Have a short zombie story.
“I think he’s getting better.”
“Boris, he’s a zombie. You don’t ‘get better’ from being a zombie.”
Boris’ grasp of English was commendable, considering he’d only left South Korea three years ago, but his accent was pronounced and he still carried a pocket dictionary around to look up words. After she watched him pat his pockets in vain for a moment, she said, “You dropped it. While we were running.”
“Oh,” he said. “Shit.”
(That, he told her, had been the first English word he’d ever learned.)
“Tell me then,” he said, “what is ‘zombie’?”
Irene gestured to Max. “What he is.”
Her erstwhile best friend made a gurgling noise and lurched at her. But they’d measured the chain very, very carefully, and neither of them sat within five metres of him. He fell back, whimpering like a dog. A dead, rotting dog.
“Didn’t they have zombie movies in South Korea? What did you think he was, dummy?” Irene asked, watching as Max sat back up, blinked muzzily at the sky, and let out a soft, bone-chillingly inhuman groan.
“I do not watch mainstream shit,” Boris retorted. “I am artist.”
“You are dummy,” she said, leaning back to let the sunlight catch her face. She’d been wearing the same set of clothes for nine days now, and yesterday it had rained like a motherfucker. Her jeans, shirt, jacket and socks were all drying on an open stretch of pavement not far off. All she was currently wearing were her underpants, for modesty, and her shoes, for safety. That was one of the rules that you didn’t learn from the movies. Always keep your shoes on. No matter how smelly, no matter how blood-and-flesh-spattered they got, always keep them on.
Max had been bitten five days ago, by a man in a police uniform whom Boris had swiftly dispatched, while trying to kick a bottle of still water out of a vending machine. He hadn’t even noticed the limping, one-armed upholder of the law until he’d felt its teeth sink into his shoulder.
But when Boris had prepared to do the holy deed, picking up the shotgun while Irene turned her head away, Max had said, “No. Please.”
Which wouldn’t have given Boris pause if Max hadn’t been his oldest and dearest friend. The large man had sighed heavily and said, “Better. Quicker. Will be easy.”
Raising his hands in the air as the bite mark on his shoulder began to turn black, Max got down on his knees. “Don’t. Just don’t. I’ll leave. Please. Let me leave.”
“We let you leave, you come back later tonight and chew on us,” Boris said, reasonably.
“Let him do it, Maxie,” Irene said. “Before you change. I don’t want to see you … like that.”
The fucker had actually started to cry. “I’ll leave,” he insisted. “I’ll start running. You’ve seen me run, I’m fast. The change won’t happen for a few hours, you saw what happened to Trixie. Let me go. Please. I… I don’t want to die.”
“You’re going to die anyway,” said Boris, sounding annoyed. “Three hours from now, won’t be you anymore.”
“You don’t know that! And even if it isn’t…. “ his voice had broken. “I’m scared. I’m so scared, Irene. Please, don’t… just let me go. I don’t want to die in a fucking parking lot. I don’t want to end like this. I’d rather be one of them. I don’t believe in God or in anything. I want to live. Any life is better for me than no life.”
Boris had looked at her. Irene knew what she had to do.
She didn’t do it.
“We can’t let him run off where we can’t see him. Tie his hands,” she said to Boris. “Gag him. Then cover him mouth with something, the scarf maybe. Make sure you cover his mouth completely. And his nose. And… and tie his feet as well. Not so tight that he can’t walk, tight enough that he can’t walk fast.”
Max sobbed, shaking. “Thank you. Thank you.”
Boris sighed again. “He will turn into one of those things. We drag him around, yes? A
And what? Maybe two, three weeks before he rots away entirely.”
“Then that’s what happens,” said Irene, striding over to their supplies and pulling out a length of cord. “You’re right, he’s dead either way. If he wants to choose how he dies, then I’m not going to deny him that.”
Boris shrugged, and lowered the shotgun.
“Besides,” Irene said, as they bound Max’s arms behind his back. He had fallen silent. “Maybe he’ll act as a deterrent. They haven’t attacked us as a pack once yet. Might be that they don’t like competition.”
She was so close she could smell the bite mark beginning to fester. If he turned his head sharply, right now, and lunged, he’d get her, no question. But he wouldn’t. None of the others had taken less than two hours to change. Trixie had taken eight, and they hadn’t even noticed she’d been bitten until Boris had asked her if she wanted a soda and she’d responded with a low, inhuman grunt.
Privately handing herself a Darwin award, Irene leaned forward and sniffed his hair, aware that this would be her last chance. It was thick, dark and curly, soft even after five weeks without access to uncontaminated running water.
That had been five days ago.
Since then… well. Nothing she hadn’t expected. Watching all of Max’s hair fall out had been upsetting, but on balance, no more upsetting than watching his teeth rot in his jaws.
“I am telling you,” Boris insisted. “He’s getting better. Look.”
Irene looked. Max was sitting where they’d leashed him to a parking meter, moaning softly and leaking fluids onto the pavement. No worse or better than he’d been yesterday, or the day before, except…
“Is that a Snickers bar?” Irene asked.
Boris nodded. “It was lying next to a trash can. I saw him pick it up a while ago. He’s been holding it for almost ten minutes.”
It was still wrapped. He clearly hadn’t tried to eat it. Now and then, he looked at it, moaned softly, and knocked it against the tarmac, like a two-year-old with a toy.
“Doesn’t mean anything,” she said. “Look, he doesn’t even know what to do with it.”
“I haven’t seen any of them hold anything before,” Boris said. “Even when they go for you, they can’t grip. Just bite. And he loved Snickers.”
“So, what, you think he’s remembering?”
“Six days ago, he was nice man who liked Snickers. Three days ago, he was horrible monster who couldn’t do anything but bite. Now, he holds Snickers bar, and he only try to bite you twice today. And he is getting quieter. Not so much… ‘uueeaaaargh’, you know?”
Irene watched Max beat the Snickers bar slowly against the side of his head. “None of them have got better,” she said. “They’re… they’re dead, their brains are mush. It’s ridiculous, Boris.”
“Whole situation is ridiculous,” he sniffed. “And we not see any of the others get better… we not WATCH any of the others. Not for more than maybe few seconds while we are running away. Maybe others are getting better.”
“Yeah, or maybe you’re just imagining shit,” Irene said, and stood up. “We should decide where we want to make camp, it’s another three hours to the library and…”
She only saw it because her eye happened to slide back over in that very second. Suddenly she was gripping Boris’ hand so hard he yelped.
“Holy Mary mother of fuck,” she whispered.
Max took the Snickers bar – the UNWRAPPED Snickers bar- out of his mouth. Looked at it with blank eyes. Stuffed it back into his gaping, rotting maw, and then he bit.
- (no subject)