|Posted on October 15, 2010 at 1:54 AM|
We were a herd now. There were hundreds of us, lurching and limping across the plains, traveling westward, toward the setting sun.
Hundreds of us, lurching mindlessly but now as one, for we had found a leader. I called him "Marvin," but of course I don't know if that was really his name. None of us could talk. But he gave us purpose, gave us direction, gave us hope. He would wave his arms, scream, and lead us. And we would follow. For we were hungry, so very hungry, and he always led us to food.
Mostly what we hungered for was flesh. Human flesh. Preferably living human flesh, fresh off the bone. We would rip it, shred it, tear it from a still-warm body, devour it hungrily while the last few beats of the heart pumped blood into the dirt, and then move on searching for more. There was no satiating our need, our hunger.
Marvin was relatively intact. He had all four of his limbs, and most of his face. That is more than you can say for most of us, who have many battle scars. I myself am missing an arm and half of my face, not to mention the back of my skull. But Marvin, in his near perfection, gave us all hope. He led us not only to food, but he actually found us places to rest. To rest! I so crave rest, almost as much as food. If only I could feed sufficiently that I might lie down, relax, and rest my bones. Maybe, just maybe, Marvin will make that possible.
Among the hundreds of Marvin's followers were many diverse types. There were young and old, tall and short, fast and slow. Some were strong and hearty, others could barely limp along. But all followed Marvin and trusted his instincts. One follower in particular caught my eye: she was young and vibrant and pretty. She had long blond hair, bone-white skin, and most of a pretty face. Her eyes were huge and blue. They looked all the more huge for bulging out of their ruined sockets. I called her Zelda in my mind, though of course I'll never know if that is really her name. Zelda stirs longings in me; longings for a time long past, a time that I can never know again.
We were crossing an open field, heading for a nearby town where there might be people to eat. Suddenly a group of soldiers appeared. The military had been deployed to stop our kind and our feeding, and this was one of the patrols. There were maybe twenty of them, all in uniforms and carrying rifles. When they saw us, they went into formation: half lined up and dropped to their knees, rifles raised. The other half stood behind them, rifles also aimed at us. They fired at a command. Bullets ripped through our crowd, but of course nobody cared. A few limbs and skull fragments went flying, but we kept going. We soon overran the soldiers, stomping them to death with our sheer numbers. Another fellow and I picked up one battered soldier from the ground and ripped him in half. I buried my face in his throat, biting and chewing, his blood running down my chin. Others were doing the same with his companions. Soon the soldiers were no more.
We arrived at the town, Marvin roaring in the lead and waving his arms. We were still hungry. There were a few houses, a general store, and a railroad station. Most of the residents were hiding in the station. We fell upon the station and burst through the doors. There were dozens of people huddling inside, but they were no match for our fury. We swarmed and seized them. Five of us would grab one resident, and rip him to pieces. Then we would shred his carcass and toss chunks of meat to each other. Gore and gristle were everywhere, and the floor was slick. We could barely stand from the coagulating blood and crushed organ meats scattered about. But we gorged on the bright red flesh and organs until we were full. Then we fell to the floor, heedless of the mess, and rested. Zelda was lying near me. I looked at her with my one eye. She looked back. I thought I felt a connection.
When night fell, we were once more on the move. However much we ate, we always hungered again. We crossed the fields, the hundreds of us, grunting and lurching. It was many miles to the next town. Little did we know that we would never make it. Before long, another deployment of soldiers appeared, but these were better prepared than the last. They came with tanks, armed with cannons. The foot troops carried flame throwers and wore armor. They had learned. They advanced with confidence, directly into our midst. We took out some of them, but the cannons and flame throwers were too much for us. Many of my fellows went up in flames, to fall in a charred heap on the ground. Many others were crushed by the tanks, reduced to flat gray pancakes that moved no more. The rest of us scattered, looking for cover. It was the first time I had felt fear in many weeks.
About five of us lurched toward a ravine for cover. As we leapt toward it, several flame throwers spat out their bright yellow tongues; three of my fellows went up in cinders. I was down to one companion. It was Zelda. I grabbed her around the waist and hurled her into the ravine, rolling out of sight. We came to rest beneath the roots of a giant tree. I held her still, forcing her to stay quiet. We waited, motionless, listening to the battle raging all around us long into the night.
When morning broke, all was quiet. My hunger was worse than ever. I could hide no more. I looked down at Zelda. She was chewing on my leg. I smacked her pretty face with the stump of my arm. She growled at me but pulled her face from my thigh. I poked my head up above the edge of the ravine. Bodies were everywhere, both soldiers and our former companions. Our herd had been decimated, the survivors scattered. I pulled Zelda up by her hair. We were alone with the corpses.
We didn't know which way to go. We wandered aimlessly for days, hoping to find our herd, but never did. We hid when tanks and soldiers came by, and waylaid the occasional lone traveler for food. But we were hungrier than ever. I had to smack Zelda several times when she tried to chew on me.
Finally, we spied a large warehouse in the distance. We lurched for it at top speed, hunger raging in our bellies. When we arrived, we found that the doors had already been smashed down. The offices were a mess, riddled with bones and dried gore. We were too late. Our fellows, or another herd, had found this place first and eaten everyone in sight.
I went into the storage area of the warehouse to see what I could find. It was full of crates. Hundreds, maybe thousands of rows of wooden crates, stacked to the ceiling. They were all marked "Spam." I found a crowbar, and pried off the lid of the nearest crate. It contained dozens of tins of Spam. They had easy-open pull-off lids, which was fortunate since I didn't have a can opener. I ripped the lid off of a tin, and forced the chunk of pink meat down my throat in a single push, barely bothering to chew or taste. The next three tins went down the same way. Finally, I took the time to chew one, to savor the taste. It was good! It tasted much like human flesh, only spicier and less rancid. I could get used to this, I thought.
Zelda was watching me curiously from the doorway, and soon made her way in to the warehouse. I handed her a tin. She pulled it open and gobbled the contents. A smile spread across her pretty half-face. Soon we were sitting cross-legged on the floor of the warehouse, eating tin after tin of the bright pink food. It took us an hour to finish that first crate, and then we lay ourselves down on the floor, side by side, satiated for the first time in weeks.
Knowing that she was no longer hungry and not likely to try to eat me, I pulled Zelda to me. She looked deep into my eye. I put my arms around her. Other needs than hunger were now uppermost in our minds. Although neither of us retained a full complement of body parts, we managed to make love before falling back to the floor, satiated once again. She slept.
I got up, and explored the warehouse. There was enough Spam here to keep us both fed for at least a hundred years. There was also a small apartment with a living room, a bathroom, and a bedroom. The bedroom was spacious, and furnished with a large, comfortable four-poster bed. I went back to the warehouse and brought three crates of Spam into the bedroom. Then I picked up Zelda in my arms, carried her to the apartment, and tossed her onto the mattress. She woke up, looked around, and smiled.
I think we will be very happy together.
Author's Note: This is the second in my trilogy of Zombie stories. These first two were previously published at now-defunct sites. But the third will be a brand-new Emerald Dragon Exclusive! Stay tuned!!