So this weekend’s been a doozy. My girl and I worked on the first day of filming for “Tar” on Friday, and she’s pretty confident most of the shots worked out. The makeup effect she used for my acid-burned forehead was pretty convincing; it even fooled a few folks on Facebook into thinking I’d gotten a major case of road rash or window-face. When we incorporate footage of the gruesome dummy face we got yesterday, it should be a pretty hair-raising experience. Pics to come soon, along with a play-by-play of the filming, and some possible video.
The more gruesome, the better. I’m really looking forward to watching my foot burn away to a nub. 🙂
So, anyhow, back to the story, wherein Ryan realizes that his chances against the zombie hordes shrink with every second that passes by.
© Copyright 2011
Things were quite different come Thursday morning. For one thing, there were a lot more zombies.
Peeking through a crack in the window barricade, I could see at least a hundred of the fuckers between our building and the one across the common. They just sort of milled about, “talking” to each other in gibbering grunts and wild, flailing gesticulations. Some of them ate. I tried not to look at the ones that were eating.
I looked down to where my car was parked. I’m not really a car guy, but I am pretty proud of the ’92 Z-28 I drive. That thing gets about 270 horsepower, and has a sick six-disc stereo system. Three hours prior, a zombie threw a brick through the driver’s side window, and made off with all my John Mellencamp.
I was really starting to hate these zombies.
The coffee pot sputtered to life, and I lit my morning’s cigarette. I took a deep huff, smelled something through the smoke.
What was that?
I sniffed deeply, raising my head until I was looking at the ceiling. The chunky brown goop from yesterday was still there.
A fat blob of it dripped down and hit my nose. Ah, Goddamnit.
I growled, went to the kitchen to wash my face. The news lady was still on air. I listened to her stern yet sultry voice flutter in from the bedroom.
“Despite many call-ins from viewers, this station regrets to inform you that law enforcement has concluded the following: shots to the head do not, repeat, do not kill the recently reanimated corpses, despite emphatic rumors to the contrary. So far, destruction of the brain has not been shown to render the creatures, now referred to as ghouls by local and state law enforcement, inactive in any way. However, police do acknowledge that destroying the head does render the creatures significantly less dangerous, for what police spokesmen say are obvious reasons.”
Still wiping my face, I took my coffee and smoke into the bedroom to watch.
“In other news, health officials have advised people to avoid bites or scratches from the ghouls, and to immediately clean all wounds rendered by ghouls before seeking emergency medical treatment. Though many reports have flooded this station claiming the spread of a zombie “plague,” officials have concluded that the recent reanimation of the ghouls is not due to any contagious infection. However, due to the risk of various infections from contact with decomposing flesh, sterilization of bite wounds is strongly urged for anyone injured in this crisis.”
I took a long slurp of coffee. My girl hates it when I do that, but what the hell, she wasn’t there. A zombie slayer should be entitled to the occasional slurp.
Feeling rebellious, I took a long, slow drag on my indoors cigarette, and was feeling pretty cocky until the smoke detector went off.
BLAHRGH! BLAHRGH! BLAHRGH!
I winced, called myself a stupid asshole, grabbed a chair from the kitchen to stand on. As I popped out the batteries, I started hearing an insistent pounding at the bedroom window. Lots of pounding, actually. I heard glass breaking, saw the frame of the trundle bed covering the window begin to shake. Outside, low, hungry moans started to gain intensity.
Awesome. My dumb ass had just alerted the undead hoodlums outside to the presence of what was basically a walking ham sandwich.
I heard the sound of fabric tearing, realized they were cutting into the mattress. The bed frame shook violently between the window and the TV stand squished against it. It looked like they were trying to slide it out of the way.
There were a lot of voices out there. Too many to reasonably assume I could just shoot them away.
They were coming. I needed a game plan.
I made my way to the kitchen, opened the cupboard under to the sink.
Where the fuck did I keep that…?
There. Lighter fluid, right beside a bottle of charcoal starter. About a quart of liquid fire, together. I put them on the counter, went to the freezer. Nestled between the Jaeger and a half-empty carton of Haagen-Dazs sat a bottle of Golden Grain alcohol.
I stormed the bathroom, snatched the rubbing alcohol from behind the mirror. It was the concentrated stuff, the kind you use to rub yourself down after a workout. It stung even if you didn’t have any cuts to contend with. I made my way back to the kitchen, grabbing the ice bucket we keep on top of the fridge.
I’d just set them down when I heard the terrifying sound of the bed falling to the side.
Sweeping everything into the bucket, I grabbed the shotgun and ran back into the bedroom in time to see two of the fucking things trying to fit through the window. I opened fire on the one who’d made the most headway, obliterating its neck and sending its head spinning through the air. Disoriented, it fell back, but another of the fuckers was there in its place before I could blink.
Jesus God, there were so many. I couldn’t see anything outside past the writhing wall of stinking flesh. They pushed forward, gnashing and clawing, doing anything just to get inside.
I fired again, another zombie’s ribs popping like balloons. It looked down at its new cavity, just as another zombie poked its head through. You had to admit, they were opportunistic. They took every available opening they could find.
I punted the gnashing head of the first zombie off my floor and out the window, took another shot. That one annihilated the opportunistic zombie’s head. Another blew the face off the ribless one who’d been hosting him. Fuck, two shells left. Even if I reloaded, there was no way I’d be able to shoot them all back.
I emptied the gun, blowing an arm off one, then another. All I could hope for was to cripple a couple to block the rest while I pulled the bed back into position. But they wouldn’t stop coming, pulsing and writhing forward like a rotten wave. I hoisted the bed up, pressed myself against it to keep them at bay while I worked.
Fuck, it was tricky, unscrewing all those bottles while blocking that stinking horde. For emaciated corpses, they were plenty strong, and I was having a hard time keeping my feet planted in the carpet.
I heard the sound of cutting again, heard something stab through the mattress into the box springs. Lighter fluid spilled over my fingers and splashed into the carpet as I tried to pour it into the bucket. My whole body rocked like I was trying to ride a bull.
There was another stab, and the shining tip of a machete ripped through the box springs overhead. It wiggled in place for a second before it was yanked back.
I spun the caps off the grain and rubbing alcohol, poured both with splashing inefficiency. I got a hefty amount of the stuff on my pants, making me smell like a drunk in a hospital waiting room.
The machete tore through again, coming straight through the box springs. Enough of it was poking through to ruin my day if it got down to my level. I hunched down, poured the charcoal starter.
The machete was pulled back, and I took the opportunity to grab the bucket and step to the side. Without my weight against it, the bed fell flat on the floor.
I spat my burning cigarette into the bucket. The room suddenly flared orange.
I ran to the window, just as the machete wielding zombie swung. I ducked under the blade, heard it sink into the window frame. The zombie didn’t seem to have any eyes, but I like to believe it had a look of surprise on its face as I emptied the fire bucket out the window.
Suddenly the window cleared up, as zombies flailed at themselves and rolled on the ground, doing everything they could to beat the fire to death before it ate them away entirely.
I don’t know if they actually felt fear, but there was definite alarm in the wet gurgles they made as they slapped at each other.
I dropped the warm but now inflammable bucket, wrenched the machete free of the window frame to add it to my impressively expanding arsenal. In the corner of my eye I saw a distinctive figure in the distance. It looked like it was facing me.
I ducked to the side just as a shot rang out. Buck shot ripped my Dark Knight poster to hell.
Oh, fuck this guy.
I grabbed the bed, hoisted it back up, watched foam stuffing fly as the zombie took another shot. A spring popped loose, bounced against the wall, rolled in a lazy circle on the carpet.
I propped the TV stand back in place, wedged it down as much as I could. Another shot blew out a chunk of the bed, disconcertingly close to my head.
I collapsed on the floor, crab walked until I was resting against the wall. Panting, sweating, shaking from adrenaline and exhaustion. I was nauseous from fear, weak from exertion, pale from terror. My body jerked convulsively as Shotgun Zombie took a couple more potshots, hitting the brick wall outside.
Strangely, I felt great. I still a little too scared to stand back up, but I felt pretty fuckin’ awesome.
Apparently I was getting off pretty easy compared to the city.
Remote cameras on the AT&T Building downtown (known locally as the Batman Building) showed the streets virtually choked by a somewhat grey mass of shambling bodies, with riot police and civilian resistance fighting an all-out gunfight with these things. Grenades were lobbed, both from the human front and the zombie forces, blowing cars off the street and wads of rotten skin across the doors of half a dozen country bars.
Occasionally a fresh splash of red would coat a few members of the living resistance, as more of their numbers were thinned by the advancing zombies.
One of the SWAT guys firing over a fallen truck took a hit right through the faceplate. Immediately his comrades stopped firing and started to heft him over the side of the squad van. Unfortunately a strap on his uniform got snagged on his squadmate’s gun holster. They tugged frantically, until the downed officer suddenly snatched a knife from his belt and sank the blade into the throat of the cop to his right. Grabbing the other cop, the new zombie wrestled with him until they both went over the barricade. Fighting to get loose, the cop didn’t notice the other ghoul approaching with a pickaxe raised overhead. The faceplate shattered, bits of reinforced plexiglass getting carried into the air on a stream of blood.
The footage cut back to the newsroom. It occurred to me that the newsroom was likely situated directly overhead from the fight.
“We’ve received video confirmation that all newly dead are being instantly resurrected. Repeat: all new dead are being resurrected. If your friends or loved ones are killed at any point in this crisis, make no effort to recover the body.”
The anchorwoman looked exhausted. Her hair was tied back, and her skin was shiny from sweat. Over the course of the night I noticed that her neckline had dropped about an inch. The faintest wisp of white lace occasionally peeked out.
I wondered how many straight hours she’d been awake for. Even under studio makeup, her eyes had dark, wide circles beneath them.
It’d been two hours since the Bucket O’Fire incident, and I’d been busy stocking a mild arsenal. Cabinet doors and old shirts had been smashed and ripped to make about a dozen torches. My girl, an art student, had an acetylene torch and a handheld skill saw that I figured would come in handy eventually. I rolled her tabletop paper-cutter beside the window, in case any roving limbs snuck their way through.
She also had a mannequin, prominently displayed in a flamboyant flapper outfit beside the door. I…I wasn’t terribly sure what I was going to do with that.
I gulped my fifth cup of coffee that day. It was only noon.
Shots from downtown were looking worse and worse. I called my baby, but didn’t get an answer.
I sent my folks a text message. Lame, I know, but I didn’t feel like I could handle a drawn-out “WE WERE NEVER THERE FOR YOU!” maternal moment.
“Mom and Dad: I’m still okay. I’ll text you every day at noon to let you know I’m fine. – Love, Ryan.”
Right when I hit send, my sister called.
“Are there any more zombies out there today?”
“Yeah, actually. I’m still fine, in case you wondered.”
“Are they really driving in trucks and shooting machine guns?”
“They are on the news.”
“Fuck I’m jealous.”
I sighed. “So what’s up?”
“You know Zach?
“Your stoner boyfriend? “
“He’s not my boyfriend.”
“Fuck buddy then, whatever.”
“Anyway, he works for Lowes.”
“He says he can probably get some supplies up to you.”
Pause on my end. “You do know there’s, like, an apocalypse happening up here, right?”
“He told me those trucks are like tanks.”
“He’s also a fuckin’ idiot.”
“Well, anyway, he says he can do it. So heads up.”
“I’m not gonna hold my breath, sis.”
“Fine. Don’t fight an all out war with the zombies. See if I care.”
“I mean, I’d rather not.”
I sighed. “’Bye, sis.”
I shook my head, stuffed my phone back into my pocket. I had the distinct feeling my sister was soon to be short one pothead boytoy pretty soon.
Something buzzed past my ear.
I looked over my shoulder, saw a small black dot whizz into the bathroom.
“Fuckin’ bugs are everywhere…”
I grabbed an issue of Popular Science, muttered how the building never calls the fucking exterminator, and made my way to the bathroom. Hitting the light, I saw the little fly land on the tank of the toilet, near where I’d killed his buddy.
Except his buddy wasn’t there.
I briefly wondered what had happened to the little crumpled corpse, decided I didn’t care, and swung. This one was swifter, zipping away from my death stroke and shooting itself right into my face.
I flailed in the effortlessly dignified manner of a grown man afraid of harmless insects, hitting my own face and dropping the magazine in the toilet. Water splashed my jeans, and I heard the buzzing by my ear again. I swatted at the sound, smacking my elbow against the washer-dryer. My arm lit up like it was on fire.
“Ya little fucker!” I hollered, angry at a small bug for my inability to not look stupid.
It landed on the wall, looked at me with its little red buggy eyes.
“You think you’re hot shit, don’t you?”
It obviously did. I mean, look at it. Little asshole thought it was the coolest fucking bug in the world.
I reached down behind me, grabbed the edge of the magazine sticking out of the toilet. Letting loose, I flailed my arm and nailed the fly with a splash of toilet rain. It hit the ground, buzzed its wings in fury.
I watched it for a second, brought my shoe over it, and stepped down. I was a little too satisfied at the sound of the crunch. I caught myself confirming the sight of its squished body with nothing short of the thrill of victory. Caffeinated blood coursed through my veins as my heart sped up in triumph.
I needed to get out of this apartment.