Tagged: free

Not Enough Apologies 4

There was an alley between the buildings across the street from the park where all the fuss was happening. My body made a slow, but steady, straight line for that opening. It seemed to know where to hide.

An expensive car nearly ran me over as I jaywalked. I wish he’d hit me. I imagine a fancy car plowing through an intersection at two times the speed limit would be enough to take me out all the way. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t.

My legs moved, and I thought about the consequences of an accident that I “lived” through. On the bright side, they’d call the police, who would appear and make sure I died. That was also the negative aspect of the situation. I was afraid of burning to death and being aware of it.

When I stopped that train of thought, I looked out through my eyes and discovered I’d made my way into the alley. That was another aspect of my second life that I was only just getting used to. I could take my attention away from what my body was doing, and it would just keep going.

That’s a bad description.

Imagine being able to immerse yourself in what you’re imagining, to the degree you don’t experience anything other than that fantasy, while your body operates on autopilot. That’s how I stay relatively sane, most of the time. This trick doesn’t work when the body is hunting and feeding. I can’t flee from that.

Feeding becomes the whole universe, and I’ve seen too much of it.

I saw the trouble down at the end of the alley, where it turns off to the right like an L. Punks were beating someone up, and that someone wasn’t really fighting back as much as simply trying to get away. It was a sure sign that the young people were engaging in the latest method of proving their manhood: beating up zombies.

Teenagers who weren’t out drinking, getting laid, or both, figured out that baiting zombies was the next best thing to Fight Club. They can beat us “to death” and we don’t fight back; we’re passive unless we’re hunting and feeding.

The technique is simple. Someone buys a vial of Hollow off a dealer, and they take it to a secluded place. Once there, they break it, and wait. Eventually, a zombie will show up, and pounce on the spilled drug. As soon as it is finished, the kids jump it and kick the shit out of it.

Sometimes the more aggressive gangs will do the reanimated person a favor and decapitate him.

I’ve also seen a few Zombangings go wrong. One of the gang has a secret Hollow problem, and the zombie attacks him. You can imagine how the other kids might try to protect their friend, if they don’t run for their lives. They can’t deal with a killing machine who doesn’t care about anything except food.

Inevitably, anyone who doesn’t run away ends up dead.

That night in the alley, it didn’t look like that would be the outcome. The other zombie wasn’t doing anything other than rolling with the punches and kicks. Better for the gang.

My body stood there, as if it was witnessing the event, but disinclined to get involved. For myself, I hoped the kids wouldn’t notice me. It seemed like there was enough space, and not enough light between us for them to take note that another zombie had shown up. That suited me just fine.

I didn’t want to feel that kind of beating, just like I didn’t want to experience being burned alive.

Not Enough Apologies 3

The undead fight over food. When I was alive, and watched horror movies, the zombies seemed cooperative when it came to feeding. That isn’t how it is. You have to eat as much as you can and run, or you’ll be mobbed.

Zombies are only fast when they’re hungry.

Hunting, killing, eating, fleeing, and fighting has nothing to do with me. The person that was me—all my memories and thoughts—is locked away, forced into the role of observer. Something else is running my flesh, and it understands those things. It wants to live.

I would rather I’d just stopped when I died, or gone on to oblivion, rather that be moral carry-on baggage in a body that doesn’t need me. I’m an appendix.

Other undead started to close in, nearer than my body was comfortable with. One more bite of hot liver, and I was shambling away from the scene. Just in time, too.

The gang, five of them, running in from separate directions, ignored me completely. I wasn’t eating what they wanted, or fighting them for it, so I didn’t pose a threat. My body didn’t turn around to see the melee that erupted as they fought for my scraps, but I could hear it. It was just as horrible as eating that idiot was. Snarls. Screams. The sound of tearing flesh and breaking bones.

Luck was on my side a second time, as I wandered out of the park, because I heard sirens approaching. The police arrived in force, and I knew what would be coming next. I’d seen it once or twice before.

The uniformed officers would charge the clot of zombies, weapons drawn, and start blowing their brains out. In a few minutes, if they weren’t there already, another unit would arrive with flamethrowers. They would burn the still bodies to dust.

The police do not make an effort to identify the undead, at least as far as I know. I might be wrong. All I can say is that I never saw it done.

My body’s operator was pretty sly. It had escaped a number of situations like this one, sometimes by standing very still behind a large tree. Humans focus very tightly on what they’re doing in emergencies—I know I did—this means they can lose details in heat of the moment. It knows to make use of that trait.

I suppose that also extends to not waiting around when other zombies are on the way.

Definitely smarter than the average shambling creature, but just as amoral. There’s just the hunger, and it must be sated.

I don’t know what would happen if my body couldn’t feed. Maybe I’d start to rot. There’s no one to tell me anything. All I know is what I experience in this situation because zombies don’t got to coffee shops and swap stories about being dead. That probably wouldn’t make things more bearable, even if it worked that way.

In short, being dead sucks.

Not Enough Apologies 2

Everything you’ve done pales in comparison to the screaming, blood-filled thing you’re doing, or are about to do. I can tell you that for sure, because I’m about to do it again. I just smelled the two things that my body wants: fresh meat, and the drug.

I can see him walking through the park, sucking on the telltale tube that flagged him as an addict. Like the rest of us were, he’s lost in his own little world that has nothing to do with the rest of us. Indeed, he wouldn’t move to help a baby being mauled by wild dogs if it was happening right in front of him.

That’s the drug for you. If you weren’t a self-centered asshole before you started licking the plastic, you would be shortly thereafter. The chemical social myopia makes them easier targets for those of us who have already died. Your dealer won’t tell you that, even if he knows about it.

My tongue was wet in anticipation of flesh, and I tried to prepare my soul for another murder that I had no power to stop. In a moment or two, I’d be descending into my own personal hell, and I still don’t think I deserve it. The body doesn’t care if I do or not.

The kid in the expensive shoes stopped on the path, and it was the one thing he shouldn’t have done.

Zombies like me are slow, shambling things, except when we’re hunting or feeding; then we’re superhuman. The kid didn’t know what hit him, but he caught on quickly.  You’re going to pay attention when a wild creature locks its teeth into your left deltoid and rips your flesh away.

I suppose, in a way, I enhanced his narcotic experience. The world was now absolutely, and completely, about him. It wasn’t a drug-induced illusion. It was cold, hard, artery-jetting fact.

Unlike many other people I’ve consigned to death and rebirth, this guy put up a fight. A knife appeared in his other hand, and cut my face to the bone along my jaw. I felt it with exquisite clarity, and would have curled up into a ball to protect myself if I were alive. No such mercy in the land of the dead.

I kept attacking him, tearing off chunks of flesh and eating them, as I was able. I paid for every with with hot, silver, lines of pain when his blade made contact. My body didn’t bleed anymore, but the rubbery remains of my flesh gaped open, and I could feel the cold of the night on my bare organs and bones. That’s certainly an experience that life doesn’t prepare you for.

Cut for bite, or bite for cut, I would win. I’d won before, even if I’d rather lose. I have no say in anything, because if I did, I never would have walked out of the morgue in the first place.

“To sleep, perchance to dream,” would have been infinitely preferable to bleeding out from a gunshot wound, feeling everything close in and go black, only to explode in frigid brilliance a day or two later.

My dinner would have the same fate.

I got the drop on him and tore his throat out with my teeth. I fed on him as he flailed and stabbed me, but not for long. Between blood loss and being unable to breathe, he was dead and cooling before I was finished.

I didn’t get to enjoy it for long  (I use “enjoy” loosely), because the sound of the fight drew the attention of every zombie who could hear it.