I thought things would get easier. Truth is, I guess, they never do. Life, death, or whatever you call this, it’s all the same. I should know. I remember everything from my former life. Some say I’m lucky, or, would if they could talk.
I watch the drifters, and I’m jealous. Why? Because they can’t be. Far as I can tell, they don’t feel much of anything. That’s all I really wanted.
When the virus first broke, I was scared. Everyone was. I mean, who really wants to be eaten alive by the people that used to be our neighbors? My dad and I stocked up on supplies, and held up in our house.
I used to peek through the boarded up windows of my second story bedroom. After all, the electricity was lost just a few days out after the collapse. No video games for me.
Through those cracks, I could watch what was happening. People being eaten, frightened, and of course, the drifters. They shuffled along their way. Never in a hurry, never seeming to have anywhere to go. They lived a simple life. Or, whatever.
My father caught me a time or two. He would get so angry. We were prisoners in our home. I don’t know what he was off doing that he couldn’t keep a closer eye on me. But, even during the apocalypse, his parenting style was the same. Stretches of neglect, followed by excessive discipline. I suppose he was just trying to keep me safe, in his own way. What he didn’t realize is that he was pushing me towards everything he feared.
I spent that last afternoon of my life like any other. Watching the zombies roam. I heard my dad’s footsteps come up the stairs. I rushed from the window and laid on my bed, magazine in hand. He barged in without knocking, like always. I don’t even know why I close the door.
“What are you doing up here?” he demanded.
His breath was hurried. Not from any fear, just the exacerbation of climbing the stairs. In his defense, I’m sure that running out of food contributed to his health.
“Reading,” I said in an obvious tone, pointing to my magazine.
“It’s upside down, dip stick,” he replied.
Trying not to look embarrassed, I threw it on the bed and sat up.
“Look, we’ve got to go out for supplies,” he said. “I don’t want any of this, curiosity, that you have getting us killed.”
“I hope you do. This isn’t a game. You understand that?”
“Sure do. When are we going?” I asked.
“That sounds like a great idea,” I said sarcastically. “While we’re at it, let’s leave the guns at home, too.”
“You watch out your window, but you don’t learn anything. They move slower after dark. Like a cold-blooded animal, they need the sun or something.”
“You’re an idiot. Get ready. I’m not going to die because you’re stupid.”
Night fell quickly. This was my third time out of the house since the world fell apart. Thus far, I hadn’t come face to face with any zombies. But that was about to change.
Armed to the teeth, thanks to my father, the second amendment enthusiast, we went to the store. On foot, of course. Sound draws them. That’s why shooting is only an option in the most dire situation. Still, my dad wanted to make sure we had the option.
The store was dark and vacant, lit only by the full moon spilling through the large glass front.
“You go right. I’ll take the left side. Fill up the bag with anything that hasn’t spoiled. We’ll meet back here when they’re full. Hurry up. If anything goes wrong, yell, shout, whatever you have to,” my father said.
We went our separate ways. I can’t think of a single time that man has told me he loves me. I guess I know that he did, but I would have liked to have heard it.
I lazily made my way down the aisle, grabbing boxes of cereal and cans of corn. Then, on the lowest shelf, I saw it. Banana pudding. My favorite. It was the box kind. Wasn’t sure how I’d mix it up without milk, but I was willing to try. I leaned down to grab the package. As I did, I heard a can drop behind me.
“Great stealth, dad. And you call me stupid,” I mumbled.
Turns out, he was right. I turned the direction that the sound came from. It wasn’t my dad. It was Rebecca Jackson.
This girl. Oh, if you could have seen her alive. Amazing. Long blond hair, thin frame, budding curves, and just a few freckles. Perfect.
Honestly, even now, she was stunning. Bathed in moonlight, she was radiant. No really, I think she was actually glowing. She raised a slender arm and beckoned me nearer. Her skin was ashen, and her blue eyes were now the palest ice, but still, she was the girl of my dreams. And she was talking to me. Well, acknowledging my existence, at least.
I stepped towards her. As I did, she smiled. Maybe it was a growl. I’m fuzzy on that. The heart sees what it wants.
“Are you done yet, boy?” my dad yelled, snapping me from my trance. “You’re slower than molasses and twice as dense, I swear.”
He rounded the corner.
“You’d better not be playing around, or zombies will be the least-” he cut off as he saw me standing with her. “Back away.”
He motioned to me, similar to Rebecca. He took the gun from his hips. I realized in that moment that I had my choice of monster. I had lived with the one at home. I was ready to try something new.
Half drunk on her beauty, I defiantly stared my father in the eyes as I stretched my arm out to her. She took it greedily. The pain lasted only a moment. I closed my eyes, and imagined becoming a drifter. Assuming all my worries would bleed from me.
Next, I just became hungry. Like, really, really hungry. The food in the store was as appealing as festering ooze. This is where it gets awkward.
I ran at my dad. Turns out his theory on zombies being slow in the dark wasn’t applicable to all. I tore into him in an instant. In his eyes, I saw something I hadn’t seen before, and haven’t since. Fear, sure. But also love, and loss.
The biggest problem with zombies is that our eyes are bigger then our stomachs. We think we can eat a whole cow. Actually, I tried after we ran out of people. But after a few bites, we’re satisfied. Next thing you know, we have another mouth to feed.
At first, everything was a flurry of hunger. But when the live stock ran out, life, or whatever, kind of returned to normal. Rebecca wanted nothing to do with me. Tease. I went to stay with my dad again. Habit, I guess. At least he doesn’t yell anymore. Just, frustrated grunts.
Some days, I go outside, and wallow around with the drifters, pretending I’m one of them. But I’m not. There are different kinds of us zombies. There’s the drifters, of course. The pieces. And then, there’s me. High functioning. Zombiesapien.