Fanfic Friday – “The Tree House”

21 Sep

Morgan wiped his brow and tucked his gloves into his pocket. His breath bloomed out in the air. It must be close to New Year’s, he thought, as he placed his hammer and measuring tape back into his toolbox. He lifted it out of the snow and admired his handiwork.

The tree fort was small, but safe and high up in the hefty poplar. It had tall walls of sheet metal and wood, cut in the shape of battlements and parapets, imitating a grand medieval castle. Morgan frowned, knowing it looked more like a shantytown shack with delusions of grandeur, but he wasn’t worried – the whole point was to use your imagination. It was well-stocked with supplies, food, and weapons, and even had a rope swing leading across the drainage ditch and into the field beyond in case a quick escape was necessary. The two-by-four slats that formed the rungs up the trunk could have been more secure, but Morgan had done it that way deliberately: they were designed to fall away when pulled by anything exerting more force than a ten-year-old. Christ knew the buggers could pull pretty damn hard when they got a hold of something.

Morgan heard the whistle that signaled dinner, and turned back toward the house.

Duane was waiting for him, carrying a huge pot of pasta to the table in his skinny arms. Morgan tromped in, shuffling off his winter gear, and smiled at his son. “Mm-mm! Smells great, Duane. Gotta say, boy – you gettin’ damn good at this.”

When they had finished, Morgan said, “It’s ready, by the way. You wanna go take a look?”

The look on Duane’s face made Morgan strangely sad. The boy was filled with such joy, and it hurt to see it. Joy, happiness, comfort – these were rare commodities these days. Their future was an undeniably bleak one, but as the boy pulled on his boots, Morgan could see he still had hope. He couldn’t understand it, but there it was, and his heart ached so badly with love and grief that he had to struggle to keep from breaking down.

Morgan watched from the doorway as his son trundled through the white drifts out their backyard, toward the tree. He could hear an echoing whoop of delight, and smiled as Duane began his awkward climb. When the boy was almost at the top, Morgan got dressed, grabbed his baseball bat, and walked out to meet him.

“Dad, it’s awesome!” Duane’s head poked out, grinning widely. “It’s so warm in here! There’s blankets and comic books and a fireman axe!” His head disappeared, and Morgan wiped a tear from his cheek. He knew the boy needed a place to escape to, and he was so proud to be able to give it to him. It will keep him safe, he thought, as he watched his son re-emerge and smile down at him.

“Dad, you gotta come up and — DAD!

Duane’s face twisted horribly as he shrieked, and Morgan didn’t even have time to turn around. The walker, whose approach had been muffled by the snow, sank its rotten teeth into the flesh of Morgan’s neck and ripped away a crimson tangle of muscle and blood. Morgan bellowed, gasping, and clapped a hand to the gushing wound. With his other he hefted the bat, and brought it down on the walker’s crusted, frozen forehead. When it fell, he didn’t stop. He could hear Duane shouting and moving down the trunk, but he didn’t stop, not until there was no more head at all, and he was slapping the bat down into a pool of slurried tissue and bone. He felt flushed, and plopped down on his knee into the spattered snow.

Then his son was there, cradling him, and he began to shake. His vision swam. He didn’t feel any pain. Isn’t that odd, he thought detachedly, and supposed he must be in shock. With the sound of his son’s cries in his ear, Morgan closed his eyes, and slipped away.

**

Duane couldn’t remember how many days had passed since his dad got bit, but he knew it was almost a week. He’d cleaned him up and bandaged his wound, just like he’d been taught. He sat there next to him while he slept, never leaving his side except to eat, praying every night that he’d wake and this would all go away, lying next to his father to keep him warm at night. When his dad’s eyes opened, Duane couldn’t help but burst into tears, and Morgan’s sickly smile was enough to make him feel like Superman.

“Hey, son,” he said. “I’m kinda thirsty. Mind grabbing me a drink?”

Duane flew to his father’s chest and hugged him tight. “Sure, dad,” he said.

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3 Responses to “Fanfic Friday – “The Tree House””

  1. Jim CEO September 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    Okay, dumb question- a ‘walker’, that’s a Zombie?

  2. Sarah F October 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I was wondering that too. I thought yes but if so, wouldn’t Morgan be infected?

    • jcdynamite October 1, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

      Unfortunately for Duane, you’re both right.

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