Of Tomb and Cradle
Be a true citizen and save canned goods, water, paper, plastic, metal, batteries, and anything else that is necessary for a functioning civilization! But don't forget - conserve ammunition!
Sacrifice now, in order to build for our future! Go carefully forward and forage! And...
...LET'S GO FORWARD TOGETHER!
- Propaganda distributed throughout
Atlanta Protectorate, 2017 AD
Part 3 - Conclusion
"Alright, here's the plan, we're going to go several klicks into Suburban Area A-6, where you and I will conduct a routine foraging operation. We load up with as much as we can carry in canned goods, then we head back. Nothing extra-special, Ms. Carson." Sure, it was routine, Lindsey supposed, unless one were to take into consideration the fact that Area A-6 was a fair distance out from the urban held territory of Atlanta Protectorate. But, she supposed that would make sense, especially when most of the canned goods would have been cleared out of areas within close proximity to the barricades.
"How long do we expect to be out there?"
"Maybe a day. Maybe two."
"I certainly hope one of us has a deck of cards, then." Said Lindsey. Captain Daniels smirked at that comment. Two days in Zombie Land?! Lindsey's sense and sensibilities screamed out.
"Ms. Carson, with all the company we'll have out there, I hope one of us brings a game of Twister." That made Lindsey burst out laughing. It was a bad sign indeed when people made such humor out of impending death at the ragged hands of the undead. To make matters worse, Lindsey could not stop laughing. Hell, the Captain gave in and chuckled a little.
Lindsey could not remember the last time she felt so alive. They were about to walk into what many would consider a possible suicide mission, yet she felt invincible. That was an air that Lindsey thought she had grown out of. She damned well hoped that Science and Medical had not been fucking with them about what the super-cure/virus/whatever could do.
Lindsey and the captain stood around waiting for the front line troops to divert enough zombies to leave an opening for their departure. She hoped no soldiers would be lost just to protect her and Captain Daniels. She relaxed a little, when she realized once again that there was now a cure and a vaccine for the deathening. She would have to beat that new reality into her head with a stick.
She marveled at the thought of how many people could be saved. Not only would the growing numbers of undead be stopped, but fucking with humans would now be more hazardous for them. One bite used to be enough to kill a human, now one bite would be enough to kill them.
Life was such a wheel.
Now we're on top again. Lindsey hoped she was right. How many typical human fuck-ups had resulted in their current position? She had seen many, and had long since lost count.
A grimy looking lieutenant ran up to the captain and presented a sharp salute. He could not have been more than twenty. "Sir, we have an opening. If you will come this way please." He saluted again, and Captain Daniels returned it.
After running to the front line, Lindsey's - and undoubtedly the captain's - battle personalities took over. All senses were shot up an extra notch. Even worse, the corpses that littered the landscape stretched out before them somehow gave Lindsey a sense of comfort. It was what she was used to. She had killed them for two decades, and who knew how many more would go by?
"Alright, Lieutenant. I'm sure you and the rest can hold things together while we're gone."
"Yes, sir!" He was a very eager soldier. Lindsey was refreshed by such spirit. Perhaps the undead had not eaten everything, after all.
"How long have you been an officer, son?" Asked Daniels. It was strange, him saying that. He seemed to look somewhat fresh, himself. When she had awakened in the hospital, he had looked to be in his forties. She realized she must have just been confused, or made a bad guess, for he plainly looked to be only a couple of years older than she was. He was thirty-five at the most. Had to be. But hadn't his hair looked a little more grayish before? Was it just the odd lighting in the hospital? It must have been. How stupid could she have been. Someting began to gnaw at Lindsey, in the back of her mind. She had noticed something about herself, but....
She shoved that thought away.
"Perhaps it's time for us to be on our way, Ms. Carson." Daniels was an odd sort of man. He was grim, but underneath that hard shell was a gentleman. Hell, I bet he's a poet. Was she falling for an Army man? The idea seemed absurd. Of course, all sorts of absurd thoughts were floating through her head.
Lindsey readied her M-16, making sure she had a fresh round in the chamber. The captain did the same as he carefully climbed over the barbed wire. At least he was smart enough to lay a piece of canvas over the fence before climbing. Lindsey followed suit and carefully made it over the barbed wire as well.
Closer to the barricades, the zombies ambling about were quite numerous. Lindsey and Captain Daniels had little choice but to move quickly and quietly. Using their rifles would only waste precious ammunition, and the sound of rifle fire would only gain a lot of unwanted attention.
As they put about two miles between themselves and civilization, the Captain finally spoke. "About another mile or so and we should be reaching the outskirts of A-6. Word has it that you used to live in A-2, Ms. Carson. Something like a trailer park, correct?"
"I really don't want to talk about that," Lindsey spoke coldly. Was it the fear of memories long gone that made her voice somehow sound lighter? Trying to change the subject, Lindsey addressed an issue that had been bothering her from the moment she met Captain Daniels. "Look, you can call me Lindsey. It's okay, I won't file a complaint with Civil-Martial Relations."
"Fair enough, Lindsey. And you can call me Thomas, or Tom." Did his voice sound less rough than she remembered? Lindsey made eye contact with him, for a moment. He seemed to frown at something before looking elsewhere.
There was a corpse crawling about in a ditch on the side of the road. Apparently it had managed to get it's spine broken. The elements had certainly taken their toll on its weathered body, though. It was far from a threat, and the gasps and wheezes it made were not loud enough to attract attention from others. The two of them walked right by it. It reached a hand out of the mud and slime to them, almost as if it were begging for assistance.
After they had gotten close to a hundred yards from the ditch dwelling corpse, Lindsey looked around to make sure no others were in sight. She had to stop and do something about her damned belt, it seemed a little loose. Had she not tightened the thing properly before? "Tom, hold up a second. I have to adjust something..."
Tom Daniels stopped and regarded her with a little bit of amusement as she tightened her belt. She must have not been used to wearing military clothing. Still, how often did uniform belts loosen? It was strange. She did not seem to look right. It was insane, but she looked younger. That was a crazy fucking idea, but look at her! She can't be thirty-three years old!
"We're almost there, but I think we need to stop and take a break for a moment," Tom said, with a worried expression on his considerably softer face. Come to think of it, his voice sounded different to himself. It didn't seem so raked over broken glass from decades of smoking as it should.
Lindsey adjusted her belt and scanned the territory. "There's a house over there. Right off the r-road." She noticed the sound of her voice as well. That was when she saw Tom... Really saw Tom. His smooth skin, his voice, her loosened belt, everything. She looked at her hands, and they looked so smooth as well. "Wh-what's happening to us, she asked?" If her voice had not sounded strange earlier, it definitely sounded out of place now.
It sounded younger.
A collective Holy shit! passed through their minds.
"Look, let's just get to that fucking house. We can't afford to let our guard down." Captain Daniels had regained his composure to some degree. How old did he look? Twenty- five? Lindsey wondered how young she looked! For her belt to get loose like that, she must have lost some weight.
The two-story house was downhill, and off from the highway. The area was so overgrown that Lindsey had almost not seen it. It was perfect cover for them to stop and figure out what in the hell was happening to their bodies.
When they reached what they hoped was an abandoned house, they saw that the door was ajar. Carefully they went up the stairs of the front porch and entered its dark confines. There was no electricity out in these parts, still, Lindsey could not help but miss the lack thereof. Electricity and running water meant more than just being able to bathe, see at night, and to prepare refrigerated meals. It meant humanity was still holding it together. Being so far away from such luxuries truly showed Lindsey and Tom how disconnected they really were from the light of civilization.
Locking the door, and making sure no zombies had spotted them, they rushed for a bathroom; all the while being careful of the possibility that something might be in the house with them.
Finding a bathroom, they were greeted with a mirror that took up a whole wall. Quite a bit of vanity for someone who was probably long-since eaten, dead, or undead. Regardless of the previous homeowner, the mirror provided an excellent look at what was happening to their bodies.
They were definitely getting younger.
"Oh my god," Lindsey almost moaned. "I look like I did when I was eighteen. This is impossible!"
"Was impossible," a twenty year old Tom corrected her. "How many of us believed that a cure for the deathening would be possible?" That struck a deep chord. Lindsey turned to face him, her mouth gaping in shock.
"Those bastards. They did this to us. Their little cure is making us younger!"
"I believe that might be the case," Tom spoke quietly. He regarded his reflection again and frowned. "This isn't right. I'm twelve years older than you. I look now like I am only one or two years older. Why are we youthening at a disproportionate rate?"
"Maybe they gave you a higher dosage of their cure, or maybe because it is a virus of some sort, it is affecting your metabolism."
"Wow, Lindsey. I did not think....well.."
"What? That I would actually be smart? Look, I would not have made it this far if I was an idiot."
"Good point.." He said with a little embarrassment. He was feeling quite awkward around her. The thought of regressing at a faster rate than her was quite unsettling. He hoped the rejuvenation would stop sometime soon. Maybe it had already stopped, he hoped.
"Well, we can't just sit and stare at ourselves. We have to make sure the house is secure and hopefully we are alone in it." He might look close to her age, but he was an experienced soldier. With that, they meticulously searched every room and closet in the house. Nothing was turned up, save for some suspicious red stains on the livingroom carpet. Whatever horror had gripped the house in its past was certainly long since gone.
Making sure the blinds were closed, so nothing could get a glimpse of them from outside, Tom Daniels checked the fireplace for wood. With considerable luck, there was in fact old, unused wood sitting inside it.
With a little lighter fluid and some old newspaper, the fireplace was ablaze. There was
something rather comforting about a fire. It probably went back to humanity's primitive days of lighting a fire to keep away the wild animals. Things had really not changed much, in some respects.
Lindsey curiously looked at one of the newspapers that had not been burned, and made a rueful smile. THE DEAD WALK, SCIENTISTS BAFFLED read the headline. The paper dated back to March of 2011. She went over to the sofa and quietly read the entire thing.
They tried so hard to hold everything together. Whoever had risked delivering the newspapers must have been insane. Maybe he had been under guard. They had almost believed that they could have stopped the whole thing in a couple of weeks. Nothing a few National Guardsmen and a lot of armed rednecks couldn't handle, right? But, that had blown up in their faces in less than two months. A few months passed, and the events of Chicago had transpired. By then, her father and brother had been long dead.
Lindsey did not know if it was from the flood of memories, the surge of strange hormones, or both; but she burst into tears. Tom, who now looked to be about her age came and sat beside her.
"Lindsey, it'll be alright. We'll get out of here, I promise." Lindsey sniffed a little and wiped away her tears with embarrassment. When was the last time someone else saw her cry? Why did she feel so vulnerable with Captain Tom Daniels? He placed an arm around her and held her close. She did not resist, for a wonder.
"It's not that...it's just that...to read this paper...they were so naive. If only they knew where we would be now...if...if...only they knew how few of us are l..." Tom interrupted her stuttering with a soft kiss on the lips. She only stared at him for a moment out of surprise. How long had it been since she had been kissed by a man?
"I..I'm sorry." Tom looked down.
"N-no. Don't be." And, with that, they kissed again. This time she was the one who made the move. Their lips met again, and Lindsey could feel little flames sparking up throughout her body. It had been such a long time, indeed. They should have been guarding the house from being attacked by zombies. They should have been trying to figure out a way to stop whatever was happening to their bodies. They should have been making a plan for getting back to Atlanta Protectorate in their increasingly rejuvenating states.
Lindsey briefly considered all of the should-haves as she took his tongue into her mouth. She considered telling him Hey, this is fun and all, but we need to get back onto our mission. As his hands moved up and down her back. In fact, the only consideration that did actually come to fruitation was her suggestion that they go somewhere more comfortable and away from the window. The wide-eyed boy who had been kissing her agreed wholeheartedly.
Upstairs they went. They passed by a hallway mirror and looked into it. Her clothes seemed a little too big for her. She looked fourteen, in fact. Tom, on the other hand, looked younger. He looked to be about thirteen, and he was the exact same height as Lindsey.
"When will this stop?" She asked aloud. Everything seemed too damned surreal to be actually happening. Perhaps that was why she had no qualms about making love to the boy holding her hand. Maybe it was making love. Maybe it was just downright fucking. Maybe it's both, she thoughtfully considered.
They went into the master bedroom and began kissing yet again. His hands began moving down to her buttocks. Soon, he slipped them under her loose pants. With little effort, they fell to her feet. Lindsey did not care about her belt this time. Tom's pants were equally baggy, so removing them was not a problem.
Trying to even the score, Tom began unbuttoning her uniform's blouse with shaky hands that seemed almost inexperienced. Not moving fast enough for her liking, she simply pulled it off with little effort, revealing an old worn bra that was significantly more spacious than she once remembered it being. In fact, the straps slipping off her shoulders were the only things holding it on.
Tom's shirt came off next, revealing the slender - yet somewhat toned frame of a young boy, maybe only a year after beginning puberty. Lindsey kneeled before him and unbuttoned his pants, pulling them and his military-issued underwear down. In another moment, she had taken him into her mouth. He moaned with a voice that was almost childlike. She continued, knowing she had to hurry. The sooner they got their cookies - so to speak - they could get back to worrying about what was happening. She would not admit it, but the thought of getting younger while fucking another regressing boy made her randier than she ever remembered being.
If it wasn't from her rusty skills in the art of oral sex, it had to be his age...for he came very quickly. She pulled away, not exactly wanting the taste of his seed in her mouth. It was quite an icky thought. Instead his warm semen jetted onto her chest, where it ran down between the slight mounds that made up her bust. Lost in moment, Lindsey rubbed his spend all over her chest and neck . Its warmth was incredibly erotic to her.
Tom fell on the bed and breathed heavily as he tried to regain his stamina. Lindsey took him in hand once again and licked the shaft of his sex. Just like the young lad he had become, his erection sprang to life again.
Lindsey, somewhat clumsily, sat astride him, where she helped guide his penis into her wetness. She moaned with pleasure and began moving her hips in rhythm to his eager thrusts. Her breasts had all but evaporated from reality, leaving two very swollen nipples. She decided to quicken her pace, rocking her hips harder and harder. Tom Daniels slid his hands up under her quite useless bra and fondled the two erect pebbles that lay nestled underneath. She gasped louder and louder from his exploring hands and from each of his vigorous thrusts. Was it just her or did he feel somewhat smaller inside her? She looked down at where their crotches met in frenzied hunger and observed that his pubic hair was all but gone. She brought a finger down to her grinding pelvis, where she found the nubbin of her engorged clitoris. She began working her finger in a counter-clockwise fashion on the little organ, which brought her thrusting to a fury.
Pinching her nipples.
Coming...coming...O God I'm comingI'mcomingohgodyes
"I'm coming I'm coming yes fuck me I'm coming o god don't stop unnnnnnhhhh-aaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!"
Somewhere in her ecstacy, Tom Daniels had achieved a second orgasm. She collapsed on top of him, their sweat mingling on their flat, smooth chests. Their sweat mingling on their bare pubic regions. Their mixed sex fluids glistening on his diminished member as he slowly pulled out of her.
Lindsey and Tom lost consciousness for a brief moment. All was calm. The whole world stopped turning, and all was in complete harmony with the glow of the after-sex embrace. All ages had become as one. There was nothing but the sweet smell of the two young lovers. There was only the quiet that followed the throws of la petite morte. Only the peace of the womb could possibly outmatch such intimacy.
Both of their young eyes opened in shock, their youthful mouths forming perfect O's of
surprise. "Oh shit!" They both screamed in perfect unison, for already they could hear the lumbering, curious steps of the walking dead downstairs. Although neither would admit it, nor did they have time to think about it, but Lindsey had been screaming so loudly, that she had attracted the corpses to the house.
Tom grabbed for his gun, which was significantly heavier than he remembered it being. He looked over in time to see Lindsey's bare bottom padding to the window. "Fuck, there's five of them heading this way. God only knows how many are downstairs."
Not even bothering with putting on any clothes, Tom rushed out of the room with his loaded rifle, and his small penis wagging. Just in time, too. One of the corpses was making its slow way up the stairs. Tom Daniels took careful aim and fired. His aim was true, placing a small hole neatly between its eyes - and spraying rotted brain matter and blood out of the exit wound. There were three of them left inside the house. They began their slow lurches toward and up the stairs.
Luckily the later models of the M-16 were incredibly light, thanks to the plastic exterior. God bless Mattel for designing the weapon, Tom thought to himself. With his weakened state, he doubted he could have kept the same steady aim with a Springfield.
He took aim again, and fired at the zombie rounding the rail post at the base of the steps.
He had a good shot at the side of its head. Its ear ceased to exist, and with it whatever had passed for the corpses brain.
Lastly plodded along what looked to be a corpse wearing a nurse's uniform. It stopped at the base of the stairs and swayed for a moment, almost out of indecisiveness; then it too began ascending up to meet Tom. Tom took aim yet again and pulled the trigger.
"Shit!" He hissed in his childish voice. He worked the chamber, and saw that the bullet was jammed up in there. Dammit, if he had a set of keys, he could flip it out properly. Unfortunately he decided to fight the undead without the benefit of clothing. He tried to pull the snagged bullet out with his fingers. He could not be much more than eight years old, so maybe he could just reach it with his tiny fingers. He almost had it, when he felt the cold, rotted, peeling fingers of the corpse fall on his shoulder. Then the other one fell on his ear.
As an adult, he could have knocked the thing away quite easily. They were rather weak and really only dangerous in large numbers. Children, on the other hand, had fallen to the stronger zombies on more than one occasion. In fact, corpses seemed to almost realize that kids were easier prey.
Tom was pushed down onto his back, the edge of a stair step digging into his back uncomfortably. He stared into the dead woman's glazed eyes for a brief moment before bursting into tears. All of his rational thinking had seemed to have flown out the window. He was in the arms of the wicked witch, the boogeyman...the thing that had lurked under his bed when he was small, the first time around. His bladder let go. He cried helplessly as the dead woman lowered its head to his throat. He could feel it's rotted, cold, dirty teeth touch his kneck. Goose flesh stood up all over his body. Then, he could feel it applying pressure on his throat as its jaws began to tighten down.
It was his end.. It was over... it was...
Thonked in the head by something metallic. Forgetting its meal-to-be, the corpse slowly
looked up to what had hit it. It opened its mouth and bellowed petulantly for being disturbed.
It was Lindsey, holding her rifle level to its head. She calmly pulled the trigger. The back of its head exploded outward, showering the stair steps below it with what had operated its unholy animations. The dead nurse tumbled backwards and came to rest at the base of the stairs.
Down came Lindsey with her pants tightly held around her waste with her belt, and the ankle holes of her pants laced tightly, to keep them from slipping over her feet as well. She wore no shirt, but it was not like she had anything to hide. She ran to the broken window and took aim.
She was about to take aim yet again when there was a huge thunderous explosion. Lindsey hit the ground fast as all the windows facing the road blew in. Her elbows grinded into the broken glass; but she did not notice, nor did she care.
Tiny specks of glass showered Tom Daniels from where he stood on the steps. Luckily he closed his eyes in time. There were several other explosions. Some far away, others very close bye. Lindsey looked to him with puzzlement. "It's an artillery barrage!" He screamed over the drum of impacts.
"Artillery? What in the hell do they think to accomplish with artillery?" She screamed back.
Quickly glancing over to a door which led down into the house's basement area, Tom screamed "No time for that! We need to get downstairs! They have no idea we are down here. They think we are up in area A-6!"
Lindsey stood up and looked out the window again. There was a mist of some sort floating about, but the oddest thing was one of the corpses. It was literally falling apart - liquefying before her eyes. It's jawbone dropped off of it, then it's legs simply fell apart from under it. It writhed for a few seconds before finally stopping. Lindsey looked back at Tom and screamed:
"No!! Not downstairs! We have to run upstairs fast!!" She took off running, holding her nose all the way.
"Upstairs?" The boy questioned.
"It's gas! They're firing chemical shells on this area! It's heavier than air. If we run downstairs, it will seep down there on us!"
"Chemical! Oh fuck!" Tom exclaimed. They bolted up the stairs, Lindsey's pants slipping off her small body along the way. She kept on running without even noticing. Tom grabbed his radio out of his former clothing along the way. They grabbed covers off the bed and ran into the adjoining bathroom, where they got into the tub and threw the blankets over them.
Hopefully, a shell would not land right on top of them.
After close to thirty minutes of being under the covers, the barrage finally stopped. Tom had heard that during World War I, there would be artillery barrages that would go on for days The intensity would be so great, that the impacts would sound like drum rolls. Luckily for them, the Atlanta Protectorate did not have that many shells at their disposal.
They then heard the sound of something traveling at sound-breaking speed, way above them. It had to be the roar of missiles, off to destinations far away.
They stayed under the covers even after the shelling had stopped. They needed time for whatever was floating around in the air would dissipate a little. After about an hour, it began raining. That would help with removing the mist from the air, but still they remained under the blankets.
The two sweaty children fell asleep in each others arms.
When morning finally came round, they came out from under the blankets. Although they had shrunk some more in the time spent in the bathtub, the rejuvenation process had apparently stopped. Lindsey regarded her six year-old body in the mirror with wonder. Tom looked to be roughly the same age, although he appeared to be a tad shorter than her. Lindsey thought he looked simply adorable, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Noticing the same thing, he blushed a little. Lindsey looked down at his crotch and noticed that he had quite an erection for such a little guy.
Breaking from the moment, Tom got the radio out of the tub and turned it on with the hope that someone would be talking. Luckily, he had tuned in on a broadcasting of some sort.
"...Although there have been some apparent side effects to post-pubescent humans, our super-weapon against the walking dead has been a success. We expect that given enough time, our weapon will saturate the environment in a chain reaction that will eliminate the undead from our world forever!"
(A vigorous cheer of fanatical intensity soon followed. The cheering crowed being broadcasted across the land sounded distorted. Almost like chipmunks that had inhaled helium.) The way the voice spoke sounded familiar to both Lindsey and Tom for what they had first taken to be a woman's. It was the voice of Atlanta Protectorate's President, Michael Algood.
It was also the voice of a child.
Lindsey and Tom Daniels looked at each other only briefly before bursting into gaels of uncontrollable laughter. They laughed long and hard until their ribs screamed out in aching protest. It was too insane to believe, but the world was going to be run by children.
A young boy and girl, dressed in clothing that had been found inside an old abandoned house - armed with rifles (one never knew when such things would be once again needed) - stepped out onto the porch and looked towards the beautiful rising sun. Their soft, delicate hands were held in an endearing clasp.
For those who had survived the dark years, fate had given something special back to them that had been completely lost twenty years before. They had been given back their dreams. They had been given back their future.
They had been given back their childhood.
Máire Flynn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
April 1st, 2000