Thixus stares blankly at the concrete beneath him with his gun on his lap. Chatter from every volunteer soldier next to him is caught by everything but his ears. His eyes slowly drift up to look over the beaten wall in front of him to see any potential threats. He squints his eyes to adjust to the distant sand ahead of him to distinguish what the blurs approaching them are. When he regains control over his vision, he sees the green blurs turn into the familiar sights of Greemen. His lips curl into his teeth as his neck’s skin sucks in between his muscles. As he clinks his rings together on his left hand, he clinches his gun and feels his body begin to tremble. One of the soldiers next to him asks, “Whoa, you alright Thixus?”
No response comes from Thixus as he points his gun at the Greemen and opens fire with his rumbling growl signaling the others to do the same. Everyone begins shouting and shooting at the Greemen to see their orange blood spraying on the sand beneath them. The Greemen charge as fast as a cheetah until the ones that were missed by bullets ram into the wall. Everyone shooting shakes for a little bit before they point their guns down at the threats. The Greemen are plucked off one by one until they hear their guns click. Three Greemen continue to give their wall expanding cracks as they frantically try and reload their guns. Thixus feels his emotions throw his gun to the ground and hurl his body over the wall. The soldier that asked how he was yells, “No!” as he sees Thixus plummeting towards a Greeman.
As he’s in fall, he takes out his knife and yells as he shoves the blade into the top of the Greeman’s head and uses his momentum to yank it to the ground. He dodges the kick of the Greeman to his left as he takes his knife out of the one he killed and sweeps his foot towards the Greeman’s ankle while in a crouched position. The Greeman feels itself caught off balance, so it’s back falls into Thixus’ knife. Thixus yanks up the blade to watch it slice a crevice of orange pain squirting from the right side of its spine into its medulla. The blade is twisted to see the Greeman spaz with death, so Thixus drops the threat to the ground. The remaining Greeman growls and pounds its fists on the ground while staring its blazing eyes at Thixus. Thixus smiles and drops his knife on the ground before he strokes the air with his palm facing upward as he says, “Bring it on you fucking piece of shit.”
The Greeman bulges its muscles as it roars at Thixus. It charges through the sand and causes a torrent of dust to jump with every step. As its screaming furry approaches close enough for Thixus to make out the evaporating texture of this beast’s green infection, a shot is heard above them. The Greeman’s skull sucks into the forced hole in its chin as its body slides over to Thixus. He stares at the lifeless beast for a moment before he picks up his knife and calmly climbs up the cracks of the wall to rejoin the soldiers on guard. After he swings his body over the wall, he grabs his weapon silently, loads another fresh clip and continues to stare at the ground.
Everyone stares at him with their eyes taking over their face as much as their gaping mouths. One of them says, “You could’ve gotten yourself killed.”
Thixus replies, “I wouldn’t be so lucky.”
“What happened to you to make you like this?”
“I lost everyone I love.”
“Did you have a wife?”
“I’m sorry man.”
“It’s okay. I just kinda miss having sex.”
“Why don’t you have sex with someone else?”
He’s slapped in the back of his head by the person next to him instantly. Thixus stands up and walks away as he says to the one in command, “I’m relieving myself for the rest of the day.” The person nods and steps aside for Thixus to exit.
He puts his gun on the back of his motorcycle and rides into the city they were protecting. The little shacks of people rebuilding their lives whiz by him as children play in their front lawns. The trees bend from the pain of war but are still blossoming flowers for the upcoming season. He sees a child not paying attention to the road run after his friend that tagged him. Thixus reads what could happen, so his adrenaline jumps in his skull as he grips his left hand and feels his bike standing on the front tire to a halt. The child’s frozen in the middle of the street with his mouth reaching for the ground. Thixus’ bike rests its back tire on the ground again, so Thixus puts down his kickstand and gets off of his bike. He rips off his helmet as he yells, “Watch where the hell you’re going kid! Don’t you realize you could’ve been killed?!” His yelling grabs the attention of the neighbors around them.
The little boy remains frozen, so Thixus yells, “Dammit! Don’t you understand how important your life is! Where the hell are your parents?!”
The boy’s mother runs out and hugs her boy as she says to him, “Are you okay Bobby? Oh my Gosh!” She hugs his head and then looks at Thixus. She says sternly, “And you have no right to yell at my boy like that!”
Thixus straightens up his back as he looks death into her eyes. He says, “Then you have no right being a mother if you don’t watch out for your children.”
“How dare you!”
“How dare I! Your fucking kid was almost killed because you take his life for granted and expect him to just be okay when we aren’t in an okay world! Do you really think that life is like it was or that it’ll ever go back to how it was? No! So why the fuck are you still being a bad parent when that gift isn’t a present for everyone?!”
She blinks rapidly before she stammers out, “That still gives you no right to yell at my son!”
“Shut the fuck up you stupid bitch and learn how to be a parent! Or say goodbye to little Bobby someday.” Thixus gets back on his motorcycle while saying, “fucking dumbass…” as she’s yelling something at him and drives off without acknowledging her.
He ends up back at his apartment and lies down on his grey couch after he turns on the oven to heat up. He then turns on the television to watch the news show where he used to live in ruins with helicopters circling around town. A news caster’s voice says, “The relief team continues to search for any survivors from this devastating war that America’s still repairing from. Sources say that the war is finally over and all that people are doing is fighting off the remaining infected people from the biological disease they are referring to as ‘Greemen’ on the streets.” He takes a long pause before continuing with, “I’ve just received word that our President is addressing the situation. We’re now going live with his message.” The images on the television cut to the President in a bunker with a suit on.
The president says, “After too many deaths to tally yet, I and the rest of my team would like to apologize to the victims of this incident and their loved ones. An attack as devastating as this will never be forgotten and we are making sure that we take the necessary actions to continue defending ourselves so that we never have to deal with this again. We have eliminated the terrorists that attacked us and now we’re making a treaty between us and the country. My heart goes out to everyone that was involved in this battle, and I send everyone my blessings that was involved. God bless you all and I wish you all a safe week ahead.”
The television cuts back to the wreckage, so the news caster says, “And my heart goes out to everyone that was involved as well. We’ll continue to show the relief team all day every day until we feel there are no more bodies to be found. At night, we’ll show the faces of the loved ones that were found and are no longer with us. This is Chance Brockman from channel 9 news saying good night and tune in at seven for the list of the deceased.”
Thixus looks at his watch and sees that it’s 6:15pm. He picks himself off of the couch and walks past the black coffee table to enter the kitchen to his left. He opens the fridge to see the chicken he was thawing and takes it out to bake it. He places the chicken into a nonstick pan and puts it in the oven without any seasoning. He sets a timer after putting it into the oven and then plops himself face down on his couch again. He flips around and looks at his fingers clink the rings together on his left hand until he passes out.
The beeping of the timer wakes him up, so he takes out the chicken and turns off the oven before his fire alarm goes off. He sits back down with the food steaming in front of him as he turns on the television. The first page of faces are plastered on the screen to see the smiles they used to own. His eyes dart around to see if Lauren’s face pops up. Page after page of people continue to fade in as the speakers remain silent. In the middle of his searching, he hears his door being knocked on. He looks to the door and then back at the screen without getting up. The knocking is more insistent the second time, so he grunts and unlocks the door.
He peaks his head through the partially opened door and asks, “What do you want?”
An officer asks, “Are you Thixus?”
“I am sir. We need you at base immediately.”
“Sir, there’s no time, please come with me.”
Thixus rolls his eyes as he closes the door. He sits back on the couch and continues searching for Lauren. The door opens, so Thixus grabs the gun under his coffee table and points it straight at the officer’s head. The officer throws up his arms and says, “Sir, I’m not here to hurt you. I was just advised to come and grab you. And if I do not return to them then more people will come and it will not be pretty.”
They remain in a stand still with Thixus’ head cocked with questions. The gun bobs up and down with his arms before he lowers them to his side. He puts back on his shoes and leaves with the officer. He doesn’t say a word to the officer the whole time they’re driving as he continues to look at his rings clink together. They arrive at the main base and Thixus is escorted inside. They place him in an open room with only a bench as his company. A man enters the room with a manila folder and takes a seat on the bench. He asks, “Could you join me Thixus?” as he holds his hand towards the open seat next to him.
Thixus replies, “I’m already in the room with you. So what do you want?”
“Alright. Well I was wondering a little bit about your past.”
“Like your wife.”
Thixus’ face loses emotion as he asks, “What about her?”
“Have you moved on?”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“I’m sorry. Have you found another lover?”
Thixus’ jaw moves side to side slowly before he says, “Next question.”
“Could you please answer the question?”
“Because no one else is her. Next question.”
“What would you do if you saw her again?”
“Was her body found?”
“Could you answer my question?”
Thixus says sternly, “Was her body found?”
The man looks down and bites his bottom lip as he nods his head. He then looks back at Thixus before he leaves the room without saying anything else. Thixus yells, “Was her fucking body found?!” He shakes his head and then sits on the bench to look at his rings clink again. He hears the door open but he refuses to look over as he asks, “So did you come back to answer my fucking question you pri-” but shock takes him back as he sees the usual smile from those glistening golden eyes in Lauren’s head.
He slowly stands up with his eyes trying to focus on reality as she says, “Hi.”
He scans her body and sees that she has the arm he was holding before he took off her ring. He throws his arms around her and squeezes her head into his chest as his eyes scream for joy with tears kissing his scrunched cheeks. He says, “Oh my god… oh my god…” as they swivel in each other’s arms.
She calmly says, “I missed you too.”
He pulls her away to stare in her eyes as he rubs on the scar on her cheek to ask, “But what happened? I mean I was holding your arm for crying out loud!” They both laugh as he brings her back to his chest and holds her tightly.
She kisses his arm and relaxes his hold as she says, “Well… shortly after that building fell apart and a rogue piece of glass chopped off my arm, a rock hit my head and I was knocked out. I woke up to the sound of a helicopter and they took me away and put my arm back on. Still hurts and is very tender, but I don’t need all of the poles that they had in my arm before for stability. Then I asked what base you were at and they knew exactly who you were. Turns out you were kind of on a death wish without me huh?”
He kisses her lips before he says, “Because I’m dead without you.”
“You always had a way with words. But did you miss me?”
They both laugh as Thixus says, “Well, I kinda miss having sex.”
Grins reflect from their faces as she says, “Such a gentleman. But… I think I know how we can fix that.”
“What do you have in mind?” Their lips come together again to remember what the life they had together tastes like.
She thinks for a moment and then says, “What does your new place look like?”
“It’s a dump, but we can always relocate.”
“Why don’t we go back home when everything is cleared up?”
“You don’t want to stay in the west?”
“It’s not like home. I’d like to start a family there.”
“I couldn’t agree more… But wait, what about the baby? Is the little one alright?” He places his left hand on her stomach.
Lauren’s face drops as a subtle sigh escapes her mouth. She shakes her head as she grabs his hand and says, “Let’s just say, at least we can make a baby how we want to now. And… I’d rather have a child made in better conditions, honestly.”
Thixus nods as he says, “Sounds like a plan. So for now, we enjoy the simple life of an apartment.”
Thixus takes her ring off of his pinky and places it on her ring finger again. Their eyes lock together before their lips remind them of home.