Friday, March 9, 2018

A Work of Fiction: Zombie Apocalypse

I first noticed them following me a few weeks into the Spring Semester.  One was enrolled in my Calculus II section.  Why?  They don't need calculus to eat brains.  The first warning was the slight greenish moldy color at the edges of their faces where their makeup was flaking off.  Then I noticed their hands, even with the makeup on were just on the edge of glowing green; sort of a phosphorescent mold peeking through?  There were not a lot of them at first; the guy in my calculus class and one or two other students around campus with the telltale greenish hands.

They were never real close, but it was still unnerving.  Clearly they were not human.  Could they be zombies?  I thought, "That's silly.  Zombies don't exist."  But over time, as more and more of them showed up on campus, I begin to wonder.  One of them did get too close in an elevator and gave me that "dead eyes" look that I now recognize as their sign.  Then the smell of rotting flesh hit me, and I vomited all over the floor of the elevator.  There were other real students in there; none of them was sick from the smell.  I would have thought the smell of death would have made all of us vomit.  The real students helped me to a bench to see if there was anything that they could do to help me. 

"No thanks.  The smell of death was in there.  Didn't you smell it?"  The looks on their faces briefly made me wonder if I had imagined it.  Then I looked across the hall at It, staring at me with those dead eyes, and snickering.  I didn't think zombies had enough consciousness to snicker, but this one did.  And then slowly, he faded into the wall.  That was unnerving.

After a couple of hours thinking about this strangeness of the disappearing zombie, I went to the Student Health Center to complain about nausea and the smell of death.  The nurse seemed concerned, and then I saw the greenish glow around her neck.  I left as quickly as I could, afraid that an untoward celerity might cause her to inform the others.

Weeks passed and I found myself increasingly struggling to think.  My brain felt as though I was running through molasses.  I tried to remember first semester calculus integration and derivation, but my brain was not cooperating. Were the zombies working in the cafeteria, poisoning my food?  Would my brain still be edible if they poisoned me?  I had noticed a few odd flavors at times; not completely "wrong," but not completely "right," either.

My roommates off-campus seemed concerned and asked if there was something wrong.  I was reluctant to scare them with talk of zombies, so I just asked if they had noticed anyone on campus that did not seem to belong, with odd-colored skin?  Both Jack and Ted looked at me oddly, and asked if I had a problem with black people.  I said "No. Not the skin color exactly, but sort of an odd glow."

The next day, my parents showed up.  Jack and Ted had called them, I think.  Mom and Dad had driven two hours to talk to me, face to face.  They asked how school was going.  I explained it was getting harder, and I was wondering if I really belonged at college.  Dad looked very disturbed.  "How are you going to pursue your electrical engineering degree except at college?"  I was utterly without an answer.  After an hour of probing questions, and shallow answers, I noticed one of the glowing greenish faces staring in the front window at me.  I became quite nervous.

Mom asked: "What's wrong, Frank?"

"Can't you see It?"  I pointed over their shoulders at the window.  It must have seen my gesture, because it had ducked below the glass by the time they turned around.  A few minutes of largely pointless conversation later, then they left to return home.

An hour later, there was a knock on the door.  I looked through the peephole, suddenly seriously afraid of Them for the first time.  There was a policeman on the porch.  I opened the door.  He identified himself and asked if he come in and talk to me.  At first I wanted to do so, to find out if he could help me.  He introduced a social worker who was just on the edge of green glow, so I as politely as possible said, "No."  Then I closed the door.

After a few seconds they were knocking again.  Through the peephole, I could dozens of creatures with glowing green skin.  I told them to go away; I was tired and wanted to be left alone.  A few hours later, my roommates returned and informed me that I was going to have to move out.  "You are beginning to scare us.  You are acting weird."  Had the zombies threatened them?

The next day, I gathered up my stuff and moved into a decrepit trailer on the outskirts of town.  I withdrew from all my classes; college was not going to work out for me.  At first, I hoped that leaving campus would cause the zombies to lose interest in me.  No such luck; they were now hanging around the trailer park staring at me. 

I had a few thousand left from my student loan and I knew this would not last long.  I went to the local gun store and bought a pump action shotgun with an 8 round magazine extension, and dozens of boxes of birdshot.  I was unsure whether this would work on zombies; they are already dead.  Maybe I could just blow them apart so they could not shamble towards me?  I also bought some boxes of shotgun tracer ammo as well.  I knew just a little bit about guns, so I went to an old quarry a little ways out of town and practiced firing, pumping the slide, and loading more shells.  I was feeling pretty good about defending myself from the zombies in my trailer.  Best of all, the store sold me ZombieMax ammo for the shotgun.  This must be a national epidemic!  I am not imagining this.

Summer came and went.  I became increasingly aware when I went into town that They were increasing in number.  I was wondering if they had eaten all the real students or at least most of them.  It was time to take action, before this plague destroyed everyone.  I loaded up several hundred shotgun shells, in a bandolero, drove onto campus. and headed to the classroom where  had taken Calculus II, and sure enough, just about every student and the professor were Them.  I started firing as I entered the door; I was impressed how human-like they screamed.  I had just about finished when one of Them in a campus police uniform came into the lecture hall.  I fired at him.  There was a gunshot, and suddenly I was in serious pain.  Then it went dark.

5 comments:

SJ said...

My first reaction, partway through the story: is the story-teller a zombie himself?

Shortly afterwards, I began to ask whether the world had gone mad, or the narrator had gone mad.

(And I notice that he chooses a shotgun for zombies, rather than an AR-pattern rifle for tacti-cool-ness.)

It's a frightening story.

Clayton Cramer said...

I thought it was clear enough that he was losing his mind. How would you make it clearer that he is NOT actually surrounded by zombies?

Nathan said...

It was very clearly a break. Right age, self-supporting "facts." A good story, but totally depressing.

Gladorn said...

Oh yeah. I saw the signs of the onset of mental illness. It is both a pretty shocking and a rather sad tale. And fairly accurate.

SJ said...

Coming back to this...I think the story is very well-told. On second read, the mind breaking away from reality is pretty apparent.

Maybe the first-person narration threw me for a loop. Or maybe I saw "Zombie" and expected a different kind of story.

I notice that the parents and school officials have an understanding that something is happening. But neither had the power to force (or convince) the young man to go in for treatment.