I hate Magritte. I never understood why until I was an old man, felt like an old man at least. Then I figured out just what a smug son of a bitch he really was.
When the outbreak hit I ran, like everyone else. I ended up deep in the mountains. I found a cabin. Taught myself to survive, to hunt, to fish, to trap. Then I grew a beard to go along with it.
I had a radio. I turned it on for a few minutes each day, to keep the hope alive. There are only so many days of static a man can take. I found a stray cat. Coaxed it in with scraps and named him Marlow. I went on with my life.
Weeks, months, a year later, in the fall, I went rummaging through the previous tenant’s attic. From out of an old and battered trunk I pulled out a crumpled pinup calender. October 1961.
I found this notebook at the bottom of my bag this morning. I was looking for my last can of tuna. There’s not much in here, a to do list from a few months ago: groceries, gas, dentist appointment. I wish I had used the space for another can of beans. I think I’ll try to write in it every day. There’s nothing else to do.
It’s gotten real cold; it must be well into January. I did the best I could but am finding that I’m not prepared for winter. My boots are sturdy but not meant for the cold. I haven’t been able to find any good shelter for a few days and I’m afraid to take them off. I fear several toes have gotten frostbite. Food is running short. I have been rationing it but will run out in the next couple of days. The last few houses I have come across have already been picked clean. Not so much as a crumb left. Game is scarce, not that I could kill anything having lost my rifle last month. My luck has to change.
I slept in a ditch last night to stay out of the wind. The sun woke me early in the morning. I had a crushed pop tart for breakfast and took the time to start a fire and melt some snow for water. The sky is unusually clear today; perhaps it will warm up a few degrees.
I have been unfair in regards to the weather, I may be on the verge of hypothermia, but I have not seen one of those creatures in weeks. Thank God for small mercies.
Left or right, up or down, soup or salad. Life is full of choices. For Tom, making the right choice was usually simple: pick the option that worked best for Tom. He never thought how his actions would affect others, only how he could benefit most. Tom always seemed to make the right choice at the right time. Even though he was only two years out of school, he had been climbing the corporate ladder much faster than his senior colleagues. His future was bright. That is, until the dead made the choice to rise.
Inside the back of a store atop a loft woke a young girl, no older than fourteen, in a jolt from what only one could assume as a nightmare. No matter…it didn’t work quite as well as she expected, out of one and into another. Covered head to toe in bundles of clothing she much closely resembled a heap of laundry with a defenseless puppy thrown in. Jessica’s frail body breathed heavily, hand to the side reaching out to clutch the wooden grip of her well used pickax to protect herself from the nightmare she woke up to. She was warm here, but the fact that her stomach was growling determined that she was going to have to get up instead of laze around in her nest of clothing.
Just as many still lived out here she too scavenged off what she could find in hope that she wouldn’t later regret it. The place she currently resided in had been long cleared out of food, entertainment, and pharmaceuticals. It was quite surprising just how long she had lived here on her own. Jessica’s wit clearly must have equaled her strength to be able to wield a standard pickax that was half her weight, awkward, and nearly the same size as she.
Clipboard knew something was up as soon as the 18th Squad came trudging down the boulevard. They were moving too slowly. The 18th had been becoming one of the best: they were going out farther and returning with more kills than any other unit. They were cold, efficient, and ruthless—just like everyone else in Corpse Corps. They did not carry guns. They didn’t need to. Their ZEDs—zombie elimination devices—always came back covered in gore.
They were never very loud, but today, they were noticeably quieter. Parker, Uptown, and Vannawhite all piled through the checkpoint and reported their kills. They marched silently on through toward the baggage claim to stow their weapons. Holey came through last.
“How many’d you get, Holey?”
“Sixteen personally. I split a couple with Uptown. Give them to him.”