Zombies, Shopping Mall, Love Letter
This is a piece of flash fiction I started a while ago, and though I never loved it, I wanted to finish it. So here it is, naked and bashful but here just the same, for you to judge or enjoy. Or maybe both?
I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I just wanted to feel something that wasn’t dread or fear or a never ending sense of doom. Something like hope, maybe. She wasn’t even dirty or disheveled like the rest of them, and she walked like a normal kid. She stopped in front of the McDonald’s, staring at the menu with the wide-eyed gaze of someone who hadn’t eaten for days. She was so skinny and I thought, poor kid’s hungry as hell, maybe she’ll want these shitty gritty canned pears. So I said hello, put my hand on her shoulder, and God damn if she didn’t waste any time chomping those little milk teeth into my hand. To be fair, I should’ve known better. To be fair, I knocked her head clean off with my sledge hammer, opened that kid’s head like a smashed pumpkin.
“Take it back!” I screamed, in that moment of rage, crisp and white like fresh linen. I know it didn’t make any sense, but everyone deals with their sudden impending death differently I guess.
Just like that, I was fucked. I knew it, and I’m man enough to admit I cried a little. I mean, wouldn’t you? I just stood there blubbering, wondering who the fuck dressed their daughter in a pretty blue sundress for the apocalypse. Who had the nerve to brush her hair, and keep her so clean and so well loved that even when she was dead some dumb shitbird would walk up and try to save her from becoming what she’d already become? What am I supposed to tell my girl, when she looks at me with those eyes and sees my hand? “Oh, hey baby! I got bit, but it’s cool cause right after you cut my hand off we can pound this can of mushrooms”? I still had to get past all the ghouls and even if I made it back to camp with a heavy backpack and a dead hand, they would probably shoot me. Shit, I’d shoot me. And when you are a grown man crying in the city’s biggest shopping centre and your only company is a few shuffling corpses, those echos remind you just how pathetic you are. I take out a pad, scribble a note to Karen, stick it in my shirt pocket.
I’m hoping when I get back - if I get back - maybe someone’ll have the stones to chop off my hand. I pray it’s not my Karen. She was never good with change. Not before the world went to hell, and certainly not after. The hungry dead don’t give a hot buttered fart about your weekly itinerary, and the people who didn’t get that got ate in the first days. Until now, me and my mean right swing have been the only things between her and some dead man’s gullet. Yeah, all I have to do is get my hand lobbed off, and even as I think it I laugh, it’s too late for that shit.
So here I am, trudging through the Eaton Centre covered in zombie head cheese. Behind me, I hear the shuffling horde of hungry sloths as they follow me to the gate like I’m the pied piper of fucking doom. What am I gonna do, shoo them away? I rattle the gate, calling, hollering her name. It doesn’t sound like ‘Karen’. One by one the others peek out, gaunt, hungry, filthy - not so different from the ghouls. With their guns drawn, barrels pointed at my head and I know how fucked up I must look, how I can’t even form fucking words, standing there holding the backpack and grunting like some agitated ape. I see her, finally, and she pushes past them, shoves them out of the way. She looks pissed. Again I’m like “Uuugghhhn!”, and I’m just hoping she understands. She lifts the gate, just a foot, and I slide the backpack underneath. She reaches through the bars, plucks the note out of my pocket. I catch a whiff of her skin. Smells…good.
“Karen. I’m sorry. I tried. Love you.” She reads. She looks at me with those eyes. And when she pulls the pistol out of her waistband I nod, and she smiles, and she pulls the hammer back, and I am so proud, cause she’s lining up the shot just like I’d shown her, and I know she’ll make it clean.