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Disintegration

Disintegration

Titel: Disintegration
Autoren: David Moody
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    Prologue
     
    THE SWIMMER
     
    They said I should have burned her with the rest of them. When everyone died I cleared this place out room by room, not stopping till I’d got rid of every last one of them. I worked for hours until every trace of dead flesh had been removed from the building. Except for her. Except for the Swimmer.
    I found her a couple of days later when she’d just started to move. Don’t know how I missed her before, lying there dressed in her bathing costume. Poor bitch had been about to take a dip in the pool when it caught her. The doors had swung shut, trapping her inside. When I first found her she was shuffling about in the shadows like those on the other side of the boundary fence, constantly dragging herself from one end of the room to the other, backward and forward, walking into walls and lockers, tripping over upturned benches and other obstructions. She looked pretty comical crashing around, stupid almost, but I wasn’t laughing. I was too scared. I still am.
    When the others got here we talked for hours about getting rid of her. Ginnie and Sean were dead set against the idea of keeping her inside the building with us, even though there was no way she could get out into any other part of the hotel. Howard and Amir came around to my way of thinking pretty quickly. It made sense to keep hold of her and watch her. Christ, those bloody bodies dragged themselves up onto their feet after they’d been lying dead for days and none of us knew what they might do next. I knew that the Swimmer would show us. In a perverse way she’s helped us to stay alive. Shut away in the changing room, she’s sheltered from the rest of the dead world outside, and over the weeks we’ve watched her change. We’ve watched her decay. She’s shown us how the dead have evolved. She’s shown us what they’ve become.
    The changes have been gradual. Sometimes nothing seems to happen for days, but then she’ll react differently to one of us and we’ll know that the hundreds of thousands of bodies on the other side of the fence will soon be doing the same. None of what’s happened to the world makes any sense, but what’s happening to them makes the least sense of all: as they continue to rot, their control and coordination has somehow returned. It’s like they’re starting to think again and make decisions. Sometime soon, I’m sure, they’ll reach the point where they’ve decayed to such an extent they can no longer keep moving—but when will that be? And what will they be capable of by then?
    It was less than a week after the day the world died when I first realized she was watching me. A week of dumb, uncoordinated, and random movements, and then suddenly she could see and hear again. Her dark eyes stared back at me whenever I approached. And when Howard’s dog barked she reacted too. She lurched toward the window and hammered her hands against the glass as if she was trying to escape. As the days passed her reactions slowed down, became more deliberate and less instinctive. I realized she was regaining control.
    I’ve spent hours watching her since then. Sometimes I can’t take my eyes off her, even though she disgusts me. I’m sure I saw her here before she died. I remember her once-pretty round face, heart-shaped lips, slightly upturned nose and short, dark brown hair, flecked with highlights. Her subsequent deterioration has been remarkable. Even in here, where she’s isolated and protected from the weather and the worst of the insects, she has been reduced to little more than a grotesque shadow of the person she once was. The color of her flesh has changed from the white-pink of life to a cold blue-gray. Her skin has shrivelled in places and slipped in others. There are bags under her bulging eyes where her mottled flesh has sagged. Her body seems almost to be turning itself inside out. Gravity has dragged her rotting guts down and now they’re dripping out between her unsteady legs. Even from the other side of the door I can smell the stench of her decay.
    It’s almost two months since this nightmare began. Recently the Swimmer’s behavior has changed again. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but she seems more aware than ever now—more aware of me and the others, and more self-aware too. I don’t know if she has any memory of who she used to be or if she understands what she has become. Whatever she does or doesn’t know, a couple of days ago I swear I caught her trying to open

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