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       3-Z, p.1

           Lori R. Lopez
 
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3-Z


  3-Z

  by Lori R. Lopez

  All rights reserved

  No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any

  media without written permission from the author, except

  brief excerpts in critical reviews and articles.

  This is a work of fiction.

  Copyright © 2013 by Lori R. Lopez

  Front Cover Illustration by Lori R. Lopez

  Contents

  Pound Of Flesh

  A Big Problem

  Knock Knock

  A trio of short but sweet zombie tales. In “Pound Of Flesh” a woman is trapped next to a hungry moldering maniac when a Halloween Zombie Walk turns real. “A Big Problem” is a darkly humorous bizarro piece that presents a cross-eyed view of The Undead. “Knock Knock” describes what can happen when a Trick-Or-Treater isn’t actually wearing a costume.

  *

  Pound Of Flesh

  SACRIFICE. That’s what it’s all about. Giving your pound of flesh to get ahead in this world, this modern megalopolis we have wrought with hammers and sweat and steel. Plenty of concrete.

  I’ve had time to finally think about stuff like that, with my left leg pinned below a delivery truck. I was always too busy living to brood over life before. And look where that got me. In the end it’s what we’re willing to do for survival that counts. Depending on the circumstances. Right now the odds are not in my favor.

  There are those who led privileged lives, plain and civilized from birth to death, without their world going to hell. The world in general is another thing; it often seems to be going to hell, with this war, that crisis, yet usually isn’t personal. You can hear about it from a distance, as long as it isn’t happening to you or in front of you. There are folks who probably perceived their lot as uneventful and yearned for adventure — for something out of the ordinary to shake things up. Perhaps they even felt deprived by the stark nature of their existence. I envy them. But I’m here to tell you: They were wrong.

  Life is the excitement. It’s up to you what you do with it. That beating heart. That steady pulse. The rush of blood through your veins. Hang on to those vital signs for as long as you can. No matter what.

  Lying upon cold pavement, staring at the bleak heavens, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude . . . that my leg is numb; that I’m not bleeding to death; and that the macabre melancholy sky has stopped unleashing its moisture or I might drown, in a crimson tide.

  I am incredibly thankful, to the point of tears, that I didn’t turn.

  I’m thankful, too, that I’m just beyond reach of the zombie trapped next to me under the van’s toppled flank. He has been clawing and scrabbling to get at me ever since the accident, when the driver swerved and lost control, colliding with a vehicle, plowing through people and rolling toward me. I had been standing in disbelief, gaping at the rosy liquid pooled in the palm of my hand, dripping wet like everyone else on the sidewalk. We were caught by surprise in a deluge of red rain.

  Why????????????????????

  This is so unfair!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  Bruising, battering my fists on the impervious chassis of the white van, I’ve expended a hissy fit of stressed-out panic. It doesn’t change anything, but I feel less pressure. It was building for hours. I don’t want to die. There’s a sharp pain in my stomach. My guts are constricted, tangled in a thousand knots. At least they won’t be easy to consume. I refuse to go meekly. I’m not much of a fighter, yet I intend to be stubborn.

  A pack of zombies stumble in view and I play dead. “That’s it, keep going,” I murmur.

  The remnant of a female clumsily trips and sprawls. I needed a kick in the head, I reflect. Now my day is perfect. She staggers to her feet, treading on my hand. Crunch. I bitterly roll my eyes and blink back tears as the woman shambles away.

  The creature at my side has increased efforts to bite me.

  “Choke on this!” I remove the shoe from my right foot and hurl it at his head. The sneaker bounces off his brow. Pity it wasn’t a stiletto pump. That might do some damage.

  I am not the type to throw things. I simply dislike monsters wanting to devour me. It’s abominable. Like getting a terminal diagnosis. No hope of a reprieve. No waking up to find it was a bad dream. I figured I lucked out when I didn’t contract this Red Plague. Then corpses started getting up and attacked the immune, who were no longer privileged. They turned.

  If I could I would amputate the part that prevents escape. What good is it doing me when I’m zombie bait? But I have no tool or method. A small phone, that’s what I carry. Loaded with applications and various essential components, important connections, the device is utterly useless for severing limbs. I should have carried a Swiss Army Knife. These modern gadgets hold little purpose in the physical realm.

  My kingdom for a hatchet!

  This is all rather ironic. Zombies were so popular. People couldn’t get enough. Everyone joked about a Zombie Apocalypse, and some were devoted to the idea, dressing as voracious corpses, parading the streets. I can see clearly that the pop-culture fascination had been a wave of foresight. Foreshadowing, if you will. Prophets recorded it on the pages of Fiction, as well as on film, in a stream of psychic consciousness like the biblical Revelations. It was an omen. We were being warned of our impending fate, of God’s wrath or the spread of a pandemic. Doomsday. Yet we thought it was all in fun. We considered it entertainment.

  I guess we know better now. Those who remain. Those of us still human.

  The former man beside me is already rank, his mottled flesh a lighter shade of pale than the sky, falling to ruin. The hideous creature snarls and thrashes to unfetter his own limbs. From his level of deterioration, I worry his legs will come loose — in pieces — granting him the liberty to crawl and enjoy the feast he adamantly strives to attain, sinking his teeth in my tender meat like the zombies of books and movies. From what I’ve seen of the diseased attacking the immune, they do crave more than brains. Their hunger is manic, insatiable.

  Maybe our prophets even predicted the cause, the mysterious blood rain. It wasn’t the first time that such a shower descended. I recall a scientist describing it as alien on one of those programs about weird phenomena. He compared it to genetic material found in a meteorite. Foreign cells without D.N.A. Scary stuff. Nobody knew how it would interact on Earth. According to a frantic internet search on my smart-phone, persons doused by the earlier torrents had gone mad. They developed gross appetites. It’s only a theory, but what if the organisms evolved after those first attempts? What if, based on the results of prior experiments, the bacteria refined themselves to flesheaters that could destroy lifeforms, feeding on us and compelling us after death to feed on each other? It’s preposterous, of course. Aren’t most things that we’re unfamiliar with? Isn’t that what the universe is comprised of? Chance? Randomness? Elements defying reason?

  I don’t know. I’m no Particle Physicist. I don’t care whether space is like a Chess Board or a game of Checkers. The fact this occurred on October Thirty-First freaks me out even more. Maybe it has nothing to do with aliens. Perhaps it’s just cosmic karma, the past coming back to haunt us.

  My mind has been going nuts with questions and wild suppositions. What else have I got to do? Except wait to be eaten, which seems inevitable. I’ve been trying to extricate my leg, yanking to no avail. I tried pushing the truck, and my brain nearly burst from the strain. I endeavored, vainly, to pry asphalt from beneath my appendage with my bare hands! I’m stranded, witness to the end, the real deal. This isn’t some Zombie Walk staged for Halloween. It started out that way. Yes. Please don’t laugh, imaginary audience, or I will truly go bonkers, losing my final fragile fingernail-grip on sanit
y. I am dressed for the occasion, dressed as a zombie. Quite a coincidence, right? I’m laughing my head off, I can assure you.

  And yet this decrepit costume and detailed make-up might well have spared me from the actual zombies. Disguising me as one of the horde. It’s crazy dumb luck, in spite of the unfortunate aspects.

  The guy within breathing distance, however, isn’t fooled. The ravenous fiend is well aware of my body’s warm succulence; that my skin is unrotten, untainted, smeared by cosmetics, absent the cloying perfume of decay. Apparently, they have a great sense of smell. I would take notes if I were you. This is valuable information. And if a make-believe Zombie Walk can become a genuine run-for-your-life marathon . . . then you, my dear fantasy friend, might also become more than the figment of a terrified intellect.

  Whoa, that was intense. I’ve been struck by a thunderclap of soberness and agony. This isn’t amusing, it’s a catastrophe. I have observed human beings rendered to slobbering beasts. I have seen the living mauled and gutted, their lives pumping out of them. I’ve heard the most horrendous sounds: awful shrieks and whimpers; the wet noises of feeding and dying. I have been too shocked by the carnage to be hit by gentler emotions than anger and fear. Until it caught up to me,
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