This story was written for a prompt from the Hooks of Horror podcast. Justin did a phenomenal job reading it! To hear the episode, click here!
By now you’ve heard all kinds of stories about what happens after the apocalypse. Undoubtedly, that means you don’t need another one telling you about how shitty life can be living around zombies, dealing with not having power, and having to scavenge your hometown for drugs and food. It’s pretty basic. What most stories don’t cover, though, is what happens around the holidays. I mean, we might be running for our lives for 90% of our days, but hey, we have to cling to any kind of normalcy we can, right?
Granted, it’s difficult to feel jolly when you don’t have enough juice in your generator to justify hanging lights, but we still cut down a tree and make cookies. Well, I should say we steal a tiny portion of cookie dough from the tub we have and roast a cookie each over a gun lighter. By “we,” I mean my sister and I. When the apocalypse happened, we were stranded on the other side of our state from our parents. The weekend everything went down, they were visiting my uncle in Boston while my sister and I stayed home because I was sick. She, being the awesome older sister she was, offered to stay home with me. This was over the summer, so it’s been a few months since we’ve seen our parents in person. Once the cell towers went down, we weren’t able to get in touch with them and it’s now been three weeks since we’ve made contact. It’s too unsafe to try and reach them so we’ve essentially given up on finding them. It was a heartbreaking decision, but we’re at that point where more people are zombies than survivors.
My sister and I are only a few years apart; she’s 25 and I’m 19. It’s quite the gap, but we managed to get along as kids. Her name is Chris, short for Christina, and she’s the badass punk rocker chick with purple hair I always wanted to be. Imagine all those clothes from the ’90s that are making a comeback slapped onto one perfectly sized body matched with a nonchalant attitude and a smoking habit. That’s my sister; she’s amazing. Chris is also the reason I’m still alive. When I was sick, we were worried I wouldn’t get over the cold I had because of the meds I needed to kick it, so she escaped our basement one night and ran for her life to the drugstore 3 miles away to get it for me. She says she landed a headshot through a local pharmacist in the process, but I don’t believe her.
Since I recovered, we’ve been living in the basement of our house with little to no food for far too long. She’ll sometimes grab me something to eat, but it’s never what I want. I guess I’m just picky like that.
“Merry Christmas!” Chris shouts, a little too energized, into my ear. I groan and pull the crocheted blanket I’m using to keep warm over my head.
“Get up lazy bones, it’s Christmas morning! I have a surprise for you.” Not wanting to miss out on a surprise I’m sure I’ll love if I know anything about Chris, I sit up and glance around the small finished basement we’ve taken shelter in.
Tied to the radiator across from our air mattress is a goat. My eyes light up and I crawl across the thin carpeting and tear into the thing, blood falling from its arteries and its tender raw meat melting in my mouth. I don’t even think to ask where she got this thing from, I’m just elated that it’s here and I can eat properly. From the sidelines, I see Chris watching me devour the goat with a mix of bliss and disgust. I happily snarl towards her and take my time finishing the rest of my feast as she pours herself a bowl of dry cereal.
Covered in blood, I plop down next to her at the table a few minutes later. I haven’t felt this full in days and it’s doing wonders for my headspace. I peer over the book Chris is reading and point towards the 12×5 window at the top of the wall.
“There’s no way we’re going anywhere today. It’s way too risky with everyone being all jolly and whatnot.”
I did my best to shoot her what used to be my puppy dog eyes, but all sensitivity is lost from your facial expressions when you lose most of your jaw to decomposition. This attempt, however, made her smile.
“Maybe later, but we have a bunch of traditions to get out of the way. That goat wasn’t the only thing I got you.”
I go to touch her hand, but she moves it just in time for me to leave a bloody handprint on the tablecloth instead. Realizing I should probably take a shower so as not to appear dangerous when we go on our walk, I go rinse off and change my clothes. Just because I am a zombie doesn’t mean I have to look like one. You know, aside from the jaw thing…and also the arm thing.
Chris meets me outside of the bathroom with a small newspaper-wrapped parcel in her hands.
“I can’t wait any longer. Open it!” Her face is nearly split in two as she bounces up and down with excitement.
I maneuver through the wrapping paper with my good arm and she helps me open the box within. Inside is a silver locket with mine and Chris’ initials engraved on the outside.
“Mom gave this to me on my 20th birthday. I know I’m a bit early, but I really wanted to make sure you got this before…well, you know.” What she meant was “I don’t know how much longer we have together” but was kind enough not to say it. She clasped the thin chain around my neck and it made me tear up a bit.
“She told me grandma had it made when she found out mom was pregnant with you.”
I couldn’t tell her, but somehow she knew how much I loved her and how thankful I was.
Since we were little, one of our favorite traditions has always been cutting down our own Christmas tree. This year, things are a bit different than they usually are but we made a game plan for what we’ll do. Chris is going to cut down the tree while I circle around her like she’s my next meal. That way, no one else will bother us. Chris has a handgun with her just in case, but I think our plan is really solid. I’m ready to rip into anyone that might have a problem with what we’re doing, that goat was just an appetizer.
We only had to search for a bit before we found the perfect tree; a little three-foot pine in the woods behind our house. I prowled around, growling and carrying on like Chris was my next meal so everyone would leave us alone. Amid the sawing noises coming from the base of the tree, my weird zombie hearing picked something up around the front of the house, not wanting to ditch Chris without cover, I motioned for her to come over and check it out. She cocked her gun and led the way around the side and towards the front.
Turns out the noise I heard was knocking. It was especially weird since I hadn’t heard someone knock on something for months. It’s not exactly the best way to stay hidden when zombies are so sensitive to sounds. Chris peeked around the corner and, rather than come back to hide, she dropped her weapon and excited cheering and greetings could be heard. I was a bit confused, so I decided to investigate. Turns out my parents had somehow survived until now and made it back to the house from the other side of the state.
I forgot for a moment about my jaw, my arm, and the whole zombie thing. I was so excited to see my parents again; that all thought left what little brain I had left. I went to hug my mom and she freaked out. It only took one scream for my instincts to kick in. My joy turned to hunger the second she shrieked. I couldn’t help myself, something just came over me. From the moment I was bitten, Chris hadn’t screamed once. I didn’t know I was capable of craving flesh like this. I ripped into my mother’s throat with my teeth, her warm blood running down my face and over the locket, staining my sweater.
My dad screamed, Chris holding him back and screaming herself, giving me a disgusted look but unable to avert her eyes. I chewed away at the body of the woman that raised me, tears in my eyes, but a hunger in my belly I couldn’t help but satiate.
Last Week’s Story: Oh, Christmas Tree (features body horror and excessive gore)
Do you like horror movies? Well, I review the shitty ones. Check out my reviews on my other site Snark in the Dark!
I also have a podcast now! Enjoy my stories in audio form!
Like the stories I write? Consider supporting me on Patreon!
If you’d like to use this story for your YouTube Channel/Podcast/etc. please see the contact page for details.