It isn't unusual for me to have weird and/or violent dreams. I awaken - heart pounding in my neck and ears, terrified. Then, I remember who I am, where I am. The world settles. I get up, pee, get back in bed, get back to sleep. Only rarely do I have dreams that leave me shivering, almost in tears.
Last night, I had one.
Thinking over it, I know I've had dreams that were more frightening, more cringe-worthy than this one, but something about it left me so scared that I woke up Fluffy. I asked him to snuggle me and whimpered. It's one of the few times I made a point to adhere to an old wives' tale that states that if you tell a dream before breakfast, it will come true. I waited until after lunch.
Zombie apocalypse. I am wandering around my parents' neighborhood - down in the part of the loop where their house is - carrying a bloodstained baseball bat. I am a survivor.
Fluffy is with me, as are a few other men. We have cleared the area of zombies, but they are so widespread, so pervasive, we are never safe anywhere for long. We know of a checkpoint nearby, and all but one of the men decide to drive one of the trucks that way in hopes of finding out what is happening.
The man and I stand by my parents' mailbox. The sky is gray, darkening as night approaches. A car comes up the drive from the neighbor's house, and a woman and a 6 year old child get out of it. She waves an automatic rifle and a radio.
"It doesn't look good," she says. "I hope they reach the outpost soon. From what I've heard, this area is so overpopulated, they think the only way to neutralize the situation is to nuke it. I just hope they come get us, or at least give us a chance to clear the radius."
It's dusk now, and the man has built a fire down by the hard woods at the edge of my parents' yard. I stand at the top of the yard, scanning the road, scanning how the patchy grass and moss slope at first sharply and then gently down, down to the campsite.
The child is playing, running. His mother isn't paying attention, and he picks up the rifle. The man tells him not to touch it, and the child drops it. The safety isn't on.
Bullets, rapid, everywhere. She's running to the child. They are screaming, screaming as their bodies are mutilated. I throw up my arm, as if that can protect me. Dirt, twigs, bits of moss pepper my legs, and when the pop-pop-pop stops, they are dead. Dead. Shredded,empty flesh bags - facedown in the leaves near the fire.
The man steps out from behind an oak he used as a shield. He looks at me. "My God." In the firelight, I see his Adam's apple bob. Then, I hear the moaning.
"I don't want to die," I say. "I don't want to be undead."
I awoke with tears in my throat and clawing for Fluffy's arm.