Who Are You Looking For?

It was a day like any other.
Sunny. Blue skies.
Calm seas.
We knew there was something wrong.
The whole world fell quiet.
No crickets,
no cars.
No wind.
For a few moments,
every being on earth held its breath
and looked up
at the sky.
The clouds…
oh God…
The clouds were moving.
Not in any sort of natural way.
They were moving because they had a purpose.
the eyes of the world watched
as the clouds morphed.
They split into perfect circles
and lined up
in the blue sky
until they stretched as far as the eyes of the world could see.
Popcorn on a string.
The rows shifted.
Each shift rattled the earth.
Thunder rumbled
For hours.

There were reports of clouds being hurled into the ocean.
Later, reports of two legged creatures
out of the ocean
onto land.
Voices on the radio said people were disappearing.
Horrible sounds were heard in the night.
Trails of blood and insides were found,
but nothing more.

The coastal cities were being evacuated.
The government told us we could take only one suitcase.
I had records in a Star Wars case that I could not bear to part with.
I had to hide them in my coat as we fled.
Somewhere along the way, I lost them.
I cried about it.

Time passed.
We were in the woods
Always moving.
Someone saw something in the trees and started running,
which caused everyone to panic.
We came upon a truck that had a cage built into the bed.
It was a circus truck made for transporting lions.
I got inside the cage
some others followed
until no more would fit
and we locked ourselves in.

Then there was a moment…
I saw
The Dead
The Dead were walking the earth.
In hordes they emerged from the trees.
Milky white,
but their skin was raw.
Their eyes looked crazy hungry.
They were searching.
The next moment people started screaming.
My eyes blurred.
I heard screams cut short and then horrible sounds of dragging and sucking.
Images of skin being ripped from bones filled my mind.
People were being taken.
(Everyone was screaming but me.)

An angry face appeared
beyond the bars of the cage.
Dirty and ashy and dead.
His gaping eye-sockets bore into mine.
He sneered.
I could see who he once was… a man.
He wanted to take me.
He wanted to rip me apart.
I was not ready to die.
“Who are you looking for?” I asked him.
He paused.
Broke his gaze.
Looked puzzled.
He said
(in a voice like wind howling over gravestones)
“Mi amore.”
He turned from us and went away.
Still searching.
More were coming toward the cage.
They attacked the cage all at once
without regard for one another.
Rocking us.
(More screaming.)

I don’t think they could see each other.
They were alone
in their death.
I asked each one who they were looking for.
(I don’t think anyone had asked them who they were looking for
so they hadn’t really thought about it and so they just took anyone they met.)
When asked, each of the dead named someone that they loved.

One girl with pigtails said she was looking for Neil Patrick Harris.
(I wished her luck with that one.)

More time passed.
I led the way.
I saw dead friends.
Each time I asked them who they were looking for
and each time I prayed it would not be me.
Never in my existence
until then
have I wished for no one
living or dead
to love me.
That kind of love would mean a horrific human end and a lonely afterlife in the stars,
looking down on earth to see love and laughter
that you could never have again.
until it filled you up
like a cloud
and you burst
onto the earth
to claim it
for yourself.


an exerpt from the play Penny Gets Bit by Molly Welsh

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