Thursday, August 13, 2015

Survival of the Freest: Short Fiction

“I have to admit, being dead isn’t nearly as boring as I feared it would be,” I said.

“I’m so glad to hear that, Dane,” Jenny replied. “But could you maybe save the life updates for after we’ve defeated the horde? Thanks.” With that, she squeezed the trigger of her sawed-off shotgun. The zombie in front of her barely had time to scream before its head exploded into a gooey mess. The body collapsed to the floor. Its legs twitched piteously before it fell silent for good. She repeated this process twice more, until the floor of our house, if you could even call it that, was obscured by heaps of decaying flesh.

“That’s the last of them,” I said, tucking my Louisville slugger into the waistband of my jeans.

Jenny holstered her weapon and slammed the door. “Gee, y’think?”

I plopped myself down on the couch, which mercifully avoided most of the splatter that coated the walls. The same could not be said of the dust that covered every inch of the damn thing. In life, that would’ve been murder on my sinuses. Heh. Murder. “Why you gotta be like that?” I asked.

“Like what?” She grabbed a bear from the mini-fridge and took a seat next to me.

“It’s the fucking apocalypse, and we’re both deceased. I’m having a pretty shitty week, man.”

“I thought you said this was fun.” Jenny took a long pull on her beer.

“No, I said it wasn’t boring. Big difference, there.”

“What’s your point, Dane?”

“My point is that you don’t have to pile on all the time. I’m having a rough enough time of all this without all your negativity.”

“Tell me something,” she said.


“Before you died, were you a woman?”

“That’s offensive for the both of us.”

“Whatever. Stop whining so goddamned much. Everybody else is mindless. You gotta live a little.”

I looked at her sideways. “Really?”

“You know what I mean. Lighten up. Have fun.”

“Kind of hard when, again, we’re both dead.”

“Yeah. We left the drudgery of life behind. We’re dead, man. We’re free.”

I snorted. “Your lower jaw is rotting off.”

“I’ll get a new one from this guy,” she gestured to the corpse closest to her feet. “It’s cool. Everything’s cool.”

“For you, maybe,” I said.

She twisted around to face me, so that she was sitting Indian-style on the couch. “What were you doing before all this?”


“Just answer the question.”

“I was a code monkey in Silicone Valley.”

“Really? What are you doing here in Nowheresville, Kentucky?”

I shrugged. “I heard on the radio that there were survivors here.”

“Guess you got screwed there, huh?” Jenny did her best to avoid staring at my empty left eye socket, but she wasn’t fooling anybody.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Whatever. That’s not the point. Did you like your job?”

I shrugged again. “It paid the bills.”

“See? That’s not enough. Now you don’t have to do that boring shit anymore. You’re free, goddamned it.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t know if freedom is better than not having to worry about a steady food supply.”

“It is, man,” She said wistfully. “It totally is.”

“Your turn, then,” I said. “What did you do before this?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.

“No way. You’re not getting off that easy. I answered all your questions. Now it’s your turn.”

“Okay, fine. I’m only seventeen.”

I looked her up and down. Most of her skin was gone, revealing the rotting bone underneath, but she didn’t strike me as that young. “What? No way.”

“Yeah, way.”

I glanced at the can of beer in her hand. “Should you be drinking that?”

 Oh, please. We can’t get drunk anymore. And anyway, I think I deserve this.” My home life was pretty bad.”

“Bad how?’

“Angry, abusive father is how.”

“Oh, shit,” I said. If I could still breathe, I would’ve sucked in a breath right then. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault, Dane.”

“Still, I shouldn’t have made you talk about it. I should’ve let it go.”

“Too late now.”

“I guess.”

“That’s what this is for me,” she said after a moment of intensely uncomfortable silence. “A second chance. A do-over. This is freedom. From dad, from the nightmares, from everything.”

“Do you think that’s really it?” I asked. “A second chance, I mean.”

“Huh?” She sipped her beer again.

“As far as I know, we’re the only two zombies with functioning brains. Do you think we were chosen? Do you think we were saved?”

“I don’t know why this happened, and I don’t care all that much, to be honest.”

“You don’t?”
“No. The way I see it, we’re alive again, and we don’t know for how long. There’s no point in wasting time wondering why. We just gotta live a little.”

“We gotta be free,” I said with a smile.

“Exactly,” she answered.

Suddenly, there came a thunderous pounding on the door, accompanied by several ghoulish groans. The door shook as a new batch of the undead swarmed outside our home.

“We’ll do that later,” I said. Then I got up and hefted my baseball bat. Jane followed suit, cocking her shotgun.

 “Right now, we’ve got company,” she said.

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