Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the ninety-sixth piece in this series. This week’s is a 975-worder by novelist and short story author Joseph Picard. This story will be podcasted in episode 31 (with three other stories) on Sunday 8th September.
After One Year In Autar: Regan Grier discusses zombie neighbors by Joseph Picard
It’s not like the movies, you know. Yes, there’s dead people that would like to chomp lil ole me, and yes, it’s a matter of survival.
I guess I’m lucky. The zombies lose interest after a couple hours and wander away when I hole up in my ‘house’. In the movies, they never stop. Then again, in the movies, you can shoot them in the head, and they stay down.
Overall, it’s not a bad neighborhood. For the city of Autar, anyway. I’ve been here for about a year, and settled in pretty well. There’s enough food and no other humans competing. Fresh fruit is a putrid memory, as are a lot of other things, but there’s a ton of stuff that doesn’t spoil. Water’s not an issue either. Other than damage during the evacuation, stuff doesn’t break much in this city.
Two P.M. Snack time. I pull the giant stone planter away from the door to the outside, and peek around. No trouble right now, just sunshine. City-grade sunshine, but sunshine nonetheless.
I walk on the overgrown grass. City parks aren’t cared for very well after the zombies move in. I get to the canteen. It’s part of the same building, but you can’t access it from the inside of my ‘house’. I keep my sweets here. Why?
Because if I keep the sweets in my house, I’ll get fat. And it feels normal to ‘go to the store’. And the imaginary clerk is hot. She leans over all the time to let me see down her top. I imagine her in different outfits,
all really low-cut.
She has freckles. Mmm, freckles. I take the day’s candy bar, and imagine that she tells me it was no charge, with a seductive wink. I haven’t decided what her eye colour is yet. Blue today? Nah. I imagine inviting my imaginary friend over for some fun later. To hell with it, I like the sound of a human voice, even if it’s my own. And I have a nice voice, if I do say so myself.
“Mmm, you delicious thing, you,” I purr.
A hand appears. It’s grey, dead flesh slapping down on the counter as the zombie pulls himself up. It groans, as they always do, and now I can smell it.
“You son of a bitch! You ate the imaginary hottie!” Well, no, but I’m motivated anyway.
I skip back and double-check if we’ve attracted others. Not yet. I pull forward my trusty P90. (Laden with fun stickers, cuz it’s my lead-spitting baby!)
“Come on, dead head, I’m not gonna shoot ya while I risk spraying my canteen with your guts.” When he’s far enough back, staggered into position, I run to the side, towards my ‘home’ door, so that splatter won’t land anywhere I need to go. The zombies I killed rotted really fast. In a few days, there’s never a trace. I have theories about that.
One zombie isn’t much of a threat if you’re armed and have some elbowroom. Know how I said that shooting them in the head was useless? That’s not really true. They don’t need their heads to live, but they keep their eyes there. If they can’t see you, you’re harder to find. Seems they can still hear. Can’t bite you with no mouth, but they can kill with hands. Rippy and painful.
I take aim and pull the trigger. Clumph. “Clumph?” That’s the sound of a trigger getting jammed on a sticker. I’d overdone stickers and don’t have time to fix it now.
I’ve gone hand-to-hand with them before. My knife should be enough. I stow the P90, and go in to take care of those pesky eyes.
That’s dumb. I have the knife buried in an eye socket, and he grabs my wrist with both hands. As long as I hold the knife with the right leverage, the blade in the eye, he can’t get his teeth on my arm.
I yank to get loose and re-focus my attack, but he holds on tight enough that all my effort just sends us to the ground, with him on top.
See, this is a movie moment. The monster on top of the girl, trying to kill, but the camera misses a lot. The smell, the eyeball innards dripping onto your cheek, the feel of cold loose flesh, stronger than yours, grabbing mindlessly.
My instinct urges me to stick my free thumb into the other eye socket. That’s similarly dumb. I’d been jaded by the gore long ago, but I’d never had my thumb in an eyeball. I’m nauseous, and he’s unfazed. Blindness doesn’t affect him much, since he’s on top of me.
I need to change that. He’s strong, but not heavy. I roll us over, still careful to avoid his teeth. From there, I push down on his eye sockets, and push myself up to straddle him.
Wow. I mean, WOW. Am I glad I wasn’t going ‘commando’.
One thing I’ve found out about these guys, is that while their muscles are strong, their bones are not. While he grabs at me, I pull the p90 back around and mashed at his arms with the butt of it. A few good mashes to the face, too.
I jump off him, and watch this ex-human try to stand with broken arms, moan with half a head. I feel the thing’s blood dripping on me.
In the movies, this is the moment when the hero sinks back, stares at the creature with pity and revulsion, sees the damage, sees the vitreous stuck to the knife. The hero looks at their hands and realizes how brutal they’d become, and questions everything.
In the movies.
For me? It was Tuesday.
A block away, a moderate mob was shambling my way. No more looking for my brother today, it seemed.
I asked Joseph what prompted this piece and he said…
My first novel, Lifehack, has a spot that skips ahead two years. It served the overall flow, but I’d always wanted to drop in and visit Regan in that time, to see how she was doing then, even if I already knew how she ended up – strong and fragile.
I loved it. Thank you, Joseph.
Born in 1976, he has lived all over Canada, but has called the Meadow-Ridge area of BC his home since 1992. While cycling to his job as a computer technician, he got into a fight with a car in 2001. The car won, and Joseph became a T5/6 paraplegic. This has not hampered his chances at winning the superbowl, as he’s been a self-declared nerd for as long as he can remember.
Since his injury, he has focused on his writing and a little on his art, much of which is related to his fiction and can be found at www.ozero.ca. In May, 2007 he became proud father of Caitlin, followed in 2011 a son, Lachlan.
He awaits the day that stemcells or super awesome telekinetic flight powers will allow him to unfurl his black trenchcoats yet again.
You can find more out more about Joseph and his writing…
- Website: http://www.ozero.ca
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ozerobook
- Blog: http://ozeroblog.blogspot.com
- DeviantArt: http://obsidianzero.deviantart.com
- Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=411132
- Tumblr: http://josephpicard.tumblr.com
- Amazon store: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Picard/e/B002LPT7VA
- Joseph’s novel is currently free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5376
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