Everyone has some sort of survival plan in case of The Uprising. Technology becomes self-aware and detonates all the bombs, aliens make contact with earth and enslave us all, STDs mutate and create vampires, World War III.
When someone would ask me what I would do in case of zombies, my immediate answer had always been “Shoot myself in the head.” The fact I had never fired or even touched a gun never came into the equation. Surely they’d be plentiful, surely I could get my hands on one. Put it under your chin, so the bullet has more soft tissue to pass through, less defences.
“Really?” they asked me. “You wouldn’t want to enjoy it just for a few days?”
And that was before, when I could walk.
Not that I could ever run. I’d be dead weight anyway. No feeling below the waist, poor eyesight and a bag to shit in. I could barely live with myself before the apocalypse…
The Internet isn’t up, of course. Ghost-town silent, a graveyard of unavailable pages and I am alone. It’s been days and I’ve long stopped watching the television. It offers nothing more than test patterns, snow or a blue screen. It’s somehow fitting that the pundits hyped till the end, speculating on when the power and utilities would fail, fear mongering the whole way. They were the first to go off-air. I’m sure there’s a case of irony there, if I wanted to spend the energy analysing it. The radio keeps playing things that sound like eerie Numbers Stations; This Is Not A Test.
On the bright side, the plague hasn’t hit my apartment yet, though I can see from the smoke on the horizon it won’t be long. I open the sliding door to the tiny patio of my apartment and look out for what will be the last time. I can smell the heat and decay and smoke on the air, the burning fat and flesh. The rot, the bone marrow, the oozing sores, the chalky dust of crumbled buildings. It’s grown mundane, typical.
My window planter box has become a home for dandelions. I pick them, one by one, and blow away the silky white fluff. Go. Be Free. Become the dominate species on the planet. The seeds dance on air and mingle with floating ash. It’s beautiful. I watch them travel until my eyes can no longer keep them in focus.
My apartment is on the fifth floor, I was unsure if that was high enough for a fall to kill me. I wasn’t going to take the chance that it would fail and, what, paralyze me? Too late. I still had no gun so I couldn’t shoot myself. I didn’t want to cut my wrists because that was hardly fool-proof. I didn’t have a gas stove or fireplace, and no exposed rafters. That left me with one option.
Back inside, I close the patio doors and block out the stink from outside. I wheel my chair over to the kitchenette and tie my hair into a ponytail. The ingredients are out already, everything needed to make a decadent last meal. So, I start to make cookies.
While people everywhere crack undead skulls, I crack eggshells.
I don’t care if the hand mixer was making noise, they aren’t here yet. It would be a while. Time enough.
It happened on April first, which is sort of brilliant if you think about it. Of course no one believed it and that allowed things to escalate. Emergency responders weren’t mobilized until it was far too late.
I smile and dump most of the bag of chocolate chips into the bowl, then pop a handful into my mouth and chew, savouring the chocolate.
I don’t bake the cookie dough, but roll it into small balls, pushing the little sleeping pills and muscle relaxers for my neck pain into the doughy spheres. I drop some of the little dough-balls into my mouth whenever I felt like it, letting them rest on my tongue before swallowing, completely concealing the pills with chocolate chips.
Fuck you, salmonella, you can’t hurt me. You’re not even an idle threat anymore.
In the distance, something crashes or explodes, causing my whole apartment complex to shudder. The shockwave carries itself up my mostly numb spine and makes my teeth chatter. Dust rolls off bookshelves and floats majestically in the air while the books themselves are shaken from their cubbies and dumped on the floor. My CD collection clacks together like a Newton’s Cradle, flopping left to right. The windows rattle so hard I watch them to see if they will break. They don’t; not a single crack. It doesn’t matter if they had anyway really, but I like that they still kept out the cold, the rain, the noise from the frenzied streets below.
I just turn the volume on my MP3 player louder and drop it into my lap.
I am almost sure no one is going to come for me, not even out of a moralistic sense of “Leave No One Behind”. Semper Fi? No, no that means “Always Faithful”. Meh, there must be some Latin term for “No One Left Behind”, but it’s not like I can look it up on the Internet.
My family is miles and miles away and all my friends are (were?) from the Internet. I don’t want anyone to come for me anyway. I don’t want to live in this world. This isn’t the kind of world you can just go to the store and get new adult diapers, colostomy bags and weekly physiotherapy anymore. Besides, I’m pretty sure they, the monsters, the zombies, can smell my exposed intestine. I’m probably prime rib to them anyway.
I would kill for some ribs. Slathered in barbecue sauce. Is it wrong to crave meat when humans are being hunted and eaten? I’m slowly realizing that I don’t really care at this point.
I haven’t eaten for over 24 hours, just so I could have an empty stomach to be hungrily filled by salvation.
I look at the trays in front of me, at my small armies of uncooked cookie dough-balls. I don’t want to count them, I don’t even want to estimate how many I have. I don’t want this to be exact, precise, I don’t want to be aware. I eat another dough-ball. I just want to let it happen.
Another explosion belches out onto the land and its far more effective than the last. I’m surrounded by darkness. I pull my earphones down around my neck and remain still for a moment. Every screen, ever power button, every hum of electricity suddenly snuffed out. The silence is unnerving. Probably. But I don’t have to face it, not while my MP3 player still has life left.
The darkness is only slightly alleviated by the dim daylight cascading through my windows.
Terrific. Now the ice cream is going to melt.
I roll to the fridge and grab the tub of ice cream and a can of soda. I pop the top and take a long drink, belching happily. I switch the song on my MP3 player to something loud and full of rage as I return to my dough soldiers. I scoop up a handful and drop them into the vanilla ice cream. And then I eat.
I eat spoonfuls of the stuff. Sometimes something firm hits my throat and I don’t know if it’s a chocolate chip or a pill but I don’t think about it. I try not to guess. I don’t care.
I look down long enough to see I need more cookie dough, add more, sometimes just putting two or three bits in my mouth, then go back to the ice cream.
I don’t care.
I am a lost cause. I don’t care if once I die I’ll come back as one of them. I don’t know if I will or not. It all happened so fast that no one’s had a chance to study it, or if they have, no one had the chance to say anything before the TV stations went silent. I don’t care if the idea of a zombie in a wheelchair is comical or worthy of pity. I don’t care if I’d be the easiest zombie to defeat, just tip over the chair, roll me down a flight of stairs, ha ha. I don’t care if I’m ripped apart and they dine on my body, slurp up my guts like spaghetti noodles.
Just as long I’m not awake for it, not here mentally, unaware, blissfully ignorant.
I’m not afraid of death, but I hate pain.
I considered setting up some sort of Rube Goldberg-eque machine for after I pass out, to keep me from turning into one of them. Tie my arms to the armrests of my chair, and chain my chair to something sturdy. A pipe or whatever. Have a candle in a puddle of cooking oil to start a fire or something. Pass out, stop breathing, burn away, feel nothing and hurt no one. But it seemed convoluted and more trouble than it was worth.
I don’t know how much I’ve eaten but I can certainly feel the effects. My arms are heavy and my fingers numb. I am suddenly aware of the music in my ears. This wasn’t the song that I thought was playing thirty seconds ago. Or was it?
I reach for my pop but my coordination is laughable. Eventually I manage to wrap my hand around the can and bring it to my mouth. I take another drink and indulge in another burp. Soda dribbles from my chin. I look down to see brown drops of sticky soda spilled onto my shirt front. My favourite shirt. I wore it especially for this occasion, the first time I changed my shirt in around a week. The longer this has gone on, the less I’ve bothered. I think it’s been four weeks now.
It’s an 1980’s technicoloured cartoon heroic bull-shit shirt that when young I adored, but now I barely remember, and know didn’t age well. I got it for a birthday some year when I was still single-digits. It was an adult large and I never fully out-grew it. Authentic, it lasted all these years. Vintage in a retro-hip era owned by the Gen-Xers. The once brilliant colours faded into a dull pastel palette, the cartoon characters crispy and cracked, with fissures of lost iron-on turning them to amputees and leaving scars. The thin fabric of the t-shirt drank up the soda and tears came to my eyes.
I wasn’t ready for the panic when it started to set in.
What if they get in here before I’m dead? What if they pull my arms off first and I feel the limbs rip from their sockets and tear from my body? What if I die and turn into one of them anyway, bite or no bite? And what if then, I have my old memories? What if my consciousness is still aware? What if I have a sense of self but my mind is imprisoned in a shambling body that’s falling apart? What if all they know is hunger and pain? What if the rotting hurts? What if eating people is the only way to kill the pain? What if their dull moaning is just them screaming “help me!”. What if I become one of them, and I’m stuck wearing a grody old shirt with a cola stain on it for the rest of my un-life until someone puts me out of my misery?
I can feel adrenaline start to surge through my body. I pray that it doesn’t negate the pills. It’s too late to turn back now.
I wish I had a way to shut off my brain.
I breathe, I eat, I focus on the music. I eat. I eat. I focus on the vanilla and chocolate and dough, knowing it will be the last time I ever taste them. I feel myself begin to calm.
Gunshots ping under the melody of the music that’s funnelling into my brain. They’re close now. The Horde is coming. Defiantly, I eat more dough and ice cream.
I had no regrets, which is an advantage of not giving a shit. I wanted for nothing. I don’t want for one more great, flighty love affair, for more travel, I don’t mourn for all the places I’ll never see. I always wanted to go to Africa, but now I imagine the infected were dining on blue-rare lion steaks. Global pandemics tend to kill wanderlust. I don’t want one more drug binge. Not that there had been any binges anyway. It wasn’t my scene. Once you realize morphine has little to offer other than a pleasant tingle, it all seems moot. And expensive. Expensive and moot.
It goes dark, well, darker than before. I had closed my eyes. The total darkness and deep guttural vocalizations were comforting. I am so tired, I feel like I can sleep everything away, sleep would make it better. Sleep is a cure-all. Sleep quietly fire-bombs everything, and makes it peacefully fade away.
I can hear them, even as I am sinking under the pool of unconsciousness. It’s like they are on the shore, or maybe just treading water, and I am down in the blackened depths. Are they at my door?
I’m limp and nerveless, and my body goes lax in the chair. I see nothing but phosphenes, midnight blue and slate grey colours and anti-life, dazzling their way across my field of vision. They are comfortable under my closed eyelids. The song that pounds its way out my earphones is loud, Latin, and growling. It doesn’t make sense to me. Not that it ever did. I feel a rattle tumble its way out my lungs.
The zombies are coming through the walls, coming through the ceiling like fat drops of tar, clawing their way past the glass window panes. Shuffling, stumbling, surmounting one after another as they clamber up and in. Like-minded and with a single and sure purpose, they tear at my apartment like rioters at a concert. Moaning, hollering, crying, somber, screaming to be satisfied and heard, noticed, acknowledged.
I wish I had gone to more concerts.
Q DiFulvio is your average Canadian, amputated freak. She has a penchant for relating everything to Alice Cooper, or The Muppets. She thinks more people should donate their unwanted books to hospitals instead of thrift stores. Comic reader, morbid, documentary enthusiast, storyteller, scribbler, cyborg, letter of the alphabet. Filled with contempt and Crispix cereal. She can be found at http://AnarchicQ.com and http://twitter.com/AnarchicQ