Thursday, June 25, 2015

I Am Dead: Part 3

 Read I Am Dead: part 2, here.

 I Am Dead
A Zombie Tale
-part 3-
by Lisa McCourt Hollar

We were starving. It had been days since we’d eaten. Our horde had grown and joined with other hordes. There seemed to be less and less of the living and more and more of the dead. More dead meant more mouths to feed. I was depressed. I wanted to die. Really die. I thought about giving up, like others had done, and collapsing on the ground. I could allow myself to rot—decompose—in the sun. We passed one fellow that had a tree growing through him. Being part of nature might be nice, if the hunger would just stop. It didn’t though. And I had Corbin and Anna to think about. They needed me. I gave the tree zombie a longing look, but I trudged on.
Overhead the vultures circled. They recognized we were dead, but they wouldn’t try to land. It only took a few times for them to learn that their food would bite back, if not careful.
A moan began to form among the horde, traveling in waves from the front to the back.
“Breathers. There are Breathers ahead.”
The excitement ran through the masses.
“How many?”
“Are there enough for all of us?”
“Just more damn mouths to feed.”
“Food, there’s food up ahead!”
“Mommy, I’m hungry.”
And we kept moving, hope and hunger prodding us along.
The breathers fought back. Machine guns, tanks … even grenades were lobbed into our midst. Randy walked ahead of us, Cheryl by his side … yes, that Cheryl. He had betrayed our marriage vows with her in life, and now he betrayed them in death. I smirked when a stray bullet took her head off. Brain matter splattered on Randy. My grin widened, nearly unhinging my jaw. I pushed it back in place as best I could. I wouldn’t be able to eat if I couldn’t chew.
The horde moved on, our hive like mind urging us forward.
“Food … people … flesh … sustenance …” The murmur traveled through our group, while more and more of our horde fell to the ground. Even then, those whose heads remained intact—or mostly intact—would continue on, crawling, or dragging themselves forward. “Sustenance … food … flesh … hunger … people … sustenance …”
It was our routine. Day in, day out, some would fall, others would go on. More would join us.
It began to rain. Hard. The dirt quickly turned to mud.
“Try to keep up,” I moaned, urging Anna forward. We stepped over some of ours and kept going. The mud pulled at me feet and I struggled to keep upright. The vultures continued to circle. If I went down, they would wait until the horde moved on without me and then attack. Randy took hold of my arm to help me along … or tried to. My arm came off in his hand. He shrugged. It was the last thing he did before a bullet went through his head. He and my arm landed on the ground next to Cheryl.  At least the vultures would get something to eat.
Something in me snapped.
 “STOP!” I screamed. Those close to me turned, puzzled. Among them was the suit zombie who used to lead us. He no longer looked so important. He was missing an arm and his jaw hung awkwardly, partly unhinged from his face. One of the newer zombies—a former governor—had taken over.
“We can’t stop,” he said. “We have to feed.”
“We will die. They have too many weapons.”
“We outnumber them,” he said. “They will fall.”
“Maybe, but how many of us will fall along with them. I have my children to think about.”
“I’m hungry,” Anna said. She looked longingly after the horde. She moved to go after them, but Corbin stopped her, pointing at what remained of their father. “Daddy!” Anna sobbed.
“This is how we survive,” Suit Zombie said.
“No, this is how we die.” I thought for a minute, thinking. There had to be more than our hive mind. There was more to surviving than eating. We had to be more than instinct. I looked around.  And it came to me. I turned to leave the road … to leave the horde. “If you want to live, follow me.”
I led my family off the road, while most of the dead surged ahead. A few from the horde followed me, including Suit Zombie. I knew there had to be something more than hunger, some reason we were driven to live, even after death. There had to be a purpose for our existence. I recalled the priest. He had said we were an abomination … the devil’s children. But he was dead and I was still here. My children were still here. No, we weren’t evil. I didn’t feel evil. When the lion takes down the gazelle, the lion isn’t evil, he is just doing what lions do. I glanced up at the vultures that always seemed to be circling, waiting for one of us to drop.  They were probably the most surprised by the apocalypse. When something dies, they eat it. Then one day their food bit back. Still, they circle. Vultures gonna do, what vultures gonna do. And a zombie is going to eat the living, but hell if I was going to walk into bullets and grenades to get a bite to eat. I was pretty intelligent when I was alive. My brain might have been rotting, but it still had a few good cells left.

To be continued tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Am Dead: Part 2

You can read part 1to I Am Dead, here.

I Am Dead
A Zombie Tale 
-part 2-
by Lisa McCourt Hollar

We walked for a while until we came to a town. There were people inside. We could smell them.
“They’re going to shoot at us,” one zombie said. He was wearing a suit and looked like he had been important when he was alive. I thought maybe he might know what he was doing. “They can’t get us all though. Press forward and keep going. When the zombie in front of you drops, you keep going.”
“That’s it?” I asked. “That’s your plan? Keep moving.”
“It’s what works,” a kid in a baseball cap said.
“Until you’re the one that’s shot. I personally don’t want my head blown off.”
“Then what do you suggest?” Suit Zombie asked.
I thought for a minute. Then I thought a little longer. I had nothing.
“So press forward?” Randy asked.
“Yeah, I guess.” It wasn’t the best plan, but I knew it would work. It had worked when the horde of zombies had surrounded us. Only problem Is, I don’t want to end up a zombie shish-kabob.  “Let’s move to the back,” I said.
Corbin and Anna followed me, trusting that I knew best, but Randy hesitated. “Why? If we’re in the back, all the good food will be gone before we get there.”
“And if we get shot, stabbed, or our heads chopped off, we won’t get to eat, ever.”
“Well that’s easy for you to say,” Randy whined, “you’ve already eaten.” He gestured towards his empty stomach. It made me wonder where anything he ate would go.
“Then you stay up front, the kids and I will go to the back,” I was so done with his ass. I should have eaten his brains. Then he wouldn’t be here. “Probably doesn’t have any brains,” I muttered as I turned and looked towards the back line. Oh geesh, the throng was moving forward. I’d be crushed if I didn’t keep moving. No choice but to press on. I’d keep Mr. Knight in rotting armor in front of me.
Somehow we managed to make it, even Randy. We found ourselves dining as a family, which was rather cozy. I noticed a dead priest pacing back and forth.
“What’s the matter, Father?” I asked.
“This is wrong. We are an abomination.” He tore at his head and then looked around, screaming, “STOP THIS! FIGHT THE HUNGER! THIS IS THE DEVIL’S WORK!” Then his head exploded. Sniper fire from one of the buildings.
“Time to go!” Suit Zombie yelled.
One thing I noticed, no matter how much we ate, I was still hungry. There was never enough, never any satisfaction. The taste in my mouth was heavenly, but when I swallowed, I needed more, and it wasn't just because half of it gushed out of the hole in my throat. I couldn’t—wouldn’t—stop until whoever I was dining on told me to stop. Once they turned, their flesh stopped tasting good. So sometimes I would pound their head against the ground and crack open their skull. If they didn’t turn I could eat the whole thing. With the smaller ones—I tried not to think of them as children—I could even eat the bones. But once they were gone and there was nothing more to eat, it was time to move on. We never stopped. We wouldn’t, couldn’t stop. The need for sustenance motivated us.
“There’s got to be more to our existence than feeding,” I complained one day. I was chewing on a breather’s leg.
“This is it,” Randy said, taking a chunk out of the neck.
Anna, chewing on fingers, grunted her agreement. Corbin was silent. I looked around. He was sharing a string of guts with a new zombie girl … Donna, I think that’s what her name was. It was difficult to tell though, she always had her mouth full. She was going to break his heart, I could tell. She had that look about her. Movement to the side caught my attention. Live ones. My nose had partially fallen off, so I couldn’t smell as easily as I used to, but Corbin should have noticed. Would have noticed if he wasn’t so distracted by a pretty girl. She would be in for a shock when decomposition sets in. I growled my warning. One of the humans raised a gun and pointed it at my son. MY SON! I roared, or at least in my mind, that’s what I did. I think it came out more of a “Uuuuunnnnh.” Corbin, finally realizing the danger, turned, but it would be too late. He couldn’t move fast enough. Rigor mortis and all. The new girl let out a gleeful wail and lunged forward. She was quick that one. The guy came down and his gun exploded, but not towards Corbin. An old zombie woman lost a knee cap. New girl, not all fluff like I first thought, bit into the man. I think I like her after all. Then another human brought a sword down and put it right through her head. So much for Corbin’s new girl. She was the third girlfriend he’d lost this week.
Corbin lost his mind. No really, part of it was showing and I think a bit of it plopped on the ground. “She didn’t deserve that, you jerks!” He yelled. The sword wielder swung his sword towards Corbin, but something tackled him from behind and knocked the zombie killer to the ground. It was Anna, my little monster. She bit into the back of the man’s neck and ripped it open.
There were more breathers, but others in our horde were already taking care of them. In the end they lost more than we did and our numbers increased. The sword carrier stood on uncertain footing—dazed, confused, and hungry—and since his friend the girl had bitten was still alive, decided to have a little snack. When he finished eating and there was no more to consume for any of our kind, we moved on. The swordsman, minus his sword, stepped in line beside us.
“I’m Joseph.”
“I’m Carol,” I said. “This is my husband, Randy…” Randy grunted, “my son, Corbin, and the little monster that took you out is my daughter, Anna.”
“Quite a vicious bite, you have,” he complimented.
Anna blushed. “You were going to kill my brother.”
“Yeah, I was. Sorry about that, dude.”
Corbin just glared at him.
“Come on,” I said to Corbin, “let it go. It’s the way things are now.” Then to Joseph, “That was his girlfriend whose head you took off.”
“Oh dude, I’m so sorry.” Looking truly mortified, Joseph hung his head, but that may have been because he couldn’t hold it up. Anna really did a number on his neck.
“We were talking about having babies together,” Corbin said.
“Corbin! We don’t turn infants,” I scolded. “We eat them until there’s nothing left. It’s the humane, (humane, I wondered, or zombie?) thing to do.”
“I don’t know why not,” he wailed. “Tonya and Jake have a baby together”
I glanced over at the zombie couple and their adopted child. The babies real mother had died with him still inside. Her brain matter all over the ground meant she wouldn’t be coming back. Tonya was just about to go for the belly, when it ripped open from the inside and little Junior came crawling out.
“That’s different,” I said. “He was already a zombie. Besides, Donna had only been dead for a day. The two of you weren’t ready for that kind of responsibility.”
“I loved her, mom.”
“We’ll get you a new girl at the next town,” I promised. “Maybe one with a little bit more of a survival instinct.”  
“But I wanted, Donna,” he grumbled.
“You’ll like the next one, sweetie, I promise.”
“Can I have a little boy?” Anna asked.
“You can have whatever you want,” I promised.
“Carol, you’ve got to stop spoiling them,” Randy said. “They’re rotten enough as is.”
“Well then maybe you should have protected us better, so we wouldn’t be dead now, don’t you think?” I groused. Feeling uncomfortable, Joseph picked up his pace and moved up a few rows.

Part 3 continued, here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Am Dead

 Wrote this for an anthology submission, then missed the deadline. So I am going to share it here. This is part one.

I Am Dead: 
A Zombie Tale
by Lisa McCourt Hollar

They wouldn’t stop coming. They pressed on, relentless. They wanted sustenance … food … flesh. Our flesh. They were dead, but they wouldn’t stop. They couldn’t stop. They … them … no, we. We couldn’t … I couldn’t … I wouldn’t stop.
My thoughts are disjointed when I first open my eyes. The scream is still in my throat, except my throat is gone. I sit up. Others are sitting up too. Anna—my daughter—turns her head and I see that half her face is gone. No … her face is still there. Something wrong with my eyes. I reach up and feel. One of my eyes is dangling from the socket. Morbidly my mind makes a joke, picturing a yo yo. The other eye is still intact. At least there is that. I don’t feel any pain. Why don’t I feel any pain? At first I think I must be in shock. Then I realize the truth.
I am dead. Damn. Day 3 of the Zombie Apocalypse and I was already dead.
I was also hungry. I know what that means, and I try to summon up a bit of disgust, but I can’t. Something smells delicious.
“My god, what is that?” I moan. I realize I can’t really form the words, but it sounded as though I’d said something intelligible. I hear someone next to me respond. This was interesting. Zombies have a language and since I was one, I now understood it. The voice spoke again.
“Braaaiiins.” It’s my son, Corbin. He’s fourteen and at that age where he makes inappropriate jokes. At least dying didn’t seem to take that from him.
“Seriously?” I moan. “Brains?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, just seemed the appropriate thing to say, don’t you think? Braaaaiiins.” Corbin put his arms out in front of him and lurched forward.
“Hey, wait!” Anna stands and stumbles after her big brother. I decide I should follow. My goal on day 1 of the ZA was to keep them alive. Now they were dead. We were dead. I was a failure at zombie survival, but that didn’t mean my goal had changed. The only difference now was that instead of fearing the dead, we needed to fear the living.
Or they needed to fear us. I smiled wickedly … or at least I think I smiled. My mouth didn’t seem to be working right. Were we evil now? I wondered. I didn’t feel evil. I wasn’t sure if being dead was a good thing, or a bad thing.
“Hey, there’s daddy!” Anna pointed to a car up ahead, and a man kneeling next to it. She was right, it was Randy. The tire was flat and he was attempting to change it. I sniffed the air. He was the delicious smell. My husband was still alive! At first that made me happy, but then I remembered the attack. The dead had surrounded us. I’d fought back, trying to protect Anna and Corbin, but Randy—Randy had ran—he didn’t even look back. He ran and some joker wearing a zombie t-shirt—oh the irony—took a bite out of my neck.
Randy looked up. He was crying. He’d always been a bit of a wus. The tears didn’t bring me any relief. He was crying because we were dead, but even now, he was a coward. We had made a promise to each other; whichever one of us turned first, the other would kill. It was standard post-apocalyptic etiquette, and from the look on Randy’s face, it was obvious he was going to ignore it. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Also standard was the rule that you didn’t leave your wife and kids behind, unless you were one of those asshat’s that believed in capping an Otis and sacrificing any and all for your safety. And turns out, Randy was one of those kind of guys. I saw the look on Corbin’s face. He was thinking the same thing I was.
“Get daddy,” I groaned. The words were guttural. No one living would understand me, but my kids did. I think Randy understood too. He started to back away. His hand reached for the car door and he opened it, hurrying to get inside. He shut the door and I heard the sound of the lock, followed by the ignition trying to start. Coward! I wanted to run, but my feet didn’t want to cooperate. If I tried to move to fast, I would stumble. Shuffling my feet worked though. Oh, the slow pace of the dead. Slow and steady wins the race, I thought. But not if he takes off in the car, which from the sound of the ignition refusing to catch, he wasn’t going to be doing.
I pressed my face to the window and sniffed at him through the glass. His fear seemed to add to my frenzy. I wanted a piece of him. His neck bone was looking pretty good. His neck bone? My god, what is wrong with me. I wanted to take a bite out of my husband. My dirty, rotten, lying, cheating, husband. “That’s right,” I moan into the window, “I know about Cheryl. Is that why you left us? Why you ran? So you could be with her?”
“Mom, please.” It was Corbin. He tilted his head towards his sister. Anna was looking uncomfortable. He was right, I shouldn’t disparage her father in front of her. Instead, I should devour him. I smacked my hand on the window. Randy flinched. Good.
“Braaaiiins,” Corbin said.
Next to him, Anna snickered and imitated him. “Braiiiins.”
Randy chose that moment to open the door. He flung it outward real quick, and nearly knocked me backwards. I would have fallen too, if someone hadn’t been behind me. I turned to thank whoever it was and saw that a horde of the dead had come up behind us. We were all pressed together. If we didn’t have clothes on, it might have been pornographic. Actually, it still might be. The nice undead fellow I’d fallen against seemed to have a pretty big boner. Ah… the wonders of a rigor mortis.
“Maybe later, babe,” I joked. He just looked confused. Probably wasn’t too bright in life either. His attention was on Randy and I realized he wanted a piece of him too.
“He’s my husband,” I growled. “If anyone gets to eat him, I do. And my kids,” I added.
“There’s plenty of him to go around.” A plump zombie said. She had dyed blond hair and was wearing stripper heels. Her face was sagging on one side and her lips were gone. It gave her a bizarre, almost funny, appearance. What the hell of a way to be dressed for all of eternity, or at least all of the apocalypse. While I was distracted by stripper zombie and boner zombie, Randy pushed the door open even more. He was hoping to make a run for it.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I groused. “What did I always say? If you are surrounded by zombies, and you have something between you and them, keep it between you and them.” I sighed. He didn’t deserve to live. Oh wait, he had something in his hand.
Behind me I heard someone wail, “GUN! HE HAS A GUN!”
“He doesn’t know how to use it,” I snorted. “I had to do all the shooting when I was alive.”
“She’s right,” Corbin keened. “Even Anna could shoot better than him.”
I pushed back against the door and grasped Randy’s arm and pushed it down. He pulled the trigger and shot one of my toes off … no, three toes. Son of a bitch. I lifted his arm and took a bite. He screamed and dropped the gun. I tore off a huge chunk of flesh. Blood ran down my face and dripped off my chin. Corbin wrapped his arms around his father’s waist and pulled him towards the ground.
“I love you, daddy,” Anna said and then climbed on top and took a bite out of his cheek.
“This is your first time, isn’t it?” Boner Zombie said. “Here, go for the intestines. They’re pretty sweet the first time.”
I did as instructed and tore into Randy’s belly, spilling his innards out. I’d once thought about being a doctor, but the sight of blood made me dizzy. Now it excited me. I saw red and went crazy.
“Be careful,” Stripper Zombie said. “The stomach acid will eat away at your face. Try to avoid it.”
Well that explained what happened to her lips.
I became aware that Randy’s heart had stopped beating, which slowed the flow of the blood. I stuffed intestines into my mouth while my children fed on his liver and other body parts I didn’t recognize. I would never have made a good doctor. Eventually I felt hands on my head, pushing me away.
“Stop,” Randy said in perfect zombie speak.
“Daddy, you’re like us now,” Anna said. She leaped off her father and took his hand, helping him up.
“You ran,” I complained.
“I’m not running now,” he said.
The horde was moving on and we joined him.  Randy was a piece of shit, but he was my piece of shit and we were still family.

Continued in Part 2.