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Home arrow Writings arrow The Tainted
In moments of crisis, one tends to focus more solely on the bare necessities; food, water, shelter, and in this particular case, just staying alive when there are hordes of undead lurking in alleyways and wherever else was dimly lit, just waiting for it to be dark enough to strike again.

Angela Gibbons crept closer to the window. She tried not to imagine what could be waiting there; the decaying face of a zombie peering in through the smudged glass, just waiting to purse its dead lips together and whisper 'boo'. Yeah, like a bad spoof of a horror movie. She tried to tell herself she wasn't worrying over nothing; she had heard knocking on the door earlier, growing more and more frantic until it cut off suddenly.

And now there was tapping on the window.

She gripped the baseball bat as hard as she could, but in her sweaty hands the metal was slick. She pulled back the curtains, starting with just the very edge of the fabric, and almost went into cardiac arrest.

"Angela! Let me in! Fuck!" Carter's face was bleeding. There was a frantic look in her eyes. The sun was setting; Angela wondered how long she had been on the outside.

She walked to the door, but hesitated with her hand on the knob. How did she know that Carter hadn't been tainted, her blood blackened? She went back to the window. She knocked on it until Carter, who had gone to wait at the door, appeared again. The confusion was plain on her face.

"Angela!"

"I need to see your blood," Angela said, fighting to keep her voice steady.

Carter looked to the darkening sky, and then back to Angela. "Can't it wait 'til I'm inside?"

Angela didn't budge. "No. It can't."

Carter looked warily to the sky again. "Fuckin' A, Angela," she said in frustration, but brought the pad of her thumb to her mouth anyway. She bit down hard, and a moment later pressed it onto the window.

The bloody thumbprint was red.

Carter's lips had spots of blood on it, drops of it from her thumb that had dripped onto her chin. She looked.. Angela wasn't sure what it was, but Carter didn't look..right, not like that.

"Angela! Please!"

Angela looked at the thumbprint again. It was still red, but how long did it take for tainted blood to turn black anyway? She knew that if someone had been tainted for a long time they bled black instantly, but for the newly tainted it would take a little longer to change. But how long? She didn't know for sure. Fuck.

"Angela!" Carter's voice sounded desperate. The sky was steadily darkening outside. In a few moments the sun would disappear completely from view, hiding from all of the ruin, grateful not to have to look down on an unrecognizable world until the next morning.

Angela took one last long look at the thumbprint - it was still red - and nodded. She walked to the front door, and when she opened it Carter rushed inside. She went straight to the couch and collapsed onto her back. Angela locked the door back, and put a chair underneath the knob. She hoped to God it would be enough to keep them out. She tried not to think about the fact that if they found her she'd be done for anyway, whether or not the door was locked or left wide open.

Angela finally had a chance to take a good look at Carter; her cropped blonde hair was dirty, streaked with mud and grime, sticking to her face. Her eyes were bloodshot, one of them with actual blood, as if something had burst there. There was a bruise above her eye. Angela didn't want to know how she got it.

Her jeans were smudged, dirt on the knees; her shoes breaking apart at the soles from running for so long over and through only God knows what. Her shirt was torn and riding up, exposing nearly an inch of her bare, pale abdomen. There was a scratch there, long and completely straight. A perfect red line of a scab.

Angela closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to forget she had seen it. It didn't mean anything, not for certain. After all, Angela herself had a few cuts of her own.

But hers were messy. When tainted blood gets in open wounds it cleans them up perfect. But Angela knew Carter; she was a meticulous girl. She suffered from OCD, so it wasn't like she could help it, even now, in the midst of everything that was happening. If Carter got a cut she wouldn't be able to ignore the compulsion to stop whatever she was doing and clean it properly. Dirty hair and messy clothes she could handle, but Carter's Achilles' heel was blood, her own especially.

There were tears streaming down Carter's face, and she looked drained, like every other survivor Angela had glimpsed from the safety of a window. Her doubts receded further into the back of her mind.

Carter was stretched out on the couch, long limbs hanging over. She reached a hand out for Angela then, in the extemporaneous way one does when they can't imagine any reason why the person they are imploring would deny them. Angela took it in her own, and Carter pulled her down on top of her. In a moment shaking arms were squeezing her so hard it hurt.

"Oh God, Angie, what the hell is going on?" Carter sobbed into her ear. Quiet, secret weeping that Angela had never heard from her before.

She didn't say anything, just felt her own tears stinging her eyes. Fucked if she knew. One minute life was as close to perfect as it was ever going to get for an openly gay nineteen year old stuck living in her parent's house, and the next she was an orphan by her own doing.

Angela buried her face into the crook of Carter's neck. She figured if she tried hard enough, maybe she could pretend that this was just a regular Friday night for them; date night with her girlfriend, snuggling on the couch in front of a bad movie, trying to get each other off before her parents got home..

In a moment of quiet but frantic desperation, Angela licked Carter's neck. Please, please let it taste the same. Let Carter taste like Carter. Let her at least still have that.

Only, it didn't. Oh fuck, it really didn't. Angela almost gagged. And the smell, her smell.. Angela's nose may have still been a tad stuffy from crying, but it was not right, her scent, not at all..

Angela shot up, pulling herself frantically out of Carter's arms.

Carter sat up, confused. "Angela?"

Angela didn't look at her, or answer her; just picked up the baseball bat where it lay abandoned on the carpet. The sweat had dried on the duct-taped handle, but it still shook in her hands. She wasn't sure how she was even managing to lift it, much less how she would even bring herself to do what she knew she had to.

Her parents had been difficult, and she didn't think this would be any easier.

Carter got up and walked towards her. There were more tears in her eyes. Funny, the tainted didn't experience fear anymore. Then again, they were great actors; they needed to be if they wanted food that they didn't have to work too hard for. Angela had to remember these weren't the stupid movie-zombies that walked towards you at a snail's pace, their arms outstretched. No, these things were smart; they preferred to be invited into their victim's home as a guest, to have their prey come to them, even. They were predators who played mind games rather than give chase.

Angela wouldn't let herself be fooled.

"Angie?"

"Don't come any closer," Angela commanded. Her voice was soft; it wouldn't go any louder. Her hands would still not stop shaking, and the bat felt too heavy. How was she lifting it? How the fuck was she going to do this? The putrid smell wafted past her nostrils again. The smell reminded her suddenly of the little Baker girl from down the block. Sweet girl, she had been. Yes, a sweet girl, now a bloodstained girl with a bloodstained doll, both torn apart and left in the middle of the street. Angela would've thought it was the work of wild animals if she had not seen worse over the last few days.

Fear. It was a strong motivator.

"Angela, what're you.. Baby?" Carter was starting to sob again. Angela didn't look at her face, but she could still hear her. She just had to remember that it wasn't Carter anymore. It was a thing.

Her girlfriend was dead, and this impersonator was about to go screaming down that same dark rabbit hole.

Carter stepped forward again, and Angela's arms moved of their own accord, a reflex born in the last few days of a combination of fear, paranoia, and the will to survive. The sound of metal breaking bone - a hard skull - didn't register in her ears, nor did the screaming, the crying. No, there was no sound besides her own breathing as the bat continued to move, back and forth, like she was trying for a prize. The biggest stuffed animal at the whole damn carnival if she did this right.

Carter went down, but it didn't matter. She just kept hitting, kept hitting until there was nothing completely solid left, until it was all just a mess on her carpet.

Angela lowered her arms, her whole body shaking, dropping the bat onto the floor. It barely made a sound, the crash muffled by the carpet. She wondered if she should wipe the blood from the bat, maybe clean up the mess on the floor.

Mostly she tried not to think of the possibility that she was wrong. But she had tasted Carter's skin and it had not been right. Her scent was all wrong as well.

And besides, there was no time for doubt. Not now, not in this brand new day and age.

Angela walked over to the window. It was just about dark now. By the glow of a distant streetlight, the thumbprint shone red on the glass.

She wondered again how long it took for tainted blood to turn black.

She wondered if it had been that long already.

You see, in moments of crisis, one tends to have to make crucial life or death decisions with very little time to consider all of the possibilities.

They are not always the right ones.

-FIN-


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