I can hear them, moaning and dragging their feet 5 storeys below. The broken window did not just fail to stop the cold night breeze, but the sounds of the dead as well. It has been like this for years now, and their presence no longer inflicts fear. Tonight however… I find myself afraid.
No, I am not afraid of the brainless bodies roaming the streets, I am afraid of me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not bitten or infected, but on nights like these I find another virus devouring my soul. It rips me apart, and no matter how hard I fight it, it would not stop. I guess it is safe to say I fear what is inside of me more than what is around me.
As I lay tightly snugged in my sleeping bag, all I can think about is giving in. The urge to walk into the infested street and be a free meal grows stronger as my inner monologue continues. Yes, I want to be a zombie. Life for them seems so much easier. They don’t need to scavenge for food, hide in the dark, run for their lives, or do anything a living, breathing person needs to do. The daily routine of rotting bodies are merely walking, moaning, and chasing. They can even stop chasing if they want to.
Frankly, wouldn’t it be nice to chase instead of be chased? Isn’t life so much more blissful when your mind stops working and the emotions just leave your body? I want that. I know this sounds like crazy talk, but I want that. I’m tired of trying to survive and I feel like giving in. Why do I even bother trying?
As much as I want to disagree with myself, I can’t. And honestly, I’m starting to scare myself. I find it so hard to carry on that staying alive makes no sense to me. Am I the only one feeling this way? Are the others in my group sleeping or thinking these very same thoughts as well? I feel so alone sometimes that I’m tempted to spill my guts to someone. They might turn around and shoot me in the head, but at least then I’m dead… right?
Oh God, I don’t want to live like this anymore. I… wait. I hear something.
There’s something at the door… a stray most probably.
It’s really nothing to worry about, but that stray might draw attention. How did it get up here anyway? Better safe than sorry.
“Guys, get up!” I whisper, shaking the teenage girl sleeping not too far from me.
Everyone slowly sits up, but none of them look like they have slept at all.
“There’s a stray,” I casually say. “I’ll handle it.”
Picking up the bat by the side of the door, I wrap my hand around the knob preparing for an attack. I can hear its moans through a tiny gap, and it is definitely alone.
Not hesitating, I pull the door open and raise the bat above my head. I was thinking of swinging it down on that brainless, stinking shell, but my hand is not moving.
What am I doing?
When the zombie reaches for me, I react with a shove. As it reaches again, I shove again. Three times, I just shove.
“What are you doing?!” a man from my group shouts at me.
I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing. Am I seriously thinking of letting it bite me? Why am I not killing it? What is wrong with me?
Oh no, they are returning. The thoughts of wanting to give in, and the temptation of becoming one of them are returning. My body was and will not do the right thing, because I secretly do not want to.
Despite that, I think I’m the only one right now who is not confuse at what is going on. My group members are questioning me and this zombie is wondering why he keeps stumbling backwards. Of course, I can end all the confusion if I want to, but how should I end it?
Just then, I hear the voice of the teenage girl. She lost both her parents 3 years ago, and has been on her own till we recently found her.
“Simon, don’t give in,” she says, in the midst of the other shouts.
Her voice is somehow clearer than the rest as I hear her say, “Being alive means being a possibility… a possibility to change and reshape what is left of this world. It’s not easy, I know, but it is never easy being different.”
The words that just left her lips strike a chord in the darkest part of my soul. She is right, she is so right. I used to fight when it was not easy, why am I not fighting now?
Without any more hesitation, I lift the bat once again and bring it down in full force. The moaning and the questions stop immediately.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me,” I say, as I turn to face my group members.
My actions are starting to leave doubts in them about me. I don’t think they can trust me much now. But at least there is one person among them who actually gets it. She understands what is going on inside and she managed to speak some sense.
I cannot guarantee that those thoughts will not return, but for now, I’ll fight to stay alive. It will not be easy, but I’m a possibility of reshaping what is left of my world. And that seems like a good enough reason… for now.
Two simple words represents this fictional story in reality; peer pressure.
How many times are we faced with the decision to go with the flow? How many times have we given up on our morality just because what everyone else is doing seems right and easy?
We are not strangers to peer pressure and we face it everyday. From life changing decisions to the food we eat for lunch, we are constantly struggling to choose between staying different or following the crowd.
Yes, we know that being different is not easy and it can be tiring. We might be ridiculed, laughed at, and even rejected, but being different means having a unique voice. This unique voice can actually reshape the world, or at least the world around us.
Don’t give in to peer pressure just because it is easier. Keep fighting for what you believe in, and never give in no matter how hard it gets!
Anyways, let me know what you think of this short story in the comments below! This is actually my first time writing in present tense, and it was definitely not as easy as it seemed. Nope, I was not pressured to do it 😛
© 2013 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)
20 thoughts on “The Virus Inside”
[I, J-HA, have returned and, can I just say, your English is good! I just found and watched your handful of video-logs and, while I knew you weren’t American, I thought English was your first language. As I read your blog I now realize that you are actually writing in English, not having it translated to English. Wow, that raises so many questions but the one I really want answered is will you be my valentine today? I know that’s forward but, I find that quality so attractive!]
_Anyway, you have done it again: established a central character through their inner thoughts; given them a moral dilemma; and, through the plot, have him/her make the right choice. I’m always impressed by the way you motivate me to believe your character’s situations. In this story, it happened here: “Frankly, wouldn’t it be nice to chase instead of be chased?” The irony, and comedy, and tragedy of the question all meet together in such a way that I, and many other readers, feel something.
____My criticism is that I wanted something more tactile from the teenage girl. You relied on her dialogue to carry the emotion and that left me feeling like something was missing. Which impacts you more: a scene of dialogue where a married couple are arguing about one of them cheating or, a scene of silence between the couple where one person, realizing they’ve been cheated on, goes and flushes the wedding ring down the toilet? I hope you’re starting to understand. Simon says, “she lost both her parents 3 years ago” so where’s her favorite picture of them? Maybe she wears their clothes so she’ll always have them around her? At the very least, might she have ‘Mom & Dad’ tattooed on her arm? Now, when she shouts “don’t give in”, the impact is greater as Simon remembers her story and the tactile symbol of her resolve. You comment on your own writings anyway; don’t you think it’s somewhat redundant to explain the point of your story after your characters?
_I enjoy your writing. I read through your comments before I write my own and I see how you encourage people with your stories. You give them hope, either, to write something of their own or to be better people. As your prose sensitivities sharpen, I know your impact will be even greater. Last thing, your editing slipped here: “When the zombie reaches FROM me, I react with a shove.” It’s: FOR me.
Welcome back! Haha! Thank you, if only I can master another language as well as I do English, then I would definitely get into translation. Would be nice to have my works in other languages too 🙂 If you don’t mind me asking though, why did you think my works were translated? Was it the style of writing? I would definitely like to know.
As for your request to be your valentine, I’m flattered 🙂 Though I think, valentines day would already be over as I post this reply. I hope it isn’t too late for you.
Anyway, thank you for the comment and criticism. You brought up a good point. I’m definitely at a stage where I’m constantly learning to build my characters better. One has to improve, am I right? As for explaining the story, it’s not so much about repeating the point but hoping people see it. Stories can just be stories, but I want my readers to know that I endeavour to write stories with meaning. Hence why I do that all the time.
I’m glad you do 🙂 Thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it and it helps in bettering my writing. Oh, and I’ll be sure to make that edit.