Yikes, I know, I know, it’s been a while. I don’t deserve you’re readership, or your word-of-mouth, but I’m begging for it again anyway, because that’s what I do best: beg for things I don’t deserve.
I’ve been busy these past two weeks. I was out of state, for one thing, in a remote, gravy-slathered land known to most of the country as Alabama (and euphemistically to some up north, Alabanjorape). A land where both religious tolerance and internet connectivity are few and far between .
Actually, that’s unfair. There are plenty of wireless hotspots, just none where my people were stationed at. Most people I met were, I would say, shockingly friendly, to the point some would almost call them nosy. But they never really crossed that line. They would greet you, initiate conversation, and ask you questions, primarily because that’s all anyone has to do down there. Talk.
Admittedly, there were four whole days there where I had a perfectly functional wi-fi connection, but…I don’t actually have an excuse there. I’m just stupid, I guess. Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket!
My functional social retardation aside, I plan to do better. No; I resolutely swear to do so. Despite the ominously spotty condition of my internet here on the home front (I actually get a better signal from the internet I don’t pay to have in my apartment), I will, and can, make amends.
So, to show how sorry I am, I’ve concocted a scheme whereupon, at the very, very least, I can make a post a week…not just that, but a scheduled post a week…despite any laziness / business / stupidness on my part.
It’s a serial, but it’s a bad one. An awful one, actually, so really all I’m doing is punishing both of you for your loyalty. Because mine is a wrathful God.
Hopefully, this little experiment will work, and I can have my precious, wonderful little readers back. Both of ‘em. But not you, Brad. YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID.
The rest of you two, enjoy.
© Copyright 2011
I hear them scraping at the door, and I wonder exactly how much longer I can last like this.
Neither radio stations nor television broadcasts have been able to give me any further insight as to how this all started, or what is being done to scale it back. I am getting the feeling that there is very little that can be done, and that maybe the news is just as cut off as the rest of us…
Given the lack of resources at my disposal, very few definitive truths regarding this event are known to me. But I am determined to keep track of those inviolable facts as long as they still hold valid.
So far, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that:
- On Wednesday evening, every corpse that was not completely decomposed within the greater Nashville metropolitan area suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, began to move.
- These corpses, after regaining animation, immediately exhibited an insatiable hunger for human flesh. Of course.
- The corpses, or “ghouls” as the news media has been calling them, are not only sentient, but intelligent as well, and displayed a comprehensive understanding of complex strategy and machinery immediately into their attack against the living.
- The immortal fly showed up in my bathroom the very same night in which the ghouls first appeared, and so long as it lives, so do I.
- I am out of coffee and cigarettes. This is going to be a long-ass weekend.
My girlfriend called me from work just as I was lighting the candles on our small, foldaway table. I took an extra minute to lay out two massive plates wielding veritable mountains of pasta primavera, then fished my phone out from under a dishtowel.
“Baby?” Her voice had an inflection, like she couldn’t believe it was me.
“Are you okay?”
What? “Yeah. Why?”
“Lock the doors.”
“Lock ‘em, hurry!”
“Now! Just do it!”
Too confused to question her further, I walked across the tiny living room, threw all three locks that our apartment complex provides for our doors. With my body on autopilot, my mind focused on her rushed tone of voice. “Alright, done. What’s wrong?”
“Get your gun.”
“What? Why? Baby, you gotta tell…”
“Do it, okay Ryan? Please?”
“I don’t have much time to tell you. Just load your gun. Both your guns, actually. And turn on the news. There’s…there’s these…people…they’re running around like crazy, and…they killing everybody.”
“WHAT?! Baby, are you safe…?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine. The precinct’s on lockdown.” Mel worked as a gun clerk for the Nashville Metro Police Department. She wasn’t a cop, just worked for the department. Basically kept all the guns catalogued in the weapons locker. I knew she meant it when she said she was safe. “But baby…” I heard her burst into tears. She wasn’t the only one person weeping on her end of the phone. “Baby, the cops are stretched too thin. They…they might not reach you!” Her voice rose in a soprano of panic.
“Babe, I’ll be okay,” I lied to her, in the calm voice of the doomed man. “It’s alright. Babe, everything’s cool over here, alright? Just…just stay safe, okay?”
“Okay. Okay.” I heard her breathe deep. “I have to go, sweetie. They need to load all the guns. Ryan?”
“I love you. I love you so much.”
Not bad. I could die hearing worse things.
“I love you too, baby. Please be safe.”
And we hung up. I haven’t spoken to her in three days.
With the pasta primavera still steaming on the table, I went to the bedroom and reached to the very back of the hat shelf in the closet. I pulled out a small but sturdy cardboard box, opened it up, slid a silver snub nose .38 onto the bed. A box of ammunition slid out with it.
I went back to the closet, reached behind her faux fur coat, grabbed the hunting shotgun my dad had given me for Christmas the year before. I pulled a heavy box of shells off the floor from behind her battalion of high heels. Throwing these, too, on the bed, I began the arduous process of loading.
Five bullets slid into the snub nose, tink tink tink tink tink. Five more for each rapid-reloader I had. Then five magnum slugs for the shotgun. This wasn’t the kind you pumped dramatically in action movies to reload. This baby popped off a round with every squeeze of the trigger, ideal for gunning down wild deer, if you were into that sort of thing. (Which my father was. Me, eh, I’ve never gotten close enough to a deer to find out.)
I still had no idea what was going on, only a vague sense of general danger, but my instinct told me to look up through the bedroom window I was facing. In case, I dunno, DANGER or something came at me through the window.
What I saw made me feel like my entire body had turned to bile, right down to my boots. I have never felt sicker than in that instant when I looked out that window.
In the apartment behind us, in the 1400 building, there’s a young married couple named Robby and Rebecca. They’re friendly enough, talk to us whenever Mel or I are out when they are. They look like someone cut them out of a Christian Living magazine. I liked them enough.
I could see through their front window. Robbie was sitting at the kitchen table, his back to the door, reading a novel and drinking what looked like coffee. Rebecca was walking into their bedroom when I noticed the hulking shape making its way up the stairs.
It was huge. Sporting a black leather jacket and biker boots the size of small tires, it made the wooden porch shake as it climbed the stairs to their door.
Chains were wrapped around one shoulder. I saw a shotgun tossed over the other. The action movie kind of shotgun. Under the porch light, I could see a thick crack running from the top of the things head down the back of its skull.
They must have been listening to loud music to not hear that beast stomp across their porch. Two more goons made their way behind him, one hefting an axe, the other what looked like a rifle.
The dead giant in front kicked the door open in a heavy, fluid motion. Robbie spun around, and in an instant his face turned into watermelon pulp.
His body just sat there for a second, gripping the coffee mug as though he intended to take a drink at any moment. It took a moment more for his body to begin to sag to the floor.
Rebecca came to the door at the sound of the shot, her face twisted into what was probably a scream. The shotgun-toting zombie pumped a round into the barrel, took aim, and fired.
Rebecca flew off her feet, her chest imploding, a spray of red chunks spattering the wall behind her. She hit the floor like a discarded doll.
The other two zombies made their way inside while the shooter left. The one with the axe made its way to Rebecca and began hacking away at her.
I looked away from her writhing body, from the axman’s crony hauling Robbie out for his fellow zombies to munch on. My guns loaded, I put them on the floor, grabbed the bed by the headboard, and hoisted it on end to flip it over. I hastily unscrewed each leg, my hands fumbling from fear and shock. It was a while until all four legs had come off. Then I pressed the bed as flatly as I could against the window, completely covering it frame and all.
Not enough, though. Any of those things could shove it out of the way. Without thinking I went to the TV stand, hoisted the CRT screen into a desk chair, and hobbled the stand to the window to buttress it against the bed. I pressed it in place with every ounce of weight I had, until I was pretty confident that nothing could squeeze through easily enough to catch me off guard.
Okay, alright, alright. So I was secure. But I wasn’t informed.
I clicked on the old TV, turned it to a local channel. The national news was on, the ridiculously coifed anchorwoman giving the camera the gravest look she could possibly muster:
“For those of you just tuning in, the extraordinary reports we have received from the Nashville area have been verified. Repeat: these reports, as unbelievable as they sound, have been verified as absolute fact, both by law enforcement, and network affiliates in the area.
“As of 8:43 p.m. Eastern Time, it has been confirmed that the attackers responsible for the recent surge of violence are actually corpses that have been returned to life. Repeat: Those responsible for the widely reported Nashville area attacks of the past few hours are corpses which have somehow, through unknown means, returned to life.”
I never understood the phrase “shitting bricks” until I heard that anchorwoman tell me that fucking zombies were running around outside. I didn’t, y’know, actually poop, but I felt something move, that’s for sure. My guts felt like they’d been turned into a cement mixer.
“Authorities have no suggestions as of yet on how to deal with this sudden and incredible crisis, except to urge Nashville residents to remain in their homes and to lock all doors and windows. This station will continue to broadcast all known information as it becomes known during this unbelievable situation.”
Outside, I heard what sounded like cars crashing. That scared me. We live a good ways outside the city, and suburbs in Tennessee are Mayberry-like in size. We were almost in farm country. Technically speaking, we weren’t even in the same county.
What I’m saying is, our apartment complex wasn’t situated in a densely populated area. And if the world was going to hell just outside, how fucking bad was it in the city?
I thought of my baby again. I’m thinking about her now, even, as I sit here and listen to them trying to get inside.