Can I call you ******? I hope so. It just feels a little strange under the circumstances to call you Mr. ****** (plus that was the name of my high school English teacher).
My name is Zephyr, and this is sort of a fan letter, I think. I am (was?) a graduate student of Art History.
Things are...rough...where I am right now. Sometimes it's a little hard to keep going. When I really need company, and I can make it down to this lab, or the archive, I read what you do. I dunno, maybe it's like the guys in WWII who took pinups with them...
Anyway, back when I was reading ****************, about you and *****--wow. I couldn't help but think, "I wish that was me." You were so amazing with her. You treated her so well. And it was so hot! *****************************************************
When you **************, it broke my heart it was so tender.
So, sometimes, when it's late and I've made it somewhere I can lock myself in, somewhere strong enough that they can't break through, I get to sleep. I can't nod off right away. I'm just not...with those blood curdling noises they make outside...
...in my head, I get out of this place. I come visit **************. I find some job or other. And I get to meet you. And that's enough. It's enough for one more night of rest. Enough to keep me going another day.
So...thank you, *******. Thanks for being my pin up guy. ^_~
P.S. I hope this gets through...all the television and radio broadcasts stopped months ago. But if it doesn't...well, in my dream, I never write fan letters. <3
Zephyr looked around her nest, made in the university’s archives. She never knew if she was saying goodbye to the tiny, safe haven. Protected by underground walls painted institutional beige, it smelled of paper and toner. One of the neon bulbs overhead flickered and buzzed its own funeral dirge. A platoon of filing cabinets fortified her pallet of soft clothes, pillows, and bed linens. It wouldn’t stop them if they got in the room, but it made it easier to sleep.
She packed canned goods and a pair of black Chuck Taylors into her backpack. Lastly, she carefully nestled in three heavily illustrated tomes. The jewel-toned paintings printed inside were her treasures. Earlier, her fellow scholars would have laughed at some of her choices. These days they mostly snarled and fought over their kills.
It had been eleven months, seventeen days, and four hours since the first newscast about the unnamed epidemic. At first experts thought the lumps underneath people’s arms and jaws meant some new strain of bubonic plague. Then the swellings migrated and hatched new flesh: eyes, mouths, and ghastly appendages. She remembered the colors that Jenn’s skin had finally turned near the end, shades of bruise from purple-black, through green, to a sickly pale yellowish color, laced with red veins.
Her chest ached. Zeph shook it off and looked out her hand-drilled peephole. Her pulse beat in her ears. Counting to sixty, she saw no movement. She kissed a tattoo inside her left wrist. “Wish me luck Jenn.”
She wanted the shimmer she’d seen in the “briar patch” of thorns and vines to come back. Before, it had glistened into view when she thought of taking racy photos for her new pen pal. She grinned and palmed her forehead. She had finally gone around the bend. She should be trying to find out where this survivor really was. West coast maybe? Instead she was stripped down to denim short-shorts and trying to figure out how to take a timed picture when she heard a noise like grinding bone. She swallowed and carefully looked over her shoulder.
Oh crap. It was Dr. Lang again. Before, he had been cute in a tweedy, suede elbow patches kind of way. When she used to stay after class to grill him about the days’ lectures, he seemed tolerant and a bit flattered. Now he was chilling in a violet spinal protrusions way. Mostly she was able to stay clear. But every once in a while he caught up. She really, really didn’t want to think about why he had such a fixation.
She backed towards a tree trunk, scooping her pack onto one shoulder. He greased her with his skewed three-eyed gaze. Then he was tearing at the foliage and she was scraping her chest as she yanked herself up the tree. Branch by branch she scrambled higher, hooking her elbows and knees over each limb. The silver loop in her nipple caught in the bark and she shrieked an involuntary curse. There was a terrible ripping noise below. She looked back while trying to disentangle herself and saw Dr. Lang’s new friends. Her breath began to sob in her chest. Finally pulling free, she felt the branch slip out from under her. Her eyes widened and her arms flailed, but she was already falling.