full of fear and anguish. I tried to ignore Billy jumping off his bike, two sticks of dynamite in his hands, lit, and charging towards the pile of monstrous bodies that were tearing his brother and best friend to pieces.
I tried to ignore the explosion and the way it made my ears ring with the deafening wail of an imaginary siren that was nothing more than one of my eardrums turning to liquid.
I ignored it all and simply focused on making it to the end of main street and my mother’s house.
All I wanted was to make sure she was okay. I wanted to make sure she was safe.
I stepped into the house just as the sun was beginning to rise and I was greeted by the familiar smell of my mom’s coffee wafting from the kitchen. I let my blood-stained machetes fall softly to the worn carpet of the living room. For some reason, I couldn’t remember hurting anyone with the blades, but yet I was covered in blood.
I didn’t know if it was my own or one of the things that had devoured my hometown in a single night.
None of that mattered, though. I was home. I was home with mom.
As I walked inside the darkened kitchen, the smell of coffee was joined by another familiar stink that I hadn’t experienced in years.
Mom sat at the kitchen table, her face shrouded, a cup of coffee warming in her hands, a cigarette burning in her old, long-neglected ashtray.
I smile at the sight of her.
“Hey, mom,” I said, my voice coming out in a thirsty croak. “Sorry, I’m late.”
“Hi, baby. I was wondering when you’d be back home. I’m glad you’re okay.”
“I’m glad you’re okay, too. What made you want a cigarette tonight?”
“Oh, well, an old friend stopped by for coffee a couple of hours ago, and I thought cigarette sounded good. It’s not like they’re going to hurt me anymore anyway.”
“Oh, yeah, who stopped by?”
“Actually, she’s an old friend of yours. Ali came by to show me something wonderful and new, and now I want to share it with you, too.”
“That’s great, mom. Why don’t you come over here and show it to me. But let me turn on a light first so I can see it better.”
The dynamite feels slick in my hand like it’s been sweating, but all it is blood.
So much blood but the sticky dampness doesn’t stop it from lighting and filling the room with its sputtering, jumping flame.
“That’s better,” I say with a smile. “Now why don’t you come over here so I can see you better in the light.”
TO BE CONTINUED- Part 2 coming soon.