You can’t just come out and accuse someone of having been bitten by a zombie. That’s just not good manners, probably. Sure – there are no definitive guides on how you’re supposed to be about this stuff, but I feel like if you’re gonna have to let someone know that they have precious few hours before they become one of the undead, you should do it with a little tact. Some subtlety.
“So, how was the trip over here? No incidents, or anything? No zombies attacking you? No scratches, or marks, or… bites? On your ass?”
Tact. Subtlety. Yes.
“I mean… y’know – as a ‘for instance’.”
“The roads weren’t a busy as usual, that was nice. Probably because of the zombies.”
“Yeah… probably because of the zombies.”
“But, no. It was a regular, old-fashioned, Tuesday-morning journey. Why?”
She had to be kidding. Or lying. Or in denial. No way can you have a massive chunk taken out of your buttocks without noticing.
“Well, I only ask because… look, Marie – it’s obvious you’ve been bitten. I can see it clear as- ”
“Oh that. Right. Yeah, that happened earlier, back at my apartment.”
“And you just decided to keep going on with your day as planned? What the fuck? What if you turn into a zombie right now and try and murder me?”
“Well, I think I’d be trying to eat you, not murder you. But anyways, the news says we’ve got, like, a whole day before anything starts to happen. Change-wise.”
“So you figured you’d go to work? On your last day on Earth?”
“What else am I supposed to do?”
Now, I’d had just the tiniest little crush on Marie since she started working at the store. She was short, but not dumpy, and she had this really cute pixie cut that I’d never be able to pull off and that damn near kept me up at night, seething with jealousy. She’s seemed pretty smart, or at least not dumb, and we’d had some fun at work. She was funny; she liked the same shows as me, mostly; and she had great boobs, to boot. Not that appearance is important.
Anyway, this crush had persisted far beyond the point it should have (me asking her out and finding she was straight really should have put the kibosh on things, honestly) but I can assure you that those seven words out of her mouth more than put any infatuation to rest.
“What else I am supposed to do?”? Really? I can think of a million things I would rather do with my last day alive. Go to Disneyworld. Or Disneyland, even. Get drunk. Go over the Niagra Falls in a barrel. Find Dane Cook and kick him real hard in the shin. I can say with total honesty that going in to work and acting like it was every other stupid Tuesday would be almost the very last thing I would do. Besides listen to a Dane Cook album.
Man, I hope it’s still cool to hate Dane Cook.
“Okay. Well, skipping over the total lame-ness of spending your last few hours filing away Grisham novels – do you really think the store’s gonna be open, anyway?”
“Oh, right. ‘Cos of the zombie thing.”
“Yeah – because of ‘the zombie thing’.” I’m not sure if I can pull of a good “exasperated” look, but I gave it my best shot. I’m sure she felt the full brunt of my exasperation. I exasperatednessed the hell out of her.
“Well, I called in and Julie said that they were keeping the place open for anyone to come in and hide. I guess there’s a Red Cross guy down there, or something. Maybe they’re distributing blankets… I don’t know.”
I’d like to make it really clear that it was Marie that said that, just then. I’m sure that you’re a smart person, and you can follow along with this dialogue like it’s no big thing, but I have to be certain that you know – Marie is the one who, it is apparent, that in the event of zombie Armageddon, the Red Cross would be doing their best to distribute blankets. Because God knows that the two things people worry about when dealing with zombies are 1) getting bitten and being turned into one of them and 2) keeping nice and toasty.
“So you were just gonna mosey on down to the store, where people are attempting to hide from the reanimated people that are trying to eat them, and act like you weren’t a ticking time-bomb in a skirt? I mean, Jesus, what if you… turned whilst you were in there? Think of the children.”
Wait.. was that me saying that? I don’t even like kids.
“Okay, don’t think about the children. But think about the other people! The retirees… or the middle-managers… or the hipsters! Marie, did you honestly not take the time to consider the hipster?”
“I hadn’t really thought about that, I guess.”
“Damn right you hadn’t. You can’t go into work, Marie.”
“Fine. So what shall we do instead?”
“Whoa, whoa. Who said I want to hang around with you? You could just as easily turn around and infect me once you cross over. Do you think I want to spend my day with that kind of risk over my head?”
“Well, to be fair, you’ve already had a can of sky-blue emulsion over your head, so I figured you’d be used to it.”
“It’s electric blue, and it looks awesom-”
“You’ve still got stains on your scalp…”
“It looks awesome, and don’t try and change the subject. I’m serious. I’m concerned for my safety with you around. I don’t even have anything to defend myself with, aside from this stupid cistern lid that I’m pretty sure is gonna crack in half next if I so much as look at it wrong.”
Not kidding, on that one. That little skirmish with Mr. Winters and his neighborhood had taken it’s toll on what is, let’s face it, essentially a slightly thicker, odd-shaped dinner plate. There was already a giant crack down the side, and a fair few chips and dents in the corners.
I’d looked around the house for something else I could use, but everything came up a little short. Literally. I really wanted something with a little distance, something with some reach. I did not want to get close to those… things again. I mean, let alone the risk of infection – have you ever smelled a zombie? It’s just like rotting meat, except with the added aroma of rotting clothes, so there’s this musky scent on top of the Eau Du Gross that comes as standard with your everyday disintegrating flesh.
Anyway, like I said – I was having trouble finding some kind of bludgeoning device that had any kind of length I was comfortable with. The best I had was my dad’s sledgehammer, left over from when tried to make the house “open plan” (read: knocked down two walls, accidentally cut off our power and nearly electrocuted himself, and had to pay a contractor a large sum of money to come in and fix the mess.) The sledgehammer was heavy, though. It really needs some momentum, some power behind it.
And let me tell you – girl with nerd glasses, shoulder-length blue hair and faded sweatpants? Not as powerful as you’d think.
“Well, let’s go and get you a weapon then. Something cool – like an axe, or a mace! Let’s get you a mace!”
“I’d really be fine with a baseball bat. Like, a metal one.”
“Okay, cool. We’ll head over the sport supply store, then?”
“Fuck no. That place is in the mall, and there is no way in hell I’m going into a mall right now. I’ve seen those movies.”
Note: I have not seen those movies. But I can imagine them, and that’s almost as good.
“Well, where else are we gonna get an aluminum baseball bat?”
And that’s when we decided to break into a high school.