Authors: Kelly M. Hudson
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Tale of the Living Dead
Copyright © 2015 Kelly M. Hudson
Copyright © 2015 Chris Tabor
all got stories. And given what’s left of this world, they’re all tragic.”
Time To Be Born
END OF FEBRUARY:
The news reports were hard to
“The Dead Walk!” the headlines
“Cannibalism!” yelled another
“Mass Murder!” screamed an news
It was like some kind of bad
B-Movie, but it was all real. The recent dead rose and killed every living
person they could lay hand or tooth on. And what should have been an easy
battle for humanity to win became a war it quickly lost.
Two Jenny’s changed Jeff’s life
He met the first one on the fifth
day of the Zombie Apocalypse, as he called it, after he’d been holed-up in his
tiny one bedroom apartment, scared out of his mind.
It had come quick, the end of
mankind, and it was ironic, given how slow the dead moved but how fast they
multiplied. The first few days were just staggered news reports of murder,
locally reported and then nationally and then internationally. There were
random stories of mutilation, of family members turning against each other, of
cannibalism and sickness. No one put the pieces together until a few days
after that, when the Apocalypse was already in full swing, and by then, it was
Death had spat up its denizens,
and they roamed the earth with clattering teeth and greedy fingers. They were
machines bent on killing and eating humans and turning them into one of their
Jeff was twenty-two, fresh out of
college and moved out to California from Kentucky to work with an up and coming
computer firm in San Francisco. He didn’t make a ton of money, but he did well
enough to afford his own place, as small as it was, in Alameda, an island and
former Naval Base next to Oakland. He’d been moved in and settled for one
month in the twenty-unit apartment complex, keeping to himself like he’d always
done, hardly knowing his neighbors or making any effort to be known. He’d been
that way, since he was a child and his Dad died tragically and his Mom
disappeared into, at first, a bottle, and then all sorts of drugs. Jeff had
practically raised himself, learning early on how to wash his clothes and get
groceries, taking on odd jobs here and there to keep food on the table. His
Mom got her disability check each month and was good about paying the mortgage
and the bills, but after that, it was all booze and drugs. He got through
Junior High and High School and went away to college, paying his way by working
construction jobs in the summers. When he left home to go to school, he never
looked back, leaving a mother who hated him and a life he couldn’t get far
enough away from. But those days set a pattern of keeping to himself, of
distrust of his fellow man, and since then not much had changed.
He’d hoped, moving to California
and making a new start, he could change that aspect of his life. He wanted to
be more open and have friends, but he found himself slipping into old patterns,
keeping people at arm’s length at his job and hardly leaving his apartment
except to work and run errands.
Then the dead rose and everything
Jeff was like everyone else,
mostly, watching the events unfold on his television. The first few days were
scattered reports, abominable stories, but nothing seemed linked. Time and
circumstances changed that, however, and soon an epidemic was underway. He
heard it first on the news and listened to their instructions. He stayed
inside like they said, keeping away from the public. It wasn’t very hard for
him to do, anyway, because that’s how he’d almost always lived.
He called his work when the
warnings were issued and no one answered.
“I guess I’m not going to work
today,” he said into the empty phone, to no one in particular. He hung up and
checked his front and back doors, making sure they were locked, and went back
to the TV.
Jeff lived on the bottom floor
and the apartment was arranged so when you came in the front door, the kitchen
was immediately to the left, the living room right in front of you, and then
off to the left was a small hallway leading to the bathroom and his bedroom,
which sat behind the living room. There were three windows in the place, one
in the kitchen facing the courtyard in front of his apartment; a tiny one in
the bathroom above the shower and tub; and the last was a ceiling to floor
length sliding up and down glass in his bedroom. The one in the kitchen was
large enough for a man to climb in, the one in the bathroom was barely big
enough to wiggle a person through, and the one in the bedroom was tall enough
so a grown man could walk through it, except it only opened at the bottom on a
swivel, leaving only, at most, a two foot gap.
Of the neighbors he’d seen, the
only two he kind of knew to wave to were the nice old lady who lived in the
apartment on his left and a Mexican woman who always gave him the evil eye
lived on his right. Up above, he knew he had a neighbor from the footfalls
throughout the day, but since he couldn’t see through his ceiling, he had no
idea who they were. Like him, everyone stayed in their apartments, afraid to
He heard them, though, the echoes
of their televisions and radios. He knew he wasn’t alone even though he really
was, and he often thought of going out and trying to make contact. But fear
and his own upbringing kept him in place, even when the screams started.
The afternoon of the second day of
the official declaration of a State of Emergency brought the first deaths in
his apartment complex. He heard them, loud and strangled, off in the western
corner, for a few brief seconds. They stopped and all went quiet. Everyone
had turned down their TV’s to listen. After ten minutes of silence, the sets
went back on, one by one. Eventually, Jeff did the same.
What could he do?
That night, sitting on his sofa,
drowsing into a nap, something heavy scraped against his front door. He bolted
awake and ran over, placing his eye to the peephole. Outside, he saw his first
zombie in person. It was a man, or had been a man, naked but for a towel tied
around his waist. He was round and chubby and short, barely five feet tall.
The left side of his face had been clawed, with three long gashes running from
his forehead to his chin, flaps of the torn skin wiggling in the slight breeze
outside. His eyes were glazed over, nearly white, and his stomach had a hole
punched into it, the towel around his waist stained crimson and stuck to his
skin by the dried blood. The man moaned and rubbed his ragged belly against
Jeff’s door, his fingers scrabbling against the wood.
Jeff backed away, horrified.
There was no way for the creature to get in, but it would not go away. He ran
to his bathroom and vomited, sitting by the toilet and crying softly. An hour
later he went back to the living room and checked the door and the man was
He spent the rest of the night
sitting on his couch, watching TV footage of the National Guard and the Army
being deployed to some of the bigger cities. Chaos was rampant as people
panicked and society began to fall apart.
On the morning of the third day he
was taking a leak when sudden screams pierced the day, jolting him. Jeff
peered out his bathroom window and saw the nice old lady that lived next door
get hauled into the street by four zombies. He watched, frozen in fascinated
terror, as they peeled the scalp from her head and descended on her body,
tearing and biting out great lumps of flesh. She screeched and thrashed
around, fighting back as best she could, but within a minute she stopped
moving, blood bubbling from her open wounds as the zombies feasted on her dying
He fell away from the window, in a
daze. He went into a state of shock, unable to believe what was happening all
On the afternoon of the third day,
a constant thumping on the window of his bedroom broke him from his shock. He
snuck into the room and peeked through the closed shutters. The nice old lady
was there, walking forward, bumping into his window and bouncing off, her
eyeballs gone and her intestines falling from her torn open stomach. She left
bloody smears where her once-living body rubbed against the glass.
Jeff took some clothes from his
room and locked the door behind him, vowing to never go back in his bedroom
On the fourth day, the TV went
out. It didn’t stop working, they just stopped broadcasting. All over the
complex he heard people screaming, sounds of panic and struggle filling the air
with a clangor that echoed off the walls of the enclosed complex, creating a
cacophony of insanity. People had done as they were told, staying inside and
not venturing out. But when the TV stopped telling them what to do, most lost
control and ran outside in blind terror.
Those that did, found the living
dead, once a few stragglers and now an army, waiting for them.
People pounded on his door,
begging to be let in, but Jeff, scared and confused and not sure what to do,
huddled inside, keeping as quiet as he could. The screams got so loud he had
to stuff his fists against his ears and shut his eyes as he ran to the
bathroom, shutting the door, afraid someone might break in the front door.
He fell asleep in the bathtub,
sobbing, cold and frightened.
On the morning of the fifth day,
it was quiet except for a slight whisking sound and an occasional moan. Jeff
stayed in his bathtub, too frightened to move, praying to God for it all to go
The glass shattered in his bedroom
window and he heard a dozen of them, groaning and shuffling, enter his
apartment. He covered his mouth, stifling a scream. He didn’t want to give
They clawed at his bedroom door.
He knew they were after him although he didn’t understand how they knew he
could be inside. Maybe they smelled him because they certainly hadn’t heard
him. He’d been as quiet as could be, barely breathing.
He heard them, though, their
fingernails cracking and popping as the clattered against his bedroom door.
They would bust it down in moments because it was just cheap plywood, and then
they’d scrabble at the bathroom door and then be in there, too, because that
door was just as cheaply made.
Jeff looked around, his fear no
longer paralyzing him but spurring him into sudden action. What had he always
read? Man’s reaction to danger was either fight or flight, and right then, he
didn’t stand a chance if he fought, so he had to run. But where?
His eyes scoured the bathroom,
looking for a weapon and a way out. The only thing he found was his electric
razor and the plunger sitting by the toilet. He picked the razor up and
laughed out loud. What was he going to do when they busted in, offer them a
It was the plunger, then. He put
his foot on the rubber suction cup and yanked up, tearing the wooden stick
free. He could use it as a club, he guessed, even though it was thin and
useless, really. But the feel of it in his hands gave him a strange sort of
He caught a glimpse of himself in
the mirror as he held the stick up and at first he thought a zombie had broken
in. The man reflected in the mirror hardly looked like him anymore. He had a
prickly shadow growing across his chin, sitting below thin, pursed lips and his
long, hooked nose. His eyes were black with dark circles underneath and he
gasped as he saw a swath of gray hair that appeared along the right side of his
head. It was like someone had slapped him with a paintbrush dripping with
white paint. He was skinnier than normal, but since he’d hardly eaten, that
was no surprise.
Jeff thought for a moment of his
estranged mother, back home in Kentucky, and wondered if she was dead or not
and why, all of the sudden, he even cared.
The bedroom door splintered and
shattered as the living dead poured into the hallway, slamming against the
bathroom door. It cracked from the weight as Jeff spun and eyed the small
window above the shower.
That was his only hope.
He pushed it open. The thick,
plastic window slid from right to left and outside of it was a thin layer of
metal screen. The window led to the street where he’d seen his old lady
neighbor killed the day before and as he yanked the window from right to left,
he prayed that there were no zombies out there, that they were all inside and
he could make a clean getaway.
The bathroom door popped and he
spun to see a long line running from the top to the bottom, dead down the
center, bend in as the weight of the dead were pushed against it. Screeching
and stabbing fingers raked across the plywood, looking for any purchase.
Jeff threw the screen out of the
window and stuck his head out and stifled a scream.
The street was full of zombies.
There were thirty of them out there, at least, and they were all bunched
together, all in various states of death. Some were normal looking, as if
still living, except for the ashen color of their skin and their blank stares,
and others were partially devoured but up and moving, trailing body parts and
innards, leaving a bloody trail behind them like a heard of snails. Jeff
couldn’t hold back any longer and his screams caught their attention. The
zombies turned as one, moaned, and shuffled towards the window.
Behind him, the bathroom door
split and the zombies in his apartment flooded in, led by the Mexican lady and
her evil eye.
Jeff spun and saw them coming, his
perception changing, everything running in slow motion. Her evil eye,
perpetually open now and never-blinking, was fixed on him, offering no emotion,
just blank coldness. It hypnotized him, freezing him in place, as they lurched
towards him, only two feet away.
He turned and dove for the window,
everything unfolding like a nightmare. He moved slowly, like he was running in
place and couldn’t get anywhere while they advanced, unceasing and unrelenting,
a wave of certain death.