We had all fallen asleep in the living room. Dennis woke up when Evie pinched his nose. I stretched my arms and back. Sleeping on the floor probably wasn't the best idea. I looked towards the kitchen expecting to see Doris pop her head out any moment with a tray of nibbles for breakfast. The kitchen was dark and silent. Then my memory kicked in. I looked over at Don in his big comfy chair. He was looking at the kitchen doorway too. He dropped his eyes down to his tobacco tin on the side table and began to roll his morning cigarette. Normally he would wait until after breakfast to do this. Doris used to make him wait because if he didn't he would just end up smoking two cigarettes instead of one each morning. She would joke that he was trying to beat her to heaven.
I got up, gargled with a small cap full of Listerine and went to the pantry to see what I could pull together for a morning meal. A couple cans of fruit cocktail and oatmeal. I started a small fire in the fireplace to boil some water, for the oatmeal. My presentation wasn't as good as Doris had been. She had a way of making even the worst meal seem like a five star dish. I guess that's what happens once you've attained grandmother status.
Over breakfast Dennis kept avoiding telling us what happened to Melissa and Brian. We finally wrestled the story out of him.
After we had left them at the tree Brian had asked for Dennis to tie him, securely, to the same tree that Melissa was tied to. Dennis tied Brian to the tree by his ankles and wrists. Melissa remained tied to the tree sitting down with her arms outstretched behind her. He said that Melissa cursed at them. Saying they were both pathetic and she didn't care what happened to herself. As soon as Dennis was done attaching Brian to the tree her entire demeanor changed. She broke down in tears and said she was sorry. She wanted to continue living despite how much she missed her real daughter. Melissa then divulged that she had cased out our house before showing up. When she saw Evie playing outside she cracked a plan to get into our home and kidnap her. Evie had been the only child, still alive and breathing, she had seen since the zombies first appeared. When she saw her all she could think about was how she could "have" her.
Brian and Dennis listened to Melissa's story. Brian told her that he didn't care what she said because he was going to eat her. Brian then told Dennis to take a brief walk and come back when the screams had stopped, to kill both of them. Dennis said he walked just far away enough to not be seen but watched just in case either one of them escaped their restraints. Brian took the same knife Melissa had used on his brother and jammed it into his own abdomen. It was like watching him perform Seppuku. Seppuku is a form of Japanese ritual suicide. It was originally reserved only for Samurai as part of their honor code. Samurai used it voluntarily so that they could die with honor instead of falling into the hands of their enemies.
The short blade was sharp and sliced easily through Brian's lower body from left to right. Melissa watched in shock and awe as he fell on the ground in front of her. Dennis described how Melissa cried and I felt the sweet taste of revenge. The fact that Melissa was eaten alive while attached to a tree wasn't revenge for me. The fact that she had to face her death and her mistakes is what made me satisfied.
When Brian came back as a member of the undead he sank his teeth into Melissa's leg. She struggled and kicked him. But since he was tied to the tree and her she couldn't kick him away. Brian relentlessly attacked her, that was when we heard the screams. He bit, tore, chewed, clawed, mauled and eventually tore open Melissa's throat. He ate her body until it completely stopped twitching. He ate through her nose until he was able to get into her brain cavity. When Dennis finally approached to kill Brian Mel was completely unrecognizable. Her right arm was no longer attached to her body because Brian had eaten through her shoulder. Pieces of her hair and scalp stuck to the front of Brian's shirt. The smell of warm blood was so thick in the air you could taste it.
Dennis said that Brian looked up at him right before he re-killed him and he thought, just for a moment, that he saw a flash of recognition. Almost as though Brian was saying "yes, it's time."
Alex and I both had had our thoughts of revenge come true in a way. Mel was killed on the spot and was eaten by a zombie. We started to discuss if zombies might be able to retain some memory of their lives before if it was about a subject they cared enough about. After all, the brain was the key to keeping zombies moving and also how you re-killed them. Maybe there was something in the undead's minds other than orders to hunt out and eat fresh meat. But we would probably never know the truth behind that theory. It wasn't like we were going to start using flash cards and ink blots to test zombies.