Chapter 2 - Entry 5
There was the usual assortment of fevered dreams as I slept like the dead. The main theme was food; eating tons of it out of cans, at elaborate dinner settings, back in prison, at the mess tent in Iraq. And eating Mary. Not in the fun, sexual way either. Hunger burned inside me. Tore me apart and remolded me into a predatory animal. The pain and agony were tangible even in the dreams. So were the scents.
I could smell Mary. The sweat where it gathered at her neck and beneath each breast. Organic shampoo and soap taken from the health food store. Her own natural musk where jeans hid what I could practically taste.
There were other scents that lingered, my brain working hard to categorize and identify them. One I knew was Nathan, his body fresh from the shower and partially camouflaged by the same soap and shampoo used by Mary. Stale cigarette smoke. Gunpowder. Blood. Always blood, it seemed.
Yet it was coffee that pulled me from my restless sleep. I cracked an eye open to see Mary nearby in the little kitchen area, making oatmeal while she hummed softly to herself and sipped hot coco. There was a warm weight against my back and something poking me beneath the sheets. Nathan’s eyes blinked open as I turned my head to regard him.
“Mind getting your cock out of my ass?”
He moved like a snake had bitten him and Mary shot coco out of her nose.
My legs slid off the bed as I sat up, stretching both arms over my head languidly. I could feel Nathan’s eyes burning a hole through my back.
“Its ok stud. I’d be offended if you didn’t bust wood.”
“Jaeger, your eyes.” Mary whispered as I passed, all humor bleeding from her face.
I frowned and padded into the bathroom. They’d changed as I slept. Grown almost pure white with only a vague hint of color. It made me look blind, though my vision seemed fine. One step further from humanity.
Nathan and Mary were waiting for me as I stepped out of the bathroom, both wearing expressions that ranged from embarrassed to greatly concerned. My nostrils flared and my stomach growled loudly when I smelled the three bowls of oatmeal sitting on the table. For awhile my companions were forgotten as I snarfed down a bowl and took more from the stove. They watched me eat in silence until I leaned back and lit a cigarette. It was Mary who finally asked the question I knew was coming.
“Jaeger? What is going on? You got shot in the leg yesterday and it healed before we got back to the camper. And now your eyes are like…totally white. Is that what happened to your hair too?”
I frowned and looked from her to Nathan and back, letting smoke billow from my nostrils. “I don’t think I’m completely human anymore. Whatever makes people into zombies interacted with the medicine I had in me. Now I heal fast. It burns calories and makes me really fucking hungry.” My nostrils flared and I caught the scent of blood again. “You got your period.”
Mary nodded with a surprised look.
I chuckled darkly and tapped my nose. “I can smell better too. The blood. Shampoo. Soap. Fear.” That last offered as I looked toward Nathan.
“The fast ones hunt by scent.” He whispered.
I shrugged. Mary frowned and chewed her lower lip.
“Well now. Isn’t this a nice way to start the day?”
I was getting angry and defensive so I rose abruptly and changed clothes while they sat there shooting worried looks at each other.
“Now that you’ve had some rest, what are your plans Nathan?”
“There’s a retirement community in Noank that I’d like to try. One of those new environmentally friendly places. It was in the newspaper a few months ago. Biodiesel generators. Wind turbines and solar panels. Mom and I were talking about going before, well, you know.”
Mary called up the map and we figured Noank was only a few miles out of our way so I agreed to take him that far. She placed a hand on my shoulder when Nathan stepped into the bathroom and tried to give me a hug. I let her but there wasn’t any real affection in my arms as they encircled her. The tenderness I had begun to feel crumbled when I saw her reactions during my revelations.
I’d been a monster before the world fell apart. Now I was one for real.