Telecom handheld transmission:
Jay and I headed out just after dawn. Normally, I’m not a morning person, but I hardly slept last night, too busy thinking that maybe–just maybe–I might actually start making some headway on this whole Selena-sometimes-a-zombie-sometimes-not thing.
I’m writing this on the handheld as Jay and I walk around my neighbourhood, keeping our eyes peeled for Selena–or, Selena number 29 or whatever. We figure that if she kept coming to see me, there’s no sense in going deep into the city to try and find her. If history is any guide, she’ll come to us. Eventually.
As Jay and I walked around, he did most of the talking. Too much time by myself has wreaked significant havoc on my socializing skills. I can maintain a conversation, sure, but I’d much rather listen. Besides, I don’t think I’d have all that much to contribute anyway.
When we first left the apartment, the streets were fairly empty of the undead. A few stragglers stumbled about here and there, almost all several blocks away, so there was no real threat. As long as we kept our distance and our voices down, we weren’t noticed. Until . . .
“See that?” Jay said.
“What?” I said and put the telecom away. (I’ll finish this later if something happens.)
He pointed down the street, past a row of zipcars that had managed to line themselves perpendicular to the way they were supposed to be, plugging up the entire road. I followed his fingers only to see a row of the undead on either side of the zipscars, moving toward us single-file.
We both looked at each other and said, “Run!”
We turned to bolt in the other direction; more undead were headed our way, this group stretched the width of the road and up onto the sidewalks on either side, creating a barricade of rotted flesh and decayed skin.
Buildings lined us on either side.
We were boxed in.
Jay patted himself down, searching his pockets. “Got nothing useful,” he said.
“Me neither.” Man, I wished I had my razor-coated baseball bat.
The zombies drew closer.
“Can’t stay here,” I said.
“You don’t have anything?”
“Why you looking at me?”
“Just curious. Take it easy.”
Jay patted his pockets again. “Got a lighter, a can-opener, and a pencil.”
Not exactly a threatening arsenal.
We slowly backed up, the undead in front of us closer than the ones behind.
I tugged at the bottom of my shirt, nervous. Then I had an idea. “Gimme your pencil and lighter.”
“Just do it!”
“Okay, okay.” He handed them both over.
“Ever hear of a Molotov cocktail?”
Jay merely grinned.
“Follow my lead.” I quickly jabbed the pencil through the bottom of my shirt, just to get a hole started, then dug in my fingers and ripped a nice fat ring of fabric off the base. “I need you to keep them busy.”
“I don’t know, but we need to get to those zipcars.”
I took off, running toward the cars and heading straight for the undead.
“Hey, wait!” Jay shouted behind me.
Thisiscrazythisiscrazy . . . I thought. Just keep moving. Don’t give them anything to grab onto. I weaved around the first zombie, shoved the second with my shoulder, then got up on the hood of a red zipcar before hopping down between it and another one. I scanned the sides of the vehicles, searching for its tank. A scraggily hag of a zombie with wrinkled skin and half her face missing started to squeeze in between the vehicles. I ran at her, kicked her down, then went back to the side of the vehicle. When I located the tank’s hatch, I flicked it open and shoved on end of the piece of torn shirt in there, getting it good and wet with fuel. A pair of undead came in from the other side, both with arms stretched just ready to grab me. All I could do was back away from them, step on the old lady I just sent to the ground, and use her as a boost to get onto the roof of the zipcar.
Jay was on the ground, a solid thirty feet away, doing jumping jacks and yelling, “Yo, over here! Hey, yeah, here, me! Come get it!”
Some of the undead took to his distraction; others stayed fixated on me.
I hopped to the next roof and then to another, getting some distance from the undead already climbing up on top of the cars. As fast as I could, I crouched low, sheltered my fuel-dipped shirt rag from the wind, and lit the gas-run lighter beneath the cloth. It quickly went aflame and I had to hold my arm out to prevent getting burned.
I should have asked him for that pencil, I thought. Crap. Could have used it as a miniature torch handle or something.
“Yeah!” He suddenly tailed it in high gear, getting away from the undead that had come right up to him. He dodged one and ran around another.
“I did this backwards. Need some help.” So should have just used my shirt as a wick or something.
“I said I need some help!” I jumped to the next roof. There, other undead were already in between the vehicles, their rotted hands reaching up to the zipcar’s roof, trying to grab my ankles.
Jay was still running, his legs a blur beneath him. He was nearly at the end of the row of cars. Some undead hobbled after him. Others, it seemed, realized that running wasn’t their strength so turned around and headed toward me instead.
“Idiot,” I said. The flame from the lit rag licked the inside of my wrist and forearm. I shouted from the sudden pain, dropped it, and was about to leave it when another idea hit me, one easier than the whole Molotov thing.
“You’re crazy,” I told myself, picked up the rag and hopped to the next roof. I jumped two more and finally landed on one where the undead would have to catch up.
I jumped to the ground, opened the zipcar door, got in and waited, hoping my backup plan wouldn’t kill me. It wasn’t long before a zombie with greenish-gray skin started to climb into the car with me. I immediately threw the flaming rag under him. At first, nothing happened and I thought he extinguished it, but a moment later his tattered clothes began to alight. Soon, he was a flaming body coming toward me, the inside of the vehicle suddenly hot. I backed up into the other door, opened it, and fell into the arms of a zombie waiting on the other side.
Where the heck was Jay?
The undead man grabbed me and held me in a tight bear hug. I spun on my heels and, shooting out my backside, was able to dump him onto his fiery friend. The two creatures cooked in the zip car. I grabbed the nearest zombie and threw him into the mix for good measure before getting the heck out of there.
Zombies swarmed the cars: some in between them, others on the roofs.
I just ran like the dickens, sprinting to the furthest building, now a safe zone thanks to all the zombies crowding the vehicles. I scanned the street for Jay.
The roar of flame rose on the air as the wind kicked the fire to a whole new level.
I turned a corner. “Jay! You down here? Jay!”
Gasping for breath, my stomach swam and twisted in knots. I had to stop so leaned up against a wall and bent my head between my legs.
“It’s okay, you’re safe,” I told myself. Where is Jay?
Catching my breath, I headed down the street, my throat dry and in desperate need of something to drink. A few zombies lumbered about, but none were close enough to be a threat just yet.
A hand touched my shoulder from behind. It wasn’t Jay’s.
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Telecom handheld transmission:
Copyright 2010-2011 by A.P. Fuchs. All rights reserved.
It’d be nice if I had any booze left. No, check that, it’d be friggin’ awesome! But, alas, here we are, dry as cold toast, just waiting for things to make sense.
After the big ordeal with Selena dying again, I just paced my apartment until my heels were sore, all the while ignoring Jay’s door banging and shouts in the hallway. Part of the time I heard him; part of it I didn’t. Eventually I tired myself out so much I took a short nap right there on my living room floor. When I awoke, I got up, peed, then walked across the hallway to where Jay was staying. Pride told me to just forget about it, but I’m smarter than that.
Selena’s body still lay there, a big shard of glass sticking out of her head. I looked away, unable to stomach it. Not for Selena.
I rapped on Jay’s door. He opened it, didn’t say anything and let me in. You know you have a good friend when you act like a jerk and they take you back, no questions asked.
The suite he stayed in used to belong to this Spanish guy, Hernandez somebody. I never got to know him, not that he was all that friendly to begin with. Very much one of those people who only left their place just to go to work and get groceries. Come to think of it, I was pretty much like that, too, because right now I can’t say I knew my neighbours all that well despite living beside them for a few years.
“Any food kicking around here?” I asked after sitting at the kitchen table for a few minutes.
“Found a can of spam, a couple packs of dried noodles,” Jay replied.
“I’m not picky.”
Jay got up from the table, pulled the can of spam from the cupboard above the sink, then rummaged around in one of the drawers and found a can opener.
“You don’t need that, you know,” I said. “There’s a tab-key-thing on the side.”
He picked up the can, tilted it left and right in his hand, then said, “What do I know? Never ate this stuff. Probably makes good spackle.”
I chuckled. “Or window caulking.”
He smiled, and fiddled with the key on the can until he figured it out. He opened another cupboard and pulled out a plate, then dumped the contents of the can onto it. After grabbing a couple forks from the drawer, he sat down, gave me one, and said, “Dinner is served.”
“Beats nothing,” I said.
Jay paused before eating, bowed his head and closed his eyes. Out of respect, I waited until he was done, then the two of us divvied up the spam. It was like half-dried baby food cut into chunks. We ate in silence–guys do that–and when we were done, Jay said, “Want to talk about it?”
So much for forgive and forget, I thought. “Not really.”
“I’m not talking about us,” he said. “The girl. Want to talk about it?”
I sighed. “There’s not much to say.” My eyes met his. “She’s the love of my life, you know.”
“I can tell.”
I wrinkled my brow.
“I saw it in the way you looked at her, the way you defended her. No shame in that.” He paused then added, “But she’s dangerous . . . or, at least, something’s not right with her. Sorry to say that.”
It was true I didn’t want to hear it, but Jay was right. There was something wrong with Selena. No one kept dying and coming back, not in the way she did.
“You said you’ve seen her before, yeah?” I said.
He nodded. “Lots of times while I was out and about. Sometimes she was downright pretty, even normal-looking except for a mouth covered in–” He made a circular motion with his hand in front of his lips. “Other times . . . other times the only thing that gave her away was her eyes. Eyes don’t change. They’re beautiful and easy to pick out.”
“Yeah . . .”
“It doesn’t make sense, though,” he said.
I mulled over his words for a moment. “Something’s up. Something weird. She’s come here several times now. She’s also died several times.”
He simply looked at me, his expression reading: Obviously. Tell me something I don’t know.
“Okay,” I said, “have you seen anyone else? I mean, anyone else repeatedly who looked different each time? I don’t go out much, but so far as I know, I haven’t seen any familiar faces.”
“Hard to say. Big city. But for me, no, she’s the only one I’ve noticed.”
“So, what, she’s either got a pile of twin sisters, or she’s regenerating somehow or . . .” I didn’t know what I was saying. None of it made sense.
“When you were together, was she, you know, normal?”
“Yeah. Of course. Everything was normal back then.”
“Nothing that would indicate a plethora of look-alike siblings.”
He was dead serious, which I didn’t expect from him. “You know, some kind of special ability. Able to multiply herself or something?”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. “If she did, she never told me.”
“Just going through the possibilities.”
“And she keeps coming to you?”
“No. We broke up before all this started. The only thing I can guess is that everyone else she knows is dead or a walking corpse, and when we split, I promised her I’d always be there for her no matter what she needed. Maybe I’m her last resort.”
“And I’m fine with that,” I said softly. “At least I get to see her.”
He tapped his index finger on the tabletop. “We need a plan.”
“For?” I coughed. “I mean, aside from the obvious shelter, food, and all that.”
“What if she comes back?”
“Can’t really stop that.”
“Would you attack her again?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’ll beat the hell out of you if you do.”
His face went rigid.
“No problem. I get it. But if she does come back, we need a plan.”
“I think what we need to do is figure out where she’s been. She’s come back in that gown, hospital coat thing each time.” I nodded to myself. “Yeah, that’s our starting point. We’ll find out where she’s been, then take it from there.”
“And if she turns?”
“She’s gotten sick first every time before now. We’ll use that as our warning.”
“Well” –Jay stood up from the table– “you can stay here if you want or go back to your place.”
It would have been nice to have company, but I needed some time to just stew and reflect. “Thanks, but I’ll go home.” I headed to the door. “Make a big fuss if you need anything.”
I went into the hallway and closed the door behind me. My sweetheart’s body lay by my door. Heart aching, I walked past it and into my apartment, tears in my eyes.
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