Sorry I've been quiet the last few days. The last week of work seems determined to see me out with a proper "YOU FUCKING BITCH I WANT SOME FUCKING VICODIN RIGHT NOW OR I'M GOING TO PUNCH YOU AND THEN SUE YOU." Work, sleep, wake up, wonder why I'm lying in the driveway, go inside to my bed, sleep, work.
Tomorrow is my last day. After that, I have no excuse not to write on-topic posts. But right now I've got a great excuse! So instead of a proper Pervocracy post, here's a scene from "The Zombie Cure."
It was a warm night after a cold rain, and in the beams of the floodlights, the ground was steaming. Gary Cantrell, twenty-nine, pale, lanky, sweating like a horse, crouched in the darkness and waited. A pump-action riot shotgun was slung over his shoulder. He didn't want to use it. But he was glad as hell to have it there. He reached back and touched it, silently comforted.
The trap was a crab-pot design in hurricane fence--a broad funnel going into the corral, a narrow gate coming out. Gary held one side of that gate. Shealyn, only a few feet away but nearly out of sight in the blackness, pulled on her leather gloves and took hold of the other side. "We're ready," she whispered under her breath, and Bee stepped out under the floodlights, into the maw of the trap.
"COME ON YOU ZOMBIE MOTHERFUCKERS," she bellowed. "WHO MOTHERFUCKING WANTS SOME?" Bravado. The words didn't matter anyway; all the zombies knew was the sound of a human voice. The dinner bell.
For too long there was no sound. Gary shifted his weight uncomfortably. He didn't like hearing the mindless groaning of the unholy dead. But God, it was better than nothing. He wished he could see the moon, or some stars. Except for the pool of light on Bee and the trap, the blackness was absolute.
"I'VE GOT SOME NICE JUICY MOTHERFUCKING BRAINS!" Bee yelled. Gary realized that she had been a good girl before, a quiet smiley girl who never really learned how to swear. But they were all pretending to be tough guys these days. Hell, every time he used that damn shotgun he acted like his ears didn't hurt and he didn't want to puke even a little bit. "HEY YOU MOTHERFUCKING ZOMBIES, YOU GONNA SHOW UP OR YOU GONNA FUCK YOUR MOTHERS ALL NIGHT?"
Then the sounds finally, finally came. But instead of the usual moans and shuffling footsteps, it was the quick pitter-pat of running feet. Human feet. And what ran into the light was not a shambling mound of rotten flesh. It was a woman. She was crying.
"My baby," the woman said. She was tall and still looked strong, but bone-thin and filthy. Gary had been in worse shape himself when he came to the Fortress. The woman ran up to Bee, nearly screamed "my baby," and collected herself. "My daughter. Ellen. She's six. We had a safe place. But she went out and she. They. ...She got bitten."
Without a second's hesitation, Bee hugged the woman. "You're safe here," she said. But Gary and Shealyn stayed where they were, silent, in the dark, with shells chambered. "We have a good place here. There's food, and beds, and a doctor will see you. It's going to be okay."
"But my baby."
"It's going to be okay," Bee said again, but hollowly.
"No, you don't understand," the woman said. "She's here."
Then Gary heard it. The familiar groaning, but quiet and higher pitched, coming from a smaller throat. The mindless shuffle of little feet. And into the light stumbled cute little Ellen. Her eyes lolled crazily in their sockets. Blood was smeared across her face and her teeth were bared like an animal's. She looked dully at her mother and Bee, looked right through them and held out her arms, grasping at them.
Bee and the woman ran to the back of the corral and Bee shoved the woman over the back fence, boosting her up and letting her fall on the ground outside. Then she turned to face the little girl. Slavering, the girl grabbed Bee's jacket, but Bee was already in a fighting stance. Without even changing her expression she braced herself and flipped the girl over her hip. Fifty pounds of tiny zombie hit the dirt with a very small thump. "Let's do this like usual, folks," Bee said, and that was the cue.
Gary and Shealyn slammed the gate shut and vaulted themselves into the corral. The zombie righted herself and snarled. Gary realized that her hair was still in pigtails, tied with little pink beads on the elastic. Bee made a little clicking sound, almost smiled, and they moved as a team. Shealyn grabbed the girl's right arm. Gary grabbed her left. Bee pulled her legs out from under her and the four of them went to the ground.
Little Ellen's head rolled crazily and she snapped and gnashed her teeth. She clawed and thrashed with the strength of the undead, the strength of a creature that knows no pain. It took everything Gary had, both hands and a knee and all the blind stupid courage he had in him, just to hold one of her arms as it became wild and clawed. If the fight went on she would literally tear herself apart.
With the practiced moves of a woman who had done it a hundred times and still not learned to swear properly, Bee released the girl's legs from her hands and in an instant trapped them again under her knees. She pulled a syringe from her back pocket, yanked the cap off with her teeth and spit it aside, and darted it into the girl's buttock, right through her pants. Bee jammed the plunger down fast and had the needle out before the girl's struggling could break it off. "Okay," she said when it was done, and the three of them released the zombie and ran for the fence. They were over it before the zombie could regain her feet.
Then it was just a matter of waiting. And of telling the mother that it was just a matter of waiting. The girl snarled and paced in the corral, clawing uselessly at the fencing. In a few minutes she slowed, then crumpled to the ground, seemingly asleep but for the lack of breathing.
It took a moment. Not seconds but minutes. Then the little girl's chest heaved, once. The mother put her hand to her mouth. Another long moment, thirty seconds, or twenty. Another breath. And then another. And then the girl's eyes were open, not blank and wild but bright and clear. Shakily, she sat up.
This was why they built the trap. This was why they left the safety of the Fortress to come out there every night and bait it with their own bodies. It was times like this, watching the little girl be a little girl again, watching her get up and walk, unsteady but alive and human, so beautifully human in her every movement, and run over to reach out to her mother through the fence. Her hands, now that they were no longer claws, were so tiny. Her mother grasped them and kissed them.
"Mommy?" little Ellen said. "Why are you crying, Mommy?"