Watch out, Boy

One shot for the "Walking Dead" inspired zombie contest

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1. Watch out, Boy

 

      Before last summer, Brandon Samuelson had no idea about zombies. Hell, he thought that was just what teenagers turned into after one too many Jagermeisters at an after hours, raise-the-roof-until-the-cops-get-called party.

      But now was different. Now, he knew.

      With a flick of his wrist, his blade was ready at his side, posied to sing its sweet song as it sliced through grey, decaying flesh. The road ahead outside the ghost town of Winkadi was as dry and barren as the desert leading off to either side. Nothing stood between Brandon and the human thing slowly ambling up the road toward him. Or at least, it used to be human. In his head, Brandon counted down the yards until it was within slaying distance.

      Fifty.

      The people on the news said the plague came in waves. Although, to Brandon, it came in tsunamis.

      Forty

      The first tsunami was the Red Spot Phase. Huge, crimson pimples broke out on the skin of 90% of the West Coast, although the disease soon tore through the country. Everyone assumed they were some sort of boils and attempted to pop them - but they weren't filled with pus. Oh no.

      Thirty.

      The moment even one pimple was broken open, people soon discovered that they were filled with a strange substance, thicker than blood but certainly consisting of it. Once the skin was torn, the blood-like cream would ooze out to allow a way for the whole blood supply to simply pour out of a person's body. Like OJ from a carton.

      Twenty.

      The second tsunami was quieter. Silent almost. This was the stage when people started to hack like old hags, coughing up their guts. Literally. Brandon had been there the day his math teacher had choked up his own intestines.

      Ten.

      Then, the third tsunami came. The people left called it the Nobody Phase. Either you were the only one left in an area and there was nobody else around, or you had nobody else to care about and went running into the arms of infected loved ones, begging God to let you contract the plague so it could finish you off. But Brandon knew there was no such as thing as gods. Only monsters.

      Five.

      He remembered the day his father had driven his mother through with a bread knife, before finishing himself off too.

      Four.

      And the day before that when his sister had drowned herself in the family swimming pool. She was trying to scrub herself clean after contracting the plague from a lovebite from her boyfriend.

      Three.

      And the month before when Brandon himself had been forced to shoot Muffin, the family dog, straight between the eyes after it caught the disease from an alley cat.

      Two.

      Yes, the Nobody phase. It killed the living and those who had already died, the ones who had succumbed to the brute force of the plague. Those who couldn't even remember their own name. Once, Brandon had even seen a zombie - he supposed that was what they were called now - trudging around with maggots wiggling out of its ear. A pleasant sight. He ought to have put it on a Christmas card.

      One.

      But he had not sucummbed to the Nobody Phase. His name was Brandon, wasn't it? Yes, Brandon, he told himself. Brandon the boy with the bread knife. Brandon the boy who wore the scars and injuries of his battle with the near-dead like war medals. Hell, only last week he had recieved a claw mark stretching from his wrist to his shoulder.

      Zero.

      He didn't even have to think. His body worked on instinct now. The instant the walking dead got close enough, Brandon lifted his leg and rammed his foot into the corpse's stomache, his boot crashing through brittle bones and soft intestines. The zombie staggered back a step as his foot protruded from the other side of its abdomen. Brandon quickly retracted his leg. He couldn't tell if the zombie was male or female. Its nose was no more than a bony stump, with skin hanging off its dusty bones and teeth, a long, shaggy mop of dirty blone hair hanging from its skull. Ignoring the stench, Brandon levelled the bread knife to where the zombie's heart would be and drove it home, a satisfying crunch following in its wake. The zombie screamed, a deep, ugly, gluttural sound, as it brought its skeletal hands up to grab Brandon's injured arm. But Brandon was quicker. When the bloodstained bread knife refused to come free, he used his free hand to swat at the zombie's head, brushing it away like an annoying bug. The corpse's head snapped violently to the side, before shooting back around. Before Brandon had time to attack again, he stumbled backward to avoid the rotting, fang-like teeth as the zombie tried to snap at him.

      Well, there goes a perfectly good bread knife, he thought to himself. His butt smacked against the solid ground, plumes of yellow dust cascading upward around him, as he hit the floor. How will I butter my bread with zombie brains now?

      But the joke fell flat, even in his own mind. That knife was marked with the deaths of his family. It was all he had left of them; now it was gone.

      Suddenly, Brandon realised the whole pointlessness of the situation. Of trying to survive. Of fighting the walking dead. His family was gone. His friends were dead or walking corpses. Why shouldn't he just let this zombie kill him? Why not give himself over to the plague?

      Brandon had no good answer. No good reason to keep breathing. With a final sigh of defeat, he opened his arms, laid back in the dirt and waited for the walking dead to take him...

      Crack. Crunch. Crack.

      The sound came out of nowhere. Without a second thought, Brandon was bolt upright, raising a hand to his forehead to block out the harsh glare of the sun beating down on him. All that he could see against the burning brightness of the dusty, desert horizon was the dark silhouette of the zombie as it dropped down. Dead.

      "Need a hand?" a female voice asked.

      Brandon jumped out of his skin, hurriedly scrambling to his feet. The moment he was up, he took in the sight of the girl before him. Five-foot-seven. Slight. Small. Dark brown hair and hazel eyes to match. Seventeen, maybe eighteen. A red bandana around her mouth, which she quickly whipped off when she noticed him staring. She threw the grey, withered heart of the zombie up and down in her hand like a baseball.

      "Or not," the girl replied sarcastically, wearing a wicked smirk.

      "Who...are...you?" Brandon muttered. "What...are...you?"

      "Amazing with a bread knife," she said. Only then did he notice that she was also twirling his knife - his family's knife - in her other hand. Instinctively, he reached out to snatch it back, but the mysterious girl yanked her arm out of his reach. "Tut. Tut. Tut. My mother told me to never give things to strangers."

      "But I am..." he began to say, choking on his words. Or something else in his throat.

      He didn't know how to introduce himself.

      Silence hung heavily in the air, like the musky, dead weight of a guillotine. The dust of the desert flew around, sandy particles becoming caught in Brandon's nose hair and scratching his throat with talons - no, claws - scratching, scratching, scratching...until he felt something begin to shift inside him, something moving like slow sludge in the pit of his stomach, swirling and pulsing and...and...decaying, curling up like a dead animal, just like that dog did before he shot him through the head.

      But...no...that couldn't have been him, could it? No, because he didn't know how to handle a gun or a sword or a...knife, did he?

      He opened his mouth to speak, to try and say again, "But I am..."

      Spluttering coughs were the only sounds which echoed through the barren desert landscape.

      "Already dead," the girl finished his sentence. He stared at her blankly for a second. She nodded toward the cut extending from his wrist to his arm. The one he had obtained from a zombie attack just last week.

      It couldn't be infected with the plague. It couldn't, couldn't.

      He was...he was...who was he?

      The girl plunged the knife into his heart.

 

 

 

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