Maternal Instinct

March 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM

The estimated reading time for this post is 4 minutes, 26 seconds

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I looked down at my children as they slept, the moonlight hitting their faces softly. They all looked so peaceful. They were my children, and I would do anything to protect them. That night I made a vow that I would never harm them, no matter what the circumstance. I was a good mother. A good mother never harms her children.

The days began to get more harried and more stressful, and my kids could see the dark circles that began to form under my eyes, and the wrinkles that creased my forehead. Work was getting harder and harder, and it had been difficult to work as a nurse on the late night shift to begin with.
My children remained blissfully unaware of the fact that we currently had a deadly pandemic sweeping the globe.

I never thought that the zombie apocalypse would actually happen. I was a rational and sensible person and the supernatural had never been a great concern of mine. However, when hospitals become flooded with corpses that have gone cold and suddenly start screaming again as they are wheeled to the morgue, what has occurred is a little difficult to ignore. The hardest part was seeing the children that were occasionally wheeled in, wailing in despair while trying to rip out the throats of the orderlies. As the doctors experimented and tried to find a cure, I sat with my fellow nurses as we plugged our ears and tried to block out the screaming. Only small patches of the world had been affected so far, so no extreme emergency measures had yet been taken. All we wanted was to return home and make sure our families were safe, but going home would lead to nothing but nightmares of grayed, decaying skin and white, pupilless eyes.

I tried desperately to keep up a semblance of normalcy around my children. I would come home, smile, tell them mommy had had another rough night at work. Yet I was terrified to sleep during the day, terrified that when I opened my eyes my own children would be staring at me with their jaws slack and white, unblinking eyes. When it came to work, the only thing that kept me awake anymore was the screaming. My stomach always turned over when I saw the children being wheeled to an incinerator. Surely a mother could never harm her children like that, even if she had lost all reason? Surely maternal instinct was stronger than whatever this disease was that had gripped our world like a vice?

In the morning light’s early rays, I got off the bus that sent me to and from work and collapsed onto my bed. It had been a long, hard night helping at the research lab. My husband fixed the covers over me and tucked me in more securely. I grunted in thanks. In the other room I could hear my children begin to wake. I wondered how long I could fool them into thinking that everyone was simply on a long holiday.

It had been obvious from the start that our little local hospital was doomed to fail. The bus no longer came for me. I simply stayed home and cared for my children, and admittedly I finally managed to sleep more comfortably when I could control my resting times. I couldn’t seem to shake my night owl habit though. Every night I would kiss my three year old goodnight, smooth back the hair from my nine year old’s forehead, and gently squeeze my ten year old’s hand. Then, I would softly close the door and go about doing some busywork, never taking my eyes off that door. I would ensure that my children slept safe tonight.

Soon the dead began shuffling to the door and pressing themselves against our windows. My children learned the truth the day my husband took out his rifle and shot two pallid, gray faces that had managed to stick their hands underneath the front door.

Something else was disturbing me. My right hand began to hurt something awful, and I started getting constant headaches. At the back of my mind a thread of doubt snaked out and whispered something truly chilling to me whilst I lay in bed trying to sleep, Maybe you were wrong.

I had offered to take part in an experiment which, if proven successful, could make me immune to the pathogen communicated by the undead. I was not entirely familiar with the plan that the doctors had described, but I realized that if this succeeded, I might be able to protect my family. If it failed, well, my incinerated ashes couldn’t do much to harm my family either. Obviously, in addition to injecting me with the serum the doctors had to see if it would actually work. I allowed myself to be bitten on my right hand, and when nothing happened, the feeling of relief overwhelmed me . The doctors were beside themselves with the euphoria of triumph. It was too bad that the very next day, one of the young doctor’s assistants got himself infected and destroyed the entire lab. I was the only person on the planet who could be bitten by this new adversary and survive.

Are you sure?

***

The next morning, I awoke. How strange. Instead of tucking the children into bed, I had opted for the first good night’s sleep in a while. I rolled over to look at my husband and gently tapped him on the shoulder. He turned on his side to look at me. White, pupilless eyes met hazel brown ones that swiftly widened in fear as I realized what had transpired.

My husband didn’t even have time to scream before I broke his neck and sank my teeth into his throat, feeling the warm gush of blood in my mouth. I feasted upon his innards, driven by an indescribable hunger and instinct akin to that of a tiger or a lion. Once my primal hunger was satisfied, I left his still-warm body on our bedroom floor and drunkenly shuffled into the room of my children. I looked upon all three of them as they stirred in their sleep. Strange. I felt no desire to break their bones or feast upon their flesh. Perhaps, no matter how primitive I became, I would not forget my children. Perhaps this restraint was maternal instinct.

After all, a good mother never harms her children.

I couldn’t say the same for their father, though, who had begun to stir from where I’d left him only minutes ago.

Credit To – Nini Li

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