So . . . last week I promised you flash fiction.
. . . well you’re not getting any. 😦 Sorry.
Instead, you’re getting 1,313 words of my very first attempt at any sort of zombie fiction! Mwa h ah ah ha ha ha ha haaa!
Yeeeah, something happened when I started writing and about 200 words in I knew that the story I had in mind would never fit into 500 words. Well . . . it could but I don’t want it to. :-p
So (!) ‘Remember Me’ is a complete story that could use a bit more tweaking, but, largely, I’m happy with it for a first draft. I wrote it last night at about 9pm (because I always leave my blog posts until the last moment!) before settling down to watching Resident Evil. Because . . . y’know . . . zombies!
Anyway, I’d love to know what you think of it. ^_^
It’s cold in the house. Utilities stopped working weeks ago. Nobody dares to open the fridge lest the stink of rotting food wafts out and suffocates us all. A strange concern since we’re probably all going to die anyway.
I pull my arms out the sleeves of my jumper and tuck them into the front. Goosebumps are rough against my stomach, the dry scabs from a dozen close shaves itchy and painful. “How long have they been gone?”
Cheryl looks up from her pointless perusal of the cupboard above the sink. Three tins line the counter before her; pineapple chunks, chickpeas and a more unfortunate option, dog food. She nudges this last tin to the side and picks up the pineapple. Her chipped fingernails pick at the ring-pull in the top. “Two days,” she whispers. Her voice scratches the air, like clawed fingers on a pane of glass. “Two fucking days.”
“They’re fine.” My voice has more cheer in it than I thought I could fake, and I wonder then if my optimism has blinded even me. “Probably just struggling with all the food.”
She shoots me a venomous look, scratching the top of her head where roots of dark, mousy brown begin to show beneath the vibrant red. “No. No, that’s stupid. You’re stupid! I’m not staying here hoping your white knight is going to swing through the door with a delivery. I’m leaving.”
I purse my lips and say nothing. She has a point though. Never before has Vince been so long on a forage. Even alone. With the others at his side it should have been easy to cycle to Sainsbury’s and raid the shelves. Even with the cart hitched between them the journey wouldn’t take more than half a day.
I cross the small kitchen and peer out the window, dodging the bold spiders making multiple webs across the pane.
Dusk squats in the air, a dim, unwelcome guest. Through the dying light, skeletal trees clutch at the sky, swaying in the same breeze that rattles the flimsy back door.
I can’t help but notice Cheryl has made no move to leave. “You’ll die if you go out there,” I tell her.
“I’ll die if I stay.” Her fingers tighten on the pineapple tin. “I can’t even remember the last time I ate something hot. The last time I drank something that didn’t taste like some cat had pissed in it.” A feverish light fills her face. “ Come with me.” Hope crawls into her voice. “Just the two of us; we’ll be quicker without the others. We’re making good time; if we just keep going we can get to Skegness by the end of the month.”
I wrap my arms still tighter around my stomach. “And what then?”
She hesitates. “It has to be better than staying here. Those things are everywhere. If we stay they’ll find us eventually.”
“I’m not going without Vince.”
“Bitch. You stupid, stupid, bitch.” Not angry any more, just resigned. Cheryl shakes her head and snatches the tin of pineapple, tucking it into one of the front pockets on her oversized jacket. After a pause, she takes the chickpeas too. “If you’re so sure they’re coming you won’t need these.” She smiles, a gesture utterly without humour. “Good luck.”
I lock the door when she leaves, piling chairs from the dining room against it just in case more of the creatures decide to test the way in. I’ve seen them do it before. They seem smarter than the ones in the movies. Faster too.
I’m warmer now. My breath no longer gusts in the air like an old steam train. Perhaps that’s what I should have done in the last place instead of building a fire. Nothing brings those creatures running quite so fast as heat and noise.
Darkness falls like a stone.
I pace the house, peering through windows in the living room, the study, the study, the bedrooms. Each pane of glass gives me a different view of the street and rear gardens, offering a brand new promise each time I visit. And each time I turn away disappointed and increasingly scared.
The chill returns.
What if he really is dead? What if they ate him like they did so many of my other friends? What if Vince never made it to Sainsbury’s but lies someone in a ditch longing to call my name but scared the sound will bring those beasts down on him?
Indecision ties a knot in my gut.
Loud rapping at the back door breaks through my inner dialogue. Rapping, which becomes thumping, which evolves into a full on crashing, coupled with a frantic voice. “Tina? Tina, let me in. Tina!”
As I thunder down the stairs I’m already counting, processing the numbers in my head. She was only gone half an hour. They’re close.
I reach the back door just as the first shambling shapes materialise from the gloom at the end of the street. They spot her. Begin to run.
Cheryl pounds the door again, scratching, kicking and punching. “Let me in, please, god, please! Tina!”
The chairs screech on the floor as I drag them back, shoving against the piles of furniture I put there such a short time ago. Cheryl’s cries grow louder. “Tina? Hurry! They’re right there, please! I’ll be safe inside.”
I stop, still holding one of the dining chairs. Though my heart pounds in my throat, I’m calm, steady, placid. Slowly, I place the chair back against the door. Then another. And another.
Cheryl’s face appears in the window. “What are you doing?” she shrieks. “Tina, you crazy, bitch, let me in!”
“I’ll be safe inside, you said. But I won’t be if you bring those things with you. I’m sorry, I-”
“No! You can’t do this. Let me in. Please, Tina, please!”
“I have to be here for Vince. I know he’ll be back.”
The screams continue as the shapes move closer. So does the pounding. Then the sound takes on a more desperate pitch as pain lends its voice to terror. The two emotions form a terrifying harmony that fills my ears to the point of bursting. I push more furniture against the door.
It seems hours before she stops screaming, though in truth, probably no more than two minutes. In the sudden still I hear my own breathing, a rough rasp at the back of my throat that hisses as it passes. My face is wet, my eyes sore.
Though I tell myself it was the right thing to do, the rough jumper loaned by Cheryl once more begins to itch as I tuck my arms inside.
I make myself look. It’s the least I can do.
Climbing onto the counter is an easy job, pushing the can of dog food further to one side so I can peer down through the glass.
Not even a splash of blood.
A rough shadow looms up on my left. Glass smashes in terrible cacophony, sharp slivers slicing my face and hands. I fall back in time to hear the thud of something heavy landing on the floor and rolling.
My chest tightens when I see it.
A can of chickpeas.
Moans fill the air. More tinkles of broken glass. An arm scrabbles through the opening, long and filthy, caked with dried and fresh blood. A hand grips the sill, seeming not to mind the broken points of glass stabbing upwards like shiny teeth. The figure pulls itself through slowly, eyes fixed on me the whole time.
Hope dies in my chest. Not that I had much anyway. And yet I have to speak, to hear it with my own ears. “Vince?”
The creature pauses long enough to cock its head, such a human gesture that, for a split second, I can almost believe he remembers me. Almost.