I Don't Want to Live in the Zombie Apocalypse
I'm just not cut out for it...
The staff is slippery in my hand, pressing it on the ground for support. My back leg throbs as it drags along, wincing with each step down the road. A layer of fog filters the world in front of me in wisps of gas. Every curve looming in the gas appears to be another monster emerging, hungry.
Yet, I can only walk onward slowly
The odors of decaying flesh mixed with remnants of rain pour into my nostrils. When the adrenaline of the journey fades and is replaced with monotony, I find myself daydreaming about the sweet maple syrup and pancakes of the safe-haven I was in only a few days ago.
I had it all, didn’t I? A family, a place in the community, love.
Now it’s gone.
A building several stories high emerges from the veil. The door is slightly open and creaking from the light breeze. Stopping in my tracks, I gaze ahead into the nothingness I travel, then look to the roof of the building.
My gaze shifts to the ground. “Why do I go on?” Only the rush of soft winds answers back, vacant. Somewhere far off, a trash can lid clatters to the ground.
I move toward the building.
Sweat emits from my back and armpits as I hurry to the door. Inside, a faint bit of light peeks through the windows. It’s the first floor of an apartment complex. Letting out a breath, I sit and rest my back against the wall.
It’s then I notice a red lace on the floor near me. I grasp the soft fabric and stare.
“Annie…” My lip trembles when I say her name.
My bundle of joy, that heavenly glow on her skin, the glimmer in her eyes that was just right, I’ll never forget holding her when she was born. She was my baby. Was.
In her smiling face, I saw a sign that life was still precious on earth, that I could find joy and a reason for living. Back then, I turned to my wife Mary and smiled at her, bringing our child back into her arms. This was right. That was the way the world was supposed to be.
But it ended.
One day, I went away from the refuge to look for supplies outside, one of the duties assigned and rotated among the men. House after abandoned house, I looked for something that wasn’t rotten, spoiled, or dead but came back with nothing.
I returned to the community only to find the entry gate unlocked and hanging right open. My eyes widened, because I know I closed it - I swear to god I did. It must be a mistake by someone else because I couldn’t have done that. There’s no way
They’re lies, all lies.
I took out my machete and held it out in front of me. I told myself the door was probably just open for a little bit and everyone’s fine, no big deal. When I come into the house, Annie will be sleeping and Mary will be sewing or working in the garden. Yeah, that’s what I’ll find. Even if I did leave the door open just once, it’s not a big deal.
Turning the knob of the door, I open it slowly. Then I hear a munching sound.
I find them both on the floor.
One of the undead, with dark blue skin, digs its teeth into Mary’s neck and chews her flesh, as my wife’s vacant eyes gaze off. Blood covers the creature’s mouth, splattered on its torn clothes and the floor. It glances up at me as it continues to eat.
I stop, staring. Then I grip my machete tight. My jaw clenched, I furrow my brow as rage surges through me. “I’ll kill you, you piece of shit.” I charge at the monster, and it hisses.
It darts to the side and tries to flank me. Stopping to turn, I skid and my ankle twists, crackling. “Ahg.” My gaze shifts for a moment, and the monster finds its opening. On all fours, it barrels at me with its mouth open.
It leaps, and I extend the blade.
The creature knocks me to the ground and lands on top. My arms outward, I hold the creature’s mouth at bay, the machete lodged into its sternum. It hisses and claws at air only an inch away from digging into my flesh.
I stand up with the creature in the air at the end of my blade and slam it on the ground, plunging further into its chest cavity. Blood comes out of its mouth as its eyes dart everywhere and it babbles incoherently.
Not wanting to let it free, I keep it pinned, glaring into its black eyes. “You motherfucker. You’ll fucking pay.” I stomp on it’s head over and over until the flesh is ripped away, smashed, and it’s skull cracks open, its brains turned to mush.
Coated in sweat, I turn and limp to Annie’s room. I open the door slowly as if I might wake her. I come to the side of the crib and look down at her.
Or what’s left of her.
Vomiting on the floor, acid burning, I turn away as my hands shake and head for the exit. From outside, I hear the babble and moans of the undead, hordes of them. So many came in and overran our refuge.
And it’s all because of me.
Limping out the door, my ankle throbbing, I set the machete down and grab a staff for support from the kitchen that I can sharpen into a spear later.
Then I rush into the dark cold depths outside.
“...Oh, Annie, my sweet, Annie.” Tears well in my eyes as the soft fabric lace slips through my fingers and onto the floor. My chest rises and falls, my hands pressed over my wet face, as I sob alone in the bleak abandoned building.
Why, just why should I have to suffer like this? Time and again the world seems to rip everything away from me. I always think I can recover - and I usually do, but not this. Opening my eyes, I look to the staircase that goes to the top of the building.
The pain in my heart is heavy, like a part of me is missing. Rising, my bones and joints ache, but they’re nothing compared to the agony inside. I take a deep breath and head over to the stairs.
I know what I must do now.
With each rising step, surreal memories of laughing with Mary, singing softly to Annie, and so much more, flash before my eyes. There’s warmth and life in the memories, glimmering stars that flash into supernovae, vanishing in the dark only to leave me alone here.
Coming to the top floor, I take the exit up and make it to the top of the building. The fog isn’t nearly as clear up here. From afar, I see the creatures roam from place to place, murderous shadows shifting in the dark.
Slowly, I walk over to the edge of the five-story building and look out over the world. A faint smile forms on my lips. In my dirt-covered and calloused hand, I feel Mary’s soft gentle touch holding my own. I smell her sweet rose perfume. I hear my baby’s laughter and see Annie’s open mouth smile in my mind. She’s a happy, joyful child.
“It’s okay, Tom, it wasn’t your fault. Mistakes happen. We’re here for you. We love you.” Mary whispers softly in my ear, a ghost of the past.
“Daddy, daddy…” Annie’s first words are golden heavens shining in my heart.
“I love you all so much.” My voice is soft as a gust of air carries my words and scatters them to the winds.
“Come to us, Tom. Come to us.” Mary leaves a kiss on my cheek and then her hand vanishes, and the presence of both she and Annie disappears.
I nod slowly, gazing at the rising sun. “I’ll come to you guys, I promise.”
Stepping onto the ledge, I jump down headfirst.