I guess I’ll start like this, I’ll start the way I start most of my recent stories, with a broken hearted and despondent character. Now, this character is especially broken hearted on this day known as Z-day. Why is it called Z-day? Because it’s the day the dead rise from their graves and eat the living as zombies. This day is much like every other day in southern California, nothing but clear skies; but history has taught us that it is indeed the dull and mundane days that we should beware: 9-11, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the day your dog died, the last time you were broken up with, all regular days, no storm clouds forebodingly pouring rain, no terrors coming out of a heavy fog.
This concept did not seem fair at all to our protagonist, which we will name Marcel. (After Marcel Proust, in due part because he is also a hopeless romantic, but I’ll get to the importance of this in a bit.) Marcel, being a romantic, envisioned this day to be foreshadowed by a crash of thunder, an odd storm, a long drought, or at least a loud crack in the earth; the sound of it coming apart as the dead claw their way out all at once. Instead, he found himself sitting alone in a book store reading Pride and Prejudice (a book he wasn’t enjoying) and mostly thought about his unrequited love. This unrequited love had briefly been requited and Marcel could not stop thinking about it. Marcel had wanted this to happen for years. It happened after he invited her to his place (like usual) to watch a zombie movie he had been raving about to her. He had always been a zombie aficionado, much like she was. They were both so much alike (This is perhaps the reason why he firmly believed they were made for each other). Regardless of the situation of their romantic relationship, they were the best of friends. She was the first person he invited anywhere and the only person he would be willing to spend what little money he had on him, without hesitation. On his birthday she baked him a heart shaped cake and sang him songs on guitar about love. She handed him his gift which was a gesture of her feelings towards him. It was a beautiful golden paged bible that glistened gold and red in its reflection and she said,
“I found this and rescued it off the highway, where they intersect and depart.” (which made him wonder what her truest feelings really were). He looked up at her stunning red and gold tinged hair and thanked her.
He always wondered why she never felt the same way about him. He had made his intentions clear early on, but she only wanted him as a friend. Marcel was perplexed as to why. I mean he wasn’t a hideous guy, maybe a perfect six-pack was missing and he sometimes had bad posture, but overall at least a five or a six out of the scale. Hell, maybe even a seven or eight if his skin was clear on that day and he was wearing the right thing; but she was a ten. She had always been beautiful. Classically beautiful is what she could be referred to as, one of those faces that in 50 years could still be on the cover of a magazine. In fact, there was nothing she could do to herself that could make her ugly. No matter what she ate, she stayed thin. She once shaved a part of her hair, but she still turned heads because her face would have been easily considered a work of art. (Before modernism) Marcel wanted to believe that it was the physical aspect of him that kept her in the arms of other men. He didn’t want to imagine that she refused him because she found too many flaws in his personality, that she found him boring or thought that he was a pretentious douche. No, he focused on his own physical flaws. (Why? Because it was the only thing Marcel could change about himself) Marcel would work out to the point of exhaustion for the sole purpose of eventually wooing her over. He would run eight to ten miles or until his body shut down every day. (This would come in handy when running away from Zombies) He would collapse on the ground with his runners high and stare at the golden red hued California sun that reminded him of her in every way.
No; this isn’t right I am droning on, let me start over.
It’s always easier to start over on paper than it is in real life anyways. On paper I could make Ulysses an easy read or horses sing, but in the real world I can’t even hold a steady job or relationship, let alone get over a past one. Or tie knots and work a fax machine… I am droning on again, let me just collect my thoughts.
All right, I’ll try it this way.
Marcel looked up from his book and awoke from his thoughts to see a grown man staggering in loudly, crying like a child as a pasty looking child with blonde pig-tails gnawed on his neck, spitting out gristle and going back for the tender meat. Marcel was not alone in staring at this scene, the whole library had its eyes fixed on the young girl finishing the remainder of the man’s neck. The head rolled out towards the door that the man came from; and a horde of hungry zombies came in. Instinctively, Marcel hurled behind a large pile of stacked books (Instinctively for Marcel because his whole life had been spent hiding behind books to shield himself from all of life’s contentions) and thanked every tween in the world for keeping Stephanie Mayer so high in demand. Marcel peeked out from a crevice in the high stacks of popular books and saw a teenage girl with her bowels hanging out. Marcel was unsure if she was already a zombie or in her last stretch of life trying to make sense of why she looked like a soldier from the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan and regretting spending most of her teenage life on a strict diet.
Marcel dove back towards the ground, and developed an escape plan. He knew this bookstore intimately and identified the safest place would be in the basement along with all the science fiction books. (The idea of locking himself in with the Star Wars expanded universe wasn’t a bad way to spend the apocalypse for Marcel). Marcel waited for the choice opportunity to make a clear dash, and took it, along the way seeing one of the librarians pounding her small fists hopelessly onto the back of an undead man’s head. Marcel had always liked her because she recommended him The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. She seemed kind and had soft features. (No, those features had been destroyed along with most of her shoulder as the thing bit through the crunchy bones with a frenzy he had only seen at hotdog eating contests) Marcel made it in and closed the door behind him and waited.
After the third day the sounds of the city died down completely and Marcel figured it safe to exit his panic-room. By now the zombies would have surely left in search of prey after they finished the left-overs in the fantasy and romance section. He opened the door slightly and peeked out, he saw that the zombies were gone and had only left trails of blood and bones. He locked all the doors; he summed up that he was now either safe inside or he had trapped himself in with a lucky brain eater. He moved towards the glass windows and saw that the horde had died down; there were only three zombies in sight. Marcel fed up with being trapped in a dark room for three days decided to try his luck with the outside world. He grabbed a copy of The Random House Unabridged Dictionary. (A dictionary with a whopping count of 2,487 pages and unlocked the door.
He moved slowly with the book in front of him, as a priest would approach a demon with a bible. Looking in every direction at once, he noticed a staggering armless zombie begin to head towards him. They made what seemed to be eye contact and the zombie studied him, he made a low grunt of what sounded like disinterest and shuffled in the opposite direction. Marcel couldn’t help but feel rejected.
“Hey Sonny! Over here!”
Marcel turned to look up at an apartment building where he heard the shout and saw an older man of about 60 with a hunting rifle.
“Hey!”, Marcel shouted, “ Are there any more survivors?” The old man began to laugh hysterically for what seemed like a good minute. Marcel saw that Z-Day had clearly taken a toll on him.
“Just me, and that’s how I plan to keep it boy!” The old man gave another deranged laugh and took a shot at Marcel. The shot missed entirely, but Marcel retreated behind a van regardless.
“You’re going blind old man!” Marcel yelled.
“I didn’t miss, these fiends respond to sound and they are going to come here in a jiffy and tear you apart!”
Marcel knew he had no time to reason with this lunatic and dashed back to the book store, dropping the dictionary in the process. As he drew close to the library he saw the horde coming over the golden red sunlit horizon, he had been seen. He made it inside and locked the doors again and ran to the safe-room. For the first time he noticed that the door had been painted with the words: Dead, Inside. He could hear the zombies breaking through the book store glass doors over his heavy breath. Marcel pulled out the bible she had given him an-
I always write to put things in perspective for myself. This story isn’t helping. I can’t find any serendipity in this. The same way people try to make sense of why floods or tornados happen to innocent people. Disasters are disasters, natural or undead. There is no sense to the living either. I don’t know why she gave me this bible or what her truest feelings about me were. We slept together after the movie and she was never the same. Over six months ago she sent me an E-mail telling me we couldn’t be friends anymore and I haven’t seen her since. I have spent 231 days buried underground with the dead who will not let me have peace. When she left she took everything from me. The dead pound at my door, every night. What we had, I will never find again. The dead have come for me, and I don’t care.