It is my birthday. It is also 927 days after the end of life as we knew it. Wow, really? I guess I had not considered I'd be keeping track at this point. Or that I would even be around to be keeping a daily count. So, I'm roughly two and a half years into surviving this thing. This thing, eh, some survivors have reverted to calling the roaming dead “walkers.” Believe it or not "zombie" is still a popular term. I just refer to them as "Them." And, we must always avoid Them. Always. Sometimes a person can be tricked into believing there is recognition in those cloudy, cataracted eyes, but it is just best to put your head down and move along. There is nothing left inside but squishy parts. No firing synapses in the brain to spur them to speak a recognizable word—in any language. And, for heaven’s sake do not let them follow you home. They just roam around scaring the wildlife and that possibility of leaving germs around that you might inadvertently introduce to your system. Are you immune? No one knows until it’s too late. Then you just wander aimlessly. Forever.
I don't know how I figured it out, or if it was an innate knowledge that I just happened to be blessed, or cursed, with but cats are key. Back in the day I kept an horde of cats because I love their soft mews, their loving ways, and their vicious attitudes. They kept the property free of pests whether mice, frogs, snakes, or allergic humans. (Yeah, that last part. I never was a real human fan in the Before either.) I still keep a house cat (and a couple of yellow Labradors), just for company and to keep my voice working for when I do run into another person and need to relay information. For some strange reason, They, Them, do not enjoy the scent of cat—to put it mildly. They, Them, will trod passed an hissing fluffy monster, but They, Them, will not cross a line of scattered used kitty litter. I remember complaining about the scent, back in the day. Never once did I believe it would be an useful tool. But, I digress… Cats are key. Keeping the used litter scattered around your living quarters keeps Them out. It’s the only time I’ve recorded an hostile reaction to anything from Them. It was an ugly scene like acid had been tossed on Them. Clawing at Its face and jabbing dirt in Its nose. (I did get a laugh out of it afterward. It was horrifying at the time-- I really thought I was witnessing evolution to the beings we watched in movies and television.) Alas, no. Just Them trying to block the foul scent of cat urine.
There is a funny thing about all those people out there calling Them “walkers” or “zombies”. We were being molded to understand this state of existence as violent and inevitably dangerous. It’s not. It’s almost disappointing. Almost. I’d rather not have to put down my neighbor or family once the infection is complete because They want to eat my flesh; that would be unpleasant to put it mildly. Nope, They just wander around and for sustenance They consume anything They can put in Their mouths. Sticks, leaves, paper, rocks, roadkill, clothing.... I’m not even sure how the nutrition system works for Them anymore. I’m sure there is a scientist somewhere with all that knowledge, but television and internet is spotty—when we have electricity. When we do have a minute or two with outside contact, it’s commercials. Commercials?! Anyway, I’ve stopped even trying to turn on the tube or computer because of the waste of energy. The internet is useless too. Instead of something helpful, all the servers that once held a wealth of prepper type information seem to have been hacked by every cult or conspiracy theorist on the planet. Libraries are all the rage now. IF you are lucky, you live in an area like me where folks are actually returning the reading material they borrow. Yay. Lucky me. (And yes, I did a little hand wave after writing that.)
Today may be one of those days when I have to use my voice because I have to leave the property. Okay, so I don’t really have to leave, but it is my birthday and there is nothing here to imitate chocolate for a birthday cake. I deserve a birthday cake. Every person still around deserves a birthday cake. Except for that dude down on Sparkman. He doesn’t return books even though he writes his name, very legibly I should add, on the checkout listing of titles. I’m not happy with him. He takes the good stuff: gardening guides, how to tie a secure fishing knot, that kind of stuff. I have those skills, but others do not. I’ve had to trade enough corn, squash, tomatoes, and fish to know that others did not participate as a hobby in the Before. So, I’m writing this before I venture out. I’ll stuff it in my backpack so that if I’m infected while I’m out, someone will steal my pack and find this. I need that person to know where my property is and that I have a LOT of animals that need tending. (The cats are great hunters, but the dogs need constant attention—I don’t let the dogs hunt because I don’t want strangers or stranglers following them back.)
But I do want cake. Not just any cake, but a chocolate birthday cake. (With a candle.) I’ll not make a wish because, well, useless. Will today be the day that my unnecessary want turns me into a meandering Them eating leaves and sticks and rocks? I don’t know. It’s always possible. ANYthing is possible. I’ll be searching the Foodland for any hidden or forgotten tub of cocoa powder. That stuff doesn’t go bad. It’s powder, and as long as it’s dry it’ll be useful. I’ll go through the trouble of avoiding eye contact when I can, just like everyone else. And, I’m hoping no one asks me if I have any fish. I’m not making any trades today. Today I am selfish because it is MY day. My birthday. The one day I let myself do something other than being productive and getting ready for the next day. I may even stay up late, after the sun goes down and just gaze (glare) at the stars.
So, if you are an unfortunate soul that has snagged my pack for anything useful since I’m all cataracted up, eating my shirt, and you’ve taken the time to read this. Go to my property—there’s a map. Keep the cats. Dump the litter around the clearly marked perimeter. And feed the dogs. Give them a hug before bed. And for the love of all things, make my chocolate birthday cake (don’t share THAT with the dogs) and enjoy. Peace out.
About the author
Working in IT at the moment, BS:DMDA and MS:ITM. However, creating and writing is a secret passion. I love to use my smarticles to build alternate universe where I'd like to reside.. or avoid at all costs.