Chapter 5 - Entry 1
There’s really nothing positive to say about being buried alive. Except maybe that you’re still alive. I was, but barely. Whole sections of my body were numb and there was a wet, bubbling sound every time I breathed. Hunger ripped through my stomach in painful waves as I laid there in utter darkness, willing sensation back into legs and arms. An aftershock caused the ground to shake and things to shift above me, allowing my left arm enough freedom to pull back against my chest. I had no clue if its twin was even attached.
“Jaeger? You are being alive?”
I chuckled, the effort causing me to suffer a coughing fit and send coppery tasting blood spraying from my lips. “Barely. Pinned down on my stomach. You mobile?”
Silence followed for a few minutes before she replied, voice low but sounding nearby. “Am laying on your leg. You are not feeling hand pinching?”
“No. Both legs and one arm’s numb. Think I’ve got a punctured lung. How bad are you hurt?”
The soft laugh in her reply carried the same gallows humor I’d heard soldiers express when facing grim situations. “I am wishing own legs were being numb like you. Metal bar in stomach. One eye not seeing. Am having had better days, yes?”
“Yeah. No shit. Just hold tight. You’re like me so your body will heal itself.”
“Not as you, Jaeger. Little cuts, yes. Not bad wound. Am dying.”
We sat in silence for awhile after that and the darkness offered little to distract me from my thoughts. Maliqe was like me in more ways than the whole crazy supernatural side effect thing. A kindred spirit. A survivor who wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty so shit got done. Suddenly I realized a burden had lifted from my shoulders after meeting her. I didn’t have to be in charge. I didn’t need to be the only fighter. I didn’t have to be anything other than what I was. And now she was dying.
“Fuck this,” I snarled and folded my arm under me. “We need to get the hell out of here Maliqe.” The slab of ceiling above me shifted slightly against my back as I grunted, painfully attempting a one-armed pushup. “Are my legs moving?”
“Yes. Stop with right one. Is making body move. Metal bar in stomach churning like butter.” There was pain evident in her voice.
“Sorry.” For the next few minutes I sent commands to my numb left leg, ordering it to move back and forth, hoping I could draw it up under my crushed pelvis to help my arm in lifting the heavy mass above. Something cracked loudly and pain raced along suddenly awakened nerve endings from my lower back down to both feet. Searing pins and needles crawled inside bones as feeling returned. Everything hurt.
“Jaeger. Is being thing I am needing to tell you and thing I am wanting to ask.” I paused in my efforts, feeling a sharp rock dig into my knee where I’d managed to pull it slightly closer.
“Ok. You can tell me when we get outta here.”
“Other eye not working now. Legs numb. Am not lasting much longer Jaeger. Are important things.”
A pause, then one word that stopped my heart and lodged a rock in my throat.
“Go ahead.” I said, body vibrating from the strain of holding still.
“Marley is not niece. She is being daughter.”
I nodded, then realized she couldn’t see me. “Alright.” There was more I probably should have said but at the moment nothing else came to mind. People skills. Resume. Not a match.
“I gave her up for better life in America. She is not knowing. Still thinking I am Mother’s sister, yes? When adopted, I followed when able. Made sure all was well.”
“That must have sucked.” I offered, mind racing desperately for something else to say. “At least you were here to save her though. Right? She’d probably be dead if you hadn’t rescued her from the college. Who knows what would’ve happened if you’d both been in Albania when all this shit started.”
I felt her head nodding against my leg.
Breathing heavy, she continued in a raspy voice. “Is your word of honor being good, Jaeger?”
I chuckled, “Not normally. Why?”
Maliqe chuckled in reply and squeezed my calf. “Am wanting your word that you will watch Marley. Take place when I am gone.”
“Oh hun. I don’t know. Protecting people isn’t my gig. I’m more of a hurt, kill, murder and maim kinda gal.”
“You are not being able to die Jaeger. Could live forever. What will you do? What use will you be? Just a killer? Like demons outside? Live only to kill?”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. Had no clue if she was right. Could I live forever? Would I still be around in a thousand years? My gut told me it was possible so long as I had food. The enormity of that concept crashed over me in a dizzying tide. What would I do if I was going to live forever? Simply surviving would be pretty fucking boring. Would an eternity of killing make me no better than the zombies?
“Am cold. Answer question. Will you watch over daughter?” Another pause. Another word whispered softly. “Please.”
My gut hurt but not from hunger. Maliqe’s emotions ripped chunks from me as they bled through her words. Tore into my brain and crushed my hammering heart. I struggled to breathe. Found it hard to swallow. Felt hot tears begin to leak from both eyes. A hand squeezed my thigh urgently.
“Yes. You have my word, Maliqe Idrizi. I will watch over and protect your daughter.”
It wasn’t a movie moment where she simply closed her eyes and died peacefully. Time crawled by as she slowly bled out, body convulsing where it lay impaled and crushed. I felt each thrash against my leg. Could feel her hot blood seeping through torn pants. Maliqe was a strong woman until the end, grunting and hissing quietly through the pain. Then nothing. There was absolute and utter silence as her last breath tickled my thigh.
For several moments I laid there in darkness, feeling the weight of both the building and Maliqe’s limp form pressing down against me. Stone, rock and wood shifted subtly, creaking and grinding softly as the quiet gurgling of water floated up from somewhere below. I was badly shaken by Maliqe’s death and unable to understand why. Unable to process the painful pressure encircling my heart. It had been years, if not decades, since I’d cried. Yet there I was, trapped in a collapsed basement, mourning for a women I’d known less than a week. It pissed me off.
“Fuck this.” I hissed. “Fuck this!” Growling, I tried to pull both legs under me. Struggled against the weight and emotions pushing me down. “FUCK THIS!” One leg inched forward, skin ripping and made slick with blood.
“FUCK....” Movement. Against my leg. “…this?”
For a moment I held still and wondered if I’d imagined it. Something soft pushed against the back of my thigh a heartbeat later. Defiantly not my imagination.
A low, soft moan answered and I felt a hand grip my pants.
“Maliqe? You better not be a fucking zombie. You hear me!” Teeth sank into the back of my thigh and for some reason I laughed. Laughed long and loud, masking the sound of fabric tearing and teeth snapping.
“You have got…”
Laughter burst uncontrollably from my lips, shaking my whole body as teeth clamped down on exposed flesh.
A hiss of pain while meat and muscle ripped free before my laughter returned loud enough to send dust falling from overhead.
“…fucking kidding me…”