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This blog hopefully will help establish a group devoted to video game fan fiction, beginning with my inaugural entry in this series, Last Rites of Roy and Anna.
My goal for FanFic Fellowship is to encourage my fellow GIO members to tap their creative impulse in tribute to their favorite video games, video game franchises or video game genres. We have many talented people in this community and I, for one, would love to hear the stories we could tell.
Examples of scenarios one can explore are missing scenes, alternate endings, alternate universes, parallel storylines, opening scenes of prospective sequels, or wholly unique stories. Consider this more of a standing challenge then, say, a weekly one as explored in BlackHeartedWolf's Writer's Guild Weekly Challenge, an inspiration for this series.
Titles of participating blogs should begin with "FanFic Fellowship:" The stories can be of varying lengths, though should be long enough to demonstrate that considerable time and thought were invested in the exercise. They also should cite the specific title, genre, etc. that served as muse. As with elsewhere on this site, questionable language or scenarios should be avoided.
At the end of each week, or longer periods given a dearth of material, I will post an overview of the intervening fan fiction complete with links. I hope enough people will embrace this effort to ensure its lasting appeal. In the meantime, besides BlackHeartedWolf, I thank mojomonkey12 for his encouragement and Saint for his longtime support.
And now for my fan fiction debut, which was inspired by Techland's Dead Island. Rarely have I had more fun playing a video game, and its creative setting and scenarios helped immerse me in its creepy world. So without further ado ...
Last Rites of Roy and Anna
Life had become a plague, so we were sent a real one for our sins. An Old Testament scourge to wipe the slate clean. How else to explain their predicament, this macabre turn of events? thought Roy.
Thankfully, such morbid preoccupation was like an alarm, warning him to take hold of its slippery slope before it was too late. Sitting still in the worn bungalow chair, he would awaken as if from a daze, startled to find himself tightly gripping a bloodied showerhead. This time, however, the blood had long since dried, the once red pool at his feet now a dark fading stain.
Instinctively, Roy scanned first his hands, then arms and shortly his entire body in panic, leaping to his feet for a thorough inspection of his bare skin and wrinkled, stale clothes. Where he found blood his fevered search turned painstakingly slow and methodical. His heart racing and blood surging through his veins, he forced himself to move with a deliberate pace that belied his fear. Or perhaps it was his fear that made him hesitate, afraid of the grim consequences of broken skin.
Sometimes he would stop altogether, a belated recognition that such a ritual was unnecessary, that the terror he had experienced had dissipated like the blood long since absorbed by the cracks in the wood floor. Still, it stuck with him and pervaded his thoughts, this waking nightmare that had descended upon this tropical island.
Roy no longer ventured outside his once idyllic bungalow, but its bloodied, disheveled interior meant any pretense of normality was a moot exercise in self delusion. He didn’t know why he’d left its contents in such disarray, why he didn’t right fallen objects, return items to their proper place in the once carefully designed unit, or clean the human remains that imbued the scene with an inhuman pall. But all that superficial consideration faded away when reminded of the corpse that lay rotting inside.
Standing above his chair, Roy found himself staring once again at the body that had fallen face down only a few feet away. The sun dress might have looked pretty on her slender figure when she was alive, but now it draped her wasting frame like a shroud. Indeed in the otherworldly glow of the old incandescent bulb at the center of the ceiling, her lifeless form almost resembled the inanimate furniture that mostly lay broken and spent throughout the tousled unit.
Only upon seeing her again would his grip on the showerhead finally loosen, his muscles relax and the air once more full his starved lungs. She was a stark reminder of everything that had befallen them, a sad epitaph to a trip that was meant to be something else entirely: a celebration of a life lived to its fullest, of an enduring love, both cut short in the cruelest fashion.
Anna meant everything to him and there was nothing he wouldn’t do to save her. But his very existence made a mockery of such empty bluster. Why wasn’t he the one bitten instead? Where had his strength gone, his stamina, courage? All seemed to have failed him; worse, he failed his wife. She should be looking down upon him now, Roy thought, as his legs – and will – began to waver.
A loud bang interrupted his concentration. He tensed momentarily as his gaze followed the noise to his feet, where the showerhead had fallen from his limp hand. Now, he didn’t see the blood that had turned its stainless steel sheen to a dull dark rouge. His eyes had turned from this tortured reality to a moment not long ago, though now it seemed a distant memory of a past life.
Roy had been washing his wife’s hair over the tub, a new practice that both enjoyed. He was grateful to take her mind off things, and she was happy to let him. Indeed, such an otherwise mundane ritual had taken on new significance when her hair had started falling out. They knew her cancer treatments would have such consequences, but like most they were ill-prepared for the stark reality of such extreme measures.
She thought him gallant for such a gesture, not a label he wore often or deliberately. But he knew full well the trauma of the experience so worked tirelessly to alleviate her of that burden. When her hair did come off in his hands he was no less immune to its impact, but knowing she was spared its awful symbolism he soldiered on without a trace of concern, careful to help her maintain the illusion of a normal life if only for a fleeting moment.
Lately, those moments had been what they lived for. Anna’s prognosis was dire, her disease terminal. The long-married couple planned this vacation as a kind of swan song, a momentary cure for an inescapable fate. Instead, the undead scourge that now ravaged this once pristine island made her disease seem benign by comparison. This cruel twist of fate left a bitter Roy cursing the heavens, when he wasn’t wracked by debilitating guilt.
For now, Anna’s husband hovered somewhere in between, not sure how to feel or whether he felt anything at all. He often was spent, emotionally, physically, drained empty like a cracked vase that no amount of care could keep full. Even when sick, Anna would see to his needs first, sparing no effort to ensure his happiness. Without her doting ways, he began to slowly succumb to despair and inertia, escaping to the relative safety of an increasingly fractured mind.
Suddenly, there was a powerful thud at their door, forcing Roy to engage this dark reality yet again. A second impact likewise shook the bungalow with its heavy pounding. When the third came, he was prepared for what might come through, having scooped up the showerhead once again in an iron grip that held it aloft.
The door fell fast and hard followed quickly by a large man who nearly lost his footing. Three others followed closely behind. Roy’s eyes widened, his fists clenched and his muscles tightened as he prepared to swing swiftly down upon the nearest intruder.
“Stop!!” yelled a woman who leveled a pistol at Roy as her alarm halted everyone in their tracks. All five stared at each other as if in suspended animation, wary of intent and sizing up their adversary in anticipation of the next move, aware that any movement might provoke the other. “Lower your weapon” the woman implored.
Roy’s growing disregard – for his own safety, for theirs, for this life – was worn indelicately on his sleeve. “This is my home!” he threatened, incredulously.
“Maybe you haven’t noticed,” came a voice from the doorway, “but you’re at a disadvantage.”
Roy now allowed himself to more carefully scrutinize the figures who stood huddled around his threshold. The four appeared fit and well armed, an imposing sight that he and his makeshift weapon were no match for. Still, he made no distinction between these decidedly human trespassers and the undead ones that likewise seek entry. He was determined to give no ground either way. “Go away!” he commanded.
The four were stunned into silence at his resistance. Into the quiet, Roy implored, “Leave us be.”
At that, they quickly scanned the room and soon noticed the woman lying dead on his floor. Their eyes returned to his, seeking to divine the truth from this solemn scene. But any loss they expected to see behind his eyes was hidden from their scrutiny. Still, they felt pity at his sad predicament.
The woman lowered her weapon. “I’m sorry,” she said. “We were just looking for supplies; we didn’t know anyone still lived here.” Though her response was indicative of the feelings shared by her companions, who noticeably relaxed at the seeming mutual understanding, it did little to assuage the fear and paranoia that made Roy so tense.
“Now you know,” he said tersely, still holding his weapon above his head, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. This raised the quartet’s eyebrows, though such behavior wasn’t completely unexpected during such bizarre circumstances as they now found themselves in.
A second woman in their group tried to allay Roy’s fears. “Look, we mean you no harm,” she said as she, too, let her weapon hang by her side. Still, he noticed that she didn’t loosen her grip on the worn machete whose considerable scars were testament to the bloody swath they’d had to cut to bring them here at this moment.
“In fact,” she continued, “if you come with us, we can protect you and offer you shelter.”
Roy was unmoved by her gesture. “I had shelter.” He thought a moment before adding, “Besides you’re too late.”
Again the group’s attention was drawn to the corpse that lay at Roy’s feet. “We’re sorry,” offered the man in the back, whose knives where only partially hidden from view. “But we can still help you.”
At this suggestion, Roy’s anger clearly grew, but before he could respond a ghastly shriek rent the still air, quickly mobilizing the bungalow’s occupants against the pending threat. With barely any time to react they were assaulted by two infecteds who had charged the bungalow with limbs flailing and bloodied teeth bared. The man in back was overcome by one but the woman wielding the blade made a quick clean cut across the nape of its neck. At the same time, a gunshot pierced the din, signaling that the second assailant had been dispatched by the group’s other female companion.
The crack of gunfire raised another scream from nearby. Attention turned toward the back of the bungalow this time as its occupants girded for a second fight. They raced to the back door only to find it securely locked, but before they could breath a sigh of relief they heard the cry again. It emanated from the bedroom. As Roy lunged forward with outstretched arm, one of the men had already grabbed the knob and turned it open.
As the door swung wide and weapons were raised, the shriek rose too, revealing a pathetic creature inside. But sight of it stopped everyone in their tracks. They turned to Roy without saying a word, though their expressions spoke volumes. Finally, one asked the question on everyone’s mind. “Why?”
Roy turned to look at the zombie chained to his bed, its head raised above the pillow as it craned its neck, mouth agape in a snarl, eyes hungry. He had no reply.
The man who had first burst through Roy’s door thought he understood. “If I were in his position I might do the same; I mean it’s sick, but who are we to judge?”
“An eye for an eye,” agreed the second man. The women, however, were less sympathetic.
“We’ve all lost someone,” said their machete wielding companion, “but the only thing separating us from them is our dignity, our compassion, our humanity. This …” she paused in contemplation. “… This is barbaric.”
“To hell with this …” said the other woman as she raised her gun.
“NOOO!!” Roy screamed as he lunged forward, hitting her arm with the showerhead as she pulled the trigger. The bullet missed its target by inches, imbedding itself in the headboard. Roy was quickly subdued by her companions, who wrestled him to the floor.
“What is WRONG with you?” one of them demanded. “That … thing … killed your wife! Why protect it?”
Roy had no explanation that they would understand. But none was necessary. As he gazed at the woman in his bed, it slowly dawned upon his visitors that it is, in fact, his companion.
After a moment, one of the women asked, “Who is in the living room?”
Without looking up to answer, he said “The one who bit her.”
“Why leave her body inside?”
“Too dangerous not to,” he explained.
As the group pondered Roy’s sad predicament, one broke the intermittent silence. “You understand she's gone? What’s in your bed, it’s not the woman you knew. Not anymore.”
“Anna,” Roy began, emotion returning to him as he spoke, “had terminal cancer. She was going to die within a few months.” Fighting back tears, he shortly continued. “I … I felt so helpless to do anything. I mean, I’m supposed to protect her, right? I’m her husband, but there was nothing I could do.”
Her husband began to move, crawling to her bedside. As he laid his hand on hers, she turned to look at him. If she recognized him, it wasn’t clear to anyone assembled. But she no longer howled, or fought her constraints. Whether she was used to them by now, and understood it was futile, or she was tired from struggling, or whether something else was at work, something seemingly inexplicable, her demeanor had changed.
“I know she’s not the same, but she’s still alive,” Roy asserted. “And as long as she breathes I will fight for her, I won’t let my Anna go.”
The quartet all looked upon Anna, trying to see the creature through her husband’s eyes. It was a difficult challenge. The few wisps of hair left on her head were dirty, matted. Her face was gaunt, eye sockets sunken, eyes glassy. Indeed her entire body was horribly emaciated, her skin hanging loose in places, in others, gone; muscle shown where skin once was, or its outline clear underneath a thin layer of skin. The torn or fraying dress she wore did little now to improve her appearance. And yet, Roy could not look away.
These strangers had seen much, too much in fact that they won’t soon forget. But this was unexpected. It caught them off guard, and so they stood silently for a time at Anna’s bedside. Then, slowly, they began to mobilize.
“We have to go,” one said. Another put her hand on his shoulder before leaving his side. One left a handgun on the nightstand, saying only, “When the time comes …” And with that they all departed, barely making a sound as they disappeared from their lives as quickly as they had entered.
Roy was unaware of the passage of time, sitting faithfully beside his wife. He did not see what she had become, only what she had meant to him. The smiles that had come so easily to her, the glint in her eyes when together, her warm embrace, the soft lilt of her voice, that laugh. Anna had been a vision to him from their first encounter to these final days. Only now it haunted him. He could not bear for her to be alone, nor for him to outlive her. They were meant to be together, they took a vow, he made a promise. Roy was going to keep his word.
It wasn’t long before the gunshots had lured the undead from far and wide. As they neared, Roy stood up, grabbing the pistol and positioned himself in the doorway of the bedroom. He waited patiently for the island’s specters to find their way to him, whether by scent, sound, hunger or some other motivation. When the zombies did descend upon them, he was prepared. He stuck out his hand when the first one was in arm’s reach and practically covered its mouth with his hand, exposing the fleshy part between its teeth before the creature bit down hard.
Roy yelled at the sharp pain that shot up his arm, while he raised the pistol in his other hand and leveled its barrel at the zombie’s head. When he pulled the trigger and the bullet left its chamber he felt a brief pang of guilt for dispatching this undead soul. Whose parent was this, who’s child, who’s spouse? But such qualms proved momentary as he was reminded of his wife and the task at hand, quickly closing and locking the bedroom door so he could rejoin Anna at her bedside.
His goal was for the infection to take hold soon, possibly deterring the undead hordes outside from any further advance. Then, and most importantly, perhaps he and Anna might find peace together once more. As he pulled up a chair to sit beside her, he allowed himself the thought of their having a future again. Any future. At least he had given them that chance. He had given them that hope.