A little apocalyptic zombie flash fiction for Monday.
The air was cool with that sharp, biting iciness that whipped up whenever there was a breeze to sting your face and make you wish you were inside. It was the cool dampness of a late October night after a rain storm had whipped across the autumn shaded trees and sent cyclones of red, gold and brown leaves whipping off into the dank darkness lying just out of reach. On the horizon, the Nashville skyline glowed in those same shades of autumn as fire and smoke burned the Music City to ash. In the yard below, a handful of bodies limped lazily forward, seemingly unaware of the chaos slowly churning the South into a charnel pit. Another cool wind slapped me in my face and broke me from my daydreaming. I slung the rifle over my shoulder and stepped back into the living room where another pointless argument was raging on the television.
“I work in biosafety and I have two Masters and a Doctorate in immunology and…”
“And if anyone wants your opinion they’ll fucking ask for it!”
I flipped the channel to the local news. Pictures danced across the screen, gruesome scenes of pixelated blood and gore, censored for the sensitive audiences at home against a backdrop of burning buildings and fallen police barricades all set to the soundtrack of some terrifying nightmare with every gunshot, growl, or momentary description from the anchors back at the station. Every channel was awash in flashing tickers updating constantly as to what major city had fallen, what rescue stations were still operating, and telling us all how the president and congress were safe in some bunker somewhere monitoring the situation. The Bible networks were shouting about judgement day, fire and brimstone and god’s wrath because of homosexuals and evolution and, for a donation, they’d pray for you and keep you safe with the holy word. Round table discussions by experts were descending into fist fights as four star generals in their snazziest dress uniforms explained why the armed forces were losing the war.
I knew why they were losing the war, why we all were going to lose this war. I’d heard it in an old horror movie when I was a kid, had felt it burn in my memory when I saw the first of them come lumbering at me in the parking lot. “When the dead walk, you must stop the killing, or lose the war.” Gunshots erupted from the apartment below me. Glass shattered. Voices screamed. Then came the terrible silence, the knowing that whatever short lived battle was being fought had been lost as quickly as it began.
I flipped up to the kiddy channels, thinking for a moment that I might at least find Sponge Bob or some other anthropomorphic cartoon creature trying to lighten the mood and at least bring a bit of frivolous happiness to the end of the world. Every station was broadcasting the same message in one form or another. All the networks were warning people that there was nothing left to do but panic and wait for the end.
After flipping from station to station, aimlessly hoping to find something better to watch than the apocalypse, I hit across the public access channel. There was a warbling rendition of the Star Spangled Banner over a montage of Americana stock footage. The Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty followed by wheat fields and farmers out into the sprawling deserts and finally to the California coast. Bald eagles soared through a blue, cloudless sky and faded into fireworks and Old Glory waving proudly. As the anthem ended, another American flag waved proudly with the words “This Concludes Our Broadcast Day” overlaid on the image. The screen went blank and then flickered over to a test pattern. Laughing, I turned off the set, grabbed my rifle, and returned to the porch.
The neighbors downstairs were shambling out of the plate glass sliding door that led into their living room, their bodies soaked in red and maroon, in patches of ruptured flesh and broken bones. The turned in a wave of grotesque flesh and began staggering up the stairs. Each footstep slapped dumbly onto the breezeway steps as they lurched up towards my apartment. There was a guttural, choking groan coming from outside as hands began to bang violently against the door, the sound of air being forced out of dead lungs never to be replenished again. I flipped the safety off the rifle. The wood began to crack on the door frame, splintered away from the flimsy drywall. I wouldn’t be alone much longer. The city was a ball of flame on the horizon, a false dawn sinking steadily in the embers in flickered wisps of purple, red and orange over the rolling clouds. The chain on the door rattled with every blow. I looked down into the barrel and hooked my thumb over the trigger.
“This concludes our broadcast day.”