Authors: David Achord
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Zombie Rules Book 4
By David Achord
This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
© 2015 David Achord. All rights reserved.
The snow was coming down in thick, sticky flakes, but I didn’t let it spoil my fun. There were four of them. I happened upon them living in a veterinary clinic.
Let me explain. Since the pandemic, a little over two years ago now, these zombies, whatever you want to call them, have been evolving, in a manner of speaking. I thought they’d eventually die off. I had a long-winded explanation of why and told it to anyone who would listen. Boy was I wrong. Oh, a lot of them did die, but a lot of them didn’t.
Somehow, they’d started – well, I don’t know if it’s the proper word to use, but they began evolving.
During the first year, I spotted a couple of them squat down and drink water out of a rain-filled pothole. Up until then, nobody had seen them ingest anything other than living flesh. They’d also stopped decomposing. Instead, their skin was healing, sort of. It wasn't a normal type of healing. The skin turned into a spider web of ugly, blackish scars. So, they were healing, just not like normal humans. They still smelled awful, like a mixture of rancid meat and baby shit.
It didn’t stop with their injuries healing. They've begun to communicate with each other. Nothing but grunts and gestures, at least, for now. They’ve started to work together in teams too, and last but certainly not least, their body mechanics had rejuvenated; they could run now. Oh, they’d never win any Olympic medals. If you can imagine a drunken oaf wearing high heels trying to run, that’s kind of what they looked like. But still, if they caught you…
And now, in the third year of this apocalypse, I was running into groups of them nesting together. I assumed the nesting was a basic primal need, coupled with the need for their body to rest and recuperate.
It was both fascinating and scary.
So, on this cold December day, I decided to go out and do some scavenging. I needed to get out, I needed space. Kelly wanted to go, she usually did, but today I told her bluntly she needed to stay at home. She didn’t like it, but she didn’t object. I’d had yet another dream about Julie and my kids. It put me in a bad mood and the only thing I wanted at the moment was to be alone.
Scavenging, we did it whenever we could. The list of our needs was forever endless. Fuel, ammunition, medicine, toilet paper, food, you name it we needed it. Scavenging was not an easy endeavor. You had to pick an area, recon it, and then clear the structure of any threats. Only after you’d successfully achieved those objectives could you begin your search. And even then the rewards were few. Almost all edible products had been eaten within the first month of the outbreak, and that was about three years ago. Every once in a while, I’d get lucky and find a sealed container of some type of freeze dried item, but that was rare.
I started out early and drove to an area in south Nashville that I’d been systematically searching. Completely finishing Trousdale Road was my objective today. It was a nice street for scavenging purposes, on one side of the road were residential houses and the other side was occupied by various commercial and retail businesses.
About the time I’d started searching, the snow started. Lightly at first, but it got progressively thicker as the day wore on. I managed to search six houses before breaking for lunch, which consisted of some smoked venison and hard tack. I ate in the comfort of my truck. It was deathly quiet, no animal noises, not even wind blowing. The snowfall was muting everything. As I ate, I realized I was looking at a gutted pharmacy that I’d once searched with Julie and Fred.
It seemed like so long ago.
“I sure miss you guys,” I muttered. I sat there for several minutes, thinking about them. At some point, I realized I was making myself even more depressed than usual and shook off the thoughts. Finishing lunch, I wiped my hands and face with a rag and dug out a pair of binoculars from the console.
“Let’s see if anyone has decided to join me,” I muttered again, and took a long scan of the area, again. It was an ingrained habit now, like a feral animal, always checking my surroundings for any possible threats. The only thing that caught my eye was a veterinary clinic. The glass entry door had been broken out. It wasn’t like that the last time I was in this neck of the woods. Curious, I decided to check it out.
As I said earlier, those things stink. Get a few of them together and the odor is even more prevalent. That’s what it was like when I got to within a few feet of the entrance. There was a big rock laying a couple of feet inside the doorway. Interesting.
Who threw that rock? Was it another human survivor, scavenging like me? Or, there was another possibility; have those things relearned the rudimentary use of tools? I didn’t know. Maybe it was time to capture another one and do some tests.
Whoever or whatever had done it, I considered them a threat and exercised due caution. I was well armed; currently, I had four different weapons. I had my trusty Kimber model 1911 Custom Carry holstered on my hip. It was a forty-five caliber and since I had limited ammo for it, I only used it when I had to. I had a Mossberg twelve gauge pump shotgun sitting in the passenger seat, I had ample ammo for it, but it was loud. My Marlin Bullpup twenty-two caliber rifle with subsonic ammunition was my second most favorite. I was pretty accurate with it in ranges under fifty feet and it barely made any noise. My last weapon was my favorite; my trusty machete, currently sticking out of my backpack. It was no samurai sword, but I’d managed to put a pretty sharp edge on it.
I stood at the entrance and took a whiff, trying to estimate how many were inside based on the severity of the odor. There were a few, definitely more than one, but I didn’t care. Using the barrel of the Bullpup, I tapped on the aluminum door frame, whistled and backed up quickly. I didn’t have to wait long. Two of them exited immediately, and after a moment two more filtered out. I shot the first one in the head and then took off running. The others dumbly followed. Out running them was pretty easy for me, I was on the track team in high school back when I was a scrawny sixteen-year-old kid. I was bigger now, but I was still pretty fast.
I put some distance between us, about thirty feet always worked for me, stopped, and picked off a second one with the rifle before carefully laying it down and retrieving my machete. There were two left, both of them women. I used my most enticing come hither smile to coax them closer.
The sound the blade made as I buried it in her neck was very satisfying, almost orgasmic. I had to make sure I severed the spinal cord, otherwise it was a wasted blow. I got the blade free just as the last one came upon me. Whirling in a circle, I torqued the blade completely through the last one’s neck, decapitating her. It felt wonderful. Her head rolled off and fell to the ground as I deftly stepped back and admired my handy work. It was fun, exhilarating, and I found myself smiling.
“I wonder how many of you nasty things I’ve killed.” The head stared back at me with lifeless black eyes. I started walking back toward the clinic when I heard a snarling noise behind me. Turning quickly, I saw it was the women with the gash in her neck. She was dirty, rather bloated, maybe from overeating, hell I didn’t know, and wearing a heavily soiled wedding dress that no doubt used to be white. She hissed like a snake and even wiggled her black tongue at me as she feebly tried to move. I walked over to her and squatted, just out of her reach.
“Well, my pleasantly plump wanton bride, it looks like it’s just the two of us.” Her limbs flailed as she tried to crawl. I looked up at the dull dreary sky and stood there, letting the heavy snowfall hit me on my face.
“I’ve got to tell you how I love you always, I think of it on gray mornings with death.” She stared at me blankly. “It’s the beginning of a beautiful poem called Morning, have you ever heard of it?” She stopped snarling now and looked at me with those zombie black eyes. There was no emotion there, only a primal hostility.
“No? How about a little Emily Dickinson; A little snow was here and there, disseminated in her hair.” She continued staring, silent with the exception of ragged panting, which caused black goo to spray out of the gash in her neck like a miniature oil well.
“For some reason, I've always liked her poems.” I spotted a rather large diamond ring affixed to her left ring finger. It was grimy and little bits of rotted flesh was stuck to it, but even so, it was still an impressive rock.
“I see you have your wedding ring, so at least you got married before turning. Was it everything you’d hoped for? Did you know, unlike you, Emily was a spinster when she died?” Only one of her arms seemed to be working, even so, she managed to wiggle her fat body toward me. I took a step back.
“So, how did you turn, darling? Was it your husband who infected you? Was one of your bridesmaids sick, but attended the wedding anyway so as not to let you down? Maybe it was the lecherous uncle who stuck his tongue down your throat when he gave you a kiss?” I squatted down and held her in place with my machete as I looked closer at her ring.
“Did you know the belief that a diamond is a rare gem and a symbol of wealth and esteem is nothing more than a successful advertising strategy created by a corporation who happened to have owned most of the diamond mines in Africa?” The zombie bride retorted with a snarl that sounded like wood grating against rough sandpaper.
“In fact, there is no religious basis for a diamond whatsoever. Furthermore, there is a dirty little secret about the diamond industry that’s often ignored.” She gave me another blank look. I nodded as if she’d begged me to explain.
“They’re called conflict diamonds and the profits derived were used to fund civil wars and contributed to various forms of human rights abuse.
"Heh, I can see by your expression you're thinking about the Kimberly Process, which supposedly solved the problem with the distribution and sale of conflict diamonds, but it didn’t work.” I received yet another raspy snarl and she tried to grab me again.
“Yeah, I understand what you’re saying, nobody likes a Mister-Know-It-All. It’s a character flaw I have. I’ve been doing better, but sometimes I can’t help myself.” I looked around again at her friends, who were now truly dead.
“Do you know how much I enjoy killing you infected shit-birds? It’s become an outlet for me, a way of venting my frustrations and the rage I have for how life has turned out. Oh, I know what you’re thinking, why don’t I do something more constructive, like maybe write some poetry?” She snarled again and I replied with a scoff.
“To tell you the truth, I’d rather do this. You see, I have no fear of dying anymore, and now that my wife and kids are gone…” I didn’t finish the sentence and stared at the bride.
“I bet you were a beautiful woman once.” She wasn’t beautiful anymore. Her lips had rotted away, or maybe they had been bitten off, several teeth were chipped or missing, her long blonde hair was matted and large chunks were missing, and her face was a patchwork of discolored scars and torn skin. I stood, put my boot on the back of her head to keep her steady, and brought the machete down. Satisfied she was really dead now, I used her soiled dress to clean the goo off of my blade.
It was quiet once again. Nothing was stirring. I stood silently in the parking lot, alone with my feelings, looking at the dead, watching them slowly being covered by the snow, wondering if they had regained any human emotions. Did they have an understanding of what’d happened to them? If so, were they outraged, sad, indifferent? Did they get angry or frightened? I didn’t know.
I started to walk away, but as an afterthought, I walked back and retrieved the ring. I had to use the serrated blade on my pocket knife to cut it off, but she didn’t mind, she had no use for it anymore. I used some snow to clean most of the gore off and looked at it in admiration a moment before putting it in my pocket.
“Maybe Kelly will like it.” Indeed, she would, but I wasn’t sure I’d ever give it to her. The implications of giving a woman a diamond ring were clear, even now.
I walked back to the clinic and went inside. The building was empty, no additional zombies. Sadly, there was nothing left inside that could be put to use. No medicine, not even any dog food. I looked over their nest as long as I could without heaving chunks. They’d found blankets, doggie blankets I guess, and piled them on the floor in the kennel. As I suspected, their digestive systems were working again; there were piles of turds in every corner. It was disgusting. I painted the FEMA symbol on the front wall and in the triangle where you were supposed to notate hazards, I wrote ‘zombie turds!’
I kept it up all day, moving from one business to the next. The results weren't remarkable, but I found some stuff we could use, like used rolls of toilet paper, small cakes of soap, a bottle of ibuprofen, but nothing really special. Well, in one business, a consignment store, there was a bunch of women’s clothing. I realized I had no idea what size Kelly wore, made a guess of it, and grabbed a dozen pair of vintage Levis denim jeans. The snowfall continued throughout the day and every time I exited a building my truck had a thick covering.
“Damn, it’s really coming down,” I announced, a little too loudly, even if there wasn’t anyone around. Admonishing myself, I got back to work. I'd encountered no other zombies, which I guess I should have been thankful for.
The last business, a dance studio yielded an eight-pack of paper towels stored under the sink in the back room, virtually a treasure. I put the rolls in a plastic trash bag before tossing them in the truck and took another look at the sky. It seemed to be a deeper shade of gray than a few minutes ago.