applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([funny] kill zombies)
Stuart Sanderson approached life with a healthy sense of apathy. It was, in his opinion, the best way to get through the daily grind. The news was always going on about some crisis or another, but Stuart found that none of it really affected his life much, so he just didn’t bother thinking about it. As long as he carried on doing what he always did, the crisis would fade or become so common-place that people just got used to it and quit complaining all the time. Why get worked up?

In fact, Stuart wouldn’t have bothered with the news at all if it weren’t for Kelley Ronson, the morning anchor for KNEWS-6. Kelley had big news anchor hair in seamless bottle blonde, green eyes lashed with thick black spikes, and a perfectly straight set of blazing white teeth. She also possessed the most soothing voice that Stuart had ever heard. No matter how bad the news, Kelley delivered it with a velvet voice and a smile. Stuart felt she was a kindred spirit, and he never missed her morning reports.

One Tuesday, late in March, that all changed.

Stuart woke at 6 AM as usual – just enough time to get showered and dressed before Kelley’s report at 6:30. He made himself a cup of coffee and settled in on the couch just as the theme music played and Kelley’s face appeared. Immediately he could tell that something was off. Her usual sunny smile was tighter than usual, and it didn’t quite reach her eyes. Her fingers trembled on the wide news desk.

“Some disturbing reports of rioting downtown today,” she said, her voice a pale shadow of its former glory. “Participants are said to be excessively violent, and have viciously attacked several members of law enforcement. There have been many reports of casualties. Representatives from the police department have stated that they may soon have to resort to the use of deadly force to contain the crowd, which appears to be growing at a rapid rate.” As Kelley drew a shaky breath, images began flashing on the screen – a massive crowd, arms outstretched, chasing down a smattering of fleeing police officers.

Stuart snorted in disgust and flicked off the television set. He didn’t often get upset about things, but Kelley’s departure from routine felt like a personal betrayal. Plus, all this nonsense about rioting. If people could get worked up over famines in Africa, they were sure to blow their tops over something so close to home. He would never hear the end of it.

The foul mood hung over him like a shroud as he packed up his briefcase and headed out to the office. Everything seemed perfectly designed to drive him up the wall. Traffic was out of control – it seemed like everyone in the city was on the road. Several people were walking or running along the side of the street, some dragging children or suitcases, and many weeping openly. Stuart felt almost sick with contempt. People were so easily taken in by the news. So there was rioting downtown – so what? It didn’t have anything to do with these people. Why did they have to wander into his day and cause such a scene? By the time Stuart finally reached his office, he was over an hour late and the beginnings of a headache were drumming against his temples.

At that point, it seemed that providence finally decided to step in. Stuart stepped off the elevator onto his floor and saw only Neil, the receptionist, and Perla Ramos at their desks. While he found it pathetic that his coworkers would be so taken in by the current hysteria as to miss work, he couldn’t help but be pleased that he wouldn’t be forced to endure their constant bleating on the subject.

Just as he was settling in at his desk, Neil shuffled in to his cubicle. He seemed unusually twitchy. His pale eyes flicked constantly over the entire office, which Stuart found extremely disconcerting - as well as annoying.

"Did you hear the news?" Neil asked, his fingers bunching convulsively into fists. Inwardly, Stuart groaned.

"Something about riots. It'll pass. Always does."

"I don't know, man..." Neil's eyes did another jerky dance across the field of cubicles. "I saw some of those protestors on my way in. They didn't look right. They looked... sick."

"Probably why they're protesting. Medicare or something." Stuart was tired of this conversation. Couldn't Neil see that?

"I don't think so..."

"Anyway, Neil, I've got some work to do. I'm sure it's no big deal. Don't worry about it." And with that he turned back to his desk and began deliberately riffling papers and fishing for things in his briefcase. He was aware that Neil was still standing behind him, but after a few more awkward seconds, he turned and left.

"Finally," Stuart whispered under his breath. Faintly, he heard a sound across the room like a woman crying. He turned on the radio at his desk and set the station to one that played particularly mellow jazz.

Stuart worked continuously until 5 o' clock. The building was so peaceful and quiet, and he felt more productive than he had in years. At lunch he hs noticed that both Neil and Perla were gone, but he didn't miss them. Sighing with contentment, he hit "send" on one last email, gathered up his things, and went down to the parking lot.

He had nearly reached his car when he heard the moaning. Turning, he saw a ragged-looking man approaching him with arms outstretched. He immediately pegged the man as one of the shiftless protestors - he looked like the hippie type, with his dirty clothes and matted hair. He also looked, as Neil had mentioned, sick.

Stuart fumbled with his keys. "Leave me alone. I don't have anything to do with your protest."

The man responded with a fetid moan. Stuart wrinkled his nose. "Listen, I don't know what you're trying to prove, but I'm the last person you're ever going to prove it to. So..."

He had just managed to push the "unlock" button on his keychain when the man struck. He lunged at Stuart and grabbed a handful of his shirt, moaning all the while. Stuart yelped and scrabbled weakly against the man's grip, though he was rather disoriented as the stink was even more palpable up close. His attacker wasn't exactly graceful - he lumbered around heavily with his filthy hands grappling at Stuart's fresh-pressed button-down - but Stuart had never been grabbed by a violent hippie before and was quite flabbergasted as to what he should do.

The man solved that problem for him by grabbing Stuart's flailing right arm and biting down on his wrist. Stuart howled, shrieked, and finally became proactive. He wrenched his arm away from the man and gave him a mighty shove backwards. With a bemused groan, the hippie toppled over onto the asphalt.

Stuart didn't wait around to see what would happen next. He ripped open the car door, leapt into the driver's seat, and tore out of the parking lot, headed for home.

As he raced back toward his apartment, Stuart began gradually to calm down. His foot eased slightly off the gas (not that it mattered - there didn't appear to be a car in sight). So he had been attacked by one of those protestors. From what little he had unfortunately gleaned about the goings-on around town, that didn't seem to be a special occurrence. He was lucky enough that it had only been one. He supposed the moaning and the carrying on had just been part of the act. Something about the mindlessness of corporate America, no doubt.

He looked down at his wrist. The bite was really fairly minor. It had only broken the skin in one place, and even then there was only the smallest trickle of blood. The man had looked sick, but obviously he didn't frequently come into contact with soap and water, whereas Stuart showered twice a day. A good hot shower and some antiseptic would be just the thing to take care of that bite.

When Stuart really thought about it, he found he wasn't in the least concerned. When he reached his apartment, he made himself a grilled cheese sandwich, watched a DVD, and went to bed.

On Wednesday, Stuart Sanderson was feeling slightly under the weather. Still, he dutifully woke at 6 AM, showered, dressed, and made himself a cup of coffee. He looked thoughtfully at the TV before deciding not to turn to KNEWS-6. He still felt somewhat hurt by Kelley's behavior the day before, and after yesterday's events he felt certain that there would be even more morbid news today.

The roads were still clear when Stuart headed to work. There were a few stalled-out vehicles along the side of the road, but everything else seemed to be running smoothly. When he reached the office, it was completely empty. Stuart didn't mind. It seemed that people had taken this protesting business entirely too seriously, and had gone out of town to wait it out. He could only imagine how much work they'd have to catch up on when they got back from their ridiculous little impromptu vacations. The thought made him chuckle.

His jazz station seemed to be down - when he turned on the radio, he heard only static. The internet was still up, so he sent a few more emails before settling down to work on a spreadsheet. He hadn't received any emails since yesterday, which was odd, but overall he found he didn't mind. Nobody ever seemed to say much of use over the office email anyway.

Around noon, he coughed up a bit of blood. He thought briefly about going to the hospital, but shook it off. It was nothing. He didn't want to be categorized with the hordes of people that were undoubtedly storming the place over all this rioting business - he could wait it out.

At two-thirty, he noticed that his vision was getting a little blurry. Too much time staring at the computer screen, he thought ruefully, getting up to wash his face in the bathroom.

At four-thirty, he slumped over onto his desk, his head spinning and his vision darkening. Shouldn't have had that last cup of coffee, he thought briefly before passing out.

At four-forty-five, Stuart Sanderson expired at his desk.

At five o' clock, Stuart sat back up. He moved his head slowly from side to side, as if looking for anyone else in the office. He moaned, not unhappily. Slowly, deliberately, he began to push buttons on his keyboard.

Six months later, one of the newly-formed Rebuild and Recover teams swept through Stuart's building. Two men in body armor with an automatic rifles in their hands found Stuart still sitting at his desk, pushing blindly at the keys. His eyes had rotted and his flesh was in tatters. His jaw hung open. The smell coming off of him was eye-wateringly pungent.

"Poor sucker doesn't even know he's dead," laughed the first man.

"Some things never change," said the second. He raised his gun.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([funny] kill zombies)
The end of the world - that's my shit. My fictional shit, anyway - my purely theoretical, gotta buy that new dystopian novel, sitting on the couch watching Children of Men on Netflix kind of shit. I'm not looking for meteors to come blazing out of the sky next Tuesday, marking the date of the zombie apocalypse in my day planner, or quietly crying in the bathtub about 2012 messing up the detailed plans I've made for my mid-twenties. It's just pretend, you know? I figure Gaea's got a few good spins left in her yet, so the end of the world isn't really on my radar.

Even so, I can't help thinking about it. Hypothetically. Usually on the treadmill, when I'm cranking up the pulse-pounding music that gets my Asics rockin'. Why think about the shopping list when I could be dodging imaginary monsters - terrifying human-nightmare hybrids created from the radiation of a nuclear blast? Or zombies (my personal favorite), creeping out of the urban sprawl and fought off with only a rusty machete and sheer, Xena-style badassery? Or wait, maybe the earth is already toast! Shit! Humanity has fled to outer space, where unknown creatures trawl the starry depths. Awesome, right? I could do this all day.

But you'd never know it, would you? Not if you saw me face-to-face. That intense look you see me sporting in the grocery store? You'd attribute that to weighing the pros and cons of chocolate versus vanilla cupcakes. Or maybe you'd think my mind was somewhere else entirely, perhaps on a newborn kitten or puppy in peril. I've just got that face - the face of innocence, vulnerability, and passion for all things cuddly. Who would suspect me of mentally massacring hordes of the undead in my free time?

Maybe you've even featured in my fantasies, oh fellow denizen of the cold cereal aisle! I may have fled your grasping fingers as you moaned after my brains on a moonlit city street. Perhaps I've swung an axe at you as you growled viciously at me from a darkened basement (you're not yourself, you see. It's the doomsday disease - it's made you a monster who hungers for human flesh). Maybe you're on my crew, an endearingly mismatched group of ragamuffins steadily clearing the moon of a hyperviolent alien race that has its sights set on invading Earth.

Either way, you should be ready. The end of the world is coming for you... this season in LJ Idol. Maybe not every week, but it's always lurking in the back of my mind - so be ready. If you're the religious type, feel free to call upon whatever deity you think is listening, but for goodness' sake don't fall behind.

You may not like what you become if you do.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([funny] zombies seeking brains)
They hide in the houses every time. Predictable, but I'm not looking for an adventure, here, so it doesn't really bother me. Some of the others like "the thrill of the hunt" too much to appreciate a leisurely day in the suburbs. Me, I take the easy pickings where I can get them. Those folks with shotguns and baseball bats aren't my cup of tea, not at all.

The first house I come to is a sweet little affair, the kind of thing I used to want. Two stories, blue siding with white trim, and a big wraparound porch with a swing. Looks just like the houses I used to see in movies, sitting on top of a hill with miles of wheat fields all around. I think it was wheat, anyway - what do I know about farming? This house isn't surrounded by any kind of fields; just a long, flat stretch of sidewalk, a couple of overgrown rose bushes, and rows and rows of houses that look almost exactly like it.

Still nice, though.

I push open the front door with my foot, and can immediately tell that someone's been living here. The floor is clear of dust, and there's a bowl of apples on the coffee table that haven't even started to dry up. I wonder how they managed to get ahold of apples - our people are usually keeping an eye on the supermarkets. Anyway, apples that were in a supermarket would be rotted and reeking by now. It's not like there's any new produce coming in.

It actually makes me feel kind of bad, seeing those apples on the table. Whoever's holing up here isn't even smart enough to hide the obvious signs of habitation. They must be really clueless - and I'm really going to ruin their day. Still, it's not like they aren't asking for it. How they've survived even this long is a mystery to me.

The rest of the house is more of the same. I even come across a glass of soda, still frosty with condensation and with little bubbles fizzing around the ice cubes. I wonder briefly how they've been making ice. Seeing it almost makes me miss the taste of soda.

I find them in the basement, of course - a group of three, two men and a woman. Not related, which is something of a relief. I hate bringing in families. Depressing. I raise my gun, though I don't poke it at them aggressively or anything.

"You're going to have to come with me," I say, in a kind but firm voice. Shouting at them doesn't help - poor things are scared enough anyway. This group must not be very bright, though (not that I hadn't already figured that out), because they just kind of gape at me.

"Come on then," I repeat, giving my gun a little jerk toward the stairs. "Let's go."

Still nothing. Like talking to a trio of department store mannequins. I look at them more closely - maybe there's something wrong with them. I mean, it doesn't really matter, not where they're going, but I don't like dealing with the unstable ones. Those are the types that can go completely berserk on you. One second everything's coming along pleasantly, then BAM! You get a knife through the eye.

That's how I lost mine, in fact; though it wasn't a knife, just a shard of glass. A good thing, too. I can live without an eyeball, but my brain is all that's keeping me ticking, and a knife through the eye could quickly put an end to that.

This is getting old. I glare at them in exasperation. "What are you, a bunch of zombies? Let's see some sign of life!" I can't help it; I laugh at my little joke.

"Fuck you." It's one of the men and boy, if looks could kill. That's a joke in itself, if looks could kill, and I almost laugh again. Things might be getting hostile here, though, so I try to play it straight.

"I don't think you want to," I say. "And anyway, there's no call for that kind of language. I'm just doing my job."

"Your job?" The woman now. Great. If there's one thing I hate about a bad attitude, it's that it always seems to be catching. "It's your job to kill us?"

"Well, not exactly. It's my job to pick you up and take you back to Camp Five. What happens to you after that, I don't know. Above my pay grade, you could say." I do know what happens to them, of course, but talking about it here isn't going to help matters. The quiet man and the woman might actually live for awhile - there's always room in the livestock camps - though the hostile one will have to go.

I gesture with my gun again. "So, let's go. My team is waiting for me outside."

"You're a monster," the woman whispers, her blue eyes welling with tears.

My mouth twists into a frown. "I'm not a monster. I'm just making do with the hand I was dealt."

"You're a monster," says the first man. "An experiment gone wrong. You shouldn't even exist. You're an abomination."

The rest of my team would laugh this off - we've all heard it so many times. For me, though, it still stings. I mean, it's not as though I wanted to be this way. I did my running and fighting back at the beginning, just like everyone else. When I got the bite, I even considered killing myself before I became one of them. I couldn't do it, though. In the end, I considered myself lucky that all I got was a bite. Nearly everyone else was devoured outright. At least now I have some kind of life - or afterlife, as the case may be.

It's not as bad as the movies made it out to be, not really. There isn't all the rotting and the streaming entrails and blood everywhere. Science took care of that, way back at the beginning, with the real experiments. Life after death, immortality, yadda yadda yadda. Bring back a corpse, keep it from rotting, get it thinking and moving - and ta-da! Instant superhuman. I'm sure they would've made a mint off the technology, if it hadn't all gone wrong.

Though of course it did all go wrong, as anybody with a lick of sense could've told you it would.

That part was pretty much like the movies - the outbreak, people running wild in the streets, death everywhere. Now it's much better. We're organized. There's a system, even a government. Why the Breathers are so smug, running and hiding and desperate as they are, I couldn't say.

"I may be an abomination, but I'm also the one with the gun," I snap back at him, annoyed. "Now let's go before I have to use it." This time I do poke it at them, and my face must say that I mean business because they shrink back and finally comply.

When we come out into the street, I can see that I'm the last to arrive. Malinda, Jeff, and Ollie have already got four or five Breathers between them and are loading them up into the truck. Lyn is on point, squinting up and down the street with her gun at the ready.

"Wow," says Malinda, eyeing my little collection. "Three! And all in good shape, too. Nice work, Ben."

"Thanks." That makes me feel a bit better. Malinda is one of the better looking women in Camp Five, and even though there would be no point in making a move on her (apparently the scientist bigwigs who started all this didn't see any point in keeping all the equipment running), it's still nice to get a compliment from a pretty woman.

I've nearly forgotten the Breathers' insults and am hustling them toward the truck when the first bullet whizzes past my head, nicking off my left ear. I can't feel it, of course, but the fact that it's so close to my skull really freaks me out. I whirl around, disoriented, and see the rosebushes in front of the blue house bristling with gun barrels.

"Fuck!" Malinda shrieks, just before a bullet slams into her forehead. She drops like a stone, the wound a black and bloodless crater.

"Run!" Jeff is nearly to the cab of the truck, his body already riddled with smoking holes, when he goes down. His fingers are still clasped around the door handle. Lyn makes it to the end of the block, but no farther. Ollie I can't see - maybe he's gotten away, though I don't know how. Me, I haven't even moved.

I don't know what to do. I can't think - can't react. My gun is up, but I can't seem to fire it. The shots seem to be coming from everywhere. For the first time, I really do feel like a zombie - slow and mindless.

"Who has the gun now?" The voice comes from my right or I wouldn't hear it. It's smug, so smug, and it hurts, like it always does. The only hurt I can feel anymore.

I swear I see the bullet as it comes for me, the one to put an end to it all. I wish I could say that I feel relief, but I don't. The last thing I feel is desperate.

Desperate to live.


applespice: it is a sparkly fairy (Default)
How About Them Apples?

June 2015


Style Credit


RSS Atom
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 08:47 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags