The Other

They were always other. They were always gone, dead to the world. Or so we thought.

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1. Turned

We thought it was quick. Turning, I mean.

A bite and that was it, you were gone, you were dead to the world (what was left of it, at least), and your status was lower than that of a rat in a restaurant kitchen.

But we were wrong. Though I guess it’s ‘they’, now. ‘We’ against ‘they’. Us against them. Them against us; the order doesn’t matter.

It had always been us, the survivors, against them, the Turned. We killed them as fast as anyone’d kill a spider on the bed covers. Point and shoot. Point and shoot. It was easy, even on the rare occasion when I came across someone I knew, because they weren’t themselves, they were other; they were to be exterminated with extreme prejudice. No hesitation. Experience and their skin, melting and bubbling into sores; their eyes, flat and staring and dark; their teeth, overexposed from the flesh peeling back from their bones and the rotting green and the black and the terrible gait and their guttural voices and the smell… and the sight as they fell, falling, falling apart before my eyes after they’d taken a hit to a vital region - all that and more made damn sure that they’d just die, by my hand or another’s.

But becoming one of them… It wasn’t the mindless oblivion I’d mentally prayed for as they overwhelmed my position, crushing my gun then tearing at my skin, tugging at my bones, biting. Multiple times.

And. Each. Time. Forced. More. In. To. My. Blood.

It hijacked my muscles, animating them in a parody of normal movement. I could only sense what my body was doing, could only feel numb as my body rose like a puppet with not enough strings. There wasn’t even pain anymore.

My body started walking, and there were more of the Turned –

of us

gathered in a crowd, stepping, crawling, dissipating into the surroundings slowly as if pulled by the strings of it. The poison. The hijacker.

Some time passed, slowly, and there was a man in front of me.

‘Who is he?’ I thought. My mind supplied an answer. ‘He’s a comrade, one who faced the Turned –

us

with me. With us.’

He looked shocked when he saw me and froze –

why, he’s never frozen before, move, shoot, IT’S A TRAP’

 – for a second before another one of the Turned – one of us, kin – collapsed onto his back, quite literally. This was enough to make him falter and –

we

 – the Turned and I charged. I reached him first. His gun was crushed then his skin was torn, his boned tugged, bitten. Multiple times.

And. Each. Time. Forced. More. In. To. His. Blood.

He was now Turned, –

a comrade again, relief

 – and he was hideous –

Beautiful. 

Kin.

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