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We met on an art website—you, me, and the Sprout.

Thing is, the Sprout and I didn't really care about art. Only you did. But when I looked online for a school art project and found you two bickering about something pointless in the comments of a picture that had nothing to do with any of us, I signed up for the site solely for the purpose of telling you two to shut up and take it to someone who cares.

So you sent me your Skype contact.

I expected you to start the conversation with arguments or even flirtation, but instead you just asked me how my day had been, as if we'd always been friends and you were just greeting me on a lonely Tuesday night. When the Sprout joined us a few minutes later, haven taken a bit more time to accept contact with the guy who he had been arguing with earlier, his first words consisted of telling you that you typed slower than his three-year-old niece and brought the conversation to the comfortable squabbling that had taken up most of our relationship.

We saw each other for the first time at that point, bathed in the bluish glow of our screens as we filled our quiet houses with the click-clack of keys and our own muffled laughter. Sometimes you don't need cameras to see someone. Sometimes you just need bold black writing on a glowing white screen.

When the zombie apocalypse erupted and all the world went to Hell, we had seen each other quite a few times since then, showing ourselves through words and old pictures. We, like everyone else, had previously discussed our plans for various occasions of apocalyptic degrees, and though we could never quite decide on a satisfactory plan, you told us the only thing that pacified our fantasies: "It's simple: we stick together. We'll die, but at least we'll be together."

We agreed to that, plain and simple.

Which is exactly why, when I fled to the attic while my decaying parents clawed at the kitchen door, I opened my laptop, connected to whatever flimsy Internet connection I could find, and sent both of you messages. Out of all the zombie stories I had consumed, none of them seemed to factor in the idea that perhaps, in the midst of chaos, the Internet could still survive. And it did, powered by a few desperate workers who wanted to provide the broken population with some semblance of power. Like a rabid animal fighting for survival, the Internet lived.

It was a bit like us in that way.

Because it is rather hard to die together while on separate sides of the continent, I waited in that attic until I saw two green symbols pop into life on my Skype window. We put our heads together, opened Google maps, and pointed to the spot on the map exactly between all three of us.

When we left, we didn't leave much behind. My parents were dead, your parents didn't care, and who even knows what happened to the Sprout's parents, anyway?

I grabbed my sister's bike (she'd never use it) and headed to South Dakota.

We kept in touch along the way, when we could. It seemed like the right thing to do. We were the last people on Earth, after all, or at least that's what it felt like when we sat huddled in our own private hideouts scattered across the continent, basking in the glow of our lonely screens as the world died around us. We all felt the same, then, even though your old laptop lost some of its keys and the Sprout's Smartphone kept turning "E"s into "K"s.

We lost each other a few times. Usually it was just one of us traveling through a spot void of connection, we ironically called them "dead zones", but sometimes it was worse. I remember once when the Sprout warned us that he was entering dangerous territory, and then lost contact for two weeks. You and I spent those tense weeks with sweaty hands and shaking breaths—more than usual, anyway, if you can say such a thing during the apocalypse. Our conversations were filled with longer pauses. We avoided talking about him, then, even though he was on the tips of our tongues. I finally realized during that time how fragile our connection was, because at least if we were near each other we could know about our friend's death, but when all we had was a flimsy connection through glowing screens, we were trapped in a horrible Purgatory that promised neither life nor death, only a thin hope of survival. If either of you died, I wouldn't know. If I died, all that would be left of me was black letters and hope.

But then he revived and told us that he had spent the last two weeks huddled in a dead zone with a dog bite on his arm and armed looters patrolling the surrounding town. We were a bit more careful after that.

"It occurred to me," you said one day, "that we've spent months traveling in the zombie apocalypse and I still haven't told you that I love you."

I said that you were an idiot, but I pressed my lips to my screen anyway in the hopes that you might receive it.

I was the first one to make it to the meeting place. It was a little shack at the feet of some lake, which had long overgrown its boundaries, and was, by some amazing circumstance, safe. No zombies for miles. Or at least that's what I thought until a few days after I had arrived, when a herd of rotting corpses lumbered their way out of the trees and hemmed me in by the edge of the lake. I managed my own for a while, hacking and smashing at brittle skulls with a pipe I had found somewhere in Wyoming, until a fat old woman fell on my weapon and I was contemplating running into the lake in the hopes that, due to my inability to swim, I could drown before the zombies got to me.

And then the Sprout rode in on a horse, guns drawn, and I blessed every art website in existence.

We picked you up a few miles south of what we so creatively dubbed "Horse Lake," mostly because I wanted to see your expression when we emerged from the woods atop a brown and white stallion, but all you did was raise your thumb and ask us if we were heading north.

We saw each other—truly saw each other—for the second time that night, bathing in the reddish glow of a fire as we filled the lake with whispered voices and quiet laughter, and for the first time since I met you I didn't feel lonely.  

I felt a bit naked without a screen acting as a barrier between us all, my words slowed by a tongue I hadn't used in months, but together we remembered what it was like to act as humans the way humans had existed for millennia. I never told you, because I knew you would laugh, but sometimes in the dead of night the Sprout and I would sit at opposite sides of the lake and type across to each other, pretending that the lake was a continent and that we were again apart. It was a strange kind of comfort.

We lived together for a while, you, me, and the Sprout, huddled in that little shack by the lake, living in our own little world as Hell continued to rain upon the world around us. We searched the Internet for whatever news could be broadcast, and we watched as the dead continued to consume the world.

Though we were hungry and cold, we had each other. We knew that even if we died, we would die together, and that was enough to keep us alive.

At least, we thought it was. Then looters found our Heaven, and they shot the Sprout through the chest, and I saw you lunge for the looter with the bat, and I saw you go down with blood in your hair, and I saw myself grabbing the horse while shots rained down around me, and I saw the zombies as they followed me for miles as I led them back to Horse Lake.

Sometimes your greatest enemy is your greatest friend. As I watched two hated factions tear each other apart, I dragged you away, as far as I could, and we waited until they were all dead or gone.

For some reason, they didn't touch the Sprout. I closed his eyes for him, because he no longer could do it himself.  

And I know you'll wake up. I know I'll see you in the reddish glow of the fire, because I can't stand having nothing of you but old black words and hope.
I wrote this a few months ago for a prompt, which was “zombies” with 1,500 word limit. I finished at 1,499. The style is a bit different from my other stuff, but it was fun!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2014-07-21
Solarcharm weaves 21st-century friendships—and the Internet—with the collapsing world of an apocalypse in Dead Zone. ( Suggested by the-b3ing and Featured by neurotype )
:iconinkatra:
Inkatra Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I think that this is probably my most favorite story ever. It makes me sad every time I read it, yet something always draws me back to read it again <3
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Aww, thank you! I'm happy yo make something that makes people want to come back and reread it.
Reply
:icondrathial:
Drathial Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014
I teared up. This is absolutely great work.
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:iconverity-of-paradise:
Verity-of-Paradise Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
oh. my. god.
This was amazing. I have to read it again.

Okay, now I've read it again. I am absolutely favouriting this. It is so powerful. it made me cry.
you deserve the D.D.
( ;-; )
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!! And thank you for the tears.
Reply
:icongoldennocturna:
GoldenNocturna Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Student Writer
Amazing work! And you're totally right: I've never read a zombie story with internet. And I'm seriously hoping that the 'you' wakes up...
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! And the ending is up to your imagination, so if you wish hard enough it'll be true.
Reply
:icongoldennocturna:
GoldenNocturna Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Student Writer
No problem! I'll be optimistic and assume he lives...
Reply
:iconlegatehernandez:
LegateHernandez Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014
This is a real tear-maker, great work
Reply
:iconxeroks:
xeroks Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014
Well written, great concept, very, very good ending.
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:iconvex131:
Vex131 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
THIS! it was great. im faving it. i know it was for school and you were limited for words, but if you wernt you should have totally added a part where the lake was attacked by zombies when you and the sprout were messaging each other across the lake. you know? he could stop replying for a while and then you would see him running towards you while screaming for help and being chased by the dead. that would have been cool. but you were limited on words so... lol. great job!
Reply
:iconsilverleaf888:
Silverleaf888 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014   General Artist
I'm not surprised this got a Daily Deviation xD
If there's ever a zombie apocalypse, I'll remember this.
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Just remember to keep an eye out for looters.
Reply
:iconslendersanereality:
SlenderSaneReality Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
*cries forever and reads it again*
I'm faving this :'D
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the fave! (and also the tears, which I shall add to my collection).
Reply
:iconlainloki:
LainLoki Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's a rare thing for me to actually stop and read something here on deviant art, not skim but read. It's a rare joy that I can stare at the screen not realizing a story had passed, and I'm left wanting more. Thank you for your words. Thank you for bringing that rare joy in my life. I truly appreciate it. Continue doing what you love.
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much for the comment! I'm glad you enjoyed it that much. I honestly didn't think that this would touch people like that, so I'm both shocked and ecstatic to see how people have responded.
Reply
:iconkiliann:
Kiliann Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Student Writer
This kept me hooked from start to finish. You did an excellent job- congratulations on the much-deserved DD!
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
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:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks!
Reply
:iconslendycreeper:
slendycreeper Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Amazingly written~!
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks!
Reply
:iconslendycreeper:
slendycreeper Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem!
Reply
:icontherobberbaron:
TheRobberBaron Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014
I adore this, this is the zombie story that desperately needs a movie.
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! That would be interesting, wouldn't it?
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Student Writer
Interesting story! I like the narrator's voice. 
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! She was fun to write for.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Student Writer
No problem!
Reply
:iconc-a-harland:
C-A-Harland Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Student Writer
Amazing read. This felt so raw and honest, despite being about zombies. I have to admit, that part took me by surprise. But it was all the more powerful for it. Great story.
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
"Once upon a time there was these three kids on the internet who became friends. And then zombies."

Thank you for reading!
Reply
:iconscr1b3:
Scr1b3 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Sequal???
Reply
:iconlaurenchamberlain:
LaurenChamberlain Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Student General Artist
Wow.... This definitely deserved DD. Great job on this! Emotional and relatable to the very end!
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:iconlaurenchamberlain:
LaurenChamberlain Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Student General Artist
You're welcome!
Reply
:iconmorticia-lynne:
Morticia-Lynne Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Student Writer
Best zombie story ever. Hands down.
Original, emotional, action-filled and relatable to no end. This is what modern literature in it's best form is.
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Reply
:iconjbaulmont:
JBaulmont Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014   General Artist
Wow I like this story! Very nice. I'm glad I've looked at the DDs :)
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:iconsadaf-malik:
sadaf-malik Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thats Wow! I dont know why I felt like a part of me in it.
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:iconhodhandr:
Hodhandr Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is awesome. Instantly :+fav:'d!
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the favorite!
Reply
:iconhelsinge:
Helsinge Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Holy smokes, this was a fantastic read.  Went in a completely different direction than I had expected after the first few sentences.  I can't help but wonder what really happened to "you"... wishful thinking on "my" part over a dead body, a plain case of unconsciousness that will be resolved soon, or, depending on whatever mechanics you the author have in mind for your zombie apocalypse, "you" will wake up in an undead fashion...?
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hehehe, the ending is left up to your own imagination.
Reply
:iconmewn-san:
Mewn-san Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014
Wow, this is so creative! Lots of fun to read :D great job and congrats on the DD!
Reply
:iconsolarcharm:
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.
Reply
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June 16, 2014
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