Today’s piece of fiction was inspired by a comment made on this post. It was such a nice idea that I thought it was worth a little bit of exploring.
‘This has to be the mother of all hangovers’ thought Edward as he stared at himself in the cracked mirror. A lot of people go out, drink too much and then feel like death in the morning. Very few of those people are actually dead. Though in truth Edward wasn’t dead, he was undead.
He surprised himself at how calm he was, as he faced himself in the bathroom mirror. His best white shirt was torn and covered in blood. Presumably most of it was his own, judging by the large gash in his arm, and what looked to be a bite mark in his neck. Edward poked at his neck wound, he felt no pain just curiosity; maybe his brain hadn’t woken up yet, maybe it never would. His silk tie still hung loosely around his neck and his hair was messy.
He’d seen films and read stories about zombies but this was nothing like how he thought it would be. He had no great desire for eating anything human. Though, that only made the teeth-marks on his neck more confusing.
‘Looking pretty good for a corpse’ he said out loud with a sigh. His voice had a slight gravely nature to it, but he figured it was more due to the neck wound than being a zombie.
Straightening his tie, Edward walked over to his bedroom window still amazed at how well his legs worked. He pulled the bedroom curtains to one side and looked out at what the sun thought was just another day. People were lying dead in the street, windows were smashed and cars were left with their doors open. Things had changed.
Edward walked downstairs. His apartment looked the same as it did before he left last night, apart from the trail of blood that lead from the open front door all the way up the stairs. There was still the same clutter on the floor, including the old pizza boxes stacked by his armchair. He went downstairs and walked straight out the front door, and stood in the street taking everything in.
There was a loud bang. Edwards’s ears rang.
‘Get out of here!’
Edward turned round and saw his neighbour from across the road pointing a gun at him.
‘Mrs Peters? Eileen? It’s me.’ Edward raised his arms and started to walk slowly towards his neighbour. The gun fired again, and he felt something hitting his shoulder, as the impact knocked him off his feet.
‘Get away from me!’ The woman fired at him again, and then ran back inside her house. Edward could hear the faint sound of furniture being moved.
‘Ow!’ Edward said, more out of reflex than any sense of pain. ‘Note to self. Make new friends.’
A trickle of dark red blood had leaked from the wound. He picked himself up and went back into his house, closing the door behind him. He sat down on his sofa and pushed the ‘On’ button on the remote control. The TV came on and showed him one of the regular daytime chat shows.
‘What am I gonna do now?’ He mumbled to himself. ‘I don’t eat, I don’t feel pain… Crap! I’m gonna be late for work.’ His reflexes took over as he rushed towards the door before stopping after several feet. ‘Actually, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to go in to work today. I think a zombie apocalypse is a good enough reason for not going in to work.’
He turned his attention back to the TV. A man argued with a woman over something, something quite big by the staged violence. He stared at the TV until he was frustrated enough to pick up the remote and change the channel. It was the news, presented by Holly Gertrude. Edward didn’t like Holly, her fake plastered grin pissed him off. He was just about to skip channels again when something made him stop.
‘… please stay with us while we bring you more news about the dramatic events taking place throughout the world. The Zombie Plague! Apparently they’re not all alike.’
Edward eyes clicked back into focus, he was paying attention. The newscaster looked calm and happy; she was smiling.
‘We bring you the developments as and when they happen. First an exclusive. We are happy to be the first channel to interview a zombie live on air. Mr Dowitz?’ the newscaster began. The camera panned to the side to show a zombie wearing a very new and clean grey suit, and his hair was brushed. The zombie smiled a smile and even his milky-coloured eyes tried to twinkle.
‘Steve. Please.’ The zombie corrected her.
‘Steve. You certainly don’t fit the description of all those zombie movies I remember watching.’
‘Thanks Holly.’ He beamed. ‘I’m not. In nearly all matters I’m the same as I was before. I can still drive my car, I still go to work, and I still love my wife and my kids. Although now, my 40 cigarette a day smoking habit’s not really a problem
Holly laughed ‘Of course. Although now we know that not everyone is like you. We’ve seen many other zombies being… well being a little more stereotypical.’
‘Yes, it’s true. I’m sad to say that not everyone has been able to deal with the…’ Steve paused. ‘…changes as well as others. I open my arms to them. I’m offering them all the help and support they need to come to terms with their new status.”
The camera flicked back to Holly who was now attempting her best warm smile and nodding her head with fake compassion, before going back to Steve.
‘I know there are a lot of scared people out there. People on both sides of the fence are afraid and confused. We can help you.’
‘Do you have any advice for the survivors?’
‘Yes I do, Holly. Please be aware that the zombies like me still have all of their higher brain-functions. They’ll be practically the same person as you remember.’
‘Yes, there will be differences. They may have lost the ability to feel pain, and some of the more extreme emotions may be lost to them. If a zombie does show itself to you, please don’t be afraid. They may not act as you remember but they won’t harm you, well not intentionally.’ Steve remained smiling through out, then his face dropped slightly. ‘Of course, if they are not one of us then the films have it right. Destroy the head and brain. Just don’t get bitten.’
‘Are you able to pass the plague on to others?’
Steve’s face became theatrically sad. ‘I’m afraid so, Holly. Please be careful, even when you’re around one of us. Our blood still carries the disease, and if you turn there’s no guarantee that you will be as lucky as us and keep your zombanity.”
The camera flicked back to Holly, who had temporarily let her smile slip, just a little. The camera went back to Steve.
‘If there is anyone else out there someone who needs support, like I did. Someone to talk to during this difficult time, then please contact the number at the bottom of the screen. We’re here to help you.’
The camera switched back to Holly. ‘Thank you, Steve. Will you stay with us for the rest of the show?’
‘I’d be happy to’.
‘Thank you. Next we speak to Major Ferth, the man put in charge of Project Cleanse. He’ll be advising us on how to stay safe and protect our families.’
Edward finished writing down the telephone number on the top of an old pizza-box hat looked as if it had been sat on. He picked up the phone and tapped in the numbers. Then he waited through the messages, adverts and hold music.
The phone rang for several seconds and then clicked on…
‘Hello, you’re through to Zombie Management Consultants. If you are an initiate to the new-life program and want some help integrating into your new society, please press 1. I you wish to know your local extermina…”
Edward reached out and pushed the ‘1’ button with his bloodied index finger.