** This is a continuation of my story A Very Undead Christmas that offers some more context to the beginning of this story**
I watched the flames rise from the backyard pyre on which my mother laid. Chris and my father stood watching with solemn expressions on their faces, but no tears. You have to become a robot to deal with all the death that accompanies the apocalypse if you want to survive at all. I, on the other hand, was a complete mess. Still dripping blood and digesting my mother’s face, I knelt down to the ground and sobbed. It must really be a sight to watch a zombie cry; I still have working tear ducts, and mucous tracts and all, so my nose was running through where my mouth used to be and, already wearing blood-soaked clothes, I didn’t have anything to wipe it away with.
Snot bubbles formed, tears fell to the cold, dry ground, and a low guttural moan escaped my shredded vocal chords. Chris looked at me, disdain in her eyes and a darkness in her heart I had never seen. I couldn’t believe it was my fault a wedge had now been driven between us after all she’d done for me while I was sick. I stood and made a mess of my already messed up face by absentmindedly sliding my sweater sleeve across my nose, and limped over to her. I pointed to the locket around my neck and then back to her. There was no way I was going to embarrass myself further by attempting to take the necklace off on my own.
Like she always had, she knew what I was trying to say. Rather than undo the clasp, however, she gripped the locket and pulled it off; breaking the chain and cutting a deep line into the back of my neck. Her mouth was a flat line and her eyes looked wild reflecting the fire.
It took a few days for me to get tired of seeing that look on her face every time we passed by each other in our small basement. I mostly kept to myself in the tent that was my bedroom. Chris wanted to give me a good life and wanted to keep me safe but I really fucked that up when I ate mom. After about a week, I was too devastated to play nice for New Years and knew I had to go before things got worse.
The night I left was the day before New Years Eve. I hobbled towards the main road and made my way through town. By the time my legs grew tired, I was at the edge near a bus stop. Our town is small, but when you only have the use of one of your knees, it’s really quite a struggle to get anywhere. It would only take about an hour for Chris and my dad to catch up to me, but it was enough of a head start to feel like I’d properly run away.
I sat on a bench to rest when suddenly I heard a grunt come from behind me. I turned, as quickly as my rusty joints would allow, to meet the eyes, well, one eye, of another zombie. They were further gone than I was with sunken, wrinkled skin, rotting lips, and both of their arms missing. They were in a shredded, dirty suit, insinuating they may have been one of the first to be raised from the dead when that rainstorm started this whole thing.
I grunted in reply and patted the seat next to me, but from there I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. I had spent most of this apocalypse with Chris. Being around other zombies was weird. I held out my only hand for the other zombie to shake, but he just looked at me and then at his armless shoulders. I felt my cheeks flush and immediately wanted to run away and hide in a bush or something, but I forced myself to stay and be social.
We both looked anywhere but at each other for about five minutes. I frantically searched for some physical thing to chat about so I wouldn’t have to navigate a conversation with grunts and moans assuming they meant something I didn’t. Then, the back of the bus bench caught my attention. From behind a thick glossy piece of plastic, a woman in a red blazer smiled through bright red lips. Her face was framed with bouncy blonde hair, and to her left was a large logo for the local news station. This was Retta Langford, one of my favorite newscasters and a bit of a local hero for her valiant rescue of a kitten from a tree last spring.
I jerked the side of my mouth up a bit and gestured to the photo, grumbled a bit, then brought my hand back to my face, bending it at the wrist and offering a pathetic, wheezing meow to get my story across. The stranger nodded enthusiastically and their eyebrows arched. My first inclination that he didn’t understand what I was saying occurred when he stood and started thrusting his hips vigorously and grunting with each thrust. Again, I wanted to run from embarrassment, but the other zombie seemed to think we had a lot in common now and jerked his head for me to follow him. Not wanting to be rude, I stood and walked by his side until we reached a small house shrouded by tall trees in a more rural part of town.
I never learned the other zombie’s name, but I’m about to introduce you to a few more, so for the sake of this narrative, we’ll call him Armless. Armless and I walked through the door to find a small group of other zombies sitting around a dining room table playing poker. Various bloody appendages and extremities piled up in the center and on the floor next to each chair. As the door closed, The zombie at the head of the table, who I now lovingly refer to as Coffinbreath, slapped down a hand of cards and hugged the large prize towards his part of the table, a slick trail of blood followed the pink arms and legs of his winnings as he did so.
It didn’t take long until the group noticed us standing in the living room. There were about four other zombies sitting at the table, Coffinbreath at the head, Googlyeye next to him wearing some woman’s bloodied scalp and hair as a wig after losing all of hers, Noseless sat opposite her, and next to him was Paul; Paul had a name tag on the torn uniform he was wearing, so that made things pretty easy.
Once Armless and I were spotted, Coffinbreath stood to greet us. He held out his arms, still covered in fresh blood, in a welcoming gesture. It was when he approached us that he earned his nickname. Through blackened teeth that were like that long before he was dead, he breathed out a chuckle and smiled at the two of us. Coffinbreath was clearly an elderly man in his time before the apocalypse. He wore a Hawaiian shirt, straw fedora, thick eye-doctor sunglasses, socks with sandals, and had all of his limbs, though they were upholstered with sagging wrinkled skin and thin bones.
Grunting happily, he wiped the blood from his hand (not that it mattered in my state) and shook mine. He raised his sunglasses to give me a creepy wink as well. He then gestured to Armless as if he was asking for something. Jutting out his hip towards Coffinbreath, Armless nodded. Coffinbreath picked through the contents of his pockets and pulled out a piece of paper. He was obviously a messenger of some sort considering there was no way he could have written something legible down, let alone fit it into a pocket. Flipping it one way, then another, then back to the first position, Coffinbreath pulled it closer to his face and smiled. He clapped Armless on the shoulder, causing his entire body to crumple a bit. Armless and Coffinbreath escorted me to the table where the others greeted me. Noseless handed me a couple of baby arms with a wink and pretty soon I was playing poker.
Last Week’s Story: A Very Undead Christmas
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