Monday, November 26, 2012

Flash fiction: The Last Letter of Zachary Albrecht

A little while ago I took twenty-six of my mom's sleeping pills, and now I'm waiting to die.

Ben, in his infinite wisdom, used to claim that my talk of suicide was just a textbook cry for attention and that I'd never do anything really drastic. Could I have finally proven you wrong about something, Ben, or would you just say that under the circumstances this isn't drastic at all? "Drastic," after all, is a relative term. Eric Hoffer, who contemplated suicide once himself, said, "In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future." Fair enough. Goes on to say, "The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." Hoffer, I suspect, understood what was coming. I find myself at the end of high school, supposedly about to take the plunge into "real life," exquisitely well-prepared for a world that has ceased to be. Just my luck.

Killing myself was never really an option in high school, even though I did talk about it every now and then. Life usually sucks for everyone my age, even for the so-called popular kids, but I had the added stress of growing up in a single-parent family. Mom couldn't do it all alone, so she expected me to take on all the responsibilities of an adult. None of the perks went along with it. Once in a great while I'd get away from homework and responsibility and do something worth remembering. Picking bouquets from the flowerbeds outside the county courthouse on a spring midnight, and dropping them off on Vera's front porch. Quiet walks with Vera through the veterans' graveyard in the autumn, shuffling through the brightness of the fallen leaves, where neither one of us had to say a word to be happy.

Ridiculous, now, to think that such simple things could take on so much vibrant meaning in my mind. Still, those memories were what sustained me when visits to that or any graveyard became too dangerous. They helped me cope when I could no longer visit friends at midnight, or even after dark. Under the strictures of martial law, under quarantine, under siege, under the pressures of survival in hiding, I kept my thoughts of Vera alive, and it kept me sane as I watched the others around me slowly losing their wits -- but now...

Vera is gone, and Ben is gone, and Mom is gone. When everyone you ever loved or cared about is dead, or worse, what else can possibly matter?

Xeroxed copies of newspaper clippings collected from the outside pass from hand to hand in the bomb shelter, for survivors hungry for any kind of hope, and sometimes I glance at them, but they bring no solace now that the apocalypse has spread worldwide -- the way I see it, it's just a matter of time now before they find us. You who find and read this note, whoever you are: promise me you'll do what we couldn't and find a way to destroy them, the way they destroyed my future, my hope, my reason for living.

Zombies must be a lot better learners than you imagined, Mr. Hoffer, because it appears they're the only ones who will inherit the future.

1 comment:

Soozcat said...

So, readers, if you can tell me what's unusual about this little flash fiction (well, other than the whole zombie thing), I shall award you a prize! To be determined by me!