My brain is gone. My feelings cracked, I can no longer understand why I feel the way I do- why I even feel in the first place. Yet as my body moves, I know I’m alive. I even think that I might still be me, just a little bit. That’s all that scares me about this, after all.
The pigment has drained from the world like a long-dead corpse. This white, motionless pig of an earth hasn’t become any smaller since I woke up. I am lost on a road I should know like the back of my hand. These roads are everywhere. Roads like this go on forever and never leave your mind. I imagine the whole world must look just like this. There are houses and stores, but only because there must be. This isn’t the United States. It’s just one of them, far down south and forgotten. But it might as well be. It’s all I’ve ever known, that’s for sure. Nothing serves a purpose here. Nothing matters. Here people do things for no reason at all.
I remember it now.
My name… what they called me was “Hunter…” and we would sit on the back of a truck late at night… looking up in the black sky. Since it was so colorless during the day, the simple charcoal texture was enough to enrapture us. We were so fascinated looking up at that great wide expanse. My friends were many. There were three boys. The happiest was bigger than the rest of us, and he was always the first to the truck. The other two were small like me, but they seemed to understand this place we found ourselves in. They’d… argue about it, have opinions about it… you’d always see those two bickering like brothers. I could never do that. Then there was one girl. For some reason I feel I need to specify that I never had any feelings for her. …Why would I? I think everyone else liked her. That makes sense, I guess.
I don’t remember any of their names. All I know is that they understood this place.
I sit at a strange structure- open to the air, but covered by a large roof. This fake concrete ground is decorated with uncomfortable plastic seating. I feel I have no choice but to rest anyway. Sitting down here, I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I’m all alone, after all. But by that logic, why would anyone do anything?
Oh yeah. I guess the tallest boy… he’d always show off. They’d all do that, actually. Why…? For her? Yeah… that must’ve been it. They needed to… how would they reproduce? Wouldn’t we have been too young…? I still don’t get it… I wrack my brain. Why? Why did those kids do anything? Why do we… how does one achieve the desire to “do something?”
Red fills my torn nostrils.
Wait… we… I remember, we… we would always do one thing together that I understood… that I still understand… three times a day… we’d all get so frustrated… like we needed something. And that would compel us.. to act. Yes. We’d all go down to this very place… go up to the window by the front… and we’d order food. We got… hungry.
I step up to the window, but there’s just dust and lost time inside. It didn’t used to be like this, did it? The other boys used to joke with the man inside… and he, he’d give us stuff in exchange for… for money, that was it… and he’d use that money to buy his own food. I get it now.
But there’s no food here anymore.
I sit on the ground now. I don’t see why they made those seats in the first place, if this is already here. I rub my busted palms across it. I guess… that girl wouldn’t like this. She liked to be… comfortable. Clean. Those are the most alien concepts of all to me. For some reason, I can’t imagine those things. I must not feel comfort or discomfort anymore, I think. I don’t feel a thing. I wonder why… maybe it’s just because I’m a boy? Yeah… that makes sense.
I wish I was still hungry, but the sensation’s gone now. Nothing but an illusion brought on by my long-lost memories. I just wanna feel something. I just want… to know what to do. I’m not hungry, but… I wanna be.
Then I hear the stampede.
Looking on the horizon, I see a thousand bodies that look just like mine. They ain’t got the slightest bit of color, and their clothes aren’t anything like the ones in my memories- they’re like mine. All torn and tattered, we wear remnants of someone who understands this world.
As they past me, I feel drawn to them. I’m so alone here in this abandoned storefront. Got no idea where I’m supposed to be But they… they’re going somewhere. They want something. Are they… hungry?
I wanna be hungry.
My wretched legs nearly lock into place as I shoot up and scramble to catch up to them. Joining the horde, I finally feel something. Is this what it’s like to be alive? I guess it must be. If not this, then what else?
We enter a road that’s nothing but houses. Yes. Like the ones I used to visit. I don't know why I ever did that, but I’m happy to see them now. My nose shakes again. I think this time… I hear a voice within my heart for real. I think I’m… hungry?
A wave of relief washes over me. I’m just hungry, like all these folks. I’m hungry! I’m finally hungry! And now… I’ve got a reason to do something.
They all climb into the windows of the simple one-story buildings to our left and right. I’m tempted to do the same at the closest opportunity, but something tells me to go further down the road. As I do, I’m greeted with the sweetest scent of all- a few signatures at the end of the street, gathered together in one swallow little building.
I pass by a faded pickup truck, drained of its gas, it’s windows shattered. Limping forward, I find myself at the door of the house. The doorknob feels kind of like a dream I once had- like I’ve opened it before. But I can’t tell whether or not they expected it to open. All they can say is:
The three males make an attempt to stop me, for some reason. A bat hits my split head. A boot slams into my battered crotch. But nothing makes me feel anything. I just keep moving forward. On their faces I see profound fear. I don’t understand what it is, but they want something too. Are they hungry? I guess they must be. What else would drive one to feel anything?
I grab the tallest one’s head. He looks down towards the ground, at the sole female. She’s looking at him with such sadness. I don’t get it. She can’t mate right now, that’s for sure. Maybe she’s hungry too? I would wonder, were I not so close to achieving my goal myself.
I don’t think my teeth were made for the tall male’s head, but they work. His hair clogs my mouth as I slit off pieces of his scalp. The smaller males scream and cry out as they continue to batter me. What’s the point? I almost forget them, until one says something to the other, and he runs to pick up something from the floor, dropped out of his bag.
Soon enough, I’ve consumed much of the tall male’s face. All that is left is a white, empty skull resembling my own face more than his. But as I’m admiring his body, preparing to feast on the rest, I fall. It’s only afterwards that I hear the loud bang as the metal capsule finishes tearing into my leg. I look up at the smallest male. He holds an iron object at my face. I almost remember it. I know it’s something bad. It explodes against my face again, but to no avail. I still stand, and as he looks up into my last remaining eye, he asks me something.
What does he mean by that?
This is why I can’t understand this world.
I bite into his neck. I better put the rest of these humans down before they stop me from eating them. I throw the dead male across the room and leap at the other. But the female tries to get away, so I slam his head against a wall and run after her. She’s fast, though. As she escapes the door, I’m left prowling after her. She runs outside and onto the road. There she sees them. The mass of hungry folks just like me. I stare at her. What’s going to happen, exactly…?
The hollow white mob falls upon her, tearing her body into grinded powder. They consume her, and I don’t get to.
What is this feeling…?
She was mine.
I was supposed to have that meal.
I was supposed to eat her.
I WAS SUPPOSED TO EAT HER, GODDAMMIT!
I understand now.
I run at the horde. My vocal cords aching, I almost feel pain. And at last, I finally say something:
I leap into the horde without fear, without reason. I just wanna fight. I just wanna eat them- and I’m not even a little hungry. I’m just alive. I just feel something inside me that tells me I must accomplish this action. Scratching at the monsters, my mind returns to me. My faded skin becomes a crimson red as I shower in their discarded blood. Even as I am overwhelmed, I gnash and claw with tenacity, becoming a singular pillar of violent fury within a sea of monsters.
I am human.