I wrote this brutal little piece–for no reason I can recall, though I may have been playing Resident Evil 2–almost exactly six years ago, on Wednesday, February 2, 2000, just one minute before the stroke of midnight (thank you, Microsoft Word “Properties” tab). I think the idea behind the piece was to write a scene showing how I’d deal with a zombie if I ran into one in real life (hence the uncertainty about using a gun–and the crying).
It’s a little eerie that I thought about it today and now, just forty minutes past its six-year anniversary, I’ve decided to post it here. If I were a more superstitious man, it might freak me out; instead, the materialist in me wonders why I tend to think about zombies in early February.
I’ve toned down the violence and cursing from the original version, though it’s still definitely rated R–but a cheesy horror B-movie R, not a reprehensibly gory R.
The corpse slid to the floor.
It seemed an eternity before he heard the tink of the shell on the floor. The blast still echoed against the concrete walls of the alley outside the window.
For more than a minute he was motionless, the shotgun held out before him in one hand, his arms quivering with its weight. Finally he lowered the gun and stepped back, slumping against the wall behind him and sliding to the floor, never taking his eyes off what he’d done.
He was twenty-two, an art school graduate living in a dingy apartment in a New York suburb. The shotgun had belonged to a cop; he’d pried it off the half-eaten corpse in the hallway. He hadn’t seen the one he’d killed until it was almost too late.
There would be more of them. He’d seen enough movies to know that. Maybe even in the building. He should check how many shells he had–but how?
He’d never fired a gun in his life. Now he’d killed his landlady, Mrs. McNeil. Shot her head off with a shotgun.
Granted, she hadn’t been herself lately. More like a hideously diseased and undead shadow of her former self. So in a sense, he hadn’t killed her; she was already dead.
Somehow, that didn’t make him feel better.
Watching a human head explode because of something he’d done tapped into a portion of his mind that terrified him. It was something beyond mere shock; it was the horror of not only having to kill someone, but someone he knew. That it was in self-defense, and that the person he’d shot didn’t seem to be the same person he’d known, were rational facts that his mind wasn’t able to grasp at that moment. He began to sob. After a few minutes, the tears subsided, and he sighed deeply.
He sensed the thing before he saw it.
Slowly, he turned his head and looked up. Another one of the things was in the doorway, watching him. Like the other one, its skin had faded to a dull grey color, and the eyes had turned a pale shade of yellow. The milky orbs fixed on him while the thing stood there silently.
He slowly stood, backing away as much as he could. He brought the shotgun up again and prayed there was another shell in it. The thing continued to stare at him, but didn’t move. It opened its mouth and made a hissing noise that turned his stomach. Without warning, it lurched toward him. There was a thundering crack and the thing collapsed in a heap.
Still in shock, he began to scream obscenities. He kicked at the corpse on the floor. The tears flowed once more as he struck the thing with the butt of the gun.
Another one appeared at the door.
“Goddamn it!” he screamed, and he wielded the shotgun like a club, smashing the butt into the side of the thing’s head. The shotgun broke in half but it did the trick: the thing’s neck snapped and it collapsed to the floor.
This time, there were no tears, no cursing. He paused a moment, looked at this latest victim.
“You messed with the wrong graphic designer, assholes.”
There would be more. He might be the only remaining human in town. He had to get out and warn the proper authorities. And he needed another gun.
He went out into the hallway. The elevator was out. He took the stairs.
To Be Continued…?
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