A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Kirsten Austin
I haven’t been the same since that lifeless bastard bit me. He was all tooth and nail and savage beast when he ran for me and took that chunk out of my arm. Wait, maybe I should start from the beginning. I met him on the stairs. He had eyes to make your heart dissolve like an Alka-Seltzer tablet in hydrochloric acid. He deliberately ran into me, and I didn’t mind that my stack of books went tumbling down each stair in consecutive thuds and whirs of pages. He was as smooth as silk drenched in lubricant. Next thing I knew, I was going on a date with the hottest guy in all of Boston. His name was Skyler and aside from his horrifying obsession with converting me into a Christian, he was totally amazing. After dinner, I spent almost three hours convincing my date to take me to “Dawn of the Dead.” It had just come out, and I was dying to see it. There’s nothing like a good zombie movie and a bucket of buttered popcorn that’s been sitting out just long enough to acquire the texture of styrofoam. Maybe I’m just morbid, or maybe it was Skyler’s Bible-thumping upbringing, but I never thought anyone could be truly frightened by a horror flick. Within the first 15 minutes, I realized I was wrong. He was worse than my five-year-old sister, nearly bruising my hand from squeezing it so hard. After that night, he started to get the nightmares. Every other night he would call me before the moon even had a chance to start its way to the horizon, crying about how the zombies were chasing him. He said the Devil was sneaking into his dreams to steal his soul. He started reciting Bible verses from the book of John or Max or whoever, every time he got freaked. At that point, I really had to break it off. He was getting too clingy, and I just couldn’t deal with such a pansy. Plus, I think the reciting the Bible thing was actually making him worse and giving me nightmares. I let him down as nicely as I could, but he didn’t take it very well. I wish I had known how mentally unstable he was before I agreed to that first date. We went a few days without seeing each other; it was a relief to be free of him, but I missed him nonetheless. It’s like getting rid of a puppy that would always piss on your carpet. He was a nuisance and a pain to clean up after, but so cute and fun to play with that I couldn’t help but want him back. I decided I had to see him again. It was Sunday so I went to the one place I knew he would be, his church. The First Baptist Church of Boston was really close to my house, along with all the other first churches in the city. Why is it that they all claim to be the first, and why haven’t I seen a second church of this or that? Walking up to the front doors, I realized that these people were more like zombies than any mindless flesh-eating corpse I had seen in the movies. They all smiled and shook my hand so eagerly that I was nearly waiting for their ambush. I could see them screaming, “Convert the sinner!” With my eyes and ears on guard, I cautiously entered the building and immediately spotted Skyler. I ran and wrapped my arms around him. Shocked and apparently delighted to see me, he told me how much he missed me. I told him how I missed him too. But that was obvious; why else would I have entered that insane asylum? He convinced me to stay for the service by telling me I owed him for making him see that movie. I was probably more freaked out than he was during the horror film and told him so. He admitted quietly that most of the people here were the zombies in his dreams. We made a quick escape from the church, thanks to me, and headed out for lunch. Afterward, as we drove down my street, Skyler muttered the words “déjà vu” and his face went white. He muttered that something reminded him of his dreams as he pointed to a staggering man covered in blood. Freaked out, I frantically asked Skyler to stop the car to help the injured man. He ignored me as he accelerated. He started going on about how this always happens, how every recurring dream he ever has always come true. I looked back at the bloody man as the expanse of pavement between him and the car continuously grew. The tires screamed as he swerved into my driveway and jumped out of the vehicle. He grabbed me and dragged me into the house, locking the door behind us. I walked slowly into my kitchen, scared out of my mind. It couldn’t be real, could it? Zombies? He must have been playing a joke on me. Suddenly my roommate stumbled out of her room into the hallway, chewing on what looked like a giant turkey leg. Her hair was wild and tangled, and her skin was so white that it was blue. She looked dead. That is when I realized that she was, and the giant turkey leg she was eating was her boyfriend’s arm. I wouldn’t have recognized it if it weren’t for the spider tattoo on the wrist. I screamed hysterically, running away from my zombie roommate and out the door. I jumped into Skyler’s car and then realized that I neither had the keys nor Skyler. I looked down the street to see a group of the undead advancing my way. I recognized one of them. No— it couldn’t be! Not Mrs. Bryce, anyone but her. She was the sweetest neighbor I ever had, always bringing me leftover dinner. And there she was — well, her walking corpse rather — literally eating little Timmy from across the street’s face. The zombies were eating my neighbors. The zombies were my neighbors! With a big stick in hand, I crept up to the front door. I called for Skyler and slowly twisted the doorknob. What used to be my roommate was now in twitching pieces on my living room floor. I remember thinking, “Wow, those stains will be hard to get out.” Then I saw Skyler standing against the opposite wall, staring at the minced and mangled corpse. He looked to me and dropped the butcher knife he was holding. I looked him up and down. There were no visible bite marks or blood that appeared to be his. I ran and hugged him with relief.With the zombies growing closer with every second, I darted outside with Skyler right behind me. We threw ourselves into his car while the stinking mongrels clawed at the doors. We sped out of the neighborhood, where poor little Timmy was now running after other neighborhood children who had lost their mommies, trying to get a bite. I couldn’t laugh like I did at the movies; this was real. Instead, I cried like a baby that just got pinched with razor blades. As we neared the interstate, I started feeling better, like we might escape. But then I saw it, miles and miles of cars. They weren’t moving at all. The traffic was literally dead—and running around looking for their next meals. Skyler turned the car around. We drove away from civilization. For hours, we drove through forests and fields, spotting the occasional zombie, staggering its way down the empty street. I ran over in my head all the zombie movies I had seen, comparing, contrasting, and trying to figure out what was going on. I went through everything in my mental inventory from “28 Days Later” to “Night of the Living Dead.” Eventually, we drove for an entire hour without seeing a single waltzing corpse around. We drove up to whatappeared to be an abandoned cottage.I stepped out of the car and walkeda few feet towards the door. I looked back at Skyler, still sitting in the driver’s seat. It was the first time I had really looked at him since we got in the car. He was pale and his eyes were white and expressionless. His veins were blue through his seemingly thin and transparent skin. He told me that he was dying, that he was going to turn into “one of them.” He showed me the teeth marks on his stomach. They had just barely penetrated his skin, just enough infected saliva to get into his bloodstream and take over his body. He told me that there was a gun in the glove compartment. I reluctantly retrieved the pistol and a box of spare bullets just in case. Suddenly my dead boyfriend’s body started twitching violently; he was about to come back as an appendage munching monster. I tried to forget everything about Skyler and obtained a completely murderous state of Zen. Skyler’s corpse was rejuvenated with an animalistic hunger. He lunged for me as I pointed the gun to his head. I pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. No loud noises or bullets penetrating any zombie skulls, just tiny little clicks and one hungry-looking corpse headed my way. The gun wasn’t loaded. That was when he bit me. Yes, that bastard freaking bit me. He took a chunk out of my arm the size of a tennis ball. It hurt like hell. So I ran because I would rather turn into a zombie than have more chunks of flesh and bone ripped from my still-kicking body. After gaining a good amount ofdistance on zombie Skyler, I fumbledwith the bullets and managed to loadthe gun. I heard some rustling in thetrees behind me, and turned around tosee Skyler in a sick and savage state. I looked and asked him, “Where’s your god now?” as I shot him in between the eyes twice, just to make sure that I did it right the first time. Cerebral matter and bits of skull sprayed onto the towering pines, as Skyler fell and twitched for the very last time. I knelt down next to him and apologized for having to shoot him, then cursed at him for not telling me that the gun wasn’t loaded. I headed in the direction we had been driving before. I didn’t bother trying to drive the car; I wouldn’t be able to do so for much longer. I figured that I could always go for help, but if I couldn’t find it in time, then I was sure that I would be getting very hungry soon. Luckily, it turned out that we had been fleeing from one civilization and nearing another. After only a few minutes of walking, I came to an intersection–complete with a gas station. There was a taxi getting gas, and I asked the driver if he could take me to the nearest mall. I chose a mall because it had to be every zombie’s dream to eat there. Talk about a buffet. I handed him a twenty and climbed into the back seat. The driver told me that I should be going to the hospital, not a mall. I’m sure by this time I was getting all pale and veiny, and the blood from my arm had completely soaked my clothing. I told him not to ask questions and gave him the rest of my money. We were at the mall in only a few minutes. I was feeling extremely weak, so I got out of the taxi and went to the first bench I could find inside the mall. I looked around and saw that everyone was perfectly healthy. There were no zombies in this town. Well, not yet. That was when I blacked out. I woke up and felt an overpowering hunger in the pit of my stomach. When I opened my eyes, everything was red, and the only thing I could think of was how good human brains would be for dinner. There was a crowd of concerned citizens surrounding me, and I bolted for the nearest one. Everything was a blur of flesh and blood. I ate, and ate, and ate. I could never fill my stomach. I always needed more. I went on a feeding frenzy in that shopping mall, but there was no one left to eat. I have plenty of companions now, walking around all lifeless and hungry, but I don’t like them very much. It’s always a competition with them. It’s always a battle of who gets to eat the little girl’s intestines. Well, you know what? I want the little girl’s intestines, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get them. I got out of that mall and took to the streets, but it’s hard to find any life around here. I fear that soon I will starve, and the entire world will be only zombies, and there will be nothing left to eat… ever. If my brain could think about anything besides my hunger for human flesh, I’m sure that I would be missing Skyler or wishing I had shot myself in the head, but all I can see is that little boy hiding in the sewer, and he’s looking pretty tasty. I haven’t been the same since that lifeless bastard bit me, but now I’m a lifeless bastard too, so I guess I can’t complain since we zombies don’t talk much. Besides, it’s time to eat someone’s neighbors.