Richard Garfield had suffered many hardships throughout his life. Countless women he fell for sought only to use him, leaving him heartbroken. He had been the victim of corrupt employers who cheated him out of money. In time he barely had enough to live under a roof. It seemed as if poor Richard had been through it all. Of course, then there was the day his entire family had been consumed by zombies.
Once they took over Syracuse, Richard found himself holding out in the airport with most of the other survivors. Even then he was alone. He was a pale, skinny, young man who kept to himself. He wasn’t hated by the others, like he experienced in school, just an outsider. He hardly ever spoke unless the situation deemed it necessary. Whenever approached by others, Richard would avert his gaze and fumble with a gold cross that hung by his neck with a chain of matching metal.
Richard treasured that cross. His mother had given it to him after his father had left. She had received it from her mother who, in turn, received it from hers. It remained his only possession from his previous life. On the back, engraved horizontally, it read “Exsisto Validus.”
I use to think “Christmas spirit” was a joke. To me it was nonsense, bull. Nothing more than an excuse for corporate fat cats to get that much fatter. I suppose that changed when the dead rose.
You should have seen it. Christmas morning came around and it was…Well, I suppose you’d call me a fool if I said it was a miracle. Though, there was definitely something. The people were happy. Happy! In the midst of a zombie apocalypse. That’s saying something! Corpse Corps squads ended up finding some sweets hidden in the city. The entire zone got to have a piece. Thank God for those preservatives. Nobody minded the cold, especially since it meant an increase in ghoul-sicles. One team actually brought back a tree reminiscent of an old Charlie Brown special. Kids decorated it with small pieces of the shiniest scrap metal they could find. The adults actually smiled for the first time in months. You can call it what you want but in times like this, a morale boost is a miracle. Everyone gathered together and laughed and shared like the ending of a corny Christmas movie. Nobody stole from their neighbors, regardless of how desperate they were. Nobody fought, nobody yelled. The Zone was pleasant for the first time in a long time. I guess you can’t really appreciate your fellow man until that’s all you have left.
So think what you want about “Christmas spirit”. Say it’s a joke. Say it’s ridiculous. Just don’t say it in the Zone.
Last week I had the best day ever! I woke up and had breakfast and Mommy bought my favorite kind of cereal. Then later me and Daddy watched Spongebob on the tv together. It was really funny until a man on the news started talking. I don’t know what he said because I was making snoring noises at him. Daddy shushed me and got all worried and went to talk to Mommy. They talked for a long time. I think the man was talking about Halloween because I looked outside and saw a bunch of people playing Monsters. Then one of the people came up to the window and started banging on it and making funny sounds. I decided to play too and I made growling noises at him. It was funny. Then Daddy came back in and got scared and pulled me away from the window. He yelled at the man but he kept pretending. I laughed. Mommy and Daddy got really scared because more people came and wanted to get in. Daddy left the room and I snuck into the kitchen and took a cookie that Mommy just made. Chocolate chip are my favorite. When I came back Daddy told me to put my shoes on and that we had to leave. After a couple minutes, Mommy picked me up and we ran real fast to the car. The people who were playing pretend try to come with us but Daddy wouldn’t let them and he drived away. I looked out the car window and I saw lots of people playing tag outside. I asked if we could play too and Mommy and Daddy both yelled no. I got mad because they yelled at me. Later we got out of the car because the road was blocked and we had to run. Soon we got to the airport. I asked if Grandma was coming to visit again and Daddy said no. When we went in a man took us to a room and looked at us. He looked at all my arms and everything and it tickled. He talked to Daddy for a while and told us to go somewhere. Mommy took me to a different room with a bed in it and we went to sleep. The next day I made a bunch of friends and we played together. We played hide and seek for a long time but Mommy got real mad when nobody could find us. Lots of those Halloween people stay outside. I don’t think anyone here likes Halloween because they aren’t allowed in. We made up a game that we called Run Away. Me and my friends run up to the fence and a man with a gun runs after us and chases us away. It’s really funny. Mommy says not to go near the fence because the people that are outside are really bad. I don’t think the people are bad though. A couple days ago I saw my friend Susy from school and she was playing Monsters outside the fence. She was making funny noises too. I showed Mommy because she was walking with me. Then she put her hands over my eyes. Through the cracks I saw one of the gun men that was outside walk over to Susy. Then Mommy turned me around. Its so much fun around here but I wish Timmy was here. Timmy is my big brother. I don’t know where he is because whenever I ask Mommy she starts crying and then Daddy hugs her. He would have fun if he was here though. I think he’s working. The best part about being here is that we get to stay for a long time! Mommy says she doesn’t know when we get to go back home. I don’t mind though, I’m having so much fun!
Everyone loved zombies. Who knew that New York horded such a massive colony of undead fans? Everyone would go see the movies. They loved watching their badass heroes slaughter mobs of ghouls on the big screen. The fad went unnoticed next to the polo shirts and sports games, but they were there. Believe me, the creepy shirts, hats, movies, books and video games were there nonetheless. Eventually these fans became fanatics.
The American culture loved the walking dead so much that zombie walks became common. You know the drill: a bunch of people dress like their decaying idols and march around “attacking” people, swelling their ranks. It was all good fun. One of these walks was eventually set up to take place in Eastwood. People ran, others chased. The mob had grown quite large since they started and were now shuffling toward Carousel Mall. Malls…the media’s favorite. The costumes were quite realistic. Nobody could tell the difference when the actual zombie joined in the fun. One man was mauled by it. People laughed, some screamed playfully. The man wasn’t playing. It took about ten minutes and three more victims before everyone noticed what was happening. Everyone ran.
Nowadays we sit and wait; stuck in an airport trying to take back our city.
Syracuse had succumbed to silence. The once busy and populated area now appeared to be deserted. A house stood on the corner of Melrose Drive and Hoytville Avenue. It loitered in the cold morning fog, a small but sturdy fortress. The building was only one story and about the size of a small barn. As if time itself stopped, it too, lay in a dead quiet. An 8-foot stone wall tightly surrounded the home but for an entrance which was blocked off with a white van. Every window on the house was smothered by 2×4’s and sloppily hammered nails. The silence continued for several minutes until a slow shuffle shattered it. A decaying ghoul wandered aimlessly around its environment, looking only for its next meal. Its lifeless eyes searched the road ahead. Then, almost immediately, its head turned toward the house like a compass pointing north. It’s jaw (what was left) released and the creature let out a low, gargling moan. A moth to flame, it headed for the blocked entrance of the stone wall, arms outstretched. The Z moved closer to its newfound prey until it finally smacked into the side of the van, emitting a loud “clank” noise, followed by yet another moan.
Brad’s parents were always fighting. He hated it. He’d wake up to the sound of the screaming spouses and come home from school to the same monotonous noise. If it wasn’t bills, it was senseless jealousy. He had started to grow accustomed to it, but had never become immune.
One day, Brad got off the bus and walked to his front door. He went to pull his house key out of the smallest pouch on his blue backpack when he noticed the door was ajar. Brad looked at the brass knob but shrugged off his worries and stepped inside.
He quietly gave thanks for the silence. He looked around at his home’s interior. The kitchen table was pushed over with the shattered remains of a floral patterned vase surrounding it. A blood-stained doily lay nearby.
Brad’s heart started to race. He followed the trail of broken furniture and porcelain animals through the kitchen, living room, and down the hall. It stopped at his parents’ bedroom door. Brad could see shadows crossing the orange light streaming onto his feet. He took a deep breath and pushed the door open just in time to see his father snap his mother’s eye out of its socket and chew on it hungrily, as her blood ran down his chin and onto the gore-covered floor.
Shannon kicked open the house door after working it open with her trusty crowbar.
“That’s how you do it” she bragged. She gave a cocky smile to her Corps partner Dylan as he rolled his eyes. All three members of the salvage team snickered. Dylan suddenly lifted his finger and pointed behind Shannon. Without a second thought she turned around and planted her ZED into the Z’s skull with a satisfying cracking noise.
“Come on, we need to check the rest of this place” Dylan urged.
Shannon nodded and motioned for the rest of the team to follow her. The group moved into the living room cautiously. Dylan walked silently into the kitchen.
“We got two!” he shouted. A squish was heard. “We got one!” he shouted again. Shannon walked into the kitchen. A zombie lay face down with its gray matter oozing onto the floor. Another, child-sized Z shuffled slowly at Dylan from across the room.
“You mind getting that one?” Dylan asked. “I just can’t ignore the fact that it was a kid once.”
Shannon snorted. “Don’t be such a girl. A ghoul’s a ghoul!” She walked over, swung her crowbar into its cranium and painted the wall with spattered blood. She laughed and spit on the corpse.
Dylan looked at her in disgust. “That’s real nice.”
Michael O’Keefe rose out of bed and yawned. He walked over to the window and raised the blinds. The sunlight illuminated the grass as a light snow floated down to the earth.
“What a beautiful day,” he said to no one in particular. Michael looked back at his wife, lying in bed. He smiled and exited his bedroom quietly. Walking out to the kitchen, he grabbed the remote on the counter and turned the living room TV on. Michael poured himself a cup of coffee. A groan came out from the bedroom. He laughed.
“Early bird catches the worm, Kathy!” he yelled to his wife. A few minutes passed as Michael watched the news and sipped at his coffee. “Hey, Hon, get this!” he shouted again. “Apparently there’s some new disease spreading around! People say they’ve seen folk pass away then get right back up again, just to act all crazy! If you ask me, it’s them who are crazy!” He chuckled at his own joke. Michael heard his wife groan again. “Oh, I’m sorry, Hon. Didn’t mean to wake you up!”
Another moment passed while Michael sat and thought about his life. He was grateful to have a nice house, a beautiful wife and good health. He would never want to give up what he had. He sat daydreaming until a noise snapped him out of it. Someone was pounding at the door. He set the coffee cup down and went to the front door. The pounding continued as he slid open the deadbolt. Michael opened the door and a man fell into his arms. He propped the newcomer up.
“Oh, thank you! Thank you!” the frightened man said. “Oh thank God, thank you!” Michael had a confused but concerned look on his face. The man was younger and drenched with sweat. His clothes were in horrible condition and he obviously hadn’t showered in several days.
“Well, hello there. Are you new to the neighborhood? What’s you’re name, son?” Michael inquired. The man looked behind him, rushed inside and slammed the sturdy door.
“Umm, it’s Keith, Keith Williams,” he replied. Keith fumbled as he twisted and pulled every lock on the door shut.
“I’m Michael. Here, let me pour you some coffee. Are you in some kind of trouble, Keith?”
Keith sat down and spoke between gasps of air. “I was trying to find somewhere to hide when a whole swarm of them came out of nowhere.”
Michael pondered his guest for a moment. “A swarm of what, exactly?”
Keith shot a bewildered look at him. “What are you talking about? What else would be out there? Didn’t you see them chasing…”
He then noticed what his host was doing. Michael held an empty, broken coffee pot and was miming a pouring motion into an empty Skippy peanut butter jar. “Something wrong?” asked Michael as he handed the “cup” to Keith.
Keith looked at his surroundings. He saw a ghoul on a bed through an open door. It moaned and struggled to break free of the ropes keeping it bound. He looked behind him at the fuzzy television, lighting up the dark living room. He saw the shadows passing by the window and heard the zombies outside pummeling the thick front door. Then he looked at the sturdy brick foundation of the house.
“Thank you.” Keith said. He looked up at Michael, blew on his peanut butter jar and took a sip.