Authors: Zachary Stone
Don’t Dare Call Them Zombies
© 2012 Zachary Stone. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and should not be construed as being real. Any resemblance to actual events, or people is entirely coincidental
Also by Zachary Stone:
I knew that I should have set my alarm clock to go off ten minutes earlier. I would be late to work again. As I hit the gas pedal I went over in my mind the lecture I would receive from Mr. Humphries.
“Don’t you realize that tardiness is unacceptable for any employee, and especially a manager in training?”
I dreaded it, because every time he’d give me that speech, I would feel the urge to quit the job right then and there. For the two dollars and five cent above minimum wage I earned, I felt like they should cut me some slack. As usual I would keep my mouth shut and take it, because I needed the job; rent and utility bills do not pay themselves.
My body shifted backwards as my bright blue pickup truck accelerated down the dark road.
I rolled down my window to allow the crisp morning air to help wake me up. Daylight was breaking the skyline.
What did it really
matter if I am three minutes late when I’m scheduled to arrive at five-freaking-o-clock in the morning?
Noticing I was going five miles over the speed limit I let off the gas, and gently tapped the brake. A construction zone was ahead and I knew a cop woul
d be waiting there, radar gun ready, for anyone that dared to go one mile an hour over. The last thing I could afford was a speeding ticket, so I slowed down even more. Of course it would mean I would be an additional minute or two late for work, but I was not about to take that risk.
I passed through the construction zone at a snail’s pace and noticed the usual Monday morning speed-trap was not set up. Darn! I had slowed down for absolutely nothing.
I noticed the traffic was also a bit on the light side. Even at such an early hour there would usually be more traffic than this, with so many people commuting out of Sandy Hill to their jobs in the larger neighboring cities. I dismissed any notion of my surroundings being different than on any other morning, and I tried to focus on mentally preparing myself for work – and Mr. Humphries.
As I pulled into the Grocery World parking lot, I noticed the same four cars that were usually there when I worked the morning shift. One of these vehicles, Mr. Humphries’ red
Mustang, was parked all the way at the far end of the parking lot, near the road. He claimed to park so far away from the entrance of the store to be a good example to his employees. According to Grocery World’s official handbook that every employee received immediately upon being hired, all prime parking spaces should be reserved for customers. It was a rule that Mr. Humphries followed religiously, as he did many others.
I parked a bit closer to the entrance, next to Mrs. Patty’s pale grey minivan. A coup
le of quick searches of my pockets let me know I had remembered my cell phone, name tag, box cutter, and wallet. I never forgot any of them, but checking to make sure was a routine.
Once out of my car I walked quickly to the entrance. I had hoped to rush i
nside towards the office, clock in quickly, and avoid Mr. Humphries, but that didn’t work out. He was standing there next to the counter reviewing paperwork as I approached.
He looked at me intently as I opened the door to the computer closet and then pro
ceeded to clock in. The archaic looking green text indicated I was one minute late -- better than usual. Instantly, I saw his reflection in the dark computer screen, and I realized he was standing behind me. Not wanting to turn around, I hesitated for a moment.
There was a buzzing sound and I realized his cell phone was vibrating, and as he pulled the phone out of the pocket of his white dress shirt, I took the opportunity and darted away to the back of the store.
Before I could make it to the meat department, I saw Mr. Allen turning on the lights of the cutting room. Seeing the grinder, band saws, and wrapping stations through the window reminded me there was another long day ahead. With Ozzy, the assistant meat market manager being on vacation I would be spending a lot of time in the department over the next two weeks.
I pushed open the door to the refrigerated room and saw the coffee pot in the corner was already turned on. Mr. Allen had been a meat market manager for a very long time, and Mr. Humphries le
t him bend the rules by having a coffee station where his employees could refuel and warm up. Everyone who happened to work in the meat department -- permanently or temporarily -- appreciated it. I was barely finished putting a plastic teaspoonful of sugar into my coffee when he greeted me with the same three words as always, “Good morning, Hank.”
Before I could respond he had a question for me.
“Did you see that light show last night?”
“Light show? No, I didn’t.” I responded, not
knowing what he was talking about.
“Well you missed out! I thought you
would’ve been watching, knowing your interests.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, puzzled now.
“It was about nine-thirty last night -- I’ve never seen a meteor shower like it. On the radio this morning they said people on the east coast saw strange fireballs.”
Mr. Allen was not the kind of person to make things like this up; he was a serious and level-headed man.
Before we could continue the conversation Mr. Humphries walked into the room -- it was time to get to work. I left the room since I knew Mr. Allen was about to be given a talk about how he was required to keep a wide assortment of high priced, premium grade fish fillets in the display case, even if they didn’t sell.
s glad to avoid hearing the conversation. The bureaucracy of the grocery business irritated me.
I spent the next hour removing all the unsold meat from the beef case so I could take it apart and clean it. The degreaser easily cut through the dried blood t
hat had dripped all the way down into the bottom of the case. As I was rolling out the mat on top of the case after hosing everything off and putting back the shelves and gratings, I heard a faint police siren.
Looking past the rows of soft drinks on aisl
e seven, I saw the blue blur of a police vehicle racing down the road. Before I could turn around to return the hose to its barrel, I saw another. I thought it was a bit unusual so early in the morning, but Sandy Hills was a growing town, and there was more crime these days
Walking back to
the meat department with the coiled up hose in tow, I told Mr. Allen what I had seen.
He seemed to shrug it off. “It’s probably nothing, but let’s
turn on the radio. You need to hear about those lights.”
For the next th
irty minutes we listened to the radio as we cut meat. The talk show host mentioned the lights only once during that time. The authorities were saying the intensity of the meteor storm was high, but few, if any of the meteors had hit the ground. Before long the topic was politics as usual, and the host was ranting about his dislike for some political candidate whose name I didn’t recognize.
Quarter loin pork chops were on sale that week, and we needed to finish cutting red meat so we could get started on th
em. Our red-headed vixen of a meat wrapper, Ms. Suzy, arrived five minutes early, as always. Despite being in her early fifties, she’d maintained her good looks, and always had the eye of any male employee in the store.
“Good morning Ms. Suzy. How are y
ou doing today?” I asked as she ignored me and walked through the back door of the meat department. She was normally very friendly, so her silence seemed odd.
I finished traying up a stack of extra lean stew meat and stepped away from the cutting table. I
took a look through the small square window in the back door, and saw her leaning against the wall. She seemed to be distressed over something. Mr. Allen had momentarily walked out to the sales floor, so I decided to sneak a moment to speak to her.
walked through the doorway onto the cement floor of the back hallway, she looked up at me with her vibrant green eyes.
“Are you doing alright this morning Ms. Suzy?” I asked.
“I saw something on the way to work today. I don’t know what it was.” She was clearly in shock over something.
“Can you remember what it looked like?” I asked.
“I am not sure what I saw. It looked like a woman, but how could it have . . .” She turned her head and stared into space.
The confusion in her eyes was obvious as she struggl
ed to describe the scene.
“Try to remember what you saw. Was it a person?”
“I don’t know if it was a
My eyes widened and my heartbeat picked up as she continued to talk.
“I was driving down Old Lake Road about to get on 82. I had stopped at the red light when I saw a woman walking across the road in my rearview mirror. She looked really messed up. She had blood all over her. I called 911 and there was no response, so I got out to see if I could help her. That was when I saw the look on her face. It was like something from a horror movie.”
I tried to get my mind around what she was telling me. I was about to ask her if she was absolutely sure about what
she’d seen, when she grabbed my arm tightly.
“I know this sound crazy, but I’m not making this up,” she said, shaking her head emphatically.
“Okay, I believe you,” I said, “So what did you do next?”
“I got the heck out of there is what I did!”
“We need to call . . .”
“I swear to you, she was growlin
g at me,” she interrupted in a desperate voice.
Ms. Suzy was looking more and more distressed. I suggested she go to the break room and try to relax while I find Mr. Allen, and ask him what to do. She excused herself and started walking towards the ladies
didn’t take long to find Mr. Allen. He was sitting on his stool next to his desk which was embedded into the meat department wall, listening carefully to the radio. I tried to speak, but he pointed to the radio indicating for me to listen.
talk show host had been replaced with a local newscaster discussing a series of shocking murders that had just taken place. Among the reports coming in were those of a local man having attacked his spouse and children earlier that morning. The wife had called for help but by the time the police had arrived the man had killed two of his children; he was actually discovered chewing on their bodies. According to the neighbor who reported the incident to the radio station, multiple gunshots were fired by the police officers who were called to the scene.
I continued to listen in horror as the broadcast went on.
“I do not know what to make of this folks, but we’re getting more reports of violent acts that have taken place this morning. In addition to the tragedy on Old Lake Road, we have a report of a man entering the Waffle World diner on Cardinal Street and attacking a waitress there. According to a witness on the scene, the man couldn’t be subdued even after taking a knife to the chest. It took, and I am quoting the email, ‘multiple blows to the head’ to stop him.”