Authors: Stevie Kopas
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Just as Veronica squeezed the trigger, she locked eyes with the dead girl and felt a churning in her stomach for a moment, wondering if this is exactly how she would look should she ever meet this same fate. But in a final fleeting second, Moira escaped her husband’s grasp and leapt onto the bed in what she saw as an attempt to save what was once her daughter from yet another death. The bullet exploded out of the gun and into Keira’s skull, her head slumping forward onto her shoulders. Moira screamed as Robbie tore into the flesh on her exposed legs that were now before him, she kicked as streams of blood sprayed from her calf and feet as her son continued to eat. Strips of skin and muscle were ripped from her leg and the bedroom was a bloodbath.
“Robbie stop! Stop!” Moira’s screams and sobs seemed louder than both the bullet Veronica fired into Keira and the one she now fired into Robbie. Moira continued screaming, but now at Samson, who tried to aid her. “Get away! Get out of here! You monsters! Get the fuck out and don’t you come back!” Veronica’s ears were ringing, her mouth was dry and she felt like she was back in the city all over again. Moira punched and slapped and kicked at Samson. His face was frozen in horror as he backed away toward Veronica, who still had the pistol raised. Samson placed a hand on the gun and took it from her now shaking hands.
Moira attempted to stand but her legs gave out and she fell to the floor. “I will fucking kill you! Both of you!” She dragged herself forward in their direction, the tendons in her leg severed and useless, and blood flowed from her with every movement. A single fingernail broke off as she continued to drag herself into the hallway where Samson and Veronica now stood. “Do you hear me?! Get out of this house! And if you come back, I will kill you!”
Veronica thought that Moira might have screamed her words as a warning rather than a threat as she stumbled hastily down the stairs and into the living room. Samson grabbed another bag from the floor near the couch and ran to the kitchen, filling it with what he could. Veronica tried to read his face, but it was as if the man was suddenly made of stone. He gave the new bag to Veronica and placed his own bag on his back. He handed her the pistol and nodded, showing her Al’s shotgun.
He hesitated at the door, listening to Moira’s repetitive screaming from upstairs. He thought of the children, and the burden that had been lifted from his chest, their souls finally free of this wretched world. He thought of Leti, of Will, of Tracy. Of all the others that he once knew that were now gone. He couldn’t allow himself to think of Moira. “We need to go.” He finally said to Veronica without turning around to look at her.
The two left the house. Out of habit, Samson pulled the key from his pocket and locked the door. Moira had suddenly stopped screaming. He didn’t stop to wonder why. They rushed down the driveway and Samson passed the wreck on the street for the last time. He looked over his shoulder for a brief second as they fled Franklin Woods at what was once his home. Wondering if the man he once was had died in that house with the rest of his world.
They stopped briefly so Samson could lock up the gate to Franklin Woods. He pulled an industrial strength chain from his bag along with the padlock from Will’s shed. There was nothing left there for him. There was nothing left there for anyone. Just another house I can’t steal food from.
The walk back to The Dockside Bar and Grill was silent except for the demonic cries that escaped the trees surrounding them. Samson and Veronica quickened their pace to a slow jog from time to time but decided walking was much quieter and they’d have more time to make a life or death decision if it came down to it.
Veronica played the scene from Samson’s house over and over like a bad dream in her head. She still heard Moira’s vicious screams as if she were standing next to her. It was dark, but she could slightly make out Samson’s facial expression. Blank. She worried that the man might have cracked. From Veronica’s experience with the end of the world over the past few weeks, she figured everyone went crazy and that there were two ways a person could crack. Like she did, or like Moira had.
When they arrived at the restaurant Veronica thought Samson would have been a little more careful entering the building, but to her surprise he walked right up to the door, threw it open and waltzed in as if the place were still operating business as usual. She looked around cautiously, listening to her
surroundings. Water licked at the dock posts and the boats made their usual rocking noises. Somewhere off in the distance the frogs croaked and she felt a pang of jealousy at how it seemed for certain species on this planet, the world hadn’t changed at all.
Behind the bar inside, Samson ignored the foul smell that repeatedly punched him in the nose. He rummaged noisily, and being a whiskey man, stopped when he found the bottle of Gentleman’s Jack that someone had so cleverly hidden behind the lesser quality bottles. He looked up when Veronica walked in.
“I guess it doesn’t matter,” she said as she locked the door, “the glass isn’t at all reinforced.” She paused to press her face up to the glass to peer outside one more time and whispered her last sentence, “But it makes me feel better.”
Samson couldn’t tell if she was talking to him and didn’t really feel like he was up for any kind of conversation. He hastily opened the bottle and took a long drink. He clenched his teeth as the drink went down. Drinking probably wasn’t the appropriate solution especially since they weren’t in the safest of places but his apathy at the moment was too strong. He felt Veronica’s eyes on him as he moved from behind the bar and started toward the back. He stopped, feeling as though he owed her some explanation for what he was doing. “I need some time.” His voice was low, monotone. He looked at her and raised the bottle up. Veronica didn’t know Samson for very long, but she liked him and she respected him. She understood him. Her father was the same way when her mother had died, and she understood then what she understood now, a man sometimes needs to be alone with his thoughts. There was a long pause before she responded with a simple “Ok” and Samson disappeared into the darkness of the restaurant.
She sat down in one of the booths, wiping the grime from the table before she laid her head on it. She squeezed her eyes shut and exhaled with a grunt. It seemed like every time she got the chance to stop thinking about how bad shit was, it all came rushing into her head at once, knocking the wind out of her. She just wished she could grab her laptop, sling it down on her bed and post some quirky status update. How trivial yet important social networking once was to her had left her with a mind full of things to say, and no one to say them to. She wished she could pick up her phone and text one of her friends about the day she had, yet which one of her friends was even alive? And how insane was the day they were probably having if they were?
When she opened her eyes again they fell upon an overturned chair and underneath it a black server’s book. She hadn’t noticed it before; she thought she had scoured the whole place when she first came here nearly a week ago. Her curiosity was stronger than her exhaustion and she got up to retrieve it. It was dirty, from the floor, or from sitting there for who knows how long she didn’t care. She sat back down at her booth and opened it up. A few order tickets, not much cash and some notes. It was decorated with San Rio stickers and a girl’s name Bethany was written in silver sharpie across the top. Veronica wondered how old Bethany was. If this was her part time job while she went to school, or was she a grown woman who really liked Hello Kitty. She read over the notes which contained Bethany’s schedule, random doodles of hearts and stars, and a flower here and there. She saw at the bottom of
the paper a note in a different handwriting than Bethany’s. It read “Remember to smile!” Veronica didn’t smile, but she tore it from the server’s book and stuffed it in her pocket. Her hand lingered over it a moment and she closed her eyes again. For whatever reason she felt a stronger connection to Bethany at that moment, long lost and her fate unknown, than she did to herself and her own twisted reality.
“Remember to smile.” She said out loud to no one and lay her head back down on the dirty table and closed her eyes.
Samson sat on the floor of the dry food pantry in the back of the restaurant. Every so often he’d take another long swig from his whiskey bottle, attempting, but failing, to drown out the sick nightmare he had been living. Everyone I know is dead, and everyone they know is dead. He slammed his head back against the wall he leaned on but the alcohol dulled the pain he probably should have felt in his skull. “Everyone who ever knew anyone is more than likely fuckin’ dead!” Samson chuckled slowly and softly. Once a successful attorney who was capable of getting any scumbag off the hook in front of the toughest judges, he was reduced to a mumbling mess, hidden in the back of a dark, abandoned restaurant, consumed by the rotting fish and spoiled food around him. He couldn’t help but wonder if the universe was punishing him for something.
His head spun and he shook it roughly from side to side, slamming it back against the wall one last time. “Oh, I’m shitfaced,” he said as he half lay down, half fell over onto the hard tile floor. The tile felt cool on his face and he rubbed his forehead back and forth on it for a few moments.
He began laughing at the bizarre nature of his situation again, but the laughter soon turned into short sobs, which gave way to the cracking of his heart heard exiting his mouth in a wail of raw emotion he didn’t think was left anywhere inside of him. His eyes squeezed shut, fist pounding at the floor beneath him, he cursed himself out loud for not being a better father, a better husband. He cursed Moira for not being a better wife or mother, or even a better person. And although he wasn’t a religious man, he cursed God and all the other deities of the universe for abandoning him. For abandoning everyone.
For every time he lifted his fist and brought it back down in anger, in sorrow, more blood escaped him and smeared itself on the tile with each pounding punch. Across the kitchen and through the swinging doors, in the dining room, Veronica was already awake and in alert mode before Samson’s sudden emotional outburst.
She had dozed off quickly, her head filled with dreams of what Bethany the waitress might be doing right now. Maybe she wasn’t at work when everything fell apart, maybe she was on one of the big beautiful boats outside in the marina, with coworkers and friends and they simply sailed away, finding solace somewhere out to sea with the sun shining on all of their smiling faces.
A short time later, she couldn’t be sure just how much time had passed; she was jolted awake by a feral scream from out in the parking lot. Instinctively, she jumped out of the booth and dropped to the floor, wincing at the broken shards of glass from who knows what that embedded themselves into her hands. She didn’t know where the eater was or how many of them could be out there. She crawled toward the bar to get a better look out of a window with a lower risk of exposing herself. It didn’t matter how dark it was, she couldn’t afford to take any chances.
She very carefully poked her head up, stopping at the bridge of her nose, she feared even the slightest fog of her breathe on the glass would be too much to attract them. Her heart felt like it was trying to escape her chest and she placed a hand over it, as if trying to keep it from leaving her body. She spotted the dead, and to her dismay, there were more than she anticipated. She could clearly see 7 of them. The group were of all different heights and sizes. Each bore a unique wound from the other, telling a different story of the dead. But all the stories ended the same.
A few moved at a stunning pace, aimlessly running in circles, slamming into one another, screaming, grunting and growling. Every few seconds one of them would act as if they’d picked up on some scent in the night’s breeze but then go back to running around like hungry, wild animals. The rest shambled around as if following the faster ones, pathetically grunting and moaning. They’ll get bored, they’ll move on. Veronica reassured herself they would be fine if they stayed out of view. Samson had been asleep for probably longer than she had and she would keep watch. She lowered her eyes from the window and squatted beneath it, trying to lower her heart rate. A few minutes passed, Veronica strained her ears and could still hear them hissing out front. She couldn’t figure out what had attracted them here. They’d been very quiet.
As if by a complete twist of ill fate, Samson began screaming only as a drunken man could, from the dark, lonely pantry in the back. She cringed and chills ran up her spine. Veronica sprang from her spot beneath the window toward the double doors of the kitchen. Veronica knew better. She didn’t hesitate; she didn’t look back toward the glass doors or windows. She burst into the room and softened her steps as it got harder to see with no windows to let the moonlight in.
Swiftly and silently she entered the pantry and grabbed Samson’s wrist, throwing herself on the floor beside him and wrapping her other arm around his big frame. “Enough!” She hissed at him. “I understand, but it’s time to stop now.” She squeezed his wrist tightly and shook him with all her might until she could feel the tension in his body give way some. The pantry was pitch black except for the beam from Samson’s flashlight; Veronica grabbed it and quickly turned it off. “Ssh, please!” She pleaded with him, trying hard not to panic and still holding him as he attempted to drunkenly push her off. Samson was so incoherent that she hoped he would just pass out, she briefly considered knocking him out with the heavy mag light.