Chapter 11 - Entry 3
September 14th - September 28th, 2021
There was no clock in the bedroom. No watch on my wrist. Time lost all meaning as my world grew reduced to feeding Mal, feeding myself and sleeping. Occasionally I’d read a book out loud, just to hear my own voice. Three were finished before the electricity died. A few candles provided the only light until they burned away.
But I wasn’t alone. Mal’s little body slept peacefully on my chest as the hours and days dragged by. The crows kept us company as well; pecking and scratching all-the-while. They never stopped. Never grew tired. Ever relentless in their obsession to crack open the cottage and eat the yummy yolk inside.
I’d sing. I’d tell Mal stories. I’d narrate each action just to fill the room with something other than the crow’s assault. Anything to drown them out. Especially the sound of them on the roof overhead. Black, jagged nails scratching and scraping against the metal like evil children playing havoc with a chalkboard. Even my hollow, empty crying seemed a welcome relief to the never ending cacophony.
The food ran out. I had no clue how long it lasted since the sun couldn’t be seen. Somehow the water lasted a little longer. Gradually the hunger faded but I noticed Mal wanted to feed more often. Likely my body wasn’t producing enough milk to sustain him.
His cries filled the darkness but there was nothing I could do. My body needed fuel to make the life-giving nourishment he needed. Fuel I’d exhausted. In time he quieted and grew lethargic and the crows were forgotten as I felt my baby slowly die. Lack of food and exhaustion born of sheer terror sapped my strength and will to live. Lack of water left tear ducts dry as I wept in silence. Lack of hope made me wish death would hurry up and claim us both.
I considered opening the bedroom door to end it all. Jaeger’s name strangled out of my throat in twisted prayers, begging her to kill away the misery. My hand rested over Mal’s face, violently shaking as I tried to be strong enough to suffocate him.
Instead we simply slept.
Until I woke screaming in blinding light. Confusion stole all rational thought and for a moment I believed I’d finally died. Light at the end of the tunnel and all that. A face leaned over, blocking that light. It wore a surgical mask and a look of deep concern. The eyes that locked onto mine seemed familiar somehow. The voice that spoke allowed me to make the connection.
“Hey there sleepy head,” Mary said, a smile visible through the mask’s white fabric.
Words couldn’t form as I tried to speak. My throat felt raw and dry. Nothing seemed to work. Arms and legs wouldn’t move. My body felt numb. But somehow I could feel the tears sliding down my face.
“Just get some rest. You’re ok. Everything’s going to be ok.” She whispered.
Another face replaced hers, followed by hands that shined a little light into my eyes and rubbed away the tears. Vaguely, through the cloud of memories, I recognized it belonged to one of the nurses. No name came to mind.
“We’re just going to give you a sedative Marley.” Said the nurse before darkness swept me away.
Occasionally I’d wake up and be greeted by Mary or a nurse. Eventually they moved me to a normal room and out of the clinic area. It was my old room, I noticed when I finally woke up clear headed enough to fully grasp my surroundings. Karl’s stuff was gone. So was Mal.
An IV fed fluids into my arm as I laid there, softly weeping in both sheer joy at being alive and dread at Mal’s absence. My mind leapt to horrible conclusions. He’d died. Starved to death because I was too weak to save him from the agony. Mary knocked softly at the door before entering and was immediately at my bedside, holding me as I cried.
“Mal?” I managed to croak out.
“We don’t know.” She whispered.
I pulled away and stared in horror at her, trying to understand the answer she’d given. “What do you mean? Where is he?”
“Marley, he wasn’t in the cottage when we got to you. You were alone.”
The room spun and my empty stomach heaved violently in reply. The answer made no sense. It was incomprehensible. Beyond logic. “Wha…how? He was right there in the bed with me Mary! Where is my son!”
“I was the first one to go inside when they finally got the bedroom door open. You were in there alone. Just you. Nearly dead from dehydration.” A hand gripped my shoulder when I tried to pull away. “It was just you Marley. Only you.”
“I have to find him.” But we both knew that wasn’t going to happen. My body was too weak. I couldn’t move a few inches on the bed, let alone haul myself back to the cottage. “What happened? How long has it been?”
Mary sighed and forced me to lay back down before explaining all that had occurred. The crows had swarmed the cottages and the main building, trapping everyone inside. Karl pleaded with other survivor groups to help. Someone finally came.
They’d dressed themselves in a fireman’s suite, worn over a diver’s shark-suit complete with oxygen tanks. When the crows saw them, they swarmed. They’d barely managed to set down the fuel cans and light a flare when the murder crashed into their body. Apparently they’d laid there in the fire’s center for half an hour while the crows burned to ash.
After that, they simply got up and left.
“You think it was Jaeger?” I asked. Simply speaking her name sent cold water running through my spine. “Jaeger…maybe she…took Mal.”
“We don’t know Marley. After they left, a few volunteers put on just about every stitch of thick clothing we had and went around clearing out the leftover crows. It took hours before they sounded the ‘All Clear’. I ran to your cottage right after the group had left and started hammering at the door.”
“I’ve got to get him back.”
Mary chewed her lower lip and stared down at our clasped hands in silence for several minutes before finally whispering, “You can’t Marley. You just can’t. She’ll kill you.”
“If she took my baby, then she already has.”