And the Dead Shall Rise, Maybe Around Noonish
Daily Flash Fiction Challenge: Story #28
When it was first reported that the dead had begun to rise, all I could think of were the zombie movies I’d seen. Mindless, rabid monsters seeking human flesh. Few of the living ever survived as the rest of the world fell to the ravenous undead.
But this…this was not what I was expecting.
Sue Dokes is in my yard again and I’m trying to push her out with a broom. She keeps trampling the flowerbeds. She always was an annoying old biddy. Now that she’s undead, she’s even worse because she leaves half-eaten birds on my lawn. And she smells. And the lower half of her jaw fell off.
“Shoo!” I poke her with the broom. “Shoo!”
Sue moans and shuffles off, tripping over the sidewalk. She climbs back to her feet and limps across the street.
The undead are mindless, that’s for sure. The human brain doesn’t last long after death. It’s mostly made of water, so it decomposes faster than, say, the heart. It breaks down, liquifies. There’s not much left to navigate the body when it reanimates.
Zombies don’t have rabid instincts to attack. They can’t even remember to feed themselves. They’re just husks, stumbling over trashcans.
They’re not terrifying killing machines. They’re just annoying.
Sometimes there’s enough brain left that they can recognize people they used to know. Speech is rare. Don’t even ask about performing basic math. It’s like they’re babies once again.
No, that’s too generous. They’re more like really, really dumb squirrels.
There’s one upside down in my pool right now. I’m trying to get him out with the pool skimmer, but he keeps biting at leaves in the water.
He won’t bite at me. They don’t do that. I have seen them eat dog poop, though.
But the absolute worst thing about this whole undead rising situation is my mother-in-law.
My husband, of course, insisted that we let her stay when she came back. What could I say? No, we can’t keep your miraculously returned beloved mother in the house. How heartless would that be? So I made up the spare bedroom and we put her in there.
Within a week one of her arms fell off.
Half the time I find her walking into a wall. She doesn’t seem to know it’s there. The first time it happened I laughed, but my husband got offended. His mother’s trying to walk through a wall like a glitching NPC in a video game, how is that not hilarious? But I apologized, and now when I find her stuck in a corner or not understanding the concept of gravity, I just nudge her until she faces the right direction.
Okay, I’ll admit, I may have let her fall down the stairs once. Okay, twice.
Fine, maybe it was three times, but who’s counting?
Most of the time, though, she just lies in bed. I don’t know if she’s sleeping. I don’t know if they can sleep. But she lies there, cloudy eyes pointing at the ceiling, mouth hanging open. She looks dead in those moments—not undead, just dead. She’ll lie there until the afternoon, then roll off the bed and stagger downstairs.
Or fall over the railing and onto the floor of the foyer. Either way, she finds her way down.
She and I never got along when she was alive. Now that she’s undead, our relationship has actually improved. Rather than making passive-aggressive comments that judge and mock everything I do, she groans, slack-jawed, while she rubs her face on the carpet. When I had to run out for an errand the other day, she stumbled after me into the car and fiddled with the radio, her head stuck in the glove compartment the entire time. It was pretty funny.
My husband is glad we spend so much time together now. Of course, most of that time is spent trying to stop her from eating plastic, but it’s better than it was. She’s like a big cat. A big, dumb, smelly cat.
Eventually she’ll rot away—she just lost another ear—and I think I might be a little disappointed when that happens. She’s not so bad to be around.
Except when she puts her hand in the toaster.
Like she’s doing now.