CHAPTER 3 — THE YARD
In the yard, from my vantage point on the deck, I watch an undead zombie-chick stumble. Kind of a stupid thing for her to do, really. She hadn’t even been walking, per se. Just shuffling her feet and distantly gnawing on something that looked vaguely like one of Stine’s fingers. Suddenly, she catches a toe in the turf and almost goes down in a heap.
Like I said before . . . pure comedic gold.
Her almost-pratfall is enough to snap me out of my reverie. She’s gotten pretty close while I was daydreaming. Close enough to get my attention. Close enough to be nervous.
I give her a once over, trying to figure out if she’s going to come up and join me on the deck. In the light, I can’t be sure, but she kinda looks like Sharon. From our group. Could it be?
Mentally, I give myself a little kick.
It’s not really her. Of course, it’s not. She couldn’t have turned zombie and gotten here in time to eat Stine. Besides, Sharon probably didn’t fare much better than Stine did. There wouldn’t have been much of her left to turn. Not with the mob that had been dining on her in the ruins of the shack.
You wanna know a big occupational hazard of being a post-apocalyptic survivor in a world full of zombies? It’s too easy to see people you used to know in the faces of the undead. Maybe it’s like all those folks who used to see Elvis or the face of Jesus on a pepperoni pizza. Or a Rorschach test, except it’s old pals instead of ink blots. In a way, it’s like being haunted by six billion ghosts: all those folks who died while you live on.
It has its way of sneaking up on a guy.
Sharon or not, because the zombie chick is eating, she’s still moving. The somnambulism of most the other revenants had wound down to the point where they were mostly standing still, zoned out. Waiting for something to move. Waiting for the next thing to eat.
The Sharon-thing’s tangled feet take a moment to untangle. She stumbles again and looks for sure like she’s headed to the turf. Some odd remnant of motor sensory skill keeps her from falling onto her face, but her antics seem to catch the others’ attention, to agitate them a bit.
They all start shuffling again, random motion and random speeds, like the world’s worst game of freeze tag — but where they all get to move, and I have to stay frozen the whole time.
Just like that, the amount of time I could stay hidden here in the shadows gets a helluva lot shorter.
My thoughts keep circling back to the shack.
We lost everyone else there. Did I mention that already? Sharon, Davies, Carson, and Allie. Now I’ve lost Stine. As the last little piggy, will I go wee, wee, wee, all the way home?
We’d been close, our little group. Sounds kinda sappy for me to say it like that, but we were. Almost like family. Which is to say, we were family. It’s just a label that’s hard to cling to, what, with the world being like it is.
Standing here, stuck here, I close my eyes and I can imagine big, bad Carson, crushing his way through the throng, bellowing like a bull, coming to save me. I can almost see the light glinting off Sharon’s sniper rifle on the roof of the house across the way, ready to start pfffting the ones who get close to me. I can see Davies and Stine, gutting zombies with longswords or crushing them with truncheons, and laughing it up as they joked their way to me. I can hear Allie, whispering in my ear.
I can imagine they’re all coming to save me. But they’re not. They’re gone.
While I’m here.