The Lies I Tell Myself (Bargaining)

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         I still keep trying to lie to myself about my situation, and everything that's been happening around me.  But now I wish that I could trade anything for my old life back.  As much as I've lost, I still wish that I could exchange part of me for everything.  I've lost everything, my home, my friends, my boyfriend, and everyone and everything that I cared about.  And all that I have is the empty world laid out in front of me.  I made it safely to Amarillo, Texas, but not without having to mow down a few zombies before safely finding an area of the town to stop off in.  I found a decent rest stop outside of Amarillo and decided to stop off and try to relieve myself in one of the stalls.  I had found a shotgun in the back of one of the trucks I passed by on my way here and decided to bring it in with me.  The inside of the bathroom was mostly intact, but my instincts told me to stay on my guard.

       With one hand on the door and the other on the shotgun, I proceeded into the bathroom.  I kept on my guard, as I had a rising suspicion that I wasn't truly alone.  I kept my distance from each of the stalls and kicked each one in individually, hoisting my gun at each empty stall to ensure myself that there was no undead guest residing in one.  I slowly made my way down the long row of stalls, but as I kicked the second to last one, and that's when I heard it, groaning.  Most people would have immediately shot whatever was beyond the door without opening it, but the groaning didn't sound like a zombie and sounded too much alive.  I slowly made my way to the last door and readied myself for whatever lied on the other side.  I forced my foot up and kicked the last door in.  I held the shotgun ready to shoot whatever was beyond the door but fell back in shock.  Cowering across from me was a man in his mid-twenties, wearing what looked like a mental patient gown.  I was less shocked by the fact a man was in a woman's restroom, but more by the fact that he was still alive and was obviously not armed.

        I nearly shat myself in fear of witnessing this man just cowering before me.  I had never been more confused and frightened in my life.  I shouted at him to leave.  I panicked, and I didn't know what to do besides yell at him to leave.  "Get out of this bathroom!  I need to use it!"  I still held him at gunpoint as he scurried out of the bathroom.  I sat down in one of the stalls and thought through everything that had happened.  I wished more than anything to exchange my regret for my past mistakes, to change everything back to how it was before the world ended.  I finished my business and returned out to my vehicle.  I saw the strange man again, but he was no longer cowering and was in the process of using a lighter to light a cigarette.  It took him a few tries to light it, but once it was lit, he took a long drag from the cigarette and exhaled the smoke towards me, just trying to rile me up.

        "You scared us half to death earlier" he replied to me.  "But as you can see, I'm fine now."  His nonchalant and somewhat irritating nature was off-putting and made me raise my guard.  I lifted the shotgun up to his head again and started forcing him towards the vehicle.  "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!  Take it easy, now! There's no need to be pointing guns."

         "Who are you, and why are you here?"

          "The short answer is my name is John, and I'm from Minnesota.  The longer answer is a little more......well, complicated."

          His calm and aloof nature disturbed me, especially after watching him scurry out of the bathroom earlier like a terrified animal.  I tried to maintain a calm exterior, in spite of being frightened by this man.  In the dusty sunlight, his body was rather deformed.  He was tall and pale, lanky with jet black hair, and had abnormally long arms and fingers.  He was in bad shape, but my gut was telling me to stay on my guard.  "How did you get here?"

           "That's the tricky part, you see.."  John took another long swig from his cigarette and proceeded to exhale it out.  "I don't know how I got here."

             Every time John answered, it left me with zero clues as to who he really was, or what he was doing out here.  "Well, where are you trying to head to?"

              He perked up a bit at this question.  "I'm on my way to Amarillo as a matter of fact.  I have a safehouse there that I plan to stay at.  Could you give me a ride there?"  John gave me a smile that he was too afraid to give me just moments before, and showed a change in his overall character.  I didn't trust him in the slightest, but any supplies he had in store at his house would be of benefit to me in the long run.

               "Alright.  I'll give you a ride.  Hop in the passenger seat, and tell me where I need to go."

               With John in my passenger seat, we headed into Amarillo.  He wasn't aware of the rampant zombie outbreak, or he had been out for a long while like he claimed.  He thought they were amazing so-called "creatures" and wanted to "study them" when he made it to his safe house north of Amarillo.  It took me another hour and a list of directions before we arrived at his house.  The house was a two-story ranch house that overlooked a large amount of grassland and was guarded by a thick wire fence.  He got out and proceeded to open the gate to let my vehicle in.  I drove in and parked next to what appeared to be a cellar, guarded by a wooden door.  We both proceeded inside of the house and made our stay.  "Make yourself comfortable!" John announced as he went around his house checking for food provisions.  I slowly made my rounds around his house and was a bit disturbed by a lot of animal heads mounted on the walls of his home.  What was more disturbing was imagery of John conducting surgeries, some with open guts and gore exposed.  I knew John was peculiar, but this was completely strange.  My suspicions and investigation were interrupted by John announcing that he had dinner ready in his dining room.

                  I proceeded to sit down with him and try to enjoy a dinner of canned beans, rice, and old crackers.  John wasn't much of a cook, but some food was better than no food.  I thanked him for the meal and sat down to eat with him.  We made small talk on what had happened to us so far, and where we planned to go next.  I drank a diet coke that he had poured into a glass for me.  And that's when I began to become hazy and passed out.  The next thing I knew, I was in John's basement, and I was hooked up to an I.V. and laying across a mattress.  John waited for me, looming over me, waiting for me to wake up with soulless eyes staring down at me.

                  His appearance was very different now.  He was wearing long khaki pants, a black t-shirt, and a lab coat.  His mood and nature had changed and was now very terrifying to view.  "Ah!  You're awake.  We can start by going over your current predicament."  I backed away in fear.

                 "Why are you doing this, John?!"

                  "The answer you're looking for is more complicated than you realize."

                  "What the fuck are you talking about?"

                  "You see, I'm a scientist, and I want to run an experiment."

                   "What kind of experiment?"

                   "I want to see if I can free myself by sacrificing you instead."  This remark horrified me.  It was then that I noticed the large cleaver knife resting in the corner of the room.  "To gain anything in this life, you must bargain something for something of equal value.  To obtain freedom, something of equal value must be given up.  I plan on releasing myself into paradise by taking your life in exchange for mine."

                    "Who are you really, John?  You're sounding insane."

                    This was when I saw John give me a strange look, and in that moment, it dawned on me:  John had a split personality.  "Oh really?  Well, I think you're the insane one for not granting a dying man his final wish."  It was then that John revealed a massive black scar along his arm.  "John isn't here at the moment by the way.  He's too useless to be able to deal with something as serious as this."

                   "Then who are you really?"

                    "My name is Dr. Murdoch, and today we will be doing a fate transfer."  It was then that Murdoch reached for his knife, and began to walk slowly towards me.  I only had a little time to react.  "After today, I will be free of my mortal bounds!"  And with that, he stroked the ground next to me as I dodged out of the way of the attack.  The blade severed the tube that kept me bound to the I.V. machine.  I took the needle quickly out of my arm and stabbed it directly in his eye, leaving him in a lot of pain and crippling his approach as I ran up the stairs of the cellar to try and open the door.  I tried to open them, but they wouldn't budge.  He began to laugh at me and arched his spine  backward as he revealed the reason why the doors wouldn't open.  "Foolish Vanessa, these doors only open one way.  They open inward."  He slowly began to creep towards me, never failing to horrify me with his wicked smile.  But as he made his approach, I began to hear a large whistling sound.  A tornado was forming right outside of those doors, but I had no choice but to try and force my way out.  I slammed my body against the door...it didn't budge.  Murdoch was closing the distance between us.  "I'm gonna enjoy watching you die, Vanessa."  I slammed against the door again...a slight creak, but the door remained shut.  "Neither of us will escape our fate, Vanessa.  Accept yours, so we can both find our peace."  I heard the tornado right above us, and with one final push, I forced the door open and ran immediately towards the porch of the house.  There were two support beams on the house that were still intact.  I wrapped my body around the nearest one as the tornado raged on just feet away from my position.  Murdoch climbed out of his cellar and began to shout at me.  "Vanessa, you can't run from me!"  He began to race towards me and was immediately crushed by a tow truck that was flung directly at him, pulverizing him instantly into a mess of shattered bones and blood.

         It didn't take long for the tornado to dissipate into the distance, and I began to move around again.  I had parked my car under a large shed that John or Murdoch had, and most of the shed had been swept away by the tornado, but my vehicle remained there shockingly, having been held to the ground by a few support beams that held the shed together.  I loaded my car with as many of the food rations and containers of water from John's house as I could.  I didn't know when I would need supplies again, and I sure didn't want to stick around here.  After loading up my vehicle, I mapped out a course for the west coast and began to drive out west.  I may not have liked having to travel cross country, but anywhere would likely have been safer than in Texas.  Besides, I wanted to see the ocean, one last time before I died.

(I can't change how things were, even if I tried to exchange my life for all of it.  In the end, I'm still left with nothing, and nothing will ever change that.)

End of Bargaining

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