The Little Girl in the Dirt

I could hear a thumping on the door. Belle started to whisper sharply.
"They can hear us, quiet, okay? It's not like they can get in, but there's no need to test it."
I suddenly realized that we were in total lock-down. The shudders were down, the air filters were whirring, and the self-defense cabinet was sitting wide open. I had never seen lockdown mode the entire time we had lived here, and had only recognized it because of training we sat through every few months with the CDC. It felt surreal, like I was inside a movie I'd seen a million times. Except I had never been a big fan of those old zombie films. I'd much rather be in a romantic comedy.

"How in the HELL did we get here, Belle?" I whisper shouted. I was starting to lose my cool, along with the earlier assumption that this was all a dream. This was definitely not a memory, and, although things made no sense whatsoever, they were happening lineally in an organized form. Also, I felt hungry. Very hungry. "More importantly, how the FUCK are you alive?" I could feel tears of confusion burning at the corners of my eyes.

"I fucking buried you, Belle, I watched you bleed out. What the hell?" I sobbed.

"I woke up a few weeks ago, I was in the ground, in a garbage back. I didn't have any recollection, but it slowly started coming back to me. I remember your gramma accidentally shooting me. I remember it now, but, I'm so sorry, when I first woke up I didn't remember anything. I didn't even remember my name, I'm so sorry..."

Belle was speaking softly, but the pitch of her voice continually rose, and she spoke faster and faster, as she told me the whole story.

She had woken up, not knowing who or where she was. All she knew was she was surrounded, this pressure from all sides. Her body was surrounded by this slick, slippery, stuff, and it was dark. She tore her way through the plastic garbage bag, and started pawing her way through the dirt. We had only buried her four feet down, instead of the recommended ten, because when we got to four feet, we found a deep bed of rocks and couldn't go any further. But even under four feet of dirt, a small girl like her should have never been able to get out.

She clawed up through the dirt, slowly but surely she emerged into daylight. The daylight had seemed so bright that she remembered trying to scream, but only a gargled moan came out, and she realized that her mouth was full of blood, and her throat felt like it was scratching itself when she tried to make noise.

She couldn't remember anything about herself, all she knew was that it felt good to be out of that pit, the sun was bright, and she was starving. There were others around, also making that grotesque sound, and they were shambling around town. She felt that they were hungry, too.

Then, all of a sudden, she could smell this delicious smell, and, she says, she couldn't think words, but it was like she could read smells, and the smell was fear. If I had to guess, I would say that she smelled adrenaline. She followed the smell, along with the others, and they found a woman, not like them, clean. Breathing. Shaking and speaking.

That was the first spark of memory for Belle. She knew, somewhere in her bones, that she should not touch this woman. But she was so hungry, and she didn't remember who she was or how to think. So she and the others, there were five of them total, ate the woman.

Belle bawled and wept as she told me who the woman was, why the woman had come outside, even though the dead weren't staying dead. Belle ate my grandmother.

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