A Zombie Romance story in three parts. Part I can be found here if you missed it on Tuesday.
Saying Goodbye – Part II
The ceiling above him was unfamiliar – blank white tile with utilitarian bright lighting. It was as if he was in a hospital or something, not at home.
He felt Tessa squeeze his fingers and turned to face her, smiling – nothing beat waking up beside her every day, even after being together for so long.
She was sat in a slightly-too-low chair beside him, her face pale and her eyes bloodshot.
Something was wrong.
Sitting up, he scanned the room they were in – white walls, metal cabinets, machines, screens, a giant mirror. This was not home.
“Tess, what’s going on? Where are we?”
Tessa had to swallow before she could speak, she looked more than a little afraid. “You tripped and hit your head, Mitchell. There was nothing they could do, you had a fit and no matter what they tried your body just kept giving up. They tried so hard, they did.”
Mitchell fell his stomach plummet. “What do you mean?”
“Mitch, you’re dead.” Tessa’s composure finally crumbled and she put her face in her hands and sobbed. “I’m so sorry.”
Mitchell hated seeing Tessa cry, instinctively he swung himself round so he was facing her and pulled her against him. She was sobbing against his legs then, her tears warm through his jeans as she cried herself into silence. “Shhh, it’s not your fault.”
So, this is what it was like to Resurrect. Mitchell had wondered, it was just a bizarre idea – dying and then waking up again. He didn’t remember as much as he had imagined he would. Well, he could remember his life and everything like that – but of his death, he had no memory at all. It was like the first thing that happened was that his brain turned off.
After a while, Tessa sat up, wiping her face on her sleeves and fussing with her hair. She wouldn’t look at him, it was as if she was going to catch death off him if she met his eyes.
“Tessa, look at me.”
She stared at the floor.
Tessa’s brown eyes slowly raised up to meet his and her composure faltered again. He saw the corner of her mouth twitch as she tried to force away the tears and had to resist jumping off the table and wrapping his arms around her.
He wasn’t sure if that would push her too far though. She had, after all, just watched him die.
“I didn’t know what you would want me to do, Mitchell.” Her voice was small and shook almost as violently as her body was doing. “I never thought we’d have to do all this. I never asked…”
Unable to hold back any longer, Mitchell slid off the metal table he had been sitting on and crouched by her side, wrapping his arms around her and breathing in the smell of her hair. He smiled. Cherries. Tessa always smelled of cherries, it was one of his favourite things – though now he thought about it, he wasn’t sure he’d ever told her that.
“I love the smell of your shampoo,” he murmured into her hair, not wanting to move away from her warmth.
“It’s just the same one I always use.”
“I know. I have always loved it, I just never thought to say it.” Mitchell rocked back on his heels so that he could look at Tessa’s face. “There’s probably going to be lots of things like that now, isn’t there? Things we never said because there’s always next time.”
“Does that mean you’re staying?” Tessa’s eyes wandered over his shoulder to something at the other side of the room.
Mitchell nodded. “If that’s what you want? Just for a while, it doesn’t have to be the whole year if that’s too much to ask. I just want to make sure you’ll be okay when I…”
Tessa nodded and closed her eyes in a long blink. A single tear escaped and rolled down her cheek, Mitchell leaned forward and kissed it away.
“I’m not going to just leave you, Tessa Evangeline Roberts, I meant what I said in those wedding vows of ours. ‘In sickness and in health’ – well I guess this is sickness and I am not just going to abandon you when I have the option not to. I love you, Tess. I didn’t mean to die.” Mitchell felt his voice crack but his eyes were dry. Zombies couldn’t cry, the virus wasn’t that clever.
“I know. I’m sorry too, Mitchell. I love you.” Tessa dropped out of her chair onto the floor in front of Mitchell and wrapped her arms tight around him. “Can we go home?”
Gently, Mitchell helped Tessa to her feet trying to ignore the fact that he had just noticed his total lack of a heartbeat.
It was odd, only now that it was missing did he realise how much he had previously been aware of it. There was no gentle thumping in his chest after the exertion of standing up, no heavy breathing, nothing. It was like he was dead.
He was dead.
Mitchell shuddered. He kept forgetting that part.
Not very long since, he had died. Dead as a Dodo.
Yet here he was, helping his wife find her balance and doing his best not to look at the pistol on the cabinet at the side of the room. She had held that gun in her hands and thought about shooting him.
He couldn’t blame her. He might even have done it, if their roles had been reversed. Who knew?
But she hadn’t and now she wanted to go home.
If Tessa wanted to go home, then home they would go.
He had 365 days after all. They didn’t need to start worrying about what they were going to do until tomorrow at least.
First they needed to go home and get some sleep.
Mitchell led the way to the door, but it was Tessa who reached out and pushed the green button marked ‘EXIT’ which released the automatic locks and allowed the door to be pushed open.
They were met by a doctor in a lab coat and Mitchell guessed by Tessa’s half-smile that he had been one of the ones trying to save his life earlier.
“We would like to go home, please.” Tessa’s voice was stronger now, but still quiet.
“Certainly, Mrs Roberts.” The doctor inclined his head in Mitchell’s direction, “Mr Roberts, are you feeling well? You had a very smooth Resurrection. Very calm.”
“I feel… fine, thank you.” Mitchell felt awkward all of a sudden, like he had walked into a party that he wasn’t invited to. One where all the other guests needed to breathe, and he didn’t.
“Excellent! Well, if you would just allow me to attach this to your left leg, then you can be on your way. I’ll help you to check out at the desk – you need to register as Resurrected, Mr Roberts, as your current status will read ‘Deceased’. Lift your trouser leg a little… ” The doctor bent down and carefully attached the tag around Mitchell’s ankle.
It was cold but soon warmed to his skin temperature. There was a sharp pain when the doctor secured the clip but it quickly faded as he stood up.
The doctor began walking down the corridor, smiling genially. “Now, if you would like to follow me, I will show you where to get yourself signed up.”
Signed up. As a Zombie.
Mitchell shook his head as they started walking. It was a very weird feeling, being registered dead but walking down a hospital corridor and getting smiled at by nurses. It was all going to take a lot of getting used to.
He almost wished Tessa had pulled the trigger when she’d had the chance.