Zombie Girl: Origins
Posted 29 September 2011 - 01:33 AM
And I Make Seven
“This is all your *vulgarity*ing fault, Nate!”
We scurry up the fire escape, the endless guttural groans behind us growing louder.
“My fault?” he asks, “What the hell did I do this time?”
I pop over the top and onto the roof, then lean over the side to pull him up. While normally athletic, Nate is currently laden with our overstretched gear bag, and struggles coming over the side like a hooked marlin.
“Because you didn’t block our exit after we left,” I say, “you always barricade the doors so they can’t follow you. Haven’t you seen the movies?”
“How was I supposed to know; I didn’t think zombies could open doors.”
I pull him over with a final swift jerk. The moans and grunts of the fiends below accumulate louder. Peering over the side of the roof I see the scraping horde of undead clawing at the side of the cafeteria walls below. The lights are out, but the moon is bright, just full enough to glance individual features out of the inky mass. There are a few familiar faces in their number. During the first few days of the outbreak that would be enough to get at you. You’d see your old freshman roommate, or that cute guy from marine-bio shuffling towards you, his arms outstretched and mouth dangling slackly. You’d freeze up, seeing no danger in his familiar yet alien face. It would give him just the time he needed. I know they aren’t people, not anymore, not like Nate or I. We are survivors. Survivors don’t hesitate, they don’t look back.
“Look Becky,” says Nate, “I’m sorry I don’t have mastery over every rule in your zombie survival handbook, but not everyone pays a freakish amount of attention to these kinds of things.”
“Night of the Living Dead,” I yell, “hell, Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, I am Legend, Shaun of the Dead! Any of these would have been acceptable and would have at least taught you the basics... and what the hell do you mean by ‘Freakish’? ”
I would and could have gone on, if not for the interrupting growls closing in from all sides. A decaying human hand claws over the side of the fire escape. One of those creatures’ rotting skulls pops into view. It grimaces, dragging itself over the edge. Nate and I both fall quiet. I raise my bloodied Louisville Slugger. Nate silently searches our gear bag, diving past the unlaundered & rumpled clothes, the two cans of peaches, the water canteens, the flashlight, and my lucky lighter. From the very bottom he retrieves a muck-stained crowbar.
He handles it in both hands, steps forward, pulls back, and swings the iron through the creature’s face. It demolishes the fiend; the body goes ragdoll and tumbles down like a sack of nickels, thumping loosely into more of them on the way up. I stare down. No one ever told me they could climb ladders.
“Time to go.” Nate says.
He tugs me by the arm and we rush away from the edge as more grimy claws scrape over the side. The roof-access stairwell is within dashing distance. I try the door, the knob budges awkwardly, but it won’t turn.
“Move.” Nate says
I turn my head just in time to see his size 11 boot smash forward, crashing into the door. It snaps open. I move inside, then look back at the doorframe. Shit. His kick had broken the deadlock, no way to cover our backs. We descend as the growls from the roof echo their way down the unlit stairwell. However, the impending danger of the zombies had only temporarily distracted me from my real concern.
“Wait, so Nate, what did you mean by freakish?”
“Christ Becky, now is not the time.”
A big fat one, his face melting off his skull, had found his way into the lower stairwell. Nate swings a home run against his temple with the crowbar. There’s a messy splat and fatso falls backwards. No time to celebrate now; we continue dashing down stairs.
“You called me a freak, Nate. An obsessive freak.”
“I never called you an obsessive freak,” he says, “you just have freakish obsessions.”
A brawny undead fiend in a muscle shirt and board shorts staggers up the stairs towards us. The zombified frat bro sees us in his white marble eyes, then lunges. Nate misses with the crow bar, his forward momentum throwing him to the ground. The creature pounces. I reel back then swing the business end of my baseball bat across its shoulder. It tumbles off Nate.
“Freakish obsessions?” I yell; my bat raises, then finishes off the fiend with a loud crack, “What is that supposed to mean?”
I grab him off the floor and we continue running.
“Look its just sort of odd,” he says between breaths, “For example, other girls don’t watch every bad horror movie ever made. Other girls don’t have a journal with a nine-point alien invasion counter-insurgency strategy. Other girls watch Twilight and swoon over the pale hero, they don’t call Edward a pussy then state that Spike from Buffy the Vampire slayer could kick his ass.”
“First of all, he totally could. Second, all the other girls are dead, so you better not call your girlfriend a freak again.”
There are more ghouls congregated in the pit of the stairwell waiting for us. The wave from above is flooding down even faster, with Nate and I stuck in between. We push forward, shoving and smashing any mealy-mouthed bastard who gets in our way. What I wouldn’t give for a shotgun right about now; stupid University weapon policies. Before I had to off Max, he had managed to pull a pistol off a zombified public safety officer. We spent all but one of the bullets trying to escape the residence halls where Max got bit; I had to put the last one between his eyes.
I get one hand on the door handle. Nate yells.
A decomposing girl in Juicy sweatpants has tangled her spindly arms around Nate’s neck from behind. He twirls wildly, but she doesn’t get the hint. I reach out and grab the pallid beast by her bleached blonde hair. Her scalp peels away a bit, but she finally falls off. By the time I lay her down with the Louisville, the horde from the roof has already found us. We burst through the stairwell door onto the ground floor.
A legion of moans echoes through the heavy door, Nate responds by throwing his entire frame against it. He grunts, struggling against the army pushing from the other side.
“Becky, you want to help with this or what?”
“Just a second,”
I search the room for anything we could use. The stairwell emptied right into a pitch-black cafeteria kitchen. It is empty of zombies; we’re safe here as long as Nate can hold the door.
“Becky, seriously, help.”
Shining steel countertops were everywhere, but no heavy movable furniture. Nothing I can use. I barrel past the reek of rotting fruit, spoiled milk, and fly plagued meats. Past the powerless refrigerators and cold stoves is a thick mahogany chair. That could work. I snatch it and run to my struggling partner. I jam the chair beneath the handle of the door and wedge it into a firm place. We both breathe out, relaxed.
Nate and I step back to admire my jimmyrigged handiwork. The door doesn’t budge even as the undead on the other side push forward. They are trapped and the chair is holding, for now. Nate wheezes a bit. He wipes the sweat from his brow onto his sleeve then smirks at me.
“Well, that could have been worse.”
“Not by much.”
“Hey, we’re both in one piece, and we made it to the cafeteria, so at least we won’t starve to death. That was whole point, wasn’t it?”
“I guess,” I say, “I’m gonna grab whatever’s not decomposing, you can refill the canteens. Maybe get some soap so I can actually wash my clothes. This hoodie smells like zombie guts.”
Nate hops onto the steel countertop. He raises an errant eyebrow.
“Why would a kitchen have laundry detergent?”
“Dish soap, laundry soap, same thing,” I say.
The chair creaks a bit. Our eyes snap towards it; it doesn’t break. A sigh escapes my lips.
The cereals are in undamaged prepackaged plastic bags. The bags are the size of bodypillows and filled with carbohydrate goodness. From the abundance of smells escaping the refrigerators, I would guess they are the only things still safe to eat. However I am left with a decision that none of my zombie survival rules had ever prepared me for; Cocoa Puffs or Raisin Bran? We have to travel light (rule number 3) and would only have room for one of the industrial size bags. Raisin brand is probably 1000% healthier, but then again, no one’s ever been cuckoo for bran.
I heave the package of Cocoa Puffs over my shoulder and head for Nate who is already waiting with canteens. He stretches his neck and massages his shoulder where the undead trollop had latched on. His eyes open wide. He moves his hand back to the same spot, then stops. He pokes it lightly. His lips curl into a cringe.
“Uh Becky could you look at something for me?”
He peels his shirt off and turns his back to me. He points to a raw, dripping wound just above his shoulder blade. The gory marks are deep and splotches of blood are smeared across his back. The flesh surrounding it is already turning the sickly undead grey. I drop the cereal bag to the floor. He turns around and stares at me.
“What? Is it bad?”
“Well… its not good.”
Nate sighs. He doesn’t cry or get angry. He doesn’t go into denial like Max did. He just sighs. He knows what it means, he knows what will happen. He has a death sentence and he sighs. He looks to me.
“So, how many does that make now?”
I lean next to him, then stare at my fingers. I go over every horrible memory, it all fast forwards through my brain.
“Six,” I say, “ Six in six days. Kara and Newman on the first day; they went out together. Then Billy while he was sleeping. Jessica ran off on her own. I had to off Max, and now, well,”
“Me.” Nate says, “I make six… Shit.”
There is another pause. I wish I could just live my whole life on pause. But it keeps playing. The chair won’t hold long, and Nate might be long gone before that. It took Max twenty minutes. We might have that long, we might not.
“You know what you have to do,” he says.
I shake my head.
“Yes Becky. You have to.”
I slap him across the cheek. His face doesn’t change expression.
“No. I’m not doing that. You can’t ask me to, it’s not fair. You’re the only one left, and you can’t ask me to, it’s not fair, its just not!”
He takes me in his arms as I continue to hit at his ribs. He takes the blows without saying a word. The chair behind us creaks. With every added second it strains more, creaks more, and we’re closer to meeting them face to face. I eventually stop pounding at him and hyperventilate into his chest.
“Fine,” I manage to choke out, “But I’m not doing it. I’m not watching. You can’t make me.”
“Ok.” He says. He looks over the kitchen. His eyes fall upon a series of ancient gas powered stoves.
“I have an idea,” he says, “I’ll go down, but I’m taking those bastards down with me.”
We pop the stove lines on one by one. The creatures outside moan, the chair creaks, and the gas lines hiss. Nate and I say nothing; there was nothing to say. There were more gas lines then you would think. Enough fuel to cook brunch for 1000 people every weekend, or to blow 1000 fiends into crispy corpse chunklets. When it’s all done, I ask him one last time.
“You sure you want to do this?”
“Block the door on your way out,” he replies, “then run away as fast as you can. I don’t know how big this is gonna be. Lighter?”
I search the pack. I pull out my BMW marked rectanguloid. I rub the smooth polish of the silvery steel. Everyone freaked out in that first 24 hours; then we lit up some of Max’s special stash and we somehow made it through the night. When the generators finally gave way we could light candles and pretend it was romantic. I pressed the lighter into Nate’s hand; it was like nitroglycerin in his palm. We held it still between our joined hands; we just held it there for a moment. He lifts my face with a finger at my chin.
“You should go now.”
The chair squeals under pressure. Shavings of wood fall to the floor. The hiss of gas continues to scream at my ears. I nod, but don’t move away. I lean towards him. It isn’t right; I can’t muster the appropriate romantic response Hollywood would demand. It would break my heart. I don’t want to remember this as our last kiss.
“Becky, you really need to go. Now.”
The groan of the impeding horde is growing louder. I pack up the gear bag, and crush the cereal in with Ty’s crowbar, smashing some of it into dust in the process. I grip my bat with white knuckles. I turn away, my back to him, my eyes locked dead center on the door in front of me. There is nothing behind me. Survivors don’t hesitate, they don’t look back.
I push my way out of the door. It opens into an empty student pavilion engulfed in the moonlight. I turn and jam the crowbar between the handles of the cafeteria door, forever closing it behind me. In the end it wouldn’t matter. My legs stumble forward without my consent. I make it only twenty feet before collapsing in tears. I slump against a wall of the pavilion. I can’t look back, but I can still hear it all as if I was there with him. The loud snap off a heavy wooden chair. Animalistic moans filtering in louder and louder. The click of flipping lighter top. Then nothing. Then, the boom.
A magnificent roar of fire consumes all the noise. All the moaning and groaning is dead. The cafeteria explodes into flame behind me; the only thing I hear now is the burning of wood and flesh. I sit there, listening to the crackle of the flames. It made me smile and cry. I don’t know how long I sat there, maybe an hour, maybe just a minute. I dove into our bag and grabbed the plastic cereal container. I tear it open and start eating cocoa puffs by the handful. I slump there, crying, eating cocoa puffs alone, and crying. I listened to the fire as long as I could; I listened until it was overwhelmed by the reanimated groaning.
They wretch forwards from every direction, the explosion attracting them from all across the campus. I grip my Louisville tight in my grip, embracing my last real friend. There’s a kind of freedom with this moment. I know I’m not gonna win, but nobody’s getting a no hitter while I’m at bat. I rise off the ground, taking striking position as the legion lurches forward. I stare out and spit.
“Come on you *vulgarity*ers.”
Nates’s sounded slightly different, but our swan song was the same in spirit. A rebel yell and a wild dash. The endless moans, a shuffle of feet. Slurred screams and crazed curses. The crunch of bone, the smack of wood against rot. The ripping of teeth into living flesh and grunts of pain. A dying baseline, thumping in my chest. These are the sounds of last stand. These are the sounds I heard before somebody cut out the volume and turned off the lights.
Posted 29 September 2011 - 01:33 PM
Yay, something to read!
Ditto. This dry spell has been horrible.
Posted 29 September 2011 - 08:42 PM
Posted 03 October 2011 - 05:32 PM
I don't know yet. I turned it in Friday and we'll workshop it wednesday. Probably full credit, its just our first round of stories, so you get full credit basically for turning everything in on time.
What did you end up getting for this?
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