It’s well after midnight when I park my ancient sedan in the driveway of my childhood home. From out front, I can see that all the lights are off inside except one small reading lamp in the living room. My dad. I enter the house quietly; I know he’s probably too engrossed in his book for me to bother him, so as to not wake my mom upstairs. As I suspected, he’s sitting in his favorite arm chair with a historical biography open in his hands. I lean against the doorway into the living room, “is it any good?”
“It’s a bit dry,” he says as he looks up at me with a warm smile. I compare him sitting in front of me to the large family portrait hanging on the wall behind him. He’s a little plumper than he was back then and his hair has gone gray with age, but his smile is still exactly the same. And of course his eyes are different. They used to be brown and now they are the same grayish-white as a lot of the town. Yep, my dad is dead. Or un-dead. He died two years ago of a heart attack. It tore me to shreds, I left the apartment I was sharing with some friends and moved back home to be with my mom. For a year we lived together, trying our best to learn how to be a family without him.
I smile back at him, “You’re still going to power through and finish it aren’t you?”
“You know me too well, Mags.” He lowers his head to continue reading and without looking up again says, “You should head up to bed, tomorrow is gonna be a long night, you’ll need your rest.”
Knowing that he’s right and that he is already re-absorbed back into whatever historical time he’s reading about, I turn around and tiptoe up the stairs. I change out of my work clothes and then throw open the window in my room, settling myself onto the window bench to look out at the town. It’s a warm night, with just a sliver of a moon in the sky. Closest to our house is the rest of our development, multi-colored carbon copies of my home with just enough lawn between them to not be considering adjoining houses. Out past all the newer roofs are older, taller Victorian style houses containing the upper-class section of our little town. These houses all have sprawling lawns with meticulously sculpted greenery. The glittering lake is just beyond them, only partly visible from my vantage point. Out past the lake is The Wall with the searchlights of helicopters illuminating portions of it as they patrol it.
I guess I should explain. When The Rising (as it was so appropriately called by all the national news outlets) happened a year ago, there was so much confusion and chaos in the first few days that we never stopped to think about the fact that this wasn’t happening everywhere. It was only on day 5 when the Center for Disease Control showed up to investigate with their blockades and temporary fences that went around our town, a neighboring town, and the lake that we realized this was an isolated thing.
As they did their testing, the fences and road blocks became a permanent wall that is 20 feet high with two gated entry points, both controlled by the CDC. The helicopter patrols of the entire Wall came later on, after people in neighboring towns and states began digging up their dead and finding ways to scale the wall to drop them inside in the hopes that whatever caused our dead to rise would do the same to them. It never did. That’s slowed down but some people still have hope and manage to find ways to cross The Wall with their well-dressed corpses. The body team still does weekly sweeps to pick up any cadavers that have made their way inside.