Short Story: Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?

“Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?”

             The cold, indifferent wind exhaled by the universe sighed over the snow-covered grass. It crawled over the rocks of Signal Hill and descended upon the harbour, grazing its belly on the waves while it drank from the cold, dark water. Moving into town, past the empty parking lots, rubbing itself against the vagrants who scratched great wooden doors seeking salvation, it paused to perch on the highest steeple. It offered no comfort.

*      *      *

“There’s no goddamn way,” said David. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Why not?” asked Joel.

“They have to leave. It’s too cold. They fly south during the winter.”

“Yeah, but these are different. They have their wings clipped or something.”

“I’ve seen them flying around the lake.”

“That’s only short distances. They can’t go for miles.”

“That is such bullshit. What do they eat?”

“Someone probably comes and feeds them.”

“Who? What kind of job is that?”

“The city pays them.”

In the living room, Marcy wasn’t paying any attention to the dinner table debate that wages between David, her boyfriend, and Joel. She was texting one of her med school friends while watching Ghost in the Shell. Somewhere in the middle but still within earshot of both parties Nick and Claire leaned against the wall.

“Why do they bicker like that?” asked Nick. “They’re so loud.”

“Atheists are loud people I guess,” suggested Marcy.

“Dave isn’t an atheist though. I’m pretty sure Joel is right all the same.”

“He doesn’t know that though,” she replied. “He just wants to piss Dave off.”

“So who do you think is right?”

“Who gives a fuck? It’s ducks.”

“We should let them keep arguing about this before they start on something else.” “Remember that time they almost had fight over whether or not dogs have souls?” Claire giggled. “That was hilarious.”

Her laugh danced across the air and his ears obliged. Carried through his blood stream, it dispersed through his entire body, reaching even his fingertips. All of which was not an unfamiliar process, and each time he indulged a little more. During this fleeting moment, the floor disintegrated, slipping away beneath his ankles, and while his body fell something escaped. Released, it soared beyond space and time to a place his mind has not yet fully shown him. Consequently transfigured, he returned each time a changed man.

He leaned over and kissed her just above her eye.

“You make me nervous,” he told her.

“Why?” she asked

“When you get something this good they tend to rip it away from you.”

“‘They,’” she repeated. “Who’s ‘They’? They say it’s going to be a long winter. ‘They’ say it’s going to be a short winter. ‘They’ say we’ll be flooded with water in fifty years, and the rest of the world will look like the set of Blade Runner.”

“They say it’s going to snow tonight too,” replied Nick, which got him another giggle, revealing more spaceless vistas to his mind’s eye. He loved her laugh.

Poor lifeless Billy Yetman trudged slowly along the road, dragging his broken ankle. His pale grey face was contrasted by bright, unnatural yellow eyes. His jaw hung slack, and it almost looked as if he were admiring the stars, but given his inanimate gaze that probably was not true. A bright red Toyota came upon him. As the headlights revealed Yetman, the driver pressed his foot to the brakes. He let loose on the horn, but the swaying figure in the road made no response. They driver quickly manoeuvred around him and drove on. Poor, lifeless Billy Yetman followed its light.

 

“Do you guys ever shut up?” Claire wonders aloud.

“Claire, all ducks go south during the winter, right? David asked, knowing she wouldn’t contradict him.”

“Yes but I’m pretty sure Joel is right. The ones by the lake stay all year round.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. Ducks fly south during winter. If they don’t then they’re not ducks.”

“It’s not that simple, babe.”

He shot her one of his dirty looks but Marcy didn’t seem to care. She was still waiting on her friends to call with plans for the night. Luckily before the awkward tiff had a chance to begin a bright, unnatural yellow light flooded the kitchen. It was the pizza. Claire went to door and paid the delivery driver. He thanked her, and went back to his bright red Toyota. Claire was about to close the door and go inside when she noticed someone walking clumsily towards the house. She called Nick over.

“That looks like Billy Yetman,” said Nick.

“Yeah but I think there’s something wrong with him,” responded Claire.

Joel decided to come over and check things out. “Holy shit what is wrong with him?” he asked. “I’ve never seen him that bad. What’s he doing around here anyway?”

“He’s probably fucked up on oxys,” called out David.

The corpse of Billy Yetman approached them with his head down, still dragging his limp foot. He let out a groan and looked directly at them. His yellow pupils penetrated the darkness.

“Marcy!” cried Claire. “Come over! I think there’s something wrong with Billy Yetman!”

Marcy looked out the dooryway. “His ankle looks broken,” shed notices. “I don’t know what’s wrong with his eyes though. Do they look bright yellow to anyone else?”

“Close the door,” called out David from inside. “I don’t want that skeet around.”

“What are you, scared of Yeti?” Joel taunted.

“Fuck off,” answered David.

Joel came out of the house and approached the strange body of Billy Yetman. He was soon taken aback by its pungent breath. It conjured images of compost heaps and spoiled meat. He noticed Yetman’s chin: all the way down the neck and even the top of his hoodie was stained with blood. He looked back at his friends and saw them standing awkwardly, stricken with nervous energy. This helped him regain composure.

“Jesus Christ, Yeti,” exclaimed Joel. “Did you bite your tongue off again?”

Suddenly, the once unconscious face was imbued with vitality, and Yetman’s languid frame burst with an abrupt blast of kinetic energy surprising everyone, especially Joel. Yetman descended upon Joel with arms held out rigor mortis. They fell clumsily together. Rolling on the ground, Yetman bit Joel’s right trapezius, just above the collarbone. Nick intervened and hauled Yetman away from Joel. Yetman stumbled and toppled over his broken ankle and fell to the ground, producing a loud, audible crunch mixed with wet, fleshy tearing. Unaffected, he stood up with his forearm bent to an ungodly angle. Like a grotesque marionette, Yetman staggered towards David and Joel, until David, armed with an aluminium bat, shattered his skull with another loud, audible crunch.

*      *      *

            At the table where the debate had burned so intensely only moments ago, David sat silently.

“Is he alright?” asked Nick.

“I don’t know,” replied Marcy. “It was self-defence.”

“Have you called the ambulance or the cops yet?”

“Yeah but there’s no response. And it’s not my cell. I tried Claire’s but that didn’t work and neither did the house phone. To make sure I used to the house phone to call my cell so it’s not like the service is out.”

“Do you think there’s been an accident and they’re too busy?”

“It would have to be pretty huge.”

“Are you ok?” asked Nick.

“Yeah I’m just rotted that’s all. The mixer was supposed to be tonight and now all this happens.”

“Shitty. I’d say you wanted a break too after all the studying you must do.”

“Yeah. Joel will be fine though. The cut isn’t very deep at all. I guess he might just be having a bit of shock after what happened. The only concern is the saliva and that doesn’t need immediate attention anyway.”

“Why?”

“It carries a lot of bacteria. Even human spit. Diseases especially, but I don’t think Yeti was really that bad.”

“Don’t you find it weird how a couple of chemical reactions can mess up someone’s brain like that?”

“What do you mean?”

“Guys!” Claire cried out. “Something’s wrong with Joel!”

Nick and Claire rushed to the room. David remained sitting. Claire was standing with her hands clasped around her mouth. Joel’s eyes were closed and his skin was grey. Ashen and inhuman. Marcy checked his pulse. Nothing. She and Claire kneeled down and began CPR to try to revive him. A few minutes passed.

“This is going nowhere,” announced Marcy. “We need an ambulance.”

The eyes that once belonged to Joel Dawkins opened to reveal a pair of yellow pupils. He seized Claire’s hand gnawed at the flesh of her wrist. Marcy kicked at Joel’s head, and Nick pulled Claire away. They escaped the room and lock their friend inside. Once again Marcy tried the ambulance. Nothing. The police. Nothing. Her parents. Nothing. Her friends. Nothing. They turned on the television.

“…to stay in their homes. Deadly virus is rampant. I repeat; citizens are advised to stay in their homes. Those infected are extremely dangerous. Avoid contact…”

“What the hell is going on?”

“Shut up!”

“…be stopped with a sufficient blow to the cranium or removal of the head. The virus is spread through the transfer of fluids. Avoid being bitten at all costs…”

Claire collapsed. The bite had pierced her radial artery. There was a wide trail of blood that was very thick leading from the room to the puddle underneath her hand. No one had noticed. David finally got up from the table and goes to his father’s room. He brought back a shotgun.

“Here,” said David, offering the gun to Nick.  “You should do it, but if you won’t I will.”

“What the fuck is that?” asked Marcy.

“You know it has to be done,” explained David. “But it’ll be OK because it doesn’t count, you see. Just like Yeti. She won’t be here. It’s not really Marcy. She flew away.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” shouted Claire.

“It’s ok,” replied Nick.

Nick took the gun from David and left the room and came back with a large pillow. He got down on his knees. Straddling Marcy’s body, he leaned over and kissed her eye. She began to convulse. A violent tremor rippled through her body until her neck stretched out taught. She then relaxed and a tremulous sigh escaped her mouth. Her eyes then opened to reveal a pair of yellow marbles. Nick laid the pillow over them and fired the gun.

 

A disorganized mob of swaying, listless bodies marched along the same road that poor, lifeless Billy Yetman had. They too had languid bodies and yellow eyes. Staring inanimately at the sky, they staggered along aimlessly until the wind carried through the air a shotgun blast like the sound of thunder. They decided to follow it.

*      *      *

Amidst a losing battle, David continued to fight off the walking dead with the aluminium bat, while Nick kept trying to build a barricade. Running away from the fray for a brief moment, Nick took a broken door, avoided the bodies of Marcy, Joel, Claire, the other undead unknowns that had managed to break through, and stacked it behind the front door of the house. A window in the back of the house shattered and there was nothing left to bar it up. David recognized this first and made sure to grab the gun. Nick took a few knives, and wedged the largest one in his belt. David ran for the bathroom and locked himself in.

Something that could have been a teacher or a bus driver made a lunge for Nick, but he managed to plunge a knife into her forehead. Three knives left. Only half his face remained but Nick could recognize his street’s paperboy coming toward him. He sank a steak knife into his temple. Two knives. This one he’d never seen before but it may have been someone’s mother. He forced a knife in between her eyes. One last knife, but he needed this one.

David sat on the toilet shaking uncontrollably. He lifted the shotgun, brought it up towards his mouth, wrapped his lips around the barrel, and fingered the trigger. He took it out. He moved it up towards his forehead and rubs the trigger. He didn’t squeeze. He leaned forward, resting his brow on the barrel when the door hinge finally gave and he recognizes the body of one of his classmates from Confirmation, but can’t put a name to the cold, indifferent eyes. He shot. The nameless corpse stumbled backwards from the blast. More nameless bodies pushed their way inside. Overwhelmed, David can do nothing as the corpses clawed at him. The classmate was now upon him. He chewed off David’s nose and the upper roof of his mouth, while another drew out his tongue like a worm wriggling from the earth.

Nick managed to make his way on top of the roof. It was a clear night. ‘They’ were wrong about one thing after all; it didn’t snow. He looked out the mayhem surrounding him. Cries and screams and screeching tires. He placed his hand on his lower back and pulled out his last knife. High above he can make out a staggering V formation. How can they find their way like that? It can’t just all be instinct. These vague thoughts were just a means of hesitation on his part, which he is aware.

In his mind, with one swift motion he brings the edge home into his chest, pricking his heart. He collapses immediately but there isn’t much pain.

He tried to will body into manifesting his thoughts but he could transcend the mind-body gulf. A current of air blew past him, covering his body with goosebumps. He felt comforted by the deep chill. He tucked the knife back into his belt and lay on his back. Underneath, the dead could not reach him. He gazed at the expanse of moving stars and considered his options.

The End

*      *      *

It’s Halloween so I might as well post a story about zombies. I wrote this a few years ago, and I tried polishing it up for this post. When I wrote it I was pretty green and was struggling especially with appropriate tense. I also didn’t like the names I used. Hopefully I managed to fix things up, but there may be some unintentional ambiguity.

The worst thing about reading over things you wrote long ago has to be the purple prose. I read some parts of this thinking, “What the hell did you think you were doing?” Oh well. Gotta grind through all that.

Hope you enjoyed it. As always, feedback is much appreciated!

cheers,

-B

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~ by braddunne on November 1, 2011.

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