The alarm kept ringing, but I was too tired to walk till there and turn it off.
“Cece, turn off your alarm; people are trying to get some sleep here,” came the first request from my cousin Kaira.
‘I should wake up!’ I said to myself, and again the alarm rang, piercing through my ears.
“CECEE!” this time, the tone got a bit tougher than the earlier one. I immediately got up and turned it off.
Today is a big day for me. I am going to meet my alternate for the very first time. My family has no idea that I am going to meet her in person. I always wanted to meet her. Well, I knew she existed, but until she contacted me through Facebook, I thought that was a myth, and her explanation made sense, for we weren’t allowed to go outside in the morning and her at night. We had certain restricted areas where people like me were not permitted.
Yeah, it’s night, and it’s the time given to us to walk on earth. I don’t know from when this system came into existence, but since the day I was born, this was followed and the stories narrated to us as a child were considered to be childhood stories which parents made up, but now it all made sense to me.
The story goes back to 200 years when the Zombie outbreak happened on earth for the first time. Since a situation like this was expected, doctors and scientists were ready with the cure. The ones assumed to be affected with a slight display of symptoms associated with the zombie virus, listed by Dr. Zambriado Curesis, were vaccinated immediately. But, like all the experiments, it also had some side effects. Even when it worked on humans, the cells affected by the virus dejected themselves from the human body to form another human being who seemed like a clone of its own to survive; even when they were tested to be harmless, they were banned from entering the human world, but both were part of each other and connected one another somehow. Both were able to listen to one another’s thoughts, like twins, for they were one cell once and now separated. Since the antidote was powerful, the humans born later were twins. While one carried the virus, and the other was free from it. The one affected would be handed over to the other twin in the zombie world. This was followed for a very long time now. Due to the technological developments, the twins need not physically hand over the baby; a robot was programmed to gather the baby, separating it from the human child. Since they could hear each other’s thoughts, when a baby was bought to the Zombie world through a lift from upstairs, the twin knew it belonged to them.
Well, I knew this story but didn’t want to believe it until I saw Cecilia’s profile on Facebook. She seemed nice. She stayed with my biological mother. We, zombies, were incapable of bringing new life, but I am sure like they show in movies, we don’t eat a human brain, and our brain is not dead. Ironically, we look dead, and I guess that’s scary to human beings. I didn’t want to scare Cecilia, though, so I took a scarf if I wanted to hide my face.
Since the arrival of zombies, I mean us, the earth had new zones. Once it was night, it would be a Zombie zone area so that humans will not enter ours, and they could avoid some dark scenes of violence maybe. I don’t know. The mornings were a human zone; no zombie was allowed to leave home after 6 am. Since it was night and it was Zombie zone, I was allowed to go anywhere I wanted, even the upstairs. I hope Cecilia meets me at the correct place.
I was excited to meet her. I wore my favorite dress, a blue knee-length gown with pretty white flowers on it. I wondered what Cecilia would wear. I couldn’t hear her thoughts. Maybe it was because I was just 16. My mother here told me that we would have the ability to hear our alternates once we are 21. Perhaps I am the first to know about the truth behind the alternate story at this very young age. I was getting nervous now.
I came near to the lift to upstairs, the guard there looked at me.
“How old are you, little one?”
“Ah.. 18… yes… I am 18… old enough to visit upstairs.” I lied, hoping he wouldn’t find it out.
He looked at me, surprised, “Where are your friends?”
“They will follow my lead soon once the moon is brighter.”
“mhm.. be back before 5.30 am. You know the rest of the story, don’t you? Humans are not safe to be around. I hope your mamma has instructed you on that.”
I smiled at him as he led me to the lift.
“I am not supposed to say this to you but, a girl like you went upstairs a few days ago, and she hasn’t returned yet. We are keeping it confidential because we fear humans are involved in her missing. If the other zombies come to know about it, it’s gonna be a war.”
“I promise I will come back.”
“And young girl, whatever I said to you should be our little secret, understood?”
I nodded my head. As the lift came, I got in. He smiled at me and reminded me once again, “Be back before Sunrise.” I smiled back as a ‘Yes.’
My heart was pounding with excitement. I couldn’t stop smiling. As soon as the lift reached upstairs, I was nervous. It was my first time upstairs, and I was all alone. I reached the place where she had asked me to come. As I got there, I saw a shadow. I knew it was her. I was so happy. As she turned, I understood it wasn’t Cecilia but my mother… my biological mother!
“Hey, hey… don’t get scared I am your mother.”
“Where is Cecilia?” I didn’t know what else to ask.
“Cecilia is dead.” She went silent.
“When she was five years old.”
“What do you mean? I chatted with her yesterday.”
“I know it was me.”
I was shocked to hear that, “What about her pictures?”
She went silent again and then took a deep breath, “Cece, I know how do you feel right now. I am a digital artist. I hope your mother told you that we could communicate through our thoughts. Those pictures you saw in her profile were digitally made from the description your mother had told me about you. Those are you in human form. That should have been how Cecilia would have looked if she was your age.”
“How did this happen? What happened to her?” I was curious.
“Cece, when the twins are born, the one abandon…” she stopped and continued, “one affected with the virus will have stronger immunity than the human child. It was not a problem before a few years, but now the human child born are usually weak, and there are only fewer chances for them to survive.”
“Oh, I am sorry to hear that.”
“mhm… we can bring her back, but I need your help.”
“If I can help, I would. Tell me what I should do.”
“I need… I need your…” she was stopped by a sudden thud from behind. I turned back and saw my mommy.
“Oh, Jamie, I know what you are thinking. I won’t let you have her.” She screamed at my mother. I stood there without understanding what was going on.
“You know how much I miss her. Now that the technology has evolved, I have a chance to be with her.” Jamie cried.
“Not by killing mine.” She said it. I understood what was going on. I should have known. Jamie needed my brain to bring Cecilia back to life. Since other organs are dead, our brains were the only thing common between us; The thought sharing, inside jokes. It had the power to bring her back.
“Mother, you bought me here to kill me?”
Jamie went silent. Mommy held my hands, “We haven’t hurt any of your kind. If a war breaks between us, don’t blame us.”
She said it, and we walked back to the lift; she didn’t say anything,
“Mommy, I am sorry. I should have told you.”
“It is not your mistake, my child, now that it is over….”
A sudden shot at her brain, and she was dead. I saw her die in front of my eyes. I screamed, “Noooo….”
“You better come with me unharmed, or else I will have to use this at you,” said Jamie. With that, she blindfolded me. I was weeping throughout the way. Finally, when I opened my eyes, I was in a bright place. I assumed it was a laboratory. I saw a distinction they have made with glass. I asked, “What is that?”
“Do you wanna see?” she pressed a button, and I saw shadows like me coming and banging their heads on the glass. They were scary and covered in blood.
“What happened to them?” I was scared.
“They lost their brain.” She told me as she injected me with some kind of liquid, and then I knew what humans meant by ‘Zombie apocalypse.’ They were going to blame us for turning wild and killing us before they could use us for their survival. I knew I was gonna turn into one among the others on the other side of the glass. I am dozing off… I am dozing off… let me sleep.