Copyright 2010 by A.P. Fuchs. All rights reserved.
The more I walked, the easier it became. Like most things, all you needed was a little distance. The alley I stood in was bare, just me, litter, a couple quick-disposers, and the smell of an unattended sewer thickening the air.
It’s one thing to say you knew what to do in a survival situation, quite another to actually do it. However, there is one secret: priority. So I channeled the notion inward, setting aside images of Selena being torn apart, our time together, the words exchanged, and simply focused on the task at hand.
I needed to get home. I could let loose there, cry, drink, just go crazy, if I really needed to. But until then, yeah, I just simply needed to get there.
My plan to elude the undead coming after me succeeded and that horde was somewhere else. It didn’t matter where, as long as they were away from me. I wandered down the alley, ears cocked and fists ready.
At the mouth of the alley, the street running adjacent to it was cluttered like most of the others. All those crashed vehicles, windshields splotched with blood, scraps of dried leftover flesh dotting the pavement. I used to be one for peace and quiet. I used to enjoy sitting in the silence of my place, the silence itself almost audible, but in that oh-so-good soothing way. (You know the kind.) Nowadays, what I wouldn’t give for a little noise, the human kind: chatter, skyvans and zipcars tearing through the sky, people laughing, folks yelling, horns honking, sirens blaring. All I had now were my thoughts and whatever songs I could remember play through my brain in an effort not to go mad from all the quiet.
As much as I wanted to run that oldie but goodie, “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” through my mind, I fought it back and decided I’d sit in my living room later and replay then. For now, I needed to focus on my exact location, my exact task.
Weaving my way in between the smashed cars, stepping on glass-littered pavement, I headed across the street, hoping the next alley about a block to the right was just as empty as the one I came out of. When I reached it, my heart sank at the sight of a lone undead, shuffling his way toward me. His arms hung loose at his sides, one of his hands missing. His feet were turned inward, making his steps all the more awkward. I was surprised he was even able to maintain balance at all. The guy wore a dark gray suit, a bow tie loose against his scrawny neck. The man’s skin was so sickly gray that had he been naked, he could almost camouflage directly with the surrounding pavement. Dark red and black scabs dotted his skull, their presence growing all the more thicker around his deeply-sunken eyes. Part of his nose had dried up and rotted off a long time ago.
I made my way towards him, not directly at him, mind you, but in his general direction. At first I walked the left side of the alley. When the creature finally took notice of me, he started to stumble in my direction. I went to the right. The man stopped, seemed to debate some kind of decision, then began shambling to my side of the alley.
He was only ten feet away when I realized I could feign going to one side, then sprint past him along the other.
Instead, I choose to adjust my path to the middle of the alleyway. I checked once over my shoulder to make sure the path was clear behind me. It was. The zombie by now had adjusted himself as well and he and I walked toward each other.
Four feet now.
Already the creature’s hand and arms were raised, ready to grab me.
For a microsecond I almost wanted him to . . . just so I could be with Selena again. Another microsecond, that thought was gone and I brought my forearms down along his, snapping his arms back down to his sides. Fist cocked, I threw a hook across his jaw, my knuckles connecting with his chin so perfectly his jaw bone snapped and tore through his rotted flesh on the follow through. The crusty-skin-coated jaw bone hit the pavement, and almost before I even noticed, I came up with my left fist and hook punched his head from the other side. The force of the blow threw the zombie’s head to its left. It raised its arms and, using the same maneuver, I slammed them back down again. This time I brought my foot up and kicked it in the stomach. Its body rocked back a step.
Then I let loose, hammering my fists against its face so hard and quick the thing didn’t even have a chance to lock eyes with me again. Once more it tried to raise its arms. I grabbed its right arm and pulled it with all my might. The creature’s body jerked forward, then a dry rip like a piece of toast being torn cut through the air as I dislodged its arm from its socket and pulled it through the creature’s suit sleeve. I swung the arm across the zombie’s head like a bat before letting the arm go and going back to work on beating the hell out of the thing.
I punched its face, kicked it in the neck, slapped at its chest, then sent it to the ground by kicking its knees out from under it, breaking them in the process. The thing landed on its back and I pounced on it like a bloodthirsty jaguar. Its one remaining arm–the one without the hand–swatted at me from the side while I brought blow after blow down into its skull. Its cheekbones cracked beneath my fists, then busted inward. Its dried skin and powdery blood blew up around my fingers.
Not wanting to breath any of that crud in, I got to my feet and brought my heel down on its face over and over until their was nothing left but a nasty mess of crusty skin and brittle bone. I even brought my heel down on its neck–as if it needed to breathe–and stomped on its neck so much the bone, cartilage and flesh tore clean from its body.
I spat on him, cursed him, and kicked his head down the alley like a soccer ball.
I got back on its torso and hammered away on its ribs, digging and clawing at its chest, tearing away the suit and shirt and delivered punches and slaps to its rotted frame.
Fatigue hitting me like a bear hug from Hell, I only stopped when the thing’s rotten innards started flying up around me. I fell over to the side of the body and lay there gazing up at the sky. So blue. Very few clouds.
Normal . . . just . . . normal.
I nearly forgot where I was, and what I’d just done.
The calls of the undead broke me from my trance. I sat up, still alone in that alley, the decapitated monster beside me, and took a deep breath. Finally, I stood and made my way home.
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